Popaganja Pop Up Show by Ron English
“You know, it’s weird. I’m fifty-six years old. When I was a kid I assumed that by the time I was like, twenty, twenty-five that [weed] would be legal. Because you know, so many people do it, it’s pretty harmless, and it just seems egregious that it was illegal. It just seemed like an anomaly that it wasn’t legal and that it would be corrected, just like prohibition. And then I kinda got the idea that, well, there’s no way weed will be illegal after we’ve had a president that smoked weed. But now we know for a fact that Clinton smoked weed, we know Obama smoked weed, we know George Bush did coke, and it’s still illegal. And it kind of gets to me a little, because if I think about it, almost everybody I know, and I’m talking about, like, the Mayor, or you know, the garbage man, or a 2 surgeon, or—I mean, people that you would think, ‘These are the kind of people we’d want in our community, these are the outstanding members of our community’ …and they all smoke weed. So basically, all these people, are criminalized. They’re criminals.” - Ron English
The conversation comes on the heels of an in-depth interview about Ron’s latest collaboration, a unique spin on the artists’ famously coined “POPaganda” term. Doubling as the name of his website, it’s a catchphrase for Ron’s signature style of manipulating commonly recognized brands and logos to start a wider discussion on everything from obesity to the elections.
POPAGANJA is Ron’s first major endeavor to thrust cannabis and decriminalization into the forefront. Teaming up with the newly established HIGH TIMES Lifestyle and Apparel division, the partnership is two-pronged:
1. Popaganja Cannabis Bodega, The Wood Shoppe (NYC) – First a bodega-themed pop up to be launched in the Lower East Side, NYC on the 25th of October;
2. Popaganja High x English Collection Launch– Second the launch of the High x English collaboration which will simultaneously be available on the 25th of October on the newly launched shop.hightimes.com site.
“When I first moved to New York, I had no idea what a bodega was, and so I walked into one asking for some ice cream. They looked at me like I was crazy. I eventually figured out that it was a front for something else. So the bodega concept is perfect to tell this story and get people talking.”
For the bodega pop up, English has taken his signature parody style and given it a cannabis twist. Think a KFC container that says THC, or the words “Shredded Weed” emblazoned on a Shredded Wheat cereal box.
Slated to run at Manhattan’s Lower East Side until the first week of November, plans are already underway to bring the pop up to the West Coast and beyond. The pop up bodega in NYC, however will be the launch of Popaganja and will include one-of–one Ron English x HIGH TIMES clothing items designed by HIGH TIMES merchandise creative director Brian Wood.
“We really feel like this is something people across the country will be able to appreciate, even if they’re not familiar with the idea of the bodega per se,” says Jon Heredia, who is part of the team running the HIGH TIMES clothing brand. “We’re thinking about switching it up, localizing as we travel—a fishing bait shop in Seattle, or a hunting store in Colorado, for example.”
And indeed, the buzz has already begun. Advertisers recognize the unique opportunity to be aligned with Ron English, one of the most prolific contemporary artists of our time, and High Times, the most recognized brand in cannabis. Kandy Pens, Loud Lollipops, and RAW papers headline as the event’s sponsors.