In New York City, different train routes take on different cannabis-smoking personalities. Or maybe I was just really high when I wrote this…
Back in the early ʼ80s, prior to New York City’s crack epidemic, you could get away with smoking cannabis anywhere, including on public transportation. I know this not because I was old enough to light a joint on the M79 crosstown (although I did pick up a handful of discarded crack vials and put them in my little-girl purse at the age of four), but because my dad told me. Dads are pretty trustworthy, right?
Anyway, though the days of getting high while utilizing the rapid speeds and semi-reliable service of the MTA are long gone, there’s still a correlation between your subway line of choice—or necessity, depending on your circumstances—and your smoking style. Or not! See if yours matches up:
The L Train: Williamsburg Wake-and-Bakers and Bushwick Bong-Hitters
Cue the hipster-stoner jokes. But in all seriousness, if you frequent the L, odds are you smoke weed. (I live in Williamsburg. My building’s hallways and the vast expanse of the blocks that surround it consistently reek of cannabis. It smells great.) The odds also suggest you don’t have a job or you work at a coffee shop, work on your laptop at a coffee shop, or commute on the L to work for a startup that was conceived in a freaking coffee shop, so you have the immense luxury of being able to get high in the middle of the day.
So, yeah, you probably have a beard. Or a boyfriend with a beard. But is the beard full, lush and lumberjack-ish enough to hide a bud? You probably take hits from your artisanal bong while re-watching episodes of Broad City. You probably think there’s a High Maintenance character based on you. And you know the distinct difference between indica—hence the extensive Broad City marathons—and sativa, for when you want to go jump around at Output while making fun of people or mix it with cheap molly to hit secret after-hours warehouse parties in Bushwick. Or you’re simply an actual cannabis peddler yourself.
The 4, 5, 6 Trains: East Side OGs, Elitists and Eternal Children
From the aging hippies in the East Village who always have delicately rolled little joints hanging between their lips to the stuffy older “bohemian” couples on the Upper East Side who have been getting high in their rent-stabilized apartments since the late ’70s to the ADHD-diagnosed private-school teenagers in the same neighborhood who’ve replaced speedy Adderall with pricy cannabis to chill out for a change to the 30-something skater dudes on the Lower East Side who will work a roach down to nothing, the East Side line boasts a variety of potheads.
Basically, you’re either a part-time philosopher who has an affinity for kush, an old-timer elitist who has no problem telling other people you have the best stuff (because you do), or an overgrown street urchin who gets high at your friend’s LES apartment, then opines on the days when you could get frozen margaritas to go from El Sombrero, or as it’s more affectionately known, The Hat, on Stanton Street and share joints in front of the original Max Fish.
Tip: Walk down to Spur Tree, an awesome Jamaican joint at 74 Orchard Street, and you can totally light up outside on the sidewalk while you coyly wait for your jerk chicken.
The 1, 2, 3 Trains: Downtown Bros and Buds
The line that takes you from the West Village—which scenic as the neighborhood is, let’s be honest, thanks to bars like El Diablo, Off the Wagon (please tell me nobody still goes there) and Down the Hatch (ditto), turns into frat-douche central if you take one wrong step off one of its quaint streets—also has a Wall Street stop. Enter the “professional dude.” If the description applies to you, you’ll smoke only when you want to chill out—and face-dive into an eight ball of blow when you want to get amped up.
You’re a busy guy, so you really don’t care too much about the different strains. You’re also not going to sit around painstakingly rolling joints, so you use a bowl, probably purchased in one of those generic smoke shops on Sixth Avenue by West 4th Street. You’re also likely of the nouveau-riche variety who, when you want to feel fancy, lights up while lounging on the AstroTurf-coated floor of Le Bain at the Standard (since you couldn’t get into the Boom Boom Room).
