Meet the Hero Who Fought Off Thieves with a Bong
We talked to Joshua Lewis-Brant, the man who has been dubbed as the “bong ninja” by his customers.
Photos provided by Joshua Lewis-Brant.
This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
A few weeks ago, Canada was introduced to a hero.
This was a hero of old. A modern-day knight who, with his steed by his side fought off invaders with Excalibur, except in this case Excalibur is a bong, the steed is a tiny little chihuahua named Cheech, and the invaders were four masked men with bear spray trying to rob a weed store.
We were introduced to this hero by the way of security footage from the Recreational Cannabis Farmers Market in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory (200 km [124 miles] east of Toronto.) This footage, taken earlier in September, shows a man and woman—which we now know is Joshua Lewis-Brant and his wife Audrea, who helps run the store—being attacked by four men wielding bear spray. These would-be robbers sprayed the shit out of the two before Brant decided enough is enough, grabbed a large bong, and chased the four men off.
If you want a play-by-play of the fight—and you should, as it is glorious—you can read it here. The video featuring Lewis-Brant and his bong wielding skills has been seen almost half a million times and the man, whom one customer has dubbed the Bong Ninja, has experienced a bit of viral fame.
Well, I decided to catch up with Lewis-Brant to chat about small dogs, bong warfare, and scrappin’.
VICE: Take me to the day of the robbery, how did it start?
Lewis-Brant: It was just my wife and I working. We were cleaning the store, you know, putting some product on the shelves. I went to the washroom out back and was walking back when I noticed a vehicle drive through our parking lot without stopping. It had their license plate covered.
I went back in and started texting the owners about that, but before I had even gotten to send the message the car was back in front of the store. It wasn’t long until my wife let me know that these people were coming in with something. So she gave us a head start even before they got through the door, just to know that something was happening. That was so important, it gets you ready to go. It fires you up.
When they got in they started spraying bear spray immediately, how bad did you get hit?
Yeah man, we got it pretty bad. There have been some people who asked why didn't you just give them what you wanted. Well, they just came through the door and said 'get the F down' and then sprayed bear mace in the store. They didn't even ask, they didn't say they were there to rob us, they just sprayed us. Both my wife and I got covered in bear mace along with our little chihuahua named Cheech that we just got.
Cheech got it pretty bad, that was probably the worst part of it. Our friend ended up rushing our dog to an animal hospital and they had to wash him with saline solution. It was crazy.
Oh shit. Is Cheech OK?
Yeah man, he's doing OK.
So you started moving toward them and grabbed the bong?
Yeah, that was the first thing in front of me. I saw the two people try and run around the counter to get at us so I popped up with the bong. It was all instinctual; I didn't know what I was doing until I did it.
At first, it was kind of scary, but then it wasn't because, I mean, we've all been to the bar. [laughs] It kind of reminded me of that in a way, I guess that's why, maybe, I dropped my arms and said: "what are you going to do with a recycling bin?" They had a plan but luckily for my wife and I, they didn't have any other weapons so once they ran out of bear mace they didn't know what to do.
I think what scared them the most was the fact I wasn't scared. I wanted to beat the shit out of them.
What was it like fighting them off?
It was a really surreal experience to watch the video now. During it, it felt much longer and, obviously from adrenaline, it felt different and I honestly don't really remember too much of it.
I watch the video and it just doesn't feel like I did it.
Where is the bong now?
I hit it off the car a bunch of times and it broke. When I was chasing them off in the store the base of the bong broke but the neck was still in one piece. I picked it up, threw it at the driver's door and by some miracle it didn't break again but it left a huge dent in the door. So I picked it up again as they were driving away and threw it at the back of the car and it smashed into a whole bunch of pieces.
My friend ended up finding the mouthpiece still intact and they framed it and one of our customers made us a "bong ninja" sign. We have some pretty great customers.
You handled yourself immensely well. Did you grow up fighting? This obviously wasn't your first rodeo.
Well, as I said, I've been to the bar a few times. [laughs] I used to be pretty crazy when I was younger but I don't do that anymore. But, like I said, fighting at a bar is exactly what that reminded me of when it was happening. It took me back in time a bit. I showed the video to my father and he said it took him back as well. Those bar fighting days are long gone though.
How long did the effects of the bear mace last?
Man… turns out that bear mace is pretty intense. It's oil-based so you can't get it off of you with water, well, it takes a lot of water to get it off of you. So probably for a week or so we were feeling pretty crappy—like we got sunburn. I still bite my fingernails and it tastes like I just ate hot chicken wings.
You've been called the toughest motherfucker in Canada online by several people. What has the reaction been for you personally?
It's cool that people think that, but to be all honest, my wife did a lot as well and she's not really getting the recognition. Without her warning, it could have gone differently. Also, as I said, we were so lucky they didn't have any other weapons. It could have gone a completely different way. I'm not letting it go to my head by any means.
It’s cool to go viral, but like I keep telling people, if I didn't grab that bong, no one would have cared.
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