A New Episode of VICE on HBO Airs Tonight at 11PM
Here at the VICE HQ we have a gigantic sand timer that we reset each week to count down the days until the next week’s HBO show. It takes ten interns all heaving at once to flip it, and the chances of one of them getting pinned underneath or losing a limb is real high. It adds a good deal of suspense to the buildup though, and according to our in-house risk assessment team it’s totally worth it. That is all to say that the sand timer is nearing its end, meaning a new episode of VICE on HBO is nigh. Here is what to expect from tonight’s episode, airing at 11:00 PM.
Indonesians like tobacco a whole lot. So much, in fact, that 67 million of them smoke it. There are no restrictions on advertising in the country, meaning ads targeted at young people abound, and kids often start smoking when they are as young as six years old. To top it off, some Indonesians actually think smoking is good for you and believe it cures all sorts of bad diseases, including cancer. We sent Thomas Morton over there to cut through the smoke and find out what’s really happening. Months later, he’s still coughing up weird yellow stuff.
Underground Heroin Clinic
It’s something of a universally acknowledged truth that a heroin addiction is one of the hardest habits to kick. In the US we offer replacement drugs like Methadone, but unfortunately those drugs are also highly addictive. There are other schools of thought that believe in a different approach, but the drugs they use are often illegal in America, meaning users who want to get clean with their methods have to leave the country. Ibogaine is a drug used to treat addiction in many parts of the world but is labeled a schedule I narcotic in the US. It is rumored to cure physical dependency on opiates without the terrible side effects of withdrawal, and is often used in tandem with a voodoo-like ritual. VICE co-founder Shane Smith traveled to Mexico with an underground heroin clinic based in Harlem to see how well this unconventional addiction cure really works.
Don’t miss the new episode of VICE on HBO, tonight at 11!
Fashion Cat by Alex Schubert
I Sold My Used Panties for Heroin
All photos courtesy of the author. These are some of the images she would send to her potential customers.
I started using heroin when I was 16 years old. I had played with every other drug at my disposal, but noticed an affinity for opiates in tenth grade when a friend suffering from cancer gave me some morphine. Within one year, I was shooting up in the parking lot while other kids were decorating the gym for pep rallies. My addiction continued for nearly ten years because, simply put, heroin made me feel fucking great.
Heroin addicts are constantly in need of money, and I was no different. I had heard people talking about the dirty panty market in Japan, and wondered if a similar demand existed in my northern Virginia suburb. After a quick Google search I found that this market was indeed real and thriving in Old Dominion. The need for money overcame any inhibitions I might have had, and I started responding to ads on Craigslist almost immediately.
My first customer offered me $100 for a pair of my panties. Not sure if you’re plugged into the going rate for old underwear, but that is on the high end of the spectrum. During our first meeting, which took place in a parking lot, he hopped in my car and handed me the cash. I removed my lacy black panties and let him slap my ass a few times. He didn’t even take the panties with him, as he was afraid his wife would find them. I drove away and laughed hysterically. I was $100 richer, and was about to get high. I had opened up the floodgates to a whole new world of possibilities. I didn’t feel exploited; I felt like the greatest hustler on Earth.
Nine Months Living With a Junkie
Editor’s Note: The name of the author and all the names in this story have been changed.
I didn’t know Clark was a heroin addict when he moved in with me. I had only met him in person once before, actually. We had an online relationship—he added me on Facebook, and every month or so we’d send some dumb videos to each other. This is how you find roommates in the 21st century. I needed someone to split rent with, he didn’t want to live in his old apartment, and things fell together. Before I knew it, he’s unpacking several carloads of clothes, trinkets, decorations, and household miscellany into my living room. He has these awesome leather-bound suitcases, the sort of thing Humphrey Bogart would use on cross-continental train trips. The house is starting to look better with him living in it. He knows way more about how to make a house a home than I do.
THE FIRST MONTH
He might have had good taste in luggage, but Clark’s a man of peculiar habits. He plays these bizarre noise records, he’s got a weird fixation on wire hangers, he likes to walk around downtown recording overheard conversations with a handheld microphone. He begins a kind of Banksy-lite street-art campaign all over town. This is fine, it gives the house some character, but I’m realizing that Clark has different boundaries than I do when it comes to drug use. He tells me right to my face that he’d done “a bit of H” last week, and that it was just some stuff he had left over that he was trying to get rid of. He says heroin is lame, and it gets over-idealized in his perspective. I don’t know anyone who ever idealized heroin, which makes me feel somehow uncool. Clark says he had to ease out of the stuff, and he was now done for good. I don’t know how to talk about this stuff, so I smile and say, “Yeah I know that feeling.” I don’t. Not at all.
