Californian Vintners Are Petting Weed in Their Wine
I absolutely love to get fucked up. I’m in my mid-30s though, and I’m no longer free to casually sample mind-altering substances and swim through an ocean of debauchery. I have to be healthy and responsible, at least to some extent. Which is why, if someone stuck a gun to my head and only allowed me one vice for the rest of my life, I would choose weed wine.
California weed wine lore dates back to the late 70s and early 80s in a fuzzy cloud of memories floating above the California vineyards between Santa Barbara and Sonoma. These burgeoning wine regions housed young vinters experimenting with uncultivated soils and nontraditional vines. People were fermenting grapes and smoking a lot of weed. Early rumblings of the marriage of the two activities convinced winemakers to step up their fermentation game and create sophisticated altered states.
With any proper experiment comes trial and error. The art of winemaking involves both chemistry and agriculture, which make crafting weed wine a highly coveted skill. White wine lends itself to more natural aromatics, a healthy arrangement of marijuana and grapes, lower alcohol levels, and more balanced weed wines. Red grapes can overpower the pot, produce higher levels of alcohol, and provide a high that is similar to the one you get when you eat too many weed cookies and end up with moments of sheer panic and terror. Pinot Noir winemakers, always sure of themselves, are rumored to make a palatable blend of weed wine. Rosé is an obvious experimental juice for winemakers as it often thrown by the wayside rather than bottled and sold.
Teens Are Trapped in Abusive, Cult-Like ‘Drug Rehab Centers’
If you like Army Wives, Preachers’ Daughters, Dance Moms, or any other TV show attempting to create a taxonomy of women based on the professions of their husbands, fathers, and children, then you may well have caught an episode of Teen Trouble. It’s a reality TV show on the Lifetime network where a guy named Josh Shipp sends “at-risk teens” to “alternative rehab centers,” where they’re forced to endure emotional and physical abuse before being allowed to rejoin society.
Shipp is your classic Jerry Springer brand of therapist—no real qualifications, a huge ego, and a penchant for money and entertaining TV over science and genuine psychology. “I’m a teen behavior specialist,” he says in the intro. “My approach is gritty, gutsy, and in your face.”
But the show is a lot grittier than you might expect from that typical teleprompter spiel. The unregulated “troubled teen” industry is able to persist despite numerous allegations of physical and sexual abuse,torture, and death at various institutions, and Shipp is exploiting that same system for monetary gain. Even when they aren’t abusive and/or deadly, the pseudoscientific practices used at “tough love boarding schools” have often proven to be ineffective and can lead to PTSD, anxiety, depression, and drug addiction. Maia Szalavitz, author of Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids, told me about some of the horror stories her own research uncovered.
“The classic list is food deprivation, sleep deprivation, public humiliation, beatings, and denial of access to the bathroom to the point where you wet or soil yourself. But I’m also constantly hearing stories of people being forced to re-enact various traumas, like being raped,” she told me.
Three Teen Girls in Ottawa Have Pleaded Not Guilty to Pimping
According to a very detailed report by the Ottawa Citizen, and a thoroughly researched feature for Ottawa Magazine, three teen girls in Ottawa have been accused with running a prostitution ring where they allegedly blackmailed other young girls and forced them into prostitution. The motive behind all of this is unclear. The Ottawa Magazine piece cites a pimping expert who says the girls were possibly “influenced by a variety of mass media sources” like rap, and a particularly prostitution-filled episode of 90210. That seems bizarre in and of itself, but it’s a somewhat understandable hypothesis. The basic mechanics of pimping culture are easy to learn about.
The common perception is that pimping has always been relegated to a certain sliver of society. At least, that’s how I’ve understood it—because that’s the image we’re used to. So it is, of course, wildly shocking to hear about teen girls pimping out other teen girls; especially in Ottawa. But according to the United Nations, female pimps are the majority in certain countries, and prostitutes often speak of being courted by teen girls at a young age to enter the sex trade.
It also appears, from tweets gathered by the Ottawa Citizen, that these girls were unabashedly styled by gangsta pimping culture. Tweets like: “Ain’t no problem like a hoe problem” speak to the chilling level of distance the accused put up against their victims who they were absolutely terrible towards.
