where did 4:20 come from?

Discussion in 'General' started by Redeyes4life, Sep 29, 2001.

  1. I've heard many many answers to the question of 4:20's origination such as a police code, or something to do with some place in SoCal but don't know exactly where it originated from? I think my younger generation has no idea where it really came from, so i guess i'm asking one ofe the experianced tokers to help me out here.
  2. Well I just spent an hour trying to find a link that would give you the whole story, to no avail! So I'll try the story from memory. Excuse me if I don't get it quite right. Someone will be along to correct me I'm sure.

    High Times got a letter from a guy claiming to have originated the phrase. He said he did'nt want any kind of money or notority. He just wanted to set the record straight.

    It is NOT a police code. It started back in the early 70's with a group a high school friends in Santa Barbara Calif.(I think!)
    They called themselves the Waldo's. After school they would meet at a statue of Ralph WALDO Emerson and smoke up. The time each day was about 4:20. So 420 became the code for meeting to burn one. As for the spread of it nationally and Internationally, they were all Deadhead's. They say it caught on at 'Dead shows and spread from there.

    If ya go fish around the High Times site you can probably find the story somewhere. I've been known to be cyber impaired. Along with just a little case of the stoned stupids right now!:)
  3. in 91 and 92 friends of mine use to meet at the freak house at 420 in the morning after the partys and bars let out, go home get some grab ur stash and head for woodstalk and B's house for assetion. thats the first for me. Gabes dad is from cali
  4. you know the whole police code just sounded right, you know "be on the lookout we got a 420 in progress." But this story could make since to i guess. But how it got spread just doesn't seem right. But if thats true i bet "the Waldos" are sittin back lookin at a high times magazine in aw of the "code"
  5. true, but that could be said for any thing. punk came from a mag. that was published when the movement started
  6. 420: haunted by a number
    by V. Sirin (timpnin@disinfo.net) - July 17, 2001

    Caught Somewhere in Time

    420 is one of those numbers that some people think about, like Chris Carter's 10:13, the ubiquitous 23 Skidoo, or 5/5/2000. Our minds are always searching for all-encompassing explanations and meanings in the patterns that we perceive in oblique numbers. Where there is a pattern, we hope that there is also predictability.

    Perhaps we obsess about such numbers a little too much. Salman Rushdie alludes to a possible reason in Midnight's Children (New York: Knopf, 1980):

    Inevitably, a number of these children failed to survive. Malnutrition, disease and the dangers of everyday life had accounted for no less than four hundred and twenty of them by the time I became conscious of their existence; although it is possible to hypothesize that these deaths, too, had their purpose, since 420 has been, since time immemorial, the number associated with fraud, deception, and trickery.

    420 and Literature

    In literature, 4:20 is the time that people leave. Mark Twain wrote: "At 4:20 pm, Sunday, we rolled out of the station at Omaha, and started Westward on our long jaunt." [1]

    People emerge from a swoon, then, too:

    The seizure had left him a little frightened and shaky, but he argued that had it been a real heart attack, he would have surely felt a good deal more unsettled and concerned, and this roundabout piece of reasoning completely dispelled his fear. It was now four-twenty. He blew his nose and trudged to the station. [2]

    420 and European Art-house Film

    Ingmar Bergman knew of it, too. An analog clock features distinctly in the post-mortem illusion of The Magician (1958), both hands dangling down, just past the odd Roman numeral four on the clock face (odd, that it is represented by four lines: IIII, not the more standard two characters: IV). Francois Truffaut, was aware, also, of oblique numbers and divining their hidden meanings. In Jules et Jim (1962), the friends have just gotten together again, after World War II ( circa 1917). Jim offers a cigarette to Jules, who explains he quit smoking when he began to love plants. As Jim begins to smoke, Jules says: "An angel just passed by." Jim looks at his watch, nods. "It's one twenty," he says, then adds: "angels always pass by at twenty minutes past the hour." Jules says, "Hmm, I didn't know that." Catherine adds: "Neither did I." Jim says, "At twenty minutes past, and twenty minutes to the hour."

