NEVER PARTY WITH THE BRICK SQUAD…
OR YOU MIGHT END UP DRINKING AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF HENNESSY AND ALMOST DYING
Illustration by Meaghan Garvey
As the host of Noisey Raps, the new hip-hop show on VICE’s music site, I’ve been spending a ton of time with famous rappers who like to get loco and do things poor degenerates only dream of. Getting fucked up is a time-honored tradition for musicians of all genres, but rappers, as with everything else they do, take inebriation to absurd new levels. They even invent weird new drugs and give them cute nicknames like “hokey-pokey” and “pterodactyl.” You might think, I love the hokey-pokey. This must be harmless. Then, the next thing you know, you’re being arrested for wiggling your genitals at an old lady, while the famous rapper you just made “friends” with is riding away in his Maybach, sandwiched between two gorgeous models, laughing his ass off. The thing to remember is that these guys are professionals at getting wasted. They rage day in and day out, one dust-laced blunt after another, and then they get paid exorbitant sums of cash to write songs about it. Trying to keep up with them is stupid and dangerous. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way from members of the 1017 Brick Squad.
It was a chilly night in October, and I had been invited to shoot Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane backstage at their show at New York’s Irving Plaza. Unless you’re a geriatric or in jail, you should know that Waka and Gucci are two Atlanta MCs who make unrepentant Southern gangster rap known as trap music.
When we arrived, it looked like your typical rapper green-room scene. There were a whole lot of dudes, because—despite all their lyrics about sexual conquests—rappers love sausage fests. As per usual, a thick cloud of smoke was hovering in the air, and all you could hear was the clash of liquor bottles and the chatter of country drawls.
I’m usually disappointed when I meet rappers in person because they’re often short, meek versions of what you see in their videos. Waka and Gucci, however, look like a couple of linebackers. Their presence is super-imposing, and this was only the second on-camera work I’d done in my life. In hindsight, I should’ve taken some more time thinking about my appearance before the interview: I was wearing pop-bottle glasses and a Cosby-like Pendleton sweater. They immediately started clowning me.
The instructions my producer Andy Capper gave me were to “hang out and get some natural footage.” But Waka and Gucci took one look at me, and it became awkwardly obvious that they weren’t trying to hang with me at all. After a pretty terse greeting that resulted in Waka practically breaking my hand when he shook it, the rappers formed a smokers’ huddle on the other side of the room that I couldn’t breach. Precious time was being wasted. I had to do something quick to get in good with these guys or else I wouldn’t be asked to host anything ever again.
Like everyone backstage, Waka, Gucci, and a couple of their lackeys were passing fat blunts back and forth to one another. To break the ice, I thought it’d be a good idea to ask them what kind of weed they were burning. Gucci just looked down at me like I was a narc, handed over the blunt, and said, “You tell me.”
Now, I’ve been smoking blunts since I was 11 years old. And I grew up in the suburbs, so I’m no stranger to bongs, bowls, and weird white-people shit like vaporizers. But nothing prepared me for how high I was about to become after hitting Gucci’s burner. The closest thing I can compare it to is being pushed headfirst down a K-hole. The second after the smoke left my lungs, I couldn’t even form a complete sentence. Andy was whispering in my ear, trying to tell me what questions to ask because I was just standing there like a zombie with the microphone limp in my hand. And then everything just went black.
THE HISTORY OF THE BEST BAR IN LONDON, WHICH WE HAPPEN TO OWN
You might not be aware that VICE UK has its own bar. It’s called The Old Blue Last and it used to be a brothel before we acquired it. Still, it was a bar for 300 years before that, and even Shakespeare used to hang out there. It stands imperiously on the corner of Great Eastern Street and Curtain Road in London, dominating Shoreditch like a gigantic ancient rock that sells beer. To celebrate their magazine’s tenth anniversary, our English counterparts hired an incredibly famous historian who wished to remain nameless to find out all about it.
East London has been horrible and messy for a very long time. The Floralia, the ancient Roman festival of flowers, celebrated Flora, a hooker who’d been turned into a goddess. When the week-long festival came to London, scores of half-naked prostitutes gathered outside the city walls, in what is now Shoreditch, to exchange milk, honey, and invent all the STDs we have to worry about these days.
In the 16th century, everyone got into theater, which might sound wimpy but it was actually a lot more boozy and fighty back then. Plays were banned in London, but because Shoreditch remained conveniently just outside the city limits, in 1576 a venture capitalist named James Burbage built a venue called The Theatre where The Old Blue Last currently stands.
This illicit, out-of-town theater turned Shoreditch back into the godless pleasure garden it had been in Roman times. It was a place for gentlemen to bathe, play lawn bowls (which might sound wimpy but it was actually a lot more boozy and fighty back then), and fitfully rub their genitals against the wenches and rent boys who populated the area. Oh, and Bill Shakespeare hung out there all the time too, kicking back with John Webster and losing his shit to whatever the Elizabethan version of “She Bangs the Drums” was.
