Ghetto Pass: The Corner BodegaThe Assimilated Negro is the issuing authority for your own personal Ghetto Pass, helping you safely navigate among the people and places of browner territories.

NY ain't the same, it's OT playa
you can go and cop coke from the corner bodega ...

- 50 Cent, "Corner Bodega"

On the surface you might think the Corner Bodega (Co-Bo) is just another wiki-able oasis of convenience. A sort of de facto ghetto 7-11. But, like the big rock in the forest, a look underneath reveals a self-sufficient ecosystem of subterranean life. Home of the 2 for $1 special, the Corner Bodega is the ghetto chamber of food and commerce for marginalized gentri-folk and ne'er-do-wells alike. Typically open through the wee hours, and stocked with all the bare essentials — food, alcohol, horny-goat weed — Corner Bodegas are not only a full service resource, but a genuine lifesaver.

Planning Your Trip - Looking for a genuine Corner Bodega? Well, they need to do more than sell candy-bars and speak English as a second language. Those "mini-marts" downtown with flowers and fruits are not Corner Bodegas. And hipsters and all around too-cool-for-schoolers should note: Corner Bodega proprietors will not get your ironic references to Clerks and the Kwik-E Mart. All that said, finding one is simple: Go directly to the ghetto, walk one or two blocks in any direction, look for an awning with tantalizing square-boxed promises of beer, sodas, coffee, sandwiches, and/or fresh meat and BAM! There you are.

Are We There Yet?? - There are two categories of Corner Bodega: The old-school classic editions, and the modern Neo-CoBo. Vintage Corner Bodegas are a full sensory experience; while your eyes feast on the colorful awnings and scan the lucky dollars taped to the walls, your ears engage with the sweet sound of salsa/meringue, or perhaps baseball on the radio. The air is thick, and the atmosphere is friendly and community-oriented. Even if lacking customers, all corner bodegas come standard with an old Spanish dude who sits around like a period-piece prop. Be sure to say hi. The modern Neo-CoBo eschews the tradition and ambience for technology and an aesthetic of minimalist sterility. They're cleaner, and provide more options, but the experience is a bit more generic. Generally speaking, vintage Co-Bos are run by "papi," and modern editions are run by "habibi."

Learning the Inventory - Every Corner Bodega has four primary sections:

Behind the Counter - Here you'll find your usual array of dentist-financing candy and candy bars. Sugary staples like Swedish Fish, Now&Laters, and Blow-pops are abundant. Menthol cigarettes, ribbed condoms (mmm ribs), cough-cold medicine, and assorted flavors of blunts are also among the more popular items.

In the Aisles - Corner Bodegas are renowned for their delicious and economically prudent array of snacks. You'll find these in the aisles, along with standard supermarket fare. Watch out for random mind-boggling markups; Corner Bodegas are notorious for arbitrarily charging $8.79 for a small can of tomato paste.

Up High - On the walls you'll find paper products, garbage bags, and cleaning stuff. When the wallet's not packing enough heat to cop luxury brands like Bounty, Hefty, and Mr. Clean, the Co-Bo always has a $1 line of generically-effective paper products and cleaning supplies.

Keep It Cold - Need alcohol on a budget? The Co-Bo has you covered. Their refrigerators are well fortified with affordable Fortys, deuce-deuces, Tallboys, and much much more. In the freezer, H agen-Daz is the official ice cream of Corner Bodegas everywhere.

General Tips

The Night Window - At a certain hour, most Corner Bodegas will close the front door and direct all customers to the nighttime "walk-through" window. You will need to have a good idea of store inventory and product placement, as papi/habibi will have to fetch items for you. No one likes to fetch, or stand in line, so everyone is significantly more ornery; as such this is no time for cheeky chicanery or getting-to-know-you chumminess. Place your money in the revolving door, take your bag of goods, and hope it contains what you asked for.

Looseys!!! - Corner Bodegas are the birthplace of the greatest product invention known to man: the loose cigarette. For social smokers and permanent would-be quitters, looseys are a godsend. Unfortunately, like the African lion, the Co-Bo's that still sell looseys are fast becoming extinct.

Habibi Say - Use the shady ATM only if you are currently considering a change of identity.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name - Become a regular at your local Corner Bodega and you get perks. For example, it will be the only store where you get to say, "I'm short right now papi, but I'll pay you later, you know I'm good for it" without getting back-hand slapped to the beat of the last Three 6 Mafia album.

Fun Facts

• Did you know the national animal for corner bodegas is the cat? Kittens are occasionally spotted, but usually you will have a veteran cat who has seen them all come and go and will therefore pay you no mind as you try to get around his lounging in the aisle.
• Did you know "dutches" are the most popular brand of cigar in Corner Bodegas (despite the lack of victory celebrations in the ghetto)? To impress the locals, ask for a "strawberry dutch" to go with your $3 ham-and-cheese, Lil Debbie cake, and bag of Utz chips.
• Did you know Co-Bo patrons are advised to ignore expiration dates and discern the age of their product via the layer of dust on it? The thinner the better.

Ghetto Terror Alert - Pink. Attractive women in general are always under a moderate level of stress, as the same people catcalling you on the street often congregate in the corner bodega. It's like HQ for cat-callers. You might refer to it as a cat-call center.

Slang Check - The only key slang in a Corner Bodega is for some of the products. Terror Alert aside, looseys refer to single cigarettes, not women, regardless of their sexual proclivities. "Dutches" are Dutchmaster cigars, they go well with marijuana.

Earlier: The Ghetto Chinese Spot