Arthur and the
Heroes of the Revolution

The Golden KeyArthur had returned to Greece after being deported the year before and was staying at my house. He had just come back from Turkey where he had bought enough hashish to sell and finance a trip to India. He had gone down to Plaka that night. I stayed home because it was a school night. At about three in the morning I heard a frantic knocking on my window. It was my neighbor Nicki. "Hey man, Arthur's been busted." I let him in and he told me the story. Nicki had followed the cops to the police station and was listening when they booked him. When he heard Arthur give my address as the place he was staying, he raced over to warn me that the cops would be there soon. We went through all Arthur's bags, finding hash, pipes and some dried opium pods. Nicki took the pipes and hash. We flushed the opium down the toilet. I went back to sleep, believe it or not.

The next day I went to school, acting like nothing had happened, but I told the story to Peter and Christopher. Christopher and I had planned to go to Hydra for the weekend and we were leaving that day after school, but I had the feeling our trip might be postponed, at least until I got out of prison. By fourth period my father, who worked at the school, had found me and told me what was happening. Arthur had been busted. The cops came to the house with him in handcuffs. One of them had slapped my baby brother James and they had threatened my father with jail for allowing drugs to be used in his house. Then they had searched my room and finding nothing, left, taking Arthur with them.

Somehow, my father let me go to Hydra. He was against it but thought that perhaps by laying low I might be overlooked. I made a vow that if God would get me out of this mess I would never smoke hash again. This annoyed Christopher whose primary purpose in going to Hydra was to get stoned and not have to deal with his parents. Even Peter told me that my decision to stay straight was inconsiderate, but I knew that they really didn't have a clear picture of my situation. I was a scared kid and I had just made a deal with God. Peer pressure meant nothing to me.

When I got home on Sunday night the police hadn't returned and it didn't seem likely they would. Nicki had saved my ass by coming to warn me. If he hadn't witnessed Arthur's arrest I would most certainly have been interrogated and probably put in jail with Arthur. We most likely would have to share a cell with my father who would have made our lives miserable.

Arthur waited a year for his trial. Mr. Ammerman, the school principal was the only one allowed to see him. Arthur’s father had been in the US government so at his trial some deals were made and he was given a one year sentence instead of the mandatory ten. His year in jail while awaiting trial counted as his term. They put him on a plane and sent him out of Greece and told him never to return.

He did return. Twenty years later, under the assumption that since all of this had taken place during the military junta it would have been forgotten by the new government, like selling hashish was a political crime. Wrong. He was taken out of line at the airport as soon as they ran his name through the computer. They arrested him and put him in a cell. The next morning they put him on the first flight out of Greece, which happened to be going to Paris. Depressed, he thought about just going home. Instead he got on a flight to Tangiers and spent his holiday there.

Actually, even before Arthur was busted he had been deported and then come back to Greece on a new passport. It was sort of my fault that he was deported in the first place.

It all began in Athens one day in 1969 when my best friend Peter said to me: "If you ever come across any hashish, promise me you'll get some for me so I can try it." We were in the 10th grade. I had tried it once. Chuck M showed up at my house in Ambelokipi one night with this Air Force Sergeant named Jim S who was later busted down to private and finally sent back to the States in handcuffs for his court-martial. I don't know what he did but someone said he flipped the bird to Colonel Harris, the base commander. That was the popular myth at the time. Anyway for some reason my parents thought it was OK to go down to Plaka, elated perhaps at my sudden interest in Greek culture and we set out for the Golden Key, a place I had only heard stories of.

When we got there it seemed like a cool place. There were hippies from England and the states sitting on the steps outside the club and they were playing Hendrix and other good music inside. We started talking to this guy from Colorado when he suddenly disappeared as if by magic just as a flock of plainclothes cops walked into the Golden Key and told them to turn off the music while they checked everybody's IDs. After harassing anyone they could they left with a couple hostages and the music came back on and everyone acted like nothing had happened. We started to walk away and the Colorado guy hopped out from behind some bushes. I asked him, "Is that marijuana you're smoking?" He nodded and asked me if I smoked. I lied and said "yeah" as nonchalantly as my excitement would allow me and we all took a few hits, but I don't really remember anything happening to me except the next day I went four for four with a home-run off Rick Jobe in a little league baseball game at the US Airbase.

It wasn't until New Years eve of 1970 that I really got stoned for the first time. I was at a dance at the AYC (American Youth Center) in Kifissia and Arthur and Nick were hanging out in Sophie's Snack Bar. Arthur was in my Spanish class, one of the few kids with really long hair, and was one of my personal heroes. I was surprised when he asked me and Koke (Dorian Kokas) if we wanted to get high. We did! We walked over to Kefalari Park and smoked some really good hash on the bridge over the little pond. I say it was really good but who knows? All I know is that at that moment it was the most profound experience of my life and the beginning of a love affair that would last a decade. Well, maybe it was more of a love/hate relationship, but whatever it was it changed me and the jury is still out if it was for better or worse.

As we walked slowly back to the AYC Dance I was amazed by everything. "Wow Arthur, look at the trees! LOOK AT THE SKY!" I was seeing the world through new eyes and Arthur was my spiritual father.

