Traipsing across the planet is a fine thing. You get to visit places you would normally never see, you get to talk to people whom you’d otherwise never get the chance to, and you get to eat foods that would have turned your stomach back home but now you don’t have that choice anymore to consume something more palatable instead. What is even harder is attempting to find humour admist the world’s cesspools.
The author relates his various international sojourns during the 1980s. He traveled everywhere from Lebanon to Korea, Panama, Poland, the Philippines, El Salvador, South Africa, Nicaragua, Mexico, Palestine, and even France. Surviving the Lebanese Civil War, the Sandinistas, and even Disney’s Epcot center, O’Rourke gives a very satirical flavor to dictatorships the world over. Widespread poverty amongst the abundant resources of the world provides our intrepid journalist with a wealth of material.
I found the Mexican nationalists illegally scampering across the southern border to be uniquely intriguing. Manolo Ortiz, the then-INS southern regional public relations chief, told O’Rourke that the Border Patrol apprehended 128,000 aliens in 1968. By 1984, the figure jumped to 1,000,000 before being outdone by the 1985 annual figure nearly approaching 2,000,000 (this is nothing to say about those who weren’t caught). Of course since then, if you express any concern about such gate crashing (such as from an economic perspective that can demonstrate how the remnants of the American free market simply cannot absorb that many people that quickly), you’re branded by the eugenicist friendly corporate whore media as a xenophobic “racist” (which is funny for me because that would also mean that the native born mestizos and even tejanos who value private property and the Constitution are also supposedly racist against “their own people;” aren’t contradictions fun?).
I greatly enjoyed P.J. O’Rourke’s Holidays in Hell. It was an excellent effort at making comedy out of otherwise gut wrenching living conditions the world over. Being able to laugh in the face of adversity is an aptitude we all need to develop, especially as the American Empire inevitably slides into the sands of time.