The Mike Judge Interview: Part 1: Extract as Semi-Autobiographical, The Film’s Epic Bong Scene, the Origination of His Ball Humor, and Issues with Realism in Modern Movies
Posted on Saturday, September 5th, 2009 by Hunter Stephenson
Renowned American writer/animator/director Mike Judge and hype often seem like complete strangers. As noted in the press, Judge’s friendly, calm demeanor is devoid of Hollywood pretension; his preference for living and working in Austin, Texas posits him by choice away from the center of the pop-cult radar. But when one surveys his vast body of work that, since the early ’90s, has had the functionality of an assembly line yet is packed the witty punch and subversive observation of the greatest comedy, it can easily bowl over.
Speaking with him, the inherent voices of his animated characters—notably the polar opposites that are Beavis and Butt-Head and Hank Hill—hint at the mental arsenal that has perfectly illustrated the damaged, stubbornly resilient fault lines of a national landscape. Personal aside: Judge’s impact on many young people can be demonstrated by the following; on summer vacations, I’d swim in MTV marathons of Beavis and Butt-Head, then go to the beach with a tie-in towel sprinkled with “Uh-huh-huh”s and “Heh heh heh”s. Upon returning to middle school, I’d face a bully who, by eighth grade, had deliberately morphed into an uncanny, doomed facsimile of Butt-Head. It was a ubiquitous combination of “This rules!” and “This sucks!” set to the sights and sounds of the very music Judge championed and skewered on the show beyond compare.
Judge’s contributions to live-action comedy are equally successful, and sometimes financially so. Released to little fanfare in 1999, Office Space eventually became both the perennial example of the DVD cult phenom and synonymous with modern cubicle hell. His high concept follow-up, Idiocracy, experienced a famously aborted theatrical release; in less than three years, Idiocracy is now celebrated and oft-quoted by many peoples as nothing less than faux-low brow prophecy and a sci-fi omelet of chuckling eugenic fatalism.
With his latest, Extract, Judge has written and directed a rare and original comedic defense of the modern-day boss that exudes newer shades of adult drama. As nicely played by Jason Bateman, Judge’s boss is overloaded with sexual frustration, a petty lawsuit, lazy employees, and an accidentally massive intake of weed. The smart, unobtrusive film, one of the funnier of 2009, enters a marketplace overrun by superheroes and spectacle to deliver laughs that are charmingly huge yet reserved, absurd yet realistic. Some might feel that its subject matter is too common-man, too anti-escape. But Judge creates works that are built to last and unconcerned with being hip. In addition, he continues to propel the dumbass dick joke towards Art Americana. Mike Judge discussed where his nascent interest in nuts humor originates, his layman’s knowledge of bongs, and many other things with /Film.
Hunter Stephenson: I grew up on Beavis and Butt-Head, so your work has definitely had a profound effect on me over the years. [Judge says, “That’s good. I hope.” laughs.] Along with Nirvana and Death Row Records, I think you helped define many a ’90s experience.
Mike Judge: Wow. [laughs] Thanks, good company. I’ve been hearing this lately, because that generation, they’re all adults now…
Would you say, maybe with the exception of King of the Hill, that Extract is the closest thing you’ve made to a drama? It seems this feature is earning early comparisons to Albert Brooks and the Coen Brothers…
Mike Judge: Oh man. That would be nice. I’m a huge fan of both of those, and I guess, you know, I started out writing this as a comedy, but I think it’s a comedy that’s fairly realistic. It’s not too surreal or anything. I guess some drama happens, and I think you’re right, it probably is the closest.
