It comes wrapped in red foil and purple tissue, this intricate figurine molded in the form of a Japanese demon, with clawed feet, a mane of fire and a thick tongue jutting from a bloodthirsty smirk. Transparent, the size of a child's fist, it looks like a tiny ice carving or a statuette of glass. It is neither. In fact, it is 25 grams (a little less than one ounce) of nearly 100 percent pure crystallized methamphetamine hydrochloride, known on the streets of Asia as "Shabu." It was almost certainly manufactured in a clandestine laboratory in China, then shipped to the Philippines and on to Hawaii, and finally to Denver. Here it was purchased on the black market for $5,500 -- nearly five times the street value of an equivalent amount of cocaine and ten times that of low-grade, powdered crystal meth.
Shabu is so expensive because it is so pure -- and therefore so powerful. Most of the home-cooked speed in Denver is only 10 to 20 percent actual crystallized methamphetamine, adulterated with toxic by-products of the makeshift ingredients used in crude manufacturing processes. While any tweaker with a hot plate can whip together a batch of bathtub speed, Shabu requires a trained chemist working in a fully equipped laboratory with uncorrupted components. The result is pharmaceutical-grade meth -- 95-plus percent pure.
As much as the word can be applied to an illegal drug, Shabu is clean.
The rush of Shabu itself is freakishly powerful. A single minuscule hit -- about one-tenth of a gram, vaporized and inhaled -- is enough to keep a weekend warrior like Nick riding the lightning for twelve hours.
The statuette on Nick's coffee table, cut into tiny pieces and smoked, holds about 250 hits.
Like opium, Shabu is relatively exotic in the United States (except for Hawaii, where it rivals cocaine in popularity), but in Asia, it's cheap and prevalent. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency claimed earlier this year that 11 percent of the Philippine population uses Shabu. The drug is popular in Japan and Thailand and is so pervasive among the professional classes in Indonesia that the government of that country last year instituted mandatory Shabu-specific drug testing of all public officials.
..og í framhaldi er sagan af meth-partíinu.
Og svo er hér vídjó af samræðum Marshall McLuhan og Norman Mailer í sjónvarpssal árið 1968.