By The Nose
Published in City Paper, May 30, 2007
Drugs were being dealt all around the Nose as we got in our car on a recent Saturday afternoon in West Baltimore. Bad drugs, if a young dealer’s overheard admonition to his slightly older re-up man was true: “Man,” he said to his supplier, “that shit is dirty. Niggers around here are laughing about how dirty that shit is.”
Dirty or not, the shit was moving. The driver of the vehicle in front of us–a Ford Explorer with a Baltimore Ravens sticker–copped some junk from the dealer. We followed when the Explorer pulled off. Got to get to know the geography of The Game.
The Explorer drove slowly and erratically until, half an hour later, it stopped in front of a well-kept house in Hillendale, with a freshly mowed yard adorned with lawn ornaments. It was the picture of suburban bliss, safely north of the city line.
The Nose approached and asked the man whether he scores regularly at that particular drug market.
“Nah, I don’t go much,” he said. He was white and looked a decade older than his late 40s. He’s a pipe fitter, he explained. Records show he owns the house with a woman who shares his last name. They purchased the 1,300-square-foot home on a quarter-acre lot a couple of years ago for nearly $200,000. Prior to that, the man had sold his 1,150-square-foot South Baltimore rowhouse for about the same price.
We asked him about the notion that the city’s poor drive demand in the city’s billion-dollar drug trade.
“Nah, it ain’t like that,” he said. “It’s a business down there.” A drug corner, in other words, that doesn’t discriminate based on race or class or anything other than ready cash in small denominations. When told about the dealer’s earlier conversation with his supplier about the dirty shit they were selling that day–the same shit the junkie bought–he shrugged and said, “I don’t doubt that.”
Follow a junkie home and end up in the burbs. Maybe the burbs, which so generously share demand for city drugs, should have more of their own drug corners. The closer the market is to the junkie, the less the junkie will drive. Hell, city junkies hardly drive at all, so few own cars. And if our junkie is any indication–he never even noticed the Nose was on his tail until he was out of his Explorer and walking across his lawn–junkies really shouldn’t drive.