The Man Who Turned Cannonball Dives Into a Sport

Everyone knows how to do a cannonball, or at least everyone who spent his summers splashing around in his local pool trying to impress girls. But does the world’s easiest dive become a legitimate sport if you add a gang of German adrenaline junkies, a dose of acrobatic skills, and a 30-foot-high diving platform to it?Splash diving is a freestyle discipline in which your task isn’t to slice elegantly into the water without disturbing the surface but the opposite: the bigger the splash, the better.
VICE: One could say you are one of the founders of the sport—how would you define splash diving?Christian Guth: I have been practicing splash diving for a decade now, and it’s still hard to define. The closest traditional sport to splash diving is probably Olympic diving, only we do it freestyle and splash on purpose.
How did the sport get started?It all started with a bunch of friends hanging out at the local swimming pool in Bayreuth, trying to get the attention of some local ladies. We had a diving platform at our disposal, and we wanted to set ourselves apart from regular divers. One summer afternoon it crossed our minds to try a cannonball dive from the platform, and when we found out that it hurt much less than it seemed, we got hooked. We started adding different variations of somersaults and twists, and little by little we found out that it was not just a hobby—it could be a new discipline.
Continue

The Man Who Turned Cannonball Dives Into a Sport

Everyone knows how to do a cannonball, or at least everyone who spent his summers splashing around in his local pool trying to impress girls. But does the world’s easiest dive become a legitimate sport if you add a gang of German adrenaline junkies, a dose of acrobatic skills, and a 30-foot-high diving platform to it?

Splash diving is a freestyle discipline in which your task isn’t to slice elegantly into the water without disturbing the surface but the opposite: the bigger the splash, the better.

VICE: One could say you are one of the founders of the sport—how would you define splash diving?
Christian Guth: 
I have been practicing splash diving for a decade now, and it’s still hard to define. The closest traditional sport to splash diving is probably Olympic diving, only we do it freestyle and splash on purpose.

How did the sport get started?
It all started with a bunch of friends hanging out at the local swimming pool in Bayreuth, trying to get the attention of some local ladies. We had a diving platform at our disposal, and we wanted to set ourselves apart from regular divers. One summer afternoon it crossed our minds to try a cannonball dive from the platform, and when we found out that it hurt much less than it seemed, we got hooked. We started adding different variations of somersaults and twists, and little by little we found out that it was not just a hobby—it could be a new discipline.

Continue

Getting Drunk Off a Humidifier Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be 


Recently, I was watching a Simpsons marathon when I came across the season 22 episode “Homer the Father.” In the episode, Homer fills a humidifier with vodka and falls asleep in a cloud of alcoholic vapor, while Bart steals nuclear secrets for the Chinese. “Hey,” I said to myself, “That seems pretty nice. Could it actually work?” (The humidifier part, not the stealing nuclear weapons part.)
Last year, a couple of my friends at VICE tried to smoke alcohol, with funny, albeit overly complicated and unsatisfying results. My theory was that a humidifier would do all the necessary grunt work instead of making a couple of comedians with a bicycle pump soberly exhaust themselves. It wouldn’t be as funny, but I might be able to chillax and kick back, while bathed in soft, wet vodka fog. So I turned to the internet, a.k.a. the most comprehensive collection of quality drug advice. I found that I was certainly not the first to ask the question, “Can you get drunk by putting alcohol in a humidifier?” In fact, a decade ago, the first “alcohol vaporizing/nebulizing” machines were introduced into the United States by way of English inventor Dominic Simler and his Alcohol WithOut Liquid machine (AWOL). Ostensibly, it worked by running oxygen bubbles through alcohol to create an alcoholic mist to be imbibed, although one enraged YouTube user said he’d been scammed, claiming the device was just a repackaged nebulizer for pulmonary disease.

