Words/Photos Sam Mcguire
In 1938 the Australian tabloid Smith’s Weekly published a revolutionary headline that scared and forever changed Australians’ way of life concerning a certain drug.
“Warning from America!” it read in big bold letters, “New drug that maddens victims!” In turn, it was all part of a local and more widely global anti-drug campaign going on through the late 30s that was reportedly funded and propagated by the US Bureau of Narcotics using mass sensationalism to scare the drug into obscurity.
I smoked weed one day in college. It was a nice fall evening and my roommate asked me if I wanted to try some. I did. Partly because I did, and partly because I thought it so random my roommate asked me to smoke weed. I knew him, but not super well, and mostly through some classes/friends we had in common. So we smoked it. Nothing happened.
We went back and forth for a few minutes of “do you feel anything,” and then stared at the wall for a bit. Expecting to get the “munchies,” we decided to venture out of the comfort of our living room to the local gas station, Kum and Go. Two embarrassing notes, one, yes the gas station really is called Kum and Go; and two, yes we really did plan on getting the “munchies.” Anyway, we walked the longest two blocks ever and opened the door. As soon as we walked in, it all hit.
I started freaking out, in slow motion.
Everything was moving really slow and my heart started beating unhealthily fast. I knew that everyone knew and I knew that everyone knew I knew they knew. I walked over to my roommate pouring a fountain drink and he said to me, “Dude, I feel like I can control your thoughts.” Okay, there’s that. I started pacing in a panic and walked up to the counter to stare at the clerk. Two cops walked in. They knew, they all fucking knew. They all fucking knew that I knew they fucking knew. The cashier laughed. They all laughed. They were all laughing, at me. I sprinted out the door as a car was driving forward to park. It was trying to hit me, I knew it. I knew they knew that I knew they knew I knew it.
I jumped out of the way and into a window. Luckily, it was a thick window and just made a big slam and the wahwahwah noise glass makes when a big dude jumps into it, stoned. If they didn’t know, they knew. They for sure knew that I now knew that they also now knew I was super stoned. I sat on the curb and waited for my roommate to come save me and tell my brain to walk me home.
This past spring etnies planned a trip down under to visit Australia during April, specifically April 20th, and if everything that this Smith’s Weekly said was true, we were going to have one crazy little trip.
“I looked at my clock—it was 4:20, on 4/20. This was it. This was the moment we’d been waiting for. The moment we’d find out once and for all if Smith’s was indeed right.”— Sam McGuire
We all arrived in Sydney super early in the morning and extremely jet-lagged.
I called the number to get the rental car at Sixt Rentals and asked to retrieve the reservation.
“We don’t have any vans,” the guy said. We argued back and forth for a bit about our reservations and all that when he interrupted, “No, you don’t understand. We have vans. We just gave yours away to someone else.” I got what he was saying. Maybe Smith’s Weekly was right after all; who just straight up gives away someone’s reservations? Sixt Van Rentals does, that’s who.
We didn’t have time to waste, however, because Sheckler was acting maniacal, dare I say frothing, to get buck at a spot downtown. So we headed to the hotel and were out skating as soon as we could.
We stayed in Sydney for I think 5 days, 2 of which rained but all were fun. We skated some classic Australian spots and, in and out of rain, got to put on a nice demo at the Waterloo Skate Park. People weren’t acting maniacal per se though, save for one kid who’d downed an entire bottle of Absinthe. He was doing okay at first but that slowly deteriorated into him trying to pee behind a tree and passing out in his own puddle of urine, which made for some great entertainment to pass that time in and out of rain storms. But Smith’s hadn’t warned us about Absinthe, so, nothing too strange here.
After the 5 days in Sydney, we all packed for the quick flight and headed down to Melbourne for the rest of our stay. We were staying downtown and on a rainy day Ryan Pearce and myself were walking around downtown when we stumbled upon the Melbourne library and congregation of people protesting something.
I looked at my clock—it was 4:20, on 4/20. This was it. This was the moment we’d been waiting for. The moment we’d find out once and for all if Smith’s was indeed right.
4:21 hit. A bunch of smoke went up into the air. People laughed, some people walked by and laughed. I saw two businessmen sneak up to the people and puff puff pass a little bit themselves and walk off. Save for some pretty bad reggaeton music, nothing bad happened – no rioting, no acting mad, no holding RP’s hand as the Pixies’ “Where is my mind at,” comes on and the entire city blows up before our very eyes.
Really the only people acting like maniacs were maybe us, the skaters. Sheckler was going off the whole trip, we got to finally bring Nick Garcia on a trip and witness him get trick at spot after spot. RP and Tyler quietly got amazingly tech everywhere we went. Jose kept the laughs and style going while Kyle brought the finesse flow and good vibes everywhere with us.
Turns out in the end, Smith’s was wrong. Duh. A few years later they posted another headline accusing someone of a murder they didn’t do. They, again, were wrong. The paper went out of business shortly after.
Save for some pretty bad reggaeton music, nothing bad happened, no rioting, no acting mad — no holding RP’s hand as the Pixies “Where is my mind at,” comes on as the entire city blows up before our very eyes.(Words/Photos Sam Mcguire)
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