The film’s subject matter, it’s pretty adult, and the main theme is the difficulty of being your own boss…
Mike Judge: Yeah. You know, I’ve had so many jobs and I didn’t get into [the industry] until I was pushing thirty. And so, I had always been the employee and never had anyone working for me. And then, suddenly, with Beavis and Butt-Head, I had thirty to as many as ninety people, at one point, working for me. And you know, seeing it from the other side, I suddenly became really sympathetic to the bosses. But to me, I don’t get any pleasure out of telling people what to do. But what I do like is seeing a big project through, and steering the ship and all that. And being the boss just kind of goes with the territory: that you sometimes have to tell people to do what they don’t want to do. But, you know, the bosses in Office Space are the types, the mid-management-types, that actually get off on the power of having people underneath them. [quiet laugh] They’re not really about the satisfaction of creating something, or manufacturing something. And, yeah, that part of the movie is sort of autobiographical…
When I read the script, I felt like maybe this would be your most personal feature; possibly positing your experience making Beavis and Butt-Head, the behind-the-scenes process, into, you know, factory life…
Mike Judge: Yeah. In a way. I mean, I also knew a guy, he and his brother started a little company making low-fat salad dressings, you know? [laughs] [laughs] And, ah, I was like, this is pretty cool. I mean, you can complain about jobs all you want, but some people just get motivated to go work for themselves. And a lot of that [is in the film]. But particularly in the factory-part, I kind of directly got that from the Beavis and Butt-Head days. Like, there was a guy, we were doing the album art work for that Beavis and Butt-Head album—the one that had that last Nirvana song on it—and I had done the line art. And back then, the way you would color it was you’d do it on a cell [I say “Right.”] and then someone paints it. And that’s normally a job that someone gets paid—back then—about ten to fifteen dollars an hour to do. And there was a budget, this was with Geffen.
So, I thought I’d throw this guy a bone, you know, [laughs] and I got one of the painters to do it, and I said to him, “I’m going to give you $800.” Which was pretty outrageously generous of me [with the budget]. So, I did that, and it probably took him fifteen to twenty minutes, maybe, and I hear him in there saying, “Man, this is bullshit, man. They’re going to make millions off this thing, and I’m making a lousy $800.” [laughs] And you know, I’d done the actual line art. And then I got all pissed. And that really was one of the influences for the guy in Extract [on the work floor].
With the bong scene in Extract: you’re really aiming for the record books with that. [laughs] I was wondering if that was something you aspired for, to top Cheech and Chong or something. And also, the scene in question uses a Graffix bong. Did you consider going with something more contemporary like a ROOR bong? [laughs]
Mike Judge: [laughs] You know, I’m like Jason [Bateman’s] character in the movie. I don’t smoke pot, I don’t like it, it makes me paranoid and I’m allergic. And I guess the amount of smoke in the scene, I can see that. But I wanted to do a [bong scene], because I don’t enjoy it. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve always had a bad experience. And I wanted to do—maybe it’s been done, but I haven’t seen it—the aggressive jock stoner? And there’s been a lot of stoners in movies, but I haven’t seen that guy. There was a friend of my roommate in college, who was a, uh, he looked like he had an extra-Y chromosome and he was on the basketball team. And he would just come over and be like, [aggro voice] “You’re going to get fucking high man!” He would say it like a condescending weight-lifting instructor. Or something. [laughs] [laughs]
Weed was like an energy drink to him…
Mike Judge: Yeah. Exactly. [laughs] But I remember a guy talking about a gravity bong, which I thought just sounded funny and I put that in the script. But then when I saw it, I realized it wouldn’t work, because you’re lifting this plunger up and all of that stuff. And I didn’t know what a Graffix bong was, but Matt Schultze, the guy who plays Willie [the scarily aggro stoner]—the script said ‘gravity bong’ but I scratched that—and Matt said, “Hey, this is a Graffix bong, you want me to say that?” And I said, “Sure.” Because I figure if he’s familiar with it and [bragging about it], it’s a jock thing and all of that shit. So, I kept that dialogue.
That’s funny, and I think ’90s kids will enjoy it because Graffix was huge when Beavis and Butt-Head was around. There was some crossover maybe. And it has a nostalgic quality now. I’ve never seen Graffix mentioned in a mainstream movie, so…
Mike Judge: I had no idea. [laughs] That’s pretty cool. Yeah, I’m out of the loop. I wish that stuff worked for me, but it doesn’t.
