I Have Voluntary Tourette’s (and Am Insane)
It seems like just yesterday when Blake Butler, all doe-eyed and full of weird collections of words, began writing for us on a weekly basis. Over time, what started as a regular space for him to write about literature morphed into something bigger. During the last couple of years Blake has branched out to explore topics as diverse as the horrors and wonders of a Wendy’s Pretzel Burger to thedusty rumors of literary giants to interviews with both emerging and established authors. This is Blake’s 100th post for VICE.com, and to mark the occasion he told us he wanted to write “something more personal” than his usual fare. In that spirit, he sent us the below peek inside his brain.
I have long been a creature of habit and repetition. The more any day feels exactly like the one before it, the more comfortable I am, and the more productive I become in whatever I happen to be working on. At the same time, I hate planning. I never know what I want to do until just before I do it. Plans—even fun ones like having dinner or watching a movie with someone at the house—seem designed to disrupt my concentration. As uptight as this might make me sound, on the outside I feel I’m generally easygoing, even at times when my insides are all screaming.
This daily masking of discomfort has instilled in my person an odd habit of regular stress relief in the form what I’ve come to think of as “Voluntary Tourette’s.” In other words, I make repeating patterns of private sounds that I don’t necessarily have to make the way someone with actual Tourette’s literally can’t control, but that I perform now throughout the day with such regularity that it seems like I can’t stop, or at least haven’t stopped for over a decade. For the most part I can keep myself from doing these things in front of others, though after a few days in the same room as someone I’m on a trip with or whatever they start leaking out, slowly opening into my regular manners of conversation.
Vice/Noisey asked me to send them 5 exclusive selfies because there are no more important world news stories to report on.
You can see them & read the captions: HERE
Mexican Drug Cartels Love Social Media
Above: “Broly”, an alleged member of the Knights Templar Cartel, posing for a selfie with his handgun. (All images courtesy of Antoine Nouvet / Open Empowerment Initiative.)
Members of Mexico’s drug cartels are really starting to harness the power of the internet, using it to run positive PR campaigns, post selfies with their pistols, and hunt down targets by tracking their movements on social media.
Antoine Nouvet from the SecDev Foundation, a Canadian research organization, has been working with drug policy think-tank the Igarapé Institute on a project called the Open Empowerment Initiative. The project looks into “how cyberspace is empowering individuals and rewiring relations in Latin America” and has uncovered a wealth of information about how cartels are using the internet to their own nefarious ends.
Some gold weapons posted on a cartel member’s Facebook page.
The first point Antoine touched on was how cartels have utilized cyberspace in much the same way as a TV company’s PR department might: “They advertise their activities, they conduct public relations initiatives, and they have basically turned themselves into their own media company,” he explained. “Colombia’s cartel groups or drug traffickers in Myanmar in the 1990s were very sophisticated at public relations, but they didn’t have this massive broadcasting platform.”
Self-Portrait as Nun with Some of My Mother’s Favorite Famous People, In ‘The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs’ of the Fiesole San Domenico Altarpiece By Fra Angelico
Jaimie Warren was kind enough to stay up for 156.3 hours straight to give us a sneak peek of what, when complete, will undoubtedly be her most sprawling, awe-inspiring, and masterful work to date: the first of five panels in a photographic reinterpretation of Renaissance painter Fra Angelico’s massive San Marco Altarpiece. Appropriately, Jaimie collaborated with her mother for spiritual and artistic advice, which resulted in the inclusion of Buckwheat Zydeco, the members of Pink Floyd, Mr. Peanut, and Ghostface from the Scream movies. When it’s all finished, Jaimie tells us that there will be some sort of Stevie Wonder music video to go along with the piece. No idea what that means, but the anticipation has resulted in all sorts of business happening in our pants.
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David Yow Wants to Paint You
That photo on the left is of David Yow, the guy who used to get naked and horrify audiences with the Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid. The image on the right is a painting he made from the photo. If you know the Jesus Lizard, you know there’s something in this guy’s brain that isn’t quite firing in a traditional way—someone smartonce described his vocals as sounding like “a kidnap victim trying to howl through the duct tape over his mouth.” This is exactly why we’re aching to go all Rose DeWitt on him.
After three decades of being in bands, Yow just released his first solo record. It’s got a great title: Tonight You Look Like a Spider. To celebrate, he’s doing a contest where one extremely lucky human will win a portrait painted by Yow himself.
We’re of the opinion that contests should be easy to enter, but David Yow is crazy, and he’s developed a five-tiered system for those who’re just dying for a Yow hanging above their midcentury Danish credenza. Decide which is right for you based on how decided you are to have this damn thing:
1. "I guess I sort of want it." This is the option for those who sort of want to win. Send an email to email@example.com with the subject line “I guess I sort of want it.” That’s all.
2. "I’ll trade for it." The second option is for people who want this thing. Make a portrait of David Yow and email it with the subject line “I’ll trade for it.”
