Allow your eyes to trace their way through any one copy of Vice magazine. Half of your brain will start to cloud over as articles concerning counter culture lifestyles and drug trafficking pockmark your psyche, leaving you a demoralised wreck, murmuring "is this really how things are?" whilst drooling an unnoticed goo onto your fervently tapping foot. Meanwhile, the other half of your mind tank has exploded into a vibrant nebula of sexual enlightenment and spiritual meaning. Think Alexander Shulgin on dropping his first tab of acid.
Since it's inception way back in 1994, Vice has steered itself through a sea of 90's silt in buoyant fashion. The first ten years of the new millennium has seen them propping up independent art and general cultural deviancy with the same unwavering happy-go-fuck-yourself resolution that made their publication great in the first place. This latest book, 'The World According To Vice' is in essence, a pastiche of celebrated British incongruity from the years gone by. If Vice set out each month with a strict mission objective, they would not be the tower of senseless sensibility that they are now. This book's exquisiteness owes everything to the way that indulgent irony and cultural pervasiveness have been allowed to partner each other organically - delivering more than enough socio-political weight to perhaps beckon a great awakening in the minds of all you finger paintin', tory - votin' nerf herders out there. All the while each delicately written article or chiseled into place, ham fisted front line report serves up enough satire and visual humour to laugh that beer gut into an eight-pack.
'The World According To Vice' is a whole notch of fun. Learning about a football hooligan from Southampton having an eye knocked out by one good crack to the skull and finally finding clarity over which sex deals the greatest blowjob are interesting enough, but this book noodles away at your inner apathy in ways you can't imagine. Pretty soon after reading you'll be protesting over tuition fees, smoking 'snowcaps' and wearing a Das Oath shirt. That might however, be a little hasty, at the very least you'll sympathise with the dirty student oiks, come to realise that drugs 'aren't all that bad' and perhaps flirt with the idea of listening to Negative Approach.
Another great value I see in this book, is the way in which it never fails to remind me just how close we all are to reverting back to flinging our own shit at each other and scrapping on the floor for berries and nuts. Sure, we've not really come that far along anyway, instead of heaving excrement at each other, we glass each other to within an inch of looking like Jared Leto's character from Fight Club. And instead of warring for morsels of sustenance like rabid mongrels still reeling from the evolutionary hangover of once being amphibian, we fight, as Vice puts it, 'to claim the rights to finger the slapper around the back of the butchers.' An apt description of bleeding Britain, awash in a sea of our own bodily fluids and nervous dispositions.
If you'd allow me to be pensive for a moment, I'm keen to impress on you just how magnificent a document this book is. In a world of all things instantaneous; easy drugs, dirty urban luminescence and cheapened fame - Vice are here to tuck your shirt into your trousers, do up your collar button and kick you out the door. You'll have to wipe the snot from your own nose and make up your own mind on a few things, but at least you'll be halfway to forming your own understanding. The care and pride that has gone into creating this book is awe inspiring. Thousands of man hours, artistic illustration, enthused reporting and all sorts of literary & photographic sleight of hand have congealed together to produce this tablet, this bedrock of thinking. History is written by those who were there, and this release announces that Vice are very much here in 2010.
You can purchase a copy from the UK Vice Store