Our intrepid reporter Lydia Nicholas went forth into Cambodia to seek out the future of dining, and all she got was this not-that-lousy menu of spiders and insects. It's an impfressive culinary adventure, which you should read all about (friends' mixed reactions and all) HERE.
It's International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Let's look at some actual complaints about the memorial museum at Auschwitz that real, living people have left on TripAdvisor:
"The tour guide was unfriendly and the headset was faulty. There is human ashes on display in one part of the museum."
"I didn't realize Nazis destroyed nearly everything and all that was left at Auschwitz were the brick buildings, cell blocks, with large rooms painted battleship gray, with large photos on walls, the same ones you can see in any book on Auschwitz or in any Holocaust museum."
"Auschwitz doesn't feel like a concentration camp."
"Movies of horribly starved inmates do exist and would have greatly improved the displays."
"Mass processing from 11 am till 3 pm."
The Tennessee Williams Festival takes place in New Orleans every spring, and is a literary celebration of the life of the great writer. It's a nominally academic affair, but culminates in a wonderfully dramatic competition. The Stanley and Stella Shouting Competition has people competing to recreate the famous scene in A Streetcar Named Desire where Stanley Kowalski screams forlornly for Stella to come to him. Marlon Brando gave it his emotional best in the film version. Here's footage of this year's challengers:
Wake up, sheeple...your government is controlling the weather AND ERGO your urges to buy spice pumpkin lattes that ultimately fund the Illuminati FROM THE SKIES. It's all in the chemtrails, maaaan. Think about it. Why WOULD planes just be emitting streaks of condensed water vapour when they COULD be dousing humankind in nefarious loopy juice to keep us buying Big Macs and hooked on Prozac. IT MAKES TOTAL SENSE WHY ARE SO SO BLIND AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE MELTING CAPABILITIES OF JET FUEL...
In case you missed it, our favourite April Fool's Day goof from the Czech Aviation Training Centre.
After weeks of celebrations here in New Orleans, St Patrick's Day is finally here. It's very much the Charlie Sheen of national holidays, isn't it? Not everyone who likes St Paddy's Day is an douchebag, but all douchebags love St Paddy's Day. An equation that applies equally to the film The Boondock Saints. In honour of the occasion, here's Shandy Pockets' favourite Irishmen, the Rubberbandits, with their guide to London.
Just before Christmas, Shandy Pockets sat down with American Horror Story: Freak Show actor Mat Fraser to talk about his love of New Orleans:
If you’ve been watching American Horror Story: Freak Show, you’ll recognise Mat Fraser, the British actor who plays Paul the Illustrated Seal Boy with such relish and élan. Fraser is a long time London resident who now splits his time between the English capital and New York City, where he lives with his wife, the neo-burlesque performer Julie Atlas-Muz.
I’d met Fraser a couple of times at various dens of iniquity around New Orleans, where filming was taking place, and eventually got the chance to chat to him and find out what he made of the city. We’re shooting the breeze in his temporary apartment and I bring up the question of how he’s enjoyed his time here. He leans in, grinning.
“It’s…a very good city for freaks,” he says. Freaks like him and freaks in general - the layers of satisfaction with this state of affairs are left unsaid, but I get the sense it’s all been working out nicely for him.
“No doubt as people who have lived here a long time will tell you, it’s an extraordinary city,” he says. “I live in New York and London, and they are the best cities to live in for me, but the third place is New Orleans. It has this incredible atmosphere that you really can’t understand or describe unless you’ve been here for some time.”
I tell him I’ve lived here for four years, but have been visiting for 14. When people ask me why I like it so much, I tell them because it’s not like being in America, I say.
“It’s certainly not like living in America,” he says. “It’s like living in a weird bubble. You’ve got all that French and Spanish influence and it’s just crazy with the Creole and the Cajun and everything mixing up and then the free and easy, Big Easy attitude.”
“The fact that, unusually for America, you can walk down the street with booze, for instance. All of those differences make it very special and I’ve utterly fallen in love with its character and I’m as charmed and addicted to the place as anyone.”
Ah, the unconditional love of the first time visitor that I so fonldy remember. I tell him I especially like how you won’t get a Starbucks in the French Quarter and that there won’t ever be a TGI Friday overlooking Jackson Square.
“Yes!” he says. “You don’t have that identikit town look that you get everywhere else. I know Walmart is here, but for the rest of the city, everything just looks completely different to everywhere else. I haven’t seen a Starbucks in months. And it’s great. Why would you need one?”
I’d first seen Fraser at the AllWays Lounge in a show called the Dirty Dime Peep Show. It’s a show that I’m an occasional cast member of – not as one of the edgy neo-burlesque performers that they showcase, but as a pasty white guy telling jokes in between the good stuff. I wondered how he’d hooked up with that crowd.
“Well, I’m part of the international burlesque community and there’s a few people here that I already kind of knew as acquaintances, that I’ve been able to make better friends with,” he says.
“Bella Blue and her Dirty Dime Peep Show is as near to the club that I co-run, Sleaze, back in London. I like the raucous, drunken barroom, political end of burlesque. I like classic burlesque but I do like neo-burlesque more, and it interests me more.”
There’s a lot of burlesque in town, I say. It’s great that the scene can support both the classical scene and more edgy, arty shows like Bella puts on for Dirty Dime.
“My wife Julie is one of the most famous neo-burlesque dancers out there and that’s the kind I’m into,” Fraser says. “That’s why I like the Dirty Dime. And what’s nice about it is that there’s been a kind of marriage of scenes for me. The cast and crew of American Horror Story have been coming down to the show. I know they were recently all psyched that Gerard Butler was at the show but Angela Basset and some of the other stars came along and it’s nice that the two ends of my performance worlds have somehow connected in New Orleans.”
