Thursday, February 15, 2007

Vice Guide to Travel Makes Toronto Pitstop


The journey starts in the Toronto office of Vice, in Parkdale, where Derrick Beckles is doing an impression of God creating woman (read boobs). It's the intro to Beckles' piece on Paraguay for the Vice Guide to Travel, out on DVD. Sitting with him is Johnny Knoxville to whom he reveals he's heading to Nueva Germania to see what still remains of the place that survived briefly as an "Aryan utopia" in the 1800's and later became a refuge for exiled Nazis after the war. The answer is not much, just a couple bricks left to disintegrate.

With no real story to follow Beckles piece starts falling apart here too. To keep it going he finds some backwoods brothers rumoured to have turned to cannibalism. He asks the geezers a few questions, none of which get to the heart of the dark deed. It's journalism-lite but Vice seems happy just to prove to us they can look danger in the face and take us along for the ride.

In the guide, which Vice co-founder Suroosh Alvi calls a "60 Minutes meets Jackass" kinda thing, Vice correspondents take us on a tour of 7 not-so-hot tourist destinations like the most radioactive place in the world, Chernobyl's Red Forest, and then a Pygmy village in the heart of the Congo in search of a dinosaur.

Finding a prehistoric beast or a wild boar with two heads presents a serious challenge and the guys in Vice don't always get their goal. Maybe that's why I was most impressed with Suroosh's own segment in which he hooks up a visit to the largest illegal gun market in the world in Darra, Pakistan, a place where we see kids casually making bullets by hand. The BBC couldn't gain access to this dangerous place but Surroush walks in, charms the locals, buys a gun and gets his money shot.

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