Asia, 25, Toronto - Marc Jacobs sweater, vintage shirt.
What do you do for a living?
I’m an artist.
How long has your bedroom been this messy?
The mess has a tendency to ebb and flow, depending on my mood. This is actually pretty tidy. I’m having a good week so far.
How far in advance do you plan to clean?
Sometimes when I come home drunk I clean, but by the time I wake up, it’s a mess again. I’m not sure how it happens. I don’t plan to live in a clean place until I can afford a French maid, so no, I don’t procrastinate.
Do you bring lovers into your place, and what do they think of the mess?
I bring boys home sometimes. If they complain I punish them.
Do you collect anything?
Yes. Rare and precious jewels. I accept donations.
Were you messy as a kid?
I’ve always been messy. My mom never cared, but it grossed my brother out because he’s a Virgo. My mom still doesn’t care that I live this way. My brother never comes over. I don’t mind though because he’s got cable at his place and pretty much always has food.
What would your parents say about your apartment now?
I make sure to look clean and pretty when I leave the house and I’m usually tidy when I make art.
What is your favorite item that you own, and are you worried about losing it in the mess?
My favorite item is a secret. I don’t want to say whether it’s hidden or not because I don’t want people snooping around when they come over.
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Trip Report: I Went to Lit… Sober!
This is not a picture of me at Lit. There are no pictures of me at Lit. People don’t take pictures of you when you’re boring. Photo by Nick Gazin
The Lit Lounge, if you aren’t from New York, is a leering black hole from which few memories escape intact. If the standard, workaday memory is already 50 percent confabulation, the average Lit memory is about eight frames of reality cobbled together by stains, visible regret, and thick strands of ropey vomit. It is not a bar for the light of weight, or early of work hours. Or the sober.
Having come off a bit of an excessive weekend/week/several weeks, I’ve decided to take it easy for a little while and let my body rebuild. Please though, I’m no hero. There are literally millions of boring humans on this planet whose boring lives do not require them to stew their livers and sinus cavities in a caustic broth of various poisons on a semi-nightly basis. They simply come home from work, pop in a House DVD for a few hours, then take their clothes and shoes off before they go to bed.
I’ve been more than happy to play tourist in this quaint little lifestyle for the past few days, but before my jaunt through sobriety I’d promised a friend of mine I would DJ this week with him at Lit. Before I could bail he put my name on a flyer, so by law I had to go. Again, I appreciate the sympathy, but there are literally hundreds of people who had to call their “drinking days” to an early end and still somehow manage to enjoy the festive camaraderie of barlife without a single sip of alcohol. I would merely be walking a few hours’ length in their arrow-straight footsteps. And besides, how eye-opening would it be to observe such a familiar social setting in the exact opposite state of mind as its participants? I mean that’s the whole reason we take acid, isn’t it?
Also not me. Photo by Nick Gazin
Here is how my “evening” went:
10:00 - Got in and ordered a club soda. Ordering a club soda means one of two things to a bartender: You are fighting against God’s will to quell a tidal wave of rising barf, or you are a former alcoholic. I don’t know which category they think I fall into because when I said “thanks” a burp came up and it sounded like “thaaaUNGHx.”
10:12 - People are just starting to fill in here and are probably on only their second or third drink. Every conversation I can hear sounds pretty articulate. There’s one short guy at the end of the bar who looks sort of like Charlie Day, same build too. He’s talking to the bartender. This is all normal stuff.
10:15 - Talking to two guys about conventional business, shit that happened during our day, Smiths lyrics, recent movies. One of them has a slight slur going, but this doesn’t put him at any perceptible advantage or disadvantage in the trialogue. He’s holding his own just fine. More importantly, neither of the two has sussed me out as sober.
10:20 to 11:10 - Time to DJ. I’d mistakenly thought this would be easier to do sober than wasted, but it was actually kind of nerve-racking. A lot of people will try to tell you various things that DJing “is,” like an art or important, but all of what DJing IS is playing songs that don’t make people throw glasses at you. That said, some of what DJing is is fucking up the volume or starting a new song too quickly (or at least when I do it) and some other of what DJing is is not giving a shit when that happens. Booze helps with this. At least it does when you’re a nervous pygmy shrew of a man who wears his regrets and embarrassments like a tween girl’s charm bracelet. Sorry if the gain was up too high on the Singaporean version of “Funny Funny.”
11:12 - The next DJ told me she “Really liked my set.” This seems suspicious.
