They’re Here.

They’re here. The Summer People. The Tourists. “Them”. Here on Marvellous Martha’s Vineyard, we love ’em and we hate ’em. Tourism is a strange human activity. Many tourists go to some particular place because they have a fantasy about that particular place. The very reason for the trip is not reality based. No wonder so many tourists seem to be in some other world. That’s exactly where they are.

Smoking tourists. They tossed their butts onto the sidewalk at the corner of Church and Main Streets, right next to the Rainy Day store. Twenty feet away was a trash receptacle.

Tourists come from from Yang’n’Yinsville. From Diversity City. From Black’n’Whitesville. From Rich’n’Poorsville. Some of them are so interesting, and so nice, that you’d give your eyeteeth to know them better, and wish they would stay longer. Others you wish woulda stayed where they came from. As the old Island expression says, “Summer people. Some are not.”.

Vineyard Haven Main Street sidewalk shadows.

For many visitors, a trip to Martha’s Vineyard is like a trip to a theme park. A friend of mine often works at the information booth at the ferry landing. One morning, a couple came in with a question for him. The question? “What time does Martha’s Vineyard close?”.

This island is a theme park with stores. Or maybe it’s a jungle. The shopkeepers are like ant lions or spiders, trying to trap or ensnare tourists, with the sole purpose of extracting dollars from them.

“Look at me, lookatme!”, say the windows. In the interest of full disclosure, I am the person who silkscreened the coffeepot onto the window they’re looking into. You should try vertical silkscreening sometime. It’s an interesting technique.

“My, my, my, said the spider to the fly, jump right ahead in my web.” (Rolling Stones)

“Buy!, Buy!, Buy!” says the sign in the shop window. “Why? Why? Why?”, says the junk in the yard. (John Lennon)

Expense of orders of magnitude await the tourist’s wallet. Or bank account. From ten cent “penny” candy to dollar Chinese-made souvenirs from a shop on Circuit Avenue in Oaks Bluff, from ten dollar tee shirts to a hundred dollars at Larsens for lobsters for dinner, from thousand dollar scrimshaw faced watches to a ten thousand dollar Allen Whiting painting, to a hundred thousand dollar bid on an item at the “Possible Dreams” charity auction, to a million dollars for a three bedroom house in Chilmark that “needs a little work”, or ten million for an estate with acreage or really pretty antique whaling-era house in Edgartown.

A hundred million? Throw in the personal learjet, the four-storey megayacht with chopper parked on the stern helipad. That hundred million will also take care of the “staff”. A nanny for each child. Et cetera.

Nya, nya! My megayacht has more big bumpy things on it than yours does. And no, I don’t know how much that red jet (sky, upper left) cost.

Does it all come from this?

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One response to “They’re Here.

  1. As the lifelong sister of a thirty-three year, four season resident of the Island, I have become familiar with the year-round residents’ bipolar relationship with Summer people, some are not. I have had some of my own, Summer season visits to my sister and her native-born children. That experience has informed me of the wisdom of limiting those trips to late September through early June. Sometimes, that experience must disregarded for want or purpose, but when disregarded, I quickly and easily remember why I otherwise restrict my MV travel. I enjoyed reading this essay and viewing your illustrative photographs, and particularly appreciate your rock and roll references this morning.

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