A ‘Rich Kid of Instagram’ Had Four Luxury Cars Destroyed in Arson Attacks Last Week

The Rich Kids of Instagram (#RKOI) is a group made up of the sons and daughters of the world’s one-percenters. They enjoy showing the internet how filthy-rich they are, posting pictures of themselves jumping into the water out of helicopters and their gaudy toilets made of gold tiles, among other annoying things. But if you look past the worry-free lifestyle they promote on social media, you’ll find they have it just as hard as the rest of us. Last week, “Lord Aleem”—a.k.a. 19-year-old Aleem Iqbal, whose father owns a Birmingham, UK–based luxury-car rental firm—had four vehicles torched in as many days, totaling around $850,000 worth of damage. Of course, you might argue it was his own fault—that any of us might attract the attention of arsonists if we relentlessly posted photos of our luxury-car collections—but it’s never a nice feeling to watch your most valued possessions being set on fire.
Following the attacks, Aleem suggested that they could either be “a vile act of jealously,” or simply some “mindless vandals on an arson spree.” Regardless of the motive, he promised that “when they get caught” they’ll be “going down for a long time.”
Speculative statements are all well and good, but the news still made me wonder whether any other #RKOI are now worried that their own belongings are going to be targeted by marauding fire starters. To find out, I searched for the Rich Kids of Instagram hashtag and spoke to a few of the people I found.
VICE: What do you think of what’s happened to Lord Aleem?@a_george_life: Lord Aleem shared his address on Instagram, which was a mistake. I’ve met Aleem a few times. He’s a polite and kind-natured individual, but he sometimes lets his “fame” get ahead of him.
Do you worry a similar thing could happen to you?I keep a tight lid on my location, and I’ve never taken pictures of my house or of the area I live in. I have a very high level of security, so I feel safe. You’re right—you never know if someone is planning to attack you out of jealousy, but I’m well prepared for such an event.
You don’t share your address, but you do post photos of license plates and that kind of thing.The plates don’t matter because I register the cars in other people’s names and keep them in garages. Besides, I’ve since sold a lot of cars on there and now have different ones.
Why did you first decide to show the internet how wealthy you are?I simply enjoy looking at other people’s pictures, and I’m sure people enjoy mine. For example, I buy rounds of drinks because I like to share what I have with my friends. I like to give other people an insight into that lifestyle. I don’t do it to flaunt my wealth or try to be a Z-list celebrity—I use #RKOI to help share my pictures because Rich Kids of Instagram is popular and I’m happy people gain pleasure from my pictures.
Fair enough. Do you get many haters online?I receive very little backlash from haters, but when I do it doesn’t bother me; I couldn’t care less about the opinion of someone I don’t know. I appreciate kind words because I believe a positive attitude leads to positive accomplishments, whereas being negative leads nowhere.
Continue

A ‘Rich Kid of Instagram’ Had Four Luxury Cars Destroyed in Arson Attacks Last Week

The Rich Kids of Instagram (#RKOI) is a group made up of the sons and daughters of the world’s one-percenters. They enjoy showing the internet how filthy-rich they are, posting pictures of themselves jumping into the water out of helicopters and their gaudy toilets made of gold tiles, among other annoying things. But if you look past the worry-free lifestyle they promote on social media, you’ll find they have it just as hard as the rest of us. Last week, “Lord Aleem”—a.k.a. 19-year-old Aleem Iqbal, whose father owns a Birmingham, UK–based luxury-car rental firm—had four vehicles torched in as many days, totaling around $850,000 worth of damage. Of course, you might argue it was his own fault—that any of us might attract the attention of arsonists if we relentlessly posted photos of our luxury-car collections—but it’s never a nice feeling to watch your most valued possessions being set on fire.

Following the attacks, Aleem suggested that they could either be “a vile act of jealously,” or simply some “mindless vandals on an arson spree.” Regardless of the motive, he promised that “when they get caught” they’ll be “going down for a long time.”