In a promotional video for the device found on the official AWOL website, one of the users/actors states: “In ten years’ time, I can see everybody doing this.” Unfortunately for Dominic and his alcho-vapor, the machine was banned in 17 states within two years, although imitation products still pop up occasionally. Today, the inventor works in “broking dax options,” whatever the fuck that is, and has been at it since 2007, so I assume that the whole “inhaling alcohol” venture didn’t pan out. Maybe because he was charging between $299 and $2,500 for the devices. I mean, look at how ridiculous that machine is. Until he turned it on, I honestly thought it was the boombox playing that weird early-2000s club-jamz soundtrack going on in the background. 
Continue

Getting Drunk Off a Humidifier Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be 

Recently, I was watching a Simpsons marathon when I came across the season 22 episode “Homer the Father.” In the episode, Homer fills a humidifier with vodka and falls asleep in a cloud of alcoholic vapor, while Bart steals nuclear secrets for the Chinese. “Hey,” I said to myself, “That seems pretty nice. Could it actually work?” (The humidifier part, not the stealing nuclear weapons part.)

Last year, a couple of my friends at VICE tried to smoke alcohol, with funny, albeit overly complicated and unsatisfying results. My theory was that a humidifier would do all the necessary grunt work instead of making a couple of comedians with a bicycle pump soberly exhaust themselves. It wouldn’t be as funny, but I might be able to chillax and kick back, while bathed in soft, wet vodka fog. So I turned to the internet, a.k.a. the most comprehensive collection of quality drug advice. I found that I was certainly not the first to ask the question, “Can you get drunk by putting alcohol in a humidifier?” In fact, a decade ago, the first “alcohol vaporizing/nebulizing” machines were introduced into the United States by way of English inventor Dominic Simler and his Alcohol WithOut Liquid machine (AWOL). Ostensibly, it worked by running oxygen bubbles through alcohol to create an alcoholic mist to be imbibed, although one enraged YouTube user said he’d been scammed, claiming the device was just a repackaged nebulizer for pulmonary disease.

In a promotional video for the device found on the official AWOL website, one of the users/actors states: “In ten years’ time, I can see everybody doing this.” Unfortunately for Dominic and his alcho-vapor, the machine was banned in 17 states within two years, although imitation products still pop up occasionally. Today, the inventor works in “broking dax options,” whatever the fuck that is, and has been at it since 2007, so I assume that the whole “inhaling alcohol” venture didn’t pan out. Maybe because he was charging between $299 and $2,500 for the devices. I mean, look at how ridiculous that machine is. Until he turned it on, I honestly thought it was the boombox playing that weird early-2000s club-jamz soundtrack going on in the background. 

Continue

The Story of Colorado’s DIY Skater Tattoo Parlor
No Class is a DIY tattoo parlor run by skater Jesse Brocato from his living room in Fairplay, Colorado. Every tattoo from No Class is free, provided you’re at least halfway tanked when you start laying the ink on yourself. Which I think explains why the place is starting to pick up some steam among the skating community.On a recent skate trip to Colorado, I visited No Class and had a chat with Brocato.
VICE: How did you guys get started?Jesse Brocato: It all started one night when we found out that our friend Shane had a tattoo gun. We told him to bring it over, and he thought he was going to tattoo us, but we were like, “Fuck, give us that,” and we started tattooing ourselves.
That night I fell in love. I was like, “I’m never paying for a tattoo again.” Everyone pays thousands of bucks to get these fancy tattoos. The idea behind No Class is, why would you want a fancy tattoo when you could have a shitty ghetto tattoo?
And it took off from there?Well, I used to make moonshine, so we’d get drunk on moonshine and then just start tattooing ourselves. Then we started buying more equipment online. Now we have three set-ups. People see our work, and they want a shitty tattoo too. I tell them they have to do it themselves. That’s what No Class is all about.Is it hard to get the hang of it?It took us a little while. In the beginning, we’d have the needle set way too far out, like a quarter inch, and I was going so deep it stopped the machine like a lawnmower in thick grass. It just destroyed the bone and took forever to heal. You start digging and it ends up looking like hamburger meat. You lay in all that ink, and then it heals up scarred and white.
Anything else you had to learn?Pick the cat hair off the needle.Does that “sterilize” it?I mean, maybe I would have to read a little on bacteria and all that, but whatever, what we do is just hook it up and do it. We don’t share needles or anything like that. I mean, it’s happened, but you really shouldn’t do that. You think you’re clean, but you never know what you have. Somebody that actually tattoos would probably freak out if they came up here, but that’s part of it, part of the “fuck it” attitude of No Class. None of us has swelled up yet.

