Cannibal Cop and the Freedom to Have Fucked-Up Fantasies 
As every middle schooler knows, the internet is a repository of strange shit. A few casual keystrokes can take you to Goatse, Lemon Party, Cake Farts, and a dozen other weird porn memes. A few more clicks and you can find photos of mass graves, diseased genitals, rotting animal corpses teeming with maggots, open wounds festering and dripping with pus. Most hardened internet denizens laugh (or turn away in disgust) and move on when confronted with the web’s dark corners, but occasionally, people end up curling up inside them and making a home.
That’s one way to describe what happened to Gilberto Valle, the tabloid-famous “Cannibal Cop” who just had his conviction for plotting to kidnap, kill, and eat a bunch of women overturned by a judge who ruled that all of the online discussions he had with others about murder and vorefantasies were just that: fantasies.
“Once the lies and the fantastical elements are stripped away, what is left are deeply disturbing misogynistic chats and emails written by an individual obsessed with imagining women he knows suffering horrific sex-related pain, terror and degradation,” Judge Paul Gardephe wrote in an opinion released Monday night that sided with the defense. “Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle’s deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient—standing alone—to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.”
Continue

Cannibal Cop and the Freedom to Have Fucked-Up Fantasies 

As every middle schooler knows, the internet is a repository of strange shit. A few casual keystrokes can take you to Goatse, Lemon Party, Cake Farts, and a dozen other weird porn memes. A few more clicks and you can find photos of mass graves, diseased genitals, rotting animal corpses teeming with maggots, open wounds festering and dripping with pus. Most hardened internet denizens laugh (or turn away in disgust) and move on when confronted with the web’s dark corners, but occasionally, people end up curling up inside them and making a home.

That’s one way to describe what happened to Gilberto Valle, the tabloid-famous “Cannibal Cop” who just had his conviction for plotting to kidnap, kill, and eat a bunch of women overturned by a judge who ruled that all of the online discussions he had with others about murder and vorefantasies were just that: fantasies.

“Once the lies and the fantastical elements are stripped away, what is left are deeply disturbing misogynistic chats and emails written by an individual obsessed with imagining women he knows suffering horrific sex-related pain, terror and degradation,” Judge Paul Gardephe wrote in an opinion released Monday night that sided with the defense. “Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle’s deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient—standing alone—to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.”

Continue

We Watched New York’s Sexiest Drug Princess Smoke Weird Shit

Photos by Amy Lombard. Wardrobe Courtesy of New York Vintage
Editor’s note: Don’t smoke any of this at home, folks—or anywhere else for that matter. Leave this stupidity to the professionals.
Disclaimer: New York’s sexiest drug princess would only let me watch her smoke weird shit if she could approve the final article. Below is the text approved by New York’s sexiest drug princess.
“I have enough paraphernalia to smoke anything in Manhattan.”
I’m sitting on a black couch in a bourgey apartment in Greenwich Village watching CrackDoubt, a cam girl I met at the Outback Steakhouse, smoke weird objects to see if she can get high on life. For the photos, CrackDoubt alternates between a few black couture dresses as Corinthian columns stand firm against the living-room walls and white curtains billow throughout the perimeter of the room. The apartment looks more like the set of a post–Tommy Mottola Mariah Carey music video than the place where a self-proclaimed “drug princess” might smoke objects like powdered caffeine and cash money.  

The apartment’s tenant, a net artist from the art collective Art404, sits on the window sill, smoking a cigarette and staring at the Empire State Building. He encourages Amy and me to “never date in 3-D.” CrackDoubt agrees. “If you’re not on a cam site, [it costs] $2.99 a minute, my dude,” she says. “Sex work made me realize how valuable my time is.”
CrackDoubt flaunts her sex work but is touchy about her current and past drug habits. Although she has smoked crack once or twice and a crackhead recently stalked her in Grand Central Station, tweeting at her to ask whether she had any crack, she despises the terms “crackhead” and “drug addict.” Lest she be lumped in with the stigmas that these terms bring to mind, she asks me to call her a “drug princess.” “Drug duchess” and “drug mistress” are also acceptable. “I’m a heroine—with an e,” she says. “I’m a New York City drug fairy tale!”

