As many of you know, I’ve been performing in a Broadway production of one of John Steinbeck’s best-known works, Of Mice and Men, which is why I’m writing about one of his lesser-read works, In Dubious Battle, a novel that is part of Steinbeck’s migrant-worker trilogy set during the Great Depression.
"I’m not saying vomit will change the world."—Lady Gaga Defends Vomit Performance As Art
What we’ve got right here is a cool combination of words
Download Our Fashion Issue on the VICE iPad App
Did you know we’ve been releasing a free iPad edition of every VICE issue since 2012, packed full of special features, extras, and exclusives? If not, you need to crawl out from beneath that big ball sack you’ve been hiding under and immediately download all of the great content we’ve cooked up.
Earlier this month, we released our annual Fashion Issue, which was sex themed. The concept lead to us explore everything from the hairy butts of women to the nuns in latex. As per usual, the iPad edition of the issue is bursting with dope, new shit. Here is a rundown of all the goodies:
— VICE’s Creative Director Annette Lamothe-Ramos introduces the issue with a video, detailing how we acquired the incredible Robert Mapplethorpe portfolio and cover photo.
— Artist Ole Tillmann’s Wooly Wendy illustration for “In Defense of Hairy Women” gets an interactive update, allowing users to actually add hair to Wooly Wendy’s face.
— In our Duran Duran-themed fashion shoot, “The Chauffeur,” Annette serves up some behind-the-scenes audio commentary.
— Our “Gender Benders” fashion shoot features behind-the-scenes footage our model boys transitioning into sexy-ass bitches.
— Our “Sisters” photo shoot, which has a nunsploitation-theme, features more audio commentary from Annette.
— “Power,” our fashion shoot and feature on the evolution of black masculinity through fashion, boasts beautiful bonus images taken by Awol Erizku.
— “Some Cat from Japan,” our Q&A with famed designer Kansai Yamamoto, features audio commentary from Annette.
— Jocelyn Spaar’s lovely illustrations of panties for Sadie Stein’s essay, ”Ass Menagerie,” features interactive lingerie animation.
— We added the audio version of Rat Tail’s ”2 Butts 4 the Price of 1” to the mysterious artist’s long lost lyrics.
— Milt Abdjourian, the publisher of an imaginary porn and fashion-focused, adds satirical audio commentary to a selection of his vintage cover images.
(Source: Vice Magazine)
We talked to Bret Easton Ellis about American Psycho, his possible Kanye collaboration, American Psycho, his upcoming book, and why he thinks our generation is a bunch of cry-babies.
Bret Easton Ellis Says We’re All a Bunch of Cry-Babies
Bret Easton Ellis has only got to open his mouth for the cry-babies of the world to crawl out and start berating him for being a morally depraved chancer. Back in the 80s and 90s, you could sympathise with people getting offended by his books if they hadn’t spent much time around hedge-fund managers or fashion world dickheads. If they had, they’d realize thatAmerican Psycho and Glamorama are in essence works of journalism—dressed up in Valentino and splattered with blood, yes, but documentaries of a certain moment in history all the same. “The six or seven books add up as a sort of autobiography,” he says. “When I look at them I think, ‘Oh, that’s where I was in ’91. That’s where I was in ’88. Okay, I got it.’”
Now he has moved into film, as well as writing screenplays for TV and delivering his own weekly podcast. Which, among other highlights, has featured Kanye West and Marilyn Manson. Yet still he has repeatedly faced accusations of “douchery” from bloggers and a general outcry every time he criticizes anything on Twitter.
When I called his house in LA last week, Bret talked passionately about his frustration with what he’s dubbed “Generation Wuss”—you, me, everyone else who’s young, hyper-sensitive and grown up with the internet, basically. Over the course of a few hours, I was genuinely impressed by the amount of interest he takes in the lives of people who’ve grown up reading his books, the technology they use and the way they consume culture. His annoyance seems to come from a place of concern rather than misanthropy.
So, why all the pant-wetting?
VICE: Why have you termed me and my contemporaries “Generation Wuss”?
Bret Easton Ellis: You have to understand that I’m coming to these things as a member of the most pessimistic and ironic generation that has ever roamed the earth. When I hear millennials getting hurt by “cyber bullying”, or it being a gateway to suicide, it’s difficult for me to process. A little less so for my boyfriend, who happens to be a millennial of that age, but even he somewhat agrees with the sensitivity of Generation Wuss. It’s very difficult for them to take criticism, and because of that a lot of the content produced is kind of shitty. And when someone is criticized for their content, they seem to collapse, or the person criticizing them is called a hater, a contrarian, a troll.
