(DJ Khaled - "I'm So Hood" Remix)
Going to the movies is expensive now a days. Even a matinee will cost you $7. But who really goes to the movies alone? So, add another $7 for your date then popcorn/refreshments and you've easily spent close to $30 or more to watch one movie. Also, what does a new CD cost? About $10-$16? Well luckily in any hood you can find someone selling bootleg movies/CDs. If you are unable to find anyone just look for your local barbershop or beauty salon. If they're not inside then just ask one of the barbers or beauticians most likely someone has their number in their phone. As far as prices go, most times you can get 3 for $20 and if your negotiation skills are up to par you will pay even less. My rule when buying is pull out only what you are willing to spend. If you got $10 say I need the 3 for $10. Trust me if they can make $10 and it's right in they're face they're not going to turn it down. But if you pull out a $20 bill and say I need change they're going to want the whole $20. *Warning* Don't purchase any bootleg Movie or CD expecting top notch quality. Sometimes they have the portable DVD players so you can view before you buy, which I do advise you do. Because trust me the movies can have anything from babies crying, cats meowing, to people laughing and walking past the screen. Also, that new Lil' Wayne The Carter III CD will most likely have songs from The Carter I & II mixed in with the new songs. So be forewarned.
Loose Squares (Cigarettes)
I don't smoke cigarettes but I do know that smoking is an expensive ass habit. Here in the Chi I'm sure with the new Cook County Sales Tax most are paying well over $6 a pack. It's sad when an illegal habit (i.e. smoking a $5 nickel bag of weed) is cheaper. But luckily in the Hood someone has already spent the $6 for a pack of cigarettes. So, if you happen to be craving a smoke just listen for the person yelling "Loose Squares!!" Now if someone spent $6 for a box of 20 cigarettes that's about $0.30 cents per cigarette. But you're going to come out of pocket with at least $1 if you're trying to get one of these loosies. Your best bet is to negotiate and try to get maybe 3 for $2. The same negotiation rules apply. Exact change only!! Oh and don't expect a huge variety of cigarette brands to choose from. Newport is the Hood favorite so that's what you'll be getting when buying a loose square.
Now you're probably thinking speed bumps are everywhere. Well the hood is the only place I've seen speed humps on residential streets. Some blocks have 2 or 3 of them on that one block. I don't know exactly what brought about these speed humps. Perhaps people were speeding so much that residents complained and this was the answer. But I think more than anything this was a tactic to help police. No one wants to be running from the police driving 50+ mph and hit one of these speed humps. That's one car chase that will end quite quickly and leave your front end pretty messed up.
Liquor Store near a Church
Only in the hood have I seen a Church that is on the same block as a Liquor Store. Sometimes they're so close they're practically next door. This is the old chicken and egg theory so I couldn't tell you which came first. But it's one of the biggest contradictions there can be. I get it though. You come from church where they preach about Saint John and then you go to the liquor store to get a 40 oz. of St. Ides. Or you go from listening to the Old Testament and then grab you a 40 of Old English. Or after hearing about his crown of thorns you get you a bottle of Crown Royal. I can go on all day. But you get the point. LoL!
Food Stamp/Link Card Hook Up
Even groceries are more expensive these days. However, if you find yourself in the store shopping and have a cart full of items be on the look out. You know that your grocery bill is going to easily be $100 or more. But if someone walks by looks in your cart and asks you are you paying in cash don't be alarmed. Hear them out. This little conversation may actually save you some money. And who doesn't like to save money? So how does it work? Well the person that asked you that question will say let me pay for your groceries on my Link Card. They will say if you have $100 worth of groceries you can pay me $75 in cash to use my Link Card. Now don't forget your negotiation skills because if they said $75 you can easily get them to $60. All you have to say is that you were going to pay with your debit/credit card and you only have $60 in cash. Trust me they will take it. However, here's the other rule. Make sure the person walks through the line with you and after all the groceries are rang up and the total displays have them run their card through and input the pin and make sure the transaction is approved first. Once it is and your groceries are bagged and in the cart then you can pay them the money. Keep in mind the link will only cover food/beverage items (liquor doesn't count). **Warning** You may want to have the grocery bagger carry your groceries out to the car, because you don't want the same person that gave you the hook up to hit you over the head in the parking lot and make off with your groceries and the $60.
