First thing I notice, after stepping through the suburban track home, air-conditioned to protect it from the heat of SoCal’s Granada Hills, is that the deathbox actually has water in it; the pool is literally filled up all the way to the gutter. “I don’t get it,” I say to someone I can’t see from under the rim of my WW2 helmet, “How do you skate that?”
The Real Ganja Girl (@TheRealGanjaQueen) invited us all here for her first Dab party, and mixed in a mini music video shoot for Mr. Jay Dillinger, “Escape Plan?” I ask Ganja Girl, “No, hip hop,” she says with a grin and tends to the Glass Blowers who need some power to get their tanks going in the backyard. I follow her out, past the A-Typical counter rimmed kitchen, a few fellas peaking their heads into the fridge covered in weed magnets, “You got any THC drink?” asks the shaved head scouring the shelves. “Later,” Ganja says as she slides open the glass door and leads me to the yard to get the “Pool Party” started.
Everyone seems to have begun without me, two circles of guests passing bongs, bogarting joints, and between the tokes, everyone hits their own personal vape pens, and a bong is handed to me. “Absolutely,” I say as I take hold of the orange/purple bong, but the guy quickly puts a hand on the bottom half and says, “Whoa, hold it from here; the top half comes off.” I’m not sure what he means as I slide my palm to the bottom section. The thing looks strange, has some sort of springs inside it, four of them, and he just describes it for me, “Four dab chambers,” pointing out the spring chamber thingies, “You put the dabs on those,” he continues, “See, you can have four different dabs going on at the same time. This part’s the battery,” and he takes this bong mechanism out of my hand, dismantling it to show me the mechanical guts of the underside.
“You make this?” I ask.
“No, my mom,” and he points out his very proud mama. I’m impressed and plainly say, “Very nice job Ms. Mama.”
“Thank you, I like your hat,” Mama responds.
“Thanks. Vintage, World War II,” I smirk.
“What are you fighting for?” asks an activist in a #CCHI2016 t-shirt. He will inform me later his name is Dov.
“Hemp?” I say, hoping I don’t offend this crowd.
“Great answer,” says a slightly plumper dude beside Dov, “Most people say weed.”
“I smoke weed everyday, I don’t need to fight for that,” I hit the dab bong, exhale, “Hemp’s still illegal to farm,” and I am instantly high, oh so high, so Dabbily, Dibbiddy, Doo-Da-Dabbed. There are no chairs left. I wander to the pool, five footsteps away, six hours later, and yet only ten seconds in true time. I am so dabbed. “Wonder when they’re gonna shoot the music video?” I ask myself.
The inflatable alligator is floating solo in the pool. I wonder if he’s lonely. The water’s so blue, reflecting color from the cloudless sky, the sun beating down on us all. The half deflated inner tube has been banished to the bushes. Maybe the alligator bit him? I’m not sure if it’s the pool drying up, or all the weed vapor’s in the air, but this new SoCal humidity is not to die for, and the Glass Blowers are starting up their flame throwers on top of it all.
“You gonna twist some sand?” I ask one of the three blowers.
“Yeah, you want something?” he asks.
“Another Dab?” I ask, and without a beat someone’s setting me up right in front of the flames. “Thanks,” I say, “No problem. That’s what we’re here for,” he says and places the metal pin tip coated in Dab-a-licious on the chamber and I suck half, exhale, and right before I go for the second hit, Dab-Man is flipping the metal tip staff over to cover the chamber so it continues to cook, and I go right for it - CLINK -something hits my helmet and I slip back, “What the fuck was that?”
“Oh dude, you’re super lucky you got that on. That’ll take your eye out,” he says pointing out the fine pin-needle tip of the upside down dabber standing about an inch higher than the glass mouthpiece.
“Holy fuck balls, dude!” I holler, “Dabbers across the nation are going to have glass eyes. Is that what you’re up too? You hustling a replacement eye glass company on the side?”
“Awe, no dude. But that’s not a bad idea,” he says.
