Cheech & Chong’s “Up in Smoke” – A look back at the stoner classic – CBS News

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When “Up in Smoke” went up on the big screen 40 years ago, it turned out to be the perfect vehicle for the humor of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. And their vehicle of choice, as they searched L.A. for marijuana, was a low rider nicknamed The Love Machine.
John Blackstone asked the comic duo if they were ever under the influence while filming. “Oh, no, sir,” they both replied.
“No, officer. Or whatever!” said Marin.
Chong added, “I use it for medical purposes only.”
Getting high in the low rider: Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin in “Up in Smoke.” Paramount Pictures
That “Up in Smoke” would be remembered four decades later seemed unlikely when it was released. It was a low-budget movie starring two guys who had never before been in a movie. They admitted that at the time they were just trying to figure out which end of the camera to use. Paramount Pictures
And they weren’t the only beginners on the set; so was the director, Lou Adler: “We’re set up and we’re pretty much ready to go, and everybody is waiting. And the [first A.D.] leans over to me and he says, ‘Say action.’ I’d forgotten to say ‘action’!”
Together, these first-time filmmakers were looking for laughs from a subject that until then had been depicted on screen as a menace.
The 1936 movie “Reefer Madness,” which referred to marijuana as “the burning weed with its roots in hell,” helped lead to the first federal laws criminalizing the drug. “Up in Smoke” was all about evading those laws.
That routine started on stage in Los Angeles music clubs in the early ’70s. One night Lou Adler was in the crowd: “That’s the first time I saw Tommy and Cheech. Basically I said to the guy that was with me at the time, ‘I’d like to record these guys.’ And he said, ‘I think you’re crazy. How are you gonna record ’em?'”
Record producer Lou Adler directed his first film with the comedy duo Cheech and Chong. CBS News
Adler was already a successful music producer with big hits and big stars.
Marin recalled, “So, went into his office the next day. He says, ‘Well, what do you wanna do?’ ‘I don’t know.’ Looked around. There’s gold records everywhere. ‘Make a record?’ ‘What kind?’ ‘Gold!'”
Chong continued: “And so he said, ‘What do you need?’ And I said, ‘$1,000 and a little tape recorder.’ And he said, ‘Okay, you got it.’ And then Cheech jumped in, ‘There’s two of us.’
“That’s right,” Marin said, ”So, we need $2,000!'”
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. CBS News
With Adler they started thinking about making a movie. He told Blackstone, “We had various ideas. The first idea was Cheech and Chong hits, do the routines. And then it was Tommy, he wrote a song called ‘Up in Smoke.’ And we said, ‘That’s a title.'”
For the 40th anniversary, they added some updated lyrics, acknowledging that marijuana is now legal for recreational or medicinal use in more than half the states. “We’re just coming out of Prohibition right now!” Marin said.
Blackstone asked, “Is ‘Up in Smoke” as relevant as it was 40 years ago?”
“Probably more relevant,” said Marin, “because all the kids that see it for the first time go, ‘Oh, that’s what’s happening. When did they make this? This is happening today!’ Sign of a classic!”
It’s a classic, Adler says, because of the comedy, not because of the pot. “We decided early not to carry a banner for marijuana,” he said.
“But then, why not make it about something else other than marijuana, at a time when marijuana was frowned upon?”
“That was their material!” Adler said. “I was looking to make a film with these two comedians. And their routine was not baseball, it was marijuana.”
For more info: Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke” (Paramount), on DVD and Blu-ray, available via Amazon , and via streaming ( Amazon Prime , Hulu , Vudu and YouTube )

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Trump Doesn’t Comfort or Celebrate the Nation Very Well

