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Posts Tagged ‘douchebags’

27. One-uppers

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Traveling to a cool place is like going to an awesome concert. The experience is so good that you wish everybody could see and hear what it’s like. This type of feeling gives one a false sense of superiority, the delusion that other people are missing out big time. “You really shoulda been there,” or “OMG, I wish you were there,” or “You would have LOVED it,” are common manifestations of this feeling.

Don’t be fooled. These statements are stone cold, back-handed beenous. The back-handed beenou is a standard backpacker conversational maneuver. The speaker feigns a desire to share, but really it’s a need to gloat, so he tickles his uvula and pukes out a quick beenou for all to behold.

kristen-wiig-as-penelope-snl-kristen-wiig-323108_1024_768But even when somebody hasn’t missed out — when they’ve actually been to that place or seen that concert — it doesn’t compare. This is one-upping. Somebody sneaked out a little horn toot, which led Mr. Big Shot to pull the tugboat foghorn. The exchange takes on a sudden “check, check mate” silence, leaving everybody feeling stunned and staring blankly at the table.

“I absolutely loved Amsterdam,” somebody says.

“Yeah, Amsterdam is pretty amazing,” says Mr. Big Shot. ”I met a Dutch guy when I was backpacking in Indo. His mom was born in Indo when it was still a Dutch colony. Anyway, he was in Indo trying to get in touch with his roots. On a jungle trek we went on, he got bit by a snake and I sucked the venom out; saved his life. Years later, I went to visit him; he lives in Amsterdam. His dad like owns Shell Oil. So we got blazed, ate krokete and drove Maseratis through the streets of Amsterdam all fuckin’ day.”

You see, one-uppers can’t help but shit all over a perfectly good conversation between well meaning travelers. It’s a collegiate thing, sort of like how the goof with the ponytail challenges Matt Damon to an intellectual duel only to get absolutely demolished by Damon, who cites plagiarism and famously proceeds to get Minnie Driver’s number. My boy’s wickid smaht.

The point is: One-uppers will do whatever it takes to make conversation revolve around themselves and their enlightened, shoulda-been-there experience.

The weekend after we ran with the bulls (beenou, see 1. Aussie Guys), my buddies and I went to San Sebastian. The place was awash in backpacker overflow from Pamplona. We ended up partying with some Americans and amid the drunken blur of pub hopping and running into a number of annoying Brit lad parties with matching t-shirts or rugby shirts, I recall getting caught in a heavy downpour.

We retreated to an apartment a few of the Americans had been renting for the past month leading up to the Running of the Bulls. We proceeded to keep drinking and people were playing CDs. Completely dating myself, as this was pre-iPod era. Somebody put on Dave Matthews Band. And an interesting wrinkle in the time-space continuum gave rise to a compound beenou of unseen magnitude: A backpacker bragged about an awesome concert.

“Oh this song reminds me of when we saw Dave in some dive bar in Memphis,” said the backpacker, a fat dude from Georgia. That’s right. He called him “Dave,” like he knew him, not Dave Matthews. “This was way before Crash, before college radio made him huge and lame. He and the band were only doing small shows in tiny little venues. Blahblahblahblah…”

I wish I had more quotes from this guy, but I was drunk and, as a habit I tend to block out one-uppers.

25. Crazy Israeli Guys

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Every country has good and bad citizens. One can only hope that the citizens traveling the world and representing one’s nationality are good ones, people who build a solid reputation for their country. Unfortunately for Israel, a disproportionate number of young, male Israeli backpackers are crazy and thus contribute to a poor international image for their countrymen.

israeli

Just as with my post about Aussie Guys, I initially called this one “Crazy Israelis,” only to change it because it’s really only the males that annoy me. Most female Israelis I’ve met on the backpacking circuit are nice, not to mention, attractive. Their being attractive might be why their male counterparts are prone to peacocking and giving non-Israeli backpackers the stinkeye whenever all three parties meet.

I’m accustomed to foreign guys being protective of their women. That’s normal. This post is not about that alone. I’ve met Israeli guys that display a sociopathic disregard for public decency, a desire to make other travelers feel uncomfortable or even afraid, and an enjoyment of mocking other people and cultures.

