The wrong side of jazzstory
Oh, how New Orleans loves to hate on the hipsters, moving to a city from places and living here with their clothes and their legs like it's the most natural thing in the world. Yet the animosity for their brethren is part of a dance that's as old as time, or at least as old as a 64-year old trombonist, as this newspaper clip proves. It relates the fist use of the word in this city's newspaper of record, as part of the Great Jazz Wars of the 1950s, when progressive jazz musicians took up brass against the be-bop hipster musicians, in a time that historians now call a watershed moment of jazz on jazz violence. Here, Stan Kenton is, perhaps, standing on the wrong side of jazzstory with his stance against be-bop, and name-calling of the "cool, phoney and pseudo" hipsters - words now reclaimed by hipsters and used freely on the streets of the Bywater.
Of the lesser-known hotel phenomena, one of the most interesting to observe is the that of the passive-aggressive floor gloat. It’s not always completely obvious, but be alert and you can spot it more or less every time you get in the lift/elevator with other people.
Generally, the higher the floor you have to go to, the swankier your room will be, and so letting people know that you’re on a higher floor than them, and therefore a better person in every conceivable way, is an art form, not one that your humble narrator gets to practise too much, though, let him assure you.
I do suffer from near-crippling floor envy, though, so I feel I can speak on this subject with some authority. The seasoned Floor Gloater, residing in a suitably high ranking floor, will hang back in the lobby and let the masses enter the lift first. Then they will wait, sometimes until the doors are closing, not doing anything in the hope that someone asks them which floor they need. They can then announce it loudly to the entire lift, ensuring that the people at the back, who may have missed the nuances of button pressing, are completely up to speed with the floor number involved.
If they are not asked which floor they would like, then Plan B comes into effect. This does involve button pressing, but with such a flourish that anyone sharing the confines of the lift would be hard pressed not to notice the superior ranking. A forefinger demonstratively going up and down the panel of possible numbers a few times usually suffices, though the more brazen might sometimes throw in a rhetorical “Now, what was my floor again…?” just to make sure.
The Floor Gloater’s worst nightmare is gambling on the superiority of a floor that is only second or third from the top. Imagine the humiliation of having gone through the above process, and then seeing the crowds disperse at their inferior heights, only for one person to remain, entering their floor only on the way up. This someone is somehow on the very highest floor, someone who, in the assurance that they could not be trumped, held back until the last possible minute to assert dominance.
This is the work of a true Floor Gloating Artist, executing a very specific and crushing floor victory over the would-be Floor Pretender, the plebs on the lowlier floors not even worthy of seeing this elite punishment being doled out. Had they even witnessed it (having missed their floor and having to wait for the car to go down again), its significance would surely be lost on them. They who haven’t seen such riches can, after all, live with being poor.
There may be travel ahead...
There's nothing wrong with romanticising travel. We all do it to some extent, whether it's reminiscing over a Flickr folder of holiday snaps, or persuading ourselves that our upcoming mini-break in Helsinki is DEFINITELY going to save our flagging relationship. Travel has inspired novels, poetry and song.
And now. A musical.
Only THIS musical is romaticising the BOOKING PROCESS. Which we're not sure brings along quite the same emotional, er, baggage. Can we really wax lyrical about price comparison websites or negotiating cancellation fees? Jim Strong, president of Strong Travel Services in (of course) America believes we can. So much so that he has commissioned a one-act musical set in the offices of a travel agency.
Titled 'Craving For Travel', Strong had Greg Edwards and Andy Sandberg whip up a show designed to re-energise the image of lowly travel agents - for too long now squashed under the might of online booking sites. The show "features the characters Gary and Joanne, rival travel agents and former spouses, competing to outdo each other by fulfilling ever more outlandish requests from their demanding clients."
It's - predictably? - Off Broadway for now. Whether it will be (artistically) Going Anywhere Nice in the future remains to be seen. You can read more HERE.
City living: What's in YOUR wallet?
If you live in the countryside or on a beach somewhere, you're probably used to the simple life, money being obsolete as you barter goods and services for shiny pebbles and shells, pull fresh food off the tress and out of the ocean and live to as stress-free old age. However, city-dwellers have to live their short and anxious lives making money every minute of the day just to afford to buy enough lattes to forge a rudimentary shelter from. That said, the most expensive cities of last year may not be the ones you're thinking of - Tokyo is suddenly, well, not AFFORDABLE, but not the most brutal place in the world.
(via Slate: see the full article HERE)
25 Places to Avoid Before You Die
This list, from the Huffington Post, is a pretty decent stab at some of the world's most overrated destinations. We're pretty on board with the inclusion of Dublin here at SP, but...London? 'Avin' a laaarf, etc. Anyway, here it is in its full glory:
The 25 Most Overrated Places On Earth
The importance of seeing Ernest
Apparently Idaho (walk, don’t run to your nearest travel agent) is the just one of the weirder destinations to be trading on the name of Ernest Hemingway, the all-hunting, all-fighting, all-beard sporting writer who seems to have popped up just about everywhere you care to go doing all manner of suitably manly things.