CrackDoubt tells me that she started using drugs when she was 18. From age 20 to 25, she dealt with a heavy cocaine problem. “Cocaine brings out the ugliest side of people,” she says. She also tells me that she is now sober; however, when I point out that she tweets regularly about substances, she admits she has a unique definition of sobriety: “I’m far from clean, but I don’t wake up with withdrawls.” She worries about being labeled a drug addict because of her “fans” on Twitter who may think she glamorizes drug use. I’m not sure who these fans are (CrackDoubt has 3,324 Twitter followers), but one fan recently told her that she wasn’t really living her life if she didn’t die this year. (CrackDoubt is 27.)
CrackDoubt’s life seems to revolve around the internet, where she met the net artist. “He put me on his ‘artist Twitter list,’ which is a great honor, because what have I created?” she says. She also met her “stylist,” Lil Snow Crash, online. Lil Snow Crash is a homosexual with the voice of a banshee who eats gummy bears throughout the night. He wears LeBron James–branded baggy shorts and an oversize white T-shirt. Before CrackDoubt starts smoking weird objects, she and her friends pour orange juice and champagne into glass flutes and make a toast “to the internet!”
As she puts on her earrings, she says, “I just took my Adderall, so I can focus now.” It’s smoking time.
Continue

We Watched New York’s Sexiest Drug Princess Smoke Weird Shit

Photos by Amy Lombard. Wardrobe Courtesy of New York Vintage

Editor’s note: Don’t smoke any of this at home, folks—or anywhere else for that matter. Leave this stupidity to the professionals.

Disclaimer: New York’s sexiest drug princess would only let me watch her smoke weird shit if she could approve the final article. Below is the text approved by New York’s sexiest drug princess.

“I have enough paraphernalia to smoke anything in Manhattan.”

I’m sitting on a black couch in a bourgey apartment in Greenwich Village watching CrackDoubt, a cam girl I met at the Outback Steakhouse, smoke weird objects to see if she can get high on life. For the photos, CrackDoubt alternates between a few black couture dresses as Corinthian columns stand firm against the living-room walls and white curtains billow throughout the perimeter of the room. The apartment looks more like the set of a post–Tommy Mottola Mariah Carey music video than the place where a self-proclaimed “drug princess” might smoke objects like powdered caffeine and cash money.  

The apartment’s tenant, a net artist from the art collective Art404, sits on the window sill, smoking a cigarette and staring at the Empire State Building. He encourages Amy and me to “never date in 3-D.” CrackDoubt agrees. “If you’re not on a cam site, [it costs] $2.99 a minute, my dude,” she says. “Sex work made me realize how valuable my time is.”

CrackDoubt flaunts her sex work but is touchy about her current and past drug habits. Although she has smoked crack once or twice and a crackhead recently stalked her in Grand Central Station, tweeting at her to ask whether she had any crack, she despises the terms “crackhead” and “drug addict.” Lest she be lumped in with the stigmas that these terms bring to mind, she asks me to call her a “drug princess.” “Drug duchess” and “drug mistress” are also acceptable. “I’m a heroine—with an e,” she says. “I’m a New York City drug fairy tale!”

CrackDoubt tells me that she started using drugs when she was 18. From age 20 to 25, she dealt with a heavy cocaine problem. “Cocaine brings out the ugliest side of people,” she says. She also tells me that she is now sober; however, when I point out that she tweets regularly about substances, she admits she has a unique definition of sobriety: “I’m far from clean, but I don’t wake up with withdrawls.” She worries about being labeled a drug addict because of her “fans” on Twitter who may think she glamorizes drug use. I’m not sure who these fans are (CrackDoubt has 3,324 Twitter followers), but one fan recently told her that she wasn’t really living her life if she didn’t die this year. (CrackDoubt is 27.)