THE SECOND MONTH
Strange, clattering, vaguely musical noises start coming from Clark’s room at 4 AM, also lots of giggling. I haven’t really met any of Clark’s friends, but they’re all esoteric people. One guy, Jeremy, is missing most of his teeth and wears a business tie on top of a tank top. I also hardly ever see Clark during the day now—the only way I know he’s in his room is I sometimes hear a rough-sounding cough. There’s clearly something seriously wrong going on here, but I don’t want to think about it. I start to lock my bedroom door.
THE THIRD MONTH
I come into my living room one day to find that Clark has pinned dozens of dozens of old black-and-white photographs all over our living room. They’re portraits of stony-faced old people who were staring into the camera without the slightest hint of humor. I ask Clark where he found all these and he tells me he went dumpster diving earlier, and gestures to a stack of moldy old books. He also bought a big black mechanical box that he says is used to grow mushrooms. Once again, I don’t ask any questions. He and his friends have started to shout out these almost cult-like incantations (“BORG-BORG”) till 6 AM. Sometimes I’ll see them hanging with the crusties in the neighborhood. I think they all live in the big old abandoned mansion a couple blocks down the street. They’ll go inside, shoot up, and puke behind the big oak tree in the front yard.
Guys, it is Girls and Fashion: Part Deux: The Fashioning! Guess why. No guess. No guess. Because it is Fashion Week, which is when a particular subset of the beautiful and the damned do not so much descend on New York as wiggle-wobble into and around it like very attractive gelatin steak-strips in Prada silkies and rough denim and mean jewelry. And, yeah, we did a “Girls and Fashion” part I like a month ago, but then I hit bottom, wrote a column called “Everything Is The Worst” and asked for two weeks off. So. Now it’s fall.
It is basically the funniest, always-guaranteed-100%, when “fashion” is applied to something unfashion, like, “Week.” Or, the “Fashion Café,” which was a project of the Supermodel Era (don’t even worry about it) and a precursor to models’ mid-to-late-career-diversification, which usually includes self-branded bedsheets, lotion, Kmart-y bras, “eco,” collaborations with whoever, photography careers, blogging, I dunno. My point is that while fashion is a legitimately important and huge-scale industry and responsible for a lot of beauty, art, commerce, and innovation it is still basically embarrassing.
Paper magazine just did this oral history of X-Girl, which was a clothing line so 90s-covetable (Ask me if I still have X-Girl stuff, even though my personal fashion philosophy is mostly a low hiss of “This is garbage, get it away from meeeeee” because yes I obviously do but you have to be rookie-card-careful with something like a shittily produced nylon X-Girl bag) that it lives on in the girl-institutional memory even more, maybe, than its co-founder Kim Gordon. Peeersonally I was always more about Milk Fed, a Coppola joint, and Tocca, which nobody ever talks about even though their dresses were the perfect shades of melting popsicles, all creamy blues and raspberries.
Anyway, this week Kim Gordon sold her clothes through some rando vintage store in Oakland (???), and not to be a traitor or whatever but I was more ew-ed out by on-stage sweat-grungies than I was really interested in buying one of her old Marni dresses, you know?
Last night was Fashion’s Night Out, which means that a zill fashion girls and boys and designers and models and then that number of people times infinity of PR interns do little thingers around New York like DJ while little bunny-rabbit girls buy limited edition t-shirts, or draw designs in their sidewalk dinner-barf with a stick, or whatever. So the good part of all of this is nothing, or nothing specific. The bad part of this is that we are subjected to the real-time reporting of Fashion’s Night Out via tweets that say “Victoria Beckham in a clementine dress. #FNO” as though it’s fine, as though it’s creative, as though it’s OK, to just verbatim-report something like that without a little basketball-spin. There are a lot of big eyes and big ideas in fashion, but are there big brains???
I spend a lot of time googling “+ heroin” but it seems like all that has been classified? WAIT, SHIT, IS THERE A FASHION ILLUMINATI TOO???
Fashion People Think “Chic” Makes Bad Stuff OK
If you’re anything like me (a hot guy with a bad attitude), I’m sure you’ve spent countless lonely nights wondering how fashion magazines manage to make reprehensibly lame stuff appear so much more “on trend” than whatever painstakingly assembled combination of sack and string you’ve decided to wrap yourself in.
