Book Club


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After being reminded of the refuse left on the side of the road in Southern Europe, I am asking myself why not just read the two books that arrived in the mail yesterday instead of returning for a long overdue visit this year?

I would love to go to Sardinia in September; but from what I gather, it is absolutely filthy nowadays — so maybe it is the idea of going to Sardinia in the shoulder season that appeals.

Perusing the online comments of folks who recently visited the island, a distinctly unatrractive picture emerges:  garbage left to rot for days and weeks on the streets; the insufferability of the massive, chaotic crowds; the unbearable traffic noise; the lack of clean, convenient, and reliable public transport; the overpowering heat; the ubiquitous smoking; the enormous stress of driving in Italy; the presence of the sad refugee camps; the tediousness of petty crime that makes visitors feel like prey; the shadow of an undercurrent of organized crime that has nothing to do with the romantic picture of Mafioso gangsterism often portrayed in cinema; the dirty sea that is full of microplastics and raw sewage; the cruel sea that claims the lives of countless desperate boat people every year — I have to ask myself why would my wife and I ever want to spend time in such a God-forsaken place?

The Mediterranean I long for no longer exists.

It has been killed by large scale tourism and the unfortunate reality of the many countries who live in war and near poverty around the Medi or whose inhabitants are culturally insensitive or too shell-shocked to worry about trifles like picking up dog doo, tossing their cancer butts in the street, and allowing plastic garbage bags and random detritus to pile up in their cities and float on their only sea, on their once-lovely beaches, in their formerly pristinely sylvan countryside, their tourist seaside Meccas now overrun with urban rats scurrying under the overflowing public trashcans and wild dogs running free in the open air markets, urinating if not defecating next to bins of local produce and trays of fresh catch on dirty ice, not to mention the occasional drowned child washing up silently and namelessly on the beach next to the for-rent perrisoires and, while in the background transient strangers walk on the promenade above with their fake espardrilles, immune to the tragedy unfolding below, worrying instead about vans driven by insane beurs mowing them down on the splendid promenade, once an exclusive haunt for those who could afford the Grand Tour in winter, the Grand Tour long gone, and now the dead boy a victim of being born during one of the worst, most heartless centuries to be alive in, except for the previous one, and the one before that.

Sardinia and Sicily and parts of cement-hell Spain and much of the South of France — itself massively infested with scruffy clochards (old school homeless drunks),  young, usually unemployed, slum-dwelling “undesirables,” referred to by the anti-Arab racist dog-whistle term zonards, and country bumpkin bourgeois yokels, known in French slang as ploucs —  as well as Greek islands such as Skiathos — which was pristine and lovely when I visited it in the late 70s — are all now ecologically disfigured by graffiti, smelly mounds of rubbish, fly-posting, cigarette butts in the beach sand, empty plastic bottles, nylon fishing lines entangled with rotting clumps of pongy seaweed — all these once grand places have essentially become literal shitholes, thanks to mass tourism and mass displacement due to war and poverty and eco terrorism.

Maybe I’ll just have to content myself with reading up in the two amazingly well-written books that just arrived (see above) on the glory of what used to be there five to ten centuries ago.

It’s not like I have to travel far to see an ocean.

ford escape with SUP boardAfter all, the semi tropical part of the Atlantic is right here, I can go to it right here, a short drive from my house, right here, here, where I can go in my trusty Escape SUV, in complete safety and total comfort, and take my SUP board and dog along, right here, without suffering what in Egyptian Arabic is referred to as bahdala (بَهْدَلَ ), the state of losing one’s dignity under humiliating circumstances.

What is heaven?

For confirmed misanthropes, it’s place where no-one else lives.

Is Florida really Paradise in the sand?

It has its moments.

Around where I live, it’s when the loud and cunty snowbirds — with their buffoonish golf carts and assholeish phones that they shout into as they power-walk in slow motion in their ridiculously age-inappropriate athletic gear — clear out by late May.

Can’t wait.

smiley with glasses