I think a lot of their wild behavior is a result of conscription. “The backpacking trip (is) a common custom, nearly normative, among Israeli youth in the period soon after the military service,” wrote Chaim Noy and Erik Cohen, in their book,  Israeli Backpackers and Their Society: A View from Afar.

The direct transition from soldier to traveler implies that many such backpackers may still be shellshocked. Noy and Cohen note that the “massive participation in backpacking expresses the demobilized soldiers’ need to ‘relax’ and ‘unwind’ following the intense years spent in the army.” I would concur, if interpretations of relaxing and unwinding include: being a cocky prick, acting recklessly or even dangerously (see photo below), reacting aggressively to the mildest opposition, yelling and rambunctious diplays while drinking, and general insanity.

israeli2

Darya Maoz, who teaches a class at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University called Sociological and Anthropological Aspects of Tourism and Backpacking, described stereotypes of Israeli backpackers in  Outside magazine (Aug. 2005):  “They tend to be rude, to curse the locals, to ruin things if they are not satisfied… they don’t respect local people, they party all night, they take a lot of drugs, and if people say something, some Israelis call them Nazis.”

Crazy Israeli guys are guilty of many of the same offenses as the typical Aussie guy, colored with whatever inclinations a few months of patrolling the West Bank can bring.

It’s a funny comparison when considering a letter written in 2006 on www.ynetnews.com by Nicola Lipman, a Jewish-Australian backpacker:  A message to my ugly brother. Lipman acknowledges the negative stereotypes perpetuated by Israeli travelers: “I realzied it was the loud, obnoxious type (and not the friendly, funny and interesting type) who were immediately identifiable as Israeli and giving the whole country a bad name.”

And that’s coming from an Australian.

Also in 2006, freelance writer Jeff Koyen wrote a column for www.jewcy.com, entitled The Israeli Asshole, in defense of obnoxious Israeli travelers. In the column, Koyen presents arguments as to why Israeli travelers are generally perceived of as douchebags and why it’s OK for them to continue being douchebags.

“Raised in their own land, speaking their own language, Israelis have freed themselves from the anxious self-monitoring still experienced by the Jews of the Diaspora,” he wrote. “The Jews of Israel have learned to stop apologizing. Early Zionists would have taken great pleasure in knowing this day would arrive. Perhaps we should take some pleasure in it, too.”

Uh, sure. We should all take pleasure in things we consider reprehensible, like child pornography and female circumcision. After all, the perpetrators have learned to be unrepentant about their cause. Good for them! Let’s celebrate their offenses as justifiable acts of self-preservation. Koyen has clearly lost his mind as well.

Atop Koyen’s column is a photo of a sign, from Bella Bella Guesthouse in the Khao San Road district of Bangkok, saying that it does not accept Israelis because of problems it has had with them in the past. Coincidentally, I took a picture of the same type of sign when I stayed at Bella Bella in 2007, but this one had a damning newspaper article attached to it:

israeli31

Few bad reviews can compare with a simple refusal of service. It’s pretty crazy, really.

Backpacking in the News

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Link to article: One in eight young backpackers has been a victim of theft

A British travel insurance company has found that 12 percent of young backpackers have been a victim of theft while traveling. Another 5 percent of British backpackers polled have been mugged in foreign countries.

Other findings:

  • Male backpackers are more likely to be mugged than females.
  • 7% of male backpackers have been mugged, versus 2% of females.
  • Likewise, 12% of male respondents have been victims of theft, versus 11% of females.

“For many young people, going traveling is the best time of their lives, but it’s all too easy to forget that some places are full of unscrupulous people who are waiting to prey on backpackers,” said Perry Wilson, founder of InsureandGo, the company behind the study. “Young people shouldn’t be put off having fun, but they should take care not to put themselves in dangerous situations and they should plan their trip as carefully as possible (i.e. buy expensive insurance from me).”

Personally, I don’t know if we should necessarily take advice from guys named Perry.

