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

Christopher Marte Leads Race for Councilmember of District 1

The Primary results are not yet conclusive, but point to Christopher Marte, a son of the Lower East Side, as replacement for Margaret Chin for Councilmember of District 1. As of this morning, Marte holds a commanding lead, garnering roughly 40 percent of votes cast. Just shy of the threshold for victory; but Gigi Li […]

Another Seward Park Co-op General Manager Resigns

More leadership upheaval at the Seward Park Co-op. Residents were recently informed that Brendan Keany, who began his tenure as general manager as Frank Durant’s replacement on April 1, tendered his resignation. For official reasons unknowns. A replacement is currently being sought, below are the communications distributed to the residents a couple weeks ago. Dear […]

Jimmy Jazz Founder Joseph Khezrie Dies at 90

The founder of Jimmy Jazz, the streetwear retailer born on Delancey Street, passed away earlier this month. Joseph Khezrie was 90-years-old. He died on June 4. The company posted a memorial on Instagram this past Sunday, which included a brief video. “Our founder, Joseph Khezrie, was a deeply loyal, respectful and hard-working man,” the post […]

Cactus Store Resumes Summertime Residency on Essex Street

The Cactus Store returned to the Lower East Side this weekend for its fourth seasonal outing, and first since coronavirus ruined everything. As before, the succulents sellers plant annual roots in the lot at 5 Essex Street. Infrastructure from prior years remains in place. Saturday was opening day. The Cactus Store is a product of […]

Ludlow Street Pizzeria Hits the Open Market

La Margarita Pizza might not have much time left in Hell Square. The Ludlow Street pizzeria is now pitched on the open market. The 800 square-foot store at 268 Ludlow appeared on Craigslist in late-May for $9,000 per month in rent. The listing caps some eight years in business for the Lower East Side pizza […]