Tourists are freaks. (For context: I work in Times Square.) Tourists are unnatural to the environment into which they insert themselves; they walk funny; they talk wrong. David Foster Wallace wrote (in a footnote) that to be a tourist “is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you.” Something similar might also be said of journalists, who also insert themselves awkwardly on someone else’s turf. But the journalist, if we’re being high-minded about it, serves some civic or artistic purpose; the presence of the tourist [...]
I met Aye Aye Win a little while ago aboard the Karaweik, a two-story barge on Kandawgyi Lake in the middle of Yangon, Myanmar. The barge, like the lake, is artificial: It’s actually a building made out of concrete and stucco, sunk into shallow waters. Inside was a buffet restaurant with a stage, and on it, extravagantly costumed dancers. I hadn’t been sitting at the banquet table for long when a woman with a kind face and elegant cheekbones asked, softly, if the seat next to me was occupied.
Then she told me some of her life story, beginning with her father’s name.
My father’s name [...]
This should probably become an international incident soon, right? (So far, British politicians and Amnesty International have, to be fair, spoken out strenuously.) "Malawi's High Court refused on Thursday to release on bail a gay couple from a maximum security prison where they have been held for a month, saying it had denied their request for their own safety…. Police arrested Steven Monjeza, 26 and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, in late December for getting engaged in a traditional ceremony. They were charged with unnatural practices between males and gross public indecency." This is the second time they have been denied bail. The punchline about the "their own safety" part is [...]