By: Andrew Collins
This chunky, but portable, book covers forty different venues in the States, ranging from cities like New Orleans to resorts like Fire Island, NY, and Russian River in northern California. The only way to review such a book is to read about the bits of the country one knows: New York (all of a fortnight), Philadelphia (about eight to ten hours!).
The piece on New York (actually, on Manhattan: there are some places in Brooklyn mentioned, but none in the other Boroughs – you’d have thought Queens would have had at least one place, just to take the bad look off it). There is information on every conceivable sort of venue, entertainment and cultural establishment from the Rawhide bar to the St Patrick’s Cathedral, by way of the Guggenheim Museum.in this, and all of the other city sections, there are reasonably charitable run-downs of the size and type of bares) and clientele (and, in some cases, their staff). There are also very lengthy and useful lists of accommodation, ranging from the pricey to the dirt-cheap. There are good guides to eating places, again with a range of prices – and directions as to where it is the done thing to be seen. There are also directions as to where to go for good food, not just venues but cities too. The book points out that while New York has 12,000 options “it’s pretty easy to strike out” (the Big Apple is the last refuge of the Anglo-Saxon soggy salad). But New Orleans and San Francisco are good for grub.
There is also information about getting around, which is mostly pretty easy, as the large cities have very good public transport systems, and the Gay venues are mostly in central areas. Philadelphia is a bit of an exception proving this rule, as a good part of its scene is in New Hope on the outskirts of the town.
An interesting aspect of all of this is that Philadelphia, Baltimore and even Boston, though all larger than Belfast, have rather modest social scenes, though they all have their local publication (sometimes more than one) and their LGB Centres.
Our review copy is an uncorrected proof bound in gray paper and with lots of spaces for city maps; but the book in the shops has a sturdy glossy cover and crisply printed city maps, sometimes more than one per city (or holiday venue).
There are a number of small criticisms to be made of this book. For one thing, it’s more-ish: I wanted to go to Baltimore one day and New Orleans the next (there is a fair amount of easily digested history in the write-up). Backpackers, and the seriously skint, aren’t really catered for, there’s no info on Youth Hostel or campus accommodation.
But it is an excellent book for the real (and the armchair) traveller, and is genuinely cheap at the price.