PETROP BOYS (PART I) (PART
It took me eight years to graduate from UT with a major in
Sociology and a minor in Anthropology, far and away the easiest
course of study the institution had to offer. Along the way,
I constantly cheated and lied my way through class after class
and was always on some sort of academic supervision, academic
probation, or academic dismissal. The final academic dismissal
was of the three-year variety, prompting me to move out of
the West Campus condominium that my parents had been sponsoring
me in, and into my first official “place of my own”,
a house that had been unnaturally divided down the middle
and rendered into a duplex on 38th ½ street just east
of Duval in Hyde Park. I rented the place from a Greek immigrant
named Chris Petropolis who owns a chain of liquor stores here
in Austin. His was a tale of woe.
First, a bit of history. This would have taken place over
late ’94 and early ’95. Though it would be very
difficult for me to point to a “height of drug use”
over the last decade-and-a-half of my life, I would probably
choose this era if pressured. Smoking and selling weed were
just natural instincts at that point, involuntary muscular
responses to the environment around me. Weed was just something
you breathed, like oxygen or nitrogen. Selling it was just
something you had to do to get the shit out of your house.
There were no moral or legal considerations. Bi-weekly trips
to Nuevo Laredo with a carload of drug addicts looking to
exploit the favorable federal guidelines surrounding the importing
of downers (mainly valium, percodan and rohypnol) were more
thought out, sinister actions. As promised in an earlier article,
I will take a moment to describe the legal loopholes surrounding
the trafficking of these drugs in a late 20th Century America.
Neither pill-heads nor pharmaceutical companies ever had it
better, I assure you. Anyone with a Texas driver’s license
could cross over the border into Mexico, walk a quarter of
a mile to a pharmacy be presented with a menu, and I mean
literally a fucking MENU of every prescription drug imaginable...pain
killers, uppers, downers, even useless ones like penicillin.
For every flavor, there was a limit on how many each individual
in your party could legally declare at customs and bring back
into the United States. For valium, it was three bottles of
90 pills, at about $35 a bottle. Rohypnol was 6 boxes of 20
pills. I forget the guidelines for percodan... I’m not
a complete fuck-up, after all. If 270 valium and 120 rohypnol
per person wasn’t going to be enough for you, the pharmacy
would be happy to deliver any amount imaginable to you at
a pre-arranged destination on the American side. This is a
service still offered to this day, from what I understand.
You could load up a car full of buddies, promise them a headfull
of pills and an all expense paid vacation to Nuevo Laredo,
and come back to town with literally thousands of downers.
The only pitfall was a speech at the border about how federal
law allowed you to bring the drugs in to the US, but state
law left you subject to arrest for possession of the them
in Texas, if for some reason local or state authorities decide
to suddenly shutoff the millions of dollars of business being
done with drug companies at that time. The customs agents
would always try to break you down with hard questions and
idle insinuations, but would ultimately let you carry on every
time. Being much more of a brazen asshole back then than I
am now, I always took on a rebellious air when given this
speech at customs. One conversation with an agent went as
follows: “Valium? What do you need these for Mr. Holt?”
Pain. “Pain? What are your symptoms?” My pussy
hurts. “Your pussy hurts?” Yeah, it’s killing
me. “Interesting... Well, why do you need these rohypnol?”
Because I’m fucking crazy. “Crazy huh? What are
your symptoms?” I think I have a pussy. I am but a small
man, but I would loved a behind the scenes look at the economic
and social wranglings taking place between The USA, Mexico,
and the drug companies like Roche at that point in history.
These were the best of times. In today’s world gone
mad, you can only legally declare 50 pills of any variety
per person, and rohypnol are verboten north of the border.
As you may have guessed, I have a rather libertarian view
of many of the drug laws in our country, but the total ban
of rohypnol in America is something I’m completely in
support of. There’s not a single drug abuser I know
(and mind you, I know a lot of them) who ever did rohypnol
without wrecking their car, passing out face first on the
pavement, scarring themselves for life, stealing a bunch of
shit, breaking their hand punching a wall, and fucking something
they shouldn’t have, usually all in the same night.
Then they’d really start partying.
Oh rohypnol, you magnificent beast! How I lamented your fall
from grace. “Ropes” is what true Texans used to
call them, before some trendy prick coined the term “Roofies”.
That was almost as humiliating as their subsequent replacement
by rivitril, a cheap knockoff touted by Mexican pharmacists
as “the same thing.” Rivitrils always made me
feel like I had electricity running through my brain. The
fact that I remember this is, in and of itself, proof that
rivitrils were no rohyphnol. The void left in America’s
drug culture since the fall of “ropes” has since
been filled by tafils and xanex. You know these maniacs who
do multiple “handlebars” in a night? They are
but trying to recapture the glory days of rohypnol.
