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The Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

by Suroosh Alvi, Gavin McInnes, and Shane Smith, eds

In the mid 1990s three motley, smart-ass Canadian guys – Suroosh Alvi, Gavin McInnes, and Shane Smith – fell to earth from, respectively, a stint in narco rehab, a make-work welfare program, and a no-future punk band. These three put their special, bizarre powers to work on an ailing Montreal free newspaper, transforming The Voice of Montreal into shiny, poppin’ fresh VICE, a style magazine cooler than anything on earth (for a while).

This new anthology is a representative collection of the magazine’s glory days. Deadpan, wayward, and brutally honest, glossy new VICE plunged down journalistic wormholes few other magazines had even charted, publishing such articles as “The VICE Guide To Shagging Muslims,” “Was Jesus Gay?,” and “Interview with the Guy Who Did Acid for a Year,” not to mention tips on how to improvise a vagina in prison and what it’s like to be shot by your mom. By changing the way youth magazines are written, designed, and distributed, Canada’s own VICE managed to unseat such hoary despots of trend as the U.K.’s Dazed and Confused and Sleazenation.

VICE succeeded by doing four things: by being both good-looking and absolutely free of charge; by being stupid in a smart way and and smart in a stupid way; by being useful – ie. by distilling some of today’s confusions into information kids can use; and by not being top-down. With its habit of printing first-person takes on Big Topics and student-like lists and summaries of information, VICE seems brought to you by the very people who read it (even though it actually isn’t – the mag employs journalists).

All the magazine’s strength’s and weaknesses are on display here. The graphics are top rank; ditto the taboo topics. Writing-wise, VICE’s house style resembles a bracing lecture by a radical thinker crossed with insights from an amusing frat pig talking face-down into the carpet. The anthology isn’t perfect – the editors have mysteriously chickened out on republishing some of the more hardcore sex stuff, but this compendium makes it easy to say: teens, trust VICE with your lives.