11.11.12

‘Pot Psychology’: The Stoners’ Guide to Life

Emily Post would gasp at the etiquette genre’s latest entry: tips on sex, dating, and self-improvement from two potheads. The authors of Pot Psychology on the wisdom of weed, Paris Hilton’s best advice, and whether your boyfriend is gay.

These are high times in America. On Tuesday, voters in two states chose to legalize marijuana. They also reelected President Obama, he of the infamous “Choom Gang.”

So no one’s holding anything against people who enjoy a little weed. Still—do you want to take their advice on life?

If you do, there’s Pot Psychology’s How to Be: Lowbrow Advice From High People, the new book from Jezebel writer Tracie Egan Morrissey and her best friend, Gawker writer Rich Juzwiak. Morrissey (who used to be known by the handle “Slut Machine”) and Juzwiak (who, before Gawker, was a blogger at VH1 and is famous online for his mastery of pop-culture supercuts) have been collaborators since their freshman year at New York University—and, yes, they enjoy the occasional hit. Their hobby paid dividends in 2007, when they began hosting a video series on Jezebel in which they would dole out advice to readers while intoxicated. (All pot smoking was done off camera—not that you’d ever doubt it took place.)

Pot Psychology on the Web was a low-budget affair, but it always tackled the tough issues of the day. Morrissey and Juzwiak would sit in front of their computer, red-eyed and goofy, and field questions about whether one can lose one’s virginity to a dildo; why lesbians are fatter than straight women; the best position in which to use a magic wand during sex; and—repeatedly, incessantly, always—is my boyfriend gay?

“He’s fucking gay,” Morrissey deadpans in an interview with The Daily Beast as the authors prepare for the book’s release this week. They’ve been asked the boyfriend question dozens of times, in dozens of ways. Sometimes they have to read between the lines. The question seems to be about something else at first. But then it becomes clear. Morrissey, for one, has had enough. “If you even think that your boyfriend is gay, he’s probably gay.”

Juzwiak agrees. In fact, they agree on nearly everything in the book, every word of which they wrote together. There is, though, one point of contention that made it into the final edit.

Pot Psychology's How to Be: Lowbrow Advice from High People
‘Pot Psychology's How to Be: Lowbrow Advice from High People’ by Tracie Egan Morrissey. 304 p. Grand Central Publishing. $10.19 ()

“Rich says that if you want to fart and you don’t want it to make a loud sound, you should spread your butt cheeks—like, put your hands in your back pockets.”

“I’m just saying it’s worth a try.”

“But, like, when you do that with a balloon, it makes a really loud noise.”

You can find more information on this debate in the book, which is split into 101 short sections, each dealing with one of life’s “nonproblems.” Examples: How to Be Polite to Your Friend’s Shitty Taste; How to Be Okay With Your Abortion; How to Be Around and About Vaginas When You’re a Gay Man; How to Be Open With Your Hairdresser About Your Bad Haircut; How to Be Practical About Your Violent Fantasies; and, of course, How to Be Stoned in Public. (The answer to that last one is easy: “make like a Boy Scout and be prepared.”)

One thing to get out the way: the authors were not stoned when they wrote this book. It would have been too hard to type that way. But they were high during their initial brainstorm session—”fucking baked,” Morrissey says—and it was fruitful.

Next: this is not a rehash of the video series. That would be stupid.

“It’s stupid when things on the Internet become a book,” Juzwiak says. “It’s stupider when videos become a book.” Instead they started from scratch, writing from the general perspective of a high person—which basically means a laid-back, nonconfrontational person. It’s not a bad way to be. “A lot of what we advocate is just being nice and cool and not being a dick to people,” says Juzwiak. Morrissey seconds that: “Our advice is just manners and being polite. Emily Post never covered queefing. Or if someone has a booger on their face, what do you say? Just stuff like that. What if someone tries to show you their dick at a urinal in a men’s bathroom?”

(The book’s answers, respectively: laugh it off, encourage that person to visit a mirror, and do not engage.)

Does the world need another advice book? Emphatically not. Says Juzwiak: “I think the whole notion of advice is a bunch of bullshit.” Just look at their company: Countess LuAnn, Steve Harvey, Jessica Seinfeld, Paris Hilton.

The authors reserve a special scorn for Harvey. “His only two sources are his marriage and his parents’ marriage, and that’s piss,” Juzwiak says. “And he got a movie and a book deal out of it. The guy is rolling in it from horribly writing this big bunch of backwards bullshit.”

But Juzwiak can have it both ways, he says. He’s the author of an Internet-inspired advice book who calls Internet-inspired books “stupid” and advice books “bullshit.” Is this stoner logic? Maybe, but stoner logic is what you sign up for when you read this book. At least How to Be has a warning in its foreword: Morrissey and Juzwiak are professionals, but they are not experts. Don’t take the advice if you don’t want it: “We are mostly joking and half serious, so take us with a grain of salt.”

Video screenshot

And not all advice is bad. Everyone wants advice. I asked the authors for their favorite words of wisdom.

“My favorite piece of advice ever is from Paris Hilton’s book,” Morrissey says. “‘Tell people what they want to hear, and do what you want anyway.’ That’s the key to having a happy existence. An empty, happy existence.”

Juzwiak: “My favorite piece of advice—certainly that Tyra Banks ever gave, but also by anyone—is that everyone talks about everyone. As soon as you realize that, then all of the petty drama fades away.”

I venture that Bravo’s Real Housewives series would become defunct if this piece of supermodel wisdom were to be followed. Yes, Juzwiak says. And VH1’s Basketball Wives, too. “All wives need to understand this.”

Clearly, there is ample room in this not-so-esteemed genre for a couple of stoners. And by the way, if you think your boyfriend is gay, just ask him. He probably is.