I’m in today’s New York Times

The guy didn’t use the headline I suggested (‘Beckham Look-a-Like Brings Travel Writing World to its Knees’), but nevertheless I appear in New York Times in a story about guidebook writers.  Unfortunately, you have to register with the nytimes site to view anything past the first two lines.  Copyright prevents me from posting the story here.

The guy actually called me on my mobile here in Romania (expensive call!) to conduct the interview last week, but with what seemed like a large number of writers being interviewed I wasn’t 100% that I’d make the cut, or last more than two sentences.  He did me right and even listed the link to this blog!!  Hello prospective editors!  I’m available for virtually any kind of work, TV in particular, and I’m open to partial nudity!

Oh glorious day!  I’m going to sit back with a coffee and watch my hit counts skyrocket as I try to figure out where I’m going to sleep in Kiev next week for less than US$40 a night.


You know, not to blemish my impending fame, but now that I’ve taken the time to read the parts of the article that aren’t about me, I’m in a bit of a huff in regards to the comments made by Michael Spring the publisher of Frommer’s, who freely admits to paying his authors $1,500 to write an astounding 150 pages of new text (that’s $10 per page or about $0.025 per word, a rate that no professional freelancer in their right mind would consider in a million years, even without travel expenses) while encouraging authors to constantly scrap and beg for ethically difficult and personally demeaning freebies. 

This is an excerpt from the end of the article;
He had his own advice for new guide writers. First, he said, don’t complain. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for you getting six weeks of free travel in Europe,” he said.

Exactly when was the last time Mr. Spring traveled through Europe, leading him to the misconception that $1,500 will comfortably cover six weeks of travel during high season, including an international plane ticket? 

Even if his authors could win complimentary accommodation every other night, that $1,500 is only going to last 2-3 weeks tops, what with the authors being constantly on the move and coughing up train fare.

So, more accurately, the writers that Mr. Spring seems to have baffling contempt for are actually getting paid pennies per hour to work 16 hours a day, six days a week for the first 2-3 weeks, having little to no personal time, sleep or what Mr. Spring seems to imagine as a fun time, and once their tiny fee has been spent, they spend the remainder of that six weeks paying out of their pocket for the pleasure of doing the same workload. 

Let’s say his authors didn’t do the travel and wrote everything from their living rooms, solely through Internet research, with no mushrooming travel expenses.  Even then, at their rate of pay, they’d be earning a mere $13,000 a year for their specialized skills.  I’d be curious to see how long it would take Mr. Spring to start complaining under similar circumstances.

I don’t believe I have ever heard or read someone make statements demonstrating a more out-of-touch, condescending attitude for the people who have made him rich through their diligent work, done largely in the throes of intense mental, physical and emotional stress. 

The absence of a tangible, observable sweatshop is possibly the only thing between this wanker and an international labor laws violation.