Tommy Chong holds court at a glass gallery in NYC
There’s probably no human alive who’s been in High Times more than Tommy Chong, and there’s a good reason for that: He’s earned an honored place as the patriarch of the pot movement. Aside from his iconic films and albums with Cheech Marin, he’s also starred on That 70’s Show, written two books, performed numerous stand-up tours and run his own bong company (for which he served nine months in prison). Last year, he even made it to the finals of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars—at the age of 76! And through it all—half a century in the public eye—he’s never wavered in his support for marijuana and its legalization. That’s why we love him, and why, when invited to visit with him again in my hometown of New York City, I was all too eager.
Mr. Chong was in town for an all-day event at 1Percent, a two-story pop-up glass gallery on Ludlow Street, celebrating the launch of his new paraphernalia line for the Dutch rolling company Futurola.
From 2 to 4 p.m., Tommy hosted a series of joint-rolling classes: a beginners’ class for basic grinding and rolling, an intermediate class covering cones and inside-out joints, and an expert class tackling specialty spliffs like the cross joint (although, this being New York, they couldn’t use weed—substituting an aromatic blend of raspberry leaf and lavender instead).
Of course, Danny Danko and I didn’t need joint-rolling lessons, so we arrived a bit later—at precisely 4:20. While Tommy and his son Paris stepped out for a quick meal, we had a chance to peruse the impressive glass art on display (most of it functional as well). These included some intricate, insect-themed pieces by Toby Upton, a handful of off-the-wall abstracts, and some NYC-themed works like the “Stand Up Pigeon” by Just Another Glassblower and the “Williamsburg Hipster” by Slinger & Germ. One piece called “Grateful to be American” resembled a combination of an argyle sock, an antique vase and a Grateful Dead poster by Slinger & E.F. Norris. Another, entitled “Cheesing” by Elbo and MTP, was a tribute to the South Park episode where Kenny gets high from cat piss and visits the boob-filled world of the adult animation classic Heavy Metal. And downstairs, there was an insane wood-and-glass guitar hookah by Nate Dizzle and Josh Bohn.
When the Chongs returned around 5 p.m., we spent some quality time together before the official press reception began—trying out Tommy’s new signature line of rolling machines, papers and grinders, conducting interviews, and sharing a smoke. As expected, he was as happy, humble and hilarious as ever.
As 7 p.m. rolled around, the crowd began to filter in, and soon the gallery was filled with fans eager to get their autographs and selfies with Tommy. Over a few gratis glasses of Grenache, Danny and I merrily mingled and networked with the various activists, artists and journalists in attendance before saying goodnight.
Tommy plans to promote his products at most of our Cannabis Cups this year, so if you’ve never had the opportunity to meet this living legend, all you need do is come to one of our events, find the Futurola booth and say “high.”