A terrifying thought overwhelmed me on one of my first subway rides in New York City. It had nothing to do with potential backpack bombs or sarin gas. It was that I was rocking Birkenstocks and a mesh shirt as I rolled past the hipster heart of darkness that is Williamsburg, ground zero to art-school dropouts and their bible, VICE. I feared that at any moment I might be ambushed by a photographer, my visage soon to be splashed in the magazine's DOs and DON'Ts section.
The upstart Canadian mag-turned-international youth-oriented media empire has gone through trends like models through blow, pimping debauchery, bigotry, and idiocy while splashing the pages with dope, guns, and fucking in the (always fashionable) streets. Yet the DOs and DON'Ts section of the glossy rag has perfectly encapsulated the publication's deranged outlook by sarcastically mocking its readership's "look." Even-numbered pages feature fashionable DOs (like '80s pins), while odd pages feature DON'Ts (no Tevas, ever). It's an almost religious process of divine selection--the elect and the damned. Yet it's a fickle one, bound to change by the month, the day, the hour. How can any lowly fashionista or thrift-shop sinner keep from ending up in the sulphury circles of DON'T?
The main feature in Vice Dos and Don'ts: 10 Years of VICE Magazine's Street Fashion Critiques (Warner Books) is 10 years' worth of photographs and cruelty from the acerbic pen of editor and hopeless fashion victim himself, Gavin McInnes. (It also includes a touching collaboration with the late Joe Strummer.) Some loose rules to follow are that guys are hairy dorks who should never allow their feet to be seen in public; children should be shot; and girls flashing tits, ass, or twat are never out of style. But the hazy line as to what makes a DO or a DON'T won't always be clear, as the book's pixilated photos look like they were downloaded from the VICE website.
Yet even at 72 dpi, the pics often scan like a 21st-century freak show: See the N'Sync Cowboy! Peep the Rocawear granny! Experience the horrors of the Jersey Metal Convention! See the naked woman masturbating with pizza in Glastonbury, England! Fear Pakistani old-timers toting shotguns! From vagrants and vomit-splattered skaters to celebs like Chloë Sévginy and Bill Clinton, McInnes spleens on everyone equally. Of course, no one looks quite as good as the scenesters at Brooklyn loft parties. Maybe in the afterlife.