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Ask Tommy Chong if he's still a stoner, and he'll tell you a story about a
sunny day in the 1970s when he and former comedy partner Richard "Cheech"
Marin stepped out of their Lahaina hotel rooms individually to purchase some
of the Valley Isle's finest.

"Cheech and I were playing Hawai'i ... and we both wanted to score some
weed," says Chong, via telephone from his Los Angeles home. "So Cheech
hooked up with this grower who had a plantation near Hana. They chartered a
plane, flew over there, and then hiked up this mountain ... quite a ways,
starting early in the morning."

Chong, meanwhile, chose to sleep in.

"Around noon or one o'clock, I woke up and walked over to a health food
store," says Chong. "And there was this guy sorting bags of weed. So I say,
'Oh, are those for sale?' And he says, 'Yeah!' and threw one on the counter
for me."

Marin returned that evening with a funky-looking sunburn on one side of his
face, stories of his battles with nature, a small reservoir of anger, but
beaming with pride as he tossed a hard-won $100 bag of product on the table.
To his surprise, Chong did the same.

"He was, like, 'Where'd you get that, man?' says Chong, before pausing to
crack up with laughter. "When I told him, the look on his face was
priceless. I mean, I even actually paid less for the same amount of weed as

Think this sounds a bit like a skit from one of the duo's now cult-classic
comedy records (like 1973's "Los Cochinos") and multimillion-dollar-grossing
cinematic pot adventures (like 1978's "Up In Smoke")? Well, so does Chong.

"It was classic Chong, man!" he says, referring to his only slightly alter
ego. "If you wait, the stuff will come to ya."

Fine, man, but whose "stuff" was more, uh, dope?

"Oh, mine, by far!" says Chong, laughing hard. "Cheech couldn't even enjoy
his 'cause he got ripped off. I mean, he had to pay for chartering a plane,

About to turn 64, and -- to paraphrase the title of one of the duo's films
- -- still proudly smokin', Tommy Chong and his Family Stoned Band
(girlfriend/wife of 30 years Shelby and sons Gilbran, 26, and Paris, 21)
will offer a two-night engagement of stoner stand-up, skits ("Let's Make A
Dope Deal"), original tunes ("Earache My Eye") and (we're not joking) salsa
dance lessons today and Saturday at Gussie L'Amour's.

Along with his occasional appearances as "Leo," an aging hippie photo-lab
owner on Fox's "That '70s Show" and film cameos, the vaudeville-style show
is just one of Chong's under-the-radar projects since the duo's semi-hostile
1986 breakup.

Unlike Marin -- who post-C&C has eked out a moderately successful, decidedly
straight-laced acting career in television ("Nash Bridges") and film ("Tin
Cup," "The Lion King" and both "Spy Kids" films) -- Chong has never
distanced himself from his stoner past in his reel or real life. The
question of exactly how often he still inhales exhales into our conversation
once again.

"Ohhhh, a couple of times a week ... maybe," says Chong. "It depends. The
older you get, the less you need. Pot makes you slow and stupid. And when
you get old, that comes naturally." He lets loose a roaring laugh again.

These days, Chong says, his pot use is akin to getting treats for a job well

"I use it as a reward," explains Chong. "If I've done something -- worked on
a book I'm writing, created some art, wrote a song, or did something
creative -- then I go, 'You know what? You deserve to get high!' "

Oddly enough, it's a lesson in moderation he's passed on to his two sons,
each of whom he believes have stayed away from harder drugs, in part,
because of his sage advice.

"I actually turned on ... my youngest son myself," says Chong, proudly. "I
mean, I'm quite sure he smoked a little before, but we had a little
you're-a-man-now bar mitzvah joint, you know? And it was nice. We've been
tight ever since."

At first angry with Marin's abrupt ending of their partnership (he wanted to
move on to family-friendlier fare), Chong now is grateful for the years it
gave him to be full-time father to his sons. Time at home was something he
rarely had for his daughters from an earlier marriage, actresses Rae Dawn
and Robbi. (Chong's daughter with Shelby, Precious, also is an actress.)

"When Cheech and I broke up, I was home a lot," says Chong. "I got to drive
both of my boys to school every day, and picked 'em up. And that was one of
the highlights of my life ... to actually be their chauffeur. I cherish that

Chong's post-C&C relationship with Marin has proved far more challenging to
maintain. Although both have worked on a few of the other's projects
post-breakup, the duo have gone through lengthier periods of barely
speaking. In fact, they're in the middle of one right now.

"But I think it's gonna thaw out a bit," says Chong, steering conversation
to an offer made to him earlier in the day during a meeting with an unnamed,
though "well-known" producer. Are you ready for a Cheech & Chong reunion
movie yet? "I'm meeting with the writer, then I'm gonna get a script, a
deal, and then present it to Cheech and see if he's interested. And I'll bet
the store that he'll go, 'OK, let's do it.' "

OK, I'll bite ... why?

"Well, No. 1, he's not working," says Chong. "And No. 2, he's not working.
And No. 3, he needs the money. It depends on him. But I can't see him
turning down something like this because it would put him into retirement,
which he's really looking forward to.

"It'd be big money ... huge money. It'd be a $20 million paycheck ... 10
(million) each, a decent director and away we go. If Cheech turns down $10
million, or even a million, to do a Cheech & Chong movie, I'll be

Reunion or no reunion, though, Chong insists he'll remain proudly
counterculture until the day he dies.

"Oh, yeah," he says, laughing. "I'll be counterculture until it's no longer

Pubdate: Fri, 2 Aug 2002
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Webpage: Chong still revels in counterculture ways | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper
Copyright: 2002 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Contact: letters@honoluluadvertiser.com
Website: Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Hawaii News, Sports, Weather and Entertainment
Details: Overload Warning
Author: Derek Paiva
Bookmark: Overload Warning (Cannabis - Popular)
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