Don’t Drink the Water: West Virginia After the Chemical Spill
Cry-Baby of the Week
Cry-Baby #1: Portland
The incident: A guy pissed in a reservoir.
The appropriate response: Nothing.
The actual response: The city of Portland dumped out about 8 million gallons of water from the reservoir, costing thousands of dollars.
Earlier this week, police were called to the Mt. Tabor reservoir in Portland, OR after surveillance cameras captured an unidentified 21-year-old man urinating by the water’s edge.
The man was not arrested or charged, but city officials made the decision to dump out almost 8 million gallons of drinking water from the reservoir, at a cost of $36,000.
In an interview with Oregon Live, David Shaff, administrator for the Portland Water Bureau admitted that they often find dead animals inside the reservoir, but do not dump the water out in those instances.
In fact, he said, the decision to drain millions of gallons of water due to about half a pint of urine was not based on any kind of actual logic, “Do you want to drink pee?” he asked.
"It has nothing to do with scientifically" he went on, "Most people are gonna be pretty damn squeamish about that." Presumably David is unaware that the many critters, birds, and fish that live/die in and around the reservoir also pee.
Buttwater Is a Legendary Party Trick
For the past few weeks, I’ve been touring around doing standup comedy, opening for a band called KEN Mode, and we recently found ourselves in Boston with nothing to do. It was a Monday, and some guy invited us to his barbecue kegger. We arrived, I quickly got wasted, and halfway into my second ball of bacon wrapped chicken, a man named Dan—who’s been traveling with a band called Flying Snakes—approached me. In a southern drawl, he asked: “Hey, y’all wanna see a video ‘bout buttwater?” I obviously said yes and when I saw it I almost dick watered my own pants from laughing so hard. Buttwater is a legendary party trick—with an anal waterfall punchline—and it was born in Orlando, Florida.
While this footage was unfortunately shot on an ancient cell phone, the beauty of buttwater is that it doesn’t require glorious 1080p video to get the message across. Water coming out of a butt is funny at even the lowest resolution. But this blurry video of a grown man expelling water from his poop chute did not completely satisfy my curiosity. Who is this guy? Where did buttwater originate? What’s up with the mask? In order to learn more, I asked Dan to get me in touch with the buttwaterer himself—a man called Vulture. Here’s how my conversation went.
VICE: How did you get the nickname Vulture?
Vulture: When I was about 16 years old, after punk shows we would go out to a diner or something like that and I wouldn’t order food because I knew there would be leftovers. I’d pick at everyone else’s food or pick food off of another table. My philosophy was: I had money, I had a job, but the less money I spent on food, I could buy more punk-rock shirts and see more punk-rock shows. Then one night my friend’s girlfriend was like, “This guy is like a fucking vulture. He’s eating off every table in here.”
So do you have a lot of sweet punk T-shirts now?
Yeah, well, I don’t fit into them anymore. I got a little bit fat as I got older, so I decided to sell most of them.
Oh well, life goes on. So, when did you figure out you have a gift for shooting water out of your butt?
I remember hanging out at someone’s house late one night. We were swimming and our friend, who was a couple years older, was talking about this technique (that would later become buttwater) and saying how it was possible. I thought it was bullshit. I just didn’t believe it. So he told me how to do it. We were probably drinking, so I gave it a whirl. You just have to have the “I don’t care, I’m not embarrassed, whatever” attitude. So I went ahead and did it. Everybody cracked up. I get the same reaction every time.
This Woman Is Living on Water, Tea, and Light for 100 Days
Juice cleanses are for pussies. Naveena Shine, a 65-year-old British transplant to the Pacific Northwest, is in the middle of a 100-day fasting marathon during which she’s only consuming water, tea, air, and something she calls “light,” a nebulous spiritual substance that she believes will sustain her. Naveena, who began this experiment on May 3, is loosely following the tenets of breatharianism, which is the belief that humans can survive on light alone. Previous practitioners have died of starvation, but Naveena seems to be more practical than them (she’s drinking tea, after all), and she’s used to feats of mind-over-body endurance—she was in the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records for walking across a 1,751-degree fire. You can follow her project, which she calls Living on Light, on Facebook and YouTube, and she’s recording herself constantly with eight cameras that are set up around her home in Seattle, Washington. I called her up on Friday to see how it was going.
