Slangin' Liquor in the Hood
June 18, 2008 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Slangin' Liquor in the Hood From the site: A look into the everyday dealings of a 34 year old liquor store owner and his crew in the "hood." Gangs, trailer parks, alcoholics, methheads, crack heads (yeah they still exist)....I read somewhere that this profession makes the top 5 regularly among the most dangerous jobs. But me, I ain't scurred.

What's it like to own a liquor store? In the hood? Some notable excerpts:

Dealing with customer dissatisfaction.
Corporate communication.
And unexpected acts of kindness.

Caution: heavy doses of slang involved.
posted by The ____ of Justice (21 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
That was oddly absorbing.
posted by desjardins at 9:15 PM on June 18, 2008

Very cool story(ies) he has, and surprisingly fun to read.
posted by not_on_display at 9:28 PM on June 18, 2008

I wasn't expecting to be interested in this but once I started reading I didn't stop until I'd read them all. Thanks The ____ of Justice.
posted by tellurian at 9:42 PM on June 18, 2008

100% awesome. Eddy is my new hero.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:13 PM on June 18, 2008

This looks interesting, but the contrived, fakey, overdone "ghetto-speak" makes it really hard to read. I mean, it's worse than a 14 year old 50 Cent fan's MySpace page (at one point he spells "everything" as "eurthang", for example). Especially since I really doubt he even talks like that. You don't have to type out your poseurish speech affectations.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:23 PM on June 18, 2008

So Bud Bundy's "Grandmaster B" character got a blog?

Seriously, this is hard to read.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:39 PM on June 18, 2008

This is terrific. Brings back memories of stories my friend Craig would tell me, back when he worked at a similar store. And LOL at the people decrying the author's "affected" "character" voice.
posted by jtron at 10:41 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I thought it was funny, and fun to read. I wish there was more of it.

I liked the "voice" of it. The kid who lived across the street from us when we lived in the 'hood talked to me like the educated young man that he was, unless he was telling me a story about some local goings-on on the block, in which case he told it in vernacular, which tickled me. I hear his voice when I read this blog.

I also lived for a time in South Phoenix, where this blogger mentions having lived. It's all good to me.
posted by padraigin at 10:47 PM on June 18, 2008

And LOL at the people decrying the author's "affected" "character" voice.

The author is a 34 year old Korean. In one picture, he's wearing an Iron Maiden shirt while throwing a gang sign. I don't think I'm unjustified in thinking he's a poseur.

The stories are pretty good, though, especially the one about the homeless guy's walker. Several of the entries, though, describe his attempts to attract ants to some homeless people's shelter in order to get rid of them, by covering their makeshift bedding with sugar and honey, like they were vermin or something. So he's kind of a dick as well.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:56 PM on June 18, 2008

The author is a 34 year old Korean. In one picture, he's wearing an Iron Maiden shirt while throwing a gang sign. I don't think I'm unjustified in thinking he's a poseur.

posted by nasreddin at 1:02 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nope. Couldn't get past the first couple of paragraphs of the all-lowercase elementary school 'what I did this summer'-essay style, much as I was interested in reading this stuff.

I don't think this is so much someone who's emulating "ghetto-speak" as someone who's just plain semi-literate.

i aint got no time 4 dat shit, muhfucker
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:37 AM on June 19, 2008

I don't think this is so much someone who's emulating "ghetto-speak" as someone who's just plain semi-literate.

It's too bad you think so. I'm around people who talk like this every day, and I'm always surprised by how artful and poetic ghetto slang can be, compared to the stilted way many educated people talk. He's just imitating the flow of how a story would be told orally.
posted by nasreddin at 1:46 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm always surprised by how artful and poetic ghetto slang can be, compared to the stilted way many educated people talk.

Certainly true. This just isn't that, is what I'm saying.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:55 AM on June 19, 2008

Wow that was interesting. And while some might find the slang annoying I always like to see how peoples is messing about with the written word.

I found the article damn funny at times, and it reminded me of a store I used to frequent when I was living in New York's Lower East Side (later renamed "The East Village" by real estate marketers).

The neighbourhood was pretty funky back then, block after block of partially burned out and frequently squatted tenements, lots of drugs, lots of gang activity. The expression "NIMBY" hadn't been recognised yet, so The Lower East Side (LES) had an inordinately large number of missions supporting homeless people because, as New York's rich and powerful frequently emphasized the importance of caring for the needy, they sure as hell weren't building any shelters uptown where they lived.

Needless to say, the successful (legal) local businesses seemed almost exclusively to be bars, liquor stores and bodequas, with the occasional Dominican or Ukrainian restaurant here and there. Illegal business were oriented around drugs and speakeasys - unlicensed after hours bars and dance clubs that were both incredibly dangerous and loads of fun.

I was working on Wall Street and preferred to live in The Lower East Side as there were lots of galleries around, rents were dirt cheap and I could walk to work (sidenote: remarkably similar to where I live in London now, The East End). I never mind a little Urban Blight as long as I can live cheaply, and I certainly never want to live with a bunch of people who look / act / think just like me as that's neither healthy nor conducive to developing broad viewposts. So LES was fine just for me then as The East End is now.

I'm a wine drinker and while my palate is certainly NOT as well developed as a sommelier (think cheap wine but not that cheap) I'm not drinking no Boones Farm with my dinner. Which ruled out getting a bottle at the bodequa next to my flat, as they exclusively sold products demanded by the larger community, meaning wines such as Mad Dog 20/20, Night Train or Thunderbird. In other words, Bum Wine. And while Bum Wine is ok for some, its just not ok for me.

