RR Sideshow: Craigslist: The Internet’s Times Square of Old
Before Times Square became a G-Rated theme-park for Midwestern tourists in khaki shorts it was the one-stop-shop for all things shady. Everywhere you turned there were Technicolor-jacket wearing pimps, drug slingers with syringes in one pocket and hard dope in the other, shady topcoat types wearing gold-watch sleeves, and skimped out skag-slaves turning tricks for the price of a cup of coffee. Now the most skin you’ll find on 42nd street is that of a borderline-insane guitarist whose mom forgot to pack his fig-leaf. This isn’t a bad thing of course. I was too young to have been around when Times Square was the center of all things immoral. But I’ve heard the stories. If I had my choice between the Square of old and the Disneyland we have now. I’d take the Disneyland.
But there’s still something almost romantic about the idea of the old Times Square. In its own sick way, that type of jungle added to the charm of the city. It put something in the air – an indescribable grit that added to New York’s unique personality as one of the greatest cities on earth.
Since losing those few blocks of Sodom and Gomorrah youngsters like myself have been left wondering if there will ever be another haven for drugs, prostitution, porn, and just good ol’ fashion shady dealings. For years we’ve been forced to get our fix of morality’s dark-side through television, movies, and rock n’ roll – desperately hoping something would come around and fill the void. Today I am happy to report a new entity has finally come and answered the call – providing people of our generation with its very own Times Square, located right on the good ol’ Internet for all to enjoy regardless of their locale. I am of course talking about Craigslist.org, the home of all things shady.
No matter what it is you’re seeking, be it illegal services, sexual deviates, or con-men pitching penny-drop scams, you’re going to be able to find it on Craigslist. Need a hooker for the night? No problem! Just cruise on by the “erotic services” section and you’ll find thousands of ads featuring women pawning themselves at the rate of “300 Roses” an hour. Or let’s say you had a rough day on the job and the back feels as if you just worked on the pyramids – don’t fret, all one has to do is jump in the “community section” and type in words like: pain killers, norco, vicodin, oc, etc., and you’ll be sure to find a plethora of “nice guys” offering a variety pack of prescription drugs at premium rates.
The hunt for shade-balls doesn’t end with illegal activities – that’s just one drop of icing on the overall cake. If vices aren’t really your bag, there’s plenty more one could find on Craigslist. One of my personal favorites is the perverts. Oh boy are their ads side-splitting. Lonely old men looking for young girls to visit their homes after hours with nothing more to offer than their wrinkled birthday suits and a bottle of Korbel they picked up at Bev-Mo. And some of the tastes of these winners are that of those one could only find in a monthly penthouse jerk-book. From foot-fetishes to couples looking for a “little person” to spice things up after hours, it’s all there. If at anytime a curious Judeo-Christian fella wanted to know how the other half lived, all they’d have to do is log onto good ol’ Craigslist… or “CL” to the hard-core user.
It doesn’t end there either, not by a long-shot. There’s also what the “outsider looking in” like myself likes to call, “The Combo Meal”. This is when two forms of degenerate forge together vices with their sexual needs in order to create some sort of “Super Debauchery”. You’ll get an ad from a up-all-night coke-fiend (or “snow bunny” as it’s called on the site) looking for a late-night fix in which she’ll bait lonely men by asking “for a night to ski” or “a 420 friendly place to crash for the night”… etc, etc.
The list goes on and on. Massages being traded for Spanish lessons, brand new electronics still sealed in the box being sold for hundreds less under value, tax free cigarettes, hell even fireworks – whatever you need, there’s some schmuck on Craigslist waiting to answer the call who would normally be arrested at the drop of a dime in the “real world”.
Aside from all the free-flowing crime and sexual deviancy, there’s one other item on the Craigslist forum that really gets me gagging on four-cylinders. It’s these shade-ball “business men” that prey on the needy and naive. Whether it’s some jag-off in Nigeria trying to bait a poor single mom into giving her bank account so she may be a professional “check casher”, or it’s one in the million “Data Entry Scams”, most of these guys want to help no one but themselves and prey on the most desperate of people. Aside from that pond scum, you’ll find the jerks taking advantage of the many actors and actresses in town. You may find a person posing as an agent just trying to get someone to buy new headshots, or some scum-bucket trying to get a girl to do a topless midnight-audition in his studio apartment… no matter the scam or how absurd there’s always going to be someone to play the role of victim.
Which brings me to the reason behind this little rant – there are shady people out there and we can’t stop them all. But we should be able to prevent some of this shit. The Times Square of old was within the confides of reality, you can catch most of the criminals and shut them down promptly… which was done (hence “Times Square of Old”). But the Internet is another animal. There’s thousands of these degenerates popping up everyday and not enough shows on MSNBC to stop them. We (or craigslist) has to make a better effort in educating the users of the site of potential harm. Advertise new scams, flag emails, and show some form of control – because right now it’s a mess on that site.
Granted there are many legitimate postings on “the list” coming from well-intentioned cats with nothing but growth in mind. But after “cruising the lines” it seems the bad far outweighs the good. If “craigslist” a “community” like it claims to be, then I purpose that the good ol’ folks of craigslist perform a street-sweep and wipe the scum off the streets. If the good ol’ folk of CL don’t wanna answer the bell, then we’re forced to decide between two choices: inform those using the site of what’s going on, so they’ll be better prepared to combat it… or let it continue, and sooner or later the slow moving mud will eventually cover one of our heads, or one of those in whom we love…
Geoffrey A. Citron is a contributing writer for (RR).