Well don’t despair, you have only one thing to learn: you’re not adhering to what’s chic. See, the world of fashion is incredibly stale—how many more times are we expected to applaud miniscule changes to an Oxford shirt, amirite?—so editors cheat. They take something that one person’s doing, like bohemian-revival or heroin, whack “chic” on the end of it and create a snappy new umbrella trend that suddenly includes anyone who ever wore ratty shoes or an old fur coat. (Sorry to crush your expectations of the fashion industry, BTW. I promise that’s absolutely the only shady thing going on.)
According to Wikipedia and the Daily Mail website—both gleaming beacons of The Absolute Truth—Nazism is the most recent thing to have been turned chic. Apparently Third Reich threads are all the rage with teenagers in areas of east and Southeast Asia, which I think beats out every other “chic” genre of the past in terms of contradiction and utter fucking stupidity. Let’s laugh at some of the idiotic stuff that’s been passed off as cool because it had a French word added to the end of it.
Fashion owes a great debt to Hitler—that’s a given. The severe, ice-bitch look? Hitler’s idea. Punk? Hitler’s idea. Everything with a Boy London logo on it? Hitler’s idea. The thing is, all of that stuff gently alludes to the Nazi aesthetic, without going full Galliano and trivialising one of the most despicable human acts in history. For whatever reason, people don’t like it when you do that. Case in point, the Thai and South Korean teenagers who have started cosplaying in SS uniforms, wearing Hitler T-shirts and sieg heiling their way into school. Supposedly the look is so popular because, “teenagers just find it funny,” which totally settles any reservations I had. All you Jews and socially-conscious citizens out there can just grow a funny bone and stop getting so offended, teenagers just find it funny!
This is how some fashion magazines quantized that horribly embarrassing period where everyone was wearing keffiyehs. I’m guessing members of Ansar al-Islam and Lashkar-e-Taiba were beyond thrilled that their look was taking off after years of carefully coordinated color-matching and choice moments of heavily-styled exposure on leaked terror tapes. “How fabulous!” I hear Abu Abdullah al-Shafi’i shriek, as he sees Rachel Bilson wrapped up in a Keffiyeh in his imported copy of US Weekly. “Our mission is almost complete. All we need now is Mischa Barton in a jihadist headband and we’ve made it. Paris, Milan, New York—here we come!”
Too much high fashion gets pawned off as military chic—Balmain S/S 2010, Dries Van Noten S/S 2011, etc., etc.—when it’s not particularly military, just mud green with some toggles and double-breasted buttons. Real talk: hypebeast morons and streetwear camo-nerds are where the military chic tag needs to be applied. You know, the guys who actually know what strain of lurid pink camouflage they’re buying, and spend half an hour explaining the sartorial benefit of Woodland Digital Camouflage over Disruptive Pattern Camouflage (before your brain starts crying blood out of sheer boredom). I think it would piss those guys off to be described as chic, and God knows we need something to shut them up.
Copyright UN Photo/UNODC/Zalmai
If you’re even a teensy bit cynical, you could say that Afghanistan is a giant heroin lab that also happens to be a sovereign nation. The country produces 90 percent of the world’s opium; the drug is grown on family-cultivated poppy fields in rural areas like the Farah Province and shot by skag fiends in broad daylight on the streets of Kabul. With at least 200,000 users among a population of 30 million, the only place with more junkies per capita is Iran.
One related statistic that seems to be ignored is that the greatest victims of Afghanistan’s drug epidemic are women, many of who suffer silently under a haze of opium smoke. In 2007, there were an estimated 100,000 female addicts in the country, largely a byproduct of the 1 million widows and recently returned refugees. Considering the conservative Islamic traditions that keep many women confined to their homes and stigmatize drug abusers, 100,000 is most likely a drastic understatement. Worse still, only 10 percent of Afghan women even have access to the scant drug treatment that is available.
Drug dealers seek out women here the same as anywhere else. Nazif M. Shahrani, a professor of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, said, “There are people who would peddle it, and they will go and encourage the women to indulge. They may even give it to them for free. And eventually it hooks them. It’s not long before those women have to go and find money, or even steal to support the habit.”
Of course, addiction isn’t just wrecking the lives of women. Increasing drug-abuse rates will have a profound impact on the next generation who are being raised by dope-fiend moms. A 2010 study conducted by the US State Department found that in 31 out of 42 homes where adult addicts lived, there were signs of children being exposed to drugs.
Videos from the rural northeast Wakhan region depict families huddled together in shanties, passing around the dream stick. When their children cry of hunger pains or cold, the mothers blow smoke in the kids’ faces or rub opium powder on their lips to settle them down—practices once isolated to small ethnic groups like the Wakhi that are now widespread because of limited access to doctors in the wake of recent wars. And suckling from a junkie tit can be lethal, which is pretty much the most hopeless image imaginable.