I Went to Montreal’s New Cat Cafe on Shrooms
I have a broken relationship with cats. Once in a while, they take a moment from shitting in boxes and lurking in dark corners to glare at me with indifference or distrust, but that’s about it. Up until now, we’ve been working under the unspoken agreement to not really give a shit about each other. So when VICE asked me to visit the new cat café that had just opened in Montreal, my dysfunctional relationship with cats came to the fore.
Café des Chats is the first establishment of its kind to open in Canada. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a cat café, it’s basically a coffee shop with a bunch of cats living inside it. I thought the concept seemed a little contrived, and the thought of drinking espresso in a room that’s crawling with eight unimpressed and distrusting creatures initially sounded like a bit of a nightmare. But, framed the right way, this could be a great opportunity to face my fears and heal my relationship with felines. Maybe throwing them into our neighborhood cafés is actually a great idea.
Either way, I probably wasn’t going to enjoy myself or learn anything by going in my current headspace, so I decided to take some mushrooms before crossing the cat café threshold.
I spoke with the owner Nadine a few days before my visit, and she agreed to have me come by half an hour before it opened on Friday, at 9:30 in the morning. I met up with Stephanie (our photographer) beforehand to drink mushroom tea and have some grounding, sober thoughts while I still could. I sat on the edge of her couch at 8:45, taking careful sips as the sun glanced off her bookshelf. I watched the cluster of green mushroom bits swirl into the tea, thinking of how the fate of my morning rested in its murky depths.
After I finished my cup, we biked over to the café in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood, and stood outside to take a photo of me nervously laughing outside.
I was still clear-headed, but knew by the way my fingers were tingling I was on my way to ShroomTown. I watched Stephanie fiddle with her camera and realized that while we were in there, she would be the only other human that knew I was tripping. I made a mental note to remember that if things got out of control.
The co-owner Youseff saw us standing outside and came out to greet us.
“Welcome,” he said. “Come on in.”
Cry-Baby of the Week
This week: A kid got arrested for pretending to have sex with a statue of Jesus and a guy threw eggs at his neighbors’ cars because they parked on the street.
About That Fleshlight 9/11 Tweet
Today, on the thirteenth anniversary of the time two planes flew into the World Trade Center and set in motion a series of events that have led to uncountable cases of torture, death, and oppression, we are talking about brands. Specifically, we are talking about brands that have decided to commemorate 9/11 through social media. Even more specifically, we are talking about a single tweet from Fleshlight, a company that makes fake vaginas for men to ejaculate into for pleasure:
The Fleshlight tweet has been circulated far and wide on websites because putting “Fleshlight” and “9/11” in a headline is Facebook traffic GOLD, baby, and also because it is pretty funny and gross and awful that companies are taking a few seconds to metaphorically bow their metaphorical heads and go: See guys, we feel sad about the sad thing too. Here is a picture of a flag!
We do this every year. September 11 rolls around and people feel the need to acknowledge it, because it remains this shadow looming over everything. There are the streets named after 9/11 victims and the fading memorials painted on walls; there are the stories about young children who lost parents in the attacks; there’s also the matter of US foreign policy, which is still centered around getting the bad guys responsible in the Middle East. The event seems monumental and impossible to understand—this infuriating injustice that has spawned lots of other injustices. Just thinking about it for too long makes you feel angry and sick. It sucks all the irony out of the room, and you get a twinge of guilt or transgression when you joke about it.
Grandiose Predictions for the 2014 NFL Season
The first week of the 2014 NFL season is in the books and already things are looking rather insane. There were tons of injuries and upsets, horrible decisions by players both on and off the field, bizarre PR, and everything else that comes along with a game where grown men dress up in costumes and bang into each other over and over on a multimillion dollar field. It’s early yet, obviously, but still it’s hard for those of us who have waited more than seven months to not get itchy with excitement for whatever weird new crap might come to pass.
With just this tip of the iceberg in mind, here are some predictions I’ve brought back from the astral realm for football fans this fall.
