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CT Mourns Loss of Contrarian Travel writer

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

The CT is usually not in the business of commenting on the ups-n-downs of the media publishing biz…. The CT usually does not like to get all sappy and maudlin with our readers.. And you know that we do not like to publish in the months of June, July, August or September.  But, for once, we must.   

 

We were saddened to hear last month that one of our favorite travel writers — a guy with a true contrarian spirit – was a casualty of the Sam Zell Revolution.  We won’t bore you with details.  You don’t read the CT because you want to know about the inner-workings of the Tribune Corporation. But, in brief, Zell buys the Chicago Tribune – a paper frequently read by the CT —  and proceeds to slash its staff dramatically in an effort to improve numbers, and ultimately make the paper more appealing to potential buyers.  Anyways, we knew about the blood loss at the Tribune, we heard about the revolving door of editors, but we hadn’t realize that they got one of our friends.

Earlier this month, the CT was innocently scanning the Tribune, hunting for hope, when we spotted a piece titled “Seven Reasons to go to South Bend, Indiana.”  (South Bend, home of Notre Dame, known for heavy lake-effect snow,  job loss, and not much else, is an intriguing contrarian choice.) When we saw that this short piece was written by Solly (that’s his nickname), we smiled.  Who else but Solomon would not only have the sagacity and audacity to reccomend South Bend as a weekend getaway, but also to suggest a visit to the RV hall fame in nearby Elkhart as the 4th best thing to do on that South Bend visit? In his own words:  

4. RV/MH HALL OF FAME
Elkhart is a manufacturing center of recreational vehicles, and this hall/museum—it moved to a new facility in 2007—is very cool. Really. A quick drive east of South Bend.

For more, visit:  rv-mh-hall-of-fame.org

Brilliant. A smart contrarian choice by a pro.  Needless to say, spotting the Solly byline, sent us on a Solly retrospective, and thoughts of the many Trib travel pieces we’ve enjoyed over the years.  So.. the Alpha, who is continuing to follow his advice “travel first, write later,” assigned one of our interns to google-stalk Solomon for a possible retrospective (Reason: he’s the guy who turned us on to Torres del Paine in Southern Patagonia, he told us that Winter is the time to go to the Grand Canyon, he smartly named Bayfield, Wisconsin as a the “Midwest’s Best Town.”  He wrote the definitive guide to Lake Michigan beaches, which helped us make the rapturous discovery of the sunset experience at the Esch Road beach, south of Empire, Michigan. Naked people, bonfires, sand dunes. In brief, he’s been very, very good to us.)

 

On July 2, the intern comes into the CT’s Chicago office with a grim look on his face, and hands the Alpha a print-out of a story from Chicago’s alt-weekly, the Chicago Reader.  It was written by Michael Miner, the Reader’s media critic. Solly, apparently — unbenownst to the CT — had taken a buyout, effectively saying sayonara to the Trib and the travel section.  The story was published on Mar. 19th.  Which meant “7 Reasons to Go to South Bend,” may be one of his last pieces.

If the CT can get out of its horrible summer slump (please see our forthcoming mea culpa “The CT’s Manana Complex”), we will publish a list of Solomon’s greatest hits — with a particular eye, of course, to contrarian needs.  Solomon is particularly adept at finding offbeat ways of approaching the most over-run destination (Branson, Disney World).  ALSO, if we ever truly get our shit together, we will try and track him down, ply him with bourbon, and get him to spit out a few contrarian nuggets for our forthcoming Interviews section (sort of like what Ralf Potts does on Vagabonding)

In the meantime,  before we resume our summer hiatus,  we wish Alan Solomon the best of luck. We hope he continues travelling and hope he keeps writing — even in his semi-retirement.  

 

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