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Book Review: Pot Culture – The A-Z Guide to Stoner Language & Life by Shirley Halperin & Steve Bloom

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Written by Fumo Verde 

“Hey man, are you cool?”
“Don’t worry, man. He just wants to know if you smoke pot.”

These lines out of the movie Dazed and Confused break it down real simple, and they remind me of a time when even mentioning the word “pot” was dangerous. I lived through the “Hugs Not Drugs” and Nancy’s “Just Say No” bullshit, and if you wanted to know if someone burned bowls you had to ask that question in just the right way, or else get busted. No matter where we are, stoners always seek out and find other stoners. This is what gave Halperin and Bloom the idea to assemble all this info from across the weed nation and compressed it down into a 230-page marijuana encyclopedia. I can’t say that the authors got everything associated with weed life, there's no explanation for the origin of 420, but what they do get presents the stoner culture in a way that one can grasp be ye high or sober.

The forward by Tommy Chong is pretty cool, but the introduction by the authors sums it up pretty well: they were amazed at how stoners will always find others who puff. How we as stoners go about finding each other is kind of a ritual. In our world, talking to someone who isn’t cool could get you in a shitload of trouble, so, as not to offend or get busted, we blazers have come up with our own words and rules and this is the authors’ inspiration for this guide.

This book not only gives us the explanations about things such as “Pinching,” the act of steeling weed from a bag that’s not yours, or “the Summer of Love,” which was kicked off with the Human Be-in on Jan. 14 1967 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it also serves as a guide on how to make an apple pipe, described by up-and-coming actor Jonah Hill, or what a “pope” is used for. It also shows the proper etiquette for smoking out with others. If you’ve never sparked up, this book is the insider’s guide on what makes the use of marijuana the kind of kinship it is.

Reading this book reminded me of shit I did in high school and it taught me stuff that I never knew. Like, I didn’t know that Paul McCartney’s song “Got to Get You Into My Life” was his ode to marijuana. Now that song has a whole different connotation for me. I think I dig it more now than I have before, the song that is.

Like the book says, the pages cover A- Z and give definitions for many of the slang terms we use today such as “gram,” “hash,” and “blunt.” This guide also teaches you how to keep your buds fresh (hint: glass mason jars) and how to clean out your bong or pipe. They have listed some of the best “pot” bands around and have compiled a list of “weed” friendly festivals, such as the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (expect a report later this summer filed by a certain Masked Movie Snob or two.) Every page has a little surprise and since 90% of the book is in color, there are some fantastic and legendary photos from weed icons like Jerry Garcia, Bob Marley, and modern-day weed-warrior Woody Harrelson. At the very back, just before the credits, one can also find some tasty recipes for some delicious pot treats.

True, this book doesn’t capture everything in the culture that I have deeply embraced, but it does one of the best jobs that I have ever seen. This is a fun book that every toker should get their sticky green fingers on. Clever and informative, Pot Culture teaches the new stoners how to tune in and reminds us old vets where we came from, and gives us all a sense of where we will be going. Great book and a must-buy for all us loadies.

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