You can do anything while you're stoned, and the ever-increasing varieties of ways to consume THC—from edible to palm-size vape—expands the range of weed-head activities even wider. But any discerning stoner will tell you that nothing quite beats zoning out and just looking at stuff—whether it's a good (or hilariously bad) movie or TV show, a strange curio on your phone screen, or the beautiful expanse that is the world around you.
So in the spirit of 4/20, we asked VICE employees to share some of their favorite visual experiences—past and present—after taking a toke. Who knows, maybe you'll pick up a recommendation or two in the process. —Larry Fitzmaurice, Senior Culture Editor, Digital
'Jesus Christ Superstar'
Despite hating musicals and having a complicated relationship with religion, the 1973 adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar is one of my absolute favorite movies and has been burned into my brain since childhood. So, of course, every Easter weekend I make my friends get incredibly high and watch it. It's already a ridiculous film—a rock opera about the passion of the Christ!—but weed only heightens the absurdity, from on-purpose anachronisms (machine guns in the marketplace; Judas chased by tanks) to the silly musical numbers (a shirtless King Herod, in tinted sunglasses and white shorts, sing-demands that Jesus walk across a swimming pool). It's weird, trippy, and sad—like everything associated with religion. But if you time it right, you'll be passed out before the crucifixion. —Pilot Viruet, Associate Culture Editor, VICE.com
For any sad person who isn't aware of the premise of Shark Tank: A group of self-made millionaires and billionaire investors hear pitches from small business owners who are looking for money to grow or save their companies. The show very much is hinged on the idea of the American dream—that you can be saved through capitalism. As a nice socialist lady, I get that this is mostly bullshit—a narrative propagated to keep impoverished people oppressed by tricking them into believing they can become millionaires if they just work a little harder. These are nuances you might not catch sober but will surely obsess over while stoned—the majestic Americanness of it all, the comfort of buying into the lie. Shark Tank is already perfect enough to consume while sober; but like most things in life, weed improves it. I'm someone who's constantly thinking about the agony and the ecstasy of our fucked-up economic system anyways, so why not be high and watching Shark Tank while doing so? —Eve Peyser, Staff Politics Writer, VICE.com
Train Cab Internet Videos
There is no better activity when you are stoned than contemplating the enormity of planet Earth. In the past, it was harder to do this: You might have to use an encyclopedia or just your own dang imagination. The rise of YouTube ostensibly provided a great solution. But even though just about everything is on YouTube, there's no obvious search phrase that says, "Show me the world, so that I might dwell upon its majesty"—or so you might think. The answer, it turns out, is actually "train cab video + location," which allows you to pull up a conductor's-eye view of just about any train route you can think of. Suddenly, you're riding with all the railroad enthusiasts of the world, exploring the scenic byways of Switzerland or Bangladesh at the click of a button. There's enough movement for the video to be engaging, but the image is simple enough to get lost in your thoughts, much like an actual train ride. For the DIY multimedia stoner crowd, train cab videos pair incredibly well with music (this deep house mix set to a ride from Brussels to Amsterdam is particularly good), but the beauty of the medium is that you can do whatever you want with it, just like with the human mind itself. —Kyle Kramer, Features Editor, Noisey
'How to Deal'
Every year for the last—oh, I don't know, ten years?—I've watched How to Deal on 4/20. For the uninitiated, How to Deal is a Mandy Moore teen dramedy from 2003 that has some strange Shakespearean overtones to it, despite not being based on any specific work of Shakespeare. (Adding to the confusion, there's a song on the soundtrack called "Billy Shakespeare," from forgotten teen-popper Skye Sweetnam.) To borrow an old bit from former SNL cast member Bill Hader's Stefan character, How to Deal has everything: Dylan Baker working as a vending machine attendant, Allison Janney angrily making a salad, a funeral scene set to the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize??," Peter Gallagher. It also features Cloris Leachman as the pot-smoking grandmother of Moore's angsty teen Hailey, and if it takes even one joint-sparking scene to cement a film as a stoner classic, then How to Deal can hang capably with Cheech & Chong and the rest of 'em. —Fitzmaurice
I love watching Billions while blasted out of my skull. It's set in a world I'm wholly unfamiliar with—one in which loaded, ruthlessly self-absorbed, power-hungry assholes take great pleasure in fucking one another over. I barely understand what's going on half the time. The show stars Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, who play a shady billionaire Wall Street investor and a shady US attorney who likes to get peed on, respectively. Every time these men open their mouths, a very important life lesson comes spilling out. Even something as simple as ordering off a lunchtime menu is designed to heap wisdom on anyone blessed enough to be within earshot. It's. So. Very. Dramatic—and funny (especially Lewis's New York accent). And I'll say it again: Paul Giamatti gets peed on. 4.20 stars out of five. —Brian McManus, Special Projects Editor, VICE.com
