In Search Of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio

Discussion in 'Movies, Entertainment & Various Music Genres' started by Tray_Is_Gay, Aug 12, 2006.

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  1. Tray_Is_Gay

    Tray_Is_Gay Sup, Tray?!

    Dec 30, 2003
    I originally purchased this documentary-like novel for Anthropology during 1st year college as part of the curriculum's mandatory reading. Since I dropped out halfway through, this remained untouched well through and after my short-lived post-high school education. Two nights ago, around 2am, I decided to dust it off the ol' bookshelf and started reading.
    The book was essentially a study of an ethnographer (social scientist) Philippe from California who moves to one of New York's roughest ghettoes in East Harlem, consequently befriending the resident Puerto Rican and African-American crack dealers who hustled and lived there.
    From the late 80s to the early 90s, Philippe lived with his family in a tenement building just two doors away from a bogus arcade spot "Game Room", which actually operated as a dealing crackhouse. Spending 5 years basically earning the trust and befriending the local crack dealers of this Game Room, he records and documents their experiences and accounts through his portable tape recorder.
    He focuses mainly on the life of a particular crack dealer named Primo, who to this day, remains friends and contact with the author. This young Puerto Rican (or Nuyorican, since he was 2nd-generation in the US) in his mid-20s was already a father at 18, and grew up heavily exposed to drugs, deadbeat dads, abused single moms, teenage gang rape, and street crime/gang life.
    Studying this sub-culture of crack dealers, Philippe learns much and replays back many quotes and personal thoughts that his friends shared with him and his tape recorder throughout those years. He also analyses and reflects back on historical basis such as the rapid growth of Puerto Rican population in NY during the mid-60s, the psychological and economical impact this environment has on these youths he has grown to befriend, while presenting it in such a way that does not glorify or sanitize this particular impoverished, drug-dealing way of life. It comes off "real", and the author is quick to lay the "facts" instead of lecturing or pointing fingers.
    Overall, this kept me reading through the night, and despite the harsh realism of the novel, it was also insightful, informative, and entertaining (not that the entertainment value deter from the way these people just are, on the contrary, the reason it IS so entertaining is because it IS real life....just not the normal life most of us are previliged to have outside the projects).

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