CrackDoubt’s life seems to revolve around the internet, where she met the net artist. “He put me on his ‘artist Twitter list,’ which is a great honor, because what have I created?” she says. She also met her “stylist,” Lil Snow Crash, online. Lil Snow Crash is a homosexual with the voice of a banshee who eats gummy bears throughout the night. He wears LeBron James–branded baggy shorts and an oversize white T-shirt. Before CrackDoubt starts smoking weird objects, she and her friends pour orange juice and champagne into glass flutes and make a toast “to the internet!”

As she puts on her earrings, she says, “I just took my Adderall, so I can focus now.” It’s smoking time.

Continue

The Week in GIFs
This week was at least ten times weirder than last week. Maybe even 15. Let’s .GIF about it.
 

The Week in GIFs

This week was at least ten times weirder than last week. Maybe even 15. Let’s .GIF about it.

 

There’s a Bootleg Jurassic Park-Themed Restaurant in Los Angeles
Weirdness is getting harder to find these days.
Between marketers, sitcom characters, and whacky dickheads in shirts that say things about ninjas and bacon, genuinly odd stuff is difficult to come by. So I was extremely excited to hear about Jurassic Restaurant, a (presumably) unofficial Jurassic Park-themed Taiwanese restaurant in Industry, California. 

Weird shit used to be everywhere. If Tod Browning’s Freaks is to be believed, it used to be that you could barely open your door without tripping over some undiscovered weirdo. 
But then lunacy got gentrified and oddness became mainstream—co-opted by Phoebe from Friends and printed on trucker caps to be sold at Hot Topic (over 600 locations nationwide).
American entertainment became about gawking at weirdos. TV shows about women who eat couches or get plastic surgery to look like celebrities became the norm. The guy with a 300-pound scrotum (RIP) got an agent. 

Marketers and advertisers got their claws in, too. Weirdness used to be a pursuit for outsiders, but now it’s thought up by teams of market researchers, to be regurgitated by the Old Spice Guy or the Geico Gecko. 
Continue

There’s a Bootleg Jurassic Park-Themed Restaurant in Los Angeles

Weirdness is getting harder to find these days.

Between marketers, sitcom characters, and whacky dickheads in shirts that say things about ninjas and bacon, genuinly odd stuff is difficult to come by. So I was extremely excited to hear about Jurassic Restaurant, a (presumably) unofficial Jurassic Park-themed Taiwanese restaurant in Industry, California. 

Weird shit used to be everywhere. If Tod Browning’s Freaks is to be believed, it used to be that you could barely open your door without tripping over some undiscovered weirdo. 

But then lunacy got gentrified and oddness became mainstream—co-opted by Phoebe from Friends and printed on trucker caps to be sold at Hot Topic (over 600 locations nationwide).

American entertainment became about gawking at weirdos. TV shows about women who eat couches or get plastic surgery to look like celebrities became the norm. The guy with a 300-pound scrotum (RIP) got an agent. 

Marketers and advertisers got their claws in, too. Weirdness used to be a pursuit for outsiders, but now it’s thought up by teams of market researchers, to be regurgitated by the Old Spice Guy or the Geico Gecko. 

Continue

Pablo Escobar’s Old Estate Is Now a Weird, Jurassic Park-Themed Zoo

When Colombian National Police finally put a bullet through Pablo Escobar’s head in December 1993, he was running what was probably the most successful cocaine cartel of all time, worth some $25 billion. You can do pretty much anything you want with that kind of money, and Escobar did, building houses for the poor, getting himself elected to Colombia’s Congress, and running much of the northeastern city of Medellín as his own personal fiefdom.

In 1978 he bought up a vast tract of land outside the city and started building Hacienda Nápoles, the sort of sprawling complex that you’d expect the world’s richest drug dealer to inhabit, complete with its own array of wild animals. When he died, the land was ignored for a decade and fell into disrepair. The house was looted by locals who were convinced he’d stashed money or drugs in the walls, and the hippos turned feral.