In a way it’s down to the generation that raised them, who cocooned them in praise—four stars for showing up, you know? But eventually everyone has to hit the dark side of life; someone doesn’t like you, someone doesn’t like your work, someone doesn’t love you back… people die. What we have is a generation who are super-confident and super-positive about things, but when the least bit of darkness enters their lives, they’re paralyzed.
I realized the other day that I’m around the same age as Patrick Bateman. His existence was fairly typical of a 27-year-old living in New York at the time you wroteAmerican Psycho, but it couldn’t be further away from my reality.
Not to reference the 27-year-old [Bret’s boyfriend] too often, but he would completely agree with you. American Psycho is about a world that is as alien to him as Saturn.
I think it was a world we were promised, though.
There was a certain point where we realized the promises were lies and that we were going to be economically adrift. It’s the fault of the baby boomer generation for raising their kids at the highest peak of the empire, in a complete fantasy world. My generation, Gen X, realized that, like most fantasies, it was somewhat dissatisfying, and we rebelled with irony, negativity and attitude because we had the luxury to do that. Our reality wasn’t an economic hardship.
Future Harper’s Index of America
Numbers are fucked. Numbers know more about America than America knows about America. It’s like our whole existence is a string of digits some dork fantasized in his sleep and accidentally whipped into creation. Based on the evidence at hand, the state of where we’re headed only gets grosser, which maybe should be more obvious every hour than it already is.
By my calculation, here are some predictions, with a head-nod to the Harper’s Index of the Not Too Far To Come:
Average height of a newborn baby in 2060: 30”
In 2090: 0.4”
Percentage of Americans who believe “Silent Night” was written by Jesus Christ: 86
Number of wolves kept as house pets in the United States: 3,054,000
Of wolf-human hybrids born to those households: 98,000
Times John “Papa John” Schnatter will be reelected to presidential office following constitutional amendment: 107
Number of stand-ins believed to extend the life of “Papa John”: 81
Number of topping available for order on a Papa John’s pizza during his presidency: 2
Average weight of pizza consumed per week per citizen (in pounds): 9
Average weight of citizen (in new unpronounceable measurement designed to veil actual impact of a person’s weight as indicative of health): 4
Average weight of cover models of America Monthly magazine (subscription required with citizenship): .0003
Total sequels in Fast and the Furious chain filmed before the interior collapse of the moon: 39
Number of additional Biblical Commandments “discovered” chiseled onto the face of silver asteroid that will crash down and obliterate the lower half of Florida: 209
Length of Disney World Employee Memorial Wall and Hotel constructed along the border between U.S. and Mexico (in miles): 1,933
How to Buy Jewelry Like a Jeweler, by Clancy Martin
For years I owned a chain of luxury jewelry stores in one of the wildest, most flamboyant, most duplicitous jewelry markets of them all: Dallas, Texas. I won’t tell you every kind of subterfuge I learned from when I first started in the business at age fifteen (the owners of that notorious store that taught me all I know eventually went to federal prison), but with Valentine’s Day coming up, I will tell you what sort of jewelry scams are popular throughout the world now. And just to make it easy, I’ve boiled them down to ten basic maxims. Follow these simple rules, and you will never go wrong in buying luxury jewelry. You’ll even seem like an expert. And that’s rule number one, which I’ll give you for free: If you seem like you’re in the know, if you come off as someone who’s in the business, most jewelers will be hesitant to try to dupe you. Never act like this is your first—or even fifteenth—time in a jewelry store. You cannot be intimidated by your salesperson. You must be confident and in complete control. Better still, tell the salesperson you don’t know much about jewelry at all—and then let slip, through the tricks I teach you below, subtle hints that convince him you’re an expert in disguise. Then the dealer will suspect you are trying to dupe him. And he will fear you.
