Kids Telling Dirty Jokes is our new series that features tiny comedians we found on Craigslist. This episode stars Gigi, an adorable straightlaced kid whose parents forced her to say filthy jokes on camera for a little bit of money.
Unaccompanied Miners: Down the Shaft with Bolivia’s Child Laborers
In 1936, George Orwell visited a coal mine in Grimethorpe, England. “The place is like… my own mental picture of hell,” he wrote of the experience. “Most of the things one imagines in hell are there—heat, noise, confusion, darkness, foul air, and, above all, unbearably cramped space.” Orwell was a lanky guy, 6’3” or 6’2”, and I am too. So I was reminded of his comparison recently while crawling through a tunnel as dank and dark as a medieval sewer, nearly a mile underground in one of the oldest active mines in Latin America, the Cerro Rico in Potosí, Bolivia. The chutes were so narrow that I couldn’t have turned around—or turned back—even if I’d wanted to.
Orwell wasn’t the first to equate mines with hell; Bolivian miners already know they labor in the inferno. In the past 500 years, at least 4 million of them have died from cave-ins, starvation, or black lung in Cerro Rico, and as a sly fuck-you to the pious Spaniards who set up shop here in 1554 and enslaved the native Quechua Indians, Bolivian miners worship the devil—part of a schizophrenic cosmology in which God governs above while Satan rules the subterranean.
As an offering to him, miners slaughter llamas and smear blood around the entrances to the 650 mineshafts that swiss-cheese this hill. Near the bloodstains, just inside the mine, a visitor can find beady-eyed statues with beards and raging boners—a goofy caricature of Satan known as El Tio, or “the Uncle,” to whom workers give moonshine and cigarettes in exchange for good luck. Before entering the mountain, I’d offered a small pouch of coca leaves to one of these little devils, requesting a bendiga, a blessing for my safety.
A few hours later, I was hundreds of feet underground, shambling through three-foot-tall tunnels, bony knees bruising over hard rock. My guide, Dani, a miniature man with the strength and temperament of a donkey, had burrowed so far ahead that he’d disappeared into the darkness. I called out to him. When he didn’t reply, my photographer Jackson turned to me and coughed. “I’m freaking out,” he said, and we soldiered on, trying to trace Dani’s path through the hot, sulfur-stinking tunnel.
Kids Telling Dirty Jokes is our new series that features tiny comedians we found on Craigslist. The premiere episode stars Talin, who looks like a sweetie but is actually the devil. Someday he’ll be on a Disney show like Dog with a Blog, sleeping with all three of female co-stars, and every morning he’ll wake up thinking, I owe it all to VICE Media. You’re welcome, you little shithead.
Natural Insemination Is Tinder for People Who Want to Get Pregnant
Procreation is a pretty vital aspect of human existence. But tragically, not all of us are equipped to pollinate and populate, whether that’s because our junk doesn’t work right or because we can’t find anyone who wants to make a baby with us. Luckily, science has done what it was invented to do and created a number of methods to help prospective parents get around those problems—methods like IVF, artificial insemination (AI), and surrogate motherhood.
However, for those who find the concept of stepping into a hospital and walking out with a baby in their womb a little too abstract, there is a less traditional, 100 percent more tangible alternative: natural insemination (NI).
NI is exactly what it sounds like: sexual intercourse that’s supposed to result in a pregnancy, a.k.a. having sex to make a new human being. Only, instead of being the planned outcome of a relationship or accidental result of an awkward hookup, it’s facilitated by the internet and allows you to meet up with a complete stranger with the specific aim of making a baby. It’s sperm donation for the Tinder generation.
Why Do People Keep Getting Into Fights at Chuck E Cheese’s?
Although their slogan is “Where A Kid Can Be A Kid”, Chuck E. Cheese’s prepares kids for some of the greatest truths they’ll run into as adults: the addictive thrill of gambling, the drug rush of salt, sugar, and carbs, the economic shortfalls of a monopoly fixing both the means of production and the mode of distribution, and the crumbling disappointment of seeing grown adults beat each other with their fists at what is, essentially, a playground.
Just this Monday, Chicago police arrested two 21-year-olds after a fistfight in a Lincoln Park area Chuck E Cheese’s, apparently started while waiting in line for prizes. The argument began over prize tickets, which are literally worth their weight in paper, and ended with three injured and one bleeding.
