If you haven’t seen it by now, it’s probably only a matter of time before one of your stoner friends sends you the link for the NBC10 piece “4:20 Is A Dangerous Time For Kids,” accompanied by a hearty “LOL OMFG” and so on. (You’re well advised to click and watch before you read this.) Last week, the station aired reporter Tim Furlong‘s piece on the significance of “4:20,” the time-honored slang for all things marijuana, on the 11 o’clock news and basically, Furlong hasn’t had a moment of peace since. And for good reason: The piece unintentionally utilizes every mainstream news fearmongering tactic in the book — you’ll swear one teen’s assertation that marijuana almost killed him is straight out of Reefer Madness — as well as being so square overall that you may ask yourself whether or not this is a Daily Show piece that somehow hurled itself across the airwaves and hijacked the “real” news. That being said, however, we were tired of reading other bloggers make fun of poor Furlong, so we called him up to see what he had to say for himself. After the jump, Tim Furlong exhales.
What time is it now?
12:40 on Monday the 19th.
Are we safe?
I guess that depends on your situation. You know, like I said in the piece, I feel like I’m reasonably tuned in. I had not heard of it, I teach at Widener.
How old of a guy are you, if I may ask?
Was it hard to find people (besides yourself) under 40 who didn’t know what 420 was?
We asked people near the station, around Bala. Most college kids [knew it had something to do with drugs]. I had to explain it to most adults, though. But most college kids did not have the whole backstory to it: That there was this group of high school kids in California, they called themselves The Waldos. Every day they’d meet at a statue of Louis Pasteur and so on. There’s also an urban myth that “420” was police code for pot smoking…
Wait, I knew about the police code thing being an urban myth, but you actually substantiated the whole Waldos thing? I thought that was an urban myth, too…
I did a lot Googling, and what I found was that where it came from isn’t as important as what it is. So I didnt spend a lot of time [on that].
OK, but isn’t this not news: That kids have been smoking pot since the 1960s?
Well, probably since before that. Listen, I’m not judging, we’re just putting it out there. One kid just said to us, listen, this is out there. And for us, it was a way to tell parents, keep up on lingo, just keep the lines of communication open, it’s a way to keep the line open with kids.
Are you aware of the Internet fame the piece is picking up?
I’ve heard that it’s getting a lot of hits. [Ed.: He said “hits.”] I’ve seen the City Paper stuff, and look: I’d be the first the admit that I truly didn’t know, I didn’t, and I’m not gonna act like I did. If people wanna make fun, well, you could look at anybody who travels in a different sphere than you and say, “Duh, you should have known that.” But if one parent learns about it, then that’s a good thing.
I mean, it’s not offending anyone who knows what 420 is. But if you already know, then disregard. It’s easy for some hip editor to make fun.
Tell me about how you came to pitch the piece.
I didn’t pitch it, it was actually pitched to me. As part of a series of stories we’re doing tied in with this show Life [on NBC]. Other issues were stuff like the current situation with the real estate market, why your house might not be selling… they’re not all about drugs.
What is the show Life?
I actually don’t know, I haven’t seen it. I Tivo lots of stuff, but I haven’t seen it yet.
I’ll probably take tons of heat for this one: It’s teen lingo.
Yeah you will.
But look, I’m not a crusader for the topic. It’s like, here it is, if people are watching and talking about it, I’m alright. It’s not insulting to me at all that people are like, “Duh, you don’t know about drugs.”