Here, then, is our open letter to fellow travel truth-seeker, Miss Ledbetter.
Dear Carly Ledbetter (and please pass this on to Buyagift.co.uk, it’s clear you have a wonderful working relationship),
Do you like the Beatles?
No, me neither, but I’ve always loved that one quote.
A reporter asks John Lennon, “Is Ringo the best drummer in the world?”
John replies, probably from under a mound of LSD-drenched fur coats and Japanese art students, “He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles.”
The joke here is that Ringo was a terrible drummer. FUNNY, right? That John. What a scamp. No wonder he got shot.
OK, so remedial internet research suggests that exchange NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED, but it’s a convenient mistruth for what I’m about to tell you.
In your recent opus, ’10 Cities That Make For Unpopular Destinations’ (which I liked, even though it was no ‘2D Bags That Make You Look Like A Cartoon’), you endorse a list that puts the Bywater neighbourhood of New Orleans in the top ten worst places to holiday in the world.
Well, to misquote a misquote by John Lennon (and I’m doing a Scouse accent in my head), “Is the Bywater the worst place to holiday in the world? No, Miss Ledbetter, the Bywater isn’t even the worst place to holiday in New Orleans.”
I know we’re at the end of times and journalism has now been reduced to skimming corporate gift sites who quote phony statistics, and then present them as fake news in hacky lists, the likes of which are now considered ‘source material’ by fine institutions such as the one you work for.
I’ve worked as a travel journalist since 2000, when we were heartlessly MADE TO GO PLACES and find out things and then write true words down. The internet was driven by steam and selfies took, like, half a day. It was different times.
Now, I’m not saying that the other nine sordid little grief-holes don’t deserve to be on that thrilling list. I have no authority to make a judgement, having not been to any. Apart from Plovdiv, which I found quite charming, although I did stay in the gilded mansion of a mafia boss, so my reference points might be off.
But the other eight. It’s like a graveyard of where the poor go to die (or “live”, I guess you might say). Thank GOD you were joking when you said “Now, we'd like to take you (not literally, of course)” (For me, this is the comedic zenith of the piece, well timed and so piquant!). I agree with you – the thought of going where poor people are “allowed” to live is HILARIOUS.
Like, why would you go to these working class slums where people probably have 2D bags that DON’T make them look like cartoon characters? Losers. I am SO WITH YOU on this.
I’m going to have to pick you up on endorsing the Bywater, though, despite the thorough research you must have done before quoting this list. Just a few oversights, but let’s try and raise the bar, shall we? Neither of us want journalism to become a limbo contest (where the bar gets lower to bad reggae music, IT’S A VISUAL METAPHOR, OF SORTS).
I live near the Bywater and…yeah, your thing? Not so much. They just built a pretty great park there and the cafes sell organic juices and the houses are cute and I haven’t been able to buy weed or coke on a single occasion, despite approaching everyone I suspected of not being able to afford a smart phone.
Solange Knowles (even though she is a violent psychopath and probably contributing to those very crime stats – tell buyagift.co.uk to update their numbers) lives there, as does half of Brooklyn, and not the half that knifes people for loose change, the ones that own tall bikes that run on kale.
(On an incidental note, we totally have kale, despite newspaper reports to the contrary – man, can NO-ONE get the Bywater right? It doesn’t have kale! It’s like a South African township! I wrote a satirical poem on this very subject, it’s called Kale-less Whisper and it’s actually quite cutting).
I feel this is a serious lapse in an otherwise flawless article.
As a graduate of Eton, I would expect much more from you.
Oh wait, it’s Elon. I don’t know that one but it sounds important. As you were. Man, I need to start introducing myself by saying which university I went to in the first line. People must LOVE IT. Not poor people in these slums, obviously. Real people.
Yours, in solidarity, in truth, in travel,
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