Eventually, some bright spark hit upon the idea of reopening the estate as an adventure park. They kept the name, gave it a Jurassic Park-style makeover and reopened it to the public, creating the ultimate family-friendly tourist destination: a still pretty run-down complex with some dinosaur figurines, some hippos, and the enduring, unavoidable legacy of a man whose cartel were responsible for anywhere between 3,000 to 60,000 deaths.

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Tupac Lives

Tupac Lives

Is Andy Kaufman Still Alive? Probably Not 
Yesterday, Defamer published an article titled “Is Andy Kaufman Still Alive?” Gothamist, theComic’s Comic, Dangerous Minds, and others posted similar stories. The posts were based on accounts of a very strange ten minutes during Monday night’s ninth annual Andy Kaufman Awards, during which Andy’s brother Michael claimed to not know if Andy was alive, and then may or may not have been reunited onstage with his long-lost niece (Andy’s daughter). I was a judge at the (untelevised) event, so I figured I’d share what I saw and clear some stuff up.
I met Michael in January when I interviewed him about “On Creating Reality,” an Andy Kaufman exhibition at Maccarone gallery in New York. I hadn’t spoken with him since then, but last week I got an email from Wayne Rada, the producer of the Andy Kaufman Awards, saying that Michael wanted me to be a judge at the finals. I said I’d be happy to, and when I got to the Gotham Comedy Club I was told that Michael would be making a “very special announcement” at the end of the show.
After the contestants finished their sets, I went to the basement with the other three judges, who told me that, with the exception of tonight, Michael was always down there with them. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but in hindsight it seems obvious that I was asked to take Michael’s place in the judging process so he could focus on making his special announcement at the end of the show.
We probably deliberated for all of about four minutes before coming back upstairs, as the host of the show was wrapping up. Before announcing the winners, he said, Michael would like to say a few words. Michael walked up to the stage and squinted a little in the lights. He’s a soft-spoken man with mannerisms eerily similar to his brother, and when he began to speak the entire room fell silent.
Continue

Is Andy Kaufman Still Alive? Probably Not 

Yesterday, Defamer published an article titled “Is Andy Kaufman Still Alive?” Gothamist, theComic’s Comic, Dangerous Minds, and others posted similar stories. The posts were based on accounts of a very strange ten minutes during Monday night’s ninth annual Andy Kaufman Awards, during which Andy’s brother Michael claimed to not know if Andy was alive, and then may or may not have been reunited onstage with his long-lost niece (Andy’s daughter). I was a judge at the (untelevised) event, so I figured I’d share what I saw and clear some stuff up.

I met Michael in January when I interviewed him about “On Creating Reality,” an Andy Kaufman exhibition at Maccarone gallery in New York. I hadn’t spoken with him since then, but last week I got an email from Wayne Rada, the producer of the Andy Kaufman Awards, saying that Michael wanted me to be a judge at the finals. I said I’d be happy to, and when I got to the Gotham Comedy Club I was told that Michael would be making a “very special announcement” at the end of the show.

After the contestants finished their sets, I went to the basement with the other three judges, who told me that, with the exception of tonight, Michael was always down there with them. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but in hindsight it seems obvious that I was asked to take Michael’s place in the judging process so he could focus on making his special announcement at the end of the show.

We probably deliberated for all of about four minutes before coming back upstairs, as the host of the show was wrapping up. Before announcing the winners, he said, Michael would like to say a few words. Michael walked up to the stage and squinted a little in the lights. He’s a soft-spoken man with mannerisms eerily similar to his brother, and when he began to speak the entire room fell silent.