Continue

The Story of Colorado’s DIY Skater Tattoo Parlor

No Class is a DIY tattoo parlor run by skater Jesse Brocato from his living room in Fairplay, Colorado. Every tattoo from No Class is free, provided you’re at least halfway tanked when you start laying the ink on yourself. Which I think explains why the place is starting to pick up some steam among the skating community.

On a recent skate trip to Colorado, I visited No Class and had a chat with Brocato.

VICE: How did you guys get started?
Jesse Brocato
: It all started one night when we found out that our friend Shane had a tattoo gun. We told him to bring it over, and he thought he was going to tattoo us, but we were like, “Fuck, give us that,” and we started tattooing ourselves.

That night I fell in love. I was like, “I’m never paying for a tattoo again.” Everyone pays thousands of bucks to get these fancy tattoos. The idea behind No Class is, why would you want a fancy tattoo when you could have a shitty ghetto tattoo?



And it took off from there?
Well, I used to make moonshine, so we’d get drunk on moonshine and then just start tattooing ourselves. Then we started buying more equipment online. Now we have three set-ups. People see our work, and they want a shitty tattoo too. I tell them they have to do it themselves. That’s what No Class is all about.

Is it hard to get the hang of it?
It took us a little while. In the beginning, we’d have the needle set way too far out, like a quarter inch, and I was going so deep it stopped the machine like a lawnmower in thick grass. It just destroyed the bone and took forever to heal. You start digging and it ends up looking like hamburger meat. You lay in all that ink, and then it heals up scarred and white.



Anything else you had to learn?
Pick the cat hair off the needle.

Does that “sterilize” it?
I mean, maybe I would have to read a little on bacteria and all that, but whatever, what we do is just hook it up and do it. We don’t share needles or anything like that. I mean, it’s happened, but you really shouldn’t do that. You think you’re clean, but you never know what you have. Somebody that actually tattoos would probably freak out if they came up here, but that’s part of it, part of the “fuck it” attitude of No Class. None of us has swelled up yet.

Continue

This Canadian Male Model Has Buzzwords Tattooed All Over His Face and Body
There’s something admirably misanthropic about getting a face tattoo. You really need to be fully committed to having a somewhat shitty life to let a stranger draw something on your face. Whether it’s a teardrop or the name of the softest rapper in the game, having a face tattoo screams: “You may never trust me with your child or gainful employment, but I’ll be damned if I care!”
Of course, there’s the rare occurrence when people with face tattoos have not just succeeded despite their regretful life choices, they have excelled as a result of their facial ink. Would Gucci Mane’s rep as “the coolest rapper in jail” be secure if his face didn’t havea triple scoop ice cream cone on it? Would Miami rapper Stitches’ video for “Brick in Yo Face” be as insanely popular if his mug didn’t look like it was decorated by a tween with an unhealthy obsession for Tim Burton and assault rifles? Could Zombie Boy have parlayed his association with Lady Gaga into his own brand of overpriced bath towels, condoms, and energy drinks if he had just been some random non-skeletally decorated Montreal skid living on the streets? The answer is a resounding: “Hell-to-the-no!”
Enter Canadian model Vin Los, the latest in the honorable lineage of people who have done stupid things to their face because, who gives a fuck? According to his YouTube video—a budget version of that Zombie Boy video that includes the very Quebecois directive to “BE ADDICT”—the 24-year-old’s goal is pretty straightforward: To become the most famous man on Earth. His face and arms already look like a buzzword checklist written by an art student with things like  “FAME,” “LICK,” and “BAISE MOI” (fuck me) tattooed in handwritten font all over his toned body—which is hairless unless you count all the tiny fake follicles he got tattooed on his chest.
Objectively, without the tattoos, the man is a total babe. In fact, I admit that—even with the words “ICONIC FACE” scrawled on his cheek—one look into his deep brown eyes gave me a ladyboner. After spending hours caressing his Apollo’s belt on my HD screen, dreaming of the day where my name finally finds itself on his inner right thigh, I decided I needed to see his “iconic face” in person and find out why would a man with such a beautifully chiseled jawline would want to permanently walk around with the words “SEX BOMB” on his neck. Here’s how it went.

