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  • When I first moved to San Francisco in the late 80s, I quickly discovered a wonderful thing, the ability to buy whatever drug I wanted any time of the day. All you had to do was know which street to go to. My first experience with this was my first day off the turnip truck, walking down Haight St. with the remnant of the 60s muttering 'doses' as I walked by. Well, how could I say no?

    But my more mundane, day-to-day drug needs I found could be easily fulfilled closer to home, in my own neighborhood, the Tenderloin. For those unfamiliar, the 'loin is the inner-city down town skid row-ish part of SF, full of flop-houses and porn shops and people inhabiting the lowest depths of society. But back then, it was also where someone with low standards could get an apartment for 4-500 bucks a month.

    In this neighborhood I found that drugs could be found, appropriately enough, on Jones St. On a stretch of blocks starting at Market St., mostly Mexicans but a few others had created a virtual shopping mall of drugs, the first block, mota, the second block, coca, the third block, chiva (pot, coke, and heroin). I was never big on coke (for pussies that can’t handle speed, my friends used to say), and though I tried it a couple times, I never joined the grunge smack fad when that passed through. But pot was another thing.

    I worked at Blondie’s Pizza, at Powell and Market, and it was only a couple blocks out of my way to walk down Jones St. on my way home and buy a dime bag. I felt bizarrely adult about it all, I would get off work, get something to eat, buy some pot, and then come home and unwind. Some people bought a six-pack on their way home, I would walk down the street along the abandoned Hibernia Bank building and buy some Mexican weed. It was the ritual.

    …………………………………………………………………………..

    On the night of my twenty-third birthday, my friend Dave and I were tripping balls on some particularly potent LSD. We wanted to get stoned, but we only had five bucks. We went to Jones St., and heard the familiar 'mota.' They guy took out a dime bag, and we told him we only had five dollars. He bit the bag in half and gave the other half to us. Good trip.

    …………………………………………………………………………..

    One time I was on my way home from making pizza, and I stopped off at McDonalds and got something like a happy meal and a shake (I remember the shake explicitly). I walked up Jones St. and got my dime. Afterwards, further up the street, another guy tried to sell me pot, and I turned him down. He became agitated, and wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept badgering me as I continued walking, and I kept saying no. Finally he came up behind me and cold-cocked me, grabbing the McDonald’s food I had in my hand. "What the fuck is your problem!" I yelled back at him, but he just barked back some nonsense as he walked away. I went home and got stoned, hungry.

    ………………………………………………………………………......

    Eventually I moved out of the Tenderloin, and found myself a regular, reliable pot dealer. The Hibernia was turned into a police station, which hampered the drug trade, before being abandoned yet again. In those days I had no goals or ambition. I had worries, I just didn’t know it yet. I was a stoner slacker kid from the suburbs living in the big city for the first time, and I could not have asked for anything better than Jones St.
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