I got together with Tanya at the Perkins on University Avenue in the Midway area of St. Paul. Her turf. A bit of a mistake, I thought, since it's hard to discuss the ins and outs of crack and pot dealing while lonely blue-hairs zero in on your every word. A born storyteller, Tanya didn't seem to mind. She described her exploits in detail--she once supplied an entire apartment building in the Highland neighborhood; she's been in jail twice, neither time for drugs--and her various, mostly recent, attempts to go straight. She's the kind of person who is not so much accustomed to getting her way as she is accustomed to making it seem that she's gotten her way even when she hasn't. As she said of herself, "I've more or less lived the hard-knock life, the thug life, hustling to survive, scraping and scratching." She's a hustler, all right. With perfect teeth, a charming, hearty laugh, and gorgeous skin and eyelashes--she's part black and part American Indian--she maneuvers along the fringes, trying to keep from getting done in by what she calls "the life." At Perkins she had a story to sell. And at the mere cost of a meal (including a chicken strip sandwich and an entire carameled apple pie to go), City Pages got a... More >>>