Speculative statements are all well and good, but the news still made me wonder whether any other #RKOI are now worried that their own belongings are going to be targeted by marauding fire starters. To find out, I searched for the Rich Kids of Instagram hashtag and spoke to a few of the people I found.

VICE: What do you think of what’s happened to Lord Aleem?
@a_george_life: Lord Aleem shared his address on Instagram, which was a mistake. I’ve met Aleem a few times. He’s a polite and kind-natured individual, but he sometimes lets his “fame” get ahead of him.

Do you worry a similar thing could happen to you?
I keep a tight lid on my location, and I’ve never taken pictures of my house or of the area I live in. I have a very high level of security, so I feel safe. You’re right—you never know if someone is planning to attack you out of jealousy, but I’m well prepared for such an event.

You don’t share your address, but you do post photos of license plates and that kind of thing.
The plates don’t matter because I register the cars in other people’s names and keep them in garages. Besides, I’ve since sold a lot of cars on there and now have different ones.

Why did you first decide to show the internet how wealthy you are?
I simply enjoy looking at other people’s pictures, and I’m sure people enjoy mine. For example, I buy rounds of drinks because I like to share what I have with my friends. I like to give other people an insight into that lifestyle. I don’t do it to flaunt my wealth or try to be a Z-list celebrity—I use #RKOI to help share my pictures because Rich Kids of Instagram is popular and I’m happy people gain pleasure from my pictures.

Fair enough. Do you get many haters online?
I receive very little backlash from haters, but when I do it doesn’t bother me; I couldn’t care less about the opinion of someone I don’t know. I appreciate kind words because I believe a positive attitude leads to positive accomplishments, whereas being negative leads nowhere.

Continue

You Can Kill Anyone with Your Car, As Long As You Don’t Really Mean


On May 29 of last year, Bobby Cann left the Groupon offices in Chicago, where he worked as an editorial tools specialist. Traveling north on his bicycle, he rode up wide, sunny Larrabee Street. As he entered the intersection at Clybourn Avenue, a Mercedes SUV traveling over 50 miles per hour slammed into him from behind. The impact threw Cann into the air. He landed unconscious, blood streaming out of his mouth and his left leg severed. Bystanders, including a registered nurse, rushed to help. Shortly after transport to a nearby hospital, he died.
What makes Cann’s story notable among the 700 or so bicyclists who are hit and killed in America each year is that San Hamel faces charges in Cann’s death. According to a recent report by the League of American Bicyclists, barely one in five drivers who end bicyclists’ lives are charged with a crime. The low prosecution rate isn’t a secret, and has inspired many towonder whether plowing into a cyclist with a car is a low-risk way to commit homicide.
The Cann case is an exception that proves the rule. “The criminal case is sort of about the outrageous nature of what happened,” Todd Smith, a civil attorney for Cann’s family, concedes. “[San Hamel was] driving under the influence on the city streets where things are congested, and [there was] the complete lack of braking of any sort, the enormous impact of a car of thousands of pounds going in excess of 50 miles per hour, hitting just the human body.” San Hamel’s blood alcohol level was 0.127 at the time of the crash.

Photo via Flickr user rick
Bicyclists who pushed for prosecution also helped the cause. Last summer, over 5,000 people signed a petition asking state’s attorney Anita Alvarez to refuse a plea bargain from San Hamel. Local activist Robert Kastigar, who started the petition, says he believes it encouraged the state to pursue the case. A representative of Chicago advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance says the involvement of activists is likely to influence stiffer sentencing.
Nationwide, incidents like Cann’s often result in misdemeanor charges, tickets, or nothing. Leah Shahum from the San Francisco Bike Coalition told the New York Times last year that her organization does “not know of a single case of a cyclist fatality in which the driver was prosecuted, except for D.U.I. or hit-and-run.” Kristin Smith, also of the SF Coalition, says that “Last year, four people were hit and killed in San Francisco and no charges were ever brought,” including for a collision captured on video that showed the driver was at fault. Last year in New York City, the bike advocacy organization Time’s Up pushed for changes in police investigations of bicyclist deaths by painting chalk body outlines on streets, marked with words familiar from NYPD reports: “No Criminality Suspected.”
Continue

