28 June 2012
Yesterday's Gibson photo from my son Ethan had a terse caption: "He's mocking me." I wrote him back with what I thought was a cheering tone, "Isn't this fun? Now you have a little pal the way I did with you." Ethan's response: "Last night wasn't so fun. He was awake from 1 AM to 5 AM." It's called payback; as a baby, Ethan was Mister Late Night Party.
The episode of An Idiot Abroad I watched yesterday was an end of season summing-up kind of thing. In it, the not-so-intrepid world traveller Karl Pilkington discusses what he saw and did with the show's executive producers Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
Gervais: "You are the strangest man on the planet."
Pilkington: "You haven't been to China."
During this, he describes what constitutes what used to be considered a fun holiday time for him when he was a kid, a somewhat dreary campsite in Wales. He's shown poking around his old vacation haunts. I got the distinct feeling that, despite his xenophobia and reluctance to experience new things, he's a changed person. Broadened in outlook, perhaps.
It's true, travel does broaden the mind. I'd like to be able to do more of it. In fact, of all there things there are in the world that I could have - a bigger house, a nicer car, a better job, electronic gadgets, etc. - the thing I'd like to be able to do most is travel. You can pretty much keep the rest. I want to see new things and visit new places. That's now my idea of fun.
Well, that and Gibson, the new grandson!
I also watched the episode where Pilkington visits Egypt to see the pyramids. As far as Egypt is concerned, there are three things I'd like to see: 1.) Those pyramids, 2.) The Sphinx and, 3.) The Cairo Museum. I have been told by people who have been there that, contrary to what it looks like, where Cairo ends and the pyramids begin is a disappointingly narrow space. There is one memorable shot of Pilkington eating at a Pizza Hut - the nearby pyramids framed in a window. (Gettysburesque!) Another profoundly odd sequence shows him at a KFC, ordering his food from a deaf staff in a Community Outreach oriented franchise (the signs for which are in English). In Egypt?
Pilkington seemed more or less unimpressed by the pyramids. When he visited, some wind storm/dust devils kicked up the trash and debris found on the sands. "Look, there's a a dirty nappie flying through the air - they don't tell you that in the tourist brochures." Yes... that will indeed reduce some of the mystique of those ancient structures.
As for the Cairo Museum, and at the risk of sounding like Pilkington, I have lately been thinking that as I've seen the spendid collections at the Prussian Egyptian Museum in Berlin and the Egyptian section of the British Museum as well as a travelling exhibit in Los Angeles, this may be about as much of the stuff as I really care to see. There are also now political considerations with Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia Law In/Tourism Out, I'd imagine. I can't imagine Americans becoming excited about visiting the place any more with those fanatics in charge.
But then, this thinking doesn't keep people from visiting Salt Lake City, ha ha!
Big day in D.C. thirteen miles north of me today: SCOTUS (aka the Supremes) rule on the constitutionality of ObamaCare and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder finds out if the House will vote to find him in contempt of Congress, two politically charged events. In a phrase the newsies seem to love (especially during general elections), all eyes are on D.C. today. So how important is Washington D.C.?
I once read a wikipedia account of what constitutes major cities, or Global Cities; what kind of ranking system there is for dominance and influence in the world. New York and London are unquestionably first ranked cities, and in the wikipedia article are ranked "alpha++." No surprise there. One might suppose that the capital city and governing center of the world's only superpower is an alpha++ city, but Washington D.C. isn't. It's an "alpha" city - the same as Los Angeles or even Milan. Hm.
I am a bit disappointed to see that Burbank, CA isn't even a "gamma-" city. As any Los Angeleno knows (but may not admit), it and not L.A. or Hollywood is functionally the entertainment capital of the United States. So... what's under "gamma-?"
The wikipedia article, citing a Citibank published study, gives an interesting table at the end of the article. Did you know there are more billionaires in Moscow than in New York City? And that the city with the highest percentage of foreign born population is not NYC, L.A., Burbank or even Springfield, Virginia where I live (could have fooled me)? It's Dubai. New York City isn't even in the Top Ten!
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