Bob’s lips had swelled to the size of a bloated trout and blood dripped from his mouth, but it didn’t stop his intelligent and profound comment on his surroundings, “I bloomin’ love this bloomin’ place, this place is bloomin’ brilliant.”His friends, JD MasterDancer, Blockhead and Zluty enthusiastically nodded in agreement, but suggested that in his excitement he had chewed the inside of his mouth off and thus he should calm down and maybe they should think about going home. Bob agreed, but on a suggestion from JD MasterDancer they all further agreed that they should first return to the dance floor, hug the speakers and let the bass line shake their bodies until they cum in their pants.
The morning was less good. Bob still has trout pout, only the orgasmic joy has turned into a terrible comedown and excruciating pain. He tenderly made his way through the long Sunday aided by beer and football and thus just about managed to crawl into the office on Monday morning… ignoring the ‘to do’ list on his desk he checked his e-mails. In amongst the offers to receive funds from an exiled Nigerian businessman who desperately needed his bank account number, offers to cure his weight problem and offers to enlarge his already (more than ample) penis Bob found a message from JD MasterDancer. “expats.cz have only gone and written a review about the club we were in on the weekend for their front page. Its now going to be full of bloomin’ American students. And the article is a pile of pretentious wank. Shit.”
This was the final nail in the coffin for Bob. His lips looked like they belonged to a Botox patient who’s surgery had gone tits up; his brain was fighting in vain to restore its serotonin imbalance; he had a pile of work which was stacked so high that if it fell it would have crushed him (note: this was of course a metaphorical stack of work, as Bob did work in the digital age where people sent e-mails not letters, but the electronic stack could well have crushed him emotionally); and now the brilliant club he had so lovingly hugged the speakers of on the Saturday just gone, was now going to be full of day-trippers. Tourist-like fuckers. He started to cry, then weep before bawling his little ginger eyes out.
Everybody Hates a Tourist… cos’ they think its all such a laugh
In the cold light of his lunch break, Bob tried to work out exactly why this has upset him so. It was very pretentious to think that clubs he liked should remain exclusive or underground or all the other stupid shit which the Czech Republic wonderfully does not indulge in. It was more than that. Bob also had no problem with Americans or any other type of immigrant coming to the same clubs as he did, he was a labour migrant himself and was as far from xenophobia as President Klaus was from environmentalism.
It was because more and more he felt that people were not doing things because they liked them, not because they were fun or not because they were even really what they wanted to do: but rather that people were going somewhere for the ‘experience’, for the ‘story’, to watch others living a certain way pass comment on it and then go back to their very different life. It was as if they wanted to flirt with a ‘real life’ very briefly, but with no commitment, no feeling or no chance of getting hurt. The academic distance they upheld prevented them from having fun, and in doing so they dragged a place down.
Hunter S. Thompson describes a similar situation in his book ‘Hells Angels’, a series of tales from two years spent living with the notorious American motorcycle gang. In this, the Hells Angels were looking for somewhere to hold their summer get-together, all of the towns were fearful of them as they had a reputation for vicious beatings, rape and theft. When they finally chose a town for their meet, the same good people of America who had written letters to newspapers complaining about how dangerous the Hells Angels were turned up to gaze at them – desperate to say they’d been there and seen the Angels.
Searching for an answer to this, Thompson compares it to the case when a tidal wave was foreseen to hit the coast, upon hearing a warning on the radio the roads near the coast were jammed – but not with people fleeing the danger, but rather with curious people racing towards it, desperate to take pictures and be there when the wave struck. Luckily the wave didn’t hit otherwise they would not just be curious people, but dead curious people. He posits that it might be that people’s boring mundane and safe lives that make them desperate for a glimpse of something they would never normally want to experience on a regular basis.
Home is Where the Heart Is
Some weeks later Blockhead searches for and finds another party, this time in the south of Prague, in some big dirty factory by the railway lines. As the night progresses Bob’s thoughts once again turn to the same issue and he tries to explain to Blockhead the conundrum, “I’m not suggesting that all the fucking American students should drop enough to make their eyes bulge and spend the night humping a speaker. I mean I love them to pieces, I’m glad they’re here seeing Prague or whatever, just that this here, this factory floor in Modrany, it means something. Something more than a tourist could experience. It’s about letting it all out; about partying so hard our party socks are all worn out; it’s not about ‘seeing it’ or ‘being there’ it’s about immersing yourself completely – giving your legs, arms and brain to the big phat beats.”
“Yeah maybe,”said Blockhead.
“Do I sound pretentious? Because I don’t want to sound pretentious. I want to dance. Lets dance. But one minute. Listen, then we’ll dance. Is that a plan? Yes. Good. So I was trying to understand it all, I mean like in that Douglass Coupland book when he writes, “purchased experiences don’t count,” and I guess there’s so many layers of irony that we have no chance to understand it in our current state, but maybe it’s a bit true. I mean I know we pay for everything when we like it, I mean we paid for tonight, but maybe its different. “Yeah maybe,” said Blockhead.
“And I know Prague isn’t a wild unexplored jungle. I mean I know it’s a city, I’m not that off-my-face yet, but it’s a beautiful place to live and places which are beautiful to live lose their soul as soon as they become over-populated by people who are there as tourists. And I count people in clubs who don’t like it as tourists. I’ve been a tourist, you’ve been a tourist, we were all tourists at certain times in certain places and it wasn’t fun. Like when you go to Charles bloomin’ Bridge in the middle of the day and the tourists swarm like ants all over the bloomin’ place and its shit. And then you go there at three in the morning when its minus 15 degrees in February, all mashed up and it’s the most beautiful romantic place in the world.
And now, this dirty factory with grime so deep on the floor I can feel it seeping through my shoes and into my feet, this is beautiful, but soon it will be shit when all the fucking tourists come and spoil it.”
“Yeah maybe,” said Blockhead.
And with that he wondered off to dance. Bob took it as a sign of agreement and smiled to himself as he rubbed his head and patted his belly with delight. Some tourists wanted to see all of the main sites in the world and these have been lost: the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and Charles Bridge – they all now belonged to the international tourist conspiracy. They were the tourist centres of the world. But others, who were still tourists, were seeking their ‘alternative’ ‘edgy’ experiences. But Bob was sure that they will feel nor truly enjoy nothing until they learn to let go of their academic distance, their patronising wonder, their shock at this ‘crazy eastern world’ – then he would be happy to embrace them as friends on Prague’s factory floors.
Sketches by sinisterpenguin