The latest revelations from a forthcoming biography of President Barack Obama sent the media world into overdrive Friday over descriptions of high school Obama’s marijuana-loving “choom gang” — and elicited no shortage of pot-related puns.
Below, a short round-up of some of the best headlines to come from journalist David Maraniss’s book:
“A self-selected group of boys at Punahou School who loved basketball and good times called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning ‘to smoke marijuana…’
“… As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called ‘TA,’ short for ‘total absorption.’ To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled.”
Obama and his friends drove around the lush Hawaii countryside, hot-boxing their VW bus and re-upping with a long-haired pizza-tossing dealer named Ray….We even learn about the Choom Gang’s lingo:
Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted, “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind.
Sydney Morning Herald: For Obama, dope came before hope
He also popularised ”roof hits” after smoking in cars with the windows closed: ”When the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.” Former members told Maraniss the gang’s favoured vehicle was a ”Volkswagen bus, also known as the Choomwagon”.
One of the favorite words in their subculture revealed their democratic nature. The word was veto. Whenever an idea was broached, someone could hold up his hand in the V sign (a backward peace sign of that era) and indicate that the motion was not approved. They later shortened the process so that you could just shout “V” to get the point across. The the Choom Gang, all V’s were created equal.
The next two aren’t headlines, but worth including as well:
Yahoo! News: “Bill Clinton he was not.”
“When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang from marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around. “‘Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated,’ explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo.”
New York Post: “President Obama was once Hawaii’s pothead-in-chief”
Obama even thanked his bong buddies — and their dealer — in his high school yearbook: “Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.”
Maraniss noted that, “A hippie drug-dealer made his [Obama’s] acknowledgments; his own mother did not.”