Despite the known risks associated with backpacking, a considerable number young adventurers go without travel insurance, as has been previously reported (see 22. Scooter accidents). InsureandGo noted that 37 percent of respondents “do not always have travel insurance while away,” and one in five (20%) “rarely or never have it,” and would therefore not be covered for any stolen possessions or medical bills resulting from being mugged overseas.

As a male backpacker who has never bought travel insurance and who has indeed been a victim of theft (see 6. Getting Pickpocketed and 16. iPod Thieves), I confess that I will continue to forgo travel insurance, not eat my vitamins, put my mean face on in public, and take whatever shit comes my way. Bring it on, gypsies! I’m ready.

23. National Holidays Abroad

Friday, September 4th, 2009

PXP20D

They suck. Why would you stand on a table singing your national anthem in a bar, swearing, waving your flag about and drinking your exported booze with a smug self-importance, surrounded by locals who are stereotyping your every move? But a few drinks into it, there you are, joining in on some abhorrent chant or refrain you don’t even know the words to. “Fucking foreigners,” the locals think, and they should.

It’s not as though there were Afghan immigrants causing a scene last time you went to your local McDonald’s here in Canada/the U.S./Europe on Afghanistan Day. They weren’t waving flags, yelping or stumbling about because as newcomers, they exert a certain amount of self-control. They refrain from imposing their foreign culture on us in public places, at least. If only we could be so tactful when we’re overseas.

Yeah, the obnoxious douchebag you met on the on the tour bus the other day makes your skin crawl, but on this one day of the year, you’re willing to put up with him because he’s from the same country as you. That’s senseless. He wears white sunglasses. He litters. He’s an ignorant, perverted, overgrown frat boy. He’s an international embarrassment, but today he gets a countryman’s free pass.

I suppose in non-Christian countries, Christmas celebrations can also be considered national holidays forcefed away from home. So lame.

christmas-on-bondi3Yeah, I really want to be sweating my ass off on a beach drinking rum out of a pail of ice, while wearing a retarded Santa hat. I hate those hats on home soil. Why would I put one on south of the Tropic of Cancer?! That’s fucking ridiculous. Oh wait, you’ll fit right in with all the sunscalded bodies and faces with ironic stripes of sunscreen under their eyes. No thanks.

Why do I choose to be categorized with the types backpackers from wealthy countries that flaunt their inflated currency in locals’ faces, drunkenly giving Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and agnostic children toys, candies and firecrackers, and patting them on a head (so cute), on a day that doesn’t even show up on their calendar?

And then these curious cases, they go back to their hostel/apartment/hovel, roast a chicken in the oven (because there are no turkeys in said country), slap up an ironic, plastic Christmas tree and invite all the expats they can track down on Facebook over to get wasted and re-enact the tired and kistchy seasonal rituals usually saved for actual family and friends, only to conclude that it’s pathetic and insignificant to pretend them out with strangers.

"Australia Day at 40 below, in Canada" Yippee!

"Australia Day at 40 below, in Canada" Yippee!

20. Getting “wubes”

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I mean I’m a big eater to begin with. That’s not a beenou. It’s a problem. I don’t have a primo metabolism anymore. That about ended at 16. I’m more of an Oprah type now – a major weight fluctuator. If I don’t do cardio, I’m in big trouble. The love handles and double chin come out and then it all starts to unravel.

That’s why traveling does a number on my body. “Wubes” is short for W.U.B.A.R. (Washed Up Beyond Any Recognition), which at my age works on so many levels: athletic ability (used to be deece at basketball, beenou — now I can barely get off the ground), party stamina (I’m old — I can’t drink all day and stay up past midnight like I did at 21), scoring game (I can admit it), the list goes on. But when it comes to overall physical fitness, however, backpacking makes me wubes.

drinking-on-the-beach2I know I’m not alone here. Every fit girl I know that spent a year in Australia came back fat. No joke. One hundred percent of ‘em. “OMG the partying over there is insane. And like, after the bar, we like all go and eat kebabs, Tim Tams and these weird meat pies.” Yeah, no shit, I can tell. You’re looking wubes. Don’t worry, I know what it’s like.

