Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Wilderness Years - Steel Trap

 The media loves to spin it's yarns and when it comes to the drug business there was always a clear narrative, that no matter what the substance, drugs were bad, real bad, they pushed DARE and Just Say No and all the other marketing campaigns to indoctrinate the squares into believing every Class A was gonna kill you (even when some things shouldn't have been Class A's at all)... granted the powders and pills of the world can most certainly do just that and having got acquainted with all such things i understand it perfectly, we Gen X kids were of the ripe old age of late teens to early to mid twenties when that first wave of high quality smack rolled into the country, no longer needing to shoot it the kids all got into "doing bumps" and "chasing the dragon" and i can't say i was immune to such things... i was not... but when it came to smack i had the utmost respect for it, Bill Burroughs had schooled me well in the pitfalls of dabbling in the Black Arts (as i called it) so i was more than cautious when it came to my investigations... fast forward a decade and Big Pharma would help the local dealer by fast tracking and lying about their wonder pill and the opiate epidemic was born... granted i didn't have nearly as much respect for that other powder, this one white and speedy, which would come up and bit me on the ass on a couple of occasions... the first being well covered when our friend Hippie Jack introduced our hero to rock... there are things now i prefer to not think about... mainly cuz i could have easily been pushing up daisies due to my stupidity... 

(It's always been interesting that two of the most harmful drugs on the ever present guvment list of substances, both health wise and societal in general, have been readily available at every corner store in America for decades, yes we're talking about cigarettes and alcohol... and while Liam and Noel may have sung their praises it's a proven fact these things cause far more damage to people and society than those bits of fungus and dried flowers that have been demonized for so long though now have began gaining traction due to their "medicinal" purposes... and the fact that for the last few years when the bureaucracy publishes it's annual findings, psilocybin and cannabis rank one and two as the least harmful "illicit" substances out there...)

Which brings me back to the media and the sensational stories they loved to spin about the drug world... the nightly news loved to show a white guy being led out of his trailer or a black man being arrested in the projects on an almost nightly basis (mainly the latter with the former being tossed in now and then for what's termed "fair and balanced" coverage)... having studied this shit i knew the score, make the fucking Wonder Bread crowd fear for their wives, husbands and children from the evil clutches of dealers pushing things on mean streets of small town America... it was bullshit... most dealers didn't push fuck all, the customers found them, always have, always will... that being said the story line was that the dealers were ignorant or stupid, that they lacked the skill and determination, the drive and work ethic, to succeed in society, they wanted a short cut to wealth... what fucking non-sense... yes there were some out there who may have thought that but the selling of illicit substances is nothing more than Business 101, people want something and someone provides it... it's capitalism (sadly) and the only reason the guvment doesn't like it is they don't get their cut... (which is interesting cuz most corporations pay zero in taxes yet we must remember what they forgo in taxes they make up for in campaign contributions)... if it's done right, dealing is hard work, i'm not standing in the pulpit and saying it's all noble work, slinging smack and crack destroys people, i'm not some fucking idiot, yet other more civilized countries have realized that demonizing and prosecuting, pushing people into the black market to find things, isn't really healthy for anyone... i won't even delve into the disparity that arises from the color of ones skin and how said person is treated and prosecuted but it was not lost on me that being a "white guy" had it's advantages when it came to the game.. hence why after talking to some guy in a bar who told me he had seen me at X, Y and Z i went home and the next day chopped off the dreads... being easy to pick out of a crowd ain't exactly a positive thing and being a 6'4 white guy with big dreads made me just that.. 

The quick version from the media conglomerates was the average dealer was lazy and stupid... but what about the above average ones? (once again) going back to what the poetry writing cop once said in the local free entertainment paper years ago, there are enough dumb dealers to keep law enforcement busy, the good ones we'll never see unless we get lucky... which brings us to the all important keeping of records in the black market... which basically boiled down to two things, how to keep track of the money and how to keep track of the phone numbers back before the world was all Snapchat and Instagram... of course writing this now i realize i'm a fucking dinosaur, the world i came up in was fraught with superstitions and paranoid delusions, the mob mentality of don't talk on the phone, the code words used for "hey i need some weed"... yes now and then some fucking moron would say something like, "hey man could i swing by and get a half ounce?" to which i usually replied, "what are you talking about? i'll be at the bar later if you want to talk"... to which said moron would get fucking dressed down and told if they ever fuck up again it's time to find a new connection, their North Oakland privileges being revoked for their fucking stupidity... 

