PHOTOS BY BEN TAYLOR
STYLIST: ALEXANDRA MARZELLA
PHOTOS BY BEN TAYLOR
STYLIST: ALEXANDRA MARZELLA
I Lived Like It Was 1996 for a Week
During the past year, magazines have bombarded us with “the return of the 90s.” Clothes, art, music: all of it rolls through the rotating door of style. What’s with this bullshit? Seriously, who would want to return to an era where the only positive aspect is that people from the 80s can remember their youth? I was born in 1993. I don’t give a fuck.
In that era, children played with Pogs, Pokémon cards, and Tamagotchi. The computers were dumber than humans, and the internet consisted of 3,000 nerds. As for cell phones, they existedbut no one had them—apart from your super-modern uncle, maybe.
Twenty-year-olds and teens lived without much: VHS movies, video games, making plans to meet up via their parents’ corded phones, and going to the movies as often as possible, checking the times through Moviefone. There wasn’t anything fantastic going on. What do people miss so much about it, then? This is what I wanted to find out.
I prohibited myself from using all technological inventions from after 1996 for a week. That means seven days. No more cell phone, no more computer, no more internet, no more DVDs, no more iPhone—I’m not going to make a detailed list, but basically nothing remained. I had to force myself to listen to No Doubt. I’d never lived like this. I had no idea what to do with the boredom.
'Bartkira' Is the Parodic Bastard Child of the 'Simpsons' and 'Akira'
You might recognize the name James Harvey—his comics have frequently appeared on this site. James has recently taken on a bizarrely ambitious project, which he is calling Bartkira. He is having the entire 2,000 plus pages of the manga Akira redrawn with Simpsons characters in the place of series’ familiar protagonists. For example, Bart is Kaneda and Milhouse is Tetsuo.
Each cartoonist gets to pick a set of six pages to redraw and those pages will be added to the book. It is a pretty crazy undertaking considering the source material for this parody is one of the longest running comics ever and it seems to be begging for a cease and desist order from either the Simpsons or Akira.
Anyway, I wanted to ask James why he was making such a cool and stupid project.
VICE: So James what’s this Bartkira thing about? When’d you get the idea?
James Harvey: The first guy to do a Bartkira drawing was Ryan Humphries, a UK artist. He redrew these pages that showed the moment Akira destroys Neo-Tokyo, but redrawing Akira as Bart and the Colonel as Homer. His drawings were simplistic and quickly rendered, totally at odds with the super-detailed, maximalist approach that we associate with artists like Kastuhiro Otomo. But the power and the energy of Otomo’s compositions and layouts survived intact.
Something I heard recently is that a group of German sociologists did an expansive study into art and literature and concluded that the amount of major ambitious works of art being undertaken has sharply declined. I don’t know how you’d prove that, but then again it seems like a bit of a no-brainer—how many novels like War and Peace were written last year? Or in the last 100 years? As the speed of communication increases, the speed of art increases too. A lot of my favorite cartoonists are making these haiku-like micro-comics designed for a Twitter and Tumblr audience. None of the cartoonists I know are undertaking major epic works like the ones we grew up on—like Akira, which is a shame, to me.
An Interview with Jerky Boys Creator Johnny Brennan
My parents still don’t know why I turned out the way I did, but one man deserves at least 30 percent of the credit (or blame): Johnny Brennan, creator of the Jerky Boys.
In early 1994, I bought a copy of the now classic prank phone call album The Jerky Boys on cassette at the now sadly-defunct Just Music in Longview, Washington and when the album was done playing I was a changed young man. That evening during my nightly argument with my old man about my “attitude,” I had a secret weapon he didn’t know about: Frank Rizzo.
But the Jerky Boys were not only a good offense against the evil forces of Mommy and Daddy, they were the perfect brand of comedy for anyone who had a slightly anarchistic sense of humor. Brennan and his sidekick Kamal Ahmed elevated prank phone calls to the level of theater, thanks to such memorable characters as the neurotic Sol Rosenberg, the flamboyantly gay Jack Tors, crotchety old coot Kissel, and other misfits. This was hilarious shit and soon it was pure Jerkymania all across America.
