At Long Last…

Back in the mid 90s, my friend Brad pulled out a strange small brass contraption. With a few slides and pulls, it transformed into an awkward pipe.

It was exquisite. A door covered the bowl. It had a pick to stir and clean it that was kept in tube on the side. It even had a place to hold unburned weed. It was the perfect hash pipe.

I thought about that pipe for 30 years. I couldn’t tell you anything else about it until a few weeks ago, and now I own one.

A few weeks ago, the YouTube algorithm recommended me this year old interview with the founder of ProtoPipe from the Los Angeles Times.

I immediately recognized it. Sure, it wasn’t exactly how I remembered it from that summer evening long ago at Herrin Park, but this was it. It had all the features: the door, the two tubes on the side, the pick!

Then it clicked. I was immediately transported back to that gravel parking lot, standing behind Brad’s (parents’) blue Achieva, holding the brass pipe.

“What is it?”

“A protopipe.”

“A prototype?”

“A proto-PIPE. You know, because it’s a pipe.”

The video is tells a fantastic story. The designer made them by hand for years, eventually selling the business to a friend because they were afraid of Reagan trying to run them out of business. Finally in the 2010s they bought the company back, and set out to fix the business.

I knew I had to buy one. Even if I didn’t smoke, I wanted it. I admired the craftsmanship.

I ended up ordering, not the original, but rather the the updated Rocket design introduced in 2017. I thought hard about getting the classic, but I can respect the creator incorporating 40 years of experience in updating the basic design.