Leslie’s Diary Comics – Part 1

by Leslie Stein

Inhalants Are Terrible, Please Stop Using Them
In July, TMZ reported that former child star Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played the role of Mel Gibson’s daughter in The Patriot, had died at the age of 21. At the time, reports suggested that she choked to death in the midst of a “seizure,” but now the gossip website is suggesting that her death was actually the product of an ugly drug overdose, a fatal combination of pain killers and huffing.

Huffing is awful. You know it, I know it, and it’s probably fair to assume that Bartusiak probably knew it too. Even though inhalants are drugs in the sense that they will make you feel weird when you use them, putting them on lists of “drugs” next to other substance doesn’t feel right. Acid, DMT, marijuana, and other social lubricants can make lame parties more interesting, sex more intense, and college kids more passionate about the musical stylings of Phil Lesh. At best, inhalants make you feel foggy and out of it.
The mechanism by which the chemicals you inhale get you high isn’t even quite clear, because the primary effect doesn’t come from the chemical itself, but from oxygen displacement, or tricking your body into thinking what it just breathed was oxygen. In other words: You’re not getting high from what’s in a can of duster. You’re getting high because it’s not oxygen.

And yet, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, inhalants are still relatively popular among younger teens. Though most kids disapprove of using them, a survey from last year found that one in 20 eighth graders huffed at some point in 2012, while only one in 30 tenth graders used them over that same period. Though these numbers are down from what they were in the 90s, young people of all ages abuse inhalants more frequently than almost every other illicit drug: more than hallucinogens, ecstasy, cocaine, meth, or heroin.
Continue 

Inhalants Are Terrible, Please Stop Using Them

In July, TMZ reported that former child star Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played the role of Mel Gibson’s daughter in The Patriot, had died at the age of 21. At the time, reports suggested that she choked to death in the midst of a “seizure,” but now the gossip website is suggesting that her death was actually the product of an ugly drug overdose, a fatal combination of pain killers and huffing.

Huffing is awful. You know it, I know it, and it’s probably fair to assume that Bartusiak probably knew it too. Even though inhalants are drugs in the sense that they will make you feel weird when you use them, putting them on lists of “drugs” next to other substance doesn’t feel right. Acid, DMT, marijuana, and other social lubricants can make lame parties more interesting, sex more intense, and college kids more passionate about the musical stylings of Phil Lesh. At best, inhalants make you feel foggy and out of it.

The mechanism by which the chemicals you inhale get you high isn’t even quite clear, because the primary effect doesn’t come from the chemical itself, but from oxygen displacement, or tricking your body into thinking what it just breathed was oxygen. In other words: You’re not getting high from what’s in a can of duster. You’re getting high because it’s not oxygen.

And yet, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, inhalants are still relatively popular among younger teens. Though most kids disapprove of using them, a survey from last year found that one in 20 eighth graders huffed at some point in 2012, while only one in 30 tenth graders used them over that same period. Though these numbers are down from what they were in the 90s, young people of all ages abuse inhalants more frequently than almost every other illicit drug: more than hallucinogens, ecstasy, cocaine, meth, or heroin.

Continue 

Every Woman Should Have the Opportunity to Freeze Her Eggs
This week, tech giants Apple and Facebook announced that they’ll now pay for female employees who want to have their eggs frozen. It’s a big move, even for Silicon Valley, where companies already boast such perks as on-site medical care, barber shops and, in Facebook’s case, a dedicated “culinary team.”
The message is: Freeze your eggs, ladies, and don’t worry about working around the clock through your fertile years! It’s a win-win, right? Possibly. But it’s also problematic.
Overlooking the obvious (having babies and good careers should not be mutually exclusive), the move seems to confirm many fears clustered around class difference and fertility—i.e. if you don’t have thousands saved, or don’t work for a giant corporation and yet still want to be ambitious in your field, you might end up childless.
Continue

Every Woman Should Have the Opportunity to Freeze Her Eggs

This week, tech giants Apple and Facebook announced that they’ll now pay for female employees who want to have their eggs frozen. It’s a big move, even for Silicon Valley, where companies already boast such perks as on-site medical care, barber shops and, in Facebook’s case, a dedicated “culinary team.”

The message is: Freeze your eggs, ladies, and don’t worry about working around the clock through your fertile years! It’s a win-win, right? Possibly. But it’s also problematic.