The New York billionaire seems unable to comfort the nation in times of tragedy or celebrate its moments of triumph.
Todd S. Purdum Oct 14, 2018
President Trump dispenses paper towels after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters It is a poignant paradox of Donald Trump’s ubiquitous presidency—all tweets, all the time—that a leader who prides himself as omnipresent in digital public discourse is so often absent from national life in the hundred human ways in which the country has come to expect its presidents to perform.
Latest case in point: After Hurricane Michael devastated parts of Florida’s Panhandle, Trump played host at the White House to Kanye West, who—in a ten-minute monologue in the Oval Office—dropped the F-bomb and praised Trump’s “Make American Great Again” cap as a hyper-masculine talisman that made him feel “like a guy that could play catch with his son.”
But think about it: Have we ever seen Trump play catch with his own 12-year-old son, Barron? Without question, the president dotes on his children, especially his daughter, Ivanka. But he’s an absentee father to the nation, or at least a majority of the nation. There have been no warm and fuzzy photos of Trump shopping for books or gifts, as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton did with their daughters. No images of him poring over a photo album, as Abraham Lincoln famously did with his son Tad, or tending to his stamp collection, as FDR did. No visible evidence of the easy relaxation with friends and family that has become a standard part of presidential iconography.
And the absence is broader. Trump can’t readily cheer the nation in moments of triumph (championship sports teams boycott his White House). He doesn’t tenderly comfort the nation in times of tragedy (he tosses paper towels to hurricane victims, and does a double fist pump on the anniversary of 9-11). He doesn’t read books, talk movies or go to the theater, and is unwelcome at even the Kennedy Center Honors over which presidents have presided for nearly 40 years. This reality is striking, and sad: When it comes to those personal rituals of the modern presidency that Americans have long since taken for granted, Donald J. Trump is the man who isn’t there.
He plays no games of touch football on the lawn at Mar-a-Lago, a la the Kennedys in Palm Beach or Hyannis Port. No family rounds of speed golf or horseshoes, and no mountain biking, as with the Bushes at Kennebunkport or Crawford. No horseback riding or brush-clearing, as with Ronald and Nancy Reagan in the mountains above Santa Barbara. No snorkeling, as with Obama and his girls at Oahu’s Hanauma Bay. He doesn’t toast his own English muffins like Jerry Ford. No romping with Buddy the dog or Socks the cat, those pet denizens of the Clinton years. Even that loneliest of loners Richard Nixon enjoyed bowling in the White House alley, and liked to hit the beach in wingtips, sometimes with his wife Pat by his side.
No, Trump does none of this. Perhaps the most striking image of him with his family came last winter, when he charged up the steps of Air Force One in a rainstorm in West Palm Beach, an umbrella shielding his own head, with Barron and his wife, Melania, scrambling wet and unprotected behind him to get in the door of the plane. In Israel, in Italy, in Florida and on the White House lawn itself, Melania has repeatedly appeared to pull her own hand away when the president reached out to hold it.
Trump doesn’t eat out in any restaurants except his own. Not for him a plebeian trip to Ray’s Hell Burger, the Arlington institution where Barack Obama took Russian president Dmitri Medvedev in 2010 for a burger with cheddar, hot peppers and sautéed onions and mushrooms. Nor a visit to Filomena, the homey Italian kitchen in Georgetown, where Bill Clinton memorably chowed down with Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany. No date nights with Melania at the Bombay Club or the Blue Duck Tavern.
Trump doesn’t offer ready consolation in moments of national tragedy. After Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico, the president tossed paper towels to a crowd and later bragged about his administration’s “incredible unsung success” at relief efforts that were widely criticized as inadequate. Marking the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in Pennsylvania last month, he tweeted about the prowess of his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on the day of the attacks, and allowed himself a double-fist pump at the Johnstown airport, a gesture that seemed out of keeping with the solemn mood of the occasion.
Trump is just as challenged in celebrating happy occasions. A White House meeting with the 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles had to be called off when it became clear that only about ten team members planned to show up. Last year, Trump withdrew an invitation to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors after their star point guard Stephen Curry had expressed reluctance to go. “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump tweeted. “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
The minuet over last year’s Kennedy Center Honors was equally awkward. After several honorees, including Norman Lear, announced that they would decline to attend the traditional White House reception before the awards show, the Kennedy Center and the White House announced that Trump would withdraw from participation altogether. “We are grateful for this gesture,” the center’s leadership said.
Easygoing humor has long been a staple of presidential public relations. “It’s true that hard work never killed anybody,” Ronald Reagan famously told the Gridiron Club, “but I figure why take the chance.” But Trump’s “jokes” are not only often cruel; they tend to fall flat. At his vaunted summit with the pudgy North Korean president Kim Jong Un, Trump urged photographers to capture them “so we look nice and handsome and thin.” (Kim was not amused). At a meeting with law enforcement officials last year, Trump urged them not to be too careful when arresting suspects and bundling them into squad cars by shielding their heads. “You can take the hand away, O.K.,” he said. (“I believe he was making a joke at the time,” his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later explained, when asked if the president was really advocating police brutality).
Isolation is an occupational hazard of the presidency. Obama tried to break through the bubble by reading ten letters a day from ordinary Americans. Reagan once telephoned the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon to make a contribution to muscular dystrophy research, and had trouble persuading the operators that it was really the president on the line. Bill Clinton liked to call the White House “the crown jewel of the federal penitentiary system,” and Harry Truman once confided to his diary, “This great white jail is a hell of a place in which to be alone.” Trump is alone all right, but his solitude is different. It is altogether of his own making, and he seems to like that just fine. No wonder so many of the rest of those Americans beyond his base feel left out in the cold.
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Donald Trump’s Absentee Presidency

