Sunday, November 24, 2013

Before It's Gone

Thursday night the store's Small Press Book Club met to discuss the Pushcart Prize 38th Anthology. In it was an essay entitled "Corn Haze" Pam Houston in which she makes an aside about the denizens of Venice:
"None of the employees can afford to live there, and the whole city shuts down by ten-thirty each night because the waiters have to run for the last boat/train/bus for the city of Mestre, where there are apartments they can actually afford. Eighty percent of the palazzo windows are dark at night because they are all owned by counts or bankers or corporations, and now, because of the waive action of speedboats, the wood pilings that have stood strong under the town for more than a thousand years are finally rotting, and the whole city is sinking slowly but surely into the Adriatic Sea."
Houston's comment reminded me of the macabre post on Fodor's I saw last week, a mashup of the top 10 places to see before they disappear. Antarctica, Easter Island, and for that strange reason that it's just as far away yet seems so much closer in an intimate way, Venice, which really stung. There are also reports that Venice's government, aware of a future cataclysm as regards its massive tourism industry, are in talks to build some sort of massive carnival space outside of the city proper to lure tourists in a different direction. Because according to Fodor's website, Venice is about ready to sink into its canals. One of the biggest tourist attractions in the world may eventually no longer be able to sustain the millions and millions of visitors it receives every year. This is not only sad on an environmental and historical level, but economically as well. A whole industry is built around tourism to Venice that may eventually dry up. But it's only one of many places, as the Fodor's piece and this handy infographic demonstrate. Just as there's that handy tome "1,000 Places to See Before You Die," there are now plenty of places to see before they disappear. Maybe now before it's too late, these local governments should take a page out of Bhutan's book and put a cap on allowed tourists.

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