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College Daze Part 1: Dude Camping Trip

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Recalling some cannabis-fueled camping trips with my metalhead college crew.

It may seem hard to believe, but I actually began my college career as a finance major. While I never ended up using most of what I learned at Baruch College, I did make some fateful friends there—like Darren, a fellow DJ at the college radio station (which I’ll elaborate on in a future column), and Delia, who both got me my job at High Times and introduced me to my pal Andrew.

As one of the few other metalheads at Baruch, Drew and I hit it off immediately. Before long, I’d secured myself a place amongst his crew of rocker buddies out in Howard Beach, Queens, along with a new nickname: Brooklyn. Every weekend, I’d fire up my ’69 LeMans and tear ass down the Belt Parkway to Crossbay Boulevard, where the “goons” would all gather with their muscle cars in the back of a Waldbaum’s parking lot (known simply as “The Lot”) and spend all night drinking beer, smoking weed, blasting metal and, on rare occasions, drag racing. Whenever their band Judgment played at an area club, I’d be right there in the moshpit, earning me the title of “Pit General.” But without a doubt, the highlight of our year was the annual Dude Camping Trip, or DCT.

Each fall, 10 to 15 of us would gather in The Lot at around 5 a.m. with two cases of beer each, three to four ounces of weed (and sometimes some mushrooms), and then caravan to upstate New York for a week of male bonding in the woods—no girlfriends allowed. Sometimes we’d go to Peekamoose Mountain; other times we’d reserve our own island on Indian Lake. Regardless of where we went, it was always a wacky adventure filled with burping, farting, drinking, smoking and lots of laughing. But beyond the standard macho idiocy, there was a special set of rituals dubbed the “Council Tests.”

You see, within our group of goons, there were a few core members respected above the rest—the members of Council. If there was a dispute between anyone, any disagreement about what we should do that night or who should go on the next beer run, Council would settle it—and the judgment of Council was final. It was at DCT each year that a new member would be inducted into Council. Pledges would first have to be nominated by two dudes and pass a grueling set of fraternity-style initiations devised by Council: firewood-collecting contests, swimming relays and, of course, drinking and smoking challenges.

In fact, weed devices and rituals were a huge part of DCT in general. There was Circle of Death: Everyone stood in a circle and lit a joint, then a member of Council called out the orders in military fashion: “Inhale … pass … exhale! Inhale … pass … exhale!” Thus the circle would continue until every joint was gone.

Then there was Socia-bowl—a simple but effective multi-person smoking device built by Drew in his machine shop. It consisted of a hexagonal wooden hookah box with a huge bowl hollowed out of it, plus a thick plastic tube with a cap on the end attached to each side, allowing up to six people to hit it at once. Once filled, it could take an hour or more to cash. Not to be outdone, the year after Drew introduced Socia-bowl, I brought along my own unique smoking device: a gas-mask-style bowl that, once strapped on, was known to rapidly induce a vegetative state in its wearer.

I continued to hang with the goons for a few years after graduation, but eventually the demands of our lives began to pull us apart. Judgment broke up, and as more of them got married, had kids and moved further out onto Long Island—and my career at HT took off—our schedules and obligations made getting together more and more difficult. I hadn’t thought about DCT in some time … that is, until last fall, when I returned to our old campsite at Peekamoose with my wife. Blazing up together out there around the campfire, it reminded me of old times—minus all the burping and farting, of course.

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