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JOIN THE FAMILYMy original plan was to write this big, elaborate bullshit letter, but I guess I’ll just get to the point. Around November, I bought The Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and

by VICE Staff
01 April 2009, 12:00am

Dear Vice,

My original plan was to write this big, elaborate bullshit letter, but I guess I’ll just get to the point. Around November, I bought The Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll. When it finally arrived in the mail, I got super-excited. I was around halfway through the Crime section when the most awful thing happened. My French teacher took it away from me. To make a long story short, the administration deemed it “inappropriate” to have in school, there was a parent-teacher conference thing, I had ISS for a day (but was rescued by my awesome hippie biology teacher and pretty much just chilled and jammed out in her class all day), and the book then got destroyed by my parents. You know how much that sucks? Like a fucking shitload, man. I’m still very sad. This happened around mid-December. Well, I still love you and your magazine, even though I can’t afford it. ($40, seriously?)


Brownsville, TX

PS: Guess who’s not getting the Vice picture book for her birthday.

Look, all those teachers and parents and assorted squares don’t understand you. They never will. They don’t get you like we do. I suggest you drop out of school, steal your mom’s jewelry, pawn it, get a Greyhound ticket to New York, and show up at our office directly from the bus station. We’ll help you find some sort of work and a place to, you know, crash. It will be fun! An adventure! See you soon?

Dear Vice,

I feel like I should write something complimentary about your magazine, but that is stupid. If you didn’t think you were making a good magazine, you would probably write about other things. That’s as close as I can come to the obligatory you-guys-are-awesome- but-you-should- change-something opening sentence. In any case, I think your literary reviews section is a little weak. While I like the fact that you review comics and collections of photography and random oddments, I dislike the fact that the literary reviews appear infrequently and you almost never review novels or in-depth examinations of international politics—especially in light of your Fiction Issue and the occasional mention of some rogue journalist who has written a spectacular book about something interesting that I have barely heard about. Basically I feel that the appreciation of the written word in the Western world is withering and dying, which is tragic because books are the best medium for intelligent social and political commentary, which in turn (hopefully) leads to people who think more deeply and critically about everything. Apparently Vice bears a tremendous influence on a certain demographic, and it would be nice if it wielded that power to promote a greater degree of literacy. Honestly, if you look at the number of articles in any given issue of Vice that are either about bands or interviewing band members, it seems like it wouldn’t be too great a sacrifice to cut one interview with a band and replace it with a review of a book or an interview with an author.

Looking back on that last paragraph makes me wonder why you accept letters from any dickhead off the street with an opinion. Most of the letters you print are from either conservative people who are appalled by your magazine, politically correct people who are appalled by your magazine, or people who want to tell you how mind-blowing some article was. And then every once in a while someone trumpets some cause that loosely relates to something that you wrote. That’s nice, I guess.

Via email

I don’t even remember the last time we interviewed a band in the American edition of Vice. Seriously, when was that? I guess we did something about taking DMT with the band Growing like six months ago? But hmm, let’s see… We recently ran the first English-language excerpt of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (you know, the MOST IMPORTANT AND CRITICALLY LAUDED BOOK OF THE YEAR) and the first published excerpt from Blake Bailey’s brilliant and also widely praised biography of John Cheever. And the massive fucking Fiction Issue that you gloss over so quickly, the third annual one, in fact, was full enough of great writing and interviews (see the next letter down for a little more on that) to last a numbnuts like you a whole year.

I guess my point is, asshole, why didn’t you find out what the fuck you were talking about before rattling off your little bookmobile of an email? The only “power” I want to “wield” right now is my fist into your face, repeatedly.

Dear Rocco,

I received the three copies, the check, and the tax form. Thanks for all that you have done. I want to give you a little feedback on the issue [V15 N12, the Fiction Issue].

The only negative is the size of the font. It’s too small. It reminds me of the font size used in credit-card agreements. But after that, just about everything is positive. I love the cover photo. Every day I kiss her ass for good luck. I’ve often wondered why literary magazines don’t use more soft-core photos such as that one. The issue leaves the other magazines that publish fiction in the dust. Overall I would give it an A-minus.

The Fred Pohl and Harold Bloom interviews were excellent. I was glad to see science fiction well represented. The Sam McPheeters and Robert Ferrigno pieces were my favorites. I’ll nominate the Ferrigno for Pushcart. If he didn’t write crime fiction, I would look for his books. His website is one of the best I’ve seen.

As you know, I was concerned about the proofs. But I found not a single typo. The nubile intern who typed the manuscript did a good job and did not make a transcription error. And someone gave it a careful proofreading. I guess you know the quotation from Oscar Wilde: “A poet can survive anything but a misprint.”

I was impressed with the work of the copy editor. He corrected some of my oversights and dumb mistakes. I was amazed that he knew another name for the Norwegian forest cat. (The one I used is from my aunt’s cat book.) Does he do freelance copyediting? Would he be interested in copyediting the manuscript of my novel? I would send him small portions, enough to fit into a 9x12 envelope. There would be no deadline of any kind, so he could do it when he had a chance. Please ask him to get in touch with me if he is interested.

I’ll be in Florida for about a week over the vernal equinox. My plan is to rent a car, stay in budget motels, and explore the area between West Palm Beach and Miami. You’re from the Gulf Coast of Florida, but if you have any useful information about the Atlantic Coast, please let me know.

All best,

New York, NY

Associate editor Rocco Castoro responds: Thanks for the kind words, Ken. I highly recommend checking out the DivaDuck tour in downtown West Palm. It’s a narrated musical excursion through the historic district in an amphibious bus and it ends with a relaxing float down the Intracoastal Waterway. Their slogan pretty much sums it up: “It’s a bus. It’s a boat. It’s DivaDuck!”


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