Here are a few reasons backpacking makes you wubes:

1. Heavy boozing. After spending the entire day sightseeing, hiking, or even just lying on the beach, everybody is in the mood to party. You’re on vacation, so you might as well have a few drinks. Even when you plan on taking it easy, a few drinks quickly turn into a wild night. Soon enough, you’re absolutely lit. And you do this five nights a week. If you’re over 21 with an average or less metabolic rate, the calories quickly add up.

2. Unhealthy eating. It’s not just the drunken eats that get you. You’re in a foreign country, so you always have the excuse of trying some local fare. No matter that you’re on a 17-day bender and haven’t done any physical activity (apart from masturbating in the hostel shower) in months, you simply HAVE to try the deep-fried pork hocks. It’s a local delicacy, so fuck it — you’re on vacation.

3. Sleeping irregularly. You try sleeping on a bus or train that may or may not be going to the right town (which you can’t pronounce, in a language you don’t speak) next to people whose feet stink and who have no concept of Western personal space. And when you arrive at 3 a.m. you need to wake up, pick up your heavy backpack, find something (unhealthy) to eat and figure out why you’re in the wrong town. And when you are in the right town, you eventually lock into the sightseeing-by-day, partying-by-night routine anyway, so there goes the quality shut eye. Oh and you have to rush to the airport tomorrow at 4 a.m., too.

4. No exercise. I hate  guys that try to work out while backpacking. Some might argue that surfing should be considered an exception. I suck at surfing. Surfing is fucking difficult. I hate surfers too, mostly because they’re way cooler than me, jacked and get more vibes. They also wear white sunglasses, so whatever. I don’t really want to be the guy doing push-ups and sit-ups on the hostel floor, either. Others would insist that all the daytime sightseeing/hiking/biking/[insert eco-tourism activity here]/etc. is sufficient exercise, but it’s not when you’re eating fatty delicacies at every turn, boozing all night and sleeping irregularly.

5. Smoking and drug use. I don’t smoke while at home; I smoke when I travel. There’s so much idle time spent waiting in line for tickets, hostels, information, currency, food, vehicles… Smoking helps pass the time. And did I mention you’re boozing non-stop? From my experience, smoking accompanies boozing fairly well. As for drugs, well, suffice it to say that nobody is as experimental as when they’re backpacking.

6. Stress. See #3. Backpacking can be extremely stressful: constant travel, visa acquisition, sexual frustration, perpetual hangovers, tight budgets, douchebag/thief aversion, and unexpected catastrophes can get to a person. Whoever said the journey is more important than the destination clearly never went backpacking.

If you’re able to stay trim while on a hardcore backpacking trip, please share your secret. As long as it doesn’t require me to stay sober, watch my diet, go to bed early, or work out, I may give it a shot.

18. Playing Guitar

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

guitar

Say what you will about people who play guitar on a backpacking trip, but there is no denying: IT IS A PLOY*.

But wait, there are people that just really love music. Some of them can play guitar and they want to share their talent with the world. I don’t believe it for a second. Not while backpacking. Carrying a guitar around while traveling is a huge hassle. (My buddy, Jeff, writes: Who actually travels with a guitar? It immediately puts you into excess baggage everywhere.  They are fragile, and temperature/humidity sensitive.) And you’re telling me these altruistic troubadours are inconveniencing themselves for the sake of a simple love of music? Not a chance. They do it to get laid.

It works. I’ve seen it. So have you — admit it. Some dude whips out a guitar at a beach/campground fire or in a hostel common area and proceeds to strum some of the lamest shit detectable by the human ear. Nevertheless, because most girls love musicians and manage to overlook the ugliness (or fatness/dreadlocks/dirtiness/awful hipster style) of supposedly talented (or, in other cases, wealthy) men, these guitarists indeed kill women softly… with their song. It’s a classic case of guys batting out of their league (i.e. score chicks who would otherwise ignore them completely). It’s unlikely, but it happens. It’s similar to how underdogs pull off upsets at March Madness.