1. All colored stones are treated.
There is simply no such thing as a “natural”-colored gemstone, particularly not in a jewelry store, and certainly not if it’s been set in a piece of finished jewelry. (Incidentally, “finished jewelry” is a term you should remember: It means a piece that has been completely assembled, rather than, say, a ring setting that is still waiting for its center stone.) So if someone is telling you a stone is natural, you can smile and say, “Oh, it hasn’t even been heated?” Now your salesperson must either admit that it’s been heated or lie to you or simply reveal his incompetence. In any event, you have established your superiority. There are natural pearls, but they are so rare that you should insist on a certificate guaranteeing their authenticity (more on such certificates below) and only buy from an established business that specializes in natural pearls. The most respected jewelry stores and auction houses in the world have been fooled into selling cultured pearls as natural and into selling treated colored stones as untreated.
Werner Herzog Writes Poetry with Film, Writes James Franco
Here’s the thing about Werner Herzog: He’s both old and new school. His technique is largely self-taught because he never went to film school. Werner grew up in the mountains of Bavaria, Germany, in an area so rural that his first telephone conversation happened when he was 17. He saw a couple of short films as a child, projected on a wall. They meant little to him. He began by writing poems, but in his late teens he had a spiritual epiphany and realized that film would be his medium. Werner wanted to write his poetry with film, but he had no money to do so.
That lack of funds for filmmaking early in his career seemed to have left an impact on his process. Queen of the Desert—the film I just worked on with him and Nicole Kidman—was shot on a digital camera. But even though we could shoot as much as we wanted with little expense, Werner would stop after we got one or two good takes and say, in his distinct German accent: “When I was young and working as a stone mason, saving money for every scrap of celluloid I could, I would be happy with this, with one good take, because film was like gold.” After a week, he seemed to loosen up a little. Sometimes we would do four or five takes, luxuriating in the freedoms of digital technology.
Werner always claps the slate himself. This job is usually relegated to the second assistant camera operator, but Werner wants to be in the middle of everything. He wants filmmaking to be a material process—something closer to a moving sculpture than a performance caught through a lens. He wants the movie to reveal the human struggle, the human condition, human passions, and he wants his hands all over it, deep in its essential tissue.
What of the Ottava Rima in Byron’s ‘Don Juan’?
Lord Byron’s use of ottava rima—a form of poetry with an ABABABCC rhyming pattern—in his mock-epic poem Don Juan stems from his belief to deliver seriocomic material. The poem builds up content, alternating rhyming lines then cinches with a facetious end. Byron first used ottava rima in 1817 for Beppo: A Venetian Story—a good match for the extensive and quasi-exotic love story. So, it’s natural that he took up the same seriocomic tone of the ottava rima a year later, when he wanted to satirize Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey forms that he had just been using. Eventually this project turned into his long satiric poemDon Juan, a long and erotic adventure tale told in 17 sections. Regardless of how or why Byron decided on ottava rima for Don Juan, the form undoubtedly influenced the poem’s content through tone, pace, and lineation.
For a poem, Don Juan is a new approach to content, breadth, and action. In his essay, “Epic and Novel: Toward a Methodology for the Study of the Novel,” Bakhtin claimed that all forms of literature look forward to the novel and that in times when “the novel reigns supreme, almost all the remaining genres are to a greater or lesser extent novelized.” In drama, examples include Henrik Ibsen, Richard Hauptmann, the entirety of Naturalist drama, and epic poetry like Childe Harolde and Lord Byron’s Don Juan.”
Denmark’s Controversial Teenage Muslim Superstar Poet
Yahya Hassan is an 18-year-old Muslim Palestinian immigrant to Denmark who has become a social critic, celebrity writer, and general shit-stirrer—all thanks to a slim volume of poetry. Since the release of his self-titled debut collection in October, he’s been all over the Danish media, at least in part due to his subject matter. His poetry, written in all caps in Danish, is full of rage directed at his parents’ generation, a group of Muslims he accuses of hypocrisy and abandoning their children. He’s penned lines like:
YOU YOU’RE A MUSLIM? / YOU YOU DON’T KNOW/ IF YOU WANT HALAL OR HARAM / YOU YOU KNOW YOU WANT HARAM / BUT YOU YOU PRETEND YOU WANT HALAL / YOU YOU DON’T WANT PIG / MAY ALLAH REWARD YOU FOR YOUR FOOD HABITS.
Some of his poetry documents an abusive childhood; Yahya grew up in a poor neighborhood of Aarhus, and flirted with crime from an early age. He blames much of that on his mother and father. “As soon as our parents landed in Copenhagen airport it felt as if their role as parents was coming to an end,” Yahya told the Danish newspaper Politiken in the interview, published on October 5, that turned him into a teenage social commentator.