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Chapter 3

In Search of Respect: Ch. 3 Notes

Course Code
Maggie Cummings

of 3
Chapter 3: Crackhouse Management: Addiction, Discipline, and Dignity ANTA02
Crack selling is like other businesses in that it involves risk and management versus employee
Living with Crack
Primo was once addict, but his first cousin Felix, who founded the Game Room (crackhouse)
Felix offered Primo a job after Felix was injured, allowed him self-worth and confidence to kick
crack habit
Ray took over after Candy sold the Game Room to him
o Felix lost it after he was sent to prison
o Candy shot Felix after she found him sleeping with his sister
Restructuring Management at the Game Room
Ray kept Primo, but gave him shift hours and commission from crack
Ray was very good at labor relations
o Knew when to be violent and when to show friendship without appearing vulnerable
o Did this by hiring people that were related to family or made them relate to his family
E.g. by making Primo a godfather they established compadre
Compadrazgo sanctifies solidarity and reciprocal obligations with men
Primo was a founding member of Ray’s crackhouses, so he got benefits and became a successful
manager of the Game Room location quickly
o Wouldn’t be possible so fast in legal world
Primo hired Benzie and Caesar as lookouts
o Benzie would disrespect customers a lot
o Caesar smoked crack so couldn’t be trusted
Curbing Addiction and Channeling Violence
Caesar’s crack and drinking binges made him violent
o Had poor work disciple
Primo tried to wean him off crack
Willie was former lookout that got fired for OD’ing all the time
Caesar was irresponsible but was an excellent lookout b/c he was unpredictably violent, which
intimidated people
Ray was more strict than Primo in hiring people, didn’t accept addicts or very violent people
Benzie had legal job as janitor assistant, and had started smoking crack
o Benzie was only able to kick his habit after becoming a full time crack dealer, b/c it gave
him much more responsibility
Benzie used to come from his legit job as maintenance engineer at yacht club to game room,
eventually became dealer with Primo
o Both used to make a lot of money, but wasted it all on partying
Chapter 3: Crackhouse Management: Addiction, Discipline, and Dignity ANTA02
Minimum Wage Crack Dealers
Crack dealers are just like legal people in regards to money, they overspend what they have
Relationship between legal world and crack dealer is complex
Ray’s workers only made about 8 dollars/hr (approx. double min. wage)
Have really bad nights and good nights b/c they get paid by commission
They rush home at night, after a shift, just like legal workers
Had bad working conditions, dangerous
o No water, telephone, dirty etc.
Benzie got fired from yacht club for not showing up for work after doing drugs
Benzie stole some of Ray’s money and got caught in a stolen car
Having a good job gave Benzie a sense of self-respect, even Primo wanted a legal job later
Relationship between crack dealers and legal economy:
o Crack dealers can’t work legal jobs b/c they aren’t aware that:
Jobs they can compete for don’t pay enough to survive
Don’t give them a sense of personal dignity o
They have a drug addiction
Subjective dignity affects whether people will keep jobs
Management Labour Conflict at the Game Room
Ray’s second crack house, the Social Club, made more money and was more upscale
o Allowed him to leverage increased discipline and profit from Primo and the Game Room
Primo got his wage cut and turned to substance abuse
Ray was struggling to get business from Game Room b/c other suppliers lowered prices
Tony was hired to be manger and Primo’s shifts were reduced
Gato (Ray’s maintenance worker) stole crack from the Game Room
o Ray used this to renegotiate and lower Tony’s wage
Relations and manipulation of workers was similar to legal world
The Crackhouse Clique: Dealing with Security
People around crackhouses let dealers know the preferences for drugs on the street ,
information about competitors and masks addicts
Crowd that liked and respected Primo also served to protect him and let him know of threats
o Also distracted Primo from anxiety that results from constant threats of being robbed
Lookout and crowd also helped recognize familiar people from those who have not been around
o Best lookouts grew up in the street and advise Primo not to sell to people that haven’t
Dealers were rarely arrested
The amount of people make s it hard for police to charge anyone
Officers in inner-city are demoralized and often corrupt
Chapter 3: Crackhouse Management: Addiction, Discipline, and Dignity ANTA02
o Honest cops wouldn’t be able to build networks to understand the operations of drug
Stashes of crack were rotated in different hideouts
Dealers have to be good at knowing when a raid is coming and minimizing false alarms
Increase in drug arrests let Primo get out of probation early when he was busted for selling crack
o Legal system overcrowded with arrests and needed to clear people