THE I CHONG by Tommy Chong


Meditations from the Joint
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Confessions of a pot smoker from comic Chong, who depicts his nine months in the federal pen for selling high-quality glass bongs on the Internet.

Expanding his act without partner Cheech Marin, the aging hipster recalls his impoverished Calgary childhood and salutes his family and friends as he describes the 2003 raid and subsequent trial in which the authorities argued that drug paraphernalia supported terrorism. The book’s second half begins as, sporting extra underwear, Chong heads for the minimum-security hoosegow. There he finds that his popularity outside continues inside. As a friendly con, he joins a sweat lodge, tries gardening, builds a kiln, reads the I Ching. (His memoir takes its format from that ancient program.) He meditates. “Some religions base their entire philosophy around the practice,” he notes, “and some religions use meditation as a religion.” Chong waxes righteous in a heartfelt ’60s flower-child manner. He offers a mélange of decent social consciousness and blameless self-regard. He believes his sojourn in jail is the establishment’s punishment for his free stoner lifestyle. The Great Bong Raid and his arrest were, he believes, at the behest of the Republican Christian Right. The controllers of the Oval Office have it in for him personally. Despite his loyal fan base, Chong’s manifesto is not likely to prompt regime change in America. On he sermonizes, though, with sweet assurance. For as long as he can remember, he has “always had a special relationship with God.” He knows the key to Heaven and humanity’s real mission in Life. He expounds on the major problems facing the world today and the only way to be truly happy. When you have dignity, he says, you have respect. Life, he offers, is like golf. (Or like a box of chocolates. Whatever.) Preaching love and cannabis, this tract by a good ol’ hippie contains less than meets the I Ching. It’s also just a bit addled.

Sincere but slight, best taken with a joint.

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 2006
ISBN: 1-4169-1554-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2006