It is a poignant paradox of Donald Trump’s ubiquitous presidency—all tweets, all the time—that a leader who prides himself as omnipresent in digital public discourse is so often absent from national life in the hundred human ways in which the country has come to expect its presidents to perform.
Latest case in point: After Hurricane Michael devastated parts of Florida’s Panhandle, Trump played host at the White House to Kanye West, who—in a ten-minute monologue in the Oval Office—dropped the F-bomb and praised Trump’s “Make American Great Again” cap as a hyper-masculine talisman that made him feel “like a guy that could play catch with his son.”
But think about it: Have we ever seen Trump play catch with his own 12-year-old son, Barron? Without question, the president dotes on his children, especially his daughter, Ivanka. But he’s an absentee father to the nation, or at least a majority of the nation. There have been no warm and fuzzy photos of Trump shopping for books or gifts, as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton did with their daughters. No images of him poring over a photo album, as Abraham Lincoln famously did with his son Tad, or tending to his stamp collection, as FDR did. No visible evidence of the easy relaxation with friends and family that has become a standard part of presidential iconography.
And the absence is broader. Trump can’t readily cheer the nation in moments of triumph (championship sports teams boycott his White House). He doesn’t tenderly comfort the nation in times of tragedy (he tosses paper towels to hurricane victims, and does a double fist pump on the anniversary of 9-11). He doesn’t read books, talk movies or go to the theater, and is unwelcome at even the Kennedy Center Honors over which presidents have presided for nearly 40 years. This reality is striking, and sad: When it comes to those personal rituals of the modern presidency that Americans have long since taken for granted, Donald J. Trump is the man who isn’t there.
He plays no games of touch football on the lawn at Mar-a-Lago, a la the Kennedys in Palm Beach or Hyannis Port. No family rounds of speed golf or horseshoes, and no mountain biking, as with the Bushes at Kennebunkport or Crawford. No horseback riding or brush-clearing, as with Ronald and Nancy Reagan in the mountains above Santa Barbara. No snorkeling, as with Obama and his girls at Oahu’s Hanauma Bay. He doesn’t toast his own English muffins like Jerry Ford. No romping with Buddy the dog or Socks the cat, those pet denizens of the Clinton years. Even that loneliest of loners Richard Nixon enjoyed bowling in the White House alley, and liked to hit the beach in wingtips, sometimes with his wife Pat by his side.
No, Trump does none of this. Perhaps the most striking image of him with his family came last winter, when he charged up the steps of Air Force One in a rainstorm in West Palm Beach, an umbrella shielding his own head, with Barron and his wife, Melania, scrambling wet and unprotected behind him to get in the door of the plane. In Israel, in Italy, in Florida and on the White House lawn itself, Melania has repeatedly appeared to pull her own hand away when the president reached out to hold it.
Trump doesn’t eat out in any restaurants except his own. Not for him a plebeian trip to Ray’s Hell Burger, the Arlington institution where Barack Obama took Russian president Dmitri Medvedev in 2010 for a burger with cheddar, hot peppers and sautéed onions and mushrooms. Nor a visit to Filomena, the homey Italian kitchen in Georgetown, where Bill Clinton memorably chowed down with Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany. No date nights with Melania at the Bombay Club or the Blue Duck Tavern.
Trump doesn’t offer ready consolation in moments of national tragedy. After Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico, the president tossed paper towels to a crowd and later bragged about his administration’s “incredible unsung success” at relief efforts that were widely criticized as inadequate. Marking the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in Pennsylvania last month, he tweeted about the prowess of his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on the day of the attacks, and allowed himself a double-fist pump at the Johnstown airport, a gesture that seemed out of keeping with the solemn mood of the occasion.
Trump is just as challenged in celebrating happy occasions. A White House meeting with the 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles had to be called off when it became clear that only about ten team members planned to show up. Last year, Trump withdrew an invitation to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors after their star point guard Stephen Curry had expressed reluctance to go. “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump tweeted. “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
The minuet over last year’s Kennedy Center Honors was equally awkward. After several honorees, including Norman Lear, announced that they would decline to attend the traditional White House reception before the awards show, the Kennedy Center and the White House announced that Trump would withdraw from participation altogether. “We are grateful for this gesture,” the center’s leadership said.
Easygoing humor has long been a staple of presidential public relations. “It’s true that hard work never killed anybody,” Ronald Reagan famously told the Gridiron Club, “but I figure why take the chance.” But Trump’s “jokes” are not only often cruel; they tend to fall flat. At his vaunted summit with the pudgy North Korean president Kim Jong Un, Trump urged photographers to capture them “so we look nice and handsome and thin.” (Kim was not amused). At a meeting with law enforcement officials last year, Trump urged them not to be too careful when arresting suspects and bundling them into squad cars by shielding their heads. “You can take the hand away, O.K.,” he said. (“I believe he was making a joke at the time,” his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later explained, when asked if the president was really advocating police brutality).
Isolation is an occupational hazard of the presidency. Obama tried to break through the bubble by reading ten letters a day from ordinary Americans. Reagan once telephoned the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon to make a contribution to muscular dystrophy research, and had trouble persuading the operators that it was really the president on the line. Bill Clinton liked to call the White House “the crown jewel of the federal penitentiary system,” and Harry Truman once confided to his diary, “This great white jail is a hell of a place in which to be alone.” Trump is alone all right, but his solitude is different. It is altogether of his own making, and he seems to like that just fine. No wonder so many of the rest of those Americans beyond his base feel left out in the cold.

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