The worst part is, they made Juicy Fruit commercials mocking this type of behavior (April 28, 2010: I just watched Animal House for the first time, and John Belushi smashes some kid’s guitar, too. It’s great!), yet the crime persists worldwide. While the perpetrators might not be wearing ski sweaters, they offend with covers of the usual suspects: Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, RHCP, Nirvana, Radiohead, Oasis (esp. “Wonderwall”), James Blunt, etc. (Jeff adds: I left out John Mayer and John Butler because usually the douchebags can’t figure out the tuning.) After witnessing a scruffy, nondescript guy woo a group of gorgeous Swiss girls with his rendition of “High and Dry” and proceed to sleep with two of the girls on consecutive nights, one of my friends had seen enough. He bought a guitar upon returning home that fall.

The best part? The guys’ game faces as they belt out the lyrics, often with their eyes closed. Priceless.

Some of these guys, however, don’t even play well. For example, there’s that scene in Role Models where the one guy brings a guitar on the camping trip and starts playing a song, only to screw it up, stop and start over again repeatedly. (Jeff: In between each song is a healthy beenou about how “my band back home puts on one hell of a show.”  Well sir, I have news for you. It doesn’t. Your band back home sucks. That’s why no one’s heard of you, you’re playing powerchords poorly, and you resort to just tapping the guitar and bobbing your head to cover the parts you don’t know.)

It always made me wonder, though: How much ass could the real Jack Johnson get, if he actually went backpacking (consider, too, that he’s a former pro surfer)? It blows my mind.

*Ploy (noun): A display of fake talent, intelligence or compassion performed in order to impress members of the opposite sex, and ultimately, to get laid. Men, particularly those on major sex droughts, are more likely to resort to ploys. Common backpacker ploys include: volunteering for NGOs; speaking a foreign language; being good with children and animals; caring about art, religion, world politics, the environment, feminism, gay rights, local inhabitants, and people with disabilities; disapproving of wild partying, drug use and promiscuity; and playing guitar.

16. iPod Thieves

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

After being stolen from, no matter what the circumstance may be, a question you will inevitably ask yourself is, “Who would do such a thing?” The answer is: Assholes.

Don’t give me the sob story of Oliver Twist. These poor locals. They must steal from the rich travelers in order to survive! They desperately need to feed themselves and their families! They need the money in your wallets, so they’ll pick your pocket, take out the cash and ditch the rest - sorry for the inconvenience (see 6. Getting Pickpocketed). In reality, most of the iPods getting stolen along the backpacker trail are not taken by Oliver Twists.

Although impoverished locals (assholes) are responsible for the odd stolen iPod, the majority of iPod thieves are douchebag travelers (also assholes). Unlike pickpockets, who are predominantly poor people or gypsies, these iPod thieves are more in it for the device than for instant black market cash. I don’t know what the resale value is for a scratched up, poorly file-categorized and already obsolete iPod, but it’s probably not much.

It’s ironic because you would expect your fellow travelers to be people who look out for each other and turn in forgotten items to the hostel lost-and-found. Optimists would argue that most backpackers are trustworthy, but if this were the case, why all the lockers in the dorm rooms (see 15. Dormitories)? Cynics, however (myself included), would counter that the average backpacker isn’t as trustworthy as one might hope. No offense to all you good samaritans out there.

It’s the same with camera theft. Once you’ve lost a camera, you come to realize the content on the device is worth more than the device itself. An iPod contains a backpacker’s personal soundtrack to his/her trip. It took a long time to create and pirate that music (and sometimes movie) library. Tireless hours of last-minute leeching and seeding before you have to catch that flight. In some cases, your piracy went as far as syncing your library with those of other travelers you met and hung out with along the way.

Older backpackers may better relate to stolen CD wallets, which were much worse because original CDs cost so much. A good buddy of mine went on his first backpacking trip to Australia almost 10 years ago and got his CD wallet stolen. The thing was chock full of original CDs (72 in total) bought with money he worked thankless minimum wage hours to earn. Seventy-two CDs, at an average of 15 bucks per, is $1,080. That’s a lot of cash when you’re between the ages of 16 and 20. But the point is, when you’re on a big trip, your music collection is worth a hell of a lot more than that. It’s fucking priceless.