I’d like to ask you about the title for the film. It seems to be throwing people, some critics, because they feel it’s not accessible. But I really like it, because “extract” is almost a MacGuffin in the movie. It seems like such a trivial thing, but this is how Jason’s character makes his living. And this product is also behind how Joel [Jason Bateman] treats his employees, how he goes about being a good modern boss, and, you know, essentially being a good guy. The title seems dubious but afterward it made me think about all of this. It works as a word on a canvas or something, like art.
Mike Judge: It’s funny. The title is kind of an accident. I didn’t have a title originally, and somebody, I don’t know who, when the script went to Miramax, I hadn’t shown it to many people: my producing partners, my manager, and then to Jason Bateman first. But somebody, when it got sent to Miramax, heard that it was called “Extract” for shorthand and put that on the title page. I had no idea. People started calling it that. And then it got online, so there was an awareness, and we really couldn’t change it after that. It would have been confusing in the marketplace. But it was really just an accident. In fact, at one point I hated the title. Now I’m liking it, though, for the reasons you’re saying. You kind of meditate on it. And there are all of these things that it could mean.
And there are several shots in the film that linger on the “Extract” sign outside Joel’s factory. And I really like the sign: how it was designed and what it stands for in the film. It’s very quaint but meaningful. How did that come about?
Mike Judge: Yeah. I love that. I had a really great production designer on this, Maher Ahmad (Zombieland). And where that came from, it used to be when you would drive from Austin to San Antonio, there was an Adams Extract factory on the side of the freeway. And it was just this great, classic-looking American factory building. I love how those factories look; there are a lot of them in Dallas. And when I was a musician on the road, I used to love seeing them, there was a great one in Kansas City. I love those old designs. So, I was thinking that Joel; what happens in Dallas a lot, something will go up that was built in the ’50s, but now it’s been occupied by three different companies making three different things. So, I figure Joel took it over and made that sign.
I also wanted to make his factory look like a place… Joel, he is ultimately proud of it and this is a place that he wants to come back to. So, I wanted to make it look nice. I was really happy with the way it came out, and the logo especially. Maher did a really great job. We looked at a lot of stuff, mixing classic. There are some products, like whiskey or beer, where you can’t go too modern, and extract is one too. You want to make it look like it’s been around, like Joel’s dad would have used it. I wanted to get in the character’s head.
What do you think makes Joel a successful boss?
Mike Judge: Well, in drawing from my own experience, I think that it comes down to him liking what he makes. That’s what drives him and everything else. And that’s how I felt making Beavis and Butt-Head, especially starting out: I wasn’t the best boss. But if you focus on including your employees in the goal, you get more respect. It helped me that I had started out in my house, inking and painting hundreds of cells and doing every process myself; so I wasn’t some executive coming off the golf course going [sounds like a muted Principal McVicker], “You people go animate or you’re fired!” I remember in my musician days, I remember this guy said never to demand respect, but earn it. There really is something to that, I think.
You seem to appreciate characters who don’t seek out fame, they’re not vain. Or on the flip, they’re all about that, like President Camacho (from Idiocracy; above) [Judge says, “Oh yeah, true.” laughs]. You’re at work on a new project, Brigadier Gerard, based off the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character. Vanity is a big theme with that too.
Mike Judge: Yeah. That’s a very funny character, that’s a classic comedy character, that guy. He’s like [Inspector] Clouseau. They’re both very vain. What’s interesting about those books is that [Gerard] is the one telling the story [as an old man], but you still realize that everyone around him can’t stand him. With other characters, I’ve always thought, I remember thinking that on TV—and I’ve said this in other interviews—and in movies that people, especially in the ’80s, seemed to have a lot of cash. And you either didn’t know what they did or they have more cash than you think they would have [laughs]…
Like Miami Vice, Crockett and Tubbs…
Mike Judge: Yeah. [laughs] Like a police detective is living in a giant mansion and driving a Porsche. And then you watch The First 48 and they’re fat schlubs driving crappy cars and they don’t get paid a lot of money. [laughs] [laughs] I guess that stuff is just interesting to me and not given a lot of attention. And maybe that’s why I gravitate towards that, but I also just like it. Part of it is a reaction to what’s out there.