Overlooking the obvious (having babies and good careers should not be mutually exclusive), the move seems to confirm many fears clustered around class difference and fertility—i.e. if you don’t have thousands saved, or don’t work for a giant corporation and yet still want to be ambitious in your field, you might end up childless.

Continue

We Interviewed the Filmmaker Behind ‘The Whiteness Project’
Last Friday, a link began rapidly circulating on Twitter to an interactive multimedia documentary called the Whiteness Project, which was apparently an “investigation into how Americans who identify as ‘white’ experience their ethnicity.” The documentary featured intimate interviews with 21 people from Buffalo, New York, discussing race in a frank and often cringeworthy fashion. “For some reason, some black people hold on to the back-in-the-day slave thing,” a manidentitifed as “Jason” says. “Should slavery be something that because it happened we owe black people more? Absolutely not.” Another woman expresses her fear at how “black men in general” take a smile as an “invitation to approach.” A third white whines, “I mean, come on, you can’t even talk about fried chicken or Kool-Aid without wondering if someone’s going to get offended.” Each interview is bookended with a relevant statistic that examines how white Americans view race in North America. The online reaction was swift, incredulous, andunforgiving.

But upon closer inspection, the project is more complex and original than it first appears, and the man behind it has a legitimate track record documenting sensitive racial issues. Along with his African-American producing partner Marco Williams, Whitney Dow has spent the last 16 years specializing in films that attempt to unearth and illuminate uncomfortable racial truths and gray areas, beginning in 1998 with Two Towns of Jasper, a film analyzing the lead-up to and aftermath of the brutal, racially-motivated dragging death of James Byrd, Junior at the hands of two Texas white supremacists.
The Whiteness Project is funded through PBS’s POV Interactive Shorts program, and Buffalo’s 21 interviews are just the first piece of a project that plans to interview over 1,000 white Americans about their views on race.

With controversy swirling and the project garnering several hundred thousand views since Friday, we decided to chat with Dow over Skype to discuss the process of casting the project, how Barack Obama’s presidency has or hasn’t changed the way we talk about race, and what he thinks about the fact that white liberals are probably the biggest critics he’s faced.
VICE: First of all, what prompted this idea?Whitney Dow: I did a film in 2003 called Two Towns of Jasper.  Along with my producing partner Marco, I did a lot of talks around the country, and we were asked to give a speech for this organization called Facing History in Ourselves. They structured it by having all these seventh graders interview us. At that point, I’d been working on the film for five years, I’d donetons of talking about it, writing about it, thinking about it, and I really thought I knew a lot about myself and race because making the film with Marco was one of the most difficult, interesting, and just self-revealing processes you could possibly imagine.
This little girl got up and said, “Whitney, what did you learn about your own racial identity working with Marco?”
I had this epiphany where I suddenly realized, I don’t have a racial identity… But oh my God, of course I have a racial identity. I have the most powerful racial identity on the motherfucking planet. And despite all the work I had done, all my talk about it, all my bullshit, until that moment, I hadn’t really processed it in a real way where I recognized it. It sounds really fucking corny, but it was like having some sort of conversion experience. With that knowledge, all of a sudden, I started to see the world in such a different way. It was kind of like getting X-ray glasses. Once I became conscious that my race was an active component of my everyday experience, that it was an active dynamic thing that I controlled that impacted me, it fundamentally changed the way I saw the world and interacted with people.
Continue

We Interviewed the Filmmaker Behind ‘The Whiteness Project’

Last Friday, a link began rapidly circulating on Twitter to an interactive multimedia documentary called the Whiteness Project, which was apparently an “investigation into how Americans who identify as ‘white’ experience their ethnicity.” The documentary featured intimate interviews with 21 people from Buffalo, New York, discussing race in a frank and often cringeworthy fashion. “For some reason, some black people hold on to the back-in-the-day slave thing,” a manidentitifed as “Jason” says. “Should slavery be something that because it happened we owe black people more? Absolutely not.” Another woman expresses her fear at how “black men in general” take a smile as an “invitation to approach.” A third white whines, “I mean, come on, you can’t even talk about fried chicken or Kool-Aid without wondering if someone’s going to get offended.” Each interview is bookended with a relevant statistic that examines how white Americans view race in North America. The online reaction was swiftincredulousandunforgiving.

