David Bronner runs the Escondido soap company founded by his grandfather in 1948. Although his Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap brand has generated controversy for its hemp content, he couldn't have imagined that the product would lead to the arrest of a pioneering punk drummer.
"I never knew him before this psychodrama," says Bronner about Germs drummer Don Bolles, who was arrested April 4 in Newport Beach.
"They said my brake light was out, but I don't know if it was or wasn't," says Bolles. When Newport Beach police searched his 1968 Dodge van and found a bottle of Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap, Bolles was arrested on felony narcotics possession of a controlled substance; police claim the bottle contained the date-rape drug GHB.
"Field tests are notoriously inaccurate," says Bronner, who paid for Bolles's bail, attorney, and court fees after hearing of the arrest. "The guy's a really straight-up, open-book guy. He was guilty of being a punk-rock-looking dude driving in Newport Beach, which is full of rich white people....
"The Newport Beach cops had arrested someone earlier that day for GHB, and I think they just had GHB on the brain." Bronner says lab results -- due in a couple of weeks -- will prove Bolles's innocence.
"Bronner got me a pretty potent attorney," says Bolles. "I could have plea-bargained this away, but it seems so wrong because all I had was soap. I didn't even know what GHB was. I fancy myself a hipster, but it's a rather sad day when a hip punk rock drummer has to find out what a recreational drug is from a cop."
Bolles, 50, says he now stands by Dr. Bronner's soap more than ever: "It gives me the complexion of a 15-year-old girl."