Photo via Instagram.
VICE: How old were you when you got your first tattoo?Vin Los: I was about 16 or 17 years old. I got the Le Coq Sportif logo. Then I got words tattooed on my arms, and that’s when I decided I would never get another image or drawing tattooed. Drawings don’t mean anything to me. It may sound like I have bad values or something, but my tattoos aren’t just for me. I want to be an image for people to look at, something that has an impact. Everybody who sees me is bound to ask questions: “Why fame? What’s his life like?”
So you like it when people look at you that way?Yes. A puzzled stare is one that’s gonna last. I want to create a myth, a mystery. A lot of people ask me if I’m scared I might regret it one day. If I was indecisive, I don’t think I would write on my face.
How do you pick the words or expressions that go on your body?It’s very superficial. I’ll go on YouTube and listen to all the big hits and I’ll just take words from these songs. For example, “Top of the World” is from the song by The Cataracs, but it’s also what I want. I want to rule the world. As for the city names, it’s to show that we are all on the same level. Borders still exist, but not to the same extent. Whether you’re like, in Zurich or Sydney, I personify all of that. I want to embody pop culture. You could look at me in a hundred years from now and really get the idea of what pop culture was like in the early 2010s.
You say you want to be the most famous man on Earth. Why are you so fascinated by celebrity culture?I’m still trying to figure out why I’m so passionate about it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. And not just people, but also fame which applies to products like Starbucks for example. It’s all around the world. The marketing aspect really fascinates me.
Continue

This Canadian Male Model Has Buzzwords Tattooed All Over His Face and Body

There’s something admirably misanthropic about getting a face tattoo. You really need to be fully committed to having a somewhat shitty life to let a stranger draw something on your face. Whether it’s a teardrop or the name of the softest rapper in the game, having a face tattoo screams: “You may never trust me with your child or gainful employment, but I’ll be damned if I care!”

Of course, there’s the rare occurrence when people with face tattoos have not just succeeded despite their regretful life choices, they have excelled as a result of their facial ink. Would Gucci Mane’s rep as “the coolest rapper in jail” be secure if his face didn’t havea triple scoop ice cream cone on it? Would Miami rapper Stitches’ video for “Brick in Yo Face” be as insanely popular if his mug didn’t look like it was decorated by a tween with an unhealthy obsession for Tim Burton and assault rifles? Could Zombie Boy have parlayed his association with Lady Gaga into his own brand of overpriced bath towelscondoms, and energy drinks if he had just been some random non-skeletally decorated Montreal skid living on the streets? The answer is a resounding: “Hell-to-the-no!”

Enter Canadian model Vin Los, the latest in the honorable lineage of people who have done stupid things to their face because, who gives a fuck? According to his YouTube video—a budget version of that Zombie Boy video that includes the very Quebecois directive to “BE ADDICT”—the 24-year-old’s goal is pretty straightforward: To become the most famous man on Earth. His face and arms already look like a buzzword checklist written by an art student with things like  “FAME,” “LICK,” and “BAISE MOI” (fuck me) tattooed in handwritten font all over his toned body—which is hairless unless you count all the tiny fake follicles he got tattooed on his chest.

Objectively, without the tattoos, the man is a total babe. In fact, I admit that—even with the words “ICONIC FACE” scrawled on his cheek—one look into his deep brown eyes gave me a ladyboner. After spending hours caressing his Apollo’s belt on my HD screen, dreaming of the day where my name finally finds itself on his inner right thigh, I decided I needed to see his “iconic face” in person and find out why would a man with such a beautifully chiseled jawline would want to permanently walk around with the words “SEX BOMB” on his neck. Here’s how it went.

Photo via Instagram.

VICE: How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
Vin Los: I was about 16 or 17 years old. I got the Le Coq Sportif logo. Then I got words tattooed on my arms, and that’s when I decided I would never get another image or drawing tattooed. Drawings don’t mean anything to me. It may sound like I have bad values or something, but my tattoos aren’t just for me. I want to be an image for people to look at, something that has an impact. Everybody who sees me is bound to ask questions: “Why fame? What’s his life like?”

So you like it when people look at you that way?
Yes. A puzzled stare is one that’s gonna last. I want to create a myth, a mystery. A lot of people ask me if I’m scared I might regret it one day. If I was indecisive, I don’t think I would write on my face.

