Travel Newsstand for Early June, 2018
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Read all about it! Billy Joel's Doo-wop hit, The Longest Time, is remade to explain the TSA and our summer security outlook. Tourism ravages Lisbon as Amsterdam and Venice try to change the behavior of visiting hordes. China's geographic fears cause problems for airlines. A cheesy French tale, cheap airlines, life after a hub in Memphis and much more.
Channeling Billy Joel and Weird Al: Sing Along With the TSA
The world is not exactly overflowing with Arabic-American comedians, so you'd think 37-year-old Remy Munasifi, the Washington-born son of Iraqi and Lebanese parents, has a clear field to make us laugh. Surf to his site, however, and you'll find a mostly sophomoric array of music-video musings on baklava and hummus (All About That Paste, a knockoff of Meghan Traynor) as well as endless parodies of Taylor Swift. It would be bad enough if Munasifi was only an Arab-American Weird Al Yankovic, but he also produces videos for Reason, the dogmatic Libertarian magazine. That has led to a series of dull and pedantic videos that they must think are clever. The Reason-Munasifi collaboration also spawned three really childish videos lampooning the TSA. (See here for one ripping off Britney Spears and here for a generically cloddish one and here for one set to the hokey pokey.) They're so puerile that they almost make the TSA sympathetic. But the fourth time is apparently the charm when you're channeling Weird Al. Munasifi this week posted a cutting, hilariously funny, spot-on remake of The Longest Time, Billy Joel's 1983 ode to Doo-wop music. The lyrics cleverly skewer the TSA practices and attitude, the singing quality is top notch and the video, while nothing like Joel's original, does the job. You'll laugh, you'll sing, you'll play it more than once--and you will remember exactly why the TSA makes our lives on the road much more miserable than it needs to be.
We Always Hurt the Ones We Love
It is one of the irrefutable truisms of travel: When we arrive as visitors, our simple presence helps destroy what we came to love. The latest city overrun and warped by tourism and speculative investment? Lisbon, once the sleepy capital of Portugal and now the trendiest tourist spot in Europe. As The New York Times explains, Lisbon's revival "has become a divisive issue for residents, and for Europe, as the continent finally emerges from the lost decade of its economic crisis to see what it has wrought." Meanwhile, other cities overrun by mass tourism are working to undo the damage to their fragile emotional and cultural ecosystems. The English-language edition of Corriere Della Sera explains that "Venice has decided to clamp down on takeaway food by not issuing any licences for new shops and making the rules stricter for those already open." The new regulations are aimed at controlling rubbish, discouraging visitors from eating on steps of historic buildings and eliminating what the city calls "hit and run" tourists. Meanwhile, Amsterdam "is becoming the new Venice, a city stolen by tourists," according to Rodney Bolt, a travel expert writing in London's Telegraph newspaper. The Dutch apparently agree. The city is targeting its most problematic visitors--Dutch and British men aged 18 to 34--and threatening that "bad behaviour will be welcomed with a fine."
The Maps That Make China Absolutely Crazy
The powers-that-be in mainland China are absolutely paranoid about their perceived geographic integrity. Frightened that world opinion will decide culturally distinctive regions such as Tibet should not be under Chinese suzerainty, the Communist Party has long insisted the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao and the independent Republic of China on Taiwan be listed as part of a united China. The diktat is often ignored, but for reasons known only to the apparatchiks atop the party hierarchy, the deep state is now leaning on airlines and hotels. As the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong notes, mainland Chinese media are naming and shaming airlines and hotel chains that are not in compliance. The Associated Press adds that 20 Western airlines now list Taiwan as part of Greater China. Air France is the latest carrier to comply, but United Airlines and Qantas have been granted extensions. By the way, if you think this is all in China's collective head, consider a map (above) from Why We Fight, the classic World War II-era propaganda films. It reflects World War II sensibilities, of course, but also shows that Western nations once considered Tibet and Sinkiang--now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region--politically separate from "China Proper." (When the Communists won the Civil War, the defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan, which has variously been ruled by the Dutch, the Spanish and the Japanese.) And old think dies hard. Clothing retailer The Gap in May pulled a T-shirt with a map of China that omitted Taiwan as well as parts of Tibet and Xinjiang.
Tight Connections ...
Cheesy Stuff The French are tying themselves into culinary and cultural knots over Camembert, the best-known cheese of Normandy. It's all got to do with what kind of milk can be used and still ensure the soft, stinky delicacy is still "genuine."
Cheapest Airlines "The relentless fight of the cheapest, lowest in cost, most affordable, and more convenient airline in the world is at its peak," claims Airways magazine. It ranks the world's airlines with the lowest operating costs.
Stuck Inside of Memphis Memphis Airport is no longer a hub--it was being downsized by Northwest Airlines even before it merged with Delta Air Lines, which killed it--and the city is struggling with declining passenger numbers. The solution: Mothball terminals and make peace with its status as a spoke.
Doctor, Doctor Why won't this surprise you? When airlines ask "Is there a doctor aboard?" in a medical emergency, they often hope the answer is no. Because, of course, airlines are just awful and passenger health is considered a variable cost.-- Joe Brancatelli
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