What I find interesting is that you and David Chase, you work in different genres totally, but you have similar ideas about this. Chase, he’s said that America doesn’t like to talk about money, especially on television and in the movies, and that he’s never understood that. It points to something bigger, maybe. I also feel like critics are hands-off with this topic. Would you say that’s a fair statement and a theme in your work?
Mike Judge: I’m a huge fan [of The Sopranos]. Sure, definitely. And that could be. I’ve always thought, I remember when I was a kid and my sister was reading these Nancy Drew books, and the character’s hopping on a plane and going to all of these places. And I was like, “Wait, how did she pay for the ticket?” And then you become an adult, and you have car insurance, and you’re like, “It’s that much? Geez.” I don’t know why [more shows/movies don’t address that]. And after I did Office Space and it didn’t do well, I thought, “Well, maybe that’s why no one wants to talk about those things.” [laughs] But I really think people do want to, and I think there is an audience for it. That’s interesting that [David Chase] said that about money. Wow. I really think that’s true.
Right. Obviously on The Sopranos, money might be the root of all evil, and you both really infer how much things cost in the worlds you create. It’s realistic. In Extract, you use a [central] ball joke to illustrate it. [laughs]
Mike Judge: Yeah. And with that, I was worried that it was “just another testicle joke.” But I wanted to really play it out: Like what would it be like if [an employee had a testicle blown off on a job site]. What if that really happened?
Yeah. [laughs] It’s like hot coffee on a lap. This happens in real life. But still, the absurdity of one guy’s ball fucking up lots of lives is just…
Mike Judge: Yeah. And I’ve always had this thing about how easily your nuts can get knocked off or damaged [laughs] [laughs]. You know, and I think the reason why I started worrying about this comes from when I made an X-ray machine for a science fair in high school, an X-ray generator. And I was using it without any protection, just out in the open and everything. And then I read about how it can make you sterile. [laughs] [laughs] And I just went and made this lead box for the whole thing. But for the longest time, I was like, “Geez, I wonder if I did some damage and I’m not going to be able to have kids.” So, maybe that’s where it all started.
This segues into a separate question: Did you think about giving Joel and Suzie [Kristen Wiig] kids in Extract? It seems like that’s usually the next step when a married couple is this unhappy: they have kids.
Mike Judge: You know what? I agonized over that actually, and you’re only the second person in the entire junket who’s brought that up. The problem with that, once you do that…
It might become cheesy, like Meet the Lil’ Fockers…
Mike Judge: Yeah, it becomes that, and it also becomes a little darker if a gigolo is coming over to their house [laughs] [laughs] and all that stuff. And once you have kids, you can’t take that as lightly in the script. You have to deal with it. At least, that’s what I found as I was writing. And at one point, I had them talk about why they don’t have any, but ultimately I decided, “Okay, they’re just people who keep putting it off.” For whatever reason. I mean, I never wondered why Bob Newhart didn’t have kids on The Bob Newhart Show, until I started hearing people talk about that. But yeah, I really went back and forth on that a bunch. It would have become too sad.
Part Two of Hunter’s interview with Mike Judge, in which they discuss Extract, Idiocracy, Gene Simmons as a lawyer, and the future of Beavis & Butt-Head will be posted shortly.
