Travel trumps tourism

November 17, 2006 at 11:41 pm 2 comments


Most Sundays, Petrilia, 22, brings her ragdolls to 138th Street hoping the crowd Brit or Italian, not German or Japanese.

For she sews black figures for sale to tourists lined up in front of the Abyssinian Baptist Church. And knows Italian newlyweds are partial to the “Love”-emblazoned torsos on the $25 dolls; Brits are likely to buy the lot of tot-sized $12 models proclaiming “Peace” and “Joy.”

Petrilia wants only to fund her collegiate studies in biology. Her customers want to observe her otherness.

Ms B adores Petrilia for her entrepreneurial zest, yet abhors tourism. Particularly tourism steeped in “racial difference.”

Let’s get all historical, shall we?


African-born “pygmy” Ota Benga was exhibited at the Bronx Zoo alongside monkeys in the early 20th Century. Not much later, he acquired a pistol, shot himself and the coroner tagged his corpse “Otto Bingo.”

I hate tourism built on the allure of going elsewhere to be with others who are not us. Such travels are almost without exception in the narcissistic pursuit of understanding ourselves. Personal plural, for we are multitudes, right? We want the clever tale of exotic natives. To showcase our amazement, our naivete, our return from the wilds.

Tourism is terrible. Worse, the conceit of difference is delusional. Sorry to shock the sensitive EU, but we are one species.

To embrace and appreciate individual differences, one must come to the commons.

No queue. No tickets. No guidebook.

New York comrades, up your karma-bank this holiday season: Pack your tote with subway maps and give them to wide-eyed visitors.

Tell them about New York beauty found on the 6-train in mid-conga session. Players playing in our shared space. Nobody looking for difference, only commonality of place, experience, escape.

Send them to Brighton Beach at sunset to walk alongside the babushkas.

Get them to Union Square to witness the Wizard of Carrot Shredding madly making salad.

Because to love Gotham, one must live it, not leer at it.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Beautiful Brevity J-investor dilemma: mediabistro class or Botox?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. revmanny  |  November 25, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    i loved the video for this… one of your best blogs

  • 2. Petrilia  |  August 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    I love your perspective…R.I.P. Ota Benga


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