Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fear and Loathing on the Tourist Trail

My mother once flew across the United States with Hunter S. Thompson. I know this because I met her at the airport in Colorado where she came off the plane happily and intensely engaged in conversation with the King of Gonzo Journalism. She had absolutely no idea who he was, but let me know she had had a most entertaining flight. Thompson seemed smitten with the elegant lady in the Chanel suit. I was beside myself. Those were the days when you could smoke on planes and there was no telling what they had gotten up to. In the pantheon of cool things my Mom has done, that moment looms large.

The image of Mom with Hunter Thompson came back to me yesterday when a friend of mine sent an email in which he paid NoCrowds the highest of compliments, describing it as “Gault Millau does Hunter S. Thompson” The sender is a senior communications executive and can therefore whip off these ‘bon mots’ without breaking a sweat. But I was stopped dead in my tracks by David’s little elevator pitch because it is, in fact, the ultimate description of what I am trying to accomplish with NoCrowds, combining the detailed reporting, strong opinions and irreverence of Gault Millau with the super subjectivism of gonzo journalism. I haven’t found anyone doing this kind of writing and reporting in the ‘travel space’ yet and that’s why I started NoCrowds. Good, gonzo travel information is what this is all about.

Tomorrow we’re off to St Tropez and I’m looking forward to reporting on the scene on the Riviera in what the trade calls the “Shoulder Season”, that golden moment just before and after high season, when the weather should still be good, but the crowds mostly gone. On the plane, I’ll keep a sharp eye out for weird people to engage because, as my uber-cool mother once proved, gonzo moments are everywhere.

Photo of Hunter S. Thompson, New York City, 1979 by Allen G. Arpadi

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