American victory in Vietnam! That’s right! Iraq too! We always win!
by Dave Reeves
originally published in Arthur No. 31 (Oct 2008)
Hanoi, Vietnam: I’m in Vietnam picking out a baby for my Prius. Problem is, the damn babies all look the same. Needing to calm down, I pay fifty bucks for what looks like weed and smells like weed; but when rolled into Bob Marley blunts only gets me high enough to watch television. I’m mad, until I realize that getting ripped off for illegal drugs in a supposed Buddho/communist country indicates a total victory of the Judeo-Christian/capitalist cause.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t declare victory over nothing. It’s not about fifty bucks. I consider occasional rip-offs to be like union dues in the underworld. I’ve paid money for a baggie of gravel in Amsterdam, purchased placebos purporting to be mescaline in Texas and ingested sheets of Georgia rat poison acid. Besides, I get ripped off for real back in California all the time, what with the rolling blackouts, profit prisons and wars without end.
It’s the constant miracle of Hanoi traffic that got me open to the hustle. Vietnamese people tend to ride their mopeds at full speed, in a scrum, about as far from one another as you are from this page. The stoplights are but suggestions, hidden behind the foliage, way up on the periphery behind the “go” sign. The side of the road a driver chooses is dictated by whimsy. Nonetheless, at each intersection the masses of mopeds weave through each other unscathed,with no cursing, nor shots fired.
I thought this symbiosis indicated that Buddhism was The Answer, because it’s about respect for the value of human life and yadda yah. It only takes one terrible joint to realize that the reason the Vietnamese people can ride like that is because their weed sucks. Don’t try that shit back in California. Those motherfuckers are high.