Big Box Bong Shops

On San Francisco’s Haight Street, “the Wal-Mart of bongs” is squeezing out all of those good old community-friendly head shops. The city, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (July 2, 2009), responded to this encroachment of crass hippie capitalism by enacting a three-year ban on new “tobacco paraphernalia establishments” in the Haight-Ashbury district, a touristy countercultural landmark.

The superbad store in question is Goodfellas, described as an “übergiant bong shop” by Joey Cain, president of the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council. Cain says Goodfellas, with shelves of water pipes and one-hitters that stretch from the floor to the rafters, is “what set everyone off.”

“When tourists come here and see a Wal-Mart of pipes, that’s not what Haight is all about,” observes one shop owner who pines for the good old days.

“If any more of those places opened, they’d drive the old incense-burning, tie-dyed head shops right out of business,” writes Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius, who goes on to explore the mind-altering irony of the situation.

Eighty miles east in Manteca, California, community newspaper editor Dennis Wyatt used the flap to fuel a rant about the hypocritical and politically correct. “Given there are three dozen-plus head shops already on Haight Street selling everything from bongs to bubblers, this obviously isn’t about catering to the growing family orientation of the neighborhood, nor is it about law and order,” he opines in the Manteca Bulletin (July 4, 2009). “You got it. The neighborhood that thumbed its nose at the military establishment and capitalism sought and got government protection.” 

Our recommendation: Everyone take a deep breath, count to 10, and exhale slowly.

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