We headed to Toronto, Canada to hang with the Momofuku crew, the thriving American restaurant brand impressively stretching its wings into Canada in the midst of a burgeoning Toronto food scene, complete with pressed duck, lobster mac & cheese, and a giant whole rib eye.
Everyone’s Tweeting Photos of Police Brutality Thanks to the NYPD’s Failed Hashtag
Twitter is a cool website where you can type any old thing into a box and senpecid it out into the ether for the entire internet to read. Some people use it to joke around, some people use it to be like, “HEY INJUSTICE IS HAPPENING, WHOA #GETINVOLVED” and some people use it in order to roleplay as characters from Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s a lot of fun, especially if you like heated arguments with total strangers.
Large institutions like corporations and government agencies use Twitter too, usually pretty badly. “Hey, we’re a pizza company, send us pictures of you eating our pizza and hashtag them #pizzapics” is an example of a typical lousy tweet from one of these accounts. Generally institutions try to drum up something vague called “social engagement”—basically they want to get people tweeting good stuff about them so other people see those tweets and, I guess, come to think good thoughts about the institution who started the engagement campaign. The New York Police Department was probably thinking they could do one of those social engagement thingies when they launched the hashtag #MyNYPD with this tweet:
What the person running the Twitter account probably failed to realize is that most people’s interactions with the cops fall into a few categories:
1. You are talking to them to get help after you or someone you knew was robbed, beaten, murdered, or sexually assaulted.
2. You are getting arrested.
3. You are getting beaten by the police.
The Case Against Cars
The look on the receptionist’s face told me I had said something wrong. It was a maternal expression, like that of an elderly woman who has found her grandkid outside in the cold with a runny nose but no jacket. There was genuine concern in her eyes, but her pursed lips suggested a certain annoyed disbelief: Just what were you thinking, if you were thinking at all?
“You don’t have a car?” she asked, accusingly.
“I don’t have a car,” I replied.
It was my first day at a new job, and I had taken the bus that morning. That bus took me to a subway—a futuristic train that goes underneath Los Angeles in order to get from one place to another—so I didn’t need a car, just like I didn’t need the people’s history of the local parking situation she had graciously given me. Seriously, the subway is, like, right over there.
She nodded her head and forced a smile the way tourists do when they don’t understand a word you are saying.
This happens almost daily: We, the car-less of Los Angeles, must confess our lack of an automobile as if it were a character defect on par with betting on dogfighting. You risk being judged not only at your workplace but at the supermarket, where the teenage bagger asks if you need any help carrying those boxes of generic cereal out to your four-wheeled expression of self. Having a car shows that you have the financial means to own a car. Not having a car makes people assume you live at home and have an unhealthy relationship with your mother—and as sexy local singles say, that’s a deal-breaker.
So it’s a bit heretical when I say I like not having a car. It’s actually rather nice to leave the driving to someone else and not have to worry about steering your personal air-conditioned death box at 70 miles an hour on a freeway full of idiots—and hundreds of thousands of people in the LA metro region agree with me on this. Sure, it takes a bit longer to get somewhere—30 minutes instead of 15—but you also don’t have to spend 20 minutes circling the block for parking whenever you go out. And there are buses and trains that go almost anywhere, and by taking them you free yourself from worry about car payments, parking tickets, and DUIs.
You also don’t need to worry about getting mutilated in a horrific car accident. According to the US government, more than 2.3 million people were injured and 33,500 died on America’s roads in 2012. For people in the US between the ages of one and 44, motor vehicles are the leading cause of death. Avoid driving on a freeway and you significantly reduce your chance of being injured or killed on one.
