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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Not-So-High Times (A.K.A. "Why, alternet, why?")

Gabe sent me an article from alternet.org, which I usually respect as they really do care about journalism and writing and actual news reporting. This article, entitled "High and Mighty", however, is pretty awful. It's about "new and improved" High Times, which, from what I understand, is simply about three-foot bongs and Bonghitters, the High Times softball team. (They're 15-3-1). The writer is happy to recycle the usual stale cliches ("As might be expected of a magazine whose employees work on all things marijuana, everyone looks pretty damn happy") and to steadfastly ignore the idea that pot smokers may be interested in things other than trying to grow and identify buds. (We don't expect wine lovers to start their own vineyards do we? And we don't require that they drink at least three glasses a day in order to qualify as a "wine lover.") This knee-jerk "counterculturalism" pisses me off. If you've got a love for something illegal, educate yourself, take a stand, and try to change the system and people's minds, instead of just being passive and complaining about "The Man" keeping you down.

Anyway, as many of you know, the former editors (Richard Stratton, John Mailer and Annie Nocenti) are my friends, and I wrote for the magazine under them, so I have a definite bias. But it was enough to get me riled up enough to send a letter to alternet.org. Why should anyone think of pot smokers any differently if they're happy to adopt the "stoner" culture? Naive as I am, I thought alternet would be above the stereotype.

This is the letter I wrote. In advance, I ask you to forgive any grandstanding; it's just my lil ole way.

Dear Editor(s)

I am writing regarding the article published on March 29, 2005 entitled "High and Mighty" by Camille Dodero

As a author and journalist, I had the privilege of writing High Times during the all-too-brief Stratton/Mailer reign. Far from being a "celebrity-driven Nation," the magazine was recapturing its real goal of actually being (rather than simply posing as) counterculture. I find many things troubling in Ms. Dodero's article, not the least of which is the insinuation that a "true" pot smoker is one with two foot bongs and vaporizers, rather than the occasional dime bag user. This reveals the elitism of the current High Times: if you don't smoke as much as we do, the same way we do, then you're not one of us.

When I wrote for High Times under Richard Stratton and John Mailer (and, incidentally, Annie Nocenti) I was very excited to write for a progressive magazine, which didn't just supply stoners with paraphernalia, but supplied people who care about pot and counterculture with the means of continuing a rebellion. Three foot bongs are nice, but what about legislation articles? What about all the other things that pot smokers think about BESIDES growing? No, they don't just stare into space, thank you. They listen to music, they write, they play video games, they think about sex. The so-called celebrity-driven High Times knew this and had columns about these subjects. It was something that ANYONE--the lifelong stoner or the occasional smoker--could read.

How, exactly, is that "slick" or "corporate?" Dodero's article never explains this. Instead, it's simply assumed that since circulation supposedly shot up in the short term, High Times had "returned to its roots." Its roots, in fact, were far different than what it's become now, a fact that is simply ignored in this article. For example, why is the magazine's early "Hunter S. Thompson" sensibility in the 1960's laudable, while the fact that Hunter S. Thompson actually wrote for the magazine during the "celebrity-driven" era is never mentioned? How exactly are Ani DiFranco and Jim Jarmusch "celebrities" while Snoop Dogg with some bud is not?

Gloriously shot pictures of buds are nice, but in the end, they're no different than any other glossy, marketed centerfold. What was once a revolutionary magazine of politics and culture--what Playboy was to the mainstream in the 60's--is now again simply another Penthouse or Hustler. In other words: Pot Porn.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! I love pot porn.
Glad to see you back High Times - keep showing me the green and I'll keep giving you my green.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah. This lady is crazy. That version of High Times that she's touting was utterly unreadable, self important crapola and the people responsible, her included, were blow-hard hollywood wannabees. Nobody wanted to read your version of the magazine. The facts reflect this. Get over it.

Long live pot porn if that's what you call how great the magazine is now.

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