Eventually the hype died down, Kamal (who voiced the characters Tarbash, Kissel, and a few others, such as the memorable Curly G.) left in the late 90s and Brennan focused more on doing voices for Family Guy. But you can’t keep a good prankster down and now Brennan and his characters are back and making brand new calls that will soon be released on The Jerky Boys website. Brennan has also kept the Jerky Boys brand going with a great podcast on iTunes, interacting with fans and discussing the background behind some of the classic Jerky calls. Brennan recently made one of his first live appearances at Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea, dazzling rabid Jerky Boys fans with stories from behind the prank call trenches. I got him on the phone (naturally) and we discussed it all—the assnecks, the pissclams, chocolate juice, lamby nipple chops with minty pickled sour sauce; the whole enchilada, tough guy.
Sam Smyth is the talent manager for Girl and Chocolate skateboards. If you Google him, most of the links that pop up lead to pictures of him eating sandwiches or his photo website. While those activities make up a large part of Sam’s portfolio, I think his greatest achievement is keeping the most elite team in skating balanced and happy for the last 15 years.
The Girl and Chocolate teams are about to release their first video offering since 2004’s Hot Chocolate, and to the people concerned with such things (everyone who rides a skateboard), it’s the biggest event to happen all year—all that president electing business included. As you may have noticed, last week we released a little YouTube nugget from the Crailtap camp in the form of a bowl jam with Raven Tershy at the Diamond Mine. In preparation for the big day (which is November 16, by the way), every Tuesday we’ll be putting up more bonus junk from the Tap, so check back next week. And the week after that, etc.
I got out my typing fingers and had an iChat conversation with Sam in an attempt to learn something about the video, but we ended up talking more about oops poops, drunken kids, and babysitting a bunch of man-children than anything else.
VICE: Hello Sam. We had to postpone this interview due to our conflicting lunch schedules. How was yours?
Sam: Fine. Had a low-budge burrito and watched the end of the Giants game. Giants won the division series.
Will you brag to James Kelch about the superiority of your city?
Uh, YES. Fully.
As a person who reads every skate magazine and pays attention to people’s names in videos, I always wondered about your history. Can you give me the breakdown of where and how you were born and raised?
I was born to hippie parents in San Francisco, in the house that my mom still lives in. I was a city kid. I had a lot of freedom. I was riding bikes, taking the bus, and skating all over the city at a pretty young age.
Who did you start skating with?
I started skating with some kids from my neighborhood. They were down for a year or so, then they went on to different things and I stuck with it. I met Nick Lockman at Golden Gate Park. His dad and mine would take us skating. They took me to Embarcadero. Nick was six, I was ten. Nick is the team manager at DGK now.
Were his parents hippies or was he just poorly supervised?
They were cool as fuck. They liked to party, so I think there had to be a touch of hippie in ‘em. Like mine, they supported skating to the fullest, which wasn’t a popular move for parents back then.
I heard you say once that you shit your pants at a skate contest when you were 12. Is that true?
Yes. Nick and I stayed best skate buddies for a long time. And then we met Karl Watson, and the three of us were like skate brothers. When Think Skateboards started they wanted our little crew, so all three of us got on Think. We actually came up with the name. They wanted to call it Move, and we thought that was whack.
Anyway, first trip we ever went on with Think was up to Corvallis, Oregon for the NSA contest. This had to be 1990 or so. While we were practicing I did a little oops poops. Unfortunately, I was wearing Ghetto Wear shorts. They were so thin there was no playing it off, and I had to ask Kieth Cochran to take me back to the hotel. He laughed and called me out on the mic, which was slightly embarrassing. When I got back I took my run. I think I did OK, but I puked as soon as they said time.
Had you gotten drunk the night before?
Yeah. It was my first time ever getting drunk. Jason Adams got me a 32oz of Miller High Life. That was my dad’s brand so it was the only beer I had ever tasted. I remember getting wrapped up in the bed cover and drug around the hotel.