You Can Kill Anyone with Your Car, As Long As You Don’t Really Mean

On May 29 of last year, Bobby Cann left the Groupon offices in Chicago, where he worked as an editorial tools specialist. Traveling north on his bicycle, he rode up wide, sunny Larrabee Street. As he entered the intersection at Clybourn Avenue, a Mercedes SUV traveling over 50 miles per hour slammed into him from behind. The impact threw Cann into the air. He landed unconscious, blood streaming out of his mouth and his left leg severed. Bystanders, including a registered nurse, rushed to help. Shortly after transport to a nearby hospital, he died.

What makes Cann’s story notable among the 700 or so bicyclists who are hit and killed in America each year is that San Hamel faces charges in Cann’s death. According to a recent report by the League of American Bicyclists, barely one in five drivers who end bicyclists’ lives are charged with a crime. The low prosecution rate isn’t a secret, and has inspired many towonder whether plowing into a cyclist with a car is a low-risk way to commit homicide.

The Cann case is an exception that proves the rule. “The criminal case is sort of about the outrageous nature of what happened,” Todd Smith, a civil attorney for Cann’s family, concedes. “[San Hamel was] driving under the influence on the city streets where things are congested, and [there was] the complete lack of braking of any sort, the enormous impact of a car of thousands of pounds going in excess of 50 miles per hour, hitting just the human body.” San Hamel’s blood alcohol level was 0.127 at the time of the crash.

Photo via Flickr user rick

Bicyclists who pushed for prosecution also helped the cause. Last summer, over 5,000 people signed a petition asking state’s attorney Anita Alvarez to refuse a plea bargain from San Hamel. Local activist Robert Kastigar, who started the petition, says he believes it encouraged the state to pursue the case. A representative of Chicago advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance says the involvement of activists is likely to influence stiffer sentencing.

Nationwide, incidents like Cann’s often result in misdemeanor charges, tickets, or nothing. Leah Shahum from the San Francisco Bike Coalition told the New York Times last year that her organization does “not know of a single case of a cyclist fatality in which the driver was prosecuted, except for D.U.I. or hit-and-run.” Kristin Smith, also of the SF Coalition, says that “Last year, four people were hit and killed in San Francisco and no charges were ever brought,” including for a collision captured on video that showed the driver was at fault. Last year in New York City, the bike advocacy organization Time’s Up pushed for changes in police investigations of bicyclist deaths by painting chalk body outlines on streets, marked with words familiar from NYPD reports: “No Criminality Suspected.”

Continue

The Case Against Cars
The look on the receptionist’s face told me I had said something wrong. It was a maternal expression, like that of an elderly woman who has found her grandkid outside in the cold with a runny nose but no jacket. There was genuine concern in her eyes, but her pursed lips suggested a certain annoyed disbelief: Just what were you thinking, if you were thinking at all?
“You don’t have a car?” she asked, accusingly.
“I don’t have a car,” I replied.
It was my first day at a new job, and I had taken the bus that morning. That bus took me to a subway—a futuristic train that goes underneath Los Angeles in order to get from one place to another—so I didn’t need a car, just like I didn’t need the people’s history of the local parking situation she had graciously given me. Seriously, the subway is, like, right over there.
She nodded her head and forced a smile the way tourists do when they don’t understand a word you are saying.
This happens almost daily: We, the car-less of Los Angeles, must confess our lack of an automobile as if it were a character defect on par with betting on dogfighting. You risk being judged not only at your workplace but at the supermarket, where the teenage bagger asks if you need any help carrying those boxes of generic cereal out to your four-wheeled expression of self. Having a car shows that you have the financial means to own a car. Not having a car makes people assume you live at home and have an unhealthy relationship with your mother—and as sexy local singles say, that’s a deal-breaker.
So it’s a bit heretical when I say I like not having a car. It’s actually rather nice to leave the driving to someone else and not have to worry about steering your personal air-conditioned death box at 70 miles an hour on a freeway full of idiots—and hundreds of thousands of people in the LA metro region agree with me on this. Sure, it takes a bit longer to get somewhere—30 minutes instead of 15—but you also don’t have to spend 20 minutes circling the block for parking whenever you go out. And there are buses and trains that go almost anywhere, and by taking them you free yourself from worry about car payments, parking tickets, and DUIs.
You also don’t need to worry about getting mutilated in a horrific car accident. According to the US government, more than 2.3 million people were injured and 33,500 died on America’s roads in 2012. For people in the US between the ages of one and 44, motor vehicles are the leading cause of death. Avoid driving on a freeway and you significantly reduce your chance of being injured or killed on one.
Continue

