Stoned Success, AKA the Eggplant Theory

How weed enhances your imagination. Or mine, at least.

I’m clearly not as bright as Steve Jobs or Carl Sagan or Oprah, all of whom used weed at some point to energize their already wildly firing synapses. (As did President Obama, Stephen Jay Gould, Margaret Mead, Bill Gates, George Washington, Maya Angelou, Martha Stewart, et al.) But marijuana has helped spur my own creative process, or, if nothing else, helped me make connections I might otherwise have missed. I’ll give ya some examples.

In 1989, I went on a brainstorming weekend with my high-school pal Mike Schiller. Our idea was to hole up in the woods and try to come up with the greatest invention ever—something that might actually do some societal good. And, like Steve Jobs, we brought a ton of weed to our imagineering weekend. Between bong hits, we put hundreds of innovative ideas up on a whiteboard: a real-estate company for energy-efficient houses; a volunteer-recruitment and matchmaking firm; The Home-Eco Audit Kit; Organic Meals on Wheels. After running out of ideas (and cannabis), the two of us decided on a board game about ecology called EarthAlert: The Active Environmental Game. A combination of Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary, EarthAlert even had spots on the board where you could earn “oxygen units” by actually doing something then and there to help save the planet, such as turning off lights that didn’t need to be on, eliminating junk mail, or writing a letter to the president about an issue that concerned you. Our slogan: “Saving the Planet Has Never Been So Much Fun!” The game (printed on recycled paper, of course) was a mini-success, and led us to follow-ups including The Doonesbury Game (with cartoonist Garry Trudeau) and Hear Me Out, which was sold at Starbucks. Speaking of Starbucks, Mike and I should have gone with our second choice from that weeded weekend: A chain of sustainable eco-coffee shops. Woulda made us billionaires.

The Dead Guy Interviews
I’ve always loved history, but it’s an intimidating and often boring subject. Back in 2000 or so I got totally baked (see the theme emerging here?) and attended a play called Dirty Blonde at ACT Theatre about the legendary Mae West. It was full of wonderful dialogue and real-life characters, and gave me an idea to “interview” historical figures in a modern-day setting; how fun would it be to talk to Cleopatra about her keys to success (and fling with Caesar!), quiz Dr. Freud about his mommy issues, or ask Beethoven what was on his iPod? The editors of mental_floss magazine agreed to run my indica-induced idea as a regular column, and these oft-stoned sessions were turned into a book, The Dead Guy Interviews: Conversations With 45 of the Most Accomplished, Notorious, and Deceased Personalities in History (Penguin, 2007). As Churchill once said, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

Eggplant Theory
My final example is less entrepreneurial—or ganjapreneurial, I should say—but still an important stoned epiphany: Turns out I’m an Eggplantatarian. The concept came to me years ago when I found myself high as a kite in a Thriftway produce aisle; before me was a gleaming colony of Purple Brain Pods, also known as aubergine, garden eggs, or eggplants. As I gazed at the violet enclave of nightshade, I felt the hum of their consciousness; I could see the ages—some older with fine lines in their black skins, others smooth as a baby’s butt. I carefully grasped one of the purple perennials, and could sense its throbbing heart. Solanum melongena! It pulsed and wobbled. I felt like I could communicate with Eggie as it vibrated gently in my palm. “Don’t eat me, Human. I’m meant for greater things . . . ”

So now any time an eggplant (aka Guinea squash!) is present—at the store, in a home, or, God forbid, on a menu (murder via parmigiana di melanzane)—I share my clearly out-there theory about my mindful Eggplant friends. No doubt people think I’m insane on the subject, but they also feel that way about Tom Cruise and Scientology, 9-11 conspiracy theorists, and the UFO crowd, so I’m in good company.

“Sure,” I say with downtrodden eyes, “you can order the baba ghanoush, if you don’t mind beating and charring and eating an intelligent species for dinner. But I’ll have to pass, as I now need to live up to my cosmic awakening.” Luckily, I never did really like the taste of eggplant, anyway. So I got that goin’ for me . . .

I’m stoned now. Perhaps it’s time to come down from my high . . . and return to Earth. Or perhaps I’ll elevate once again, and attempt to come up with a new invention or book or—better yet—a device that allows humans to communicate with eggplants!


About the Author
Michael is a journalist and filmmaker. His award-winning documentary, Sleeping with Siri is playing film festivals across the country. Stusser runs TechTimeout campaigns in high schools across the country, asking teenagers to give up their digital devices (for a little while) in order to find balance, and perhaps even make eye-contact with their parents.