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NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT...
By Joe Brancatelli
October 15, 2009 -- Nobody asked me, but…

I got a press release from Starwood last week. This was the lede graf: W Hotels Worldwide, the hotel category buster and industry innovator, today unveils a global brand flagship hotel, W Barcelona. I recognize all of the words. It's just the meaning that escapes me.

I guess the band Frightened Rabbit is right: You can't find love in a hole. The Seattle Times reports that Starwood is filling a hole it dug two years ago for the now-abandoned 1 Hotel project. Instead of the 23-story luxury tower, Starwood will use the refilled hole as a parking lot.

Nobody asked me, but…

If that previous item strikes you as something from a Monty Python sketch, let me direct you to the new, six-hour documentary on the troupe. It premieres Sunday on IFC.

Speaking of pythons, Florida is apparently worried that the snakes are bad for tourism. Honest, that's not a Monty Python joke. The story is right here. But you notice that the piece makes no judgment about the effects of fish-slapping dances on tourism.

Nobody asked me, but…

United Airlines has a new product. For $249 a year, you can buy a subscription to Premier Baggage. It allows you to check two bags per flight for a year. Next week's new product: Shoe Shopping With the CEO. For $499, you get to troll North Michigan Avenue with Glenn Tilton and buy him a pair of brogues.

It's not that United is losing money or anything. The airline's total lack of movement on the revenue and earnings front is due to it being tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

Nobody asked me, but…

Nearly 41 years after he allegedly hijacked Pan Am Flight 281 to Cuba, Luis Armando Pena Soltren was arrested this week when he stepped off a plane at John F. Kennedy Airport. Apparently, the return flight from Havana had been stuck on the tarmac since 1971.

Sorry, I can't resist: Pena Soltren pleaded not guilty to charges of air piracy at a hearing yesterday in federal court. He told the judge that he hadn't expected the Spanish Inquisition…

Nobody asked me, but…

Speaking of that Cuba hijacking, you do know the Python "take this plane to Luton" sketch, right?

As Homer Simpson once said, this is funny because it's true--40 years later.

Nobody asked me, but…

Kate Hanni, the lady obsessed with passing the hopelessly flawed "passenger's rights" bill, bamboozled a lot of media types when she and her Senate allies slipped the measure into the 2009 FAA budget reauthorization. Apparently neither she nor the too-credulous-for-words media types understood that the FAA has been working without a reauthorization since, well, since approximately the time of the Wright Brothers. Congress passed another short-term FAA extension, thereby circumventing the passenger's rights bill again.

On the other hand, Hanni filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Texas this week claiming that Delta Air Lines hacked her E-mail. If she can prove it, I hope the court awards her several zillion dollars in damages. A Delta spokesman, a former daily newspaper aviation reporter, called Hanni's allegations "absurd." When aviation reporters turned flacks start calling things "absurd," I start thinking it's code for, "Oh boy, we're in trouble on this one…"

Nobody asked me, but…

Paradigm shift alert: I went to Amazon.com this week to buy Barbra Streisand's new album and it cost more to download it than to buy it on a traditional CD. Either way, skip it.

Let me understand this: I'm supposed to decide between Rush Limbaugh's attempt to buy into an NFL team and the objections of NFL players. Where, exactly, are the good guys in that equation?

Nobody asked me, but…

My Seat 2B column last week on good stuff for business travelers led more than a few of you to E-mail me with tales of the relative deliciousness of Starbucks' VIA instant coffee. Now I can't stand instant coffee and I really, really, really don't like Starbucks. But you're smart folks and I'd be a fool not to consider what you say. So I can report that I now have three sachets of VIA on my desk. I promise to try it as soon as I recover from the shock of setting foot in a Starbucks.

A JoeSentMe reader E-mailed me from Paris this week to report that Chez Babu, my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in the City of Light, has been converted into a Starbucks. This fact is confirmed by Karen Fawcett of BonjourParis.com. Insert your favorite anti-French Monty Python joke here.

Nobody asked me, but…

My frequent-flying wife has stockpiled a stash of travel-sized bottles of Purell, the instant, waterless hand sanitizer. I don't know about its ability to retard the H1N1 virus, but I suppose it couldn't hurt, either.

Speaking of which, any of you folks experienced the Dyson Airblade in a public restroom? Maybe it works better than towels and traditional air dryers, but it looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know, a 1960s vision of the future. Kinda creepy.

Nobody asked me, but…

The Chicago Cubs declared bankruptcy this week. Don't say the Republicans didn't warn you: This is what happens when you let that socialist White Sox fan Obama into the White House. He and his subversive Silly Walks Czar are going to destroy this country.

I think Glenn Beck is a buffoon, but installing a red hot-line phone on his set so Obama could call in complaints about Fox News was really, really funny. Hey, Mr. President, it's a man's life on Fox News. Get used to it.

Nobody asked me, but…

The Crowne Plaza in Dayton, Ohio, was sold this week for $2.6 million. The 283-room property sold last year for $6.1 million. Next year when it sells, the buyer can pick it up for a couple of hundred thousand Priority Club points.

Last one, I promise: Don't you just hate it when you call room service to order a breakfast of spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam and are told that spam's off?

Nobody asked me, but…

Apple says it didn't want to let the Google Voice app on the iPhone because Google blocks calls to sex-chat lines and some rural telephone exchanges. (That's not a Monty Python joke, honest…) That's rich coming from a company that drove Mac clonemakers out of business, once tried to retroactively change the terms of Mac tech-support contracts and constantly sells products with non-replaceable batteries.

Windows 7 is finally and officially released next week. You'd have thought there was a Monty Python joke there, wouldn't you?

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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright © 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.