“Yes it is,” I say and gently lean my head down to get the rest of this hit. I can see that needle right by my eye. Dab makers really gotta stop making them this way. Congress will not stand for stoners missing eyes, or might they? You can never be too sure.
I Bluetooth my phone into the stereo system, DJ’s late, Pandora, no commercials, channel Eric B. & Rakim, ‘cause I feel like an outsider on the inside so I bring the East Coast into the scene as comfort food. The talent at this shindig isn’t doing twists over the deathbox, no McTwists onto their heads from a shallow pool. No, the talent here is heating up hard sand, twirling colored glass, blow outs, blow ins, pops, and pulls, while the Dabster Scientist (Standard Oil 720) is speaking in scientific tongues about how he meticulously extracts the THC and mixes and matches his dab oils without alcohol.
“Here, try this,” the Standard Oil Scientist pulls on my shirt, tugging me away from my zone-out over the bright, cool pool. Another dab is burned out for me and I’ve really gotta score that circle chair mama’s getting off. “Tzvi,” I introduce myself to the circle of stoner shop owners, activists, & the music video director. The activist takes my hand, “Dov,” he introduces himself. I peak out from under my rim and see the director with the D-SLR around his neck, “You the film guy?”
“Yeah. Hey let me ask you a question,” the director inquires.
“Take your best shot,” I say.
“If you had three weeks left to live,” and we are interrupted by Ganja Girl’s intern, a blonde in a bikini and pool skirt, puffing on her Marlboro Menthol Black, looking for an ashtray and a seat, “You see the ashtray?”
“Nope,” I say, and the director looks around her waist to finish asking me the question, “So if you have three weeks to…”
“Here,” Dov offers the intern the ashtray and slides over to make room for her to sit on the cushioned bench, “Thanks,” and she sits. The director needs to ask this question before he croaks so he continues, “Would you first make amends, then pay your debts, and then live freely?” The shop owner, fully equipped with a Popeye Tattoo offers me the bong, a real bong, with flowers in the bowl, “Thanks,” - Phit, Seeip, Blugalugalugaluga, pull the carb, zwooop, PooooooooooF~*
“I’m not gonna die,” I answer the director’s question and turn to Dov, “So what’s your story?” and the hip hop hits power in off my phone with Funky Child by Lords of the Underground and the world can’t help but gently bounce in their seats, sneaks, boots, all the while Dov and I riff political slogans and ideas, “Take hemp to the churches, bro,” is how I land the plane, and pow the circle is blown, “In a suit,” I clarify and the intern says, “Listening to you guys makes me want to switch to Political Science,” and I turn to Dov and proudly announce, “Brother, I do believe we are the first two men to successfully save the nineteen year old girl right off the plane from S. Carolina from slithering down the rabbit hole and becoming a model, actress, or most likely a stripper,” and Dov and I shake to that, and the Political Science Major interrupts our celebration with, “No, that’s, like, what I totally want to do. I like, applied to a few clubs already. I couldn’t do that in Myrtle Beach. Too much family.”
The pipe twisters are deep into their masterpieces. The sun’s dropping, the director had me hold the reflector for a minute or two, but I slipped out to watch the black light glowing glass get fired under the deep blue sky of a setting sun. People piled out into the back, but no one’s in the pool. Everyone’s holding vape pens like ravers with pacifiers and it becomes obvious that no one wants to get electrically shocked to death dabbing in a pool. “See now if they drained it, people might go in it,” I say to someone I had already started on my skater trip earlier. “We don’t skate, man,” he says. “I got that,” I say and head indoors for a little air-condition before bearing the muggy heat once again for another few hours.
Inside, I sit myself on a leather couch across from a smiley, older, African American woman from Memphis. “I never thought it could be so nice here,” she says to me. “Which part?” I ask, noticing there are three half smoked joints on the medical marijuana schwag spread across the coffee table. I sneak one of the joints as Ms. Memphis says, “All of this. All this L.A. is so beautiful,” laughing, “I like your hat. You crazy,” and I offer her one of the half joints and she just keeps giggling at me, “Ah, no darling, I don’t smoke the refer.”
