And the Horse Will Play Your Grandmother: My Day of Equine Family Therapy
“Will you be my father?” Connie asks with the twisting posture of a nervous child. We just met half an hour ago. She’s old enough to be my mother.
“I’d be honored,” I reply.
She places her hands gently on my shoulders. “This is my father,” she affirms, smiling sweetly.
Connie hasn’t spoken to the real man in 20 years, making this a tricky role to play. Rounding out the family is a Jack Russell Terrier named Jack (her daughter), a chestnut mare named Jackie (her grandmother), and a few other human strangers in various roles.
The matriarch of our little clan is Sara Fancy—a former competitive bodybuilder and ex–punk rocker who developed a love for horses in midlife. She was particularly fascinated by the animals’ apparent intuition, their ability to read and respond to human emotional cues. This sensitivity, she believed, could be harnessed for therapeutic purposes. Building on the work of psychoanalyst Bert Hellinger, Fancy bought several of the animals and a desolate plot of land in Southern California. She erected stables and a yurt, and named her new homestead the Silver Horse Healing Ranch. I drove down from LA this summer to experience Fancy’s horse therapy firsthand.
The cars arrived in clouds of dust stirred up from the dirt road. We all met one another inside Sara’s kitchen. There was Connie, a longtime Silver Horse client, and her friend Kay, who was there for support. After them came Christopher Rutgers and his wife Stephanie. Like many visitors to the ranch, Christopher had been referred here by a traditional therapist.
“We also get a lot of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts from the clinics,” Sara added in her cheerful British lilt.
After several cups of tea and slices of watermelon, we strolled to the stables under a blazing blue sky. A horse named Pretty Boy sauntered to the edge of the corral, pushing his cheek into Sara’s hand. “Pretty Boy’s owner was going to shoot him in the head and throw him in a landfill,” she explained, rubbing his muzzle. “Luckily, the man called me first and asked if I wanted him. I can’t use Pretty Boy with clients because he’s a little mousy, but I took him anyway. Ironically enough, some time later Pretty Boy’s owner ended up shooting himself in the head.”
It’s 1985 and I’m on a mountain in the Angeles National Forest and someone has opened the gates to the loony bin. A three-day shindig for alternate religions: witches; warlocks; Satanists; doomsday Christians; Unarians from space; ghosts and goblins; psychedelic druggies; wizards and elves… I’m naked and taking pictures of all of them.
Spring Break: A Fever Dream, by James Franco
Image by Courtney Nicholas
Here’s the end of it all, and I’ll tell you why: because there will never be a movie or a character that is more important for this age than Spring Breakers and its protagonist Alien. As Harmony Korine’s friend Werner Herzog said to me on the phone call of all phone calls—I was out in North Carolina, sitting in a little Mexican restaurant called Cocula that I frequent on my lunch breaks from the low-residency writing MFA program at Warren Wilson College, just staring out the window that’s frosted over with a map of Mexico, at the dirty field across the roadway—when he told me that my performance in the film made De Niro in Taxi Driver look like a kindergartener, and that the film was the most important film of the decade. Imagine in a distinct German accent: “Three hundred years from now, when people want to look back at dis time, dey won’t go to the Obama inauguration speech, dey will go to Spring Breakers.”
I can’t even take credit for Alien. He is Harmony’s. As he says, Alien is a gangster mystic. A clown, a killer, a lover: the spirit of the age. Riff Raff wants to take credit for this creation, but that simplifies it. It is like Neal Cassady laying claim to Jack Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty, which isn’t a great comparison because Kerouac was transparently and literally writing about Neal. Alien undermines all. He’s a gangster who deep-throats automatic weapons as well as Linda Lovelace would. He’s the guru of the age. He’s what you would get if you got every damn material thing you ever wanted and then relished in the realization that you don’t have a use for any of it. So you make one up. “Bring it on, little bitches, come to me, little bitches… We didn’t create this sensitive monster, y’all did. Look at his shit, that’s what y’all are working fo yo’selves.”
Geoff Rowley Returns to Liverpool
When someone says Liverpool, most of the world’s kneejerk reaction is to think of the Beatles. (I’ve talked a lot about the Fab Four in the past, mostly because of the joy they bring my wife’s mentally retarded uncle, Lonnie.) But if you mention Liverpool to a skateboarder, Geoff Rowley is the first person who comes to mind. I have always been a fan of Geoff’s skating, as well as his candor, and so I was very happy that I got a chance to spend some time with him in Liverpool the other day.
I can say, without hyperbole, that when Geoff moved to the States in the late 90s he changed skateboarding forever. He skated hard and fast, and his balls were pressed much more firmly to the wall than anyone else’s at the time. He revolutionized handrail skating and did it with style (at that time style was an afterthought in skateboarding, and a lot of skaters looked like piles of dogshit on wheels). Also, thanks to Geoff skaters don’t wear hideous and impractical moonboots anymore. Back in the 90s, while everyone else was skating bulbous sneakers that looked like they should have lights in the heels and be worn by three-years-olds, Geoff was grinding the huge hubba at the Staples Center in plain old Authentics.
I sat Geoff down for ten minutes in the ruins of the St. Luke’s Church courtyard—which was bombed by the Nazis and never rebuilt—so he could tell me and a random gentleman about his upcoming video part, battling injuries, his love for the Wild West, and his new pet project, CivalWare.
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Watch the North Korea Episode of VICE on HBO Right Now, for Free
Chances are, the first time you heard of our HBO show was when news outlets around the world reported that we took Bad-as-I-Wanna-Be NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman to North Korea, along with members of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters, to take on the Hermit Kingdom’s national team in a friendly, if entirely absurd, experiment in basketball diplomacy. As you probably know, the enigmatic young ruler of the country, Kim Jong Un, showed up to the game, making us the first American news organization to meet him. It was pretty much the most thrilling thing that could have happened, and when pictures were beamed back to Brooklyn that day, the poured-concrete floors of our offices rippled in cracks and dents as our jaws collectively hit the floor.
Our trip to DPRK is the glorious capstone of the first season of VICE. Here it is, in all its absurd glory.
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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I Interned for Pauly Shore (and It Really Sucked)
"Grab me a beer from the bar, buuudddy?”
“Sorry, I’m only 19. I can’t buy alcohol,” I mumbled without looking up from the game of Tetris I was playing on my flip-phone. “Say it’s for Pauly. Tell the bartender you’re my intern.” And so, it was 8 PM on a Sunday night after the Comedy Store’s Potluck Open Mic night in mid 2009 that a gullible and obese 19-year-old aspiring comic finally achieved the American Dream: doing Pauly Shore’s bitch work for free.
It had been a year since I had dropped out of Pierce Community College to try my hand at standup comedy and things weren’t going particularly well. The biggest comedy clubs in LA like the Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory use what’s basically a half-lottery, half-friendship system for their open mics. I would very rarely get picked. Unlike smart comedians, who would grumble off and leave looking for another place to do a set when they were rejected, I would stick around and watch the show. Partially because I wanted to learn from the performers, but mainly because I had no friends. I was having a conversation with one of the few Potluck regulars who tolerated me when the Weasel himself anointed me as his indentured servant.
I showed up at the next morning for my first day of interning and stood around for 15 minutes, waiting for Pauly to arrive. Finally, a beat-up car pulled into the lot. Pauly stepped out wearing a worn-out T-Shirt with a drawing of his face on it and “PAULYWOOD” written underneath. “Hey duuuude!” he announced, pointing to a massive suitcase in the backseat of his car, “Carry this in for me, Intern.”