Koke on the other hand had a totally different reaction. He fell to his knees, "I'm having a bummer. Help me help me Arthur!" (To him as well Arthur was some kind of spiritual father but he was looking for a savior.)

Arthur said, "Get a hold of yourself Koke"
Koke pleaded, "How do I come down?"
"Drink soda and eat candy" Arthur told him.
"How do I get higher?" I asked my new Guru.
"Drink water”.

I must have drunk 2 gallons of water that night. I walked into the ballroom and John Hrones's band was playing and for the first time in my life I didn't just hear the music, I felt the music. I was the bass as I walked in circles around the boys and girls dancing and every time I looked up I saw Koke, surrounded by Tina Leo, Susan Akiki and a couch full of worried-faced females, nursing him back to health with Coca-cola and candy bars.

That night I walked five miles from Filothei to my home in Ambelokipi. I don't remember much except that it was beautiful and it was the first day of the rest of my life.

As promised, I told Peter about it in school and somehow had the presence of mind to ask Arthur for a little bit to turn Peter on. We went to the AYC and like nervous criminals we fumbled with the pipe. I was the expert because I had done it before. By the end of the week we had turned-on all our friends and getting high became the primary focus of our lives. I never really thought about it but I suppose Peter's parents were right about me, I was a bad influence. I suppose I was also semi-responsible for what happened next. Before that New Years Eve, there were a handful of people at ACS getting high. They kept to themselves and were very discreet. After Arthur passed the forbidden knowledge to me, not knowing anything about the concept of esotericism, I got high with everyone, and the people who I turned on turned their friends on and before you knew it, it was an epidemic.

So I want to take the time to say right here and now, hey guys, I'm sorry. I know I messed up your lives and I feel sort of responsible but in all honesty I have to say that if you had not gotten high, your lives would have been even more messed up and in fact you might have grown up to be just like your parents. (Some did anyway).

To the parents I just want to say, please try to find it in your hearts to forgive me and look at the bright side of it, if your kid grew up to be a failure, now you can blame me instead of yourself. You're off the hook. I take the blame. It's all my fault.

For the next few weeks life was a fairy tale. It was more fun than I remember it ever being and to top it off I fell in love. To this day my romance with Christina was my favorite and in many ways the one that had the most profound effect on later romances. It was a true story of Romeo and Juliet and it began at the old movie theater behind the American Club where Peter and I had asked her to come and get stoned with us. Christina was one of those few people who was getting high and keeping it to herself and right away we could see that she knew what she was doing while we only pretended to know what we were doing. For me it was instantaneous love after about the first or second toke. Everything was profoundly funny and we both knew we were hitting it off. We didn't even have to talk about it. She kept saying "This is like a movie!" It was and when it was time to go home and I asked her where she lived, it turned out it was only a few blocks from my house, and this was a time when nobody lived at Ambelokipi. People lived in Kiffissia, Psyhiko or near the U.S. Airbase. Anybody who lived anywhere else had to be weird, like someone who doesn't have a car in the states. An outcast. An outsider. A misfit, and here we were, two stoned-in-love misfits in the same neighborhood. It wasn't like a movie. It was like heaven.

I loved school. I loved to see Tina at lunch and between classes, and after school we would hang out at her house or my house and pretend to study. Her parents liked me, or at least her mom seemed to. Tina was from Northern Virginia and would tell me about all the wild things she did and about all her friends and her ex-boyfriend and I would listen amazed. She was so Greek and so perfectly American. She was like me but more reckless and in a way more mature. Well, how should I put this? I was a virgin. She was intrigued by my virginity and could not wait to do something about it. I was ignorant of cycles and rhythms and she explained to me about when it was safe and when it wasn't. We were waiting for the safe time and I was so excited I can still feel it right now.

To say we still got high would be an understatement. We lived to get high. It all started to unravel one afternoon at the AYC. We had gone out back behind the stage where Arthur and some friends were listening to some "Experimental Music". It was Pink Floyd's first album and it was like nothing I'd ever heard. This was at a time when everyone had those portable cassette players and Arthur and Nick always had the best music...Velvet Underground, Traffic, stuff that nobody else had even heard of in Greece. Arthur was complaining about something and suddenly turned and said "Who's this Tina bitch", not realizing she was standing right next to him.

She looked at him, startled and said "I'm Christina".

"You better keep your mouth shut or you're gonna get us all deported". More was said but that was the gist of it and I didn't understand it at the time. Talking to who? What did she say? She didn't know.

When we got home to my house my mother looked scared."A man called up and told me you are going to jail".

"For what?" I asked. She didn't know. His English wasn't very good but he had called several times. We walked over to Tina's house. Her mother met us at the door and told Tina to say good-bye to me for the last time. "If you ever try to see Tina again I will destroy your father, and I can do it". She said. Tina begged her to let us go downstairs to say good-bye in private and she agreed. We kissed on the street and she said she would call me. I still had no idea what was going on. I was 15 years old being told I could never see my girlfriend again and to top it off someone was phoning my house telling my mother that I was going to jail. Was I just being paranoid or was this really a crisis?

