My Voices Article for May

“Sun Fun:” The LAGuide to Planning a Summer Vacation for the Newly Poor.
When I was 10, my parents scraped together the $25 they needed to send me to a day camp, sponsored by the Brownsville Boys Club, in South Central Brooklyn. The camp ran for four weeks and every morning my mother would pack me a tuna fish sandwich on Wonder Bread and send me across the street to the school yard behind PS165. There, a few friends and I would board the rickety, decommissioned school bus sent for us by the BBC. The bus would slowly tour the neighborhood, picking up the waiting children until there were perhaps twenty-five of us, at which point it would make a bee-line back to the schoolyard where we would disembark and then spend the day throwing, catching or hitting with sticks various round balls, under the guidance of David and Sarah—our counselors. On rainy days, the bus would run us over to the BBC itself, about a four block trip to a very different part of the neighborhood. At the BBC, our camp assignment consisted of staying alive until the bus could take us back. It was a great camp and a great summer.
My parents were the salt-of-the-earth, lower middle class people that used to populate the sitcoms, until the networks discovered that only young people spend money. They had nothing but the knowledge that their children would be materially better off than they were (they batted .500). Their two-week summer vacations might consist of parking some cheap lawn chairs out in front of the tenement, while I played with friends and my brother attracted paddy wagons. On some days, we’d take two subways and a bus to the beach at Coney Island and in the evenings stroll around to Schwartz’s candy store for ice-cream sodas. Today in America, where many of us are stepping back into the lower middle class and our summer vacations—unpaid and unaffordable—are more likely to be on one Sunday in July, rather than a three week trip to the Capitals of Europe, we have much to learn from people like my parents, and that is the reason we are pleased to publish: “Sun Fun:” The Less-than-average-intelligence-American Guide to planning your summer vacation. In the guide, you will learn about hundreds of suitable vacations, such as:
1. The Staycation: While coined by a Canadian comedian, Brent Butt, the staycation can work for Americans as well. Spend a few bucks on bags of sand, a plastic pool and an artificial palm tree or two and you have the perfect beach vacation. For authenticity, blast the soundtrack from the “Sound of the Surf.” You can even fashion cut-offs from that old interview suit you will probably never need again.
2. The Drop-in: Do you have some friends or relatives who made millions giving mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them and now are a bit embarrassed about their great wealth? This July, you can pack the family and pets up in your ‘98 Dodge and drive to their house in the Hamptons. My cousins, Paul and Sharon and their miserable three brats, left Youngstown, Ohio in late June and spent the entire summer freeloading off folks they sort of know and friends of some folks they thought they knew. They tell me they have an invitation to come back whenever they like. Guilt is good.
3. The Movement: Remember “Occupy Wall Street?” My good friend, Wally, does. He became deeply involved in the movement and spent a really nice summer in Zuccotti Park in New York City. He got to sleep in someone’s tent, dine on donated goodies and get healthy, aerobic exercise waving protest banners and screaming for justice. In the guide, we will describe in detail many of the current movements that are suitable for a splendid summer vacation protesting in the park. In the guide, you will also learn how to avoid the downside of the protest vacation—jail time, assault and torture. Wally, we believe, will eventually recover.
4. The Phonarama: While travel to Tibet is still reserved for the rich and well-connected, your smartphone has changed the definition of well-connected forever. You can visit the capitals of Europe, the outback and even the moons of Jupiter without ever leaving your recliner. There are even “aps” to simulate flight turbulence and cruise ship viruses. Best of all, you can avoid all human contact.
5. The Cineplexus: When we were young, we’d spend most afternoons in August at the local movie theatre—often seeing the same flick 10 or 12 times, because the theatre was air-conditioned. Today we have the cineplexes, so that for the price of one ticket you can go from one movie to another and spend a delightful vacation in climate controlled comfort. If properly paced, one extra-large popcorn can provide nourishment for at least a week.
Buy the guide today and start planning for the vacation of your life.

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