I Spent a Day Exploring Gwyneth Paltrow’s Los Angeles
Early last week, owner of a cursed vagina and mother of Gwyneth Paltrow, Blythe Danner, said that she felt criticism of her daughter was unfair and fueled by jealousy. Speaking to something called Naughty But Nice Rob, Blythe said, “I feel she’s just extraordinarily accomplished in every area and people don’t like that, some people don’t like that, people who are bored and sit on their asses all day and just tap away. I mean I don’t read any of it, I just find it so disgusting.”
My gut feeling was that Blythe’s words were bullshit, and any animosity toward Gwyneth is justified. But I couldn’t think of any specific reasons that I disliked her.
As Einstein or Shakespeare or someone once said, “don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” So, in order to better understand Gwyneth and whether or not my feelings of pure hatred toward her were warranted or not, I decided to spend a day walking in hers. Not literally, obviously. A pair of her shoes probably costs more than I will spend on clothing over the course of my entire life.
Luckily, Gwyneth recently launched something called the Goop City Guides app. Goop, for the unfamiliar, is a lifestyle brand Gwyneth made, seemingly with the intention of rubbing her own charmed existence into the face of anyone who signed up for her weekly mailing lists in the hopes that it would be ridiculous enough to be funny. It never is.
The most recent edition to the Goop empire is the app, which lists all of Gwyn’s favorite spots in Los Angeles, London, and New York. As I’m currently in Los Angeles, I decided to see what she’d recommended here.
The LA section of the app has an introductory video, narrated by Gwyneth, welcoming you to Los Angeles, a place she refers to as, “the city of my birth, the city I always return to and will forever hold a special place in my heart.” As she says this, we see dreamy, sun-bleached shots of the palm trees, florists and markets that populate Gwyneth’s Los Angeles, and none of the homeless people, garbage, and wall-poops that populate mine and everybody else’s.
Eat Meat with Your Hands Like God Intended
One of the most eagerly anticipated culinary events of the year in Los Angeles is Beefsteak. Organized by Tim & Eric's Eric Wareheim, Cort Cass, and Matt Selman, Beefsteak is a throwback to all-you-can-eat soirees from the 19th century. Men from all walks of life would gather in a beer hall or other large event space to consume massive amounts of beef, drink beer, and carouse.
The tradition fell out of favor in the middle of the last century, but Wareheim and company (along with noted chef Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD fame) sought to revive the practice for the modern era, while adding an element of philanthropy. All proceeds from the invite-only event go to the LA Food Bank, which seeks to end hunger in the Los Angeles area.
We assembled early for cocktails at the venue, Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. We were greeted by a genial balloon maker who promised to make me a hat in the shape of a cow. The cow is, of course, the animal the Lord commanded us to eat with great joy and gratitude. I wasn’t sure about this balloon maker’s credentials, but fortunately, I came to see that I was in good hands.
An Interview with the World’s Greatest Kim Jong-un Impersonator
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that’s true, the antics of one Hong Kong resident should be making North Korea’s babyfaced Supreme Leader’s head swell even wider than its default bulbous size. Since landing a deal to star as Kim Jong-un in an ad for Israeli hamburger chain, Burger Ranch, earlier this year, a Hong Kong-born Australian named Howard has been carving out a side career as a professional Kim lookalike.
Howard, who, by day, is a jobbing music producer and band booker, doesn’t give his last name publicly. Which is probably wise, considering North Korea historically has a bit of a penchant for abducting foreign nationals who’ve wronged them in some way, before trapping them there indefinitely. But after getting his break in the burger ad—in which he launches a nuke at Washington DC to show his disdain for McDonald’s, before eating an Israeli Burger Ranch patty and declaring: “How can I send the Israelis to hell with such a taste from heaven?”—global interview requests have been pouring in.
Howard agreed to give me his first proper interview to discuss how all this came about.
VICE: Hi Howard. When did you first realize you strongly resembled one of the world’s most famous tyrants?
Howard: When he first came on the scene, just before his dad Kim Jong-il introduced him and promoted him to the head of the army or something. I thought, Man, that’s my face. Apart from that, I didn’t think too much about it. Then a few people pointed it out and I thought about impersonators elsewhere making cash, and realized I could do that, too.