How do you pick the words or expressions that go on your body?
It’s very superficial. I’ll go on YouTube and listen to all the big hits and I’ll just take words from these songs. For example, “Top of the World” is from the song by The Cataracs, but it’s also what I want. I want to rule the world. As for the city names, it’s to show that we are all on the same level. Borders still exist, but not to the same extent. Whether you’re like, in Zurich or Sydney, I personify all of that. I want to embody pop culture. You could look at me in a hundred years from now and really get the idea of what pop culture was like in the early 2010s.

You say you want to be the most famous man on Earth. Why are you so fascinated by celebrity culture?
I’m still trying to figure out why I’m so passionate about it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. And not just people, but also fame which applies to products like Starbucks for example. It’s all around the world. The marketing aspect really fascinates me.

Continue

Meet the Russian Kids Who Take the World’s Riskiest Photos

Meet the Russian Kids Who Take the World’s Riskiest Photos

NEVER PITCH ANY OF THESE THINGS TO US AGAIN

We receive lots of pitches here at VICE and roughly 75 percent of them are the things featured on the following list. So, just to be clear: We know that all of these things exist. Everybody does. I know you just got the internet and found eBaum’s World or googled “weird stuff” or whatever, but we’ve had the internet for a while now. So please stop sending us this stuff.
KILLING SOMEONE ON ACIDThis was a real pitch we got from an intern. She planned to listen to Slayer while she did it and plead insanity if she got caught. At least that last bit makes sense.
LARPINGWe’ve covered this from every angle we possibly can. It’s about as popular as wrestling over here now, which is kind of sad, and the last thing it needs is more coverage. It was a key feature in half the episodes of Peep Show, for Christ’s sakes.

ART MADE OF BODILY FLUIDSLooks like shit, smells like shit, and your name isn’t Chris Ofili? Then you’ve just made a shit. Well done, I made one this morning.
BRONIESThe new adult babies. Except they’re self-aware now.
FASHION SHOOTS THAT GOT CANNED FROM SOME OTHER MAGAZINEWe can tell, you know.
NINETY PERCENT OF TATTOO PITCHESSome are actually pretty good, like this one: “I go and ask for misspelt tattoos, like ‘Joy Diversion’ or ‘Enter Sadman,’ and if the tattooist doesn’t point it out, I have to get it done.” That’s kind of great.
A NEW DRUG THAT ISN’T NEW, IT’S JUST MEPHEDRONE WITH A NEW NAMEDon’t make us stay up gurning for a whole night just to work out that this one does root canal in your brain and makes you want to kill yourself for three days as well. Mephedrone is the P. Diddy of drugs: Consistently reinventing itself, consistently awful.
INTERVIEWS WITH “UP-AND-COMING” BANDS THAT THE WRITER HAPPENS TO BE FRIENDS WITH“Hey VICE. Are you guys plugged into the New Jersey scene, ATM? I’ve got some interview time with The Sheep on the eve of their single launch show. It’s going to be a homecoming, and these guys REALLY know how to play. They’re something of a hit with the ladies, if you know what I mean, so I think it’s safe to say you can expect some great photos ;) Anyway, hit me up, bro!” Nope.
CHEESE ROLLINGOnce a year, the people of Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, UK, chase some huge hunks of cheese down a hill. Cute, but not exactly The VICE Guide to Liberia, is it? So why does everyone suggest we film it EVERY YEAR?
UNAMBITIOUS URBAN EXPLORATIONWhat’s that? Managed to get on the rooftop of a high-rise in Manhattan? Then you twiddled your thumbs, smoked a joint, and went home, right? It’s not exactly doing cartwheels along the girders of an 800-foot suspension bridge or exploring decommissioned nuclear silos in Nowheresville, US, is it? (Note: Please don’t take that as a challenge to go out and replicate these things, you don’t deserve to die or get arrested for having a shitty imagination.)
SEXY AGONY AUNT COLUMNMy advice? Don’t have sex—it makes your fingers smell horrible.
PHOTO STORIES ABOUT HOMELESS PEOPLESo you’ve noticed that there are people begging at Union Station? What an exemplar of humanity you are. The rest of us go through our lives with our new media blinkers on, unmoved by anything other than the latest trends… but you, you stop to notice the forgotten souls of our streets. Then you take photos of them, and then you sell those photos. I hope someone stabs you with a syringe.