The PBS staple Antiques Roadshow adds drama to the already dramatic process of antique appraisal and is perfect for when you're stoned. The show's structure is simple: An ordinary American presents an antique to an expert, who explains the history of the item and tells him or her how much it's worth. The show might be boring to anybody who doesn't have interest in historical artifacts, but to me, the past is full of infinite mystery and wonder, which makes the Roadshow a great high viewing choice, perfect to watch as you drift off to sleep. But if you're feeling wired, there are also many stoner Roadshow games to be played, like guessing the value of each historical gem (take a hit if you're right/take two hits if you're wrong) and speculating on the complex inner lives of the antique owner and the appraiser. Antiques Roadshow is a blank slate for the stoner mind, a way for you to lazily exercise your imagination and see some truly beautiful heirlooms, trash, and everything in between. —Peyser
I don't really smoke weed anymore, but when I did, you know what was fucking great? Reading Ulysses. Everyone thinks of it as a difficult novel—and it is—but when you're high, you can let all the early-20th-century Dublin references wash over you while focusing on the joy and strangeness of the language. Treat it like you would an art film or a psychedelic painting—more an experience than an exercise in logic. Speaking of which, you can't properly read Ulysses (high or otherwise) while listening to music or interacting with anyone, so don't try it, or you'll get distracted and the whole thing will be a waste. Sorry if this makes me sound like a pretentious asshole. —Harry Cheadle, Senior Editor, VICE.com
Old Footage of Closed Amusement Parks
When I smoke weed and go on YouTube, I'm trying to time travel. Yeah, you can just watch old movies if you want to see the past, but footage from people's old home movie cameras makes the experience more spontaneous and intimate. My favorite kind of old footage is of amusement parks that no longer exist. Lots and lots of old, mom-and-pop parks—like Angela Park in Pennsylvania—have been bulldozed over the years, and the footage of what once was is so shaky and ugly that it almost tricks your brain into thinking you're looking at the present, instead of the ghostly remnants of a good time someone had before you were even born, in a place you'll never be able to actually go. If you only watch footage of one defunct amusement park, make it Pacific Ocean Park, an expensive, ocean-themed park just outside of LA that was the Pepsi to Disneyland's coke until it closed in 1967. At some point, I'm sure people actually went to that place on weed. I wonder if they're dead now. —Mike Pearl, Staff Writer, VICE.com
When I'm high, I stay up watching TV—not even TV but YouTube videos. I watch a string of three-to-30 minute clips so disassociated from one another that, by the time I go to sleep, I don't even remember how I got from parody movie trailers to Christopher Hitchens debating the existence of God. As a result, I don't smoke weed very often. —Alex Norcia, Copy Editor, VICE magazine and VICE.com
The Instagram explore tab is the digital equivalent of throwing a dart at a map on the wall. It takes you places: You can peer at a gravity-defying infinity pool at a luxury hotel in Indonesia, then you can go to Rome and salivate at the sight of an overstuffed cone of gelato. One minute you're watching an ASMR video of a person sticking his finger in goo, and the next you're looking at the selfie of a guy who plays Gaston at Disney World. A picture of a woman with boulder-sized breasts is immediately followed up by the handiwork of a man who does makeup for the mannequins in New York City department stores. The explore tab has everything. It's fascinating. It's anthropological! And I've lost what probably amounts to several days of my life high on my couch looking at it. —Leslie Horn, Managing Editor, Noisey
The Back of Your Eyelids
If you're white or hang out with white people, and you've ever gotten high, chances are that jam bands have been involved. This is how it was for me growing up in upstate South Carolina in the 2000s. Because driving was the only way to get anywhere, a lot of my time was spent in cars. And because this was the ultra-conservative South, a lot of these cars were trucks. We'd break out the tunes and stare out the windows. I remember maybe three specific times, bouncing along those country roads—cornfields, treetops, winding roads with their tiny houses and barking dogs and cluttered yards. The one time I will tell you about took place one summer afternoon in a truck. I was stoned out of my mind, an incoming senior in high school going through the kind of fuck-up period that will either awaken or destroy you. That day, I closed my eyes and literally saw music, notes on a scrolling sheet accompanying Dickey Betts and the keyboard players' harmonizing "Jessica" lines. (Next came a row of dancing Grateful Dead bears like we'd all had plastered on our bumpers back then, but that's beside the point.) Despite my inability to actually read music—my guitar playing was self-taught—I felt and saw and knew music like I'd never felt before, and probably never since. I was there, but I was also somewhere else I only recognize now, years later, away from gravity bongs and jam bands and those stunning, crushing roads. And then, when we got to where we were trying to go, I leaned out the door and puked. —James Yeh, Culture Editor, VICE.com
