Meet Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, the Real-Life Dumbledore Behind the World’s Only Wizarding Academy
To anyone who grew up in the Harry Potter era, trawling the internet for DIY Patronus instructions and haphazard “magic” scams, an online wizarding school might sound dubious, at best. But there is, in fact, a place where that pesky line between reality and fantasy doesn’t exist—it’s a school, mostly online but with real-life components, where students can realize their wizarding potential. And it’s totally serious. The Grey School of Wizardry, run by headmaster, founder, and pointy-crushed-velvet-hat-wearer Oberon “Otter” Zell-Ravenheart, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Sonoma County, California, and the world’s only registered wizarding academy.
The Grey School isn’t a piddling gimmick. It’s an establishment with a ten-year history, 650 students across the world, and 450 classes taught by several dozen teachers in 16 departments: Alchemy & Magickal Sciences, Beast Mastery, Dark Arts, Psychic Arts, Divination, Wizardry, Wortcunning, and “Mathemagicks,” to name a few. Students between the ages of 11 and 17 are sorted into four houses—Gnomes, Salamanders, Sylphs, and Undines—while adults are sorted into lodges, each with its own faculty head and student prefects. Beyond classes, the Grey School has clubs, merit systems, a student newspaper (Grey Matters), and hosts IRL summer camps called “conclaves” around the US.
Reasons Why Austin Is the Worst Place Ever
I am a resident of Austin, Texas.
Perhaps you’ve heard of us. We seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately. Everyone’s investing in Austin, everyone’s excited about Austin. It’s the live music capital of the world, it’s on the cover of travel magazines, business magazines, and food magazines. It’s simply the place to be.
Well, fuck that. I’ve lived in Austin long enough to know that this city can drive you fucking crazy. It’s a sweltering, congested sub-metropolis full of slack-asses and yuppies who simultaneously take themselves too seriously and not seriously enough. It’s a place where spending $11 on a sandwich is considered a societal good. It’s a place where entitled people claim ownership on everything.
Austin is a place where bad people move. People in Austin actually believe they invented the breakfast taco. People in Austin will tell a Mexican family who has lived on the same street for generations that they’re doing their best to “save the neighborhood.”
If that’s not enough, here are some more reasons Austin sucks.
The Yuppiness Is so Chronic it Borders on Self-Parody
The following is an actual exchange I had with somebody in Austin not too long ago:
“We have to go to that place, they have whiskey-infused bacon!”
“Whiskey-infused bacon! That’s so cool!”
“But like why? Why is that cool? How is that more than just a thing? Why should I be excited that some dude made bacon and left it in a bottle of whiskey?”
“Come on, don’t be a party pooper.”
There are so many “crazy” and “awesome” things in Austin! The taco cannon! The moustache competition! The pun-off! Everyone is really excited about all of these things. People are very excited to see horribly self-involved white people tell puns at a bar. That’s something you do in Austin, that’s part of the scene. Why do you go to the pun-off? Because it fits a certain collection of circumstances and idealized cultural values that supposedly makes Austin what it is. By virtue of its own perceived audacity, a pun-off, whiskey-infused bacon, or a ratball bad taco somehow becomes really cool.
But you’re not keeping Austin weird. You’re engaging in this fake, utterly distasteful blend of irony and feigned enthusiasm that will eventually cause the city to self-implode under the density of its own facetiousness. Soon you won’t be able to identify a single genuine emotion within its borders. You don’t actually care about whiskey-infused bacon. You don’t give a shit about whiskey-infused bacon. You’re pretending to, because that’s what keeps the whole city from feeling like a big lie.
Wanna Get Gay Married in Oklahoma? Be Part Indian
So the state of Oklahoma won’t let gays get married? Pfft. Technicality.
On October 10, 2013, Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear were issued a marriage license by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe’s courthouse. Both Jason and Darren have Native American heritage, one of their tribal court’s requirements. Additionally, the couple must live within the jurisdiction of the issuing tribe. Even though the tribe’s courthouse is located on Oklahoma land, because of its status as a sovereign territory, it isn’t subject to state law.
Many of the media outlets covering Darren and Jason’s story are making it sound as if the couple of nearly a decade set out to put one over on the Sooner State, reducing the legality of their union to a “loophole.” They didn’t. They just wanted to get married. Imagine that.
A spokesperson for Mary Fallin, the state’s Republican governor, was quick to clarify that Pickel and Black Bear will continue to be treated as any other homosexual couple married out of state. In an email to the LA Times
, she wrote, “They are not recognized by the state of Oklahoma.”
In 2004, a whopping 76 percent
of Oklahoma citizens voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The Cheyenne Arapaho Tribe’s definition of marriage, however, doesn’t specify gender requirements. The council doesn’t award marriage certificates to males and females, but to “Indians.”
So what does this mean for gay people in Oklahoma? Well, it doesn’t mean too much unless you happen to be engaged to a Native American whose tribe administers same-sex marriage licenses. The Black Bears’ situation (Jason plans on taking Darren’s last name) is the latest reminder to all of our DOMA-minded friends that the movement for marriage equality is not going anywhere. Right now, it might be relegated to certain states and Native American tribes, but it’s coming.
