One perk of writing this column is I get free stuff from time to time. Nobody has sent me free weed yet, but I have received a number of toys used to grind, store, vape, and smoke pot. The best free items arrived in the mail a few weeks ago.
The LA-based high-end water pipe company Bent Glass made a bunch of ill custom bongs for A$AP Mob, so I was pretty excited when they told me they made a couple of bongs with my nom de plume painted on them. The day the pipes arrived, I brought a bunch of the #hardboyz back to my crib to test them out. Somehow, our graphics guy, Onix, was able to keep enough of a level head to document the event. Here’s Spills, Onix, Seabreeze, Gitoo, Dylan, and I pumping hits from my new pipes. They hit impeccably.
As I placed my gorgeous new pipes on my shelf after the festivities, I remembered some of the glass that has came and went over the years—so many bongs tipped over, inside-out spoons crushed, and travel chillums left behind. While most of these pipes died natural deaths, I paused when I recalled a couple of very special bongs that went before their time.
Around the end of my junior year of high school, my older brother Bhai graduated from college and moved a bunch of his stuff back home. He grabbed one box and brought it straight to my room. After he closed the door behind him, he put the box on the foot of my bed and carefully pulled out two items wrapped in newspaper: one as large as a head of cabbage, and the other the size of a spray paint can. As he unwrapped them, he said, “These are very special to me, but I can’t take them with me right now. I want you to take care of them for me. Smoke out of them as much as you want. Enjoy yourself. Just don’t break them and don’t let mom find them.” I nearly peed my pants. These were really special bongs.
The larger one was known as the Dragon because that’s exactly what it was—a large ceramic dragon holding a clear glass orb in its claws. The smaller one was a beautifully blown dark green and blue stand-up bubbler. These were the pipes my brother and his friends had trained me to use as a young teenager—I was deeply honored that Bhai had placed them in my care. I promised I’d take good care of them and return them to him as good as new. I did not keep this promise.
Instantly, the Dragon made me popular among my school’s stoners, which included pretty much everyone by senior year. My buddies would come by frequently, helping me smuggle the glass reptile through the window and onto the balcony so we could stare off into the distance while pulling giant hits. The security guards at my building got to take the best work breaks of their lives with the Dragon and me. At one point, even a couple of douchy jocks came through and tested out my fly gear—I knew that these kids were not my friends. They were nice enough to pack up the bong and use it respectfully, but like many of my classmates, they always viewed me with a lack of understanding. There were no other brown dudes with dyed hair and huge torn pants, so I remained an oddity. Those special bongs were really the only thing that could have brought me into the same sphere as many of these kids. One of these kids was the first person to hire me for a DJ gig.
Along with all my other weird qualities, I was the only kid who bought and mixed records. Moreover, they were all records my classmates had never heard: singles by DJ Krush, Wagon Christ, Rae & Christian, Up Bustle and Out, and other artists. Because nobody cared about what I was playing, I was restricted to recording mixes in my bedroom and listening to them alone. When a jock asked me to DJ his New Year’s party, I jumped at the opportunity. (To keep the jock's identity anonymous, I'll call him Ralph.) Sure, Ralph's crowd was the wrong crowd, but the offer to play for a captive audience tantalized me. I knew I’d have to dumb it down a bit, so I picked stuff I assumed everyone would know—it turned out even Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr were too esoteric for jocks.
Regardless of the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm, I felt like a true G mixing my first live set on my purple DJ equiptment in this shithead’s living room. I brought along Bhai’s bubbler, and placed it next to the decks as my tip cup. Early in the night, a few people actually packed me hits as they walked by—the bubbler was more popular than my set. At some point, someone asked me if I wanted to come hit a huge bong in the other room, so I threw on an extra long track and stepped away from the decks. When I got back to the table, a girl was bumping her ass against one of the turntables, causing the needle to fly all over the place. I yelled at her. Suddenly, the room got quiet. I looked around frantically at the kids crowded around the table. “Which one of you preppie fuck-bags took my bubbler?” I asked. Everyone shrugged.
Midnight came and went, no one appreciated my music, and the bubbler was nowhere in sight. I came back to Ralph’s house the next day and looked around some more, but no dice. With no recourse, I just asked Ralph to tell me if it ever turned up. I told Bhai I had failed him, to which he responded with kindness and understanding. Before long, the bubbler was forgotten.
About two years ago, almost nine years after the incident, I received a Facebook message from Ralph. Here’s exactly what he said:
Hey Kid, what's going on. Long time. I've been wanting to friend request you for a while, but I feel like a big scumbag because waaaay back you left an apparatus at my house, and I stole it. And then broke it. Anyway, I've always wanted to apologize to you for that, and always thought you were cool as shit. If you have any interest, holler at me.
Unsurprisingly, I had very little interest in hollering at Ralph. Facebook blasts from the past are rarely prefaced with admissions of larceny. Nevertheless, I wrote back saying that I appreciated the apology and then asked what he had been up to. He told me he still lived in the same town and that he’d recently been arrested on a marijuana charge. He asked me if I was still making music:
You still rapping? Do they call you MC Durka Durka?
Yes, after admitting he stole from me, Ralph called me an epithet for Muslims he learned from Team America: World Police. While TA: WP is a subversive feat of puppetry, I don’t love when people use its satirical jokes to stereotype people. It would have been funnier if a friend said it, but Ralph was not my friend. I stopped responding to him, but he had my phone number. I knew that I’d have to blow him off a bit more personally before long. A week later, he texted me saying he was in the city and wanted to blaze me out. I didn’t respond. He hit me up again saying he’d really like the chance to make up for stealing my bubbler. I didn’t respond. He asked if he had offended me in some way. I didn’t respond. Finally, Ralph told me that I was being shitty and standoffish. Still, I didn’t respond. As much as he wanted to squash our age-old beef, I wanted to avoid dealing with someone who not only stole from me but also had an irritating sense of humor.
The bubbler came and went from my possession so long ago that I barely remember what it looked like, but it haunted Ralph—that’s what he got for stealing someone’s pipe. Sure, he hit it and enjoyed it a bit, but he will always know in his heart that it wasn’t his. He broke it, dropped out of community college, got arrested, and now will probably make awkward jokes for the rest of his life.
It took me more than a decade after losing the bubbler, but I now possess the nicest bongs I’ve ever owned—and these bad boys have my fucking name right on them, so they can only be mine.
Thanks to Soul at Bent Glass and DJ at A$AP Mob.
Previously - Bol the Acid Tripper