I haven’t gone anywhere thrilling since I got back from the trip in June, so I feel obligated to mention when I do. I’m on my way to Brisbane for a wedding and I took a couple days to see Auckland along the way.
I’ve visited New Zealand twice before and had countless stopovers in Auckland’s airport, but I’ve never actually poked around the city. This is me getting around to that, albeit briefly and with half an ass.
Auckland is quaint and cheery as cities go. I packed for northern Australia weather, so it’s a bit colder and windier than I was prepared for. There are volcanoes everywhere – about 40 in the immediate vicinity. Seems a bit like building a city in a minefield, geologically speaking, but I guess they weren’t planning too far ahead when they chose the site.
Despite its quaintity…umm…quainthood, Auckland does boast the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere: the Sky Tower.
Of course, this being New Zealand, you can jump off the side.
No, really. Check out the little speck in the thumbnail below. That’s a guy.
I didn’t bother with it this time, but I noticed it’s possible to affix a camera to the plummeting mechanism. If I ever make another dancing video, I figure that’d be a pretty interesting clip.
At ground level, the Sky Tower facilities include a large casino where I managed to idly blow $200 on blackjack. That’s the same as what it costs to jump off the tower – which would’ve been an equally sensible thing to do.
So I get a lot of emails requesting that I dance in the countries that weren’t included in my videos. They come in from all over the place. One day I’ll get a bunch from South Korea, then the next day it’s Sweden, then a sudden burst from France a week later.
I’ve made subfolders in my inbox for the countries I hear a lot from. I’m collecting them in case I ever do get around to those places. Might be fun to invite everyone to come dance with me.
Here are the tallies of requests I’ve gotten from some of the more vocal nationalities:
Ireland – 24
Portugal – 28
South Korea – 37
Spain – 50
Canada – 75
And in the lead, deadlocked for first place as of today:
Brazil – 82
Israel – 82
The Israeli emails have started pouring in very recently. Let’s take a look at a few, shall we?
"you alredy been in the midel east, and you don’t came to see Jerusalem ???????? (ISRAEL) hope you correct this soon."
Thanks for pointing out my mistake.
"I couldn’t help not noticing that you flew right over Israel (Egypt-Jordan). Is there a special reason?"
Yes. It is between Egypt and Jordan. Similarly, Switzerland is between Germany and France. I skipped them too.
"you have been in the middle east but never came to israel."
Ah. Thanks for clearing that up.
"When are you coming to Israel? it wasn’t one of your destinations…"
Again, thank you for pointing that out.
"I’m surprised you were in Egypt and in Jordan, but didn’t stop by in Israel, the country holy to the three monotheistic religions, and the one democracy in the middle east."
Are you sure you’re not confusing Israel with Iceland? Sounds to me like you’re describing Iceland. I get them mixed up a lot too.
"How come you were in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt and you never went to Israel."
I’m noticing a theme here.
"if you made it to Jordan and Egypt, why didn’t you visit us in Israel to do your happy dance? You visit the oppressive Muslim countries, but not the one free democracy in the Middle East? Is it a political statement?"
Absolutely. I can’t stand democracies. They make me want to barf. Bring on the oppressive Islamic religious states!
"U were in Jordan and didn’t take fifteen minutes to step across the border to Israel – shame on you! Your list will forever remain incomplete until you finally dance on the Holy Land."
Boy! What a warm invitation.
This brings up a key point: where does one dance in the Holy Land? Should I do my jig in front of the Temple Mount? Perhaps I could visit Golgotha, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and site of Christ’s crucifixion. How about I go to the Dome of the Rock and flail my limbs around? Cause I don’t get enough death threats from Guam…
I’m careful about dancing in religious sites for a number of reasons. A main one, of course, is that I don’t want to go out of my way to offend people. I also, personally, don’t happen to put much stock in organized religion. And pardon me for saying so – I’ll certainly understand if you disagree – but I’ve found that religion has a tendency to divide people. There’s enough of that around already.
To avoid this whole problem, some folks have suggested I dance in front of the Dead Sea. Ya wanna know why I haven’t danced in front of any large bodies of water? Cause they’re boring to look at.
Jordan has Petra and Egypt has a never-ending supply of enormous ancient things carved out of rock, but I couldn’t find any ideal dancing spots in Israel when I was planning my trip. That was a big factor.
"you missed the most beautiful place on earth! the most talked about country in the news and the most important place for all three major religions on the planet."
“Talked about.” What a wonderful euphemism. Also, on the major religions, you forgot about Buddhism and Hinduism. And if "major"-ness is measured by number of practitioners, then Judaism isn’t quite as major as Scientology and it’s only slightly major-er than Satan worship.
"I’m a bit surprised and disappointed that with several stops in the Middle East, you didn’t come to Israel. Any special reason for that?… Israel is a magnificent place, and not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Though to be honest, it was a *little* scary a couple of months ago when Hezbullah was firing ketyusha rockets at us every day."
"How come you didn’t dance in Israel?? I invite you personally (Don’t belive in what you see in the news, it’s nice and quiet here)"
I hear ya, Shlomit. I’ve found that many of the places I’ve visited aren’t nearly as dangerous as the public is led to believe. Nevertheless, I think it’s possible you and I might have slightly different definitions of the word “quiet.”
"you didnt come to dance in Israel. a bit offending."
I’m pleased you were able to read between the lines and see my deliberate insult for what it was. It is expressly implied that every place I didn’t dance in must be a worthless dump.
"I must say I was quite puzzled by the fact you have chosen not to include Israel in your wide journey. Is that for any particular reason?"
I don’t know, but I get the feeling you’re implying something.
"It seems you traveled almost everywhere except one place!? Don’t you want to visit the Holy-land, Jerusalem??
I hope its all because of technical issues or you just _______ (please finish the sentence)."
Hate Jews? Is that what you’re looking for?
Only when driving on the Pacific Coast Highway with an empty bottle of Tequila in my lap.
Look, folks, there was no conscious snubbing of Israel. It’s one of around 191 nations on this planet (depending on your definition). It took a lot of effort to get to the ones I did manage to hit. I didn’t dance my way past the immigration counters.
As it happens, and as I suspect a lot of you know, it can be difficult to travel around in the Muslim world with an Israeli stamp in my passport. With this in mind, I had to choose between leaving out Israel and leaving out a number of other places.
I would very much like to visit Israel someday. And if I make another video, I’d very much like to include it. I appreciate your invitations, but please understand that condescending reprimands don’t raise my interest level.
In the words of poet-philosopher-gay sex offender, George Michael, "I don’t belong to you and you don’t belong to me."
That said, I should point out that the vast majority of emails coming to me from Israel have been friendly, polite, and genuinely welcoming. I didn’t include any of those in this entry because, well, where’s the fun in that?
The world doesn’t need to see my friendly and polite emails.
I appreciate all the invitations. I make sure to read what everyone has to say, and every once in a while — based on my capricious whims — I take the time to reply.
But I want to say this, and I know I have to say it carefully: if you watch the video and the only thing that occurs to you is that I left out wherever you live, do you think maybe you might have missed the point a little bit? When you write to tell me that your own country is the most beautiful place on earth, do you think you might have jumped the gun in that assessment? Cause I’ve seen a lot of beauty in a lot of different places, and it sounds a little silly to me. I get tired of myopia presented as native pride.
So in summary, here’s a DO:
"Hey, if you ever come to my country, let me know. It would be fun to come and dance with you."
Here’s a DON’T:
"Hey, you forgot about my country. It’s the most beautiful place in the world. If you don’t come dance here, you’re an idiot."
And here’s a holy-crap-this-is-the-coolest-thing-ever!: