Chicagoans give us the lowdown on everything from pushing pot to selling sex.
BOMB SQUAD TECHNICIAN
Admittedly, it’s frightening to hear a bomb tech spill the beans about safety in the city. “How easy would it be for someone to bring a bomb onto the El or a bus? Very easy. No one checks anything,” says our anonymous tech, one of 20 in the city, who has spent the past 12 years making sure things don’t explode—especially when the President’s in town. “The airports are still vulnerable. After you get through the [Transportation Safety Administration] checkpoint, it’s pretty secure. But what’s to stop a suicide bomber from setting himself off before the checkpoint?”
Many people aren’t aware that Chicago has a bomb squad, the source says. That’s by design to prevent panic. The city’s “bomb trucks” are unmarked, and techs are trained to carry out actions quietly. “A lot of the time we’re in plain clothes at large events like the Taste of Chicago where there are thousands of people, and no one knows we’re there. We roam the area looking for some kind of situation—suspicious packages, chemical agents—so we can attack and get it under control.”
Though the source says 95 percent of bomb threats are bluffs, there are many real dangers the public doesn’t hear about. For instance, techs are frequently called out to retrieve live hand grenades (usually relics from aging or deceased war-vet relatives) from residential basements. In a two-month span, our source recovered 20 grenades.
And the thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks that Chicago police confiscate over the Fourth of July? The bomb squad throws 500 pounds per day into burn bins at classified locations on the Far Southeast Side.
Despite all the danger, a bomb tech’s day isn’t like an episode of 24. “Excuse my language, but that’s bullshit,” said the source when asked if there’s ever been a tick-tock do-I-cut-the-red-wire-or-the-blue? moment. “You might open a suspicious package and there might not be a red wire anywhere. They might be all blue wires.”
Like a used-car salesman trying to move a lemon off the lot, pot purveyors often tout low-grade stock as something special so they can sell it for more, admits our anonymous source who’s been slangin’ green for a decade. Especially in the Midwest, the source says, dealer spiels about marijuana varietals—OG Kush, White Widow, Diesel—are often bunk. “It’s like a big game of telephone sometimes. I’ve seen dealers above me sit down with three different kinds and they’re like, ‘Well, what do you want to call it?’”
To root out the bubonic chronic, as Snoop Dogg might say, use your eyes and nose. “When you’re not getting good stuff, it looks all broken up and there are a lot of stems and seeds. It also has a woodsy smell; you can tell it was grown outdoors like a weed. That’s schwag. Better pot that’s worth the dough is in nug form—little nuggets—and has more unique smells. Some smells like orange, some smells fresh and almost lemony. There’s even a kind called Cat Piss that smells just like cat piss. It’s really good, though.”
Once you’ve paid for your pot, the source says, don’t feel obliged to stay and chew the fat. The chummy dealer who lets customers laze about and smoke—like James Franco in Pineapple Express—is just a movie fallacy. “I’d rather people hit and run than hang out in my apartment forever.”
* Careful, potheads! Possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
EAT OUT One door south of Dancen (5114 N Lincoln Ave, 773-878-2400) is an unmarked dive bar, where stocking-footed Koreans do karaoke.