The Mike Judge Interview: Part 1: Extract as Semi-Autobiographical, The Film’s Epic Bong Scene, the Origination of His Ball Humor, and Issues with Realism in Modern Movies Posted on Saturday,
Bongs vs dab rigs: get to know your cannabis gear
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- Bongs vs. dab rigs: How they work
- Key similarities and differences
- Selecting the right gear
- History and cultural impact of bongs and dab rigs
When it comes to weed consumption, bongs and dab rigs are two staples of today’s cannabis scene. And while there are many similarities between the two devices, there are also a number of very important differences that dictate compatibility with flower or concentrates.
To break it down: Generally, bongs are designed for smoking flower, using a simple water filtration system to cool and filter the smoke before inhalation. A dab rig uses the same core water filtration concept as a bong, but the two also utilize completely different components when it comes time for consumption. While a bong is equipped with a bowl that holds flower, a dab rig will sport a banger or nail, which is designed specifically for vaporizing super-potent cannabis concentrates.
This guide will help you with what you need to know about bongs and dab rigs, including a primer on how each works, the key similarities and differences, how to select the right gear for your cannabis consumption needs, as well as the history and cultural impact of these iconic forms of paraphernalia.
Bongs vs. dab rigs: How they work
A bong typically consists of a removable bowl, a downstem that extends into a water chamber, a neck through which the smoke travels through, and a mouthpiece, from which the consumer inhales the smoke.
The physics of a bong are relatively simple. You pack the bowl with cannabis flower, then ignite it while pulling steadily through the mouthpiece. The smoke travels from the bowl down into the water, where it bubbles its way up into the neck. When you remove the bowl, the smoke rushes out of the neck, through the mouthpiece, and into your lungs.
The key component to the entire bong experience is the bubbling action. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The key component to the entire bong experience is the bubbling action. When the smoke passes through the water, two things happen. First, the temperature of the smoke drops, making it cooler before inhalation. Second, heavier particles are pulled out of the smoke, resulting in cleaner and smoother smoke.
The dab rig operates very similarly. In fact, you can think of a dab rig as an extension of the bong, adapted specifically for concentrates.
On today’s market you can find several different variations of a dab rig. But the basic rig looks a lot like a bong. The key difference is that the bowl has been replaced by a banger or nail. And instead of packing a bowl with flower, you drop a dab of concentrate onto a heated nail.
You can think of a dab rig as an extension of the bong, adapted specifically for concentrates. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
To use a dab rig, begin by heating the nail to super-high temperatures, typically until the nail or banger is red hot. Once the temperature cools down, you then place a small amount of concentrate onto the nail or banger while pulling through the mouthpiece. In many cases, you’ll also place a dome over the nail to trap the vaporized concentrate. As with a bong, the vapor then travels down and through the water chamber before being cleared through the mouthpiece.
The process of dabbing also requires different heating sources than a conventional bong. When smoking a bong, all you need is a match, lighter, or hemp wick. But to heat a nail to the temperatures required to vaporize concentrates, you need either a blowtorch or an e-nail, which electronically heats the nail to the desired temperature.
Key similarities and differences
- Bongs and dab rigs rely on water filtration to cool and filter the smoke or vapor.
- Both are primarily made out of glass and include various attachments.
- Both regularly include “ice catches” where you can add a block of ice to further cool your smoke or vapor.
- Bongs are for consuming cannabis flower, while dab rigs are for consuming concentrates.
- Most bongs require only a removable bowl, while most dab rigs require a nail or banger as well as a cap or dome.
- To use a bong, you ignite cannabis flowers using flame from a match, lighter, or hemp wick. To use a dab rig, you vaporize concentrates using a blowtorch or e-nail.
Selecting the right gear
The first thing you need to consider is what type of cannabis product you’re going to be consuming. Bongs are for flower; dab rigs are for concentrates.
From there, it’s all about matching your gear to your preferences, needs, and style. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a bong or dab rig:
Bongs range from smaller pieces including the closely related handheld “bubbler” to massive, tabletop-only multi-chambered pieces. Be sure you match the size of your piece to your smoking preferences.
