Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dope Dealing Days

Back when I was in college, at Hunter College, one of the real jewels of the City of New York University system, I dealt pot. The college had perhaps 29,000 students in it, and was the best damned university for nursing, education and theater on the east coast. Getting in required about an 88 average in high school and 1,200 on the SATs. Two years before I entered it was an all girl school but was forced to integrate, as were a lot of schools at that time, 1967-1970. So when I entered there were still about 11 women for every man. And within six months of entering my pal Phil and I had found a tenement apartment on 76th street and 2Nd ave for $45 a month. It had a tub in the kitchen, four small rooms, a back yard that was not really something to use, a fireplace which when we did use caused the neighbors to call the fire department because of all the smoke in their apartments, but it was glorious.
And what were we to do to earn our $45 a month? Phil was innocent and has gone on to great scientific things, but I was a pot peddler. Not a big one. Not a good one. I'd buy a quarter pound and sell three of the four ounces so that I'd have one for free.
I also worked making art as a key 'art hanger' at Multiples gallery on Madison and 74th, pulling silk screens for Oldenberg and Warhol and Larry Masters at the Chrysillas gallery and building fantastic art by Rauchenberg, Mirasol, Alexander and so forth for Dave Basanow, the Impossible Man in downtown Manhattan. I also drove a cab, cooked in restaurants, built loft beds and bookshelves, sold essays to fellow students, whatever it took to make the $22.50 monthly rent on the Upper East Side, plus food money, electricity, phone bills and the cigarettes I smoked.
But of all those jobs I liked selling pot the best.
And the neighbors in that old tenement building often called the cops on me.
But when the cops came they'd say something like: "We got a report that someone is smoking pot in here...Is that true?"
And I'd say something like: "Well, officer, at this moment no one is smoking anything..."
And they'd say: "Well, we dont' want to hear that stuff, okay?"
And that was that.
And then the Rockefeller laws were enacted, sending people to prison willy-nilly for mandatory terms that would completely wreak their lives.
And I was not subject to them and I shouldn't have been. I was just a college kid selling a little pot.
But a lot of people were subject to them and they're still rotting in prison.
And now those laws are going to be finally rescinded and I am one of the people cheering. Finally! Hooray!
Jail is not meant for punishment, though many feel it is. It's really for taking people out of the social order who cannot fit into the social order. In other words, bad people. Pot dealers and other drug dealers, whether I like their drugs or not, and mostly I do not, shouldn't be in jail. They should be running stores selling their wares and paying taxes and raising kids and grand kids, just like bar owners and cigarette sellers and doctors and lawyers and the Kennedys and so forth.
Thank god they're getting rid of the Rockefeller laws. It's a subject we could get into and spend time on and I dont' mind that if you all feel differently. But for my money, a kid selling a little pot or whatever should just be told, like I was, to cool it so that the neighbors stopped complaining.


Morgan said...

The times they are a-changin'...

Gritter said...

Oh it will happen and it will happen very soon.

Won't be long now before every single conceivable item in our lives will be taxed by the morons. Everything considered a vice today will be legal tomorrow so they can wring out a few more million from the "sheep" err I mean citizens of this country in decline.

Nuther nice blog Peter. Reminded me of a time long ago in my life as well.

Graccus said...

Reminds me of being on a grand jury in '79 with the D.A. coming in and trying to go after some city cops for being at parties where pot was being used. His mistake was hauling in a very cute young party girl who was supposed to testify against her cop pals to get her off a charge they had on her. We quickly figured out the politics of this whole deal and told him to go after serious crimes not silly stuff like pot use at parties in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1979. A thankless task anyhow since, in addition, it would have been a personal thing for probably half the grand jury. We realized what we meant by serious crimes when the next year the state prison in our D.A.'s jurisdiction blew up in one of the bloodiest uprisings ever.