The Case Against Cars

The look on the receptionist’s face told me I had said something wrong. It was a maternal expression, like that of an elderly woman who has found her grandkid outside in the cold with a runny nose but no jacket. There was genuine concern in her eyes, but her pursed lips suggested a certain annoyed disbelief: Just what were you thinking, if you were thinking at all?

“You don’t have a car?” she asked, accusingly.

“I don’t have a car,” I replied.

It was my first day at a new job, and I had taken the bus that morning. That bus took me to a subway—a futuristic train that goes underneath Los Angeles in order to get from one place to another—so I didn’t need a car, just like I didn’t need the people’s history of the local parking situation she had graciously given me. Seriously, the subway is, like, right over there.

She nodded her head and forced a smile the way tourists do when they don’t understand a word you are saying.

This happens almost daily: We, the car-less of Los Angeles, must confess our lack of an automobile as if it were a character defect on par with betting on dogfighting. You risk being judged not only at your workplace but at the supermarket, where the teenage bagger asks if you need any help carrying those boxes of generic cereal out to your four-wheeled expression of self. Having a car shows that you have the financial means to own a car. Not having a car makes people assume you live at home and have an unhealthy relationship with your mother—and as sexy local singles say, that’s a deal-breaker.

So it’s a bit heretical when I say I like not having a car. It’s actually rather nice to leave the driving to someone else and not have to worry about steering your personal air-conditioned death box at 70 miles an hour on a freeway full of idiots—and hundreds of thousands of people in the LA metro region agree with me on this. Sure, it takes a bit longer to get somewhere—30 minutes instead of 15—but you also don’t have to spend 20 minutes circling the block for parking whenever you go out. And there are buses and trains that go almost anywhere, and by taking them you free yourself from worry about car payments, parking tickets, and DUIs.

You also don’t need to worry about getting mutilated in a horrific car accident. According to the US government, more than 2.3 million people were injured and 33,500 died on America’s roads in 2012. For people in the US between the ages of one and 44, motor vehicles are the leading cause of death. Avoid driving on a freeway and you significantly reduce your chance of being injured or killed on one.

Continue

I feel like if you crop this photo, from our new photo spread "Bottoms Out", you end up with a totally different vibe:

I feel like if you crop this photo, from our new photo spread "Bottoms Out", you end up with a totally different vibe:

benritterphoto:

BOTTOMS OUT. in print Vice Magazine October 2013
p ben ritter
styled by annette lamothe-ramos
m ashley sky
shoot assistant bobby viteri, fashion coordinator miyako belizzi, production naviavision.com, hair nathalie lozano, makup celina beach, location palm beach international raceway.

See the full series here

benritterphoto:

BOTTOMS OUT. in print Vice Magazine October 2013

p ben ritter

styled by annette lamothe-ramos

m ashley sky

shoot assistant bobby viteri, fashion coordinator miyako belizzi, production naviavision.com, hair nathalie lozano, makup celina beach, location palm beach international raceway.

