As I inch down Bellevue Avenue towards the next inevitable detour, I figure, like many others, that traffic is what is keeping me at my 5 mile an hour pace. But no – it is the tourist- the globetrotting excursionist, who brings 500,000 of his closest wayfaring friends from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, to our fair metropolis. He has decided, like so many other mansion jockeys, to take his time and see each and every building, as he makes his way to nowhere in particular at the pace of a loitering tortoise. No cars in front of him, just a fanny pack and the wind. Perhaps he’ll get a deal on a well-fitting, reasonably priced pair of man sandals on his way to rent one of those cute little three-wheeled scooters that purr and fizzle along our unpaved roads. For nothing quite portrays that out-to-lunch “Look at me! I don’t know what I’m doing!” look like you, my friend. Just to get it straight, now, every single local that passes you thinks to themselves, god I hate those things.
We, as native Newporters, tolerate this thick-witted behavior year after mind numbing year, for without tourism, how can we possibly pretend to be the upscale, bloated, Newporters of yesteryear, who built a handful of big playhouses to escape to and have their dubious affairs secluded and kept firmly under wraps. How can we open scores of the same seafood restaurant and be tipped a whole dollar on a two-hundred dollar check? We are now forced to form committees like the good folks at Clean Ocean Access to clean our shorelines on their days off, just so the next careless, lackadaisical sightseeing vacationist can hoist up their bathing suits to their nipples, slap some sunscreen onto their nose, and drag their children into the blood red ocean waves like a scene from The Shining, leaving behind a months’ worth of pampers and tampons in their wake. Thank you tourism – we asked for this. We want more of this………right? And thank you City of Newport for ALWAYS doing as much road work as possible in the height of the tourist season to ensure that if we want to escape, there will be many, many, many detours on our way to jumping off the bridge, only to find out that the ocean is closed again due to high bacteria. I thought the city threw millions at that problem? Didn’t work? Who saw that coming besides everyone. I love that lower Broadway has been officially baptized as 4th beach, due to the road being gone in the busiest part of town during the busiest season of the year. (Thank you Rich for the entertaining 4th beach updates)
But woe is me – we need you, tourist. I admit it. I don’t want to hear any “they put food on our tables bro!” arguments from you locals. But don’t be fooled, day tripper. We don’t like you over-privileged ex frat boys who have a chance to play sailor tonight and wear your pink button up shirt and plaid shorts and go see whatever cover band is doing their white-guy Bob Marley impression, skulking off to the bathroom to fix up your faux-hawk and take a selfie. You seasonal hippies can easily get a job as a pedi-cab driver to further complicate traffic ,which will help you gain acceptance at your next job at Empire Tea and Coffee. You Jewish purists can come by the busload in heavy, long, all black garb to glimpse our synagogue (aren’t you hot as hell in there?). But please, have a little compassion on the bartenders and servers. They’ve seen you all before, they know every type… and you’re not interesting. You are not inconspicuous. You’re not funny. You’re boring. You’re pushy. You’re cheap. In between the small handful of mansions that we’re known for, there are many working class people just trying to get by. Single moms, drug addicts, homeless people, working class stiffs who take the bus to work – just like you have in Connecticut …ok, New Jersey.
It’s enough that you’re here for a few months of aggravation, we can deal with that – but the really real unacceptable thing is the amount of garbage I see along the shoreline every summer. I find it unfathomable, that, in this day and age of education about going green and global warming, I still see shit like this: you may go back to Staten Island, but we have to deal with your discarded umbrella, your dead fish carcasses, your Michelob Ultra bottles, your diapers. The other day I found a tent. Someone set up a tent on the beach, and left, as this giant shit trap just dismantled and dismembered itself and blew around in the shoreline wind, predestined to tangle and kill a yard santa that blew over from that “look at me” house by the big pond last winter, and maybe a seagull or two. And hey, the seaweed picker upper machine the city paid way too much for doesn’t work either, you might as well scrap that thing – a friend of mine who was driving it was actually told seriously to “abandon ship” when it got stuck in the sand and inch of water. So pick your poison, fellow Newporters, ye shall complain about the heat and tourists, or the cold and pot-holes. Either way, you’ve earned the right to complain, as long as you press on and continue preserving Newport for the kids. Give them your old skateboards, your old record player, a guitar. Teach them about the ocean…hopefully they’ll learn to appreciate their surroundings and not trash one of the most beautiful places on earth.
– Mike O’Donnell, Newport Buzz Correspondent from the trenches