Saturday, April 28, 2012

a Word from Our Sponsor

Today's post is not about travel, but wanders around the problem of blogs that carry ads.

Wandering the inner corridors of Blogger I learn that since, as a blogger, I am sharing my passions with the world, and some of those passions might include Brands and Products, and what better way to share that passion but let Blogger place tasteful ads on my site for those brands and products I feel passionate about, or at least indifferent enough that I did not affirmatively object to them.
    Most every site I visit regularly carries ads and they don’t bother me, but for myself I feel somewhat as I might if I were including a display ad in a personal letter or mentioning how much a particular brand’s product added to my heart-felt experience.  It changes things, somehow.
    Of course I also cannot think of any Brand or Product that I happen to feel passionate about at the moment.  Were I more strenuous, I might have some item of gear that had impressed me by its rugged dependability, but I am a slow-moving creature who makes few demands on the things I travel with.  I do not keep my notes in a Moleskine nor write with a Mont Blanc.  In the early days I mostly wore custom-made orthopedic shoes which, comfortable as they were, I would not wish on anyone.  My clothes were once Banana Republic, but this was in its early manifestation, when it stocked the quirky and unusual  --  when it sold shirts made from mattress ticking originally manufactured for Spanish prisons or spiffy Italian Waiters’ Jackets that made us look like Italian waiters  --  not as it is today, when it has become Ralph Laurenish. 

In Greece, I remember loving the taste of Nescafé, but back home it tastes like it always has.  Do they have some special blend they sell overseas, or was it just being in Greece, where even the paper clips and rubber bands seemed more exciting?

When it comes to sitting quietly in the shade, one Brand is pretty much as good as any other.  Most of the little gadgets I have picked up lately seem to have been manufactured in China and probably contain mercury or depleted uranium.

Someday I may carry ads, just as someday I may put up photos or use something other than this stock template.  I appreciate bloggers who have put the effort into making their sites visually interesting, though photographs and design are not enough to keep me coming back.  Think of the great travel books: most don’t have photographs and in those that do, the photos are unremarkable.  Thesiger was an outstanding photographer, but none of the others were.  And even if Thesiger hadn’t been, he would still be one of the great travelers because of the stories that he told.  The important thing is the story.  At least that is what I am trying to do here and I worry that ads might cause me to make changes just to attract readers and we shouldn’t be doing that, now, should we?  For example, a trivial post months ago that mentioned Mayan Vampires continues to attract a regular stream of visitors, but I am mindful of what has happened to History Channel and don’t want to go down that road.  (Though I do have a Greek vampire story that I may get to eventually, but if I do it will be a legitimate part of the incident being described.)

This post has wandered far enough.  Go out and buy something: it will make you feel better.  But take your time and go to obscure shops with dusty shelves and dark corners and buy something that no one else has.  Something beautiful and exotic from long ago and far away.  Something that might even have a curse on it.  Something that will make your life more interesting.  I would carry an ad for something like that, but they don’t advertise because it’s the only one that there is.

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