The best thing that ever happened to Toomy Chong was the prison 
sentence he got a few years back.

It revived a dying career as he got much publicity out of being 
sentenced to prison for a silly, minor offense like having a bong 
pipe or some such thing.

Only the truth is that although, technically, the minor offense is 
the reason he was sentenced to prison, that isn't the real reason he 
got the sentence he did.

Apparently, no one ever spends time in prison for what Tommy was 
convicted of.  But Tommy was so beligerant in court and so 
disrespectful of the judge that that is why the judge sentenced him 
to spend time in had nothing to do with what he was 
actually convicted of.

So, obviously, Chong did it all as a publicity stunt worked!

What a phony.

--- In, Robert Gimbel <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> 
> Tommy Chong
> The world's funniest stoner on meditation, surviving prison, and 
his new book, `The I Chong'
>               Illustration by Nathan Ota
>     or Tommy Chong to get straight, he's got to go to God. Not God 
as envisioned by, say, Jerry Falwell, not the God of hellfire, but 
the omniscient source of goodness and, yes, jokes. He's cultivated a 
meditative practice over the years of smash hit movies, Grammy-
winning comedy albums, and woozy influence over decades of pop 
culture as half of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong. So when he was 
busted in 2003 for selling Tommy Chong bongs and sentenced to nine 
months in the federal penitentiary at Taft, California, one of the 
items he brought with him was the I Ching, the ancient Chinese Book 
of Changes. While in prison, he started ruminating on life's 
lessons, and the result was his new book, The I Chong: Meditations 
from the Joint. This book is a breezy vision of the man's 
essential "Chongness," as he writes not some preachy life lessons 
but about a life lived: growing up rough as the mixed-race child of 
a Chinese father and a Scottish-Irish mother in Western Canada; 
>  to tango with his wife, Shelby; and using his gentleness and wit 
to thrive in lock-up. "I met the warden one day. I swear to God, 
I've met fans but he was one of the biggest fans ever," says 
Chong. "He says, `Are they treating you OK?' He turned out to be a 
really sweet guy."   –Dean Kuipers
>     CityBeat: Each chapter leaf in the book starts with a hexagram 
from the I Ching.   Tommy Chong: I went through the I Ching and just 
picked out a heading that would best suit the chapter. And the I 
Ching – I was just doing it – it's three lines on top, three lines 
below. And they're either broken or straight. And it's based on an 
ancient book called the Book of Changes. You throw them – they used 
to do it with bones, but then they evolved it to coins, and they 
used to do it with yarrow stalks [a common, long-stemmed white 
flower]. What you get is a good sense of how you're feeling, where 
you're at in your life. 
>   How is this a book of meditations?   I'm a writer, I just write 
all the time. I hadn't planned it to be a book, I just have a 
compulsion. I tried to write a Cheech & Chong book, and I've been 
working on it for five years, and I just can't get it going. But 
this new book was so personal that, when I started writing it, I 
realized: no one knows who I am. So I started writing about who I 
am, and I picked out memories from my past and then I realized, 
damn, I'm almost 70 years old, so I've got a lot of memories.
>   And those are meditative?   Well, I'm into meditation. Actually, 
Cheech turned me on to meditation. When I first met Cheech, he 
followed that guru from India [Maharishi Mahesh Yogi]. Every once in 
a while I'd go over to meet with Cheech, and he'd be meditating. It 
wasn't 'til years and years later that I read a book by Joel 
Goldsmith, The Mystical I, and he went into the depth of meditating 
with your mind on God. And so when I went into prison, I thought: 
well, this is the best place in the world to put meditation to work.
>   What was your meditative practice in prison?   I ended up being 
the go-to guy with the I Ching. You have a lot of time in jail, so I 
read about how they did it with the yarrow stalks, and yarrow stalks 
were growing in the Indian garden at the prison. I did I Ching 
readings for the prisoners and it would blow people's minds. I was 
in a recreation room and I was throwing coins and doing mine and 
this guy, Mike, came up to me and he asked, "What are you up to, 
Chong?" And I told him, and I said, "Do you want me to do your 
reading?" And he said "Sure." So I had him throw the coins, and when 
he read his reading, it blew his mind so bad he just handed me the 
book and he stayed the rest of the day on his bunk. I read his thing 
and it said that he had just suffered a terrible accident. And he 
had, like, a couple of months before, his wife and child were killed 
in a car accident coming up to see him. The book nailed it. And same 
with me, my first reading was, "You're in jail for a
>  reason."
>   Were you there for a reason?<P> Yeah, absolutely. It was to 
reconnect with my spiritual self, with my job. The problem with me 
is that I've got this incredible ego, but I know that I was meant to 
do what I've been doing. From my earliest childhood, I knew I had 
something unfinished on this planet to do. And I got too comfortable 
in my life … doing comedy, having a good time, collecting checks. 
And jail was like a little nudge, saying, "C'mon, let's get back to 
>   You went to prison for selling bongs, right?   The official 
charge was "conspiring to sell drug paraphernalia over state lines." 
Supposedly, it was part of a nationwide sting, but everybody they 
busted is either back in business or going back in business.
>   In the book you say that this is payback for all the movies, for 
laughing at cops, for Sergeant Stadanko.   Yup. The Bush 
administration, Karl Rove, they just figure out who's got the media 
power. They mentioned that in the transcripts of the trial. They 
said that I had gotten rich, made millions of dollars off making 
movies about glorifying drug use and making fun of law 
enforcement.     Well, that's true.   Yeah, totally true. But it's 
also written in the Constitution that I have that right. And that 
shows you the extent of this administration, what outlaws they are. 
It's like the "weapons of mass destruction" reason to raid Iraq. 
It's the same mindset: they have an agenda and they will do anything 
to meet their goals. 
>   Do you view weed as kind of a sacrament?   Yes, totally. It's a 
gift, and it's written that He gave us the seeds and the trees for 
our use. It's in, I forget which one, Genesis or something. 
>   Are you part of any church?   No, I was never a member of any 
church. Now I'm a member of an Indian sweat lodge. That's my 
official church now. When we lived on a farm, the only entertainment 
was Sunday school. And then I ended up teaching Sunday school when I 
was really young, and then I went to bible camp when I was seven, 
eight years old. And it was an incredible experience because it was 
purely spiritual for me. And that's when I knew that I was somehow 
connected, because it all made sense at that age; I loved the 
praying, the singing, everything. That's how I got into show 
business: They used to put on little plays at that camp. It was the 
best two weeks of my life. And we would walk out into a field of 
clover and grass and sit down, and the teacher would tell us stories 
of Jesus, the beautiful stories. What really stayed with me is how 
to pray. You pray for wisdom, because if you've got wisdom you don't 
need nothing else. 
>   You mention in the book that you asked for wisdom and these 
stories are what happened.   Exactly. That's how everything fell 
together. One of the guys, the Confucians or the Buddhists, they say 
when the pupil's ready, the teacher appears. And that's what 
happened to me. When I was standing there being sentenced to nine 
months in jail, in my mind I heard this phrase: "Thy will be done." 
When I was ready to do the book the editor appeared, the publisher 
appeared. Everything appears at the right time.  
>   08-10-06
> ---------------------------------
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