January 3, 2012
'The hustle': the network of street hustlers: dealers selling a gamut of goods and services from drugs to hot dogs to sex; pickpockets; beggars; street musicians; con artists; and other folk equipped with the appropriate can-do attitude, entrepreneurial spirit, and shaky grasp on morality. The various street corners, courtyards, alleys, lobbies, and other more-or-less public spaces form an intricate web of fiercely guarded opportunities to ply their trades. At the best of times the hustle is subject to constant low-level pressure from other hustlers and other gangs, with small, usually bloodless clashes as rivals seek to expand their territory or simply snag the take. To combat this there's hired muscle (Nik's 'patrol' being the backbone) and for most hustlers a chain of handoffs and stashes that makes sure their territory is never unguarded and that no one carries too large a chuck of either goods or money for too long.
In any given street only about half the hustlers -- if that -- are acknowledged gangsters; the rest, though they will at the very least be paying beef and accepting gang protection, typically consider themselves independent operators. Junie Rodel was a high-performing gang hustler before his promotion/conscription, meaning he has a very good idea of the furor Murdoch's 'shake up' will create.
Oh, and happy new year, everyone. ;)