The Best Chicken
I'm not talking about fake ass KFC chicken. Other than your momma or grand momma's fried chicken the best chicken will always be found in the hood. Whether it's Harold's Chicken (Chicago), Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles (Los Angeles), or Mr. P's (Memphis). If you want some good chicken go to the hood and ask someone where the best chicken is and they will let you know. But please keep a couple things in mind when visiting these fine establishments. One, they may appear to be a hole in the wall, but don't judge the chicken by the look of the building inside or out. And two, don't expect great or even moderate service. Again, you're not paying for good service or a good looking building, you're paying for great chicken. If you can keep these things in mind you'll get to taste some of the best chicken money can buy. On a side note, if you want great service you won't find it at any restaurant in the hood fast food or otherwise. LoL.
Undercover Police Cars
I'm sure I'm not the only one that hates when they see a Ford Crown Victoria and thinks it's the cops so you either slow down, stash your weed, guns, drink etc for nothing. Lol. Although under cover cop cars are not just in the hood, you will see a good number of them while you ride throughout the hood blocks. But you better not get caught doing any illegal activity when they ride past they don't call them the "Jump Out Boys" for nothing. Oh and here's a hood fact for those of you that don't know, the best way to tell if it's really a cop car is by the license plates. The plate numbers will usually start with a green M.
Speaking of Police. They no longer have to patrol every block in the hood as frequently. Many Police Departments now have an eye in the sky to assist them. So if you're driving through the hood at night and see a blue light above the lamp post blinking don't worry you didn't see a shooting star or a UFO it's simply the police camera. Now I don't know how much of a crime deterrent these cameras are but you'll find them strategically placed on "high crime" blocks and neighborhoods. However, there have been plenty of times where I've driven through the hood and as I pass the police camera all is quiet on the home front. But as soon as I turn the corner of the next block I see plenty of illegal activity going on. (I was vague so I'm not snitchin. LoL). **Warning** For those of you that are involved in illegal activity remember that these cameras can zoom in up to several blocks away. So don't think that if you're 2 blocks away doing what you do that it can't see you.
Target: Rat Signs
Ever since I was born my grandmother has lived in the same house. There is an alley right next to her house. And since I can remember even up until recently they have had this sign on the telephone pole. Although I've seen plenty of "hood rats," in the 28 years I've been around this house I have never a rat in this alley. Nor have I ever seen one in any Chicago alley. I guess the targeting is working. Good Job Mayor Daley maybe the head of the rat targeting should be the Police Chief. Actually, the only time I have seen a rat was in one of the lower parts of downtown Chicago.
"Only in the Hood" will you see a car with rims that are bigger and taller than your average 5 year old. What is the fascination is with these rims? Well your guess is as good as mines. It doesn't really make sense to me to have to carry a step ladder with you just to get in and out of your car, but hey everyone is free to waste and spend their money as they feel. If nothing else the owner of these rims has definitely achieved their goal of being seen. Is a car like this even street legal?
You're probably thinking awww what's wrong with children raising funds for their schools or sports teams? Well if I could verify that's where my funds were going then I wouldn't have a problem donating and supporting. However, I've driven through the hood and stopped at plenty intersections and had kids ask me to donate to their sports team. Now the first problem I have is not a one of these kids has on a jersey, pair of cleats, team hat, or anything representing the sports team their collecting money for. Not even a damn Bulls or Cubs jersey come on! All they have is an old tootsie roll bank or jar with white paper around it and something scribbled on it. So, I don't know if I'm contributing towards team uniforms or to some kid's new pair of Jordans. Now some of the kids I've seen at least have the fundraiser box of M&Ms and they give you a pack for $1. Although those fundraiser boxes can be purchased at any Sam's Club, at least you're getting something for your money. I remember one time years ago I saw some kids collecting money to help their momma go to the Million Woman March. True Story!!