See the full series here

Should America Double Its Exports of Coal, the World’s Dirtiest Fossil Fuel?
Somewhere outside Ferndale, Washington—after following a series of backcountry roads through rolling pastures and fertile farmland dotted with goats and llamas—I reached a sign warning: “No Trespassing, Violators Will Be Prosecuted,” that marks the presumed far outer edge of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal.
If approved and built, the massive, $600 million facility will ship at least 59.5 million tons of coal per year to Asia, doubling US exports of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. To effectively feed the beast, nine trains per day, each one-and-a-half miles long, would travel from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, over the continental divide, to this small stretch of coastline just 17 miles south of the Canadian border. Then those same trains would turn around and head back to the mines, to fill up once again—all part of an never-ending loop cutting through small towns, remote wilderness, and even big cities like Tacoma, Spokane, and Seattle, spreading coal dust all along their route. Up to 3 percent of each load escapes from the trains’s open-air tops on every westbound leg of the journey.
That’s the plan, anyway.           What lies beyond the No Trespassing sign at this particular moment, however, really depends on who you ask. Before venturing to Ferndale, I started my inquiries earlier in the week with a visit to the Washington State Department of Ecology in the state’s capital, Olympia. The DOE is currently tasked (along with the small County of Whatcom and the US Army Corps of Engineers) with producing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Gateway Pacific proposal. Plans for the terminal were first submitted in 2011 by SSA Marine, which owns the land upon which the export terminal would sit, and the DOE have been racing to produce their study.
Continue

Should America Double Its Exports of Coal, the World’s Dirtiest Fossil Fuel?

Somewhere outside Ferndale, Washington—after following a series of backcountry roads through rolling pastures and fertile farmland dotted with goats and llamas—I reached a sign warning: “No Trespassing, Violators Will Be Prosecuted,” that marks the presumed far outer edge of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal.

If approved and built, the massive, $600 million facility will ship at least 59.5 million tons of coal per year to Asia, doubling US exports of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. To effectively feed the beast, nine trains per day, each one-and-a-half miles long, would travel from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, over the continental divide, to this small stretch of coastline just 17 miles south of the Canadian border. Then those same trains would turn around and head back to the mines, to fill up once again—all part of an never-ending loop cutting through small towns, remote wilderness, and even big cities like Tacoma, Spokane, and Seattle, spreading coal dust all along their route. Up to 3 percent of each load escapes from the trains’s open-air tops on every westbound leg of the journey.

That’s the plan, anyway.
           
What lies beyond the No Trespassing sign at this particular moment, however, really depends on who you ask. Before venturing to Ferndale, I started my inquiries earlier in the week with a visit to the Washington State Department of Ecology in the state’s capital, Olympia. The DOE is currently tasked (along with the small County of Whatcom and the US Army Corps of Engineers) with producing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Gateway Pacific proposal. Plans for the terminal were first submitted in 2011 by SSA Marine, which owns the land upon which the export terminal would sit, and the DOE have been racing to produce their study.

Continue

How Jay Leno Has Bettered Our Society
Pretty much everyone in America, sans a “longtime fan” in Phoenix and (hopefully) Jay’s wife, Mavis, hates Jay Leno. That being the case, Leno-gate 2013 has definitely taken a toll on the Chinned One’s ego. Now, it’s finally official, and Jay is on the outs. No one has stood up and defended Jay’s honor, even though we all know what’s at stake. It appears the American public really is cool with letting that smarmy little Capital One spokes-shit Jimmy Fallon take over The FUCKING TONIGHT SHOW. Clearly we’ve lost our way, and our collective minds. Listen—Leno wasn’t voted “America’s Late Night Leader” for nothing, OK? What the hell has Fallon ever won? “Most Manchildest Saturday Night Live Cast Member (Ever Since Adam Sandler Left)”? I’m tired of y’all hating on Jay. If you think Leno hasn’t made the world a better place during his 20-something-year tenure at the helm of The Tonight Show, you’re out of your goddamned mind.

