Well, homeslices, I was totally going to write a sober, scholarly blog post about the dystopian undercurrents in the 50s Vincent Minnelli comedies The Long, Long Trailer and Father of the Bride but then I was all "Fuck it". That means time for more Ephemereview!
The pop culture oddity I'll be writing about today is a strangely charming homemade DVD called Barry Cooper's Never Get Busted Again Vol.1: Traffic Stops. Back in the day Cooper was a shit-kicking good old boy cop famous for busting dopers and stoners and hopheads and goofball freaks and folks who just plain enjoy using illegal drugs. He did his job diligently and with great relish. Then came a gradual spiritual and political awakening. He came to see that the people he was busting for marijuana offenses were, for the most part, good, honest people screwed by our country's draconian drug laws.
A turning point came when Cooper encountered a statement made by history's greatest monster, Jimmy Carter, who argued, "When the legal side effects of a substance cause more harm to a person than the side effects of the substance itself we have an injustice." Cooper then stopped arresting people and started getting arrested. "After leaving law enforcement, in the next ten-year span I went through two divorces and was arrested five times," Cooper soberly recounts.
The final straw came when Cooper was arrested for not returning what he charmingly refers to as "Jeepers Creepers 1 and Jeepers Creepers 2". I feel I should state at this time that I am not, in fact, making any of this shit up. Cooper decided to launch a website and a DVD line to help marijuana enthusiasts avoid unwanted run-ins with Johnny Law and extended stints in the big house. Cause who is more qualified to offer advice on how to avoid getting busted than a dude who's been arrested five times? Seriously, this guy is the Ronnie Dobbs of the ex-law-enforcement community.
Barry Cooper's Never Get Busted Again Vol. 1: Traffic Stops opens with blurry video footage of Cooper riding high during his days as a proud member of the "Just Say No" brigade, then fast-forwards to the present. These days Cooper cuts a mighty docile figure with his doughy body, long hair and soft, almost effeminate Southern drawl. His manner is similarly soothing: he's clearly aiming to be the Mr. Rogers of potheads looking to evade detection, arrest and detention.
Cooper starts by showing viewers how police dogs are trained to detect marijuana. Basically, cops look for the one dog out of a hundred that goes absolutely crazy over his favorite ball. They then give that ball the pleasing aroma of marijuana so that the dog in question will seek it out at any cost. Cooper speaks slowly and clearly throughout the DVD, almost as if talking to a very small child or someone who is stoned out of their mind.
Cooper advises stoners to hide marijuana in food, because when a dog goes crazy over, say, a box of hamburgers containing marijuana the cops will assume he's responding to the meat and not the weed. Here are some other helpful tips from the former G-man. *Carry a cat in your car if you're going to have a few marijuana cigarettes. The police dog will consequently go ape-shit over the cat rather than the weed. *Masking substances does not work since dogs have very keen noses and can delineate between different smells very clearly *Everything is porous so the scent of marijuana will eventually ooze out of whatever container you keep it in. Consequently, wear latex gloves when transporting pot and pack the weed in a secure container just before transporting it. *Never conceal your stash in the exterior of your vehicle. *Never conceal your stash in plain sight (this is from the "No shit, Sherlock" section of the DVD) *Never conceal your stash in a small overnight bag, which cops can search easily *Hide your stash in hard-to-find places, such as way under the dash, where there are all kinds of crevices and places to hide marijuana. *If it takes fifteen minutes for you to hide your stash it's going to take an officer and hour to find it. *Hide it in the interior *Hide it in your hand, then swallow when pulled over. It's not illegal to smell like marijuana, only to have it. *How about building a trapdoor? That way you can dump weed and feel vaguely like James Bond. A dirty, dirty, hippie James Bond. *Be creative. *Transport your stash via marijuana cookies or brownies. Throughout his entire career as a dirty, dirty pig, Cooper never busted anyone for having either of those
I feel I should point out that the good folks over at Ephemereview in no way promote or condone the deplorable practice of smoking marijuana. We're just spreading information, man. So don't lay none of your heavy bummer trips on us or nothing. Then comes the really exciting part of the video: Cooper drives around in his car and points out warning signs that he would look for as a narcotics cop. It's essentially Profiling 101. In this section there is an exhilarating tension between Cooper's present role as the stoner's affable best bud and his former role as the prototypical stoner's worst nightmare. He's like a benign version of Keanu Reeves' drug-addict undercover cop in A Scanner Darkly
Cooper talks candidly about the adrenaline rush he got from busting druggies as a cop and as he slips back into the role of profiler it's evident that he's getting a weird little buzz out of revisiting his past. It's also telling how casually Cooper insists that he busted more whites than blacks but that "the vast majority" of cops are racist. Here are some red flags Cooper would look for back in his cop days when looking for potential drug busts: *D.A.R.E or "Just Say No" stickers *Fraternity or college stickers *Jesus fish *Corvettes *Cars with an obviously heavy trunk load *Out of state plates *Disabled vet tags *Rental cars *hand shaking *stories not matching *marijuana key leaf on the keychain, *rubber-bands on gear shifts. *Roaches in the ashtray *marijuana pipes, *rolling papers *High Times *scales *clear plastic baggies *beer
A lot of Cooper's advice is commonsensical, as when he encourages viewers not to roll joints while rolling down the highway but some of it is counterintuitive, like when he suggests that potheads should consent to searches of their cars since refusing consent is a huge red flag and cops can probably search the car on various bullshit grounds anyway.
The DVD then segues into actual video footage of Cooper making drug busts during his cop days. Oh, the mullets and bad judgment on display! Cooper offers instructional play-by-play but clearly seems embarrassed and a little saddened by his gung-ho younger self, a giddy straight-arrow who would never even think about returning Jeepers Creepers 1 or Jeepers Creepers 2 late.
Cooper ends the DVD with perhaps the most saccharine statement ever made by a former drug cop. "My critics will never believe this" Cooper begins earnestly, "but this is the absolute truth: myself and nevergetbusted.com's central driving force is love". It's easy to be cynical about Cooper and his motives but I'm inclined to believe him. And if his DVD can prevent more meaningless, destructive pot arrests then he's definitely serving the greater good. Even if he is a dirty hippie. And a former fucking pig to boot.