The Bong Show

Pay $1,200 for a water pipe? Are you high?

It's not just Tempe. Looking across the Valley, it's obvious that head shop owners know their market. Many have located within a mile or two of ASU West or one of the county's community colleges. Several new shops have sprouted in the Valley in the past few years — the trend is just more noticeable in Tempe because the city is so concentrated.

There's Sayegh's new shop near Gus's Pizza and the Devil House. Near Pita Jungle on Apache Boulevard, expensive bongs line the walls at a shop called Vishions. Similar products can be found at Hippie Gypsy, the Graffiti Shop, Trails, and the Headquarters. And that's just downtown Tempe. Farther south on Mill Avenue, you'll find a few more — Blaze and two smaller, less-fancy stores, the Coughing Canary and A&A Smoke Shop.

The swamped marketplace has put a damper on the more expensive products at High Society in south Sunnyslope, which also offers custom blown-glass bongs, says owner Jim Meyer.

Tony Blei
The Galaxy Cruiser
Tony Blei
The Galaxy Cruiser

"In Tempe, near ASU, they've got daddy's money, so they like the high end," Meyer says.

Alex Sabino, manager of Coughing Canary, says the store stays in business by selling cigarettes, blunt wraps, and other small items, but he's surprised at the big demand for glass bongs.

"Every week, we sell a piece that's about $160 or so," he says.

Though Sabino doesn't allow the word "bong" uttered in his shop, anyone who walks in would know right away he's selling drug paraphernalia, thanks to all the posters and T-shirts displaying marijuana leaves. It's All Goodz sells pants that feature a special pocket for illicit stash. Vishions has a big neon "420" sign on its storefront window. Trails sells case after case of nitrous oxide and the equipment to inhale it. Blaze sells salvia for $45 a gram, a legal drug that reportedly produces a short, intense — and sometimes unpleasant — sensation when smoked.

The head shops' niche is their bad-boy image, and it's understandable why many folks — even some stoners — wouldn't be caught dead in such places.

But even the most strait-laced person would be impressed by some of the glass art in these stores. It's All Goodz looks something like an art gallery, with its most intricate pieces resting in prominent, freestanding glass cases. The thousand-dollar bongs may take months or years to sell, but meanwhile, the stores advertise the abilities of the artists, not to mention the store's focus on quality.

Karen Goldinov, owner of One With Glass Studio & Gallery in Scottsdale, says she waffles on the issue of marijuana's legality. However, sometimes she looks at the pictures artist send her of exquisitely made bongs and says, "Wow!"

"It takes a lot of artistic vision, a lot of talent to create that," she says. "It's not something that just anybody can sit down and do."

She confirms that many skilled glass artists make bongs, but they don't draw attention to those works in the larger glass art community for fear of losing credibility. She says they shouldn't worry about it, that the finest bongs or pipes should be featured in galleries or art shows.

That may yet happen. The demand for quality bongs is growing like the selectively bred, super-potent weed that users put in them.

If glass bongs became widely acceptable as art, marijuana culture would move further into the mainstream. Propagandists like the U.S. drug czar would holler before TV cameras.

Most people would yawn.

Either because they'd smoked too much pot that evening or because they consider marijuana a far more benign drug than alcohol. That is, they don't consider it a pressing problem.

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11 comments
Frank Baum
Frank Baum

I worked radio i '78-79 when the marijuana tax stamp was in effect. Legal ownership. A $29 fine if not stamp existed. That separated marijuana buyers from the dangerous materials suppliers. Marijuana was NOT on the "problems" list of the police UNTIL the end of the tax stamp program which placed buyers in "impulse buy" situations. The end of the Tax stamp program can be shown by analysis to have INCREASED use of other "problem" substances as known in Emergency room-Law enforcement related public records. Legislators would do well for the public good to think less of pep rally cries and pay more attention to the medical and scientific facts paired with records analysis echoing summarization done in 1978 by a Federal Commission studying world social impacts of marijuana use which recommended opening the 1938 Tax statute-promised tax offices and OTC sale of marijuana. Medical prescription ability will find many of the nay-sayers of today themselves benefitting from prescription of a non-synergistic, non-potentiator therapeutic agent so effective in managing pain, stress, and sleeplessness.

Its all goodz
Its all goodz

Its an honer to be able to represent all the great American glass artist pushing the median to the next level,although its just a BONG or a PIPE!!Who ever said "That Ain't Art"!! Needs to get high!

GOODZ
GOODZ

I think the article was more political,than about the artist and how this art form is evolving into next generation.Sometimes the writer looks for controversy instead of the true since story.Like if everybody doesn't know the hypocritical smoke shop lingo rules!Magazine writers try to be sensational instead of informative and interesting.This story could have had a different ring, but where's the twist?The dam government!!

Colin
Colin

Thanks a lot for this article. Anyone saying "an article about bongs?" or "isn't this stuff illegal" shouldn't comment, this section is for people who READ THE ARTICLE. Go regurgitate your propaganda elsewhere.

whatever
whatever

Bongs? This rag has nothing better to write about? I look to the New Times for the stories that the Az Republic will not publish. Information. Not crap like this. I feel like someone stole time from me and I can only get it back by taking up your time with this response.

helentroy4
helentroy4

Isn't this what Tommy Chong went to prison for? Selling "paraphenalia?"

Amsterdamer
Amsterdamer

All I know is that some of the pieces I see at It's All Goodz are amazing! And to be able to watch the glass blowers do their work is really cool. If I had the money I would buy that spaceship piece at the start of the story!

Henry Anslinger
Henry Anslinger

People need to learn to tolerate other people's lifestyles more. If others enjoy doing it and you don't, well then don't do it. But don't tell other people what they can and cannot do.

There are plenty of people that use it for medical reasons, and although the article doesn't allude to it, you can bypass most of the harmful toxins by using a vaporizer or ingesting the cannabis through food.

Cannabis is amount the most benign "illicit" drug you'll ever find. No one in the history of mankind has ever died from the stuff. In fact, in many countries, elderly attribute their long lives to the drug.

getagrip
getagrip

Why don't these smokers realize high school is over....its not even healthy for anyone first off, and second, hello...its illegal, whether anyone thinks the government is stupid, or that it will be legalized "any day now", it won't be so grow up already!!

The Pipester
The Pipester

Good story! I love a paper that can tell it like it is. Thanks New Times. Pot > gonverment stupidity.

 
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