Clayton’s Corner: Mickey the Pope and Drugs on the Lower East Side

Posted on: March 11th, 2020 at 5:05 am by

For this Clayton’s Corner, documentarian Clayton Patterson exhumed more 1980s drug-related photos from his archives on the Lower East Side.

Overdosing Man passed out in the doorway of 159 Essex Street. It was an all-too common occurrence to see an addict overdosed in the doorway.

Mickey “The Pope” Cesar Mickey was an eccentric character. In the 1970s, he started selling pot in Amsterdam, where the popular drug was hash. Marijuana was not popular. Mickey serviced all the hot clubs at the time, and is often recognized as one of the main people who popularized weed “above-ground” in Amsterdam.

A set of unfortunate circumstances unfolded, and he got shot and deported. In 1979, Mickey moved to the Lower East Side and opened his first business on 1st Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets.

Another point of recognition for the “Pope of Pot” was how he built the delivery service into a full fledged delivery business. His place was a like bookie joint – six people manning the phones. Call in and there would be like ten bike messengers to fill street orders.

Eventually, he moved his drug operation to Avenue B between 10th and 11th Streets. With his volume of sales, the money was flowing. The area was a hardcore heroin sales spot.

A couple of members of a local crew called the Hit Men tried to extort him. It was not going to happen. He got shot five times and survived. Came back on the block. Mickey was a large gay man, and had no fear. Back in business.

Mickey with the profits from sales supported many local artisrts. He was a Fagin-like character in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and had a whole crew of young men that he looked after.

No Drug Sales Bodegas were a common location to buy cocaine. SO common that a store like this would try and keep drug customers away by clearly stating they do not sell drugs.

Recent Stories

Under Presure from Chinatown, Mayor Pledges $80M to Restore 70 Mulberry Street

The fire-scorched school building at 70 Mulberry Street will see life anew, thanks to massive city funding. Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday in his morning press briefing that the new budget contains a line item for $80 million dedicated to restoration of the historic building. Hizzoner spent a solid four minutes discussing how Chinatown was […]

Fearing COVID-19 Resurgence, De Blasio Halts Indoor Dining Indefinitely

Not so fast. Phase 3 of the reopening plan is slated to launch on Monday. However, it arrives without the resumption of indoor dining at bars and restaurants, as initially conceived. Mayor de Blasio announced the news at his morning presser yesterday, citing the nationwide surges of COVID-19 cases and the elevated dangers of indoor […]

When Rivington House Wouldn’t Clean its Garbage Mess, a Neighbor Stepped In

A Good Samaritan took responsibility where a multimillion-dollar hospital system would not. As previously reported, the outside of Rivington House – future home of Mount Sinai’s future Behavioral Health facility – essentially devolved into decrepitude with the accumulation of trash at the doorstep. Untouched for days on end. But one Lower East Sider took matters […]

Chillhouse Shutters Original Essex Street Spa

The list of coronavirus-related business closures is getting longer by the week. Today brings word that an Essex Street newcomer has bitten the dust. Chillhouse, a millennials-style spa at 149 Essex Street, is the latest to fall. Ownership announced the permanent shutter in an e-mail to customers Tuesday afternoon. “As we all know too well […]

Hamilton Fish Park Pool to Reopen by August 1

In an about-face, the city announced yesterday that at least fifteen public pools will reopen across the Five Boroughs. Included in the lucky list is the Hamilton Fish Park pool, known to locals as the “Pitt Pool.” But the cooldown will have to wait another month. The reopenings are scheduled for August 1, and are […]