Archive for June, 2014


1977 – Top song on the radio was “Hotel California”

 

 

 

It was July 1977; I just turned 18 years old. For most kids my age it was time for proms and enjoying the last summer before going to college. For some that might be a milestone, for me it meant that I was now walking on the thinnest of ice. I was now old enough to be charged as an adult for any crimes I would commit from this day forward.

 

 

“SHIT SHIT SHIT, I’m going to be late. I hate being late when I have to meet him, “I was thinking to myself. I was walking fast, maybe sort of running actually. I had to meet Mr. J. That’s what everybody called him. I remember his real name but it doesn’t matter now so we’ll stick with Mr. J. He was this big drug dealer in our neighborhood. He always had pot, coke, smack, if you could name it Mr. J sold it. He never actually dealt drugs himself. He always had younger guys carrying and selling drugs for him. I was one of those younger guys, and right now I was late for a meeting with Mr. J, shit I hate being late. It was around 3pm and it was hot and sticky today.

 

Just a few days had passed since the great blackout of 1977 in New York City. The entire city was without power.  Every traffic light, every store, and every single city power was out for more than 24 hours. There were over 1,000 fires set by looters and rioters. It was also The Summer of Sam. Sam was this physco nutjob running around shooting and killing lovers while they were kissing in their parked cars.  Crazy, crazy shit happened that summer.

The day after the blackout me and this buddy of mine named Ray made these t-shirts that said “I Survived the 1977 NYC Blackout”. We made them in all sizes and colors, Ray and I sold a shitload of theses shirts at $5.00 a piece. My day started like this; Mr. J said I had to go handle this big pot delivery coming into the bus terminal. I figured no problem; I’ll just go to midtown Manhattan and sell some t- shirts while I wait for the bus to come in. I sold a lot of shirts that day and still had a bunch of them stuffed in these two brown paper bags when I went to meet the pot delivery. I hustled over to The Port Authority bus terminal at 42nd Street and 8th Ave to meet the courier. After the exchange I went into the terminal bathroom and put the pot in the bottom of my shopping bags and the t-shirts of top of the pot. I then took the A train from 42nd Street to Dyckman Street, where I was to meet Mr. J and his boyfriend.  I had always been a good solider for Mr. J.  But there was never a good reason to be late. Especially today, today I had a big delivery. In each paper bag I had about 5 pounds of Columbian Gold, the finest and “sweetest smoking herb you ever had.”

I got off the subway train and was walking up Broadway, I was almost at the corner now and I could see Mr. J leaning up against his big black Cadillac. Even from across the street I could see his smiling eyes. He knew that I had the good stuff and my bags were worth a whole lot of money to him.

I was about to cross the street when the following events unfolded right before my eyes.  I could actually see everything taking place out of the corner of my eye as I stepped off the sidewalk and into the street.

 

I saw the big green city bus.

I saw the small car in front of the big bus.

And I even saw the cop car that was slowly driving behind the big bus, the cop driving was actually looking right at me.

Then it all happened so fast. The small car in front of the green city bus slammed on his brakes in an attempt to pull into a parking spot. The city bus didn’t have a chance to stop and slammed into the small car. The bus “crushed” the little car into some other parked cars and right behind the bus was that cop car. The cop car screeches to a stop just barely missing the back of the bus. The impact of the bus and car, the screeching tires from the cop and the image of me almost getting hit by something halted me in my tracks. I didn’t move a muscle, I should have but I didn’t.

Less than 50 yards away and right across the street looking at me was Mr. J.

Less than 5 yards away from me was this traffic accident.

It suddenly occurred to me that I’m the only person on the street here.  I was the single, one and only fucking person on that very corner at that very moment. The cop that was driving and staring at me just moments ago gets out of his car. With his hat in one hand and his other hand scratching his head he sees me trying to indiscreetly cross the street behind his cop car with my two bags of some pot and t-shirts. He runs over and stands in front of me and starts babbling about how, “I WAS THE ONLY GODDAMN WITNESS.”

 

So there I was standing in the middle of this car accident talking with this cop with 10 freaking pounds of the “sweetest smoking herb” you ever tasted under some t-shirts in paper shopping bags. SHIT SHIT SHIT.