But upon closer inspection, the project is more complex and original than it first appears, and the man behind it has a legitimate track record documenting sensitive racial issues. Along with his African-American producing partner Marco Williams, Whitney Dow has spent the last 16 years specializing in films that attempt to unearth and illuminate uncomfortable racial truths and gray areas, beginning in 1998 with Two Towns of Jasper, a film analyzing the lead-up to and aftermath of the brutal, racially-motivated dragging death of James Byrd, Junior at the hands of two Texas white supremacists.

The Whiteness Project is funded through PBS’s POV Interactive Shorts program, and Buffalo’s 21 interviews are just the first piece of a project that plans to interview over 1,000 white Americans about their views on race.

With controversy swirling and the project garnering several hundred thousand views since Friday, we decided to chat with Dow over Skype to discuss the process of casting the project, how Barack Obama’s presidency has or hasn’t changed the way we talk about race, and what he thinks about the fact that white liberals are probably the biggest critics he’s faced.

VICE: First of all, what prompted this idea?
Whitney Dow: I did a film in 2003 called Two Towns of Jasper.  Along with my producing partner Marco, I did a lot of talks around the country, and we were asked to give a speech for this organization called Facing History in Ourselves. They structured it by having all these seventh graders interview us. At that point, I’d been working on the film for five years, I’d donetons of talking about it, writing about it, thinking about it, and I really thought I knew a lot about myself and race because making the film with Marco was one of the most difficult, interesting, and just self-revealing processes you could possibly imagine.

This little girl got up and said, “Whitney, what did you learn about your own racial identity working with Marco?”

I had this epiphany where I suddenly realized, I don’t have a racial identity… But oh my God, of course I have a racial identity. I have the most powerful racial identity on the motherfucking planet. And despite all the work I had done, all my talk about it, all my bullshit, until that moment, I hadn’t really processed it in a real way where I recognized it. It sounds really fucking corny, but it was like having some sort of conversion experience. With that knowledge, all of a sudden, I started to see the world in such a different way. It was kind of like getting X-ray glasses. Once I became conscious that my race was an active component of my everyday experience, that it was an active dynamic thing that I controlled that impacted me, it fundamentally changed the way I saw the world and interacted with people.

Continue

This Is What Developing Acute Schizophrenia Feels Like
A year ago this winter, I began to not recognize myself. 
Sleep was the first thing to change. Progressively, over the course of about two weeks, I began struggling to drift off. As a 24-year-old man with a good supply of hash, this had never been a problem before. It was so odd. Seemingly out of the blue, I’d get into bed at night and not be able to shut off my brain. Thoughts would grow tendrils and loop onto other thoughts, tangling together like a big wall of ivy. Some nights, I’d pull the covers over my head, grab my face hard in my hands, and whisper, “Shut. The. Fuck. Up.”
Eventually I would be able to get to sleep, but I’d wake up feeling peculiar, like I had forgotten to do or tell someone something. Hunger wasn’t as aggressive as it usually was during this time, either. Normally I bolt downstairs to pour a heaping bowl of Frosted Flakes the second my eyes open. Instead, I woke each morning with a sick, creeping feeling in my gut. Still, I carried on as normal, thinking I’d just lay off the hash for a bit. That was probably it. I wasn’t panicked. 
I carried on my work at a local wine shop and tried to push what was happening during the night to the back of my mind. I got through the days OK, if slightly bleary-eyed—but looking back now I can see that I had started to struggle with simple conversations. 
If my boss told me to check a delivery, it’d take me a few seconds to process what he was saying, like two or three people had said it at the same time and I couldn’t make out the clear instruction. Looking at morning delivery slips and trying to make sense of them in my head was like trying to make out a tree in the fog—possible, but hard.
Continue

This Is What Developing Acute Schizophrenia Feels Like

A year ago this winter, I began to not recognize myself. 

Sleep was the first thing to change. Progressively, over the course of about two weeks, I began struggling to drift off. As a 24-year-old man with a good supply of hash, this had never been a problem before. It was so odd. Seemingly out of the blue, I’d get into bed at night and not be able to shut off my brain. Thoughts would grow tendrils and loop onto other thoughts, tangling together like a big wall of ivy. Some nights, I’d pull the covers over my head, grab my face hard in my hands, and whisper, “Shut. The. Fuck. Up.”

