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Eric: All I Need to Escape Drug Charges Is…

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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This post is part of a collaborative narrative series composed of my writing and Chris Arnade’s photos exploring issues of addiction, poverty, prostitution and urban anthropology in Hunts Point, Bronx. For more on the series, look here.

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Examined the impact of employment on addict criminality, using data from interviews with 544 daily heroin users in 5 US cities. Addict criminality was studied across employment levels, occupational categories, and crime types. The hypothesis that increased employment level and occupational status should inhibit criminal involvement vis-à-vis increased legitimate income was partially supported. It is concluded that (1) both drug use and criminal behavior are manifestations of a broader social involvement in the subculture of drug use and (2) employment represents a source of income and constitutes a dynamic social feature of the subculture that may impact on criminality.¹

Eric: Hunts Point, Bronx
Eric: Hunts Point, Bronx. Courtesy of Chris Arnade.

The Industrial Trade Report. If Eric had a copy, all would be well.

It’s $20, a slick volume listing construction companies in need of labor, a list of those outside the union. It requires online download because hard copies aren’t available in New York. (Fucking union state. It may be good for some things like teachers, but not for construction.)

Somewhere within the site’s 90s chat room design, click the yellow hard hat. Browser warnings pop, “you should not proceed.”

Hard copies, the real thing, are available down South, at Snappy Mart #3 in Texas, for instance. “Bringing Construction Companies and Skilled Craft Professionals Together Since 1992.” “Hot jobs now!”

If Eric had a copy, everything would be fixed. No more living under the Expressway in plummeting temperatures fearing pickup for outstanding warrants. No more panhandling for heroin. No more blanket-made shelter.

Sonya and Eric. New home
Sonya and Eric, New Home: Hunts Point, Bronx. Courtesy of Chris Arnade.

He could forget about the felony. Fel-o-nee, do you understand? The warrant squad drives around looking.

See, the companies on the Report know Eric, know him as a shipbuilder. Know him enough to buy him and his wife Greyhound tickets from one place to another place. All he would have to do is make a phone call. Bam, leave just like that. He’d get $1000 per week.

If only he knew which jobs needed workers, he could go to detox and skip out.

He has to have the Industrial Trade Report.

He could go to Seattle, Philly, or the South (well, not the South because his wife wouldn’t like it). Or West. West is good.

He texts about it, and his texts cross days: “Can u help me with this problem of mine”

“Is the copy of the Trade Report to diffalcult for U or what?”

“A job in philly wants me. Need to get a resume typed up.”

He needs it this weekend. It can only be this weekend.

Which construction organizations don’t care about felonies? Ameri-Force? HKA?

What about something out at sea?

I’ve worked out in the Atlantic. Gets cold. I could take off for nine months to a year. No one would know where to look.

At sea we used to call heroin withdrawal the terrors. You should see us when we get to port.

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More Hunts Point Addiction Writing
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Cassie Rodenberg About the Author: I write on culture, poverty, addiction, and mental illness: I explore things we like to ignore. I also teach public school in New York City's South Bronx. Follow on Twitter @cassierodenberg.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Arbeiter 2:58 pm 11/26/2013

    Andrew Carnegie addressed poverty with 2509 Carnegie libraries built 1883 – 1929, plus self-responsibility. President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s 1965 “Great Society” addressed poverty by giving the deserving confiscated assets of the productive.

    Cf: “self-exciting dynamo,” either way.

    Link to this
  2. 2. David Cummings 6:03 pm 11/26/2013

    Interesting concept, addicts out at sea for 9 months, presumably on a ship without drugs.

    Link to this

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