April 21st, 2004


High Times

SO -- I'm in Prospect Park this past Saturday, tossing a frisbee w/writer/pal Tim Hall, my old-school chum/lawyer Mike Hueston, and writer/pal Jonathan Ames. It's the first big sunny weekend and I'm starting what will eventually become a severe sunburn by the end of Sunday's softball game [homerun, included]. We drop to the grass where we've set camp when I look to my left and there's a 30-something gal w/her 40-something guy...reading graphic novels. Further inspection reveal the comix to be perennials from my very own publisher; Alternative Comics' PEANUTBUTTER & JEREMY's BEST BOOK EVER!, and FURTHER GRICKLE.


Curious, I swagger over to their blanket and ask 'em if they're fans. She says "Jeff Mason is a brilliant publisher!" I agree and tell her he's one of my publishers [I get around: Top Shelf, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, AdHouse, etc.] and hip her to my wares. More curious, we get to talking comix and geek out like we're sifting through mental back issues at the small press expo. She knows her indie/alt comix and is turning her man "on" to the form. Right-O! Turns out Lauren Gonzalez is an editor at HIGH TIMES [http://www.hightimes.com/mainsite/home/] and invites me to their next issue party come Tuesday. Seems the famous marijuana magazine is changing direction and editorial is focusing on more political and cultural stances while rocking outlaw comix. They're slowly weening their more pot-oriented articles into their sister magazine GROW, in hopes of getting more folks to pick up HIGH TIMES for new content [and snag different advertisers]. Okay. Sure. I flip her a beat-up copy of AIM TO DAZZLE [which I conveniently had stashed in my bag] and went back to my Spring activities, unbeknownstly frying like a lobster.

Come Tuesday, I'm finishing up watching the latest installment of '24' and strapping on my Doc Martens when I split for a loft in Manhattan next to the Westside Highway. The party is being thrown at Blowback Productions, a film company responsible for such flicks as SLAM and a bunch of documentaries and some cable shows. I invite Ames along, figuring we'd network the joint and have some fun. I've been wanting to collaborate w/Ames on a comix strip and figure maybe we could do something for the pot rag? When I enter Blowback on the 17th floor, it's dark, filled w/folks, and the stench of pot is e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.


Suck. Exhale. No. I don't want to get that contact high. I'm no good w/pot. It makes me scattered. Dull. I lose my anxious edge. Damn. I can already feel it climbing up my ligaments...untying the knots that allow kicks and form fists. Ames waves at me and we quickly catch up. It's a frickin' pot party, alright. We scan the bar area: chips for "the munchies," and gals handing out cans of lager or bottled water while toking on joints. Haw! Ames is on the wagon, so he's feeling double the anxiety. We are going to get SO busted in ye olfactory whether we like it or not. I spot Lauren and she hips me to "the vaporizer," a bong type contraption that emits marijuana filled steam where you score the high sans the choke. Pot smokers are an inventive bunch. I tell her I'm curious to watch but not partake. Only, how can you avoid the chemistry of the chronic air? Lauren introduces me to their executive editor, John Buffalo Mailer [son of notorious writer, Norman]. He's a spry cat and after we share a brief talk about my pitching a new comix strip to the magazine, he flips me his card. Score! Then, Mailer introduces me to their editor-at-large, Annie Nocenti, who wrote one of my favorite runs on Marvel Comics' DAREDEVIL in the late 80s. She created the villain TYPHOID MARY, who she recently discovered is the proposed antagonist in the upcoming ELEKTRA movie [starring Jennifer Garner]. Nocenti just wrote a BATMAN/POISON IVY comic, but is too busy to write comix on a regular basis. We pick up the comix strip proposal w/Ames and talk outlaw comix. Ames is wary but game if we can jive on something appropriate. Otherwise, I can always use my umbrella character BILLY DOGMA to wax outlaw philosophic which is my want.

We spend another 25-minutes drifting about and staring out the huge loft windows down at Chelsea Piers and the vast black water of the Hudson River. It's a beautiful view to steep in. Ames is literally caught up in the blinky lights below when it becomes official. We're fucking high. A contact high, but high nonetheless.

We split the party and stumble through Chelsea looking to score donuts. Krispy Kreme is closed and we settle on a 24-hour deli. Ames orders a cheddar cheese sandwich and grabs a pomegranate juice. I eye a Haagen-Daz ice cream bar.

We go to town.