As one might recall, the fashion faux pas known as the cargo pant was used to keep track of inventory for the on the go dealer, which then doubled as an accounting tool when the money came in and the product out with the cash going into various pockets, like separate accounts all in one pair of army surplus pants... of course once back at the office the money would be divided up into the proper place, some going into my personal accounts (see profits) while the rest went to the correct batch of gear due to the fact sometimes, especially at the end of one batch and the pick up of another, there was some crossover, sometimes it would be put aside for Stiv or it would be put back into my "savings" if i covered it myself if Stiv was being a pain in the ass, which was pretty much a regular occurrence... on the days i was short i'd usually get a pissing and moaning diatribe from Stiv about having to cover it to which i'd feign interest while thinking to myself, "shut the fuck up you whining prick, i'm out there dealing with everyone under the fucking sun and you're dealing with one guy, the guy who used to sell  you fucking ounces so you could upcharge some schmuck and through nothing but dumb luck you've fallen into a great hookup while simultaneously overcharging me until you fucked up and let slip how bad you were fucking me in the ass so fucking cover it with your fucking money... you cock!"

Back at the office after a night's work i'd put the cash in the proper place and then do the books... this being the weed business i was always fronting shit to people, there were a few guys out there who i would front pounds or half pounds or quarter pounds which was always easy to keep track off without much notation, usually just a number, no dollar signs or names, and often i'd write as just a single number, 6 for $600, 10 for $1000 but when it came to the nickel dimers it was always a bit more challenging, then i'd usually write the whole number on separate page, funny thing was the nickel dimers were for the most part the people most worried about not paying, they'd hide or disappear if they didn't have the cash and the ironic part was it didn't make a difference to me, of course i didn't want to get beat but some pooh-butt skipping out on and eighth or quarter really was nothing more than a write off, hell i gave away eighths and quarters for fun by this point in the game... and while i'm sure had the G-men ever found this notebook they'd have hemmed and hawed at all the scribblings and numbers, always scribbled over to be illegible after payment, the fact was there wasn't much to go on... 

Phone numbers were something different... the myth of the lazy and stupid stoner is just that and while i'll admit the last couple years in the game i kept smoking to a minimum that was more due to the paranoia of moving enough weight to get my ass tossed in the can for looooong time... i knew more than a few guys who fucked up the accounting end and wound up out of the game so that was the first bit... the second bit was phone numbers.. to refresh the memory, all calls used to come to the apartment phone in the early years but as business expanded and i needed to cut down traffic at the gaff i got a beeper and told people to call that instead, it also gave me the ability to leave my place without losing out on sales, even though that meant most of my time walking the streets of the East End hoods i was always holding... it wasn't long after that i graduated to a cell phone, then at one point two cell phones for some reason, then back to one with the final "dealer" phone being the beloved Star-Tac... but what about remembering all these numbers? 

Oddly enough when it came to remembering numbers i discovered i had an unusual talent... it seems i could somehow remember hundreds of phone numbers without writing them down (not sure phones even had the capability of storing numbers way back when, lol! and even if they did the responsible hood wouldn't store any)... in fact i still can remember some of them today for what use i have no idea... back then though it was like a fun party trick, people would ask if i wanted to write down their number and i'd say no, just give it to me... this often brought that look of "this guy is never gonna take my call" but i'd tell them not to worry, it was a neat trick, sometimes when people would ask if i really remembered all the numbers and i'd say yes, they'd ask me their friends numbers (also customers), and i'd rattle them off and people would laugh and say damn... one of the residual effects of this trick was that people confused this ability with intelligence and i've learned that for some reason if people think you're smart they won't fuck with you as much, why? that's a question for the shrinks but i believe it has something to do with authority... intelligence gives one authority be it earned or otherwise, the appearance of said trait does the same thing... so when it came to phone numbers all was sorted, there was a Rolodex in my head... which also meant if you fucked up that number was definitely remembered... it was an excellent tool to possess in this business... 

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