On Being a Tourist

Our trip to Barcelona coincides with a festival La Mercé 06. It starts tomorrow but everywhere you look in this area the squares are full of stages. They have been setting up for days. It looks like it will be pretty wild, the city is already filling up.

We went to the beach today. I’d say about 20% of the women were topless. Very big deal for American men, you know. Actually not. I think its cool and it makes me wonder about the fat prudes in the US that are so upset by our natural bodies. Many of the older women I saw were topless, it was not just the young and beautiful by any means. At one end of the beach was clothing-optional. As usual, a lot of hairless gay men. One of the guys I’m with, who is a very nice and smart fellow, is a little obvious about it all. He likes looking at the titties. He snapped one picture before we were all ready to kill him.

Which brings me to my point: I despise being a tourist. It drives me nuts. I love traveling and I love feeling like I live where I am visiting. We have a sweet flat here so it is easy to feel at home. I absolutely hate things like valet parking, having maids in the room every day and being surrounded by a service industry that assumes you are a tourist. When I walk down the street I like it when people watching could not tell where I was from.

The same guy who was a little too obvious with the titties (I love you, Joe) looks very much like a tourist, too. He has flaming red hair, a golfing hat, camera around his neck. (Also the same guy who got pick-pocketed.) It’s no problem, we are having a blast, but when we are all together it is like having a big tourist sign over our heads. We did a couple shots of absinth for some god-forsaken reason and wandered around. At one point we were sitting in this sidewalk cafe and I was just amazed and annoyed at what a bunch of loud Americans we were. You couldn’t hear anyone else talking but everyone else could hear us. It drove me crazy. I like having a good time and I don’t mind when people get lit up and loud. But for some reason, in that moment, I could feel how little we blended in. This town, or at least this part of town, is full of travelers from all over the world. There is no shame in being a tourist in general and certainly not in his place now. Still…I don’t like being a tourist.

On Being a Tourist

Traveling and being Online

Still in Barcelona. Still having a great time. We are right in one of the nice areas (the Gothic district) so we are living like kings. It always strikes me as funny that depending on where you are and how you are treated, in a new city, it can have a drastic difference in your opinion. If someone asked me right now about Barcelona I would say it is fucking awesome. But we are a block or two from La Ramblas, which is, I’m told by locals, the most expensive area to eat in Barcelona. I.E. this is a trendy and tourist-y area.

I think the same of Minneapolis, I could give a visitor such different ideas of the city depending on where I took them. Take them to Uptown and Dinky Town and Northeast (among others) and you get one impression. Go to Lake Minnetonka, Edina or Bloomington, a completely different impression would be had.

I’m a bit of a woman watcher, as I have admitted, and this area of this town is just ridiculous. You can’t be a woman watcher in this town because the hot women go by so fast that you can’t keep up. They are not just young women, too, which is what I think is so surprising for a boy from the midwest. There are super hot women that are 50. There are tons of hot women that are 40. There are, also, of course, a lot of younger women as well.

I’m having a coffee at the Travel Bar, a place that has free wi-fi and caters to english speaking travelers. No one sitting here is speaking English, though. I’m outside but inside are a bunch of dorks with laptops. I’m the only dork outside with a laptop. I was going to put a little sign up that said “I’m blogging” just to see if it made anyone stop by.

I’ve never taken a laptop traveling before but I may from now on. I’m NOT working, except for an email here and there. But part of my life is online now. It is not a bad thing. Again, I’m NOT working. I’m blogging, googling and downloading pictures from my digital camera. I’m playing tunes from iTunes through our TV and emailing pictures to my kid. Sorry, I’m a geek, but this stuff is fucking life-changingly cool.

Some pictures on Flickr.

M.

Traveling and being Online

Barcelona (and the Ugly American Tourist)

I’m sitting on a balcony in Barcelona, Spain. It’s fucking awesome. We came here on a wild hair with some friends with no real purpose or agenda. We are staying in a nice part of town. There is a street sign 5 feet away that says “Carrer Dels Cecs de la Boqueria”. I have a double cappuccino, I slept ’til noon and, needless to say, I am a happy man right now.

I’ve never been to Europe before, although I have been to England and Ireland many times as well as Australia, Mexico and a few other countries. Never Europe before, though. This city seems very European to me. There are people from everywhere speaking every language. The women are ultra fucking hot. My wife says the men are, too. Getting out of the States, it is nice to see thinner people. All of the women are thin, it seems. The only chubby people are tourists, usually Germans and Americans, from what I can tell.

