By Chuck Strouse
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The kitchen counter is covered in green. Two pounds of neon-bright, high-grade reefer next to its equivalent in cash, stacks of twenties totaling $8000. But three young men and one young lady, all white-Hispanic college students, are growing a bit apprehensive. The bud counts twenty grams short. "Razzmatazz," the dealer, cocks a doubting sneer as he lets the buyer in the $80 Armani T-shirt know "when that was weighed out before you came, it was on point." But the Armani guy's electronic Tanita scale doesn't lie; the "judge" reads 276 grams, just a little off. Still, for this price, no one takes a slack bag. A tense discussion ensues about appropriate compensation. Fortunately the girl finds the derelict nugget on the floor before the boys get rowdy. It must have fallen ... "Sure," Razzmatazz quips. The deal is done, everyone's happy. Razz counts his money and instructs the buyers to be on their way: "Get the fuck out of my house," he snarls in jest, sort of. The bunch packs into a brand-new Ford Explorer parked outside the West Kendall home and speeds recklessly away, not giving the young kids playing on the quiet neighborhood street much time to move out of the way.
With that over, Razzmatazz prepares to spark a Cheech and Chong blunt not much smaller than a Little League baseball bat. He made some money and has about an hour to relax, puff on herb by the pool before his mom shows up. He offers me a toke but I decline. "Pussy," he disses me.
I wonder out loud if the time will come when Razz sets his sights on a career that's a little less illegal. He lets me know he intends to do something worthwhile with his life, not just deal. The 22-year-old Christopher Columbus High graduate from an upper-middle-class family takes music engineering classes at Miami-Dade Community College, helps around the house, and cooks for his two little sisters when his mother is away -- which is a lot (she works). He wants to be a sound engineer or concert promoter in the future. In the meantime, he sells pot.
It ain't Lucy & Desi anymore
The images of drug dealers in popular culture are often limited to hard-knock street thugs or kingpin drug lords -- either a former hustler like Ice-T, the platitude-pusher with the urban drawl, or made men in Petrocelli suits and platinum bracelets, like John Gotti or Willie Falcon. But selling drugs isn't always motivated by survival or criminal ambition, especially when dealing marijuana. So don't leave out privileged and middle-class suburban youth, like these kids from the pleasant environs of Kendall and Coral Gables, decamped from inner-city pressure all their lives. They sell pot for the high times, and the easy money ($40,000 to $60,000 a year), and the coolness of it -- not to mention the convenience of zipping only a quarter of a mile in Dad's Jeep Cherokee to do business.
"Kicking" pot also does wonders for the preppie dealers' popularity, whether it's welcome or not. Given that a friend with weed is a friend indeed, dealers find themselves surrounded by tagalongs. That gets old quick. "My house turned into a hang for natural-born losers looking for a free high," Razz complains. "My girlfriend eventually sent my 'satellites' to hell; my mom might've, but she's never home."
That take-charge girlfriend, we'll call her "Double L," shows up at Razz's place as he credits her disposition, and right on time to finish off the dack. Double L is just off work, a receptionist at a downtown marketing firm, and she's soon joined by a friend who's on her way to her job, tutoring little kids at an afterschool program in Kendall. They take turns on the jibber's fumes. Two young ladies dressed in pantsuits, carefully inhaling: enough to make Bill Clinton blush. Double's friend coughs a bit, giggles, and declares herself ready to go educate (and tolerate) her group of fourth-graders. (Apparently anytime is right for getting high.) "We don't really party on pot," Double explains. "We drink when we go out and smoke when there's nothing to do, or when we want to do nothing. This is a downtime drug."
There's always plenty of downtime for potheads (work is definitely downtime). When they need an "adhesive" (as in Band-Aid) for boredom, it's Razz they consult. Strangely enough, with almost as many girls smoking, there aren't as many buying. Razz attributes that to the guys who willingly spark them up. "Ask my girlfriend when was the last time she or her friends gave me money for all the weed they smoke," Razz implores. Double doesn't waste time letting him know that "you have to get me high so I can deal with all your bullshit," followed by a sideswiping stare. That's the end of that. Razz makes plain that "the people I flip bags to are mostly guys who come by every other day for a half-eighth [of an ounce] so they can go home, get high, play video games, and jerk off. I wouldn't say they're losers or anything, 'cause I like them, they always have exact change." And they're loyal customers who value the convenience of an "around-the-way" (neighborhood) hook-up.