Continue

The Imaginary Republic of Molossia
I am driving to a place that doesn’t exist. I am doing this because the President of Molossia emailed me. He’d seen something I’d written about his little nation, so he invited me for a visit. “I will gladly escort you around Molossia and show you the sights; it would be an honor,” he wrote. “I hope you will favorably consider my invitation and come see our great nation! Warmest regards, His Excellency President Kevin Baugh, Republic of Molossia.”
“Is he crazy?” friends ask me, but I don’t know the answer yet.
On a Friday in September, I begin the long drive from Berkeley through the Sierra Nevadas. I skirt the north end of Lake Tahoe and hit traffic headed to Reno for the holiday weekend. In Reno, I sleep over a casino. The next morning I drive through Virginia City, Nevada, an old boomtown over a vein of silver ore where Mark Twain began his writing career, just outside a fictitious locale made famous by Bonanza. Molossia is a reasonable distance into the desert. I spot the sign:

His Excellency Kevin Baugh, President of Molossia, emerges from the house dressed like a caudillo: he wears a tricolor sash of the Molossian national flag looped through a gold epaulette. Beneath the hat, a pair of Kim Jong Il-style sunglasses cover half of his face. He welcomes me enthusiastically, pumping my hand as if I am a long-awaited diplomat. I am encouraged to pay the customs fee: my pocket change. I deposit it into a tin can affixed to the door the Customs Booth. A sign informs me that many things are not permitted in the Republic of Molossia. Among them: firearms, ammunition, explosives, catfish, spinach, missionaries and salesmen, onions, walruses, and anything from Texas with the exception of Kelly Clarkson.

I tour the “country”—there is a miniature-scale Molossian railroad, national parks, battlefields, and cemeteries. The president moves from place to place talking about Molossia’s various conflicts: the Dead Dog War, the War with Mustachistan. I participate in the Molossian Space Program by launching a stomp rocket and am awarded the title of Space Cadet, along with a certificate.
Continue

The Imaginary Republic of Molossia

I am driving to a place that doesn’t exist. I am doing this because the President of Molossia emailed me. He’d seen something I’d written about his little nation, so he invited me for a visit. “I will gladly escort you around Molossia and show you the sights; it would be an honor,” he wrote. “I hope you will favorably consider my invitation and come see our great nation! Warmest regards, His Excellency President Kevin Baugh, Republic of Molossia.”

“Is he crazy?” friends ask me, but I don’t know the answer yet.

On a Friday in September, I begin the long drive from Berkeley through the Sierra Nevadas. I skirt the north end of Lake Tahoe and hit traffic headed to Reno for the holiday weekend. In Reno, I sleep over a casino. The next morning I drive through Virginia City, Nevada, an old boomtown over a vein of silver ore where Mark Twain began his writing career, just outside a fictitious locale made famous by Bonanza. Molossia is a reasonable distance into the desert. I spot the sign:

His Excellency Kevin Baugh, President of Molossia, emerges from the house dressed like a caudillo: he wears a tricolor sash of the Molossian national flag looped through a gold epaulette. Beneath the hat, a pair of Kim Jong Il-style sunglasses cover half of his face. He welcomes me enthusiastically, pumping my hand as if I am a long-awaited diplomat. I am encouraged to pay the customs fee: my pocket change. I deposit it into a tin can affixed to the door the Customs Booth. A sign informs me that many things are not permitted in the Republic of Molossia. Among them: firearms, ammunition, explosives, catfish, spinach, missionaries and salesmen, onions, walruses, and anything from Texas with the exception of Kelly Clarkson.

I tour the “country”—there is a miniature-scale Molossian railroad, national parks, battlefields, and cemeteries. The president moves from place to place talking about Molossia’s various conflicts: the Dead Dog War, the War with Mustachistan. I participate in the Molossian Space Program by launching a stomp rocket and am awarded the title of Space Cadet, along with a certificate.