Eventually I would be able to get to sleep, but I’d wake up feeling peculiar, like I had forgotten to do or tell someone something. Hunger wasn’t as aggressive as it usually was during this time, either. Normally I bolt downstairs to pour a heaping bowl of Frosted Flakes the second my eyes open. Instead, I woke each morning with a sick, creeping feeling in my gut. Still, I carried on as normal, thinking I’d just lay off the hash for a bit. That was probably it. I wasn’t panicked. 

I carried on my work at a local wine shop and tried to push what was happening during the night to the back of my mind. I got through the days OK, if slightly bleary-eyed—but looking back now I can see that I had started to struggle with simple conversations. 

If my boss told me to check a delivery, it’d take me a few seconds to process what he was saying, like two or three people had said it at the same time and I couldn’t make out the clear instruction. Looking at morning delivery slips and trying to make sense of them in my head was like trying to make out a tree in the fog—possible, but hard.

Continue


SHOULD I TRY TO FIND TRUE LOVE ON TINDER?If you were asking me a year ago, I would have said, “Sure, loser.” But it is 2014, and Tinder is now a platform for people to make jokes, take screenshots of their jokes, and then hope their Tinder joke screenshots get picked up by BuzzFeed.
Do you think you could ever truly love someone who does that? Exactly.

A Guide to Behaving on the Internet in 2014

SHOULD I TRY TO FIND TRUE LOVE ON TINDER?
If you were asking me a year ago, I would have said, “Sure, loser.” But it is 2014, and Tinder is now a platform for people to make jokes, take screenshots of their jokes, and then hope their Tinder joke screenshots get picked up by BuzzFeed.

Do you think you could ever truly love someone who does that? Exactly.

A Guide to Behaving on the Internet in 2014

We could tell you what this article is about but, after looking at those photos, wouldn’t you rather be surprised?

Does Someone Have to Die Before Gamer Gate Ends?
Brianna Wu is a developer and writer who’s penned pieces on the gender imbalance in modern video games and the harassment women in the industry continue to deal with as part of their daily business. She heads up the small studio Giant Spacekat, makers of Revolution 60, a mobile game hailed as “a most triumphant and excellent adventure” by RPGfan.com and denounced as “a bland, uninteresting, feminism circle-jerk” by Metacritic user Realgamer101. I’m guessing that’s not his real name, but there’s no guesswork required to figure out the poster’s gender.
On October 11, Wu tweeted the above screenshot—a series of threatening messages she’d received from a Twitter account that’s since been suspended. 

Before we go any further, it’s important to ask whether or not you want to read anything more on GamerGate. Since you’re on this page, chances are you’re aware of the sides in this bizarre online kerfuffle, as well as the problem with giving GamerGate any further coverage: These words may be further fuel for a fire that needs to die down before anyone can properly discuss the more pertinent points raised by a still-evolving debate.

If that means nothing to you, here’s a summary: A (formerly) low-profile indie developer named Zoe Quinn created and released a game called Depression Quest. Some people argued that it wasn’t a game at all—but that’s not the controversy. An ex of Quinn’s published information in August of 2014 implying that she had slept around to secure positive review coverage forDepression Quest. There’s no evidence connecting any alleged promiscuity—which, in any case, is nobody’s business apart from those doing the screwing, anyway—with the reception Depression Quest received, but the conversation quickly turned to ethics: As in, some game journalists were seen to be favorable toward certain projects that they were incredibly tenuously linked to. That connection could be chipping into a Kickstarter pot, or having long ago worked on a collaborative venture together. You get the idea: Person A once spoke to Person B, and for that reason Person A’s recommendation of Person B’s new Game C is clearly completely corrupt.
Continue

Does Someone Have to Die Before Gamer Gate Ends?

Brianna Wu is a developer and writer who’s penned pieces on the gender imbalance in modern video games and the harassment women in the industry continue to deal with as part of their daily business. She heads up the small studio Giant Spacekat, makers of Revolution 60, a mobile game hailed as “a most triumphant and excellent adventure” by RPGfan.com and denounced as “a bland, uninteresting, feminism circle-jerk” by Metacritic user Realgamer101. I’m guessing that’s not his real name, but there’s no guesswork required to figure out the poster’s gender.

On October 11, Wu tweeted the above screenshot—a series of threatening messages she’d received from a Twitter account that’s since been suspended. 