CONTINUE

NEVER PITCH ANY OF THESE THINGS TO US AGAIN

We receive lots of pitches here at VICE and roughly 75 percent of them are the things featured on the following list. So, just to be clear: We know that all of these things exist. Everybody does. I know you just got the internet and found eBaum’s World or googled “weird stuff” or whatever, but we’ve had the internet for a while now. So please stop sending us this stuff.

KILLING SOMEONE ON ACID
This was a real pitch we got from an intern. She planned to listen to Slayer while she did it and plead insanity if she got caught. At least that last bit makes sense.

LARPING
We’ve covered this from every angle we possibly can. It’s about as popular as wrestling over here now, which is kind of sad, and the last thing it needs is more coverage. It was a key feature in half the episodes of Peep Show, for Christ’s sakes.

ART MADE OF BODILY FLUIDS
Looks like shit, smells like shit, and your name isn’t Chris Ofili? Then you’ve just made a shit. Well done, I made one this morning.

BRONIES
The new adult babies. Except they’re self-aware now.

FASHION SHOOTS THAT GOT CANNED FROM SOME OTHER MAGAZINE
We can tell, you know.

NINETY PERCENT OF TATTOO PITCHES
Some are actually pretty good, like this one: “I go and ask for misspelt tattoos, like ‘Joy Diversion’ or ‘Enter Sadman,’ and if the tattooist doesn’t point it out, I have to get it done.” That’s kind of great.

A NEW DRUG THAT ISN’T NEW, IT’S JUST MEPHEDRONE WITH A NEW NAME
Don’t make us stay up gurning for a whole night just to work out that this one does root canal in your brain and makes you want to kill yourself for three days as well. Mephedrone is the P. Diddy of drugs: Consistently reinventing itself, consistently awful.

INTERVIEWS WITH “UP-AND-COMING” BANDS THAT THE WRITER HAPPENS TO BE FRIENDS WITH
“Hey VICE. Are you guys plugged into the New Jersey scene, ATM? I’ve got some interview time with The Sheep on the eve of their single launch show. It’s going to be a homecoming, and these guys REALLY know how to play. They’re something of a hit with the ladies, if you know what I mean, so I think it’s safe to say you can expect some great photos ;) Anyway, hit me up, bro!” Nope.

CHEESE ROLLING
Once a year, the people of Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, UK, chase some huge hunks of cheese down a hill. Cute, but not exactly The VICE Guide to Liberia, is it? So why does everyone suggest we film it EVERY YEAR?

UNAMBITIOUS URBAN EXPLORATION
What’s that? Managed to get on the rooftop of a high-rise in Manhattan? Then you twiddled your thumbs, smoked a joint, and went home, right? It’s not exactly doing cartwheels along the girders of an 800-foot suspension bridge or exploring decommissioned nuclear silos in Nowheresville, US, is it? (Note: Please don’t take that as a challenge to go out and replicate these things, you don’t deserve to die or get arrested for having a shitty imagination.)

SEXY AGONY AUNT COLUMN
My advice? Don’t have sex—it makes your fingers smell horrible.

PHOTO STORIES ABOUT HOMELESS PEOPLE
So you’ve noticed that there are people begging at Union Station? What an exemplar of humanity you are. The rest of us go through our lives with our new media blinkers on, unmoved by anything other than the latest trends… but you, you stop to notice the forgotten souls of our streets. Then you take photos of them, and then you sell those photos. I hope someone stabs you with a syringe.