How did you make the world aware of your uncanny similarity?
I got that stupid haircut—it’s fucking horrible—and I already owned one of those Mao suits. Back in 1997, I wore it for the Hong Kong handover parties. Also, I’ve got his body shape and I eat a lot so I’ve got a double chin—no need for props. I took some photos, uploaded them to Facebook, and an Israeli production house found me. They were producing a commercial for the competitor of McDonald’s, Burger Ranch.
I’ve seen the ad on YouTube—it’s a fine debut performance. Can you explain your part for people who aren’t familiar with it?
They specialize in kosher burgers for Orthodox Jews who don’t eat meat with cheese. The night before my shoot, they hired the best Barack Obama impersonator, called Reggie Brown, [who made another video in the series about] how the president has one of McDonald’s “Big America” burgers, which is a one-inch-thick meat patty. My role was to say, “Fuck you, Obama, we’ve got the better burgers at Burger Ranch.” And I blow him up.
Exploring the Depressing House of Michael Jackson’s Disgraced Dermatologist
Having visited a handful of them (and never, mind you, under positive circumstances), I can confidently state that the homes of Hollywood’s countless hangers-on are all the same. The following ratio, seemingly without exception, dictates the dispersion of their possessions: 60% sun-bleached photos of them with former celebrities, usually dating from the 1980s and 1990s; 10% formerly modern furniture, usually dating from the 1980s and 1990s; 10% formerly modern art, usually created by equally sycophantic succubi like Andy Warhol and David LaChapelle in the 1980s and 1990s; and 20% what can kindly be described as “complete and utter fucking garbage,” usually acquired in the late 1990s (what I like to call the “wild card.”)
The wares currently being peddled at the bankruptcy-forced estate sale of Dr. Arnold Klein, much-maligned former dermatologist to the stars, are no exception to this rule.
In happier times, Liz Taylor, Cher, Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga and, rather infamously, Michael Jackson were regulars at his Beverly Hills practice; a solid decade of lawsuits, criminal investigations, and embarrassing press appearances, however, have irreparably tarnished the legacy of the man once hailed as the “Father of Botox.” Miscellaneous effects from the estate of the good bad doctor, infamous enough to have his own “Saga” page on TMZ’s website, are shamelessly being hawked in his seized Hancock Park mansion through Saturday.
In order to enter the house, which is currently in shambles and in escrow (its listing describes it as a “rare yet tarnished treasure”), I had to sign a waiver. The company putting on the sale (probably rightfully) feared I’d fall into a gaping, construction-related hole and decide to get litigious. I understand their desire to cover their own asses; those unfortunate enough to still be affiliated with Klein already have enough problems.
How to Structure Your Life: A Review of Corey Feldman’s Biography, ‘Coreyography’
I think I can learn a lot from Corey Feldman’s autobiography, Coreyography. He was a child star in the 80s who was pushed into acting by his parents. His mother was a former Playboy bunny at one of the clubs, and his father was a struggling musician. Once Corey started booking commercials at age three, he became the family’s breadwinner; with that came a host of unfair responsibilities for the young Corey, which seems to have warped his perspective on his place in the world and his relationship to filmmaking; it must be hard to shake that feeling importance. He was, like all child actors, working in a professional environment filled with and designed for adults—having to play child characters but performing a job that required the stamina and perspective of the adults who worked alongside him.
Because he was the major earner for his family, the pressure for him to continue working was extraordinarly—abusively—high: he was beaten with belts and wooden dowels if he didn’t perform well in school (bad grades would prevent him from getting a work permit), if he ate too much (his mom had an obsession with his weight), or if he didn’t book jobs or had problems on the set. As a child, Corey was in some of the most important movies of the 80s, Stand by Me,The Goonies, The Lost Boys (the first of the contemporary teenage vampire projects—decades before Twilight). And he was part of the pop phenomenon “the Two Coreys,” alongside Corey Haim, and was a close friend to Michael Jackson; Corey was at the center of most of the popular youth projects and events of the era. By tracking his story, one gets to a peak behind the scenes of many of the projects that shaped the culture of my generation.