11:15 - Bummed a cigarette to a British girl who liked the pin on my coat. Then we talked about what part of Brooklyn we’re each from, then how shitty it would be to have to be in a war, then how much worse it would have been to be in a war 500 years ago. Then the conversation was done and we stopped talking until we each went in. There was literally no more to say. I think she knew I wasn’t drunk.
11:20 - I had no clue the bathrooms here smelled like this. Someone should say something.
Girl Eats Placenta
When my very pregnant friend called recently to tell me that she had arranged for her placenta to be encapsulated and invited me to come watch the whole process, it was a dream come true. I had been passively bringing it up in conversation for nine months.
“I heard some ladies like to eat their placentas because it gives them nutrients that they would otherwise lose after giving birth.”
“Oh yeah, they’re like, really nutritious and shit…”
But while I talked confidently about the process with my friend, I had heard stories from other women about bureaucratic nightmares that required paying a coroner to transport the placenta from the hospital to a funeral home, and then convincing the funeral home to “release” the placenta to you, so you can take it back to your house and eat it. The people I had spoken with weren’t Canadian, though, and after doing a bit of research, I learned that our laws here are way more lax—taking your placenta home in Canada is as easy as putting it in a plastic bag and saying “bye”. Also, it helps to tell the hospital that it’s for religious purposes. Otherwise they’re all like, “???”
Women choose to consume their placentas, technically known as placentophagy, because giving birth is a painful, kooky process that tends to suck the life out of everyone who experiences it, and the placenta has a buttload of nutrients in it that some say can help curb postpartum depression. Pretty much all other mammals (except for camelids, but I mean, come on, look at them) eat their placentas in a bloody, gore-filled wrath as soon as their babies pop out.
My friend’s placenta, smiling for the camera.
As you can see, placentas are pretty much just as disgusting as any other animal by-product that you would come across in a grocery store. The first steps in preparing it for consumption, I learned, are to remove the umbilical cord and the membrane-sac thingy that held the baby in place, and then drain the veins of excess blood.
Boop. It smelled like metal and pussy.
Stacey, our chef and a former placenta curator from an Amazonian utopia, I’m pretty sure, said that even if the effect her capsules produced was only a placebo, the tedious process was still worth it because postpartum is such a debilitating experience to go through.
As a person who is no stranger to eating her own bodily fluids, it felt really nice to be able to speak with someone who didn’t give a fuck about consuming placentas. She was very knowledgeable and relaxed, with a no-bullshit attitude that made me want to spread the word about weird shit going on in the postnatal health world, even if it is borne out of my own novelty seeking.
Forget it, Jake, It’s the Chinatown Bus
This week, the Fung Wah bus company got shut down by the federal government after its buses failed safety inspections, which didn’t surprise anybody who had ever ridden on one. Fung Wah, like the other Chinatown bus lines, is not for those who want to have ordinary or particularly safe journeys. The drivers of these buses rarely speak English, act like they’re unfamiliar with speed limits, and make unscheduled stops for gas or to pick up passengers; the buses have been known to break down or leak gasoline; the companies are occasionally owned by criminal syndicates who set fire to their rivals’ buses. But these outfits provide a valuable service for people who don’t have cars and need to go between Boston, New York, Philadelphia, DC, and other eastern cities for cheap (an Amtrak ticket from Boston to New York is $71 while Fung Wah charged you $15). In honor of the crackdown on both the zaniness and the danger of one of the worst and best bus lines in America, we decided to compile some stories of traveling on Chinatown buses.
Illustrations by Sam Taylor. Follow him on Twitter @sptsam or visit his website at samtaylorillustrator.com
RIVER OF SHIT
I was going to DC, and right when I got on the bus, there was this real bad smell permeating everything—it smelled like shit, basically. I sat in the front to be as far away from it, ‘cause it was inescapable. They announced that the bathroom was out of order, so on top of dealing with the awful stench, no one could take a piss for the duration of the hours-long ride. The smell kept getting worse and worse, until it was stifling—it was all you could think about—and everyone was complaining and putting their hands over their mouths, but what could they do? Near the end of the ride, this poop-colored fluid starting leaking out of the closed bathroom door and trickling down the aisle, real slowly, until it was near the front. We had to pick our bags up off the floor to avoid getting shit and God knows what else on them.
