Last month I had an exciting hour allegedly waiting for the bus. I allegedly was watching alleged drug deals from across the alleged street. It was allegedly unbelievable. The three jokesters were on a major street, in a high traffic shopping area, with what appeared to be, allegedly, Road Construction both ways.
This was why I was waiting so long for that darn bus. But it was not a waste of time. Oh, I was positively nostalgic over my alleged years in the allegedly crack-drenched neighborhood in RiverTown.
Top-Down versus Bottom-Up
The area is also a target of city-initiated (top-down) rather than owner-driven (bottom-up) gentrification. Therefore, new apartments and condos sit side-by-side with better quality assisted housing (but still projects). The shopping center is supposed to keep this gentrification from being a doomed enterprise. And it's a good idea. It's hard to live in a neighborhood with no services like dry cleaners, groceries, or a hardware store.
The big-box stores and food franchises have gone in, but there are No Local Businesses Interested--as in, the dry cleaners or hardware. They can't afford the losses, or the efforts for loss-prevention. This despite the city subsidy. A grocery store chain will be moving in, though--one of the final pieces on local services. That's what I hear.
Let's Make a Deal!
Because of the mixed, slow traffic and exceedingly public venue, it seemed like the stupidest place on earth to allegedly undertake illegal transactions. However, I think it was another two-step arrangement, where the money is separated from delivery of the product. So the slow movement of heavy traffic actually aided them. They would allegedly catch the pedestrian clientele on the way-social interaction. Drivers would allegedly pull over for a chat, in the still-extant parking lane, and then move on. All the uninvolved drivers were just trying to figure out how to make the light, so they paid no attention. Good thing we were all in such an allegedly good mood.
My pictures do not bear out any of my allegations. Perhaps this is a different scene altogether? Maybe these gentlemen are just taking in the sun and talking to pretty girls when possible. Could be the only rule they are breaking is the 'no loitering' sign that I allege was there, although not pictured.
My favorite part was watching when they had no alleged business to conduct. Laughing, pulling out their money in a way I would never do, counting it and laughing again, then shoving it back in their pockets. I would have paid the price of whatever just to hear what they were saying.
Of course the neighbors know. I scanned the building's balconies: they were family-style. Nice, in other words, with plants, furniture, tricycles.
So I started thinking what architecture had to do with the tipping point for crime in this building.
Straight, Narrow Hallways--Limited Exit
Drug syndicates on this low-level do have some kind of loyalty to each other, and physical strength, but mostly they have numbers. Loyalty sometimes breaks down under outside scrutiny or pressure. But I don't believe it breaks down inside the building. Between the connections, the annoyance of living next door to somebody who will be angry for years, and the fear factor, it doesn't take much to intimidate the entire building.
An elevator is a trap, and so is a staircase. A balcony could be. And there's maximum three exits. You can cover those with six to nine guys. Or three guys and two spotters. Piece of cake to control the whole building.
So wouldn't be an accident of placement for these guys to be at the Front Entrance. It seems stupidly obvious to traffick there, and yet it shows 'ownership'. It keeps the neighbors in line, and the neighbors must be kept in line. Heck, even I was toeing the line. I had no wish to be allegedly shot while allegedly taking pictures, or causing the bystander with an allegedly broken foot standing next to me to be in some allegedly unequal cross-fire.
This is a nice building with recent renovation.
I know that tearing down projects exports crime to wherever these residents go. The business alliance can remain, transfer, and even extend with this movement of people. I know that some of the most gang-riddled areas are neighborhoods full of single family residences.
I am left in a quandary, of course, when looking for a solution. In the meantime, those three guys are still allegedly counting their alleged rolls of soft and allegedly planning their next big party with the alleged profits.
My bus came. I managed to take a couple pictures from the window, when it seemed safe for me and everybody else to take them. I'm kind of relieved they are such bad shots. They're certainly not evidence of anything. Three guys, taking the air in front of their building. It is more in the way of an alleged memento.
Besides architecture, I thought about labor hours. You know there is a sense, from Freakonomics and elsewhere, that drug dealing is not profitable as an hourly wage. But the demands on the time are not the same as they are at a fast-food job. Freakonomics authors Stephen Levitt and Paul Dubner may have missed part of the point (see short funny lecture in previous post).
What do I learn from this? How does it advance a solution or formulate a strategy? I am still thinking that through. Because it's possible that city planners have done the best-faith effort here possible. And yet, allegedly, here we are, with low-wage crime and terrified or complicit neighbors.