Earlier this week, a video called “Dirty Girls” went viral on YouTube—and not for the reasons you’d expect, given the title. The documentary video, originally shot in 1996 by filmmaker (and then high school senior) Michael Lucid, was released in 2000 and chronicles a group of outcasts, refered to by their tormentors as the “Dirty Girls,” who pride themselves on riot grrrl ethos, being different, and just not giving a fuck. The video focuses on the two leaders of the Dirty Girls, sisters Amber and Harper, who speak clearly and eloquently (as eloquently as an eighth grader can be expected to) about their convictions, while girls in sunglasses and jean jackets talk smack about them behind their backs. Not only is the documentary a perfect time capsule for people who went to high school in the 90s, it also perfectly captures two strong, independent young people speaking their minds and doing their own thing.
When I first watched “Dirty Girls,” I loved it. I sent it around to everyone in the VICE offices, and they loved it, too. We all decided that we really needed to track down the original Dirty Girls and see what they were up to today. It turned to be not that difficult a task. Harper lives in New York City and was gracious enough to visit our offices, where I chatted with her and her sister, Amber, who joined us via Skype.
VICE: When is the first time that you guys saw the video? Harper: Pretty much right after it was made when we were still in high school. Around 2000, he did a screening of it at a gay and lesbian film festival in LA. He had taken it down from an hour to 20 minutes, so that was the first time we saw this short, really well-put-together documentary. We haven’t seen it since then… so 12,13 years or so.
How did you find out that it was taking off online like it has? Harper: A close friend of mine had it forwarded from somebody from high school. Someone forwarded it me and said, “I’m blown away. Oh my god, I love you girls. You’re such strong little ones. So confident. I’m so impressed.” And at that point, there were 2000 views. That was the first day. And then it just went from there, and more and more people contacted us.
Amber: I only really just watched it again fully yesterday. I felt like I remembered it really well 13 years ago. I had a certain amount of emotions about it at that time and was sure that I would feel the same now. But when I watched it yesterday, it was totally different. It’s amazing to me, because I think it’s a reflection on us and where we’re from. I’m the same person who watched it 12 years ago, and I’m also so different in how I’ve developed and what I think now. It was a completely different perspective. It was the miracle of life. I love it. It’s fascinating.
How do you feel when you watch the video now? Are you proud? Embarrassed? Harper: I’m excited about it. I think it’s great. I remember in the moment feeling like we were given a voice that we didn’t have without that video being shown to the rest of the school. So I felt proud of the commentary then, and I do now too. I’m also just so blown away by the positive reactions from everybody. Just looking at the YouTube comments where everyone is so inspired, impressed by us. That just makes me feel so happy. I think back then we were dedicated to giving people voices that maybe didn’t have them. And I think both of us would agree that neither of us have any hard feelings toward any of those people, the older students making comments about it.
Partying in Panama City Beach - Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers
An overview of the eight-week period of spring break in Panama City Beach, Florida, when hundreds of thousands of students take over the usually sleepy beach town. We talk to the mayor, the chief of police, the owner of the largest club in the United States, and an evangelical street preacher who protests spring breakers with a bullhorn and says that “Spring break is just another excuse for people to sin.”
What is the story behind the Iceage branded knives you were selling?
Johan:[Laughs] It’s amazing what a crazy big thing these knives have become. It was just an idea our friend in the US had that would just be a strange merch thing to do. And we were like, “Yeah, that sounds like fun.”
You weren’t slightly concerned that somebody might get stabbed or an accident might happen? Johan: Yeah. But if someone stabs someone, I don’t think they’re doing it spontaneously. They’re not just spontaneously going to stab someone with an Iceage knife. Jakob: Also, those knives are really small. If I wanted to stab somebody, I’d probably use another knife. Johan: You could still stab a person with it, but it’s not like you can’t get knives anywhere else.
But doesn’t it concern you to be associated with weapons? Johan: I didn’t see it as a weapon. I don’t know, I can see the stupidity of doing it; it is in some ways kind of idiotic. But we haven’t sold many of them, and we didn’t make a lot of them.