I was living in Boston and my plan was to go to a Halloween party in Brooklyn, so what better way to get there than taking the Fung Wah the day of the event? I’d ridden that bus like 100 times by then and never had any problems. It was always lightning-fast, too. This ride, on the other hand, was ten hours of hell thanks to the horrific amount of traffic. And the driver never got off the freeway to stop. Everyone was in costume, and by hour seven, when we knew we were still a long ways away from NYC, it had turned nightmarish. I recall an enormous black woman in pink mesh who looked like she was going to shit herself and have a heart attack at the same time—she was sweating and moaning and the sweat made it look like she was crying glitter. A couple dressed as bacon and eggs near the front of the bus started arguing about which party to go to now that there was no way they’d be able to go to both of the ones they had planned to attend—it was like watching a Raymond Carver short story unfold before my eyes. A guy who I can only describe as thug-plus-Dracula was smoking cigarettes in the bathroom. Everyone was on their phones going, “I don’t know when we’ll get there.” People started asking the driver what our ETA was like he’s a fucking pilot or something, like he knows, like he isn’t just an irritable Chinese man on an ephedrine binge who has probably already done this trip twice today. He started screaming at people, telling them to calm down. It was pandemonium. Being trapped on the Fung Wah for nearly half a day will rip you apart mentally. By the end of it I was so delirious I could hardly speak.
YouTube sensation Shoenice22 has spent the last two years eating and drinking everything from sticks of deodorant, to tampons, to full bottles of grain alcohol. He’s a grown up and more self-destructive version of that weird kid at camp who would eat worms for attention.
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Fashion Week Sucks Balls
Thanks to my job, I’ve been going to various fashion weeks for a few years now. Usually, when friends find out I’m going, they start begging for invites and guestlist spots for parties and free goodie bags (or something—I’ve pretty much stopped listening). This is because everyone is an idiot, and you have been lied to about fashion week. Fashion week sucks balls.
Here’s what happens at a fashion week:
As you approach the Lincoln Center (where the main NYFW events takes place), a terrifying, dark desperation hangs in the air. Dozens of photographers wait outside the door, hungrily looking from person to person, hoping to see either a celebrity, or someone with a bloggable outfit that they can photograph.
Though there are close to 100 different photographers there, they’re not shooting for anyone you’ve ever heard of. They all “work” for “online magazines” that have “.blogspot.com” in their URL. You will see the above scene (a woman, who is probably a fashion student, being mobbed because she’s wearing a “funky hat”) play out multiple times.
Once inside, you join some kind of line, which you will be in for a very long time. And it’s not like some relaxed Space Mountain line, either. Fashion people are fucking INTENSE. There are different line-heirachies, which leads to a lot of shoving and shouting (especially if you’re in the plebe’s line, like I always am).
Obv most stereotypes about groups of people are untrue (JK), but everything you’ve ever heard about fashion people is correct. Zoolander is pretty much a documentary.
At one show, I was stuck in a line behind two girls who had a 13-minute debate (I timed it) about whether or not to eat a free sample of yogurt covered pretzel (they decided to not eat the pretzel, but take a three mile run the next morning anyways, phew!).
Also, this is an actual conversation I overheard in another line:
Girl: You should have a theme party!
Boy: Eugh, I would love to, but I can’t really do parties.
Girl: Why not?
Boy: It’s just that I have too many friends. I couldn’t invite everyone, it would be impossible. And I hate excluding people.
Girl: That sucks.
Boy: Yeah, it really bums me out.
There’s something a little upsetting about being around fashion people, too. Does the thought of this kid staying up all night hot gluing feathers to his shoes make anyone else wanna cry?
Also, Mercedes sponsored the main event space, so this car was positioned at the entrance. Which made me think of some car crash pictures I saw on Reddit a few days ago (don’t click that link if you ever want to relax in a car ever again, btw), so I spent a lot of my time at fashion week thinking about being trapped inside that car as it burned and having panic attacks.
Anyway, Fascinating Fashion Week Fact: Over 100 percent of shows at NYFW used that one Grimes songas the soundtrack.
I had no idea it took so much equipment to play a Grimes song, though. Who knew DJing was so complicated!
If you’re lucky, the event you’re at will have free drinks. Usually made by a mixologist who has been hired to mask the taste of whatever, recently-launched-and-destined-to-fail booze brand is sponsoring the event.
Also, that is the tallest man in America. I’m not sure why he was at fashion week. Maybe he’d been hired to add some excitement to the crowd? At the show where I saw him, he was hanging with a high-fashion dwarf, a guy with 100s of facial piercings, and a furry. It was like being at a casting for a P!nk music video.
This Guy Wants to Start His Own Aryan Country
You know who really gets the shitty end of the stick nowadays? White people. Sure, they come out best in socio-economic standings and suffer absolutely no persecution for the color of their skin, but they have to put up with non-white people living peacefully among them and going about with their lives. That’s just wrong. This injustice needs to be righted before black people, Mexicans, and Asians start getting uppity and trying to buy cars, run businesses, and all of that other evil stuff.
