By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
What was your worst experience copping on the streets, and what did you learn?
RICHIE: I'd only been on campus for three weeks, so I didn't have any friends. I paid this neighborhood kid $5 to show me a spot. He took me to the basement of a brownstone, knocked on the door, and ran. This guy said, "What you want?" and I told him, "My name is Richie and I want to buy some pot." He opened the door and asked if I was a cop. I was like, "No, my name is Richie and I'm from Kansas. I just need to buy some pot." He was staring me up and down, and then he said, "Look, Richie from Kansas, do I look like I care who you are? All I need to know is what you want. This is not a social club." I guess I was nervous, and before I realized it, I said again, "My name is Richie and I'm from Kansas, nice to meet you." Next thing I know he's calling some guy named Bull, who comes into the room with three other guys holding bats, and the guy that answered the door is saying how they should kick my ass just for being stupid. I explained that I didn't mean no harm, but they weren't listening. They started calling me "Wet-neck Richie." One of them threatened to do something with my testicles, and I didn't mean to, but the tears just started pouring. Bull kept saying that he was going to kick all of Kansas out of me. I don't remember how I got out of there, but I left with a dime bag, wet pants, and laughter behind me. I learned that dealers in New York are a lot different from the ones in Kansas: They just want you to make your purchase with minimal conversation. As Bull so kindly put it, "Keep your fucking mouth shut."
ROBIN: Once I was looking for some pot, and this guy walked up to me and said, "How much you want?" I said, "A nic," and gave him $5. He stuffed a small bag in my pocket and took off. I went home ready to get blazed up. But when I took the bag out, it was crack. I flushed it. My lesson was: Always specify what type of drug you want, and always inspect the product before the dealer leaves.
MIKE: I'm 5'10" and weigh 250 pounds, and although people tell me that I smell like a cop, I never paid them any attention until I tried copping here. I would go into spots and ask for a bag, and dealers would say shit like "We don't service cops" or "What're you talking about?" I would plead my case, show them my blazing red eyeballs. They always kicked my ass out. Moral of the story: If you fit the physical profile of a cop, don't even try it. Get a delivery service and save yourself the embarrassment.
Give us the lowdown on ways to score.
MIKE: Ask Dap, he has the 411 on the connections.
ROBIN: Yeah, his dorm room is the first stop for freshmen.
DAP: I help the wet-necks out. When they first come to the city, they think that drugs fall out of the sky. So they do stupid shit like Richie. I guess his Kansas charm saved him.
What's your deal?
DAP: In between classes, I'm a middleman. Kids come to me and I match them up with a supplier. I also school them on how to act in order for the transaction to go smoothly.
Richie obviously missed that class.
DAP: He could have avoided that whole scene had he come to me.
What's your fee?
DAP: If dealer and client are satisfied, they usually hit me with free weed. That way I can actually use my money on books and food.
Hit us off with some strange scenarios.
ROBIN: The street dealers have all types of ingenious ways to stay in business. They stand on the corner and keep their stash close by in the change box of phone booths, or on the tires of parked cars. If the cops raid, they never find the product.
MIKE: The stores that aren't really stores baffle me. There's hardly ever anything on the shelves, and when there is, the expiration date is usually 10 years past. You go in and guys are pulling weed from panels in the floor, or secret rooms in the back.
SARA: There's a West Indian restaurant on Fulton Street. If you order a plain No. 1, that means you want a fish sandwich. But if you order a No. 1 special, that means you also want a nic bag. The menu varies depending on the type of weed: No. 1 is chocolate, No. 2 is hydro, No. 3 is skunk, and so on.
ROBIN: Weed is still very much a part of student life; if it becomes difficult to score in one area, it becomes easier in another.
RICHIE: We are artists: We study, eat, and shit art. No matter how underground we have to go, we will find it.
SARA: You just have to be smart, and prepared to deal with the consequences if you get busted.