When I arrived home the man had called again and my father had pieced some of the information together. The man was Tina's father who it turns out was a retired police officer. Tina had been writing letters to her friends in the states about all the fun she was having with her new boyfriend and leaving them for her father to mail. He wasn't mailing them. He was using them in his own private investigation into his daughter's life and now was turning them over to the Greek police and the United States Embassy. He was convinced that I was a drug dealer who had ensnared his young daughter and with the fury of a father protecting his child from the devil he was going to see that I be put away.

My father had the instant solution. "I think it's time you got a haircut".

For once I didn't argue.

Tina didn't call that night. She didn't come to school the next day or the day after that and I didn't see her or hear from her that weekend. On Monday I happened to be walking by the office and there was Tina and her mom. Her mother glared at me and took a protective stance by her daughter. "They're taking me out of school," Tina said.

Tina sent a message to me through her sister Sara. She was a virtual prisoner at home, not allowed to leave the house except for a walk in the afternoon with Sara. We would meet at the park at Ambelokipi everyday and talk and try to figure things out. She was being sent to a Greek school where she would wear a uniform and get hit if she misbehaved or missed an answer. We met everyday for 2 weeks. Then one day she didn't come and I never saw her again.

Gradually things returned to normal, if you call being on restriction for 6 months normal. But under the surface, Tina's letters had opened up a whole can of worms and the US Embassy called in the OSI, or Overseas Special Investigations, to come in and clear up what her letters had convinced them was an entire narcotics ring being run out of the American High School.

Then one day I was walking down the hall when Mr. Ammerman, the vice-principal came out of his office and saw me. "Come with me", he said and I followed him to my father's office where there were two American Military guys in civilian clothes (a bad sign). At first I thought they were college recruiters but immediately dismissed that scenario as highly unlikely. These guys were narcs. They introduced themselves, "I'm Colonel Soandso and this is Captain Whathisname" and to prove it they showed me their little red, white and blue ID cards. "We just want to talk to you. We don't want you to think this is an interrogation." Then they informed me of my rights and interrogated me. They asked me about my friends. Is he a dealer? Is he on heroin? I didn't know. They asked me if I was selling hashish. (No, I was giving it away) and after our friendly little talk they asked me to sign a confession. I refused and they went into the nice guy-mean guy routine but I kept saying, " If this is not an interrogation why do you want me to sign a confession?" Finally they gave up and sent me back to class. I went straight to Mr. Marlowe's class and sat next to Peter.

"You'll never guess what just happened to me." Even before I finished telling him there was a knock on the door and Mr. Ammerman and my Dad asked to speak to me in the hall.

"What happened in that office?" they asked, both looking profoundly concerned. I told them I had been interrogated and they asked if I had signed anything. I told them I hadn't. "Good boy," my father said unable to hide the touch of pride in his voice.

At lunch we would go to the far corner of the football field and climb up this big tree where we would eat our lunch, listen to cassettes and smoke cigarettes. I would never eat lunch. My mother would give me 20 drachma a day and I would save it to buy hash which only cost 30 drachma a gram, about a dollar. When I told my story everyone was amazed but it quickly turned into a big joke. To us, military people were stupid. The idea of them conducting any kind of investigation and actually coming up with any evidence was impossible. It didn't really dawn on us that if you have power, you don't need evidence. You don't even have to be smart. They had in their minds that there was a drug ring going on. To them a few kids getting stoned and listening to Led Zepplin was an organized gang of users and pushers. They saw themselves as the good guys fighting evil and they would work on leads and file reports and when it was all over they would have parents transferred or deported and have a drink at the American club bar to celebrate a job well done.

That day the teachers got wind of the investigation and threatened to go on strike if the OSI did not leave the campus. From then on all interviews were held at the embassy or at the US Air-base. In the end they did deport a few people, Arthur being one of them. Another person who had nothing to do with it was sent back to the states with his family. They pressured the school to ask for my father's resignation but the school refused and since we were part Greek we were beyond their jurisdiction, however the next year they refused to renew my passport until my father threatened to unleash the powers of the ACLU upon them. I stayed on restriction from March until a week before my father sent me to the states for the summer to keep me out of trouble, which was the reason we came to Greece in the first place. When he let me go to Mykonos I dropped acid for the first time.

As for the effect the investigation had on ACS drug use, if anything it helped to increase it. Being on the OSI list was like the red badge of courage. If you weren't on it you were a dick. When it seemed like everyone was on it the story came out that there were two lists. The first list had only 10 names and these were the "heavy dealers." It was like having a "top-ten" of coolness. I was on this list but I was more of an honorary member and it was only because I was mentioned in every letter that my girlfriend's father gave to the United States Embassy. If you think about it, not only was I responsible for the downfall of my friends by introducing them to drugs, but also for the destruction of the ACS drug subculture, by bringing down the heavy hand of the Military Industrial Complex's secret police upon the unsuspecting young heads of my best friends.

So once again I have to apologize. I guess I'm just bad news.

Arthur Anderson
Dedicated to Arthur Lee Anderson

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