The Northwest Front feels the same way. They claim to be a movement tired of political corruption and “the genocide of the white race” (clearly a real issue since white people are 72 percent of the US population). The group is dedicated to breaking away and forming their own all-white state in the Pacific Northwest. As far as I know, the only thing on the radio over there is Ted Nugent.
At first it seemed like a legitimate movement, but after spending some time on the site, I kept noticing the name Harold Covington on all the blog posts, podcasts, and videos. Harold, it turns out, is a writer who has released five novels set in the American Northwest’s white-only future. That’s when I started to realize that anyone can set up a website, write a few blogs, and record a podcast. So what if this is some bizarre marketing ploy for Covington’s books? All press is good press, apparently. Even if it’s for being all kinds of deluded, disgusting, and racist. I called Harold to get some answers.
A promotional poster for Harold’s as yet non-existent Aryan nation, the Northwest Front.
VICE: So Harold, was this idea of a sovereign, Northwest state an invention for your novels?
Harold Covington: No, I didn’t invent the idea of Northwest migration by any means. There was a very serious move for a separate state of Jefferson in the 1940s, which was going to be taken out of California. Even back then, white people were sick of that shower of shit down in Los Angeles and Sacramento.
So what’s the point of this new country? Why don’t you just move to Scandinavia if you want to be surrounded by white people?
What we advocate is basically the establishment of a sovereign, independent nation in the Pacific Northwest as a homeland for all white people. Kind of like the white version of Israel. I don’t see why the Jews are the only people on Earth that get their own country and everyone else has to be diverse.
Yeah, it’s so unfair. They’ve had such an easy time of it so far. Why do you think it’s so important for white people to have their own country?
It’s kind of like reintroducing wolves into nature. The wolves have to have a habitat and the white man has to have a habitat. We need a piece of turf where we can raise several more generations in security and safety without all this corrupting crap that liberal democracy has produced over the past 100 years.
The Golden Age of the Cockroach
Every era in art has a new favored subject. The Etruscans looked to Hercules; painters of the Renaissance reenvisioned the Bible; the American Ashcan School rendered sensitive tableaus of poor urban life; and the later half of the 20th century, dominated by the PoMo-ism of downtown NYC, crowned a new king, the cockroach, which was not only an available resource, but a stand-in for the artist—a heroic outcast, thriving in the ruins of civilization.
The oeuvre of the cockroach is best understood as a series of distinct ages that, in turn, comprise a whole. During the Reformation, the cockroach was reconsidered; the Enlightenment percieved the cockroach as potentially “divine”; the Golden Age saw the pinnacle of the discipline; the Silver Age was consumed by celebrity; the Bronze Age refigured the subject as metaphor and victim; the Age of Decline represented the subject in absentia and/or in parts. As far as I can tell, no one has completed, or even attempted, to survey the cockroach’s place in the art world, so consider this seven-part piece that examines an artistic era that scuttled by so quickly, hardly anyone even noticed it.
Ed Rushca, Cockroaches (1972). Photo courtesy Bukowskis Auktionhouse, Stockholm
The cockroach of antiquity and the Middle Ages lived in a cultural darkness—cockroaches were no better off than peasants, their teeming masses obscure, despised, and considered unworthy as a subject of art. Emerging from this age of katsaridaphobia, the 20th-century cockroach made a halting entry into popular culture. Its first notable foray into modern consciousness came with Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” though it must be remembered that not until the 21st century was the original German word ungeziefer consistently translated as “cockroach,” a term which may well be an anachronistic liberty. Gregor Samsa is not explicitly referred to as a cockroach in the original text, and Vladimir Nabokov, a lepidopterist as well as an author and literary critic, believed that Gregor was, technically, “a big beetle.” Nabokov’s argument focused on the wings that Gregor never realized he had, which brings us back to the roach, who is even less disposed to use his wings than the beetle; if Gregor is indeed a cockroach, it is not so much that he doesn’t know he can fly, it’s that he doesn’t want to.
Bear this in mind as we consider the Reformation era of the cockroach, which begins post–World War II. The quiet, peace-loving bug, wanting nothing more than a warm place and some privacy in a tight crevice, found a new nest within the American domicile: the television cabinet (as it was then known). A boom in electronics provided abundant habitat for the roaches, whose numbers, via human population density, were already on the rise. The cockroach, equated in wartime with fascists and occasionally with communists, became a cohabitant of the ordinary American, and the generation that grew up eye to eye with the cockroach viewed the creature with a revulsion tempered by sympatico fondness.