So here’s a modest request from good travelers to would-be douchebag travelers out there. Don’t be an asshole. Buy your own iPod. They’re cheap now anyway.

1. Aussie Guys

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

pamplonaAnybody who’s ever been to San Fermin in Pamplona knows what I’m talking about: Most people are hung over from all-night partying and nauseous from the stench of leather-winebag-induced vomit and urine filling the narrow cobblestone streets. Yet these perpetually sunburnt ruffians are still drinking at 6 a.m. when the wooden retaining fences swing open. Those who slept slept poorly, cold and in the streets for chrissakes.

The Aussies are already rowdy as hell. They’re chanting, slapping each other across the face, wrestling, laughing hysterically - getting pumped up. One Aussie is literally climbing up the wall as we wait for the bulls to be released. His buddy is spraying beer into the crowd. It’s six in the morning. We, the foreigners, the parasites (à la Robert Carlyle in The Beach), have been flocking to this quaint, Basque, mountain town for decades to experience an event Hemingway beenoued* so eloquently about. The Aussies are reminding the locals and staunch traditionalists what a sham it’s become. Aussie guys are backpacking culture cranked up to Volume 10.

The gunshots fire and chaos ensues as the bulls and people run through the town to the bullfighting arena.

Once the bulls have crossed the arena and are locked in their pens, the excitement subsides. But the capacity crowd wants blood. So the event organizers release smaller bulls into the huddled mass of dazed bullrunners. The crowd is delighted as the little bulls run amok and disperse the frightened men, many of whom climb over the guardrail and out of harm’s way. But the Aussies are wily and unafraid. One of them grabs a little bull by the horns and wrestles it down to the ground. Another Aussie gets a hold of a bull’s tail, then its hindquarters and climbs on for a few thrilling seconds. Meanwhile, the locals in the stands are jeering and whistling (Spanish for booing) their disapproval. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Remember the World Cup 2002 Beckham faux-hawk? You know the haircut. Everybody outside of North America was rocking it. (Canadian guys weren’t cuz it was gay and jived with neither hockey nor Mountain Equipment Co-op. American guys didn’t cuz they’re style oblivious and rocked faux-worn-in Abercrombie hats instead. Mexicans like soccer enough to but prefer to slick it all back.) Swedish guys enjoyed the haircut, but not as much as the Aussies. THEY ALL HAD IT. Perhaps it’s a testament to how trendy Aussies are (think trucker hats during the Kutcher/Pharrell era), but seriously, they are still rocking the haircut to this day. Seven years later, they just turned it into a mullet.

Speaking of mullets, Aussie Rules Football is rife with them.

aussie-rulesAussie guys steal all the broads. It’s not hard to figure out. Their accent is pretty money. I can admit that. For the most part, they’re ripped, largely due to knowing how to surf and excelling at summer sports, much to the chagrin of other backpacking males. They’re a nation of X-Gamers. They’re fearless and cheesy. Chicks dig fearlessness and cheese. Canadian guys are particularly prone to hating Aussies since, given their propensity for board sports and presumably cool personae, Aussies regularly invade the Canadian slopes to snowboard and bed local girls - enjoying much success in both pursuits.

I have no reason to dislike Australia, save for a few racial issues I’ve heard about but never witnessed. Vegemite is disgusting. I know that much. I don’t mind the taste of a fried egg on a burger, but it’s still weird. You produce damn good Hollywood actors and actresses and your endemic wildlife is neat. But please Australia, please. Tell your backpacking male travelers to calm the F down. And don’t even get me started on Crazy Israelis.

*Beenou (verb, onomatopoeia): To toot one’s own horn. To boast, brag or draw attention to one’s own superiority. A common flaw among backpackers. Can be done both explicitly (e.g. blatant beenouing: “I am awesome at Ultimate.”) and implicitly (e.g. back-handed beenouing or fishing for compliments: “Have you seen me throw a Frisbee?”). Can also function as a noun (e.g. “This blog is a huge beenou.”) Origin: Mimicry of jazz trumpet sounds, scat singing.