So I knew of a liquor store on the south west corner of First Ave and Second Street, a couple blocks away from my flat. Run by a young pair of enterprising Chinese American brothers, in addition to aforementioned bum wine, this particular store also sold cigarettes, lottery tickets and, what interested me, a wide range of alcohol including what might be considered "finer" wines.

My approach to drinking wine will no doubt annoy some, but I can describe it in three words: habit, focus and consistency. That is, I tend to identify a particular grape or country, then select a brand and year, and drinking that wine and only that wine for several months before switching. You see, I wanna be able to recognise the demon I'm putting in my mouth.

Now this liquor store was what's called in the business a "lock up"; you entered the front door only to be immediately surrounded by thick glass on either side. Forming a crude '[' shape, you would walk to the front where the register was, the stores stock on either side behind glass, so you could shop and then point out your choise to the clerk. Also at the front was the glass door where the clerk could enter or leave the lock up.

Given the line of business these guys were in and the fact that, for better or worse, many people in the community viewed local businesses as little more than ATM machines ready to disburse cash on demand, these guys were prudent to run a lock up.

The clerk sat behind this glass with a bank style drawer for money in / product out controlled by a lever at his disposal. Put your cash in the drawer, he'd pull it in then push the drawer back out with your booze. A nice, simple and anonymous transaction.

So one evening I'd been working late and got back to the neighbourhood around 10PM. Not terribly late by New York standards, but later than I usually visited this particular establishment.

As it was a New York summer - meaning perhaps 90F and 100% humidity even at that late hour - the shops front door was wide open, and upon entering I noticed so was the glass door leading to the area where the register was. Their AC had been messed up for sometime, so it was easy to understand why the clerk had both doors open. Approaching the register I could see the clerk with his back to me, tending to something on the table behind him.

Now I'm a friendly country boy so I tend to get to know everyone that I do business with pretty well, these guys included. I knew about the trouble they had from time to time with the locals, I knew about their various illegal side businesses, I knew about their bacchanalian weekends in Atlantic City and I also knew about their tastes for drugs and women.

But what I didn't know was each had full carry permits from the NYPD.

So with that clerks back turned to me, in a liquor store in perhaps one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, I did what nobody should ever do in such a situation - I scared the shit out of a gun carrying liquor store owner.

About three feet away from the clerk I boomed out "ALL RIGHT LETS HAVE IT"

The guy first ducks then hits the fucking floor like someone had knocked him in the head with a two by four, and in a smooth motion suddenly this enormous 357 appeared pointing right at me.


After a brief pause he got up, and he gave me my bottle. And my money.

"This one's on me man".

"Yeh, thanks". I put the bottle in my bag and headed home.

After that incident I usually waved from the street before entering the shop. Just a few nervous hand motions, but I made sure that clerk saw me and I did so even if the lock up was locked up.

You see, its important the gun carrying owner of a liquor store sees you coming.
posted by Mutant at 2:30 AM on June 19, 2008 [12 favorites]

The Wheel of Justice?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:32 AM on June 19, 2008

i figure, how much could those cost? you know the ones you see with the tennis balls on the legs. holly mary, they are bout $500.00 ea." mother fucking greedy ass cocksucker healthcare companies. ............

Wow.. this whole story about the walker gives me a new appreciation for how scummy the for-profit healthcare system is, yet how awesome we can be as individual human beings to one another.
posted by crapmatic at 7:57 AM on June 19, 2008

I like this guy and I'd like him to work on his punctuation and capitalization, the slang is fine with me, all kinds of people talk like that in the "ghetto", race doesn't come into it nearly as much as you think.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:02 AM on June 19, 2008

That's a great story Mutant. It even has a moral. Haha!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 9:47 AM on June 19, 2008

Mutant needs to post his stories on a blog or something, but definitely not in the comments. If you compare his [fictional?] story to any of the posts on Eddy's blog, you can easily see that writing about one's experience as they deal with people within a framework makes for much more interesting reading than the daily musings of a self-absorbed, thoughtless wanderer.

I know that junkies and winos make easy subjects and that gangsta-speak is lam3 on the web, but it would be encouraging to see more people get into this whole blogging thing and write about the deep down day-to-day experiences in situations and locales where most of us will never get to see.

And for those people who have never had to deal with pissy-pants bums on either a social or professional level, well, I envy you. The sugar and the honey tricks are way down on the bum deterrent scale.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:28 AM on June 19, 2008

Sorry you didn't enjoy it jsavimbi. Personally I thought Eddy was being very real--I mean it seemed like he is just presenting himself as who he is, and I didn't find him self-absorbed or thoughtless at all. (If going out of one's way to give a walker to somebody is self-absorbed, I shudder to think what terms would apply to most of us!)

You say:

"it would be encouraging to see more people get into this whole blogging thing and write about the deep down day-to-day experiences in situations and locales where most of us will never get to see."

I guess I assumed most metafilter users don't really know what it's like to work in a liquor store or know much about its regulars, at least in the neighborhood he works. I'm glad some other readers here got something out of it. I know I did!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 12:28 PM on June 19, 2008

It was pretty entertaining. It reminded me a bit of Herbert Kornfeld in tone, but that's not a bad thing. The walker story was pretty cool too.
posted by quin at 1:13 PM on June 19, 2008

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