Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cheech and Chong's Hey Watch This!


I recently was treated to a hilarious comedy:
Cheech & Chong's Hey Watch This!
I laughed myself silly and it felt good. You know medicine is the best laughter, um laughter is the best medicine. These two old hippies have once again showcased their outstanding acting and comedy, which often centers around their pot-headed antics.  Throughout the show, they posed as numerous characters, including themselves.
Back in the 70's or 80's, hell I forget which, I lived in an herbal haze often during those times, I was lucky enough to see a sold-out live show of Cheech and Chong at the Clemson Coliseum in South Carolina. In those days and times, we were allowed to have serious fun at these events. There were no metal detectors, no random searches.
People arrived with backpacks stuffed with a floor blanket, liquid libations, munchie snacks, cigarettes and herbs.  I had one friend who often brought a tank of laughing gas in his backpack. We would pass it around and giggle ourselves silly.
Most of the shows I went to there, had no chairs on the floor. You had to pay extra, not to have a chair, I kid you not. You brought your own blanket or quilt and friends. You arrived early and staked out your party mat on the floor. You sat around smoking and drinking, waiting for the show to start. While open drinking was not allowed, people had carefully packed their drinks in thermos jugs and brought cups for their friends. When the show opened, inevitably, everyone on the floor stood up and cheered.  Your blanket or quilt was filthy by the end of the show.
At the live show I went to, I had floor tickets and arrived early, so I was maybe 10 feet from the stage. Tommy Chong came out and was doing his comedy routine. He remarked on how the air smelled so wonderful as there was clearly a cloud of pot infused smoke lurking around the ceiling. He said he wished he had a joint.
Big mistake.
The stage was suddenly pelted with hundreds of hand rolled spliffs.  Some people couldn't aim very well, and their herbs went flying and landed on someone else's blanket. The screaming and cheering at this point was near deafening.
Chong stood there with this small mountain of joints scattered at his feet while the crowd screamed "Light up!" over and over.
The hired security guards looked nervous. I knew the manager of the Coliseum, back then. He had always instructed his guards to only go after the fights, if there were any, and evict anyone fighting or trying to climb onto the stage, but to otherwise ignore the pot smoking antics of the crowd. That manager always had sold out concerts and shows. It was a time when you could go out and get loose and have fun without fear of arrest. (Boy those days are long gone!)
Chong finally picked up a joint, held it in the air and said "Thanks, man!  Shame I don't have a lighter or I would fire this baby right up."
Another huge mistake.
Lighters of every shape and size went flying through the air and landed all over the stage while security guards ducked to miss the tiny missiles flying every which way.
He made another comment about the generosity of southerners which sent everyone into wild cheers and screams and more chants of "light it up!" over and over.
Finally he picked up a lighter and lit up the joint, right there on stage. Cheers resounded that could probably be heard miles away. My ears ringed afterwards, as did probably most everyone's.
The stage was plunged into complete darkness and the house lights came on rather dimly. Stage hands scurried about the stage, sweeping up the loot. Then Cheech and Chong came out on stage, the stage lights came back on, the house went dark and when the cheering died down,  they started their show.
We settled back down on our floor quilts and laughed for hours. When the show was over we screamed for more. After a few encores, the house lights came on super bright.
It was time to pack up our now filthy blankets and quilts, restuff our backpacks and stumble out of the coliseum. Rumors about that show passed quickly and those that had missed the show, were super sorry they had missed such wild history in the making.
When Cheech and Chong's Movies were shown at the dying drive-in theatre, it saved the owner  from bankruptcy, for many years,  because every night, he sold out and had to turn overflowing cars and vans away.
The lot was paved with miniature hills and valleys. There were short posts with movie speakers hanging on them. You pulled the speaker into your car or van so you could hear the movie. You parked so that you were best aimed for viewing the screen typically with the car in a reclining position. If you were in a van, you may want it more level.
I had a friend with a van, that had no seats in back, just big stereo speakers, curtains on the windows and thickly padded orange shag carpet. We stuffed about a dozen people into the van to go watch the movies. We arrived two hours early, and still had to wait in a long line of traffic to enter the drive-in parking lot.
While we waited for the sun to set and the movie to start, we ran around the parking lot playing Frisbee and dodging cars entering the outside theater. We brought a picnic or we treated ourselves to hot dogs and hamburgers from the drive-in's restaurant.
Cheech and Chong's movies were so wildly popular, that well over an hour before the movie started, the gates were closed, the lot was full. If you were unlucky enough to end up in a parking spot that had busted speakers, you either had to leave or endure the show without much sound. 

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