AMSTERDAM: Fate of the Red Light District - Day Six
It‘s my last day in the Red Light District. I‘ll move to a better class hotel tomorrow, clean up and then pack for the trip home. I plan to take it easy, take a last, slow look around. What have I missed?
First new thing I notice today is a sculpture set into the pavement—brass. A hand upon a breast.
I stop to say good-bye to Terry after lunch, and have another smoothie.
"So, what do you think of life here in the Red Light District?" he asks.
"I don‘t know. It‘s all so crazy. This is marijuana in the states." I show him photos in my camera chip. "They keep voting on it in the States, and it‘s allowable by prescription in some, but still listed as illegal by government. It‘s following the same steps as alcohol did during Prohibition here, and is equally unenforceable. Easily obtainable. A lot of people in jail for possession. A lot of people killed, just like the gang warfare in prohibition."
"Yeah," he says, "A guy I met bought three grams of Himalaya Cream to take home with him for Christmas. When he got to Philadelphia and they went through his bags and found the hash. They didn‘t put him in jail, but they fined him $1000. So he had a really shitty time in all. No money to buy presents for his family—all over a few grams of hash." There‘s this American program here called, Highway Patrol. They have a little five minute section here called, 'Hero of the Highway.' And what happens, one week‘s hero is this cop that pulls two people over who he says were acting suspiciously and he finds 300 grams of weed in the glove compartment. He gets the cuffs on one who starts to struggle and the other runs away. So he shoots the running man in the back—kills him, and the other gets eight years in jail. All over 300 grams of marijuana. It‘s a mad, mad world man— when people like that are heroes.
"This was Hempfest in Seattle this year." I show him a photo. "Thousands came. There were tents set up for people to apply for medical prescriptions. Of course there are always dissenters and always will be . . . to anything. The Jesus guys were patrolling around the outside of it."
"At the same time you see articles like this in the newspapers."
I show a clipping I brought with me and he nods with understanding. "Do you think you‘ll stay in Amsterdam?" I ask him.
"I don‘t know. I want to travel more. Can‘t just keep plodding on, week in week out . . . same ole, same ole. I would love to see Peru. That‘s definitely on my list. I was in Venezuela a few years back. Some of their weed is great and some of it‘s terrible, you know? But generally it‘s nice. We used to get big tins of Purple Haze—wonderful weed. The stuff grown here is good, but not like that. I think the best stuff goes for export."
"Amsterdam had a real hold on the weed market, but now the knowledge has spread and people are growing it all over Europe. We‘re not getting as many people who used to come here years ago, but it‘s still a great town, you know? The world gets ever crazier as it spins ever faster and we approach Armageddon. People are greedy. They grab whatever they can now. It seems there‘s a lot more desperation on a global basis. America looks really desperate."
"You‘ve got that right!"
"I was in India for a while."
He lights a joint and offers me a drag. I pass.
"New Delhi," he continues. "Didn‘t like it very much. Normally I get away in the winter. It‘s not so good here in the winter. Things pretty much shut down. You‘ve got to get away now and then, but there are so many things you have to do before you leave, so many pre-requisitions and traditions. And you‘ve got to be spot on, you know? Be at the right place at the right time."
I say good-bye and start to leave. A middle aged man stops me on the way out and wants to give me a small bag of pot. "I‘m leaving tonight," he says.
"No thanks, but thanks," I tell him. "I‘m leaving tomorrow."
* * *
I move into the more upscale hotel with free computers in the lobby which I use to answer e-mails before touring a few of the 'nicer‘ parts of Amsterdam; there are a lot of them. While on one of the computers near a window I glance out and see a delivery truck with great artwork on its side. They pay more attention to detail in Europe.
I pack my stuff in preparation for the ride home, then go out to look around the nicer part of town. Still more canals. Some people have a lot of money. . . people everywhere I guess—not many. Beautiful architecture. Must be nice to have a place to keep your boat outside and ready for a tour of the canals.
I check out the Van Gough museum, then a diamond cutting place. It‘s interesting watching workers shape the things, and when the tour is over we are given a chance to buy.
"Diamonds, you pay forever," someone comments.
A leisurely walk though Vondel park, near my hotel, takes me past a group of smokers underneath an incredibly beautiful tree. Wish I could join them, but I‘m forty years beyond their ages, and it‘s time to go. I will return some day.
I‘ve left an order for an early morning wake-up call at the front desk, but find it hard to sleep and turn on the TV to pass some time. Porno and hooker ads are right out front. Some of the 'girls‘ are scary.
And of course we have the same thing here in the U.S. A bit more subtle on the Internet and local papers—escort services. Illegal and, of course, easily available.
As for the Red Light District . . . I assume it will go on, becoming more commercial as the years pass by—more like a Disneyland someday, perhaps with sexy robots instead of real-life gals. Something like Stephen King‘s 'Dark Towers‘ futuristic ghost-town.
Animation can‘t be that far off.
As for the drugs. The poet Charles Bukowski wrote:
“Nothing illegal will ever cease to exist.”
Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five Day Six
About Bruce Louis Dodson
So far this year my work has been published in: Sein und Werden (UK), Kerouac's Dog (UK), Breadline Press West Coast Poetry Anthology, Blue Collar Review, Chantarelle's Notebook, Everyday Poets, and Struggle Magazine.
My greatest pleasure is international travel. I have spent considerable time in Ethiopia, Brazil, Thailand, Holland, Sri Lanka, India and of course, Sweden. more>>
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