Eventually Burbage pulled down The Theatre and moved it south of the river, where it became The Globe. Shoreditch, meanwhile, remained an iniquitous pit of bowls and sex, and in 1700 a bar was built on the site of the old theater. It was called The Last, which, remarkably boringly, refers to a wooden block that a shoemaker uses to mold a shoe. The Last was owned by a brewer named Ralph Harwood, who went on to achieve a small level of fame when he was pronounced bankrupt one day by Gentleman’s Magazine. In these early years, men carrying powderpuffs used to frequent the pub. Anyone familiar with the coded body language of this era will know that “man with powderpuff = man who wants to fuck other men.”
THE OLD BLUE LAST
In 1876, Truman’s brewery took over the pub. They pulled The Last down and rebuilt it as The Old Blue Last, which means “the old blue wooden pattern that is used to mold the shoe.” Gents came to dine here, ladies took their tea here, everyone wore flat caps, well-made shoes, and called each other “squire” in a way that wasn’t irritating because Guy Ritchie and Pete Doherty hadn’t been born yet. There’s still a massive mirror hanging in the main bar that dates back to this time and has somehow managed to never get smashed. Eventually Truman’s went down the toilet and Grand Metropolitan Hotels took over the OBL (which, let’s face it, proves that they were never really that grand at all).
Throughout the 1970s and into the 90s, Shoreditch was still full of strip joints and violent gay bars (Freddie Mercury is said to have landed his helicopter on top of the building that is now The London Apprentice, formerly the 333). At that point, The Old Blue Last was a rough place full of rougher men and people who were afraid of being beaten up by them. It housed an illegal strip club and brothel, which was on the second floor. The room was divided into cubicles, with no walls, made up of single beds. Next to each bed was a small table, and that was pretty much it.
Weirdly, on every bedside table there was a bowl of peanuts. I guess East End gangsters were into throwing nuts at prostitutes? Apparently, once some pissed-off tough guys turned up to settle a score with a bouncer, put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Lord knows how, but somehow he lived (if anyone can be described as “alive” when half their head is missing).
Originally, Deer Tick’s John McCauley and I had planned for this interview to take place in the form of a drinking game, but after we shotgunned our first beers we both threw up.
How to Drink Until Your Ass Bleeds
Hey, you rapidly decaying protoplasmic sacks of calcium and shit, my name is Dr Mona Moore. Obviously, that is not my real name, but I am a real doctor. Don’t feel bad for me, though, because it means I will always have a job, an apartment ten times bigger than yours, and the right to tell you what to do simply because I will always know better. Enjoy my column!
BOLLOCKS TO THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH - HOW TO DRINK YOURSELF TO A BLEEDING ARSE
I had my worst experience in the ER ever this week. I had to extract wads of bloody tissue from a homeless man’s anus after he plugged it to stop himself shitting on the streets. Every few minutes I made an excuse such as—I need more gloves—and ran to wretch with a gasp of fresh air.
I can smell true alcoholics before I see them. I’m not talking about your amateur weekend binge-drinkers; tequila-in-the eye, snorting-vodka, the ‘striving for oblivion’ contingent, or the middle-aged women who down three bottles of red wine a night after they put their kids to bed because they have no joy in their lives. This is the “I want to pickle my brain, bleed from my ass and lose any sense of coherent reality forever” group. They’re the really stinky fuckers. Like ass-wad man.
He drank so much he had scoured the inside of his stomach raw with ulcers, which were bleeding out so quickly it ran straight through the 6.5m of his gut, mixed with shit and leaked all over the street. His brain was so marinated in sweet dark rum that he was blissfully unaware of his own wretchedness. To be fair to him, he was a little embarrassed, which is why he had shoved toilet paper up his arse—a gesture of politeness not to leak in public.
There are a lot of alarming photographs in Will Zweigart’s Gmail inbox.
“I got a couple of New Year’s Eve photos that were way off the charts. They’d probably give PETA a heart attack,” he recalled. “Literally just like, huge lines of coke and the cats near them with bottles of champagne in the background. And, of course, the requisite 20- and 50-dollar bills.”
It only makes sense that people would send Zweigart that kind of photographic material. After all, he’s the creator of Ca$hcats.biz, the Internet’s one-stop shop for pictures of cats positioned near obscene displays of wealth. But the guy has standards—he passed on that New Year’s Eve cocaine party shot.
“I wanna be considerate of the other cats out there and not encourage bad behavior among the owners,” the 33-year old Brooklynite said in the accent of his native North Carolina. “I didn’t wanna call into question whether that was actually good for the cat’s welfare or not.”