When I was 19, I had a crusty boyfriend who spontaneously decided that for health reasons, he was going to eat half a dozen or so raw garlic cloves every day. Which actually sounded kind of okay, at first; garlic is delicious and antiviral and antifungal and anti-everything-bad, and I’m generally unfazed by garlic breath if it’s emitting from someone I love. It seemed like a welcomed addition to his diet that otherwise consisted exclusively of spaghetti with hot sauce and tofu dogs. But after a week or two, he was a changed man. An insidious scent wafted not only out of his mouth, but also out of his armpits, feet, neck, and hairline. I have a distinct memory of kissing his cheek and tasting an industrial-strength aroma analogous to the bottom layer of a mid-summer New York City dumpster. He was emitting a pungent garlicky venom, 24 hours a day, seemingly from every pore (and orifice) on his body. The garlic ritual had to go; it was me or the garlic.
And so it did, eventually, but my memory of this phase, in addition to some other choice experiences, has since instilled me with a trust in the belief that “you are what you eat”—in other words, whatever you put in your mouth is going to make its way into every weird perspiration, fluid, and mucous that lives in or comes out of you. And as it turns out, we’re not imagining it.
I Ate Live Food from a Pet Store for a Week
Long story short: We need to find viable, palatable, nutritious alternatives to traditional meat.
With that in mind I decided to replace one meal per day for seven days with sources of protein that can be purchased alive from a pet store.
At this point I should note that I’m not some granola here to chew your ear off about how fucked up factory farming is. In fact, I eat a lot of meat myself. I’m from northern Michigan, where there’s only one day in the Christian calendar year when most folks will intentionally choose fish, and I’m the type of heathen who doesn’t even abstain on that day. So this little experiment was done for my own sake, to know what sort of animal-based dishes I can look forward to when hamburgers are enjoyed exclusively by the one percent.
Before beginning the diet, I consulted my doctor to make sure I wasn’t about to spark someContagion-type situation. As I told him about my plan he put his chin in his hand and nodded politely, but seemed pretty unconcerned.
“Isn’t there anything I should be worried about?” I asked.
He shook his head with an offhand warning against eating mice intestines. “Make sure to take those out.”
“Sure,” I said. “I wouldn’t want to eat their poop.”
After a pause, and without irony, he told me where in town I could find the best price on regionally raised beef tenderloin.
And so, with my doctor’s blessing, I drove to the pet store to buy some groceries.
Day 1: Crickets Pancakes
Nutritional Facts: 1 serving equals 100g of crickets. Each serving contains 121 calories, 12.9g protein, 5.5g of fat
4 cups of flour
1 cup of roasted crickets
Place your crickets in the freezer for 1-2 hours, then boil briskly for 1-2 minutes. Strain and cool. Place clean and cool crickets on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.
Remove antennae and legs gently; they fall off easily. Crush collected crickets using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle until they are ground into small brown specks. Insufficient grinding will result in their small faces peering out at you from the batter L. Use flour in pancakes.
Crickets smell fishy—an aroma no doubt exacerbated by their placement in my local pet shop in thick plastic bins against a backdrop of blue fish tanks. In an effort to outwit my better instincts I told myself that the shrimp-like aroma wafting from my hotcakes was actually almonds.
Crickets taste like almonds, if you think of almonds, and shrimp if you think of anything other than almonds. This flavor is subtle, but when you place it in a pancake drenched in syrup, it becomes amplified. I recommend incorporating the cricket flour into a savory pastry, instead. Like nuts, they add a satisfying crunch.
Ex-Soldiers Are Being Given MDMA to Help Them with PTSD
If hanging out with a bunch of strangers in a foreign country, shooting at other strangers for a living wasn’t damaging enough, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is always there to prolong the trauma once combat soldiers return from war. Around 25 percent discharged American soldiers suffer from the disorder.
Tony Macie, an Iraq veteran, is one of those soldiers. Traumatized by the deaths of two of his friends in a truck bomb attack, Macie was prescribed conventional medication to treat his PTSD after returning to the US. When that wasn’t working out for him, he started to research alternative remedies and came across the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which was offering an experimental treatment with MDMA.
I gave Tony a call and spoke to him about using the drug to try to overcome his post-Iraq trauma.
VICE: Hi, Tony. Can you tell me about your experience of serving in Iraq?
