What Ever Happened to ‘Just Say No’? (The Atlantic)

MARK STRICHERZ | April 29, 2014

Seth Anderson/Flick

One day in 1982, Carla Lowe received a phone call from a teacher at her son’s high school. “Your son had a bong in his locker,” the teacher told her. “I had noooo idea. He said, ‘Mom, it’s not mine. It’s John’s, the superintendent’s son,'” she said.

If Lowe had asked her son’s peers for their reaction, they might have chuckled. A generation of middle-class schoolboys thought of smoking grass as illegal and sketchy but also as kind of cool and funny. “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine,” Sean Penn’s legendary character, Jeff Spicoli, told the store clerk in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The line had more than a ring of truth—the movie was based on Cameron Crowe’s book about spending the 1978-79 school year undercover at a San Diego high school.

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