VICE: So you guys found the loophole in Oklahoma, huh?
Jason Pickel: No! I keep telling reporters to stop saying loophole. We didn’t find a loophole in Oklahoma. Technically, we’re not even getting married in the state of Oklahoma. I think, in general, a lot of Americans don’t understand the concept of a sovereign nation. It’s not a state; it’s a territory. [The reservation]’s just like DC: it’s not part of Virginia; it’s its own place.
Darren Black Bear: We were getting married so I could get Jason on my insurance. That’s what this began as. It morphed and grew, and turned into a wedding. It went from the Gayly to our tribal paper, then to KOCO-5, then to… the world. It’s crazy how it grew.
Has anything like this happened before?
Jason: Actually we’re the third Native American couple [from the tribe] to be issued a same-sex marriage license. They just didn’t really want to be public and that’s fine. I met them for the first time yesterday.
We’re giving away tickets to see Lena Dunham and David Sedaris on November 19 at Carnegie Hall. Want a pair? Just RT this tweet and you’ll be entered to win.
Tinder and Grindr Users See Some Crazy Shit
Too Good to Be True
It was November of last year, so it was at the very beginning of my Tinder experience, and I had found a guy who seemed incredible. Perhaps too good to be true. He was a pro golfer, born and raised in Switzerland, he came over to Canada and went to school on a full scholarship, and was just killing it running his own business. He was incredibly ambitious and really good-looking, and we hit it off right away.
We ended up meeting up on a Thursday night for some drinks and dinner. That Wednesday I had actually gotten into a pretty serious car accident. I’m fine but the car was totaled. I was really shook up that day but thought maybe the date would cheer me up.
While we were on our way to the restaurant I started explaining to him that I had been in a car accident, so he starts trying to relate to me with his car issues. He tells me he’s had 19 speeding tickets, he’s been arrested twice, and he pays over $900 a month in insurance. I knew right off the bat this was a red flag.
While we were out at a sushi restaurant he just suddenly looked up from his food and said, “You’re so pretty, you’re probably the prettiest Filipino I’ve ever met.” I actually spit out my drink, because I am the farthest thing from Filipino. I’m very white, and probably look more Italian or Jewish, but certainly not Filipino. I actually had to Google “Filipino” on my phone and show it to him so he could understand how wrong he was.
At this point I was just enjoying the entertainment value of the date, so I agreed to a drink after dinner, and we headed over to an Irish Pub downtown. While we were having a drink he started talking about religion, which is a subject I try to avoid on first dates whenever possible, but he brought it up, so I told him I was pretty much an atheist and don’t really practice anything. He said, “That’s interesting, I’m part of the Illuminati.” He goes on to tell me about how his grandfather has all the secrets of the world and all these conspiracy theories that he’s aware of.
It became pretty obvious at this point that this guy was a pathological liar and that most of his profile was made up. I doubt he’s a pro golfer or a small business owner or that he’s ever lived in Switzerland.
So I told him I was really tired and needed to go home, and he dropped me off back at my place. At the end of the date he went in for the kiss, and I went for a hug. I’ve never heard from him since.
More Tinder/Grindr nightmares
Moscow Is a Paradise
Sasha Mademuaselle's favorite city is Moscow, which isn't all that surprising given it's where she was born and raised. Sasha says that what she particularly loves about her hometown is “the freedom the youth have,” which—considering the recent news aboutPutin viciously restricting freedoms for young people—was kind of surprising.
Still, her photos are great, so we’ll just excuse that last part as narrative license and enjoy all the naked people, dinosaurs, and creepy tattoos instead.
Come On, Get Lonely
Some of our favorite lady artists are going to be in a group show tonight at Martos gallery in Chelsea. The show, titled Lonely Girl, got its name from the YouTube web seriesLonelyGirl15, which trolled the entire internet in 2006 by presenting a scripted show disguised as a teenage girl’s video diary. All of the girls in tonight’s show incorporate the internet into their work in some way, and many of the artists themselves have the sort of gargantuan digital footprint that the NSA dreams about in their sloppiest of wet dreams. According to the press release, “The artists in this show represent an unprecedented moment in cultural history—where the artist themselves can be equally or sometimes more visible than their artworks themselves.”
The show was organized by Asher Penn, the editor of Sex magazine, and features Al Baio, Petra Cortright, Maggie Lee, Greem Jellyfish, Bunny Rogers, Analisa Teachworth, and Amalia Ulman. You might recognize a couple of those names from this very website. Maggie Lee, for instance, has shot four magazine covers for us, which gives her the honor of Most VICE Covers Shot by a Single Photographer (probably…. we’ve never actually counted). And Petra is a crazy person who makes videos like thisand was once the object of Teen Laqueefa’s lust. We asked Maggie to send us some photos of the show, but it seems they are doing this thing the old fashioned way and keeping all images of it off the internet, which seems a tad hypocrytical for a show that is at least partially inspired by the internet, but whatever. Just show up at 540 West 29 Street IRL tonight anytime between 6:00 and 8:00 PM and have your brain scrambled.