Dealer’s Choice: Pawpaw, the Weirdest American Fruit You Never Knew About
Five years ago Ian Purkayastha, then 16, took out his life savings ($100) to buy Burgundy truffles on eBay, only to turn around and sell them at sky high prices to chefs in his home state of Arkansas. One year later he opted out of college to become the US president of the Italian truffle company P.A.Q., importing fresh truffles into the American market.
Now Ian is 21 and living in Brooklyn, where he works as a full-time food salesman, making fat stacks hustling fresh (and expensive) food products through the back doors of Michelin-starred restaurants around NYC. He’s got an impressive client list of over 300 restaurants nationwide that includes well known chefs like Sean Brock, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. On any given day, you can find Ian b-lining straight through the back door of fancy kitchens, toting a chilled down backpack filled with $60,000 worth of white truffles, Moscow millionaire-quality caviar, and nondescript packages stuffed with a gamble of strange items—trout placenta, anyone? He almost always has legal seasonal shrooms on hand, like blue chanterelles and bears tooth, that can be hard to find beyond the floors of his delivery van, unless you’re tight with a mushroom forager in the Pacific Northwest.
There was a time in skateboarding when what you said and did off the board was almost as important to your career as the tricks you did on it. The intense and colorful personalities of guys like Mark Gonzales, Jeff Grosso, Jason Jessee, and Neil Blender captivated my entire generation as much as any skate photo of them. Characters like that are rare in modern skating. The new mantra is smile, don’t say anything, and let your skating speak for you. The problem is every kid’s skating is saying the same thing, making it a very boring conversation.
San Jose’s Jerry Hsu is one of my all-time favorite human beings and definitely one of my top favorite skateboarders. Jerry possesses all the things that used to count for something as a skateboarder: creativity, style, integrity, an opinion, and a personality. He is also, of course, an unbelievably gifted skater. His part in Enjoi’s 2006 video Bag Of Suck remains seven and a half minutes of the smoothest, most stylish, and gnarliest skateboarding ever.
Doctors in British Columbia Can Now Prescribe Heroin
British Columbia, Canada, has had a heroin problem for years. Statistics are hard to come by, but in 2008, a former user described use of the drug in the province as an “epidemic,” and a 2010 BBC story called Vancouver, BC’s largest city, the “Drug Central of North America.” But a new strategy in the fight against addiction and the host of societal problems that come with it is emerging: let doctors prescribe addicts heroin so they get the drug they need without resorting to crime. Studies have shown this approach can help many longtime users, but the Canadian gonvernment wants it shut down.
Prescription heroin is used in some European countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, but it’s been a long time coming to North America. The first Canadian study that tested the effectiveness of giving addicts heroin under the supervision of doctors was the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), which started in 2005. It eventually recruited 251 addicts in Vancouver and Montreal who had unsuccessfully attempted to kick smack numerous times. A control group was given methadone, which is commonly prescribed to heroin addicts so they can wean themselves off hard drugs.
The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, showed that injectable heroin—known in medical-speak as diacetylmorphine—was a far more effective and efficient treatment than methadone in getting users out of the vicious and costly cycle of crime, infection, overdoses, and hospital visits that are a way of life for those in the grips of long-term, hardcore addiction. Compared to those trying to kick heroin using methadone, participants used street drugs less often, committed fewer crimes, and were employed more often, more connected to their families, and straight-up happier. A “cost of illness” analysis from 2000 found that severely addicted individuals can cost society over $43,000 per year, so getting addicts off the streets and into roles as members of productive society is good for all of Canada.
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.
You might know Andrew Zimmern from his Travel Channel show Bizarre Foods in which he wolfs down unsightly things halfway across the world. Maybe you’ve wondered what eats when he’s out with friends in New York. For this episode of Munchies, Andrew chose to start at Osteria Morini, where the most bizarre food on the table was an amazing rib eye carpaccio that had been aged for 120 days. Then they headed to Marc Forgione for one of the more interesting meals we’ve ever seen. We ended up at the kitchen of Barbuto, where Zimmern made Chinese chicken drumsticks for the legendary chef Jonathan Waxman. Enjoy.
It’s ridiculous for a guy to even try to fake an orgasm. I mean, there’s hard fucking evidence of a dude’s climax, making it mind-numbingly obvious when he doesn’t. I’ve caught one man attempting to fake an orgasm in my life, and it was probably the darkest sexual experiences I’ve ever had. He was a guy who struggled to become and stay aroused, and I think in an attempt to impress me or assert his virility or something, he pretended to cum during a love-making session after weeks of us having unfruitful sex. I was suspicious from the outset, given his dick wasn’t all the way hard, and he was so dramatic with the noise making. It felt forced.
Because I am a psychopath who likes crime shows, I foraged through the trash looking for the used condom after he fell asleep. And once I found in the darkness, I stuck my finger inside to see if it contained the requisite man juices. Nada. Although I did feel pretty chuffed imagining myself as the foxy, not-afraid-to-get-her-hands-dirty star of my own sexy cop drama, SSI: Sex Scene Investigation. Sexy case closed!
I guess dudes probably fake orgasms for different reasons than women—women often fake orgasms to reward the man pummeling them, or to end unsatisfactory sex. I think maybe men fake orgasms in order to prove something to themselves and to the woman they’re doing it to. I guess there’s a whole other examination about how the fake orgasm shows the expected passivity of women and the activity of men (or to quote critic John Berger, the way “men act and women appear”) in society, but you came here today for the practical not the psychoanalytic. So if you are a whiskey-dicked conqurer or just a dude who has a hard time bringing it home, here are some tips about faking the big-O.
