“Aren’t you the Bong Guitar Dude?”
Two years and $70,000 worth of film school and this is what I have to show for it all: ninety seconds of me smoking pot out of a guitar on YouTube. But hey, it's a smash!
Unfortunately, the kind of people who spend their time watching other people smoke pot out of guitar-bong contraptions on the Internet don’t buy a lot of books. Clearly, their intellect and curiosity have taken them elsewhere. Like their grocer’s frozen-food aisle.
I know. I made the video to promote my new memoir, I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World, which in part is about my years at High Times magazine and what goes on behind the scenes at Ye Olde Dysfunctional Dope Rag.
There’s also lots of downright dirty stories in my book (I used to write for Hustler and Penthouse), plus cartoon monkeys, the Ramones, Ozzy Osborne, Evel Knievel, and enough strippers, porn stars, and drugs to have kept the Iraqi Army, Al Qaeda, and the White House senior staff in a blissful haze and avoided the last five years of Operation Clusterfuck. Everything -- or so you would think -- to make the modern stoner put down the Ben and Jerry’s for a second and sidle down to the local bookseller, or at least surf over to amazon.com and do that One-Click thing.
So far, almost 70,000 people have seen me on the Internet sucking high-grade hydro out of a hot-rodded electric guitar. And yet my amazon.com ranking remains in a cloud of smoke. Maybe if they knew that my book has a pronounced psychotropic effect, sort of like smoking an intensely literate blunt. Two puffs of I Have Fun Everywhere I Go and you’ll be rapping in iambic pentameter.
The bong-guitar, better known as the ChroniCaster, was a prop in a feature-length comedy, my attempt to become a movie producer and bring High Times to the big screen. The movie was called High Times Potluck. You haven’t seen it. It was a complete fiasco and probably should have gone straight to YouTube, as well.
But I learned more in the two months on the Potluck set than I did in my stint at the NYU film school. I also rolled hundreds of joints that were smoked by hippies, punks, aging TV stars, Jason Mewes (Jay from the Silent Bob and Jay movies), strippers, rappers, drag queens, and a whole crew of mobbed-up old men last seen filling out scenes in Goodfellas. It was supposed to be a stoner-gangster flick. It should have gone great guns. The ChroniCaster was built for Tommy Chong, for his superstar stoner cameo. But while he was happy to smoke from it, he refused to play it, worried that he wouldn’t look cool. As if.
I tell the whole story in I Have Fun Everywhere I Go, and I even recorded a stoner-approved psychedelic soundtrack for my book, a punk and pop-comedy explosion, produced with my friend Jon Spencer.
When I wrote the book, I turned down some big commercial houses to work with a publisher known for the quality of its writers. I was tired of being known as “the guy from High Times” -- somehow once you work there you are stuck wearing a smelly hemp halo for life. I had a bong-shaped albatross around my neck, something I was eager to shake. And I thought, finally, I had -- my book came out and suddenly literary magazines were fawning over my prose. Alternative weeklies lauded me. The sexy research assistant at my local branch of the New York Public Library even laughed at my joke about teaching me the Dewar’s Decimal System. Things were looking up.
But we still had to get the message to the masses, the people who kept me in business all those years I was working at High Times. Surely, they would rally around a fully functional bong guitar and, teased with tales from behind the Hydroponic Curtain, would catapult me onto the New York Times bestseller list, right behind those other famous stoners, Barbara Walters and Barrack Obama.
Hence, the ChroniCaster video. Yeesh. What was I thinking? Even when I was the publisher of High Times, and we were selling through the roof, I had a sneaking suspicion that “High Times reader” was a contradiction in terms. But they kept on buying the magazine, and they ponied up the dough to see two Harold and Kumar movies, so why should my book be any different?
“Too many words.”
“Not enough pictures.”
“Do you have any idea how much pot costs these days?”
Everybody loves the ChroniCaster. I get stopped on the street -- “Aren’t you the Bong Guitar Dude? Can I get one of those things?” (No, you can’t. I wish I could help you. Really. One of a kind. Custom job. Costs a fortune.) Yes, hero to some, but back to square one.
Even the sexy librarian was suspect. Last time she saw me she fled into the open stacks. It made no difference that this time I had even brought the Dewar’s with me.
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