“Refer?” I ask, “How old do you think you are?” and she laughs.
“Ohhh, you didn’t. You’re a real cut up. Thank you,” she says, as I light the joint and sit back.
“Talking to me,” she says, bashful, truly appreciative.
“I didn’t do it for you,” I make sure she knows she’s not a charity case.
“Thank you,” and we take a selfie, but she makes me delete it, and I kiss her cheek and make my way back to the pool, squeezing through the now overtly crowded hall to the mass of bodies in the kitchen and finally back out into the humid night of Granada Hills.
My hand instinctually springs out, taking hold of the Political Science Major’s wrist, pulling her back from the edge of the pool. “You almost fell in there,” and she’s wobbly eyed with an empty paper cup and says, “I can’t find my cigarettes,” and as I move her away from the edge I inform her that, “They’re not in there,” and she looks confused, “In where?” so I turn to Dov, “You know where her cigarettes are?” He shakes his head, I turn back to her and shake my helmet, and she vanishes back to her hunt. “Hey, man? You think you could give me a lift to Hollywood when you decide to scat?” Dov asks.
“You can jump, right?”
Popeye and Mama are still chilling in the original circle. I’m not sure if they ever moved. Bathroom breaks, vodka refills, but more or less, I think they’ve been planted there this whole time. “What are your thoughts?” I randomly ask them both, but unbeknownst to me the director sitting right beside me responds instead, “Do you really think churches would respond to speeches about marijuana?”
“Cannabis. But that’s not what we’re selling. We are hawking hemp. Hemp does it all. Hemp is what they want to know about it. Not weed, not medical weed. Maybe just one true story about someone from the neighborhood that has been saved by the use of medical THC. One example, someone they know. But keep it medical, almost pill-like to them. Never smoke nothing; no more smoke. Now it’s a vapor, keep it as medical as you can when you talk to them.”
“I’m not talking to them. You’re talking to them,” he pitches.
“Not me. Get someone in a suit. Look, it’s all about hemp. The churches all have craft clubs, send them free hemp fiber, hemp fabric, hemp mutha fucking glue, and include a really bland optometrist pamphlet that discusses all the miracle working attributes of hemp (not Cannabis), and end with a Bible verse that totally can’t be disputed by them. Not one you think is funny, ha-ha, not a meme, like, call me when my wife smokes all my weed sort of ruin your movement meme, but something the J-man said that is really universal and indisputable; there’s probably four-twenty of those. Done. Leave it up to the Lord and then you’ll change the world. Those zealots won’t see it coming; done.”
Dov caught the Political Science Major by the hot tub this time. I see him reach and grab her; she really would’ve gone down that time. He’s talking to her, looking at me. “What?” I motion, what the fuck do you want me to do? He waves me over. “Fuck,” and I turn to the director, “Hold up, our star student is in trouble again. Be right back,” and I get up to tend to the troubles. “Do I look responsible to you?” I say to Dov as I approach, my helmet cocked to the side, wobbly, less effective than Beetle Bailey’s, and still wearing my aviator’s in the dark. “She lost her cigarettes again,” he says, and I look at her. “How do suppose you can run a nation if you keep losing your smokes?” I ask her.
“Huh?” she misses it.
“Will you drive us to the gas-station?” Dov asks.
“Will she stop trying to dye the pool red?”
“What do you keep saying?” she slurs and turns to Dov, “Do you understand him?”
“Come,” and I lead them through the pack of pot smoke that fills the entire house. The DJ arrived an hour or so back, now totally set up and the place is what it should be, poppin, and we’re out the front door and I turn to the Political Science Major, “You in the back, window down, seatbelt on,” but she doesn’t hear me and needs help across the grass. Dov, the skinny activist shakes his head, takes her arm and follows me. “That’s me,” I say pointing out the Brick, my Red Bronco, full roll bars, destroyed exterior. “Is that your car?” the Political Science Major questions my ride.