Some may call them Street Vendors but in the hood you can call them Hustle Man or the PC term I came up with Ghetto Entrepreneurs. Basically at any given busy intersection in the hood you're liable to find these individuals selling almost anything you can think of. I already mentioned a few of them earlier, the loose cigarettes and the bootleg movies/CDs. But other examples I've seen for sale are as follows: Bean Pies, Final Call Newspapers, The Chicago Tribune, candy, socks, towels, t-shirts, framed pictures, etc. Also, they are very opportunistic so they won't hesitate to take advantage of an opportunity. For instance, if it's hot outside they have cold water and or pop/soda. If it's a holiday like Mother's Day or Valentines Day they will have flowers and teddy bears for sale. If the city's sports team wins a championship they have plenty t-shirts, hat, and team memorabilia for sale. The funny thing is that on some intersections you will have up to 5 or more different hustle men selling different things. Not to mention the kids "raising" money for their team and at least one bum panhandling. Don't ask me how they all get along out there perhaps Rodney King would know. But good thing it's not drugs they are selling because I don't think most dealers like sharing corners.
In the hood most parents have little or no resources to provide sports equipment for their children. However, as you know a kid is going to find a way to play regardless. Sometimes it just takes a little innovation. That's how a milk crate with the bottom broken out or a wire hanger bent into a circle can become a basket ball hoop. Or that's how some old extension cords can become jump ropes. Also, this is how a stick can become a base ball bat. I remember my brother and I broke my aunt's broom using it as a bat once. We got our asses whooped of course but we had a ball playing with it. Last time I was in the hood I drove past a group of kids (one being my little cousin) playing hockey in the street. They were using an empty water bottle as a puck and everyone had something different as their hockey stick. My cousin had a single crutch. It was funny and sad to think that somewhere someone was hobbling around looking for their other crutch. LoL. Guess this is why I should donate to the kids' sports teams more often huh?
Crackheads aka Hypes
Well I saved the best for last. Now I know you were all wondering when I was going to get to them the whole time you were reading this? How could I forget about the crackheads? They're like what makes the Hood go round. Just as they say there's one in every family so you better believe that I'm not exempt. So, when I speak it's from a personal level. With that said although crackheads are every where there is an abundant number of them in the Hood. Why, do you ask? Well it's simple that's where the drugs are. A hype will steal from their own momma (I've seen it done) to get money for their next fix. So, if you come across one of these unique inividuals you never quite know what the encounter will be like. They will sell any and everything in order to raise capital to fund their habit. I've come across hypes selling all kinds of items. Whether it be food stamps as previously mentioned, or actual food. Here's a random list of items I've seen hypes selling in no particular order: Shoes (not new shoes I'm talking a pair off of someone's feet), half way working TV sets, DVDs, VCRs, food out of the freezer, used clothing, appliances, furniture, perscription glasses, purses, wallets, gloves, coats, etc. You name it a crackhead has probably stolen and sold it. I'm sure I'm not the only one that has purchased merchandise from a crackhead. Hell, Some of you may be reading this blog on a computer you bought from a crackhead. But I'm not mad at you one bit unfortunately someone else's loss can be your gain. Now I know we've discussed negotiation skills throughout this blog. But when dealing with a hype you need to just remember 2 things. Low Ball the hell out of em'!! With the other negotiations the other person you were dealing with had a totatlly different mentatilty. However, this is crackhead mentality you're dealing with so if they want $20 then you offer no more than $5. If they want $50 then you offer no more than $20. You get the idea. Basically, there may be some haggling back and forth but once you low ball them you've established that you're not paying over a certain amount. So the likely response to your initial offer will be "come on man you can give me at least $10 you know this TV is at least worth that." Feel free to either accept or counter offer here. But as always make sure you have exact change for the transaction.
That concludes our Hood Tour. Come back soon we'll be adding more attractions. In closing, I'll leave you with a few comedic interpretations of crackheads and how they act.
(Menace II Society)