Tony Macie: I was there for 15 months. A lot of the time I was clearing roads, and there was a constant fear of being ambushed. I think it was six months into my tour. I wasn’t there when it happened, but a petrol base got hit by a truck bomb and killed a couple of my buddies. That was really upsetting; it was the point when I was like, “This is real. This is war.”
Do you think you were suffering more than your colleagues? Or was everyone in the same boat?
I think everyone was suffering. At times we didn’t realize it, though, because we were so focused on staying alive.
Were there any points when you felt particularly afraid for your life?
Probably just after the car bomb went off. We were there for three days straight guarding the road, just waiting for another car bomb to come. There was a point when we were sitting in the Humvee and we thought there was going to be an attack. Nothing happened in the end, but I was out there for three days, on night duty, just waiting for something to happen. Over there, death could have happened at any point. I was always expecting an ambush or a fire fight.
How did you feel when you got back to America?
At first, there was a lot of relief. I was glad to be back and felt kind of safe. But after a couple of days I couldn’t really sleep and I started overheating. After a couple of weeks I started drinking to go to sleep, and a month or two after that I started to have anxiety and panic attacks. That’s when I decided to go to the doctors.
Is America Finally Ready to Abandon the Electoral College and Embrace the Popular Vote
US presidential elections are frequently the butt of jokes worldwide, and deservedly so. Between the eye-popping fundraising totals, the awkward pandering to billionaires, and the shameless jockeying for the support of key interest groups in weird places like Iowa and New Hampshire, there’s a lot to hate.
Much of this can be blamed on the electoral college. Instead of simply counting votes nationwide and giving the Oval Office to the guy or gal with the most ballots, America holds 50 statewide elections, then awards points called “electors” to the winner of each election. It’s a confusing system that makes winning 51 percent of the votes in California more than ten times as valuable as winning 100 percent of the votes in Nebraska, and gives special status to the few swing states that could go either way. Standard practice nowadays is for candidates to camp out in the dozen or so of these key states, which enjoy special status because their cities are surrounded by dense, conservative suburbs that balance out the votes of liberal urbanites. This means millions of voters are effectively stuck on the margins of political life, and thanks to our system we risk disaster every four years.
George W. Bush’s incredible non-victory in 2000—which came, of course, thanks to an assist from his dad’s pals on the Supreme Court—may be the the most recent example, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the twisted intrigue that the electoral college has encouraged over the years. After the 1876 election saw the electors go one way and the popular vote the other, the “compromise” that was reached set the stage for a flood of Jim Crow laws and racial terrorism into the American South, as a key concession from the Republicans was to remove occupying federal troops that had been in the former Confederate states since the Civil War.
This Guy Is Trying to Collect Every Single Copy of the Movie ‘Speed’ on VHS
Ryan Beitz owns over 500 copies of the movie Speed on VHS. He also owns 26 laser discs of the film, but those aren’t part of the collection. He just holds onto them so he can use them as bargaining chips to get more on VHS. His goal is a simple one: To collect every copy of Speed on VHS ever made. His other goal? To trick out his 15-passenger van to look just like the bus in the movie.
In order to see the World Speed Project in action, I decided to visit him at his current residence in Moscow, Idaho, where he has scattered all his copies of Speed throughout the van in anticipation of my arrival, and lined the ceiling with them. As we talk, he drives me and a handful of his friends out through the woods via a restricted-access sheep farm on his college campus. As he drives, copies of Speed periodically fall from the ceiling onto the floor.
VICE: Are we allowed to be back here?
Ryan Beitz: Yeah, whatever. The signs just say “No Public Access.” We got official business. I don’t have car insurance now, but that’s OK because I only drive the van around for show. We’re going like 35, and I feel like we’re being respectful. We’re not trying to scare the sheep or like, steal them. Although we could put a sheep in here.
Why don’t you tell me what got you started collecting the Speeds?
I lived in Seattle and was super broke, and I had to come up with Christmas presents for my family. Usually I would just, like, dumpster-dive books or something and give them to them, but when I was at the pawn shop they had six copies of Speed, and I thought it would be really funny to get everybody in my family the same gift, even me. I wanted to watch them open them one at a time and go, “Oh, Speed. Don’t we already have this?” Somebody else would go, “Oh, Speed. Really funny, Ryan.” Then by the time you went around, everybody would have gotten the same gift from me. Then I could tell them that I love them all equally, you know? Just some bullshit.