How is it, being locally famous, I wonder? I mean, you’re going to garner a fair amount of attention to begin with because of your appearance, and add to that being one of the stars of a locally-produced TV show. Do you get swamped?
“I’ve been out with some of the more famous stars in the show,” he says. “These are people that are massively famous to everyone here in town. I’ve seen them negotiate fame in terms of drunken tourists coming up to them and telling them that they love them. But I think in general, in New Orleans, everyone is much more laid back about that kind of thing. I’ve had a lot of people coming up to me but they wait until I’m leaving an establishment, not wanting to disturb people.”
Well, that’s polite enough, I say.
“Plus? They ain’t that impressed. And I like that. They’re not bothered.”
So you’ll be coming back?
“I’m already booked for first four weeks in April. I’m going to be doing a big show, co-producing with Bella. And also, you know, my love affair with the Country Club has grown to something quite profound. I think of it as my second home.”
For out-of-towners, this is a casual neighbourhood swimming pool and restaurant that recently – and controversially – had its clothing-optional rule revoked by the city.
“I got some of the good times,” smiles Fraser. “I really hope it gets it clothing-optional status back.”
So do we, Mat. Places like that, after all, are what keep the freaks coming back to New Orleans, and that can only be a good thing.
The key word for this week’s most notable travel stories is: ‘abandonment’.
First off, let’s look at the astonishing nonchalance shown by this British mother, who sneaked off for a routine six week jaunt to Australia to hook up with a gentleman she’d met on the internet. Nothing wrong with that, you might think – single mums deserve internet romance too, and you’d be a fool and a Communist to think otherwise. Right on.
Only there WAS the trifling matter of leaving her six children behind, and not only not that, but telling them that she was “just going to the supermarket” and then hotfooting it to Heathrow Airport. She may technically not have been lying, though granted the supermarket in question could have been in Randwick or Glebe.
Single mums deserve holidays more than anyone, really – especially with six kids under 14, but conventional channels do tend to result in a few less six-month suspended prison sentences.
The other #brave #travel #hero this week is someone we’d love to have featured in our Passengers We Love blog, but he’d need a section to himself called Passengers Who Love Themselves And Then Try To Escape At 35,000 Feet. In short, this chap was apprehended self-abusing, and he then made for the emergency door.
Again, no judgements here – it’s natural instinct to want to try and play for the Irish goodbye having undergone the ignominy of being caught ransacking your own dignity with nary a thought for your fellow passengers. Just, air authorities do tend to take a dim view of doing that whole “doors to manual” thing while the plane is still an hour from its destination.
We can only hope the Virgin Airlines pilot announced the unscheduled stop as being due to spontaneous onanism. Is there an official airline euphemism for this? Suggestions, as always, are welcome.
There are things I do. Things I do that I only do on planes. These include, but are not limited to:
- Read current issues of The Economist, GQ and Esquire Magazines.
- Consult novelty gift catalogues.
- Take melatonin.
- Watch episodes of network sitcoms.
- Congratulate myself enthusiastically on not having children (actually I do this pretty regularly on terra firma, too, but the intensity of the self-congratulation is multiplied exponentially in the air).
It appears that one of the most common things other people do in the air - and only in the air - is drink canned tomato juice. Now, I do this a fair amount on land as well, mostly out of the perceived need to combat all the cancers that the Daily Mail say I'm going to get from immigrants, opening letters and, er, tomatoes, probably. Looking at my habits, though, I do pretty much exclusively drink tomato juice on a flight AND it's the only real time I drink it with Worcester Sauce. So far from being a lone freak, I DO have tomato-juice-based idiosyncratic behaviour on a flight.
This article was recently published, based on research by "Guillaume De Syon, a professor at Albright College and an aviation historian." He submits that drinnking tomato juice is a long-standing aviation tradition (um, OK). The article goes on to suggest a number of reasons we drink tomato juice in the air - it tastes better at altitude, it's learned/suggestible behaviour, it's simply because it's on the menu...before settling on the deafeningly unedifying ALL OF THE ABOVE. Thanks for that. I hope in 20 years we'll have the same academic insight into why we're watching old episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
If you've ever traveled in London and taken the tube from Leicester Square to Covent Garden, you'll know from bitter experience that you should have walked because of all the locals that will tell you that you should have walked because it's only one stop and it's actually quicker to walk, actually and YOU SHOULD HAVE WALKED YOU KNOW-NOTHING CRETIN. In short: you should have walked. Well, the next time anyone tells you that they got the tube from Mansion House to Canon Street, you can tell them with no small amount of smugness: "Oh, you should have sprinted with such lung-busting effort that you got to the station marginally slower than the tube but with just enough time to collapse through the doors in an exhausted heap YOU REALLY SHOULD HAVE SPRINTED." That said, this is still pretty cool.
Can we please just take a minute today to remember? One minute out of our busy lives? To remember one small act, one gesture that tried to make sense of it all?
Everyone surely knows where they were, what they were doing or who they were with when they heard that this Marriott hotel in announced free coffee and muffins to commemorate the victims of the terrible events of the 11th September, 2001. For thirty minutes. And the muffins are mini. Regular sized muffins would seem somehow...I don't know...ostentatious on a day like this. Miniature confectionery. That's corporate sensitivity in action right there.
Hard to believe but it's only one year ago. I know, the pain and anger is still there. Time eventually heals all wounds, but there are no short cuts. I wonder if there are mini muffins in heaven? Let's never forget, Marriott.