LoadEd by Robert Sabbag (Little, Brown/H.B. Fenn), 341 pages, $34.95 hardcover. Rating: NNNN
With the rise of homegrown hydroponics, the marijuana smuggling business ain't what she used to be. Which is a real shame, because there's nothing like a good smuggling story.This true account of Allen Long, 1970s weed smuggler extraordinaire, may be journalism, but it reads more like the outline for a big-budget Hollywood movie.
Chronicling Long's rise from small-time filmmaker to drug kingpin, Sabbag details his smuggling expeditions in Mexico and Colombia and loads up the tale with seedy Spaniards and tension-filled flights.
As the first smuggler to introduce the mind-blowingly potent Santa Marta Gold variety of blond to the U.S., Long built a reputation as a guy who knew his product.
Loaded has everything you could ask for in a weed read -- the incontrovertible links to the music business, the inevitable run-ins with the law, and, of course, the big, fat Colombian guy in the open shirt and gold chains.
Sabbag portrays Long as a great American hero, a counterculture revolutionary driven into the drug business because the American government wouldn't let him have his hash. Because it's written in a slightly sarcastic tone of voice, you can't help but buy it.
Sabbag lets the fascinating story tell itself, occasionally inserting his own offhand comments. His great sense of humour prevails throughout.
Warning: once you're done reading, all you'll be able to think of is smoking a big fat one.