I could see Mr. J waving his hands and trying to get me to walk away, but the goddamn cop was saying “Hold on a second there son, we’re going to need you to write down what you saw.” I was like “Officer I got to go, I’m late, and I can’t hang around.” The other cop gets out of the car and yells “Just put him in the car, we’ll get his statement down at the station.” I had no choice but to get into the police car or I would be risking the cops getting suspicious. Worse yet, if I ran they would start chasing me and I wasn’t going to get too far with my bags. So I got into the car and off we go, as I look out the rear patrol car window I see Mr. J screaming and waving his arms.

 

There was nothing I could do, nothing.

 

Back in the 70’s pot was pretty common. The cops didn’t have drug dogs walking around all the time like they do now. Besides the stuff I as carrying was professionally wrapped and packaged. This wasn’t some amateur operation, Mr.J and his connections took their pot business very serious. I was one of 2 dozens guys that picked up for him on a weekly basis. There were a lot of people who would have trouble seeing me getting into a cop car with their merchandise.

We get to the 34th Precinct police station a place I had been so many times I couldn’t begin to count.  The cop tells me to sit on a wooden bench by the front desk and says” don’t worry kid we’ll get you back home with your groceries before you know it.”

I’m laughing to myself yeah thanks officer; “my mommy really wants these groceries.”

So there I sit on this bench in the middle of the goddamn police station AND to make matters worse it’s the middle of a goddamn shift change. There had to be dozens and dozens of cops walking around, and here I sit with 10 pounds of “the sweetest smoking herb you ever had” tucked between my legs.

I’m sitting there for 10 minutes before finally the same cop comes over, sits down next to me on the wooden bench to take my statement of the accident.

“Remember the car accident?” He asks.

“Yes officer I do remember”, I reply.

He asks me “so what exactly did you see?”

Who do you think was at fault? BLAH BLAH BLAH.

He had this clipboard with a sheet of paper with lines on it resembling the intersection. He is talking and making little cars and city buses in his drawing. His eyes were looking downward at the clipboard, it was at this moment that he looks at my shopping bags and says, and “Hey what’s that in your shopping bag? Are those t-shirts? He yanks the top one out of my bag before I could react and he holds it up to look at the writing. “These are great shirts kid; do you have a green one in extra large?”

 

I’m freaking dying here as this cop starts reaching in my bag grabbing t-shirts. Before you know it, other cops that are walking by see this happening and they’re stopping and saying, “hey nice t-shirts.” Another cop asks me, “Do you have a red one?” “I have a son and a daughter do you have any small sizes?” The cop sitting on the bench with me starts to reach into my bags to sort thru the t-shirts. I barked at him,” I got it for you, I’ll get it, here you go, you want a blue one?”

I’M FREAKING DYING OVER HERE

 

This goes on for what seemed like forever and finally everyone that wants a shirt gets a shirt (and hell yeah I charged them for the shirts, $5 bucks each).

I finally sell the last shirt to the last freaking cop in that goddamn police station. I lean back against the wooden bench, “Whew that was close.” I look down at my paper bags and I swear to god there must have been only a ½ dozen t-shirts left on each pile of pot in each bag.

One more freaking “cop t-shirt rush” and they would have seen “the sweetest smoking herb you ever had.” We finish up the accident interview and the cop says to me, “thanks for helping out kid, let me give you a ride back to your neighborhood.” I’m like “no, no I’m alright I’ll hop in a cab or take the bus really officer it’s no problem.”

He’s like, “no way, it’s the least I can do since you helped us.”

 

So once again I climb into a police car with my two bags of t-shirts and the “sweetest smoking herb you ever had.” We get back to same intersection where all this just started a few hours ago. And low and behold, still leaning against his big black caddy is Mr. J. This time he’s not smiling, he’s got this real pissed off look on his face like I was a rat or something. Not to mention here I am bringing the cops right to his feet.

Never happen, because I’m no rat and I would never ever skip out on anyone I was doing business with. I finally cross the street to him and I tell him everything that happened. I was waiting for him to pull out a gun and smack the shit out of me but instead he starts laughing, pats me on the head and says “get in the car little dude, let’s get the fuck out of here.” We drive back to his house and we get stoned right until the morning, then I lock myself in the back bedroom so I can sleep in peace. He has a big house and lots of people are always coming and going so he gave this back bedroom to me and another buddy so we could lock it from the inside while we sleep, but that is another story for another time.

 

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