#MNR: 3 Gets You 2
“I love the hustle.”
Mitch, Paid in Full
The quote “war on drugs” may be one of the greatest misnomers we’ve ever known. The Wire said it best. You can’t call it a war because wars end. Drugs are forever. They cross all social and economic lines. Heroin ruins the lives of well-to-do white kids from Nassau County, Strong Island at the same rate as Black folk born and raised “down the hill” in Paterson, New Jerusalem. Famous politicians have been caught smoking crack under the eye of criminal probes. Opioids have further muddied the waters in ways we’ve never before seen. The entire world smokes reefa. Where does it begin? Where does it end? Those are rhetorical questions. But let’s talk about it.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. Ain’t no cocaine or poppy fields in the South Bronx, Compton, Englewood (Chicago OR Jersey), the Fifth Ward in Houston, Highland Park in Richmond (VA), Carol City in Miami, West Birmingham, Alabama, South Boston, VA, Roxbury in Boston, West Baltimore, U. City in St. Louis, the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, South Dallas, TX…you get the point. We don’t grow the shit. We don’t process the shit. We don’t ship or fly the shit into our corners, gas station convenience store lots, project staircases, trailer parks, ‘partment complexes, etc. How does it get from Mexico, South America, the Mediterranean, or Middle East to the American Ghetto? Hint: it ain’t us on this one either. That’s why this song will never stop playing. This is a rich man’s game, and the money trickles down stream. But think about it: if your local corner boy with a dream can become a millionaire off that same corner, how much does the MF that owns the fields and processes the yay or dog food make? And who is he doing business with? Because that MF is able to get it off a boat, plane, or trucks and transport it to the wholesalers who put it in the hands of the kingpins who sell it to the trap legends who flood the hood. And everybody gets rich as fuck. In the words of the great, late Guru, it’s a daily operation. For all this to happen, it’s common sense that people in high places are complicit participants. They call the shots that make sure those drugs get from the fields into your system. Billions are made annually. And that money ain’t going no damn where.
We all know that the cocaine and heroin games have been heavy plays in this country since the ‘60s. But this opioid epidemic – these ‘scripts, they’re a whole other monster. Oxycodone and Percocet, mostly, but strong consideration to Xanax and a few others as well. I can candidly say that I had a front row seat to the festivities. Between my two OG’s whom I shared an apartment with in Highbridge, #BXNYC and my big cousin in my home projects in Spanish Harlem, I watched how easy it was to “legally” gain access to prescription narcotics, and how easy it also was to get them off. One of my OG’s had a pharmacist at the end of our block on Jesup and another on the west side of Harlem. My cousin had his home pharmacist on the Eastside and another in Queens. My OG received well over a band and a half worth monthly when all ‘scripts were accounted for. In his prime, Cuzzo received over two stacks worth of ‘scripts monthly. Of course, they didn’t see those exact numbers in translation, but they still made a good penny when they didn’t get dicked (pause). Everyone in the 100 and 200 blocks knew about the Dominicans in the 170s by Amsterdam, who bought ‘scripts like Kev and I bought baseball cards back when. This went on for years, beginning in the mid 2000s . Matter of fact, it was so commonplace that I didn’t even consider the magnitude of it all until well over a half decade later when I saw a special on the opioid crisis crippling middle and upper middle class white kids on Long Island, NY. A year or two after that, it made its way into professional development training on the day job in the school system. And it wasn’t a generic training. It came from Bergen County PIGS. It was more than obvious that it was crisis mode.
Oh, the irony. I’d become quite familiar with dope fiends from the Barrio to Highbridge and had seen the carnage in Paterson since I’d moved back up top. I even knew a money-getting dope girl from P-Town. Outside those streets and the newspapers that covered them, the epidemic largely fell on deaf years. It only became an issue when it crossed demographics. That’s some bullshit. No one gave a half a fuck when it “only” affected Blacks, Hispanics, and white trash. We can argue ethics until we pass out, but it doesn’t affect the final score. The reality is that this epidemic is bigger than who and where. This shit can’t be stopped.
Where, exactly, do we go with the drug epidemic? Should we treat it like Al Giardello from Homicide: Life on the Street or Bunny Colson from The Wire (both David Simon productions) and legalize or ignore it? Do police (or the alphabet boys) continue to take down a kingpin here and there, sweep corners once a week, or give a kid football numbers for a G-pack? There really isn’t a steadfast answer. Drugs are like syphilis; they are forever. Feel free to debate. I welcome the verbal intercourse. Better yet, come up with a plan. Until then…