Continue

Apparently Women Love This 13-Year-Old Skateboarder Named Baby Scumbag
Steven Fernandez, aka Baby Scumbag, is just a normal 13-year-old skater from a bad neighborhood in LA. A normal 13-year-old skater who’s sponsored by a bunch of companies, has 38,000 subscribers onFacebook and 140,000 followers onInstagram, and gets photographed with guns and sexy (adult) women. He’s been skating since he was nine (here’s a video of him at 11), but unlike other absurdly talented kids likeRene Serrano and Evan Doherty, he’s developed a whole persona that revolves around trying to get girls and eating junk food (again: typical 13-year-old). It’s hard to tell how much of that is him putting on an act and how much of that is real, but either way, young Stephen knows more about what people on the internet like than all the “social media gurus” two and three times his age put together. I called him to ask what he wants to be when he grows up.
VICE: Hey, Steven how’s it going? I didn’t force you to miss school, right?
Baby Scumbag: Hey, VICE lady. Just chillin’. Just got home from school. Got out a little early.
You like school, or what?Yeah, school is cool, but it’s kind of tough out here in poverty. You see a lot bad stuff around here, like gang-related stuff, drugs. I live in Compton, California. The border of South Central.
So, you’re super popular at school, right?Nah, I’m just a normal kid going to school. An average teenager.
How did you get start getting sponsored?Well it all started when I had posted a video of skateboarding, and people actually enjoyed watching the video. As I started making more videos, I started getting more sponsors as well.
What’s a typical day in the life of Baby Scumbag?Hang out at school, homework, skateboarding, maybe even go film. And a little masturbation.

Apparently Women Love This 13-Year-Old Skateboarder Named Baby Scumbag

Steven Fernandez, aka Baby Scumbag, is just a normal 13-year-old skater from a bad neighborhood in LA. A normal 13-year-old skater who’s sponsored by a bunch of companies, has 38,000 subscribers onFacebook and 140,000 followers onInstagram, and gets photographed with guns and sexy (adult) women. He’s been skating since he was nine (here’s a video of him at 11), but unlike other absurdly talented kids likeRene Serrano and Evan Doherty, he’s developed a whole persona that revolves around trying to get girls and eating junk food (again: typical 13-year-old). It’s hard to tell how much of that is him putting on an act and how much of that is real, but either way, young Stephen knows more about what people on the internet like than all the “social media gurus” two and three times his age put together. I called him to ask what he wants to be when he grows up.

VICE: Hey, Steven how’s it going? I didn’t force you to miss school, right?

Baby Scumbag: Hey, VICE lady. Just chillin’. Just got home from school. Got out a little early.

You like school, or what?
Yeah, school is cool, but it’s kind of tough out here in poverty. You see a lot bad stuff around here, like gang-related stuff, drugs. I live in Compton, California. The border of South Central.

So, you’re super popular at school, right?
Nah, I’m just a normal kid going to school. An average teenager.

How did you get start getting sponsored?
Well it all started when I had posted a video of skateboarding, and people actually enjoyed watching the video. As I started making more videos, I started getting more sponsors as well.

What’s a typical day in the life of Baby Scumbag?
Hang out at school, homework, skateboarding, maybe even go film. And a little masturbation.

Unearthing America’s Treasure Trove of Rare, Private Press Vinyl

In the current era of digital music and laptop bedroom musician-dipshits, anyone can make music and distribute it to the masses for little or no money. You basically fart and you have “released” an “album” online. Entire music genres have grown up around this concept and the ease that comes with it. But years ago, before computers and the internet, recording and disseminating your music was much less democratic. Buying physical instruments, recording music, creating sleeve artwork, and creating vinyl albums was a serious undertaking and not for the casual hobbiest. Yet, many unknown and obscure musicians did just that, without major record label help, going DIY and privately pressing their work themselves. Today, a new book from Sinecure Press, titled Enjoy the Experience, hits shelves. It stands as  the most extensive look into this culture. Plumbing the depths of many obsessed collectors’ archives (including their own), editors Michael P. Daley and Johan Kugelberg pulled the best of the very best records. The book includes albums by lesbian folk singers, pizza parlor organists, religious cult leaders, and singing Werewolves, to name a few examples. You can check out some our favorites in the gallery above. We spoke to Michael and Joahn about this massive project and the joys of getting weird with wax.

