Cheech Is Not My Real Name: ...but Don't Call Me Chong

Born in the hippie, sex-drugs-and-rock-n-roll '70s, Cheech & Chong was the original stoner comedy and film act that paved the way for Harold & Kumar, Dazed and Confused, even The Big Lebowski. Richard "Cheech" Marin was a South Central L.A. kid who hooked up with the Canadian musician Tommy Chong in Vancouver while on the lam for burning his draft card. Cheech Is Not My Real Name: ...but Don't Call Me Chong is Marin's rambling autobiography that chronicles how this Boy Scout, altar boy, self-described "little wiseass who got straight As" became a voice of the counterculture, a mainstream TV and movie star, and a premier collector of contemporary Chicano art.

His unlikely path took its first turn when his family moved from the gangbanger streets to the San Fernando Valley suburbs. Nurtured by weed, the Beatles, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, his natural stage savvy and love of applause, Marin built a remarkable showbiz career. After the enormous success of their debut movie, Up in Smoke, he and Chong had a good run of albums and movies until the dope thing ran out of gas. Their split was difficult, but Marin found his own groove voice-acting in Disney animated films like The Lion King and Cars; as the strip club barker Chet Pussy in the cult zombie movie From Dusk Till Dawn; and as Kevin Costner's drinking buddy Romeo Posar in Tin Cup. Best known for what Rolling Stone once called "a lot of pee-pee, ca-ca and doo-doo jokes," he justifiably shows that his long career was really built on "comedy that is edgy, controversial, and more than a little antiestablishment." Yes, that--and some timeless dope jokes. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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