Last night was our first night and we got pretty hammered. We were warned repeatedly about pickpockets and last night we got our first taste of that. First they tried to get me. I was drunk and they acted drunk and were all like “Dude, where are you from?” I was being friendly and the guy sort of “danced” with me. I grew immediately uncomfortable and pushed him away. My wallet was in my front pocket and as soon as we got away from them I had the presence of mind to check my inventory. I was fine, they didn’t get anything. Then (unbeknownst to me) they did the same thing to my friend. He also had his wallet in his front pocket but they got his. By the time he noticed, they were gone. He was drunker than me and his pants were looser. We both felt pretty stupid. The unfortunate moral of the story is that you can’t assume that friendly people are friendly here. The next time they try that “dancing” stuff with me I’m gonna knock the guy on his ass and kick him in the head. I’ll pretend I’m drunk so it seems like an accident.

There was a thread on UTI a few weeks ago about the “ugly American tourist”. I’ve seen fairly few Americans and you can’t really tell people’s nationalities from looking at them, in a lot of cases. So I haven’t seen (or been!) the ugly American tourist except for when we landed in Spain and were going through customs. We got off the plane and, being a bunch of Americans, we queued up politely in line to get our passports stamped. The line was ridiculously long but very orderly. Then masses of EU people came down the stairs and the whole place immediately turned into a mob scene. Utter chaos. They had like 10 stations for checking people in but only 2 were staffed. No one directed traffic, there was no organization, nothing. Chaos. So there are like 2000 people all cramming together trying to get through the gate. The Americans in the group were not happy and I realized that sometimes, perhaps rarely, the “ugly American tourist” is right! I’ve never seen that sort of utter, unmanaged chaos going through customs in the states. Americans, and probably everybody, have a deep sense of fair play and we are not happy when people start pushing and shoving and cutting in line. We expect the authorities to keep order. Any rational person would have 1) opened more stations for checking people in and 2) provided order in the management of the queues. My thought was, yeah, I might be an asshole but you people are retards.

But, of course, it all worked out fine eventually. There is more to tell but this is getting long. More to come!

Barcelona (and the Ugly American Tourist)

9/11

fuckyou.png

While I am highly critical of the Bush administration, the Iraq war and the “global war on terror” in general, I am still very proud to be an American and I think the attacks of 9/11 were perpetrated by irrational criminals who should be killed or incarcerated. Osama bin Laden can kiss my ass. He is a hypocrite and a liar and he leads an organization that will never attain any of its goals. I know Islam and Christianity to be religions of peace. The violence generated by followers of these faiths is the exception, not the rule, and all peace-loving people should reject it.

We honor the fallen and we stand together in our resolve to defend ourselves from the hatred of radicals of all denominations, both domestically and abroad, who kill innocent people in the name of god. Fuck you all.

9/11

Vegetarians and Factory Farms

Let’s face it — life depends on death. We can’t live without killing. We kill animals, plants and jillions of little tiny organisms every day, no matter how conscientious we are.

In my opinion, killing animals for food is not evil. The domestication of animals was very important in the development of civilization. Taking wild game and raising animals for slaughter is natural and necessary. (I know there are some who argue with the “necessary” part of that statement.)

But something has changed recently in human history and it has moral implications. This is the factory farm. Until recently, animals were raised by family farms and the care of the animals was something near and dear to the hearts of the farmers. Even with large herds, there was a direct and personal involvement in the well-being of the animals by those who tended them.

Animals do feel pain and they can be made to suffer in many ways. They can express this suffering so they are obviously self-aware enough to know they are suffering. As a moral society I believe we absolutely have a duty to treat animals humanely. I vote with my dollars when I can on this issue. I, as a consumer, will pay more for products that treat animals better, such as free-range chicken. But the market doesn’t always reward moral imperatives. It’s the role of government to get things done, especially in those instances where the market fails.

I’m not a vegetarian but I sympathize with many of their ideals. We should demand the benign treatment of animals both as consumers and as citizens. We should not let our food production descend into a nightmare of billions of tortured creatures so we can pay a few cents less per pound. This should be self-evident.

Vegetarians and Factory Farms

Spammers Should Die

Spammer Goes To Jail

I could not be happier about this. I think spammers are ruining the Internet. You can’t be sure that people see your emails anymore due to the necessity of spam filters. I use more than one spam filter on some accounts. They spam comments on blogs, they spam referral logs, they spam EVERYTHING. These fucking low lives are willing to ruin everything, they burden systems and infrastructure with their bullshit, they lie, cheat and steal and they should spend decades in pound-me-in-the-ass prison. I hope this fucker gets beaten to death in his cell.

Harsh, I know, but what is an appropriate penalty for ruining the Internet? This fuck wit was willing to screw over millions of people for his personal gain. There is an ancient law that spammers are going to have to come to terms with: if you fuck with us we are going to fuck with you.

See you in 9 years Jeremy Jaynes. I suspect it will be the worst 9 years of your life. I sincerely hope it is.

Spammers Should Die