Assuming somebody was stabbed, even if you have faith that your audience wouldn’t do that, wouldn’t you admit that it’s risky? Johan: Yeah, but then I would also say that any fan of ours could take another knife that didn’t have our logo on it and stab someone. Are you referring to a situation where someone has bought one of our knives and all of a sudden thinks it’s a good idea to stab someone?
A Chat with One of the Last Original Swedish Greasers
Raggare are modern-day greasers who are as important to Sweden’s national identity as meatballs, ABBA, and blue-eyed blonds. This is despite the fact that the raggare subculture is all about the appropriation of American cars, rock ’n’ roll, and tough-guy leather jackets. And it’s become so commonplace in Sweden that nobody looks twice when greasy-haired small-towners cruise by blasting oldies while waving the Confederate flag from their classic hot rods (or shitty Volvos if they can’t afford the real thing) on their way to the biggest American car show in the world: the annual Power Big Meet in Västerås.
Raggare first came on the scene in the 1950s, as Swedish teenagers took inspiration from the American films and music flooding postwar Europe thanks to the Marshall Plan. Sweden had remained neutral in the war, so its industrial infrastructure was left unscathed and its export economy boomed. Suddenly, even working-class youths could afford cars, copies of Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock, and tickets to Rebel Without a Cause. The US became synonymous with hope, dreams, and modernity.
Still, this was the 50s, and Sweden was very conservative. The raggare—whowere swimming naked, having sex, fighting, and drinking—quickly became a favorite scandalous subject of the tabloids. Naturally, the subculture spread as rebellious youth across Sweden and the rest of the Nordic nations began to fetishize the rough-and-tumble American youth immortalized in the movies of the time. For greasers in the US, having an American car obviously wasn’t that big of a deal. If you managed to get your hands on one in Sweden, however, you were the owner of one of the coolest clubs in town: a living room on wheels equipped with a stereo, a make-out couch, a moonshine-filled trunk, and a dance floor wherever you parked.
In 1958, in a shitty neighborhood of Lincoln, Nebraska, Charlie Starkweather, a disgruntled teenage tough who was mad at the world, and his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, murdered Caril’s disapproving family and hit the road on a murderous two-month odyssey. They killed seven more people along the way (it is unclear just how complicit Caril was in the killings, as she claimed she had been kidnapped by Charlie), before they were captured in Wyoming. The story shocked the nation and became the stuff of myth and legend. The references to it in popular culture are far reaching. One of the most well-known examples is Terrence Malick’s Badlands.
It was via Badlands that photographer Christian Patterson discovered the case. Struck by the story, Christian subsequently made a photo series, entitled Redheaded Peckerwood, which was hailed by many as a shining example of the potential that photography books held. The series and the book are conceptual, highly ambitious, visually striking, and thematically absorbing. It loosely follows the storyline of the spree, using the story as a springboard to creative inspiration, blending fact and fiction, art and artifact, and the boundaries between conceptual and documentary photography. The book’s third edition will be released by MACK this month, so we sat down with Christian to discuss his work and the story.
Kody Maxson, Amanda Todd’s Alleged Tormenter, Has Re-Emerged Online
A screenshot from a YouTube vlogger’s interview with “k0dy” and his ex-girlfriend “Gei.”
The media attention surrounding Amanda Todd, the Canadian teenager who took her own life after being sexually extorted online, has largely died down, as most stories without a clear ending tend to do in our world of fleeting news cycles. Since her suicide in November, the RCMP has been unable to place charges against anyone in connection with her death despite their claims that they had “upwards of 20-25 full-time investigators […] working” the case. Kody Maxson, the individual who a branch of the hacktivist group Anonymous has very publicly accused of tormenting her to death, was declared a person of no interest by Canadian law enforcement. If you’ve been following my coverage of this story, you’ll know that I’ve been able to connect Kody to “kody1206,” an online alias that was heavily involved in “capping,” an internet subculture devoted to clandestinely capturing images of teen girls who strip on webcam. He was involved to such an extent that Kody was named the 2010 “Blackmailer of the Year” by a website called the Daily Capper for his blackmail of a teenage girl.