The Trials and Tribulations of Building a Skatepark in India
At this stage in skating’s short but illustrious history, it’s easy to assume that kids in every corner of the globe have become as enamored with it as we have in the West. The skate scene in Bangalore, India, however, is decidedly less robust than in Orange County. The streets are often dilapidated and the cops don’t hesitate to chase kids away from good spots, which is unusual and unfortunate for a country that’s new to skating.
Holy Stoked, a small collective based in Bangalore, is working to create a community of skaters in a country where many people have never even seen a skateboard. Parks are important to any young skate scene—especially in places without great street spots—so Holy Stoked cofounders Shake and Soms reached out to Levi’s about teaming up to build a park in Bangalore. Lo and behold the jeans giant agreed to help.
The goal was to build a concrete park in two weeks, a prospect not unlike God creating the world in seven days. So pros Omar Salazar, Stefan Janoski, Chet Childress, and Al Partanen decided to fly out and lend a hand. European skaters Lennie Burmeister, Jan Kliewer, and Rob Smith showed up as well, and along with the German construction crew 2er and a slew of builders. They managed to put down, according to the press release, “20 tons of sand, three tons of cement, 2,000 meters of steal, and one palm tree” over the course of 16 days. You can watch the first of a three-part video series about the project below.
Skateboarder magazine’s senior photographer Jonathan Mehring was there snapping photos during the first week of the undertaking and recently stopped by the VICE offices to tell us about it.
VICE: Can you give me a basic rundown of what you guys were doing in India? Jonathan Mehring: Holy Stoked bought a lot of land in a decent neighborhood in Bangalore, and then Levi’s bought all of the materials, gear, and equipment needed to make a skate park. They built the whole thing in just over two weeks and then had a party, an opening ceremony kind of thing. It was actually kind of funny—a local politician came and posed, pretending he was riding a skateboard.
Horrible People Are Exploiting Cambodia’s Orphanages
Once upon a time, long before Angelina Jolie got a mastectomy, she adopted a Cambodian child. As a result, privileged Westerners of all nationalities flocked to the country’s orphanages in the hope of simultaneously nurturing a child and their own sense of self-worth.
In 2012 alone, Cambodia was visited by 3.5 million tourists, so I guess someone was eventually bound to put two and two together and realize that the hundreds of orphanages throughout the country could be exploited into becoming a tourist attraction for the rising amount of foreign visitors.
The country’s orphanage boom all began in the early 70s, when Pol Pot marauded around the country, intentionally splitting up villages, slaughtering families and imprisoning the educated populace in an attempt to win the civil war. The tactic worked for Pol and his Khmer Rouge regime, but left thousands of children displaced, so NGOs came flooding in to salvage the situation by building orphanages all over the country.
Thirty years later, Cambodia now boasts more than 500 orphanages—a figure that has doubled in the last decade, presumably because the large donations they receive are a much easier way to make money than actually working. Sadly, that nifty little ruse seems to have become public knowledge, and the exploitation of Cambodia’s orphans has turned into a booming, multi-million dollar industry.
Go to Homeschool – My Education Among the Strange Kids of Rural Georgia in the 90s
"To a very great degree, school is a place where children learn to be stupid." - John Holt
My brother’s first-grade classroom was a repurposed janitor’s closet. There wasn’t enough room for aisles, so he and his 40 classmates would crawl over the tops of the desks to enter and exit the room. They went on exactly one field trip that year, to one of the actual, honest-to-God classrooms the Cherokee County, Georgia, school system was frantically building to catch up to the massive influx of families moving to suburban Atlanta. “You’d better be on your best behavior,” his teacher said, “or we’ll never move into this classroom.” They never did.
I reckon that my fourth-grade classroom, on the other end of the school, didn’t suffer from as many health-code violations. There were a half-dozen leaks in the ceiling, but those would have probably helped if the classroom had ever caught on fire. We didn’t really have aisles either; the desks were arranged in a sort of amorphous jumble to avoid the drips from above.
My parents were more concerned with the curriculum than what the classroom looked like. In third grade up North, I was learning long division, and then we moved to Georgia, where I stepped down to single-digit addition and subtraction. Worksheets featured such problems as 6-2, 3+9, even the occasional 1+1. One day, the kid next to me scooted his desk over. I thought he was going to laugh with me about the 1+1. He spoke in a thoroughly Southern drawl I was still getting used to. “You know how to do this? I don’t get it,” he said as he pointed at the first problem on his worksheet. Eight plus zero.
The following summer, I encountered the term homeschool for the first time. It was on a button my mom had brought home from a conference of some sort, and it read:
Sold. For the next four years, my brother and I were homeschooled.