Since pills are one of (one of?) my favorite things in the
world, I have carried on about them way too long to tell you
the story of Chris Petropolis, and how his rental property
was turned into the worst drug den Hyde Park has ever seen,
leading to one of the most colorful eviction trials in Austin
history. Therefore, I must break “The Petrop Boys”
article into a two part series to be continued in the next
issue of Rank and Revue. I will close out this installment
with a quasi-amusing anecdote of people on pills, and tell
the story of 38th ½ street next time.
Without a doubt, pill binges and kleptomania go hand in hand.
I’m not talking about getting all strung out on drugs
and having to steal to support your habit mind you, I’m
talking about getting all fucked up on drugs and stealing
stupid shit for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I mean shit
like flags, squeegees, mailboxes, sticker machines, gas caps,
signs, pictures, crucifixes, port-a-potties, lawn jockeys,
anything out in public that isn’t absolutely nailed
down and sometimes stuff that literally is. Not to mention
shoplifting. A piller will walk into a store and steal shit
until either they can’t hold anything else, or get caught,
whichever comes first.
I vaguely remember stumbling around Highland Mall with Scott
Fondren, carrying a black trash bag full of basketball jerseys.
We had this routine where we would pose as sports memorabilia
collectors. We’d throw some of our own jerseys in a
bag, purchase a new one on a credit card, and then lead the
employees of a clothing store over a confusing series of comparisons
and exchanges, constantly stuffing new jerseys in our bag
in the fray. We held a theory that the more employees we surrounded
ourselves with, and the more jerseys we had flying around
(both ours and the store’s) the more confusing it got,
thus the safer we were and the more we could steal. This worked
about five times until someone finally stepped up and put
a stop to it. A store detective (I believe at Dillard’s)
accused me of stealing Anfernee Hardaway Orlando Magic jersey,
but couldn’t absolutely prove it because we still had
our “failsafe”, the credit card receipt that could
have, theoretically, applied to any one of the thirty or so
jerseys in our trash bag. The police were called anyway, and
it was eventually determined that in the interest of public
safety, I was too impaired to be released back into society
at that time. I was taken to jail for a sobering up period,
leaving Scott and the trash bag of jerseys behind to find
a way home and assumedly arrange for my release.
Greg Pearce comes into town from San Marcos about two hours
later to meet me for some kind of sinister action. He goes
to our house and asks Scott where I am. “Ah, he’s
probably out dealing”, Scott reportedly answered. They
sat around the house all day and night waiting for me to come
home and even went looking for me at one point. Scott never
once remembered that I had been arrested right in front of
him that afternoon. Meanwhile, I woke up after a “short
nap” at the jail and was deemed as fit to be released.
I noticed it was still pretty early, about four thirty. I
signed out, and was looking forwards to going out and partying
that night. Upon reaching the downstairs lobby of central
booking, I was taken aback by how dark it was already. Damn
daylight savings time. I asked the guard if it had always
been getting that dark at five o’clock. He was like
yeah, it’s usually pretty dark come five these days.
While walking home, it eventually “dawned” on
me that it was five o’clock in the morning.
The high school football playoffs are coming to an end. I’ve
been to five games in five different cities in the last four
weeks. By the time the next issue or Rank and Revue comes
out, all the brackets will be decided. The Leander Lions,
the local team I adopted this year, finally saw their impressive
season come to an end against Allen this week in the quarterfinals.
Dan McCoy and I went up to Waco last weekend and saw them
upset Dallas Carter in an excellent 11-9 defensive battle.
The game came down to a defensive stand on a 2-point conversion
in the waning seconds. Dallas Carter had been averaging 48
points a game up until that point. I also took my kid down
to Houston and met my Uncle Ronnie for the LaMarque-Nederland
game at Rice Stadium, which LaMarque won in a blowout. I went
to the first Monsters of Rock at Rice Stadium, but had never
been to a football game there. The Coogs play San Antonio
Alamo Heights Fri. Dec. 12th at the Astrodome in the semifinals.
Anyone want to go with me? This week Shane Cook, Dan and I
watched Arlington Lamar put up a disappointing performance
against The Woodlands at Round Rock ISD Stadium. The Woodlands
looked really good, especially passing the ball, but will
have there hands full next week in the finals against Galena
Park North Shore, who absolutely crushed Austin Westlake this
weekend. Somewhere along the way, Shane and I watched Liberty
Hill beat Yoakum in Class 3A action out in Buda. Pathetic,