SHANGHAI IN THE 1930S: A DOPE SMUGGLER'S PARADISE

  • The money had gone out of booze real quick when Prohibition was repealed in America in 1933. Technically the ban on drinking had applied to Americans in Shanghai too—the downside of extra-territoriality. But nobody, including the U.S. Court for China and the U.S. Marshal’s office in the city, had been dumb enough to try to enforce the Volstead Act in the Settlement, and Americans in Shanghai had just gone right on drinking and whooping it up throughout. With the city’s minuscule import duties, customs officials notoriously susceptible to bribery and looking the other way at the dockside, and no excise or license fees to pay on booze, American rum-runners brought in case after case of whisky from Ireland and Scotland, brandy and cognac from France, and shipped it all straight back out again as contraband to the States—the long but very profitable way round. Carlos Garcia had made a small fortune shipping his own distilled Mexican tequila into Shanghai and back out again to America’s West Coast in crates marked “Chinese Pig Bristles.” Higher-end California speaks and blind pigs relied heavily on shipments of decent liquor from Shanghai. Yes, Prohibition had surely been good to the Settlement while it lasted. Still, everyone knows dope can make liquor look like small beer.To get more shanghai 1930s, you can visit shine news official website.
    Dope is the future, but the killjoys in Washington, D.C., are intent on cracking down on heroin, cocaine, and morphine. Stealth and multiple trafficking routes are urgently required. New York mob boss Little Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter dispatches his top procurement mensch, Jacob ‘Yasha’ Katzenberg, east. Yasha hits the ’Hai in time for Chinese New Year 1935—the year of the pig—looking to buy opium and Cadillac pills for shipment to Lepke’s processing plant up on Brooklyn’s Seymour Avenue. Big-Eared Du and his Green Gang have a monopoly on the dope. To facilitate an introduction to him, Yasha needs a Shanghai connection.
    So Yasha looks for his own kind, people he can trust. You can’t just stroll up to Du’s Frenchtown mansion-cum-fortress and get a meeting; you need local go-betweens. Yasha finds what he is looking for in Albert Rosenbaum, sipping schnapps at the Red Rose Cabaret. Rosenbaum had known Yasha somehow or other, some connection back in the old country, Romania, though people said Rosenbaum was Bulgarian—nobody was sure either what he was or what the difference was. Rosenbaum is tight with Sammy and Al Wiengarten, old-time Shanghai bad hats and owners of the Red Rose.
    Like the Venus close by, the Red Rose is where the city’s Jewish demimonde and underworld gather, kvetching about business, tightwad punters, meshuggeneh showgirls and schlemiel associates. Joe Farren still hangs out at the Red Rose after hours occasionally, even though he’s now the ‘dapper Ziegfeld’ of the North-China Daily News society column, slurping goulash at the end of the bar with nightclub legends Sol Greenberg of the Casanova and Monte Berg, who runs the longtime popular Little Club. Joe likes Sammy Wiengarten; he’s an old-timer, a mensch, an all-round nice guy if you don’t cross him. Sammy should have retired long ago, but he’d just shrug, look up at the ceiling, and ask where he was supposed to retire to: fucking Jew-hating Romania? Sammy and Joe introduce Yasha to Rosenbaum, who’s a moneyman and dealmaker with a finger in plenty of pies across town. All business, all deals; Jews without any romanticism or nostalgia for any old country, any shit-hole shtetl or slum tenement. They’re all looking to make money, get rich, move up.