SUBMITTED BY: Christy Day LOCATION: Ross Sea, Antarctica (2005)
The world of travelers can be divided into two distinct groups: Those who can’t get to the South Pole fast enough for some old-school frostbite and those who say ‘No way, I’d rather spend my $10K at Disney!”
Traveling by Russian icebreaker, for which she occasionally served as the emergency brake, Christy took a “Wonders of the Ross Sea” tour of Antarctica — visiting icebergs, ice fields, ice-clogged waters and historical huts (from explorers Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton) surrounded by ice.
During her expedition, she also snooped around McMurdo Station (America’s science research facility) and introduced herself to various penguin colonies.
The birds are nonplussed by the tourist paparazzi.
(Christy Day, of Amherst, NH, seeks to travel to the farthest reaches of the earth. She teaches English at Salem State University in Massachusetts.)
Hey, the Nicaraguan military is available for reality TV shows, so why wouldn’t the Russian Army stop what it’s doing for an Avon perfume press conference?
Fergie, whose passion for Tacky Tourist poses was just demonstrated by her waxual self-harassment at the Las Vegas Madame Tussauds, used the ex-Soviet soldiers to promote her new fragrance, Outspoken Intense.
Might we suggest her next photo-op: We understand that the Ecuadorian Special Forces have a special thing for the ladies!
In honor of the late humorist Art Buchwald, we serve up his infamous “Tourist Prayer,” which we recently discovered in a Manhattan gift shop window.
Buchwald wrote his prayer in 1971 in response to a bizarre Greek Orthodox Church anti-tourist prayer that called on Jesus to protect their monasteries from the “scourge” of world travelers and “the modernistic spirit of these contemporary Western invaders.”
Apparently, these Greek monks weren’t bothered by tourists from Russia and Asia, although in the 1970s most Russkies weren’t packing their towels and suntan lotion beyond the Black Sea.
Anyhow, if you are kind of religious, print out a few copies of this prayer and stick them in your luggage!
THE TOURIST PRAYER
Heavenly Father, look down on us, your humble, obedient tourist servants who are doomed to travel this Earth taking photographs, mailing postcards, buying souvenirs and walking around in drip-dry underwear.
We beseech you, oh Lord, to see that our plane is not hijacked, our luggage is not lost and our overweight baggage goes unnoticed.
Protect us from surly and unscrupulous taxi drivers, avaricious porters and unlicensed English-speaking guides.
Give us divine guidance in the selection of hotels, that we may find our reservations honored, rooms made up, and hot water running from the faucets. We pray that the telephones work, the operators speak our tongue, and that there is no mail waiting from our children which would force us to cancel the rest of our trip.
Lead us, dear Lord, to good, inexpensive restaurants where the food is superb, the waiters friendly, and the wine included in the price of the meal.
Give us the wisdom to tip correctly in currencies we do not understand. Forgive us for undertipping out of ignorance and overtipping out of fear.
Make the natives love us for what we are and not for what we can contribute to their worldly goods.
Grant us the strength to visit the museums, the cathedrals, the palaces and the castles listed as musts in the guidebooks.
And if perchance we skip a historic monument to take a nap after lunch, have mercy on us, for our flesh is weak.
Husbands: Dear God, keep our wives from reckless shopping and protect them from “bargains” they don’t need and can’t afford. Lead them not into temptation, for they know not what they do.
Wives: Almighty God, keep our husbands from looking at foreign women and comparing them with us. Save them from making fools of themselves in cafes and nightclubs. Above all, please do not forgive them their trespasses, for they know exactly what they do.
All together: And when our voyage is over, and we return to our loved ones, grant us the favor of finding someone who will look at our home movies and listen to our stories so our lives as tourists will not have been in vain.
This we ask you in the name of Conrad Hilton and American Express. Amen.
SUBMITTED BY: Eugene Mirman LOCATION: Copenhagen (2009)
Eugene Mirman, the edgiest Russian-American comedian since Yakov Smirnoff, relaxes at the Icebar at Copenhagen’s Icehotel during some downtime at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Revelers are issued Antarctic-quality parkas — which really alters the meat-market singles scene — and there are plenty of goofy photo-ops for both the sober and drunk clientele.
Here, Mr. Mirman does his best impression of Austin Powers frozen for eternity — and we do notice a rather subtle nod to the googly-eyes of legendary comedian Marty Feldman.
The big question: Does the Icehotel have ice machines for the rooms or are you supposed to take a chisel to the hallway?
