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Authors: P. J. O'Rourke

Holidays in Heck

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HOLIDAYS
IN
HECK
P. J.
O'ROURKE
HOLIDAYS
IN
HECK
First published in the United States of America in 2011 by Grove/Atlantic Inc.
First published in Great Britain in 2011 by Grove Press UK, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc.
Copyright ©P.J. O'Rourke, 2011
The moral right of P.J. O'Rourke to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of the book.
Every effort has been made to trace or contact all copyright-holders. The publishers will be pleased to make good any omissions or rectify any mistakes brought to their attention at the earliest opportunity.
1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2
A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library.
Hardback ISBN 978 1 61185 604 0
Trade paperback ISBN 978 1 61185 596 8
eBook ISBN 978 1 61185 996 6
Printed in Great Britain
Grove Press UK
Ormond House
26-27 Boswell Street
London
WC1N 3JZ
www.groveatlantic.com
To Tina,
I owe you a holiday, and—what the heck—
to Lizzie, Lulu, and Cliff
I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room.
—Pascal
C
ONTENTS

 

Acknowledgments

Introduction:
A Former War Correspondent Experiences Frightening Vacation Fun

1 Republicans Evolving:
The Galápagos Islands, April 2003

2 Monumnetal Generations:
The National World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C., June 2004

3 Round on the Ends and “Hi!” in the Middle:
Ohio Skiing, February 2005

4 Riding to the Hounds versus Going to the Dogs:
Britain after the Hunting Ban, March 2005

5 My EU Vacation:
Reading the European Constitution on a French Beach, Guadeloupe, May 2005

6 On First Looking into the Airbus A380:
Toulouse, June 2005

7 If You Think Modern Life Is Awful, You Haven't Seen Modern Art:
Venice Biennale, July 2005

8 My Wife's Got a Gun:
Brays Island Plantation, South Carolina, February 2006

9 A Freedom Ride through China:
Spring 2006

10 Side Trip Up the Yangtze:
June 2006

11 A Horse of a Different Color:
Kyrgyzstan, July 2006

12 Sweet-and-Sour Children and Twice-Fried Parents to Go:
Hong Kong, December 2007

13 The Big Stick, or Why I Voted for John McCain:
USS
Theodore Roosevelt,
April 2008

14 White Man Speak with Forked Tongue:
The Field Museum, Chicago, May 2008

15 The Decline and Fall of Tomorrow:
Disneyland, June 2008

16 A Journey to . . . Let's Not Go There:
Summer 2008

17 The Seventy-Two-Hour Afghan Expert:
Kabul, July 2010

18 Capital Gains:
Washington, D.C., August 2010

19 Home Unalone:
New Hampshire, March 2011

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

S
heer amateurism is a reporter's only excuse for traveling without an assignment to do so. Therefore, the pieces in this book were assigned. Many of these assignations came from
Forbes Life
, which is—and I mean this in the best way—the monkey business supplement to
Forbes
, America's preeminent business magazine.
Forbes Life
(originally called
Forbes FYI
) was founded by my excellent friend Christopher Buckley who, in a flash of inspiration, realized that the people who make money reading
Forbes
might occasionally want to blow some. Blowing money is what I do.

My thanks to Christopher and a plug in recompense. He is the first person since Evelyn Waugh to master the agonizingly difficult art of the comic novel. Buy all his books. And
my thanks to Patrick Cooke and Richard Nalley who brilliantly followed Christopher's brilliance as editors of
Forbes Life
and to their brilliant boss Bob Forbes, my summer neighbor in New Hampshire's Beige Mountains. Together these gentlemen underwrote my journeys to the Galapagos Islands, the Yangtze, Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong, Brays Island Plantation, and even my rare opportunity, described in
Chapter 19
, to stay home.

My wife, Tina, and I were invited to go on the Galapagos excursion by our extraordinary Texas friends Lee and Ramona Bass. But, between invitation and embarkation, Tina turned up pregnant with Buster (whose first appearance in print is recorded in
Chapter 3
). Doctors forbade Tina from messing around in boats. So I took along my Godson Nick McDonell.

Nick, a New York City boy, was then a freshman at Harvard. This was his first exposure to Republicans en mass, particularly Texas Republicans, and, more particularly, the beautiful teenage daughters of Texas Republicans, who accompanied us on the cruise. Nick is a handsome and engaging young man, and the girls were fascinated by his exotic liberalism. One evening, on my way to the bar, I saw the entire contingent of adolescent Texan females gathered around a table with my Godson. I overheard a mellifluous voice with sugared southern accent say, “Why,
Nick
, you-all just don't
understand
gun control!”

My travels through mainland China and my sojourn with my family in Hong Kong would not have been possible without our peerless friends Dave and Celia Garcia. I've been imposing on their hospitality in the Orient for twenty years. We've shared trips with them to Italy, Spain, and Thailand. And Dave has been a boon companion—coming along for the fun of it—on my reporting trips to Israel, the West Bank, and
Egypt. Once, while we were walking back to the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem late at night, a couple of kids tried to heave a Molotov cocktail at us. It fell pathetically short. Dave shouted, “You throw like girls. If you Palestinians want a country, you'd better learn to play baseball.”

Speaking of learning things, I owe my—very tenuous—ability to stay on a horse to the worthy Adrian Dangar. If it weren't for him I wouldn't have survived the horseback ride across the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Although, come to think of it, if it weren't for him I wouldn't have
been
on the horseback ride across the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. So thanks, Adrian, I guess. Anyway, Adrian's Wild and Exotic Ltd. tour company—
www.wildandexotic.co.uk
—is a splendid operation. He'll talk you into doing all sorts of things that are wild and exotic. But it's all perfectly safe. The last time Adrian led a horse trek across the Serengeti only one of the riders was attacked by a lion and hardly any of his horse was eaten. Adrian also took the author photo for this book, capturing with speed and skill a rare instant when I wasn't falling out of the saddle.

Still speaking of learning things, my wife owes her knowledge of how to shoot me on the fly to our estimable friends at Brays Island Plantation in South Carolina, Perry and Sally Harvey, and to the admirable Hugh and Gay Eaton who first introduced us to the Brays. It's the perfect place to retire, which I'll never get to do because my wife knows how to shoot me on the fly.

Another generous source of holidays has been
The Weekly Standard
. I've been a proud contributor since its inception in 1995—though how proud its masters of political deep-thinking—founders Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, deputy editor Richard Starr, and literary editor Phil Terzian—are of that
I can't say.
TWS
is not the first venue that comes to mind for leisure and travel writing. But now and then conservative virtue needs to take time off. Meanwhile the evils of leftism are notoriously far-flung.

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