Monday, December 5, 2011

my last night in brooklyn (aka a thing i wrote)

It is my last night in Brooklyn, and I’m going out with a bang… fuck a whimper.  I picked the wall out weeks ago, not sure if it would ever come to anything, hoping for a change in plans.  Destiny’s harsh on a young man.  Rebellion on my tongue and in my heart, but no reason, no outlet, no sense in it, still it remains; yearning.  It was my father’s ladder, big enough for the job, but only so once propped on a dumpster, a precarious pleasure, placed playfully.  Regarding consequences was outside of my jurisdiction at the time, the future was assumed, expected, not earned or worked for.  The young we are immortal! we scream silently to no one and everyone.  

Night falls, the ladder comes out, buckets brought, brushes bound for adventure.  The wall was perfect, rebellion assured, the message will be perfect, understood, and the heavens will sing my praises; the certainty of those who should have none.  The ladder was set on the dumpster, wobbled as was its nature, and corrected with duct tape and harsh words.  Then the leap of faith, from father’s ladder to Father’s ladder, metal safety steps, their own ladder extended out of reach of the undesired.  The legacy of a fire in the Garment District ages ago, burning Triangles… singed children and dresses, we must have an escape! the city cried.  I made my way up the fire escape, heading to the wall, the perfect wall, where my greatness will shine through, and even a passing lawman wouldn’t be able to stop me. 

A stranger’s roof, or more accurately, a roof belonging to many strangers is an interesting place to be.  The detritus of other lives lived in the city, lawn chairs, flower pots deadened by winter, a grill for the aspiring chef; signs of lives lived well, weller than mine certainly.  The wall looms ahead of me, perfect, with a light low and pointing up, perfectly lighted like a gallery, or a proper installation.  All signs that the owner sent to me, unknowing maybe, but signs sent me nonetheless.  A quick twist of a screw, and the light was deadened as well, joining the flower pots in decrepitude, there mustn’t be a sign to those below what was to occur above. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

because no one demanded it: hard data on the escobar cocaine empire!

In 1978 each kilo probably cost Escobar $2,000 but sold to Carlos Lehder and George Jung  (Johnny Depp in Blow) for $22,000, clearing Escobar $20,000 per kilo. In the next stage they transported an average of 400 kilos to south Florida (incurring some additional expenses in hush money for local airport authorities) where mid-level dealers paid a wholesale price of $60,000 per kilo; thus in 1978 each 400-kilo load earned Escobar $8 million and Lehder, Ochoa, and Jung $5 million each in profits. Of course the mid-level dealers did just fine: after cutting the drug with baking soda each shipment retailed on the street for $210 million, almost ten times what they paid for it.

Soon Lehder was hiring American pilots to fly a steady stream of cocaine into the U.S., paying them $400,000 per trip. At one trip per week, in 1978 this translated into wholesale revenues of $1.3 billion and profits of $1 billion.

Around this time he bought a Learjet to fly cash out of the U.S., and the Cartel’s expenses included $2,500 per month for rubber bands for bricks of cash.

Escobar employed a team of 10 full-time accountants to keep track of it all, but could also be surprisingly relaxed: he shrugged when $5 million was loaded on the wrong boat — “you win some, you lose some” — and accepted the regular loss of 10% of his income to “spoilage,” as up to $500 million per year was eaten by rats or rotted due to improper storage.

Escobar’s personal fortune was estimated at $7-$10 billion in 1985, of which perhaps $3 billion was in Colombia, with the rest spread out in countless foreign bank accounts and investments, including apartments in Miami, hotels in Venezuela, and up to one million hectares of land in Colombia (about 3,900 square miles, or 1% of the country’s land area).