VICE: This book seems like it must have been a massive undertaking. How long did it take you guys?
Michael P. Daley: It took over three years to make the actual book. However, the collectors who’s archives we dug into have been amassing the contents for several decades.

What gave you the inspiration to take on such a labor of love? How did this all start?
Johan Kugelberg: I started receiving Paul Major’s record catalogues in 1986 or 1987. He’d describe records that made me want to move to the USA. Whenever some of them arrived in my mailbox in the old country, they were instant game changers. Records described in the mainstream as “psychedelic” just weren’t compared to the strange private press vinyl Paul conjured up.

When I moved to NYC from Sweden in 1988, my first exposure to buying these kinds of records in actual shops was that summer, in a junk shop with Tim Warren of Crypt Records. He’d show me some of the wildest homemade covers and crazy lounge records. It was off to the races. We’d stop in thrift stores driving around New England, bringing back piles of crazy records. In the early 90s, I hung out with Brandan Kearney and Gregg Turkington (of Drag City), who were the best mentors a young lad could have as far as next-level vanity pressing sounds go. There was a bit of a network of private press fan-boys motivated ultimately by those holy moments of pure human expression that are much more common on privately released records than on mainstream releases.

How did you go about finding all these records? Once you found them, how did you find the information and back story about the artists?
Michael: These records came from a whole host of private collections, however the foundation of the whole book was from Johan’s coffers.

The backstories came about differently for each author. For myself, I went through files of old newspapers finding advertisements for gigs, ebay-ed old periodicals, googled like a madman, in an attempt to construct a chronology from existing sources. In some cases we located the performers and they were very kind, like the great Sherry Emata. In other cases, the performer was located, but they weren’t so vocal.

Johan: Michael and myself have been working together for over three years and share a lot of enthusiasms. A number of collectors that I was already pals with provided all access to their collections and to the artists that they’d tracked down. Paul Major is an unbelievable source of insight, information, and enthusiasm. We are now working on a book reprinting all of his record catalogues from the 80s and 90s, which I think is some of the best music writing ever by anybody. I love Bangs and Meltzer, but I love Paul’s writing more.

Did you have physical copies of all the records? Did you listen to a lot of them? Did you find any hidden gems we should know about?
Michael: All the record reproductions are from physical copies. We’ve been trying to listen to every single one. The problem is that while there are about 1100 LP covers in the book, there’s actually double that in the office, so we have our work cut out for us. However, I’d say most have at least been needle-dropped at this point.

As for hidden gems, all of them are stupendous in one way or another. Even the ones that might be considered “technically bad,” are still really interesting, and not just in that superficial “so bad it’s good” kind of way. All of these records are artifacts that represent a living person’s dreams and aspirations at a point in time. For me, I relate the beauty of these objects to the famous last shot of The Shining, when you stare into the old photograph and the echoey big band music starts playing, except in this case, you are hearing echoey music and an old movie comes into your mind instead.

There’s a whole plethora of backstories behind each one of these, too. Some of these records are attempts at being famous, some are actually money laundering devices, some are just for friends, and some are souvenirs for live shows at a lounge. So even when they are bad, or silly, or downright baffling, their greatness is realized when it strikes you that this is all very real, that the LP is the crystallization of a time and place in the past.

Johan: The more of these records I hear, and the more album jackets I look at, brings about a notion of an American cultural vernacular. It makes me think that things like rock and roll, hip-hop, jazz, and hamburgers, could not happen anywhere else. And that there is a singular and sublime artistic narrative in here. As a first generation immigrant, I have no problem with readily admitting that it reminds me of how much I love the USA and its people.

Enjoy the Experience comes out today on Sincure Press. If you purchase it through their website, you can get the deluxe version with a slipcase, fold-out poster, and clear vinyl Century Records on how to make your own record (for the same price as in stores!). That’s really cool.

See more photos from the book

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