SUBMITTED BY: Brandon Seppa LOCATION: Red Square, Moscow, Russia (2009)
Despite having whimsical cupcake churches like St. Basil’s Cathedral near the Kremlin, our Russian-born sources swear that Moscow is the city that never smiles.
That doesn’t stop the exuberant Brandon from expressing his zest for life.
Twenty years ago, this kind of nonconformity may have earned him a KGB beating. Today, maybe this lone tourist can start a chain reaction of joy.
Or maybe Putin’s boys, for old time’s sake, will beat the happiness back into his pores.
SUBMITTED BY: Charley Ferrari LOCATION: San Francisco, California (2007)
The classic 1966 Batman TV series with Adam West introduced us to the mystique of the canted angle, which conveys chaos and confusion. But what does a reverse canted angle (when the earth is canted and you uncant it) mean?
No, these aren’t the Leaning Houses of Pisa. Nor is it the aftermath of a routine San Francisco earthquake.
Charley’s just having fun with one of the steepest roads in the world, the touristy Lombard Street in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. MMMMMM… Makes us long for some tilted Ghirardelli chocolate!
Check out these other classic photo-ops at Pisa:
(Charley Ferrari, who has the coolest name ever, sits in a tilt-back chair at a prominent economic forecast company. For months, he has been meaning to launch his blog at http://charleyferrari.com/)
By a unanimous 3-0 vote, the Executive Board of Directors of Tacky Tourist Photos unconditionally condemns the Russian tourist who threw her coffee mug at the Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre.
The London Telegraph recreates the scene here:
“Screams erupted from the 40-odd tourists jostling for position around Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic painted lady when the empty terracotta mug flew over their heads and smashed into the portrait.
“The Russian woman is thought to have bought it minutes earlier at the museum gift shop.”
Although the Mona Lisa is protected by bulletproof, mug-proof glass, we also condemn the Louvre security guards and French police for their weak response to the attack. Apparently, the woman is now staring at ink blots from a psychiatry couch instead of the appropriate punishment — being pummelled with coffee mugs.
“The Russian is being held in custody and has reportedly undergone a psychological examination,” The Telegraph reports.
“Doctors were trying to assess whether she was suffering from Stendhal Syndrome, a rare condition in which often perfectly sane individuals momentarily lose all reason and attack a work of art.”
Other press reports speculate that the Mona Lisa mugger was upset about being rejected for French citizenship. This would make the incident all the more outrageous.
The Mona Lisa is an Italian masterpiece. Attacking Italian art to retaliate against France is like punching an Egyptian mummy in the face to protest North Korean missile tests.
And we strongly condemn those missile tests, too.
SUBMITTED BY: Barrie Mirman LOCATION: Moscow State University, Russia
Thumbs up for Russian socialism! Woo Hoo!
This is perhaps the most enthusiastic tourist response to Russian novelist Nikolai Chernyshevsky, whose call-to-arms book “What is to Be Done?” wound up on the coffee tables of a lot of Soviet revolutionaries.
(Barrie Mirman is a globetrotting photographer who is one of the few people to have ever smiled in the gloomy Moscow subway)
SUBMITTED BY: Eugene Mirman LOCATION: Beersheva, Israel (2007)
The curators of the Israeli Air Force Museum were probably hoping visitors would be awestruck by F-16 fighter jets and want to watch the Hebrew DVD of “Top Gun.”
Or perhaps visitors would want the inside scoop about the Raid on Entebbe, a daring commando operation in which Bad News Bears manager Jack Warden rescued 102 hostages being held by a cannibal, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
Instead, comedian Eugene Mirman traveled 6,000 miles to mock an antique Tacky Tourist Photo and give it a fresh new spin.
Not satisfied with one visual gag, he recruited brother Ilya to take his art to a whole new level.
Word is that the Mirman brothers have been pre-emptively banned from the Louvre!
SUBMITTED BY: Ilya Mirman LOCATION: St. Petersburg, Russia (2006)
This poor muzzled bear cub sits in the sewer in front of the Winter Palace – residence of the Russian tsars, home of the world-famous Hermitage museum, and used as Russian military headquarters during the Nazi siege of World War II.
Yes, there are unfortunately malnourished bears at backwards-ass tourist spots in America — but at least we aren’t sadistic enough to abuse our own national symbol.
(Photographer Ilya Mirman‘s grandfather worked in the Winter Palace during World War II. He was kind of a big deal, in charge of leading the fortification of Leningrad during the Nazi siege. There is no evidence he ever exploited bears during the defense of the city.)