Wear A Condom
I know what you’re saying, “This shit happened on Friends. Monica totally thought Chandler made a baby insider her, but then he was like ‘Nah, I was faking it.’” But I am here to tell you, as a non-PG sitcom character, that Monica is an idiot. Even a day after protectionless intercourse, cum drips out of a vagina hole. No woman will believe you shot your load inside of her without physical evidence of that load. It’s just too easy to detect. In fact, if there’s a whole bunch of it, you can push it out in disgusting little globs if you strain a little bit opening a jar or taking a poop. So it’s going to be a big giveaway if you claim you’ve cum in a girl and there’s absolutely no wheatpaste snaking down her leg or raining in droplets when she finally stands up.
Don’t Over Dramatize
Traditionally, or at least in my experience, men are not very good at lying. Likewise, male perception is often a little bit skewed by their man brains, so what they think they’re doing is not actually what they’re doing at all. Case in point was my own experience with a guy who’d never let out so much as a barely audible gasp during sex, started yelling in my face while shamming a climax. Don’t do anything over the top, unless that’s your regular style. Girls are basically sitting around just looking for reasons to get pissed off at you or catch you out about something or anything, really, so don’t make it any easier for them than it already is.
America’s First Hippie: Living, Learning, and Going Long with Gypsy Boots
Photos courtesy of Kees Van Voorthuizen
My mother hated hippies. She also wasn’t keen on meeting strangers, long-haired or otherwise. And her mood was especially dark that day in 1970 when the two of us were vacationing at the Hilton in Beverly Hills. She’d been waging a long battle with my father, her ex-husband, over me, their seven-year-old, and worried that she’d either lose custody or I’d “turn hippie” thanks to California’s corrupting influence. So when a hyperactive senior citizen with shoulder-length silver hair, a scraggly beard, and love beads around his neck approached us in the hotel lobby while banging a tambourine, shaking maracas, dancing a Russian cossack jig, and chanting, “I’m-a the Gypsy Boots, I live on nuts and fruits,” I wasn’t surprised when my mother yelled at him to get lost. I wanted him to scram, too. Ordinary hippies—the ones I saw on TV or hitchhiking through our New Jersey suburb—they intrigued me, but this one seemed crazy. Scary crazy. Why was this man who looked older than my grandparents behaving like a kindergarten escapee?
“Make him leave, Ma,” I whispered.
She certainly tried to. But Gypsy Boots was a man on a mission, which was to cheer up the sad-sack divorcee and kid he’d just come across. And, being irresistible, he succeeded. Within minutes, Gypsy had my mother and me smiling at him, then laughing with him, applauding his antics, trying out his musical instruments, and humming along to his inane ditties. Boots wasn’t drunk or on drugs, as I had heard other hippies were. Like the female protagonist of the film Harold And Maude, this guy was just chronically jubilant, the archetypal holy fool. After he was gone, leaving me with a free autographed copy of his self-published memoir, Bare Feet and Good Things to Eat, my mother admitted that she hadn’t felt this happy since before my father left her. It amazed me to hear her say that. And it amazed me to realize I felt the same way.
What I didn’t know then, and wouldn’t know for a long time, was that Gypsy Boots was important, nationally important, an odd figure who had changed the course of American culture. He wasn’t just an old hippie, he was the ur hippie. His journey started in the late 1930s, when Boots, nearing 20, left the working world, grew his hair and beard long, and went “back to nature.” This was way beyond Thoreau at Walden Pond: For years at a time, Boots would sleep in California forests, bathe in mountain streams, feed himself by foraging for nuts and fruits and vegetables, practice yoga, and wear practically nothing in the way of clothing. A dozen other Nature Boys, as they were called, kept him company (including eden ahbez, who wrote “Nature Boy,” the hit song for Nat King Cole, supposedly about Boots), but Gypsy was the most visible of the gang, the one who would eventually become a star.
Long before the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out, “Hollywood’s ageless athlete,” as Boots was known, created a counterculture for them to inhabit. He did this by performing fitness demonstrations on network television and in movies, opening one of America’s first health-food restaurants, racing around LA in his crazily painted van with organic treats for a network of customers—all to spread his message, which was deadly serious in spite of his constant clowning: “Why cling to sickly, fretful, conformist ways when you can be your healthiest, happiest, most authentic self?”
Gypsy died in 2004, just short of his 90th birthday. With his centennial coming up next year, I’ve been thinking a lot about him—what he meant to history and what he meant to me.
Two and a half decades after our encounter in Beverly Hills, Gypsy reappeared in my life. By this time, my mother was long gone—she’d died of breast cancer at 49—and I was living in New York City, volunteering as a cook at a soup kitchen for the homeless. I didn’t think much about Boots; he was a luminous childhood memory, nothing more. Then, while browsing my shelves, I came across the memoir he’d given me, and I decided to bring it to the soup kitchen. Maybe we could use some of the vegetarian recipes he’d included in his book. As I consulted Bare Feet and Good Things to Eat while cooking, a middle-aged woman I worked with noticed the book and grinned and said, “Wow, Gypsy Boots! When I was a flower child in Hollywood in the 60s, Gypsy was such an inspiration. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s still going—I just ran into him last year!”
“Wait,” I said, “he’s still alive?”
“Sure, and he hasn’t changed one bit since the old days. He came roaring into this ashram I was at, shouting, ‘Don’t panic, go organic,’ and making everybody crack up.”
Until then, I’d never met anyone who’d known of Gypsy. So, he was still around, inhabiting the present as well as the past! That night, I called 411 in Los Angeles County and requested a listing for Gypsy Boots. I was doing this out of curiosity, but also as a sort of tribute to my late mother.
Harmony tells us some stories from behind the scenes of Spring Breakers, with personal production photographs by Annabel Mehran and never-before-seen footage from the set by producers Chris and Roberta Hanley.