By Paul McGuire © 2010
Downtown Miami. For four days, the parking lots around the American Airlines Arena (where the Miami Heat play their home games and Phish played their four concerts to close out 2009) were a haven for drug fiends. The area is normally surrounded by homeless people living in cardboard boxes along the side streets in the shadows of the monorail. Many of them wandered in and out of the psychedelic carnival of Phish fans who came from all over the country, while local drug dealers pushing South Florida's finest Colombian imports competed with the traveling dealers pushing their hippie party favors. Undercover cops were scattered about. It was easy to pick them out from the average Phishead, but a few wasted kids and noobs failed to recognize the fuzz and they got thrown into jail for blatantly obvious offenses. The local federales made their daily quota on the amateurs while the rest of the illicit sales went undetected.
I was offered so many pills that I lost count. I even came across a few things that I had never heard of -- which I declined to purchase but wrote down the names so I could do my own research. It hasn't been since the final Phish shows in Coventry, VT in 2004 when I saw that many powders, nitrous, local produce, fungi, liquid sunshine, opiates, and pharmaceuticals. It was sort of a farmer's market of illegal drugs.
Random unleashed dogs roamed free while the molly slingers darted in and out of the crowd. Extra tickets were going for $20-30. One scruffy-looking kid with a thick Boston accent sold me mushroom chocolates. The nitrous tanks were out in full force. Hissing sounds filled the air and salesmen were walking through the row of cars waving $5 balloons. The black guys were yelling "Whip its! Whip its!"
Benjo was inexperienced with the nitrous scene and curious about the affects. He watched in amazement as people lost their mud sucking and huffing on balloons like they were infants sucking on their momma's boobies.
The light disappears quickly at the end of December and the darkness descends around 5 o'clock and that's when things become sketchier in the lots. Deviant derelicts crawl out of the shadows and invading the parade of freaks. That's when the inmates eventually take over the asylum.
Homeless guys drenched in urine stand on the corner hawking bicycle wheels that they obviously pilfered. One local dealer pushed hard drugs to pay for a new pair of Jordans. But they were angels compared to hostile the thugs with the nitrous tanks. All you had to do was wander around the lots and look at the ground. The residual effects of our wasted generation were thousands of multi-colored used balloons that cluttered the pavement and sidewalks.
Rats the size of armadillos ran rampant in the weeds in the back lots. You had to bring a large stick with you when you pissed as protection so one of those nasty fuckers doesn't rip your pecker off in mid-stream.
As our time in Miami passed, the crew stayed up later and later like famished vampires, which meant that we saw less and less of the Florida sun. Seems like everyone had product to move and I was bombarded with offers to buy an encyclopedia of pharmacopoeia and other illicit wares. Roxys. Morphine. Klonapin. Headies. Fingerhash. And enough Yay to keep Akron lit for a month. One strung out whiskey tango chick loved the one of the Joker's LOST shirts that he was selling. She didn't have any money but offered to trade her methadone for a shirt. The Joker declined because he couldn't get stoned off methadone.
Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.