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?”

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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