In the early 1950s, Andy Warhol, then living in an East Village apartment, unzipped his portfolio for a Madison Avenue art director, to have a cockroach leap out. This story—possibly somewhat true—is indicative of the arrival of the downtown scene: The artist (i.e., the cockroach) lived downtown but went uptown to become something celebrated. In 1959 William Burroughs extended the metaphor: The cockroach of Naked Lunchserved as guiding spirit and muse. In 1962 Leonard Baskin softened the harsh popular conception of the cockroach with his Rorschachesque illustrative style in Creatures of Darkness. By 1964 the artist was literally represented as the cockroach—George Kuchar’s 8mm film The Lovers of Eternity features a gigantic roach as a central figure in the bohemian gambol.
Panels from Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
In the Age of Enlightenment—which roughly corresponds with the Age of Aquarius in the human world—the cockroach becomes more than an analog of the artist experience. Jim Carroll, who performed with cockroaches in the late 60s and exhaustively recounted their presence in his memoirs, tortured captive roaches to appeal to the sadism of his audiences while simultaneously seeking to reject arty pretension. Throughout the 60s, the roach was normatively seen as something to fear—as in the cat-tormenting roach armies of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers—but the roach is also a curiously hapless underdog. One can’t help but root for those comix legions of roaches; they’re disgusting and militaristic, but, after all, no more offensive than the Freak Brothers themselves. Anne Sexton’s “Cockroach,” first published in the literary journal Antaeusand later collected in 45 Mercer Street, views the hated creature in reverence: “These days even the devil is getting overturned / and held up to the light like a glass of water.” This attitude of meditation and primordial wisdom is perfectly illustrated in Ed Ruscha’s 1972 series of silkscreens on wood, Cockroaches, which featured the ancient species in a light both meditative and noble. A more visceral incarnation of Enlightenment-era reverence can be found in Vito Acconci’s 1970 performance-video Rubbings, in which the artist smashes cockroaches into his naked, hairy belly, and rubs them into his gut until they disappear, until the artist and his divine subject are one.
What Cat Food Tastes Like
While preparing dinner at a friend’s apartment a few nights ago, I asked if their cat should eat too. Then someone fed the cat. Then I asked if I should eat cat food too. Then people said “yes” and I did. I think that’s how it happened. I know it started as a joke but then it tasted surprisingly OK. Later at a deli I excitedly selected cans of wet cat food for a taste-test experiment I promised myself I’d do first thing in the morning. After my hangover subsided, I felt more able to seriously consider two futures: the one where I’d never know what wet cat food tasted like, and the one where I would. In both futures I’d eventually end up dead, but the one where I’d eat cat food seemed more exciting. With that said, actually making myself eat the canned reconstituted meat morsels took longer than anticipated. I succumbed to misguidedly productive acts like finding “the perfect eating-cat-food outfit” (pink striped dress: too naive; button-down under a black sweater: too smart; red flannel dress: just right?), photo-testing locations for the best place to eat (a plate on the floor: obvious and kitschy; sitting at a table: unrealistically ordinary; bed: psychotic), and letting “research-based” internet activity devolve into gawking at YouTube videos about cannibalism and falling asleep with a knife under my pillow. OK. Enough explaining, I’m introducing this like I’ve committed a sex crime or something. I ate some cat food. That’s all that happened. Here’s what I thought.
Purina Cat Chow: Naturals Plus Vitamins & Minerals
Packaging: 16-ounce green bag with a Ziploc seal for freshness. Features colorful clip art-like illustrations of vegetables, grains, and a woman resembling Mona Lisa sleepily nurturing a happy, attentive cat on her lap.
Aroma: A little vitamin-y.
Texture: Harder than Captain Crunch, but denser, so it didn’t make those little cuts on the roof of my mouth. Moist enough so there was no fight to combine it with saliva, but crunchy enough to not let me forget I was chewing.
Flavor: I remember saying “it’s like those ‘Chicken in a Biscuit’ crackers” and “it’s ‘umami,’ do you guys know ‘umami,’ that new taste called ‘umami?’” There was a tangy aftertaste. It wasn’t unpleasant at all. Ate a few voluntary handfuls.
Beverage pairing: An affordable sparkling wine. I had been drinking Korbel (Brut, I think) at the time, but a sweeter Prosecco would also fare nicely.
Closing remarks: Could be transformed into larger vessels for humans to spread cheese on.