Bongs and dab rigs range from very simple, purely functional pieces to much larger, more complex, hand-blown pieces with multiple chambers, percolators, and other accessories. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Dab rigs are similar to bongs in this regard, although the largest component that will vary in terms of sheer size is the core water pipe. As with bongs, these range from very simple, purely functional pieces to much larger, more complex, hand-blown pieces with multiple chambers, percolators, and other accessories.
If you know you will only be smoking at home, a standard glass piece will serve you best. But if you want to smoke a bong out of the house you can buy smaller, portable bongs and travel cases designed for smoking on the go.
There’s not a lot of flexibility when it comes to the mobility of your dab rig. An all-out dab rig is pretty much for tabletop use only. But if you want to consume concentrates out of the house, go with a vape pen, which uses a small chamber of cannabis oil attached to a battery-fueled heating element.
Quality of smoke or vapor
If you want your bong to deliver even cooler, smoother smoke, opt for a bong with an ice catch. This accessory lets you drop ice cubes into the neck of the bong to cool the smoke before inhalation.
If you want your bong to deliver even cooler, smoother smoke, opt for a bong with an ice catch. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Dabbing is all about temperature. You always need to heat your nail up to temperatures that can effectively vaporize concentrates, giving the user more control over the experience. Lower temperatures produce a smoother and tastier vapor, while higher temperatures produce a harder-hitting vapor. High-temperature dabs — 340-700 degrees Fahrenheit, or 170- 370 degrees Celsius — will scorch your concentrates, giving the dab an astringent and harsh flavor. On the other hand, low temperatures dabs — below 340 degrees Fahrenheit, or 170 degrees Celsius — do not fully vaporize the entire dab, producing a more flavorful hit and leaving behind a small puddle of oil.
You always need to heat your nail up to temperatures that can effectively vaporize concentrates, giving the user more control over the experience. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
If you really want to dial in your dabbing temperatures, an e-nail might be the best route, as it lets you set a precise temperature. On the other hand, if you don’t need that level of precision, you can always stick with a blowtorch and set a timer to optimize your hit.
Function vs. style
If you’re only in it for function, you can get very affordable, quality-made bongs. But if you also want to add some artistic flair, the sky’s the limit, with high-end glass artists making custom pieces that can cost $100,000 and up.
In this regard, dab rigs parallel bongs. You can purchase much more affordable rigs that include only the bare essentials. Or you can opt for much larger, more complex artistic pieces with heftier price tags.
History and cultural impact of bongs and dab rigs
History of bongs
Bongs have a surprisingly long, rich, and complex history. In many ways, the history of the bong goes hand-in-hand with the history of marijuana consumption itself.
Etymologically speaking, the word “bong” has been linked to multiple linguistic cultures throughout Southeast Asia — regions in which the cannabis plant is indigenous and historically prominent. The modern term “bong” appears to be linked to the Thai word “baawng,” which describes a marijuana pipe or a hollow bamboo stalk, as well as the Hindi “bhāṅg” and the Sanskrit “bhaṅga,” both of which describe the cannabis plant.
Beyond the linguistic lineage of the word, there is a great deal of archaeological evidence demonstrating widespread use of bongs and bonglike pipes dating back hundreds and possibly thousands of years.
Some of the oldest evidence for the use of bonglike pipes comes from the Caucasus Mountain region, which straddles the border of Europe and Asia. In 2013, archaeologists excavating a 2,400-year-old Scythian burial mound in the region discovered golden bowls caked in cannabis and opium residue. In June 2019, the journal Science Advances published a study by researchers who found evidence of cannabis use in a 2,500-year-old cemetery in the Pamir Mountains in western China.
While these bowls clearly show that humans were developing cannabis-smoking technologies as long as 2,400 years ago, it is unclear whether these were proper water pipes. For indisputable evidence of water pipes specifically, the research points to Africa.