HE, NOT UNLIKE THE UNION, MAKES US STRONG
A few years ago, People magazine revealed that Leno consumes two (as in, more than one) chicken sandwiches from Johnny Rockets (as in, Johnny Rockets) for lunch every day. People didn’t publish this shocking revelation as part of a smear campaign against Leno—he willingly gave them this information. His lack of shame is admirable and something those of us who constantly live in fear of other people’s judgement should aspire to. Do I like Arby’s? Yes. Was I ashamed to admit that fact for decades? YES. Leno’s bravery, however, has made me embrace my monsterism. Fuck the haters. Pass the Horsey Sauce.
HE’S A POWERFUL SOCIAL CRITIC
With his recurring “Jaywalking” bit, Leno has shed some much-needed light on the rampant problem of Midwestern ignorance. I mean, lemme get this straight—nine out of ten Affliction-clad crackers can’t name oneSupreme Court Justice? No wonder this country’s going down the drain!

HIS FUNNY CARS ARE FUNNY
Every time one of his funny cars breaks down on the I-5, you know pretty much everyone who drives by laughs their balls off at his misfortune. Regardless of how you feel about Jay’s iteration of The Tonight Show, you’ve gotta admit the man’s bringing light and laughter to people’s lives in at least one regard. Unlike Jack Paar, who was deeply humorless and, in his spare time, beat orphans with golf clubs.
Continue

How Jay Leno Has Bettered Our Society

Pretty much everyone in America, sans a “longtime fan” in Phoenix and (hopefully) Jay’s wife, Mavis, hates Jay Leno. That being the case, Leno-gate 2013 has definitely taken a toll on the Chinned One’s ego. Now, it’s finally official, and Jay is on the outs. No one has stood up and defended Jay’s honor, even though we all know what’s at stake. It appears the American public really is cool with letting that smarmy little Capital One spokes-shit Jimmy Fallon take over The FUCKING TONIGHT SHOW. Clearly we’ve lost our way, and our collective minds. Listen—Leno wasn’t voted “America’s Late Night Leader” for nothing, OK? What the hell has Fallon ever won? “Most Manchildest Saturday Night Live Cast Member (Ever Since Adam Sandler Left)”? I’m tired of y’all hating on Jay. If you think Leno hasn’t made the world a better place during his 20-something-year tenure at the helm of The Tonight Show, you’re out of your goddamned mind.

HE, NOT UNLIKE THE UNION, MAKES US STRONG

A few years ago, People magazine revealed that Leno consumes two (as in, more than one) chicken sandwiches from Johnny Rockets (as in, Johnny Rockets) for lunch every day. People didn’t publish this shocking revelation as part of a smear campaign against Leno—he willingly gave them this information. His lack of shame is admirable and something those of us who constantly live in fear of other people’s judgement should aspire to. Do I like Arby’s? Yes. Was I ashamed to admit that fact for decades? YES. Leno’s bravery, however, has made me embrace my monsterism. Fuck the haters. Pass the Horsey Sauce.

HE’S A POWERFUL SOCIAL CRITIC

With his recurring “Jaywalking” bit, Leno has shed some much-needed light on the rampant problem of Midwestern ignorance. I mean, lemme get this straight—nine out of ten Affliction-clad crackers can’t name oneSupreme Court Justice? No wonder this country’s going down the drain!

HIS FUNNY CARS ARE FUNNY

Every time one of his funny cars breaks down on the I-5, you know pretty much everyone who drives by laughs their balls off at his misfortune. Regardless of how you feel about Jay’s iteration of The Tonight Show, you’ve gotta admit the man’s bringing light and laughter to people’s lives in at least one regard. Unlike Jack Paar, who was deeply humorless and, in his spare time, beat orphans with golf clubs.

Continue

I Witness the Daytona 500 Car-Crash Apocalypse

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