1. Peyton Manning will retire from football and become a full-time actor
Because he just doesn’t make enough money as a professional quarterback, PFM has used his resurgence as the league’s dominant ball-tosser to parlay his way into a bevy of gigs shilling for major corporations like Papa John’s and Nationwide Insurance. Dude isn’t getting any younger and those paychecks hocking pizza are going to seem more and more sweet—particularly after the Broncos fail once again to point-blast their way into a Super Bowl ring. As far as actors go,he’s certainly no Blake Griffin, but we’re in for a long ride through the twilight years with Peyton as he sluts out to any bidder dying to use his pretty bread-eating face as the spokesboy of their trash.
2. The Redskins will try to change their name to the Washington Terrorists
After years of explaining to minorities why they shouldn’t be offended by the use of a racial slur for a team name, the billionaire owner of our nation’s capital’s professional football team will finally break. A press conference will be called in which the confidential new identity of the team, long under design by team officials, will be revealed. The Redskins will become the Terrorists. Players will be required to wear white robes, grow long beards, and carry automatic weapons and defaced US flags. Only then, finally having done something that actually offends regular-ass honky white people, will the team be brought under sanction by the league. Following the sale of the team to slightly more reasonable owners, the team will settle on the “Washington Donkeys.”
Weediquette: Stoned Moms
If you get the moms smoking then you can get almost anybody. That’s the plan of the legal cannabis industry, and they’re searching for ways to get moms around the country to set down their wine and light up.
We travel to Denver with Jessica Roake, a mother of two from the suburbs of Washington, DC, for a mom-friendly cannabis tour. She gets blazed beyond belief in the name of market research.
How-To: Not Make a Bloody Mary with Jim Stockbauer
In this How-To, infamous Texas legend Jim Stockbauer goes behind the bar of the Longbranch Inn and (barely) shows us how to (kind of) make a Bloody Mary.
Why People of Color in NYC Still Don’t Trust the Cops
On July 17, New York City police officers surrounded Eric Garner, an overweight, asthmatic black man, near his home on Staten Island. According to Garner’s neighborhood pal Ramsey Orta, the cops were hassling Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, because they thought he was involved in a street scuffle. The police’s version of the incident is that they approached Garner for selling individual cigarettes—“loosies”—which is illegal because the government doesn’t collect taxes on those sales.
As captured on video by Orta, Garner complained about routine NYPD harassment and was subsequently placed in a choke hold by a plainclothes officer named Daniel Pantaleo. With his head being smashed against the ground and the cops holding him down, Garner cried out, “I can’t breathe!” nine times—you can watch the video on YouTube yourself and count—to no avail. He was pronounced dead at a hospital an hour later, and the video quickly went viral. It bears a horrifying resemblance to the climactic scene of Radio Raheem getting murdered by the NYPD in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing—Lee even created his own mash-up of the two scenes after Garner’s death.
Almost immediately, cries rang out that Garner was a casualty of “broken windows” policing. That’s the theory that says going after minor quality-of-life offenses like graffiti, subway panhandling, and illegal cigarette sales helps discourage serious crimes like rape and murder. It’s the brainchild of criminologist George Kelling, who co-authored a 1982 Atlantic article that remains a sort of manual for modern policing in America. Broken windows was popularized by William Bratton, the NYPD commissioner in the 90s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani who has taken up his old post under the new mayor, Bill de Blasio. The mythology holds that it was the chief factor in the city’s incredible turnaround since the high-crime 70s and 80s—though many criminologists disagree.
The Golden Zone: Hunting a Hit Man in Mexico
We were hunting a man who got paid to kill people. He was bisexual, and his preferred weapon was an Uzi submachine gun that left its victims nearly unidentifiable. He was employed by a powerful organization with a lot of money to spend and even more to lose.
A Backstage iPad Perspective of Hood By Air’s Latest Fashion Week Show
Taking photos at fashion week sucks. From an objective standpoint, it’s pretty formulaic: you take your fancy DSLR, head to the show early, crouch in the photo pit, and take head-on, head-to-toe portraits of various weenies wearing things. All the while, the guy next to you who works for some other magazine/media company/blog essentially takes the same photo.
So, in the spirit of youthful rebellion (and continuity) we sent out-of-bounds photographer Nick Sethi to document backstage at Hood By Air’s latest showing. And since HBA is known for sending pipe-laden jackets, snowboard boots, and crutches down the runway, he figured it’d be cool if he left his DSLR at home and take his iPad instead. We didn’t disagree.