Spring Break: A Fever Dream, by James Franco
Image by Courtney Nicholas
Here’s the end of it all, and I’ll tell you why: because there will never be a movie or a character that is more important for this age than Spring Breakers and its protagonist Alien. As Harmony Korine’s friend Werner Herzog said to me on the phone call of all phone calls—I was out in North Carolina, sitting in a little Mexican restaurant called Cocula that I frequent on my lunch breaks from the low-residency writing MFA program at Warren Wilson College, just staring out the window that’s frosted over with a map of Mexico, at the dirty field across the roadway—when he told me that my performance in the film made De Niro in Taxi Driver look like a kindergartener, and that the film was the most important film of the decade. Imagine in a distinct German accent: “Three hundred years from now, when people want to look back at dis time, dey won’t go to the Obama inauguration speech, dey will go to Spring Breakers.”
I can’t even take credit for Alien. He is Harmony’s. As he says, Alien is a gangster mystic. A clown, a killer, a lover: the spirit of the age. Riff Raff wants to take credit for this creation, but that simplifies it. It is like Neal Cassady laying claim to Jack Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty, which isn’t a great comparison because Kerouac was transparently and literally writing about Neal. Alien undermines all. He’s a gangster who deep-throats automatic weapons as well as Linda Lovelace would. He’s the guru of the age. He’s what you would get if you got every damn material thing you ever wanted and then relished in the realization that you don’t have a use for any of it. So you make one up. “Bring it on, little bitches, come to me, little bitches… We didn’t create this sensitive monster, y’all did. Look at his shit, that’s what y’all are working fo yo’selves.”
Film Bloggers Have Better Lives Than You
Hey, I’m not sure if you guys know how The Media works, but when film companies have new movies out, they send people who write about films on these all-expenses-paid mini vacations themed around the movie so that they’ll write about it and “generate buzz.”
I get offered these sometimes but generally turn them down. This is because I don’t like many things, and as a lame mom who doesn’t believe in criticism (and therefore progress) once said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
But recently someone got in touch to see if I wanted to fly with Johnny Knoxville on a private jet to Vegas and watch Bad Grandpa. As a firm believer that genitalia, farting, and people falling over will never, ever stop being funny, I’m a big fan of “the Jackass guys,” as fans call them, so I figured this would be a great trip to write about.
Also I can’t afford a vacation this year. So here’s how my free trip to Vegas went. Enjoy!
This is the private jet we took from Los Angeles to Vegas. I’d never been on a “PJ” before (and presumably never will again). I assume you’ve never been on a private jet either (you fucking loser), so here’s a couple of differences between a PJ and a regular plane:
I assume it differs from company to company, but with the private jet company we flew with, this was the type of coffee we got.
The thought of some corporate drone chuckling to themselves as they ordered this out of the office supply catalog made me happy.
And this is what a private jet meal looks like, a.k.a. what I’m assuming 90 percent of the things Jay-Z eats look like.
Why Are People Surprised by Racist Halloween Costumes?
Welcome to a special Halloween edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking Halloween costumes on a scale of 1 to RACIST, with “1” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.
-This might come as a major shock to you, but wearing racially insensitive Halloween costumes is pretty popular. Blogs got their digital panties in a twist in 2012, 2011, 2010,2009, and pretty much every year that the internet has existed as a perpetual outrage machine. Halloween is like Christmas for racists, because it’s an easy way to cloak bigotry in the guise of fun.
It should be no surprise, then that Julianne Hough’s foray into the darker side of the holiday (pun very much intended) generated a ton of attention this week for her choice of costume. Bloggers slammed her for insensitivity, and friends came out in support of her choice to dress up like an African-American character from Orange is the New Black. I don’t imagine she’s a hateful person, nor do I think she was out to offend. That said, as a celebrity (even a reality star) who happens to be white, it’s definitely not wise to step out in public with a bunch of brown paint on your face… unless you’re going as a delicious piece of semi-sweet baking chocolate, which is such a great idea. Seriously, you can have that for free. 5
Reviewing Celebrity Wine
Wine crafted by celebrities is a rampant trend. It’s in liquor cabinets across America. It’s showboating at your local wine shop. The celebrity wine industry is approximately worth$50 million in the US alone, with over several hundred celebrities “making” wine. While their involvement spans from a direct hand in the process to straight up eponymous endorsements, everyone from Antonio Banderas to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Emilio Estevez, Francis Ford Coppola, to Fergie, are cashing in on the wine scene.