According to history scholar John Edward Philips, Ph.D, the conventional assumption that bongs were invented somewhere in Asia is incorrect. In a 1983 study published in the The Journal of African History, Philips argues that “by adding tube pipes to a water chamber, the San people . of southern Africa found that they could cool the smoke from their pipes, and thus invented the peculiar ‘dagga [cannabis] pipe’ of southern Africa.” He also claims that this invention occurred at some point prior to the late 1500s, before the introduction of tobacco into the continent.
That timeline matches other evidence for the use of water pipes. For example, researchers have discovered elaborate water pipes in Persia dating back to at least the early 1600s. Similarly, water pipes were introduced to China in the late 16th century, coming from Persia along the Silk Road trading route.
From their earliest uses, bongs have been closely linked to artistic expression and an exuberant celebration of cannabis consumption and culture. Even the 2,400 year-old Scythian pipes — possibly an ancient precursor to water pipes — were made out of gold and etched with ornate illustrations.
Since at least the mid-1900s, there has been a strong tradition among artists and glassblowers of creating artistic, complex, custom pieces. The art book “This is a Pipe: The Evolution of the Glass Pipe and Its Artists”, co-authored by Nicholas Fahey and Brad Melshenker, offers perhaps the best example of this tradition. The book highlights some of the world’s leading glass pipe makers, and shows incredibly complex, multi-chambered, specialty bongs that perfectly blend the functionality of a water pipe with the creativity of high art.
Since at least the mid-1900s, there has been a strong tradition among artists and glassblowers of creating artistic, complex, custom pieces. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Putting it all together, it seems likely that while humans have smoked cannabis out of rudimentary pipes for thousands of years, the specific idea of using a water pipe probably showed up sometime in the early 1500s in Africa. The technology appears to have spread to Persia, and from there, to other parts of Asia. Either way, bongs have become a mainstay of cannabis culture, as people around the world have consistently used them to smoke cannabis. Today, it remains one of the core methods for consuming marijuana.
History of dab rigs
The history of dab rigs combines the long tradition of smoking out of bongs with the more recent emergence of highly potent cannabis concentrates.
From roughly the 1960s to the 1990s, people typically relied on so-called “knife hits” to smoke concentrates. After heating knives on a stovetop until they were glowing red, consumers would drop a small chunk of hash onto the knives and then inhale the vapors using a tube or soda bottle.
The brother-and-sister glassblowing duo Hashmasta Kut and Lucy Carson created the first iteration of the modern dab rig around 2006. Their piece used a titanium skillet and a glass arm, allowing consumers to heat the skillet, drop a hunk of concentrate onto it, and then inhale the vapor through the glass arm.
This invention paved the way for the glass dome and nail, which hit the scene a short time later. These innovations made it possible to vaporize concentrates more efficiently, and then to pull the vapor through a water pipe for a one-of-a-kind cannabis smoking experience, which quickly became known as dabbing.
These innovations made it possible to pull the vapor through a water pipe for a one-of-a-kind cannabis smoking experience, which quickly became known as dabbing. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
From there, dabbing and the dab rig took off within the cannabis scene. “This is a Pipe” co-author Melshenker wrote: “flower pipes switched over to oil rigs in 2009-2010, and artists really stopped making flower pipes.”
Given its more recent history, and especially its explosion onto the cannabis scene within the past 10 years or so, dab rigs are much more embedded in mainstream contemporary culture, including music, visual art, the Internet, and electrical and digital technology.
In pop culture, the presence of dabbing, and by extension dab rigs, includes the “dab” dance move, the origins of which are highly disputed but which propelled the term “dab” into the mainstream lexicon; and YouTube and social media, where cannabis personalities such as CustomGrow420 and others regularly show themselves dabbing.
In the age of expanding legalization, concentrates have surged in popularity to become the number two most purchased type of cannabis product behind flower. That surge has also carried dab rigs — the traditional means of consuming concentrates — into mainstream cannabis culture.
Bongs vs dab rigs: get to know your cannabis gear Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Bongs vs. dab rigs: How they work Key similarities and