3. "I will have this portrait on my wall." This one is for people who really, really want it: forward a receipt proving that you bought Yow’s new record. This option is smart because even if you don’t win, you’ve got the record.
4. ”I must have it.” If you really, really, really want it, buy the record, and this record, and forward the receipt with the subject heading “I MUST have it!!!!”
5. "I’ll pay $100K for it." This will pretty much guarantee that you win: if you’re psychotically committed to getting this thing, it’ll cost you $100,000. Send a check to Joyful Noise, and once it clears, you’ll be flown out to Indiana, where Yow will produce a life-size sculpture of you in a material of his choosing.
Fucking Hysterical: A Timeline of Vintage Vibrators
Not far from San Francisco’s favorite trans bar in the heart of the historically gay-friendly Polk district you’ll find the Antique Vibrator Museum, a vivid exhibit of vibrators dating from the early 20th century through the 1970s.
The museum opened last year inside a sex-toy store called Good Vibrations, where therapist and educator Joani Blank had been displaying a few old vibrators since she opened the shop in 1977. Gradually, customers started to donate their own, then eBay came along, and 36 years later, her small collection has evolved into the Antique Vibrator Museum—home to more than 120 vintage vibrators, along with packaging materials, manuals, print ads, and other vibrator-related ephemera. It’s the biggest collection of orgasm-inspiring devices open to the public today.
The curator of the museum, Dr. Carol Queen, who we interviewed last year, gives regular tours of the old-timey vibes, which are arranged chronologically inside a dozen glass cases. A lot of her info comes from from Rachel P. Maines’s book, The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction. But while Maines’s historical research forms the backbone of the Antique Vibrator Museum, Dr. Queen is the one who fleshes things out.
"It’s one thing to know about vibrators as sex toys, and quite another to see how many types there were throughout the century," she says. "It’s also a great example of design and industrial changes in one particular household implement."
The vibrator itself has a long and storied history rooted in female hysteria, a so-called physical illness that disappeared from medical textbooks in 1952. For centuries, though, hysteria was a legitimate and common diagnosis for women who just needed to get laid, or, at the very least, treat themselves to a few mind-blowing orgasms. But since most women in the old-timey days didn’t even know they could have orgasms, they needed someone—or something—to help. Thanks in part to the Antique Vibrator Museum, here’s a timeline chronicling the evolution of vibrators in history.
200 AD: The Genital Massage
Physician and philosopher Galen of Pergamon prescribed “genital massage” to treat hysteria, which comes from the Latin for “womb.” He wrote that the disorder, as it was known then, was caused by a wandering womb or something. “It certainly was thought of as primarily a women’s disease,” says Dr. Queen. “Some commentators talked about it in nearly sexual terms — it affected virgins and widows more than married women, for instance.”
1650-1660: Coming Along
By 1653, Petrus Forestus started fingering his patients with essential oils so they could achieve a “paroxysm,” which British surgeon Nathaniel Highmore soon figured out was really just a fancy word for orgasm. To treat symptoms of hysteria, doctors would massage the vulva and clitoris until the woman had a “hysterical paroxysm of relief.” But according to Dr. Queen, “Very few doctors said in so many words that they were instigating orgasms through these treatments.”
Selfies - Kate Carraway’s Li’l Thinks
Illustration by Penelope Gazin
Anything that is commonly understood as the province of teenage girls or their proxies—any girl, really, with hair that has something to do and patented Dreamskin—is understood to be something dumb. A “selfie” is understood to be dumb, and it really is, but it’s also the ordering feature of the internet, or rather, of the individual internets we create and re-create daily in our own images. A selfie is a photograph taken by a person of themselves for use as an avatar, maybe, or more often for the kind of portraiture that seems gray and naked but is really a conceptually sophisticated, self-adjudicated pose and articulation; selfies are more exposing and exposed than whatever random angle another photographer might find on their or the eventual viewer’s behalf. (If that even happens anymore; if it’s even possible to have a photo taken without its subject demanding to see and approve it.)
“Selfie” is a conscious, natural pejorative; an anxious cutening of what is, essentially, a humiliation of Instagrammed self-regard. Contained in any selfie is an embrace of this type of embarrassment, or rather, an incorporation of it, where it is folded into an emboldened, satisfied who-gives-a-shitness (notably, this is also seen in the anarchic mien of barfing, smiling socialites who leave their heels stuck in sewer grates as velvety memento mori; they do good selfies). As the internet pervades even the littlest pockets of personal experience, so too has the idea that ever more specific, ever more aesthetically controlled visions of an individual—of a teenage girl with That Hair or otherwise—are virtually expected, almost required, and sort of appealing, despite the thing where everyone in a selfie is doing a Photo Booth face of smug, though adopted, insouciance, or wide-mouthed sex, or a grainy iPhone simulacrum of something approaching captured shame.