Thursday, November 10, 2011

#81: 101 Places Not to See Before You Die by Catherine Price

New York: Harper Collins, 2010. 249 pages.

This little red book with a snake on the front curled about a suitcase is peppered with a bunch of places the author deems unworthy of a waste of your precious time and cash. Within is some inspired writing, interesting travel anecdotes and filler. Sort of like early Beatles albums; on their second you get inspired (She Loves You, You Can't Do That, Money), interesting (Roll over Beethoven) and filler (Please Mister Postman, You Really Got a Hold On Me). Not that those last songs aren't good, but I prefer The Marvellettes and Smokey Robinson, respectively.

Catherine Price is an intrepid travel author, and it runs in her family. Perhaps her best story here is #14, "An Overnight Chinese Train on the Day of Your First Period." Suffice it to say, there is not a drugstore in sight. Or maybe it is about the two places I have actually been (The Winchester Mystery House and Bay Area Rapid Transit -- BART). Both take your money, but only one smells like a wino that has not showered in three months. She was spot on with those places. I looked so forward to going to the Winchester House after I came to the San Jose area. I went, walking roughly 4 miles from my hotel in 95 degree heat to get there. Perhaps I could not read the map (check), perhaps San Jose is a giant sprawling monstrosity (check), perhaps it was because I was hallucinating by the end of the walk due to heat exhaustion. Even if I was hallucinating, my tour guide sucked and it was a huge let down. My ass is more haunted than that place. Why? My ass has produced unexplained noises, olfactory sensations best not repeated and has led to people leaving a room exclaiming "My God!". I rest my case.

The filler is just that. "Jupiter's Worst Moon" and "An AA Meeting When You're Drunk" seem like cop outs to push the number to over 100. On the whole, the wheat outnumbers the chaff here: a theme park in Argentina with a 59 foot plastic Jesus who rises after his crucifixion to the dulcet tones of the "Hallelujah" chorus, a former IKEA now filled with steamy piles of excrement, the "Testicle Festival".

#84 is the state of Nevada. I am not sure I agree with this, and Price states that she included it for the "Nevada Haters" and asks persons of Nevada to "please forgive me." (196.) Frankly, I can think of worse states than Nevada. Arizona for one, Maryland for two. Maryland does have Baltimore and does not take 776 hours to drive across like Arizona does. So, I guess I would include Arizona. Could we move Meteor Crater to New Mexico? Please?

1 comment:

  1. You speak the truth, young man. And I can testify to your ass being haunted, as is my husband's by many accounts, too many to recount without shuddering.