CONTINUE

I WENT TO SYRIA TO LEARN HOW TO BE A JOURNALIST 
(AND FAILED MISERABLY AT IT WHILE ALMOST DYING A BUNCH OF TIMES)

Sunil Patel had never been published before he decided to go to Syria in August 2012 to become a war correspondent. Before his trip, the 25-year-old worked as a community-support officer for the London Police, lived with his mom and dad, and occasionally volunteered in Palestinian and Kurdish refugee camps. On one of his activist trips, Sunil befriended an ever so slightly more experienced freelance journalist from Canada who promised to take him into parts of Syria that were almost impossible for a foreigner to get to through legal routes. It was a foolish idea for sure, and he almost died several times during his trip, but we still think his story was worth the risk. And no, VICE did not send him there. He did this of his own accord, and we found out about it after the fact.
Imet Carlos in an internet café in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan (and, obviously, “Carlos” is not his real name). I overheard him talking about something involving Palestine and Syria over a Skype call, and when he had finished we struck up a conversation.
Carlos told me that he’d already been to Syria, shooting as a freelance photographer, and that he was going back soon. I told him how I’d been thinking about going there to write about the conflict, but that I didn’t have any experience as a journalist. “You know what?” he said. “I’ll take you to Syria.” He didn’t seem to mind that I was a novice.
That night, Carlos crashed at my hostel. He didn’t have his own place to stay or money for a room, so he slept on the floor. It was a bit dodgy sneaking him in, but worth it, because we spent the whole night talking about Syria.
I got the impression that Carlos wanted someone to travel with. I already had a ticket home to London, but we came up with an arrangement: I would fly back, and when Carlos was ready to return to Syria he would call me and we’d meet up in Turkey. From there, Carlos explained, we could cross the border. “I’ve got contacts,” he said. I was a little nervous, but this sounded like a good plan to me. We’d never have war reporters like Robert Fisk or Seymour Hersh if they’d stayed at home with their moms instead of going into the shit.Back in London, my parents were not too keen on my plans to travel to a country in the middle of a civil war. They thought I was going to get killed. My sister was really mad. I told them that I’d always wanted to be a war correspondent, and that if I ever was going to have a chance to become a real journalist, this was it. If people want news, somebody’s got to go cover it. But they didn’t care. They were upset.The very next day, Carlos called. “Listen, man,” he said. “I’m going in. You coming or not?”
My mind was already made up. I told Carlos I’d meet him there and booked the next flight to Turkey.My plane landed in Istanbul, and then I took the bus to Hatay, where Carlos was staying with friends. The Syrian border is about 25 miles to the southeast. We wanted to get there as soon as possible, but neither of us spoke more than a few words of Turkish or Arabic. Luckily, we met a Turkish family who helped us get there. They took us into their home, gave us tea, and we ended up talking to them using Google Translate, typing words into their computer. We explained that we were trying to get to Syria. Somehow they understood and helped us call one of Carlos’s contacts, who was supposed to meet us near the border to help us cross. We just had to get there.


At this point, Carlos promptly informed me that he was a veteran hitchhiker and had bummed rides all over Eastern Europe, so we decided to hitchhike to the Syrian border. We probably made a funny pair—I’m Indian, so I wasn’t as suspect, but Carlos is a white guy with black hair and a camera slung around his neck. I don’t know whether this made truck drivers more or less likely to pick us up, but we thumbed it all the way down the narrow two-lane road outside Hatay. It took us about seven rides with truck drivers and more than three hours to make it the 25 miles across the border. Carlos’s contact, a guy named Muhammad, drove us the last few miles, into a town called Reyhanli near the Syrian border.
One of the busiest border crossings between Turkey and Syria, Reyhanli is about 35 miles from Aleppo, where the war was really heating up. As we roamed around and tried to get oriented, loads of refugees were streaming into Turkey—to escape the war, I assumed.
We walked across the border. No one stopped us or asked us any questions. We just walked right in. On the other side, more refugees milled around, waiting to cross into Turkey in cars and on foot. We didn’t have an interpreter because we couldn’t afford one. Carlos didn’t have any more contacts, and at this point we were just hoping we’d see some rebels hanging around whom we could talk to and who would show us what war was like.
Just then, some men in military uniforms came up to us. “Journalist!” they shouted in Arabic. “Journalist!”“Yeah, we’re journalists,” I said, in English. I think they understood me. “We want to get some coverage. Can you take us with you to the war?”

