Please Do Not French Kiss the Giraffe

“Giraffic Park” at the 2015 Rochester (NH) Fair.

This is what I learned from my recent visit to the Rochester Fair: Mouth-to-mouth, human-to-giraffe contact is so common that it warrants the professional printing of signs to warn the public.

The dire warning begs the question – Just who are these people who want to have a “Lady and the Tramp” moment with a wild animal they just met seconds earlier?


In any case, I’m squeamish about having a giant tongue cover even my hand in giraffe saliva, so I’m leaving the feeding to others.

But record-breaking carrot sales aside, I do wonder why the carnival just won’t let these majestic animals eat without having to touch all those dirty human hands. Who knows where they’ve been.

(On a somewhat related note, here’s a fascinating Slate commentary arguing that zoo lions and tigers should be fed animal carcasses instead of processed meat.)

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Filed under Animal Rights

Tourist Dress-Up Debate: Is it “racist” to try on a Japanese kimono?

HANDS OFF THE SILK - In a recently canceled Boston Museum of Fine Arts promotion, visitors were encouraged to try on a Japanese kimono and pose with the famous painting, (Source: MFA)

HANDS OFF THE SILK – In a recently canceled Boston Museum of Fine Arts promotion, visitors were encouraged to try on a Japanese kimono and pose with the famous Claude Monet painting, “La Japonaise.” (Source: Museum of Fine Arts)

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts just stopped letting visitors be photographed in kimonos on “Kimono Wednesdays” because of a few protestors charging that the dress-up event is culturally insensitive.

As a lover of kitschy photo-ops at museums and tourist attractions, I’m horrified.

My street cred? I’m the curator and co-founder of “Tacky Tourist Photos,” a travel website celebrating this practice around the world.

I thought the MFA’s promotion was clever and respectful of Japanese culture and would have exposed many outsiders to history and art they might not have bothered paying attention to otherwise. In Kyoto, Japan, there are lots of studios that invite tourists to go through the lengthy process of dressing in traditional Geisha and Samurai garb.

I’ve also met tourists who have had fun channeling Pharaohs in Egypt, Vikings in Sweden and Sumo wrestlers in Japan. I’ve personally had the honor of dressing like a Canadian! While on Prince Edward Island, I met Japanese and Chinese women who posed in red braids and straw hats and said they dreamed of visiting the land of Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables costume booth at the Confederate Bridge on Prince Edward Island.

Anne of Green Gables costume booth at the Confederate Bridge on Prince Edward Island.

I share my disappointment in the MFA for not standing up to a few protestors – as well as challenge the idea of “cultural appropriation” in general – in this opinion column for The Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper).

A snippet:

“Only a few generations after the Second World War, when Japan and the West viewed each other through the lens of brutal racial stereotypes, our first impressions are no longer Pearl Harbor and P.O.W. camps. My immediate associations with Japan are anime, baseball, comic books and video games. Go to any comic book convention and you’ll find that Japanese culture is worshipped.

I’d like to think that part of that cultural transformation is due to trying on each other’s clothes.”

I know it’s the journalistic equivalent of smacking a hornet’s nest with a baseball bat, but I also humbly propose 5 objective criteria to determine whether a costumed photo-op is offensive or not offensive.

If you appreciate fun travel photo-ops, whether they celebrate cultural or historical themes or not, please consider immortalizing your snapshots in my “museum.”

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Filed under Excuses to Dress in a Kimono, Journalism Assignments, tacky tourist photos

New San Francisco Tourism Slogan: “What the F**K Are You Lookin’ At?”


I love visiting other ballparks outside Boston and I seize every excuse I can to visit them. On a recent business trip to San Francisco, the inconsiderate Giants neglected to factor my work obligations into their game schedule. I missed the afternoon game, but at 10:30 at night, after having dinner with friends, I had the ballpark perimeter to myself.

Under dim street lamps, I eagerly devoured every bit of text on the Giants Wall of Fame plaques – it was just like opening up packs of baseball cards from my childhood. With a big grin, I couldn’t wait to see which Giants – perhaps successful enough to make my friend Shawn Anderson’s Hall of Very Good, but not the Baseball Hall of Fame – would show their faces next. Continue reading

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Filed under Sports

2 Billy Joel Songs You Should NOT Dance To


Question for Billy Joel fans who were at Fenway Park last night. WHY do people dance to “Allentown,” a song about the collapse of the American economy and vanishing middle class? And for God’s sake, why do people dance to “Goodnight Saigon” about Vietnam?


“Well we’re living here in Allentown
And they’re closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line”


“Remember Charlie, remember Baker
They left their childhood on every acre
And who was wrong? And who was right?
It didn’t matter in the thick of the fight”

Verdict: Not danceable.

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Filed under Billy Joel Songs You Shouldn't Dance To, Uncategorized

How many motorists must die to get Xander Bogaerts in the All Star Game?

Xander Bogaerts All Star Voting Highway Sign

Let’s get one thing out of the way before I go on my rant: Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts deserves to be playing on the American League All Star team.  He’s the best clutch-hitting shortstop in the game this year.

But why the hell is the Massachusetts Highway Department encouraging motorists to text or tweet their votes for Xander?  I just saw this hashtag appeal on electronic signs over Route 2 West and Route 3 North during my commute home tonight.

In New Hampshire, they just passed a “Hands-Free” law requiring motorists to keep their phones away from the steering wheel. In Massachusetts, they’re imploring us to visit Twitter instead of keeping our eyes on the tractor trailer in the left lane.

How many motorists must die before Red Sox justice is served?

P.S. This is more of a PR issue than a public safety concern, but the so-called “alliance” between the Red Sox and Dodgers to vote for each other’s players is pathetic and bordering on begging. Xander Bogaerts and Clayton Kershaw both deserve to keep their dignity.


Vote Bogaerts for 2015 All-star game

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Filed under Red Sox Schlock

Daughters of the American Revolution loosen their admission requirements

Daughters of the American Revolution Parade 2015 cropped

Breaking news! The DAR has now extended full membership privileges to Sons of the Russian Shtetl.

Remember, you saw it here first.

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Filed under Election 2016, politics

Are we bad luck charms for the 2015 Boston Red Sox?


Consider this: Every time that Erik and I have posed with the Dustin Pedroia height chart at Fenway Park, he has gone on the disabled list. Mere minutes after this photograph was taken, the Sox second baseman pulled his hamstring.

Granted, this has only happened once, but I wonder if we might be bad karma for the 2015 last-place Red Sox?

I say this despite once having the following riveting conversation with Pedroia in a hotel lobby:

Me: “Hey, good game tonight!”

Pedroia: (Making direct eye contact) “Thanks.”

That historic moment was documented on CNN if you’d like to learn more.


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Filed under Red Sox Schlock, Sports Psychology