Before we go any further, it’s important to ask whether or not you want to read anything more on GamerGate. Since you’re on this page, chances are you’re aware of the sides in this bizarre online kerfuffle, as well as the problem with giving GamerGate any further coverage: These words may be further fuel for a fire that needs to die down before anyone can properly discuss the more pertinent points raised by a still-evolving debate.

If that means nothing to you, here’s a summary: A (formerly) low-profile indie developer named Zoe Quinn created and released a game called Depression Quest. Some people argued that it wasn’t a game at all—but that’s not the controversy. An ex of Quinn’s published information in August of 2014 implying that she had slept around to secure positive review coverage forDepression Quest. There’s no evidence connecting any alleged promiscuity—which, in any case, is nobody’s business apart from those doing the screwing, anyway—with the reception Depression Quest received, but the conversation quickly turned to ethics: As in, some game journalists were seen to be favorable toward certain projects that they were incredibly tenuously linked to. That connection could be chipping into a Kickstarter pot, or having long ago worked on a collaborative venture together. You get the idea: Person A once spoke to Person B, and for that reason Person A’s recommendation of Person B’s new Game C is clearly completely corrupt.

Continue

Can We Make Gay Bathhouses Cool Again?
Business has not been good lately for bathhouses, the urban meeting places for gay men who enjoy using steam rooms and saunas or getting blowjobs from complete strangers in them. The Hollywood Spa, a long-time haunt in LA, closed its doors this year after decades in business, and the Associated Press recently looked at the decline in the importance of these fabled sex dens.
Now the North American Bathhouse Association (NABA) is using a combination of awareness-building, steep discounts, and social media outreach to entice a new generation of young dudes to put down Grindr and Scruff (the apps that are basically a bathhouse in every gay’s pocket), pick up a towel, and channel the 70s spirit of cavorting with the hottest bods in town. It might be an uphill battle, but it’s one that Dennis Holding, NABA’s 75-year-old president, says that they’re winning.
I recently chatted with Holding, who has invested in bathhouses all over the country since he opened his first club in 1972, about the past, present, and future of the industry.

VICE: How did you end up in the bathhouse business? Dennis Holding: I worked in the automotive industry at the time on the racing side, selling parts. I was in Indianapolis for the qualifying for the [Indy] 500, and it was raining, so I went out and met somebody. We went to a brunch the next day with his friends, and they got talking about how Indy needed a gay bathhouse. I looked at the demographics and realized there wasn’t one for 100 miles in any direction. And that’s how it came to be. A couple weeks later, I met the principals of the Club Baths chain [which had 42 bathhouses in its prime]. At that time, six or eight guys would throw in some money, and one guy agreed to go build it, and that’s how they were built. It was the 70s, so things were going great guns.
Continue

Can We Make Gay Bathhouses Cool Again?

Business has not been good lately for bathhouses, the urban meeting places for gay men who enjoy using steam rooms and saunas or getting blowjobs from complete strangers in them. The Hollywood Spa, a long-time haunt in LA, closed its doors this year after decades in business, and the Associated Press recently looked at the decline in the importance of these fabled sex dens.

Now the North American Bathhouse Association (NABA) is using a combination of awareness-building, steep discounts, and social media outreach to entice a new generation of young dudes to put down Grindr and Scruff (the apps that are basically a bathhouse in every gay’s pocket), pick up a towel, and channel the 70s spirit of cavorting with the hottest bods in town. It might be an uphill battle, but it’s one that Dennis Holding, NABA’s 75-year-old president, says that they’re winning.

I recently chatted with Holding, who has invested in bathhouses all over the country since he opened his first club in 1972, about the past, present, and future of the industry.

VICE: How did you end up in the bathhouse business? 
Dennis Holding: I worked in the automotive industry at the time on the racing side, selling parts. I was in Indianapolis for the qualifying for the [Indy] 500, and it was raining, so I went out and met somebody. We went to a brunch the next day with his friends, and they got talking about how Indy needed a gay bathhouse. I looked at the demographics and realized there wasn’t one for 100 miles in any direction. And that’s how it came to be. A couple weeks later, I met the principals of the Club Baths chain [which had 42 bathhouses in its prime]. At that time, six or eight guys would throw in some money, and one guy agreed to go build it, and that’s how they were built. It was the 70s, so things were going great guns.

Continue

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