Keep Reading

I WENT TO SYRIA TO LEARN HOW TO BE A JOURNALIST 

(AND FAILED MISERABLY AT IT WHILE ALMOST DYING A BUNCH OF TIMES)

Sunil Patel had never been published before he decided to go to Syria in August 2012 to become a war correspondent. Before his trip, the 25-year-old worked as a community-support officer for the London Police, lived with his mom and dad, and occasionally volunteered in Palestinian and Kurdish refugee camps. On one of his activist trips, Sunil befriended an ever so slightly more experienced freelance journalist from Canada who promised to take him into parts of Syria that were almost impossible for a foreigner to get to through legal routes. It was a foolish idea for sure, and he almost died several times during his trip, but we still think his story was worth the risk. And no, VICE did not send him there. He did this of his own accord, and we found out about it after the fact.

Imet Carlos in an internet café in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan (and, obviously, “Carlos” is not his real name). I overheard him talking about something involving Palestine and Syria over a Skype call, and when he had finished we struck up a conversation.

Carlos told me that he’d already been to Syria, shooting as a freelance photographer, and that he was going back soon. I told him how I’d been thinking about going there to write about the conflict, but that I didn’t have any experience as a journalist. “You know what?” he said. “I’ll take you to Syria.” He didn’t seem to mind that I was a novice.

That night, Carlos crashed at my hostel. He didn’t have his own place to stay or money for a room, so he slept on the floor. It was a bit dodgy sneaking him in, but worth it, because we spent the whole night talking about Syria.

I got the impression that Carlos wanted someone to travel with. I already had a ticket home to London, but we came up with an arrangement: I would fly back, and when Carlos was ready to return to Syria he would call me and we’d meet up in Turkey. From there, Carlos explained, we could cross the border. “I’ve got contacts,” he said. I was a little nervous, but this sounded like a good plan to me. We’d never have war reporters like Robert Fisk or Seymour Hersh if they’d stayed at home with their moms instead of going into the shit.
Back in London, my parents were not too keen on my plans to travel to a country in the middle of a civil war. They thought I was going to get killed. My sister was really mad. I told them that I’d always wanted to be a war correspondent, and that if I ever was going to have a chance to become a real journalist, this was it. If people want news, somebody’s got to go cover it. But they didn’t care. They were upset.
The very next day, Carlos called. “Listen, man,” he said. “I’m going in. You coming or not?”

My mind was already made up. I told Carlos I’d meet him there and booked the next flight to Turkey.

My plane landed in Istanbul, and then I took the bus to Hatay, where Carlos was staying with friends. The Syrian border is about 25 miles to the southeast. We wanted to get there as soon as possible, but neither of us spoke more than a few words of Turkish or Arabic. Luckily, we met a Turkish family who helped us get there. They took us into their home, gave us tea, and we ended up talking to them using Google Translate, typing words into their computer. We explained that we were trying to get to Syria. Somehow they understood and helped us call one of Carlos’s contacts, who was supposed to meet us near the border to help us cross. We just had to get there.

At this point, Carlos promptly informed me that he was a veteran hitchhiker and had bummed rides all over Eastern Europe, so we decided to hitchhike to the Syrian border. We probably made a funny pair—I’m Indian, so I wasn’t as suspect, but Carlos is a white guy with black hair and a camera slung around his neck. I don’t know whether this made truck drivers more or less likely to pick us up, but we thumbed it all the way down the narrow two-lane road outside Hatay. It took us about seven rides with truck drivers and more than three hours to make it the 25 miles across the border. Carlos’s contact, a guy named Muhammad, drove us the last few miles, into a town called Reyhanli near the Syrian border.

One of the busiest border crossings between Turkey and Syria, Reyhanli is about 35 miles from Aleppo, where the war was really heating up. As we roamed around and tried to get oriented, loads of refugees were streaming into Turkey—to escape the war, I assumed.

We walked across the border. No one stopped us or asked us any questions. We just walked right in. On the other side, more refugees milled around, waiting to cross into Turkey in cars and on foot. We didn’t have an interpreter because we couldn’t afford one. Carlos didn’t have any more contacts, and at this point we were just hoping we’d see some rebels hanging around whom we could talk to and who would show us what war was like.

Just then, some men in military uniforms came up to us. “Journalist!” they shouted in Arabic. “Journalist!”
“Yeah, we’re journalists,” I said, in English. I think they understood me. “We want to get some coverage. Can you take us with you to the war?”

Keep Reading