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.
Some of the YouTube comments under the teaser for our HBO show were like, “HBO? Who am I, a fucking Rockefeller? I can’t afford that bullshit. Give it to me for freeeeeee unnnnggh #yolo.” You guys are the best!
The first episode of VICE premiered last Friday, and it was amazing: There were adorable Jihadist kids, dancing Pakistani guards, and a few friendly Filipino gun makers. Hosts Ryan Duffy and Shane Smith were great as always. If you missed it, and you want to be entertained, educated, and put in a state of awe for the next 30 minutes, you’re in luck. The good people at HBO have made the first episode available online for free. So click the button above that will make the video box go and enjoy premium content that millions of suckers pay, what, like $14 for every month. You’re welcome!
Our HBO show that you’ve heard about by now premieres tonight at 11 PM. You should definitely watch it. Don’t have HBO? Looks like it’s time to rekindle things with that shitty old boy/girlfriend who does. Make it happen. No excuses. Anyway, we are so incredibly thrilled about this and we have a feeling you are too. To get you even more excited, one of the show’s hosts, Ryan Duffy, put together this collection of stories from shooting two segments for the show in the Philippines—one about gun manufacturers and the other about a Jihadist youth camp. Enjoy!
There’s a moment on most shoots where you catch yourself going, “Wait, what the fuck am I doing?” This photo was taken right about that moment. You’re chasing the story, following it at every turn, consumed by getting access and meeting certain folks and all of that, and in the process you lose sight of where it’s bringing you. Then you look around and a parade of masked teenagers carrying automatic weapons is marching towards you in a hidden Islamic Jihadist camp in the most violent province in the Philippines.
The ease with which these guys made guns in this underground network of backyard sheds was alarming. It’s a family business, passed down from father to son, and requires little more than scrap metal, rudimentary equipment, and some know-how. The backyard variety of weaponry is typically sold on the black market, and a gun maker we met who wanted to be called JR, pictured above, told us some of their best customers are actually cops. Local officers sell their own officially issued weapons and pick up cheaper models, turning a profit for themselves and ensuring that the police will remain outgunned by the criminals.
There are essentially three tiers of gun manufacturers in the Philippines: At one end of the spectrum you have the local backyard gunsmiths, and on the other the massive assembly-line factories like one called Shooters. In the middle there’s a slew of mom n’ pop-style shops run by guys like Romeo Cortes, the owner of Safariland Arms, pictured above. Cortes has been manufacturing guns since he was a teenager, and maintains a family-run business to this day vying for legitimate government contracts while conducting business on the side with the less savory element of the gun-hungry public.
Ladies and gentlemen, the day we have all been waiting for is nigh. Tomorrow evening our globe-trotting docuseries, VICE, will be broadcast across the land, enlightening audiences and gluing eyeballs to televisions all over the country. Expect to see VICE co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, as well as the show’s other hosts, diving headfirst into peculiar and fascinating stories happening in some of the world’s most remote and dangerous places. Check out the 30-second teaser above to get primed for the first episode, which airs tomorrow at 11 PM, after Real Time with Bill Maher. Or, if half a minute of VICE isn’t enough for you, click here to watch a longer trailer for the show.
Watch the new documentary Alone in the Zone, produced by VICE Japan for their YouTube channel
Interview and photos by Ivan Kovac and Jeffrey Jousan Article translated from the Japanese by Luke Baker
Today marks the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Japan and caused one of the most serious nuclear disasters in world history, when the Fukushima Daiichi power plant started leaking radiation. The surrounding towns were evacuated in a rush, leaving empty homes, silent streets, and uncared-for animals. In the small town of Tomioka, however, less than six miles away from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, one man refused to leave: Naoto Matsumura, a 53-year-old fifth-generation rice farmer who is surely the most stubborn man in Japan, if not the world.
“I was born and raised in this town,” he told us. “When I die, it’s going to be in Tomioka.” Naoto’s face is browned by the sun and wrinkled from smiling; his dark eyes peer out from under heavy lids—it’s not the face of someone you’d expect to defy the government by living in an area other people aren’t even allowed to visit, but Naoto wears his iconoclasm lightly.
Because he is being bombarded with as much as 17 times the amount of radiation a normal person is, and because for a while he was eating meat, vegetables, and fish that were contaminated by radiation, as well, some researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency wanted to run some tests on him. “When I went down and let them look me over, they told me I was the ‘champion,’” he said, meaning he had the highest level of radiation exposure in Japan. “But they also told me that I wouldn’t get sick for 30 or 40 years. I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway, so I couldn’t care less.”