'NBA2K' and 'Madden NFL' Matches
Ice breakers were the highlight of every quarter in college. For the uninformed, an ice breaker is what we called a dance party thrown by black fraternities during the first few weeks of class. On my incredibly white college campus, these were an oasis of hip-hop music, twerking, and stepping that made school bearable. My friends and I had a ritual before every ice breaker: We'd all link up at our homie's with the biggest dorm room to drink 151 and pass around innumerable blunts packed with very shitty weed. While some dudes were ironing their Polo gear or trying to find the right Nikes to match their outfit, others were on the sticks, rocking NBA 2K or Madden. As an insular only child, I never mastered the art of playing video games with other people—I've always been more of a story-mode dude, with a penchant for games like Grand Theft Auto or Metal Gear Solid. So when the PS3 was fired up for sports games, I'd just fall back, thankful to avoid the heated competition and the inevitable dozens that went with it. I'd just chief a blunt and watch my homies furiously pound their controllers and trash talk one another, while obscure Lil Wayne mixtapes blasted in the background. The ice breakers were amazing, but I often think about all that time I spent in those hangouts before the dance party, watching match after match on cheap Black Friday flatscreen TVs through a haze of blunt smoke. It's one of the best memories I have of my friends and college, because it was a time when we were altogether in the same place. I hope that someday we'll all get to kick it like that again with some weed and some sports video games. If we do, I might even try to get on the sticks. —Wilbert Cooper, Senior Editor, VICE.com
Yacht rock is trendy now, but long before Thundercat put Michael "You'll Never See Hair This White Again" McDonald and Kenny "Mr. 80s Soundtrack" Loggins on his new album Drunk, a certain corner of the internet spent the past decade celebrating the glory of smooth rock. Yacht Rock is a 2005 webseries of mockumentary-style fan-fiction about the bitter rivalries between the titans of yacht rock in the late 70s and early 80s. It was created for Channel 101, a monthly public access–style "film festival" from the minds of Rob Schrab and Dan Hyman, and it's just as stupid as you would imagine. Actually, no, it's definitely more stupid than that. But, when the music's this smooth, who cares? This holiday season, get blazed and let Hollywood Steve show you the world. —Eric Sundermann, Editor-in-Chief, Noisey
What got me through a few grueling wintery-spring months is watching Alias stoned. The SparkNotes version is that I get a little depressed when March feels like death, but this winter, what with our misogynistic now-president, I needed to watch a lady super-spy kick ass. Dare I say, Alias was kind of "woke" way back in the 00s? It was a show on ABC created by J.J. Abrams that once had an episode directed by and starring Quentin Tarantino, and yet its central narrative revolves around female relationships. Also there's at least an attempt at diversity; Garner's partner and best friend were both played by black actors. But like, why the emphasis on cis relationships? And why cast a white actress as Sydney? These are the thoughts I have these days while watching Alias stoned. —Kara Weisenstein, Editor, Creators
'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'
The depraved sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is not prototypical stoner fare, and rarely does pot actually come up in its many episodes. There are exceptions, of course—Frank (Danny DeVito) ripping a bong at the bar in season four and demanding his friends "download" him a "hoagie" off the internet is not to be missed. But Charlie, Dee, Dennis, Mac, and Frank almost exclusively focus their depravity on alcohol—and other people. And yet, I've always found that something about the desperate subversion of the show, its characters' willingness to humiliate themselves and one another—and occasionally engage in outright sociopathy—that has lent itself to getting stoned. Of course, getting high does not intend to induce people to commit violent crimes the way some of the other substances consumed on Sunny do—this is a signature of pot apologia. But a pleasant high can make their scheming and bizarro lifestyles more charming and rewarding and remind you just how grounded and sane you are in comparison to the maniacs on your screen.—Matt Taylor, News Editor, VICE.com
New York City
I live in Brooklyn. So, if I want to see mountains and shit, I have to go upstate or just somewhere else entirely. You know what, though? I still find the capacity for wonder in my metropolitan environment. Sometimes I wholly envelope myself around it, allowing my emotions to be taken over by the sheer magnitude of city architecture and the teeming rushes of life that swarm around them. One of my favorite things to do when I'm stoned is walk around Manhattan, listen to M83—specifically, "Graveyard Girl" or "Don't Save Us From the Flames" or "Kim and Jessie" or anything off of Hurry Up, We're Dreaming—and look at the gigantic buildings around me with an overwhelming sense of awe. Sometimes I think about the people inside them, how they're doing something different from me at that very moment—working, sleeping, watching TV, making food, caring for one another... It makes me feel more secure about my own place in this gigantic world. It gives me peace. —Fitzmaurice