Harry’s Freedom Foxhole: Let’s Get Naked
Back in the good old days—I mean the days when humans were basically just upright-standing apes roaming over the savannah eating root vegetables and dying very easily—everyone had sex outdoors. Having sex indoors was not an option, because there was no “indoors.” Also, you spent your entire life with the same small nomadic band and probably didn’t wear clothes, so it wasn’t a big deal to see a couple people fucking whenever the mood struck. But then came shame and religion and clothes and buildings and privacy and whatnot, and now everyone gets in a tizzy whenever you and a friend(s) want to feel the sun and wind on your genitals.
The latest crackdown on people’s perfectly natural desire to bang one another as our noble upright-standing ape ancestors did comes from Mazomanie, Wisconsin, where there’s been something of an epidemic of peoplebasically having a nonstop weed-fueled Midwestern-style fuckfest on the bucolic banks of a river. See, the state bought some land back in 1949, and it’s become a vacation destination for nudists thanks to its isolation and liberal prosecutors who don’t care if you want to dangle your sausage or parade your boobies on a private beach. The problem is, the nudists started going to the woods to fuck and smoke pot, and, amusingly, despite all kinds of efforts over the last 20 years—a Christian protest at the beach, a lawsuit, a proposed anti-nudity law, a ban on camping on the sandbar, a gate blocking cars from driving into the sexy, sexy woods—people still be gettin’ it on. In 2007, authorities closed off sections of the woods near the road and cut down brush to “eliminate cover,” and officers have started hiding themselves and using telescopes to look for “lewd behavior” like a bunch of perverts. Last year, in one nine-day period, cops made 42 arrests—26 for sex and 16 for drugs, apparently mostly pot.
The really funny thing about Wisconsin’s efforts to reduce the amount of semen coating its woodlands is it makes you wonder what is wrong with public nudity and fucking in forests in the first place. Standing outside someone’s window and jerking it, or flashing your junk to strange girls on the subway is a form of sexual assault, but two dudes standing quietly in the woods stroking each other? Who’s getting hurt by them, and what’s the public good of forcing them to get a room? Ruth Bender (who says of public sex, “I don’t know what fun they get out of that”) sued the state Department of Natural Resources to force people to put their darn clothes on because the al fresco fornication and nudity near her canoe-rental place was scaring away her customers, but it sounds like the problem was with her customers. What’re they saying, “Oh no, let’s not rent canoes there, we might see some titties”? Fucking pussies. If Ruth Bender was a real American entrepreneur she’d be selling tickets to a canoe tour of Wisconsin’s largest orgy.
HOW TO BREW YOUR OWN CHANG’AA AT HOME:
DISCLAIMER: Kangara (the brown, fizzy, fermented mixture kept in barrels) will probably kill you. The women who make this stuff are somehow immune to it and partially live off of it (as in, they eat it), but it is really not recommended, so just don’t do it. In fact, don’t follow this recipe whatsoever. You’re going to end up killing yourself or someone else—this is just for curiosity’s sake.
- 90 kg of maize flour
- 90 kg of millet flour
- 200 L of water
- 1 giant pan (at least
- 3 feet in diameter)
- 1 spade
- 1 enormous plastic barrel
- 20 kg of brown sugar
- Lots of firewood
- 40 L cauldrons
- 50 kg of white sugar
- 2 aluminum pots (one 10 L and one 15 L) per cauldron. The pots must fit in the mouth of your cauldron, one on top of the other.
- Banana leaves
- 5 L and 25 L plastic jugs for water and chang’aa
1. Mix one full bag of maize flour and one full bag of millet flour. Add 20 L of water. Mix the maize and millet flour into the water until it thickens. Scoop the paste out and put in the pan, and use the spade to flip and push the mixture across the pan to bake and dry it. It should have the consistency of really thick mashed potatoes and be cooked until it’s a burned brown color.
2. Take the remaining 180 L of water and pour it into the giant barrel. Move the millet/maize mix from the pan to the barrel of water. Next, add all 20 kg of brown sugar and stir. Make sure everything is under the water and perfectly mixed.
3. Seal the barrel and store it (usually in holes or shacks due to police harassment). Let it ferment for five days.
4. After five days, ignite fires under the cauldrons. The fermented mixture (kangara) can technically be ingested now, but it will probably kill you. Now it’s time to distill.
5. Take the kangara and add white sugar.
6. Divide the mixture into the giant black pots/cauldrons. Place the empty 10 L pot in the neck of the cauldron; this will catch the chang’aa. Put the 15 L second pot, filled with water, on top of the first pot to prevent the alcohol vapor from escaping. Then seal the entire thing with banana leaves.
7. When the water in the 15 L pot is heated, pour it into a waiting plastic jug for home use (laundry and showers). Refill the top pot every hour, and cook the whole thing for three hours.
8. After three hours, empty the bottom pot. If done correctly, you should now have 10 L of quality chang’aa! The kangara can be reused two to three times by letting it stand for three days and adding more sugar. Its alcohol content is 70–90 percent, depending on the cook and recipe, so invite a few of your hard-drinking friends over, serve them a few rounds of banana beer, and show them that they know absolutely nothing about alcoholism.