BILLIE HOLIDAY’S DRUG DEALER SPEAKS

JAZZ LIVES

I present this possibly apocryphal narrative (published in ESQUIRE)  without moralizing . . .

Speaking of the slow pace of change, I [author John H. Richardson] recently talked to Billie Holiday’s drug dealer. He said I could call him Pat. « Don’t put my last name in there, » he ask me. « I know too many people. »

Since those people had names like Frank Costello, « Johnny » Gotti, and Bugsy Siegal, I’ll oblige.

Pat was skeptical about the chances of drug reform. « I don’t think they’re going to legalize drugs in this country because of the fact that the government is behind it all, » he insists. « You go back in time during the bootleg days, the Kennedys winded up with the eastern seaboard. All the whiskey that came in, they got a percentage. And jail is big money, too — they feed you nothing but beans, rice, and potatoes, and all that money…

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