We wanted to fall off the wagon with some of these celebrities, so we organized a proper wine tasting. Rather than getting lost in the sauce—with eight bottles of celebrity wines—we called in some help from rapper Sadat X and his producer, Will Tell, known for their shared passion of wine drinking that’s best displayed in their YouTube show, True Wine Connoisseurs. Each episode begins with Sadat X drinking the “brown water” (a.k.a. Hennessey), moving onto drinking and reviewing a wine hand picked by Will Tell. By the end of the show, there’s a rap summation of Sadat’s thoughts on the bottle of choice, paired with any off-the-cuff idea that’s trickling through his mind while the camera’s running. Beyond Will Tell’s hand as musical producer and sommelier for Sadat’s wine-y episodes, he recently produced the True Wine Connoisseurs’ Planet of the Grapes, the first hip-hop wine album in history. The True Wine Connoisseurs crew is even hitchhiking on the celebrity wine bus. Paired up with Club W and Winebow, the connoisseurs have created their True Wine Connoisseur red wine, a Syrah-based California red that will be released on December 1.
Without further ado, here’s your Botox-free True Wine Connoisseurs bible on celebrity wine drinking that includes the presence of musicians Rick Ross, Dave Matthews, Train, actor Drew Barrymore, sportscaster Jim Nantz, and tattoo artist/husband of actor Lake Bell, Scott Campbell.
Rick Ross presents Luc Belaire, Provence, FR, Sparkling Rosé, ($33)
Will Tell: I would actually drink this. Rosé season is over, but I would chill with this on a hot summer day. I’m getting cherry and a lot of flavors. It’s a little dry—it’s a brut.
Where You Should Drink This
Sadat X: This is something I would drink with my lady somewhere. It’s got that type of feeling, ‘cause it’s only gonna take about one and a half of these, and whatever happens, happens.
Will: I give it a smooth six.
Drew Barrymore, Barrymore Wines, Triveneto, Italy, 2011 Pinot Grigio, $17.
Will: There’s not much of a nose on this. I get a little bit of grassy flavors, and the color is even a little bit green.
Sadat: This is feeling like a PTA meeting to me. This is like when the moms get together in the afternoon when the kids are at school. You drink it between 11 AM and 3 PM before the school bus comes home with the kids. You might want to drink this with an ice cube. I wouldn’t bring this into the studio, but if there was a blizzard outside and we had already finished drinking something else and this was lying around, we’d probably drink it. It’s that “this is all I got left,” type of situation, but I still love Drew Barrymore’s other work. Fucked-up Factor
Sadat: If someone who is drinking this went really overboard with it, they’d probably wake up with a mind-splitting headache. I would give this about a strong five or a six.
The Bill and Ted Show at Universal Studios Is Super Homophobic (and Also Racist and Terrible)
Each year, Universal Studios Hollywood has a big Halloween event called Halloween Horror Nights. Part of this is a play called Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.
The play is about Bill and Ted going on some kind of pantomime-y Halloween adventure. Along the way, lots of jokes are made about things that have happened in pop culture over the preceding year.
I use the term “jokes” loosely here. As they are, generally, terrible, and follow the same formula: Pop cultural reference + pop cultural reference + a reference to sex = LOL!
For instance, there’s a scene where a Sharknado appears and Kim Jong Un comes on to the stage to explain that the Sharknado came into existence as a result of Kristen Stewart sucking his dick too hard. After he said this, the audience laughed. Unless I’m missing something, this is meant to be funny because:
1) It references Kristen Stewart
2) It references Kim Jong Un
3) It references sex
4) It references Sharknado