Ben & Chon are business partners in a lucrative marijuana business on Laguna Beach. Ben is a new-age millennial philanthropist / botanist and Chon is a army vet from the Afghan war. They have complementary skills and manage the business with the help of like-minded Californians. Their product is a high-margin, customers are loyal, rich & discerning and their market is a niche one geographically limited to southern California. They have a former banker who now almost exclusively manages their money; a dirty cop who uses their product to treat his wife helps out and Chon's army buddies are good friends of the business. Like a typical 'Nike-business-model' they control the core and outsource everything else. Overheads are kept low, ambitions are limited and managing the product and commercials is how they spend their limited working hours.
The seed was sown (literally and metaphorically) when Chon smuggled the best Afghan poppies via the military and Ben genetically modified the crop to max out the active ingredient.
They maintain a household-of-three of sorts with Ophelia - the love of their lives and they are hers. O, as she prefers and is affectionately called is a spoilt brat who loves brands, therapy, travel and has a love-hate relationship with her mother.
Like tech, the drug business has its giants and soon enough the Baja cartel comes calling with an offer to absorb Ben and Chon's outfit into their mega-corp. The cartel is kind enough to use a carrot-and-stick approach with them (as opposed to just the stick). Ben and Chon with their limited ambitions and love of freedom and flexibility decline. They prepare the cash out with whatever liquidity they can manage and take O with them to the other side of the world. But the Baja cartel gets figures out the plan and kidnap O as leverage to keep Ben and Chon's production flowing.
With no white knight to rescue them from the inevitable hostile takeover Ben & Chon have limited options. They decide to sow the seeds of doubt in the Baja cartel to strike back and eventually rescue O.
A clash of cultures - old world Mexican warlords versus new world American assassins. And drugs, botany, corporate takeovers, medical marijuana, crooked cops, polyandry, missing heads, Shakespeare. Dark, amusing, violent and gritty.
Chon doesn’t say much. People who don’t know him think this is because he lacks vocabulary. The opposite is true— Chon doesn’t use a lot of words because he likes them so much. Values them, so he tends to keep them for himself
I want you to write down three goals you have for yourself for today, and the three achievable steps you will take today to make each one happen.” O writes:—Have mind- blowing multiple orgasm. “I asked for three things,” Eleanor says. “If I get it right, it will be three things,” O answers.
Hard to get a table there at short notice unless you’re Ben the King of Hydro and then you could get a table at the freaking Last Supper if that’s what you want.
“We’re violent by nature, nonviolent by training.”
He appreciates the irony, though, that the Mexicans basically want to turn them into field workers. Plant, grow, and harvest their crop for them. He digs the reverse colonialism of it, but it just isn’t his thing.
So there’s Marie Antoinette and Anne Boleyn.
You can spend fifty thousand years practicing meditation or you can buy a gun.
O has diagnosed Chon with PTLOSD. Post- Traumatic Lack Of Stress Disorder. He says he has no nightmares, nerves, flashbacks, hallucinations, or guilt. “I wasn’t stressed,” Chon insisted, “and there was no trauma.”
Ben doesn’t need to know what Ben doesn’t need to know. “You’re the American public,” Chon tells him.
In a multi-faceted war between rival Mexican drug gangs, the US DEA & marijuana-tweaking millennials a drug dealing veteran from across the Mexican border emerges on top. Barely mentioned in the story, this protagonist takes action by taking no action, or the bare minimum but most effective action. He prefers to let warring factions bleed while he exploits it commercially, and tries his best to add fuel to the fire to intensify the battle so that even the winner emerges with a Pyrrhic victory. Importantly - he has his house in order, or maybe not, but he isn't airing his dirty laundry in public unlike his adversaries. While his adversaries in Mexico stage hostile takeovers & mismanage their family he keeps his focus on business and picks at their weak points. His American 'competition' run a lean, over-optimized operation with all but the core growing and tweaking operation outsourced. In the end three very different business strategies play out.