The B, D Trains: Uptown Skunk
Head to the projects of the far Upper West Side or into Harlem, and you’ve got two main strains of smokers: the old guard and the young wannabe thugs. Both frequent the local bodega. Only difference is the hep cats of the older generation have their own tried-and-true pipes always on hand and the kids hit up the store for Phillies, preferably of the grape- or strawberry-flavored variety. Oh, and musical taste. Think King Sunny Ade and Miles Davis versus Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz. There might be some crossover consensus on the merits of Rick Ross. Either way, both came of age smoking dutchies.
As for the street-roaming kids, many have taken detours over to Columbia University; you walk onto campus without a second glance and smoke blunts in their tucked-away courtyards without getting hassled. Or maybe that was just what my friends and I did when we’d skip class in high school.
Tips: You can always hop off at 81st Street and smoke up as you wander The Ramble of Central Park for a healthy dose of nature. Or better yet, head to 2149 Frederick Douglas Blvd. and satisfy your cravings at Marcus Samuelsson’s new joint, Streetbird Rotisserie.
The A Train: Slow Times at Rockaway High
Depending where you’re coming from, it usually requires two subway trains and a shuttle to get to Rockaway Beach. Read: You probably already know it’s beneficial to get a little buzzed before making the semi-tedious trip, just not so stoned that you get on the wrong damn A train and end up back at Broadway Junction. (I speak from experience. But it’s not fair! They run on the same tracks!) Enter the East Coast surfer-stoners of Rockaway Beach.
On the actual train, you’ll see summer school-skipping teenagers who are into dabbing because it makes them feel badass, the pothead chick who has a cute pink bowl that she carries around in her bag because it makes her feel cool, and the body chain-wearing mama who yearns to channel her inner Bad Gal RiRi and smokes blunts because they make her feel glamorous while she’s lounging on the Riviera of Queens, New York. But the most common breed is the sun-streaked surfer who looks more likely to be found mellowing out on hydro in Venice Beach than smoking schwag out of a one-hitter on the back patio of the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Either way, odds are you’re one of these people, and odds are equally high you know that the Technicolor sangria slushies of the Caracas Arepa Bar pair nicely with a fat joint.
The C Train: Dumbo and Not So Dumber
Get off the train in Dumbo and you’ll notice it’s really clean. Pristine even. Brooklyn Bridge Park glistens with litter-free cobblestone streets, while revamped warehouse-turned-office buildings send the signal: You’ve entered one-third of “Brooklyn’s tech triangle,” also known as a “neighborhood incubator.” Weed smoke? There’s none to be detected, at least not outside. Welcome to the startup-centric enclave of the vaporizer.
From the sleek PAX 2 that resembles a mini-iPod to the oil-based vape pens to the customized, art project-esque variations purchased off Etsy to the boxy digital Easy Vape, the inhabitants of the city’s most recently embraced acronym consider the highest-tech way to get high to be the smartest way to get high.
Note: The A train also takes you to Dumbo/Brooklyn Bridge Park, but, well, I’d already used it for the Rockaways.
The F Train: Park Slope Tokers
Hey there, Cool Dad and Chill Mom! Ever hide your stash in your kid’s diaper bag? Bake some upgraded brownies, and then balance out your indulgence with a long Ashtanga yoga session? Then chances are your home stop is off the F train in Park Slope.
It was Alice B. Toklas, aka Gertrude Stein’s lover, who offered up a recipe for “hashish fudge” in her 1954 cookbook, and it’s the Park Slope parent crowd—and let’s be real, the parent crowd is pretty much the only Park Slope crowd these days—who’s most likely to be all about edibles. (Well, them, and teenagers. But that doesn’t count because teenagers will take pretty much any kind of psychoactive substance any way they can consume it.) And maybe some homemade tinctures, too. They’re also all about smoking as a way to make spending time with the little ones a bit more bearable, as proven by this quote from a 2014 Vanity Fair article that interviewed the neighborhood’s moms. “If you smoke a little pot, you can get really excited about getting down on the floor and doing a puzzle… As long as you know what to do if one of the kids is choking, you’re O.K.”
Truer words were never spoken.
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Photo credit: Flickr