A look back at a time when everything was potentially a pipe, and converting them was a hobby as well as an art form.
When I started smoking pot there was nothing available within 1,000 miles that wasn’t shitty brick weed imported from Mexico. And maybe one of your friends owned an actual pipe or bong, but most of the time joints were king. If you ran out of papers it was now up to your creativity to figure out how to smoke that weed with items laying around the house. But after your first few kludge pipes you started to think about how everything around you could somehow become paraphernalia, and soon it was no longer necessity guiding your stoner engineering projects, but fun.
kludge [klooj] noun:
an ill-assorted collection of parts assembled to fulfill a particular purpose
Things have changed. Stoner kludges have been made a thing of the past that only happen out of necessity or as a prop to make memes from. There are some reasons for this, though, and this historical analysis of marijuana consumption should be in the libraries of every Ivory Tower across the globe.
An obvious reason has been an increase in the availability of smokewear as headshops multiplied and expanded in the late 90’s. Which also means that besides being available to buy, there are also a surplus of pipes out there floating around for use, changing hands in the great swirl of stoner sharing and accidental theft.
Can I borrow your pipe for a few minutes?
No, but you can borrow it for a few months.
I don’t wanna have to rely on your short term memory to get it back.
Also, as weed got better, the desire to smoke it from something better increased. When cannabis stopped tasting like skunk bedding, stoners wanted to be sure the materials they were using to smoke it did not taint the flavors. No longer content to smoke from that pipe made of a metal (what kind? fuck it, dude, fire it up) piece that used to connect your stove to the gas, a plastic pen tube and a screen stolen from a Hardees bathroom sink – the favor for the flavor made the kludge a smoke circle no-no.
Glass became the new standard. And not just because it was superior to wood or metal in terms of taste, but because the marketing used to sell it demonized other materials citing the health risks they posed. In some cases it was true, but after awhile it became such a generic headshop trope that your Bowltender might have you believing your Bat-n-Box were a fast one way road to uncurable oral meningitis, just to upsell you on a sweet bubbler. And I can testify from years of using this sales trick that it worked.
And so now the homemade pot pipe, the hobby of stoners for generations, was doomed. When you looked around at things that might potentially be pipes, the Bogeymen of Bowltenders – toxins – was all that you could see. The stoner kludge went the way of the dinosaurs and ozone depleting CFC’s, except for when necessity struck.
Does that make me sad? A bit. But if I had the triple bubbler made of Gatorade bottles glued to an old Kilroy Was Here album I never listened to and connected via some surplus lengths of tubing acquired from a soap dispenser at the pizza place I worked at – if I had that in front of me right now – there is not a single fucking chance I would smoke from it. Nor would I listen to that Styx record.
However, glass didn’t win in my house. My Genius Pipe is not only a safe metal, but actually filters as effectively as a waterpipe, while being nearly indestructible, compact and much easier to clean. And because a growing industry is pushing innovation the next generation of smokewear will probably be made from things only now taking shape in the imaginations of innovative stoners.