Ketchum, in Sun Valley, is where Hemingway killed himself with a shotgun on July 2, 1961, at age 61. He's buried in the local cemetery. The town attracts hordes of fans, and has for a while now made moves, through merchandise stalls and festivals, to profit from the grim connection.
Before his demise, though, ‘Papa’ schlepped his testosterone-fuelled way across the world quite impressively: if he wasn’t participating in wars, he was drinking his way through 1920s Paris, running with the bulls in Spain, taking aim on big game safaris in Africa, or landing Marlins with his bare hands whilst deep sea fishing off Cuba.
And everywhere he went, there’s now some kind of memorial tourist trail where you can drink what he drank, catch what he caught and pass out where he passed out.
I’ve never quite worked out just what is it about Hemingway that makes tourists swoon over his every move and take photos of every bar stool that he plumped his rump down on? Not that I’m immune, mind you – there are photos of me at La Floridita in Havana, grinning like a loon next to his statue. Yes, just like that loon in the photo.
I’ve only ever read one of his novels! I’ve never arm-wrestled a deep-sea fish or drunk fourteen pints of tequila! Yet still, the legend draws you in, and if you’ve been to any of the above destinations, and you’ll have seen the countless bars, restaurants, cocktails, hotels, tours and museums dedicated to him.
Let’s face it, the man props up more bars now than he did when he was alive.
I'd kind of love it to be uncovered that he was actually a less-than-macho charlatan, who was actually all talk and liked nothing more than a quiet night in with a nice romantic novel, some crumpled chinos and his travel iron. I’d like to see people construct an industry around that.
But while his legacy remains one of lion-taming and rhino-boxing and drinking vats of brandy, there’ll always a profitable persona in Papa.
Destination comparisons are commonplace as people try and present places in a context that the wider travelling public will understand. I recently went to the Westmann Islands in Iceland, where the lava-engulfed villages have earned it the title of 'Pompeii of the North'. It's an easy shortcut, and you could feasibly use it any number of ways - it's the Milan of Micronesia, it's the Vegas of Peru, it's the Iowa of Sub-Saharan Africa, etc.
One place (along with Paris) that seems to have more than its share of destination doppelgangers around the world is Venice. Venice makes for an easier comparison than Paris even because in its embarrassment of waterways, it has a readily-identifiable characteristic. So, then, does any city that can boast a couple of canals become The Venice of the (Insert compass point).
Both Amsterdam and St Petersburg have vied for the position of Venice of the North, with bragging rights just going to the Dutch capital. The Venice's (Venici?) of the West are similarly not very far from he actual Venice. Nantes in France kind of makes a half-hearted stab at living up to the name, while Monasterevin in Ireland also sniffs around the mantle (though it doesn't strictly have canals). The Venice of the East is more impressively further afield, with Suzhou in China having the most authentic claim - this city was actually so named by Marco Polo, who was FROM Venice, so he knew of what he spoke. There are a few water-riddled towns around the city that grasp the coattails but there's little doubt as to the real contender here.
Finally, the Venice of the South. Officially, this is, er, Venice. The entire country of Venezuela (see previous blog post on country names) has an undeniable claim being as it translates as 'Little Venice', while the numbers here are made up otherwise just by places that flood a lot. Nice try, Tawi-Tawi and Davao (both in the Philippines) but just having to live on stilted houses because of seasonal floods doesn't mean you are master canal builders.
In any case, the wealth of Venices/Venici is still nowhere near as annoying as the number of bars that claim Hemingway drank there.
I name this country...Lion City
Think about the country you probably (if Google Analytics are to be believed) live in, with its boring, workaday name. Now, think how much would you prefer to live in a country called something more Game of Thrones-y, like Warrior King (Ghana), People of Ten Arrows (Turkey), or Lion City (Singapore)?
Let's face it, most country names are relentlessly boring and descriptive to the point of tedium. OK, we get it, it's the Land of the Angles/Fins/Ice. A similar number are just plain geographical references - it's the place near that river/mountain/bush.
Some other impressively rock and roll names include Flaming Water (Malawi), Lion Mountains (Sierra Leone) and Black Mountain, though a great name for a metal band, is also the translation of Montenegro.
Slightly less impressive on the scale of awesomeness, though cute in their own way, would be Shrimp (the meaning of 'Cameroon'), Year-Old Calf (Italy) and Little Castle (Luxembourg). Hippopotamus is a possible translation of Mali and Spain is possibly named after a land full of rabbits. Little Venice, as well as being a posh neighbourhood of London, is the meaning of Venezuela.
Some country names are obvious with some basic Spanish - Sunday Island (Dominica) and Equator (Ecuador) are the best known, and it's not that much of a stretch to The Shallows (Bahamas - literally 'low sea'). Barbados could have been the first hipster colony, its name meaning The Bearded Ones, though it's possibly a reference to the appearance of the island's fig trees (Barbuda has similar origins).
Malta is literally Land of Honey, And let's nod to the appropriateness of Ireland, meaning Fertile Land.
There aren't too many recently-named countries, though in 1983, Upper Volta became Burkina Faso, which means 'Land of the Honest Men'. Stage a successful coup, you pretty much get to decide what to name your country. Too bad Warrior King was already taken.