I learned of Terence McKenna (1946-2000) on September 14, 2012, when I was 29 years old. It was the day after I had completed the main final draft of Taipei, my first book to include psychedelics and which ends with a scene in which a character wonders if he has died after eating psilocybin mushrooms. I was in my room, zombielike and depressed after a period of time embodying a “whatever it takes” attitude regarding amphetamine use and completing my book. I had somewhat randomly clicked a YouTube video in which Joe Rogan (whom I was vaguely aware of as the host of Fear Factor, the TV show, a long time ago) was aggressively, excitedly talking about DMT, a neurotransmitter-like, illegal, psychedelic compound found in human (and other animal) brains and in at least ~50 species of plants worldwide. I did not have firsthand experience with DMT at the time, and had only read about it online.
At one point Joe Rogan began referencing someone in a “if you think I sound crazy, listen to this other guy” manner. He was talking about Terence McKenna, a person who would smoke DMT and, after ~15 seconds, without fail, find himself in an “unanticipated dimension” infested with “self-transforming machine elves”—also called “fractal elves,” “self-dribbling jeweled basketballs,” or “little self-transforming tykes”—that spoke English and a kind of visible language while jumping into and out of his body, “running around chirping and singing.” These entities, which McKenna described in a word as “zany,” were maybe either “dead people” in “an ecology of souls,” “human beings from the distant future,” or things with their own hopes, fears, problems that inhabit a parallel universe.
Samantha went to YouTube and clicked Make a Video Response.
“Hi,” she said after the countdown, making sure her copy of Masters of Despair: The Big Book of Philosophy was open to the quote by Schopenhauer about how ending your own life “can be compared to waking up after a horrible nightmare.”
“It’s me… I dissolved 40 Ambien into this bottle of Jack Daniel’s. In a few minutes I’m walking into the ocean. Don’t bother looking for me. It’s high tide. Fourteen-foot waves… Like anyone gives a fuck about me anyway.”
Then she clicked Upload.
She was still debating whether to wear her amazing vintage peacoat, because San Francisco nights were freezing cold, when she heard a noise and felt something wet over her nose and mouth.
“What the fuck?” she was saying, as everything went dark. How had she managed to drown without going to the beach?
The detective who showed up at 5 AM was not much older-looking than Samantha’s friends. (Not that Samantha ever hung out with clean-cut guys like this. Why should she when there were still heroin addicts in bands who needed a doormat?)
“Policy is to wait 24 hours,” Officer Stratton said. “A lot of times a kid’ll show up. Did you check her computer history? Her Facebook status?”
“No,” said Jen, feeling stupid about how she hadn’t wanted to violate her daughter’s privacy.
“Mind if I have a look?” said Officer Stratton, opening Samantha’s laptop. The first thing he saw was a YouTube announcement that a video had been successfully uploaded.
We Got 20 Strangers Who Aren’t Models to Kiss Each Other
Earlier this week, an “arty” black and white video in which polite Americans kiss each other on the mouth made the internet squeal with excitement. The twist was, you see, that these people were all strangers, so this was footage of ten first kisses—gross saliva sounds fully audible over the sort of song that a depressed person might put on during sex.
It was really awkward and sweet, and so far it’s had over 47 million YouTube views. Many bloggers called it “beautiful,” but it was mostly beautiful because all the people that director Tatia Pilieva cast were models, actors, and musicians—that is, professional performers. Oh, and also it was a commercial for clothes, because everything that goes viral on the internet is a lie or an ad.
So our London colleagues went out into the street and found 20 strangers who aren’t models of any description to stick their stiff British upper lips together for £20 (about $33) a pop. This is how strangers really kiss.
These things get so big that some of them can’t walk. Watch as they explain that making these gigantic beasts is a hobby with a lot of luck involved. Almost every moment of this video is worth screen-grabbing, but the shots of the boar with green mulch all over its nose and the beauty pageant winner posing behind him are incredible.
Drunken Glory: Former Addicts in Minneapolis Are Getting Wasted on the Glory of God
God is descending on Minneapolis in the form of invisible spliffs and imaginary lines of coke. The Drunken Glory movement—spawned by events like the Florida Outpouring and Toronto Blessing in the 90s, at which people appeared to be inebriated and high purely off the power of God—is on the rise, as godly YouTube channels find innovative ways of reaching their younger audience.
One of those channels, Red Letter Ministries, is run by former meth addict Brandon Barthrop. We went to Brandon’s hometown of Minneapolis, which boasts the largest concentration of drug addicts and churches in America, to try to get high on the glory of God.
Brandon and his posse of waifs, strays, and former addicts spend their days sniffing “diamond oil” and tripping out to the sound of Brandon’s YouTube preaching. Christian EDM DJs down the road are going to raves and attempting to “heal” clubbers high on drugs, and mega-churches run by rehab charities like Teen Challenge are preaching the drunken glory to thousands.
Welcome to our brand new food column, Hot Links, where VICE employee Dan Meyer explores the neglected culinary stars of YouTube. Each week, Dan will present a selection of videos highlighting specific food themes from amateur cooking, to local restaurant commercials, to elderly drinking buddies, to kitchen disasters, to the infinite supply of odd YouTube wonders in the food category. We encourage you to fall into this culinary video k-hole, and include your own comments and contributions below.
Here are my top seven selections for local restaurant advertisements. Watching these clips should mentally transport you to a run-down motel room in somewhere, USA, where the TV’s blaring with low-budget tourist trap commercials on a loop. Get familiar with the theme, crack a cold one, and watch these hot links.
Creed’s Seafood & Steaks—King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Restaurant owner Jim Creed loves wine, and is proud to be the boss at the longest independently owned fine dining restaurant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania—since 1982. Every time I am in the suburbs of Philly driving around the parking lots of a shopping mall, I find myself wondering, where could I possibly find a nice steak, in a lively setting, prepared by a real chef? Luckily, Creed’s is the answer.
YouTube and VICE’s Creative Director Spike Jonze Want to Hear About Your Year in Music
YouTube and Spike Jonze are working on something big about music, and we want to know what your favorite songs, videos and artists of 2013 are. Here’s how you can take part:
1) Upload a 30-second video telling us what your favorite artists and music videos are (and why!) from this year. Put it on YouTube before August 12, 2013. 2) Be sure to title your video “Hi Spike” so we can find it. 3) IMPORTANT: Don’t include any copyrighted material you don’t own (that means music, logos and videos) Let us know what we NEED to know about music in 2013. We’ll watch every video that gets submitted, and we might be asking some of you for additional help—so subscribe to stay tuned on what we’re up to.