“You want cigarettes? Yes, that’s my car. Call him The Brick, that’s his name.”
Dov goes to light a joint as I pull out of the curb. “No more smoking in my car. I might be on a watch-list now out of association,” I instruct my passengers. Dov licks his finger and puts out the J. “You good back there?” I ask the kid. “Yeah, I’m cool.”
We’re here, gas station. “Yeah, can you get me, um?” and she pauses. Is she really asking us to buy her the cigarettes now? “What do I smoke?” she asks Dov. He doesn’t know, I don’t know. “Why don’t you go in?” I ask her. “I have a warrant out on me,” she says. “You’re a liar. Buy your own cigarettes,” I scold her. “No, it’s true. In South Carolina I skipped my court date. That’s why,” and Dov and I get out of the Brick and head to the Stop Shop. “We have not activated anything today,” I joke to Dov, and he laughs and we get her Marlboro Blacks and listen to her drunkenly talk to her mother on her cellphone all the way back 3 mins. to the party, “I love you, mom. Please don’t throw out the journals. That’s, like, my whole life story. Yes. Yes it is.”
The party is still on, happy enough, not rowdy, happy vibes, mellow vibes, everyone still finding a way to smoke, toke, or vape their pains away. Standard Oil has lines for dab bowls, the Glass Blowers are wrapping up their few twisted and twirled, psychedelic, bubbled pipes, and CCHI radio has replaced the music video scene for the night. The Broadcaster’s been around all day, but now she’s on the hunt for interviews, ideas, opinion’s on pot. “We’re on itunes now! California Cannabis Hemp Initiative, tune in!” She’s a middle-aged woman filled with enthusiasm for everything sprouting from the beautiful planet. She must be clothed all in hemp, at least for the most part. The skirt is all paisley, but when asked, I am corrected, also hemp. “Do you have anything to say to CCHI radio?” she asks me. “I told him,” as I point out the director, and she drifts to get the buzz from him instead.
“You been blowing glass long?” I ask the cat wrapping up his stuff for the night.
“Like two years now. Took that guy (pointing out the mentor) like six years to get as good as he is. So I got two in, ya know? And now he’s showing me stuff, so I bet I catch up faster.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m twenty,” he says, “I didn’t go to college like her,” pointing out the Political Science Major, back by the pool, but sitting this time, safely sitting, asking a guest for a smoke. I cannot believe I just saw that.
“I don’t think she’s in college man. You got nothing to worry about,” I protect this man’s pride.
“Did you go to college?” he asks the man in a helmet.
“NYU,” I answer, not laboring it, not about me, I’m about listening to you kid.
“I didn’t come from a family that cared about college,” he says shrugging, ashamed of it.
“Dude, you’re the talent of this party. I used to go to a lot of skate shit, and this place is like 100% the identical scene, ‘cept here you guys and the Dabber dude are the shit. Ride the wave, and read. Reading’s good. Go to college when yer ready.”
“I’ll go. I want to. You want to twist one?” he says.
“I’m already so stoned, bro,” and I’ll smoke more, but momentarily I think I’m cool.
“No, you want to twist up a piece of glass?”
“All hells, yes,” I say, and the dude shows me some skill, and it’s great, and I make a K for the Puerto Rican, and fucking break it later trying to put it in a safe place in the Brick. “I liked it,” I say to Dov as he gets in my passenger seat. “The party?” he asks closing the door, a sudden and always startling bang of metal on metal and he jumps. “Loud, huh?” I say and cruise this Activist, Supporter of Hemp and Awesomeness in Humankind, home to Hollywood. “Did you see our Political Science Pupil get stopped by CCHI Radio?” he asks, “She lectured the kid about cigarettes for like twenty minutes, and the Poli-Sci straight up crashed in bed after that.”
I pull to the curb and my new friend and I’s night with a brief, “Time keeps on sleeping; Into the Future. We’ll figure it out. Free Hemp.”