Righteous Dopefiend

A renowned scholar takes his pedigree to the ’hood.

By F.H. Rubino
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 4 | Posted Dec. 29, 2009

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“The image that’s most impressive to me is that of teens and 20-year-olds selling drugs in the shadows of the factories that employed their parents and grandparents,” says Bourgois.

He’s been surprised by the preponderance of high-quality powder cocaine on the streets of North Philly—he says even today, in other cities most powder coke users have money, and that poorer folks still mainly smoke crack, although America’s pipers are aging (“Young people don’t see crack as cool, they look down on you for smoking it”).

The young favor heroin and its synthetic-pill cousins, he says, adding that he’s sometimes startled by the ages of customers visiting the corners he studies.

“They’re young and they’re white. Some don’t even look like they’re out of high school.”

Asked for a representative anecdote from his two years of participant observation in North Philly’s drug culture, Bourgois recalls a hot summer afternoon when a long line of addicts, many with badly scabbed arms, waited patiently to turn in their dirty works and be handed new ones at a mobile Prevention Point needle-exchange outlet.

“Suddenly, a dealer runs by yelling, ‘Free samples!’ and yelling brand names of powder cocaine,” he says. “Some of these people had been waiting a long time, but the line emptied just like that. Everybody took off running after the guy, but soon they came back all furious. The free samples were all gone.” ■

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1. Anonymous said... on Dec 30, 2009 at 01:19PM

“fascinating ,i watched the down fall of kensington, the ok corral, legalize it ,tax it,the cops , and das office are the most corrupt people in philly, sgt tepper,det cudjik, to name a few, stop glorifying ,the cops,if i had a badge,i know iwould make money,though ,shake downs, only in america”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jan 3, 2010 at 11:56PM

“It's difficult living in Kensington. All the narcotic unit do is shakedown drug dealers. Then they get mad when the residents go outside to watch what they are doing. The residents get sent back into their home, while the dealer can continue to stand in the corner to make some more shake down money.”

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3. Michelle said... on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:30AM

“It is such a mess in Kensington can you believe it's 2010 you would think by now they really need to work on the problems not put every one in jail they need HELP! People Heroin is an illness these young kids get hooked, and they are living down there. These poor girls are selling thier souls for $5.00 $10.00 to get a bag!! Then these so called pimps have these girls living in their run down rows making them pay up, because they are stuck! Stop turning the other way, but it seems thats all they do!!!”

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4. Anonymous said... on Jan 18, 2010 at 01:13AM

“It all makes me sick!!! I watch drug deals go down in day light as the cops pass on by! You can see who is who it doesn't take long! Shit look at the color of whites they are Gray illness has taken over! So much more can be done it angers me to see this mess! Yes, i am a Mom who is going insane knowing my child is an addict, and more should be done! Before i get that call or knock on my door, which ever parent or loved one is waiting for, and hope it never comes???
What a crazy and upsetting life we fear with these drugs out there! You men getting off on these young girls this could be your daughter,sister, a family member your wife think with the right head! You all will pay maybe not now,but you will have a God or hire person to answer too!!! May the dear Lord guide my child to the help she needs and all you others you are worth sooo much more!!!”

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