VICE: How’d you come up with the idea to do this?
Naveena Shine: My whole life has been surrounded by questions like “What is truth?” and “What’s real?” and “Who am I?” When I came across this particular possibility, that maybe it really is possible for a person to live on light, I recognized the importance of it should it be true. Everything I’d wanted to do in my life, I’d done. I put out to the universe the question, “Is there anything the universe wants me to do now?” The answer started coming to me a couple of months later, exactly the same time as Hurricane Sandy. I recognized that this really is important in our world, and this was something I could do. So here I am.
Where did you first hear about breatharianism?
Well, I’d heard about it all of my life really. I actually know one person who lived on light for three years. I had a pretty clear picture that it’s probably possible, so why not go for it?
You’ve now gone about seven weeks without any food. How are you feeling?
I’ve had some difficulties with bile in my stomach. Some days I don’t feel good, most days I feel fine. The last few days I’ve been feeling really alive and alert. I think changes in my body are of course going to create issues, but none of them have been serious.
The Western US is running out of water.
It didn’t have much in the first place, of course: it was a founding concern of the region. Planners overcame the arid environment early on by engineering vast networks of reservoirs and aqueducts, ensuring that nary a drop of rain or snowfall runoff makes it into an ocean without first passing through a lettuce field or human body. By the time the Colorado River, the Southwest’s main source of fresh water, reaches the Mexican border and its last stretch before the Gulf of California, it’s not much more than sun-baked dirt.
- by Michael Byrne
Toxic: America’s Water Crisis, Part 1
Every time it rains in New York City, billions of gallons of raw sewage are piped directly into the Hudson River. Superstorms like Hurricane Sandy only magnify the issue by flooding New York’s waterways with even more human feces. It’s a direct effect of the way New York City’s wastewater pipes were built, and it’s the same basic infrastructure problem facing over 40 million people in 700 American cities.
In the first part of a three-part series on freshwater in America, Emerson Rosenthal takes a dip in the grand Hudson River to find out just how far we’ve swum up shit’s creek.
IS CENTRAL ASIA ON THE VERGE OF A WATER WAR?
Whether it’s Israel maybe pre-emptively striking Iran, Afghanistan spiralling into sectarian violence, Libya becoming home base for Al-Qaeda, or Syria continuing to be the site of a government-led genocide, there’s no shortage of potential dirty wars and ominous harbingers in the Middle East and Central Asia. While everyone is focusing on the recent turmoil in Benghazi, a new kind of conflict is rising in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan that could eventually lead to the first water war of the 21st century.
It’s fair to say that when Louise Arbour, the hard-ass former UN prosecutor of war criminal Slobodan Milošević, lists her bets on future wars, the rest of us should take her seriously. In December 2011, writing for Foreign Policy, Arbour predicted Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, two obscure Central Asian countries to most westerners, as potential combatants in a war over quickly depleting water resources. Judging bycurrent tensions between the two, she might be right.
Basically the Tajiks, who are already plagued by an Islamic insurgency, plan to build the Rogun dam on the Vakhsh River. The river is a major tributary to the Amudarya—the main water vein for downstream Uzbekistan. While the hydroelectric power from the proposed dam would make the Tajiks rich, it’ll make the Uzbeks thirsty. This has been a problem for Uzbekistan since Stalin’s failed plan for the Transformation of Nature during the 1940s drained the Aral Sea (Uzbekistan’s main water reserve) to irrigate cotton fields.
Pissing off the Uzbeks, however, may not be what the Tajiks want to do. Besides being geopolitical wildcards, Uzbek President Islam Karimov is widely considered a tyrant, ruling over his country’s oil reserves and national wealth since a questionable 1991 election. He’s also a cheap imitation Saddam. And like any delusional dictator, he’s known for his outlandish behavior: like rewriting history books to make himself the spiritual descendant of the warlord Tamerlane, owning a soccer team in the national league (who are conveniently champions nearly every year), and allegedly ordering the assassination of a political dissident hiding in Sweden. Human Rights Watch even accused his regime of systematic torture, including boiling rebels alive.