Then when I bought all six it was, like, way too good. I realized it was really fascinating to have that many, like, same copies of a thing. What really cemented it was when I went to another pawn shop, and they had, like, 30 copies. I said, “I’ll take them all.” They sold them to me for 11 cents a copy.
How many copies do you have right now?
I don’t know, like 550 or something. I haven’t counted in a while ‘cause who really cares?
And you’re going to collect them all.
Yeah. People always go, “Dude how many of these things are you going to get?” And I’m like, “All of them, duh.”
I Went to a Convention for Old, Washed-Up Celebrities
The Hollywood Show does not, as its name would imply, take place in Hollywood. Nor is it a show in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it’s a weekend-long expo in a hotel ballroom, a chance to peddle yellowed movie memorabilia and yellowed-er still celebrities from days long past. For a mere $20, nostalgia buffs can meet “the guy”: the guy who wrote the song “Build Me Up Buttercup,” the guy who starred in M.A.S.H. (the movie, not the T.V. show), the guy who spat, “No soup for you!” on the episode of Seinfeld that inspired a million novelty shirts.
A “Celebrity Check-In” table greeted the show’s attendees; behind it, a bored-looking woman silently ate a slice of flavorless-looking pizza. In the corner, a revolving door of middle-aged men, who each had paid $40 for the privilege of getting professional photos taken alongside a rapidly decaying Martin Landau, struck a pose next to the Ed Wood star. “Make sure to mention the Hollywood Show on your Facebook posts!” an employee loudly, cheerfully, reminded them.
Hugh O’Brian, star of 60-year-old show The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, hung signage in the hallway inquiring, “He’s still alive???”; said signage instructed readers to “See for yourself!” Once one took the bait, they bore witness to the sight of an elderly, yet still breathing, O’Brian eating a sandwich next to his parked Rascal Scooter.
Lita Ford, wearing a leather jacket with her own name on it, signed mementos shakily held by a man sporting a vintage Runaways tour shirt. The face of the woman who played Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan contorted into a look of pain and confusion as a large white male (the show’s target demographic) asked her one in a no doubt series of inane questions.
Heaven Is for Real Is Phony
Hollywood never met a true story it couldn’t fuck up. In Braveheart, the Battle of Stirling Bridge is fought without the bridge, a fuckup akin to a D-Day movie without a beach. They can fuck up downward, casting the five-foot-seven Martin Sheen as the famously tall Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg. They can fuck up life and death: In Band of Brothers a show so faithfully detail-oriented that it might well have been called, Honest, We Read a Book: The Miniseries, they killed one character 19 years before reality did.
But those are wars. Big things. You know, 50 million dead, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, the atomic bomb. Getting smaller stories right is easier, or so you’d think. Like Heaven Is for Real, the tale of a four-year-old Nebraska boy—deliciously named Colton Burpo—who went to heaven then came back to tell his pastor father all about it. The bare bones of that story sounds like a Capra script already, but somehow, Hollywood fucked it up. Heaven Is for Real is phony. It isn’t even a fun bad movie.
You’ve probably heard about Heaven Is for Real, which, like everything, was a bookbefore it was a movie. Published in 2010, it sold like only a relentlessly heartstrings-jerking tale of a young boy who saw heaven during emergency surgery could. It was co-written by Colton Burpo’s father Todd and Lynn Vincent, who also co-wrote Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue and Never Surrender, with Lieutenant General William Boykin, who left the US Army after saying that America was at war with Satan and that he didn’t fear a Somali warlord because he was armed with a God, while the Somali had only an “idol,” and who once proudly stated that he wanted to crawl into heaven on all fours covered in blood. Those are the kind of righteously tone-deaf people Lynn Vincent writes books with, people whose level of doubt vacillates between, “Am I right, or am I really right?”