Thursday, March 16, 2006

The curse of travel writing...












My one time love/hate relationship with the New York Times Travel section sadly keeps drifting further and further into the hate side. I mean sure it's great that they should go to the trouble to do a lush three page expose on a city like Sao Paulo. We need to know what other places are like. I can even (force myself to) forgive Mr. Dan Shaw's assumption that we are only interested in his foufy and metrosexual destination choices: designer hotels, ritzy shopping centers, beautiful people bars, etc. But then you get this...

"Sao Paulo does not go out of its way to cater to foreign tourists, and this can be a blessing. At restaurants, you will not find yourself surrounded by Germans, Australians and other Americans. At the flea markets, you will not see couples wearing fanny packs and taking photographs. At museums and churches, you will not find crowds. You get to experience life undiluted and witness a South American city in transition."

OK, where to begin... I'm not sure if it's the smug tone of this passage, the blase nation bashing, or the simple fact that Mr. Shaw's article (by virtue of the Times millions of readers, many in search of new hidden and hip destinations) will probably destroy the very "tourist free" setting that apparently, only he will get to enjoy. The article is ripe with these enigmatic declarations from a flabby-minded and soulless traveler.

Oh and by the way, I know a pristine beach where no one ever goes, where gold coins wash gently between your toes in the warm frothy surf, and the longer you rest peacefully in the golden sun, the more fat melts from your body. There is a natural riverbed lined with caviar and a passing pipeline from the Moet & Chandon bottling facility that springs pink champagne leaks every half hour. The dunes are home to the most peculiar and spectacularly beautiful flora and fauna, having developed in near isolation for hundreds of centuries. I'm going to tell all the world about this special place on Fox News and Oprah so that everyone can come see how great it is!

I guess elitism and the non-democratization of all information has a function in the grand scheme of things. Strangely, "Elitism for the Masses" seems to be the underlying agenda for most of the First World.

2 Comments:

Anonymous brian said...

paul - by the time a travel story "breaks" in the NY Times, the truth is, that destination is OH-VAH. after the ubertraveller scene has repeatedly marked a certain corner of the globe, say, the dalmation coast, and then tire from it and move on, THAT'S when the Times reports on it. my friend paul schneider who has written 2 amazing books( on the adirondacks(encroyable) and one of the vineyard) wrote such a lame ass overview of St Barths that it was hard to believe he was actually there. the same can be said of the sao paolo article. but when a writer has to travel there and unearth the "unseen" or where the locals go etc, they aren't given enough time to hunt it out, maing for BORE RING travel reading. they did spif up the special twice yearly travel supplement "T" but that's because they added Prada with a little Prado. BuhLAH BuhLah BuhLAH....

9:42 AM  
Anonymous brian said...

paul - by the time a travel story "breaks" in the NY Times, the truth is, that destination is OH-VAH. after the ubertraveller scene has repeatedly marked a certain corner of the globe, say, the dalmation coast, and then tire from it and move on, THAT'S when the Times reports on it. my friend paul schneider who has written 2 amazing books( on the adirondacks(encroyable) and one of the vineyard) wrote such a lame ass overview of St Barths that it was hard to believe he was actually there. the same can be said of the sao paolo article. but when a writer has to travel there and unearth the "unseen" or where the locals go etc, they aren't given enough time to hunt it out, maing for BORE RING travel reading. they did spif up the special twice yearly travel supplement "T" but that's because they added Prada with a little Prado. BuhLAH BuhLah BuhLAH....

9:42 AM  

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