    A Time To Get High

    Like many things lately, now the notable number 420 is sold cheap as a slogan: stoner-speak for "time to get high". April 20th claims a notorious birthday: Adolph Hitler. Countless others share April 20th as a birthday, including Spanish artist Joan Miro, Jessica Lange, Carmen Electra, and Joey Lawrence.

    A Date To Remember (Forever)

    April 20th looms significantly in the recent nightmares of history. The date is the anniversary of the shootings by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and one day after former US Attorney General Janet Reno authorized FBI forces to storm the Mt. Carmel compound, ending the 51 day stand-off with the Branch Davidians sect with an apocalyptic fire-storm. Two years later on 19 April 1995, Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as revenge for the Waco incident. More than 420 people watched Timothy McVeigh's execution on June 11, 2001. Shootings in the southern China city of Yuntang, sparked by local tax resistance, began at 4:20 on April 18, 2001. And the anti-globalist protests in Quebec City against the Free Trade Area of the Americas occurred during the week of April 20th, 2001.

    Jackie Brown and the 4:20/Marijuana Connection

    Perhaps the most direct take on the 4:20/marijuana connection, is in the film Jackie Brown (1997). Director Quentin Tarantino featured the number, ambiguously, in the times subtly provided on-screen near the end of the story (in which all characters who acknowledge smoking marijuana will ultimately die). The “prime stoners” (Melanie and Louis, the Bridget Fonda and Robert De Niro characters, respectively) die just after 4:20, by calculation based on the time sequence provided on screen.

    At precisely 4:12, the pair park the VW bus at the mall parking lot for their part in the money hand-off, enter the store, wait briefly, conclude the transaction, and return to the parking lot just moments later, where Louis shoots Melanie when she won't stop talking. The time of death isn't given on screen, but can be clearly inferred from events that it is at least 8 minutes after they parked at 4:12, perhaps as much as twelve minutes later. Louis finds the van, drives to the ordained spot to pick up Ordell, explains the incident, and is shot by Ordell. Times are not given for the events transpiring after the hand-off, but Louis' death is likely no more than twenty minutes after Melanie's death.

    Once we notice these patterns, they attract our mind's gaze. Once we are attuned to a thing, it surfaces nearly anywhere. Perhaps 420's ultimate enigma is how we can utilize this principle to enact self-change and world-oriented creativity. Only then may we be free of Time.


    [1] Mark Twain. Roughing It (New York: New American Library, 1994). p. 559.

    [2] Vladimir Nabokov. Pnin (New York: Vintage International, 1989). p. 25.

    [3] Slightly off topic, but an intriguing observation, noted on first watching Jackie Brown, confirmed on recent re-viewing: The first of only four deaths in the movie is the newly freed Beaumont Livingstone, who had just said something like “ah man, I'm home, I'm high” and is smoking at his front door when asked by Ordell to join him on a job. Beaumont is dead soon after he speaks these words. The second and third to die are Melanie and Louis, both gone sometime between 4:20 and 4:45, a few days later, as discussed. The fourth to perish in the picture is Ordell himself, who had earlier scolded Melanie and Louis for smoking weed midday: "I get high later, at the end of the day, after my business is taken care of." As the crisis around him amplifies, he is just barely seen, near the end (his, and the movie's) slouched in a chair, a cloud of smoke rising above him. No one else consumes, or acknowledges use of marijuana, in the movie; no one else dies. (Perhaps all this is Tarantino's revenge on the pot-heads who spread ridiculous rumors about all clocks in Pulp Fiction being set at 4:20, which is clearly, patently not true).
  7. As far as I know it is the police code for a suspect in posession of cannabis...

    It has become a time on the clock, to light up and share the vibe, even apart from eachother.
    April 20 has become the 4:20 day for potfestivals, so the legend is growing....

    It's always 4:20 in Holland....

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