Although the mainstream media has lost interest, a few online activists have been tirelessly investigating the case in what appears to be a reaction to the total lack of action from the RCMP. One YouTube user, who goes by the name EnigmaHood, apparently managed to interview Kody Maxson over Skype. It seems that EnigmaHood was contacted by a girl who claimed to be Kody’s ex-girlfriend after he posted a series of vlogs reacting to Amanda Todd’s suicide, some of which called for Kody’s prosecution. “Gei,” the girl’s online alias, set up a Skype interview between EnigmaHood and Kody. Gei was also on the line.
r4p3-k0dy’s Skype profile.
The interviewee doesn’t use the video chat function, and I have never heard Kody Maxson’s voice, so it is impossible to confirm that the person speaking as “r4p3-k0dy” (the alias used, which translates to “rape-kody” in l33t) in this interview is the same Kody that Anonymous believes tormented Amanda Todd. That said, I believe them to be one and the same after examining a footprint of information floating around on the internet, left by r4p3-kody. Searching r4p3-kody on Google yields just four search results, all of which connect r4p3-kody and Gei. Clearly there is only one active internet user operating under such a name.
While investigating the available information that r4pe-k0dy has left online, I found a comment on a YouTube video under the username “bountyhunter176,” which reads: “Gei add my skype you know who it is, r4p3-k0dy.” The video, called “Rant on Pointless Suicide,” is a confessional where Gei harshly criticizes people who publish Amanda Todd-esque anti-bullying videos. It was uploaded eight days after Amanda Todd’s suicide and it is viewable here. In addition, I uncovered a much longer correspondence between Gei and Kody that is associated with the same Skype accounts (r4p3-k0dy and Gei) that were used in the interview with EnigmaHood. I will break down that lengthy chat log later in this article.
A screenshot from Gei’s rant about anti-bullying confessionals.
In EnigmaHood’s interview, he grills Kody relentlessly and frequently cuts back and forth between their conversation and his own asides to his internet audience, where he says that Kody needs to “go to prison where he belongs” and alleges that Gei, Kody’s supposed ex-girlfriend, told EnigmaHood that she thinks Kody is guilty.
When EnigmaHood asks for Kody’s side of the story, Kody says that he doesn’t “really” want to provide it, and that he’s “pissed off” everyone is just listening to the media. He reminds EnigmaHood that the cops do not think he’s a suspect and blames the public for jumping on the “giant bandwagon.” When asked if he knew Amanda Todd, Kody says he “knew her for a bit” and that she was “just a friend.” He then says he “never had, or wanted” pictures of Amanda Todd topless.
Later in the video, when EnigmaHood asks Kody why Anonymous would name him as Amanda’s tormenter, Kody says that he “pissed them off because of the shit [he] was doing to them through certain hacking groups online.” When I asked the branch of Anonymous who named Kody Maxson for a comment on that defense, they told me: “I really doubt he can hack, and I would say that I didn’t know who he even was before that day in October [after Amanda’s suicide] when I researched him. So, his claim that we are attacking him because he made us mad is unfounded.”
Kody also claims he is currently in Cuba, because he likes the weather and the people, which seems a bit odd considering he is up for charges in B.C. for sexual assault and sexual interference against a minor (these charges are unrelated to Amanda Todd). After missing a couple of court dates in B.C., it has been reportedthat there’s a warrant out for his arrest.
Eventually EngimaHood becomes very aggressive, telling his viewers that Kody should “suck his balls” and that he is a “piece of shit.” Unfortunately, that rant makes it pretty difficult to take the rest of the video seriously. After Kody signs out of the chat Gei tells EnigmaHood that she has “doubts in her head” about Kody’s involvement in Amanda’s death, and that Kody “just explained” that he isn’t guilty so she doesn’t need proof that he is innocent.
The whole interview is extremely strange and really doesn’t get down to the matter of anything. How did Kody know Amanda Todd? How does Kody explain his connection to the “Blackmailer of the Year” award? How is it that Kody is up on sexual assault charges in connection to a minor, and yet the RCMP quickly decided he wasn’t a person of interest in the Amanda Todd case?