VFYW: A Middle Finger To Vichy
For contest #389, we find beauty in a bleak place. (And don't miss the hyena lady-dicks.)
(For the View From Your Window contest, the results below exceed the content limit for Substack’s email service, so to ensure that you see the full results, click the headline above.)
A followup on last week from the super-chef:
It was fun reading about Rothesay after visiting there. My wife and I have a bad (but sometimes good) habit of not doing much research and just wandering around discovering things, which means we occasionally miss things. In this case, we missed the toilet museum. And last time we were in Hobart, we missed the wall of cunts at MONA. Fortunately we’ll have another chance at that this January, when we are visiting Tasmania again, as part of a trip to Australia with daughter no. 1 and her family.
Fun for the whole fam. Looking to this week, the super-champ in Berkeley exclaims:
Key-ryste, Chris! A month to play around with a view of Scotland that amounted to a dropkick. Then, for a vaguely tropical scene empty of searchable detail (and with no Street View), we get six days!
Indecipherable billboards, unidentifiable air-con units, a building with an “A” on it. A man on a roof wearing what looks like a shoulder-belt arrangement similar to what I wore in sixth grade as a school crossing guard at Alto Elementary. So a security guard, maybe? One probable satellite dish that’s too far away to derive anything from. No water tanks. No shoreline. Nondescript buildings that only serve to block our view of the wide open space behind them, a space that’s marked only by tall and evenly spaced light poles and what might be a frangible tower — which could indicate the presence of an airport.
If only our room had been on a higher floor, we’d have known for sure about the airport:
From Team Bellevue:
Flat out near impossible this week. We wonder how many people will get this one, because we’re sort of having trouble believing we actually stumbled onto it. Our first lunch of searching made little progress. Our second lunch felt like we actually went backwards. But in the end, with hard enough heads and a good bit of luck, our streak lives on.
Our UWS super-sleuth from NYC gets us to the right continent right away:
Total SWAG from me this week. Not that I think Liberia, West Africa, is completely out of the question. But I have not set foot on the continent and wouldn’t know where to begin. I had my chance in the late ‘80s, when my dad and stepmother lived in Botswana for two years. But the timing was bad for a visit, so I never went. I’m reasonably sure this isn’t Botswana, but I wouldn’t bet the condo.
I console myself by something in last week’s column — stemming from the Berkeley sleuth pointing out an error about a West Sacramento view (#206). At first I thought he might be referring to a view I contributed in 2013 (#144), but that was Sacramento, not West Sac. So I checked it out — and realized it was something I’d commented on at the time. I was on a lengthy project in Sacramento (hence view #144), consulting to the California State Teacher’s Retirement System. The view was from one of their windows. There’s a good chance I knew the contributor, since my work at CalSTRS involved interviews/focus groups with over 550 of their people. My comments at that time were a gentle reprimand to a commenter who had some incorrect facts and assumptions about CalSTRS.
BUT, the consoling thing was that you referred to me years ago as “a reader who works at the building.” A reader. One of many. But in last week’s column, I was the Upper West Side super-sleuth from NYC. How far I have come in the last decade! Even if Liberia is 14K miles off from this week’s View, I’m feeling pretty damn good!
So thank you for all of it: the contest, the weekly write-up, and the promotion!
The contest in general has evolved so much over the years.
The grand-champion of the VFYW, Chini, remarks on the difficulty this week and floats a clue: “After a week off quaffing watered-down Scotch, it’s nice to get a small taste of the hard stuff again — or, as they might say in this week’s country, ‘alcool fort’”:
That photo looks like the guess from our super-sleuth in Yarrow Point:
This week my guess is, sadly, wrong, but I’ve got to get to work and I’ve run out of time. I’m guessing the Seder Village Compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I know it’s wrong because there is no grassy area like in the View photo, but it looks similar.
The Seder Village is a “Western Style Village,” where it’s possible “to spend a relaxed period in a safe context.” It’s a place for expats — very secure with concrete walls and netting to prevent anyone from getting in. Reviews of the place say they not only safeguard you physical being, they also look after your moral well-being. For example, women are not allowed in to the compound to visit single men.
In the photo, this man appears to be a guard — I would not find this very relaxing!
Googling Saudi Arabia brings up photos of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, which led me down a headscarf rabbit hole. Why do Saudi men wear the checkered headscarf?
I learned that the traditional Saudi headdress is known as a ghutra or keffiyeh or shemagh, held securely in place by an igal — a black rope-like cord. Fifty years ago photographs show Saudi men wearing plain white keffiyehs, so the current favored red-and-white version is a relatively new fashion trend. Some argue the design has its origin in ancient Mesopotamia, where Sumerian and Babylonian priests wore them as a symbol of their status. Some say it is simply symbolic of fishing nets. Others argue it made its way to Saudi Arabia by way of England, as it is first seen in photos in the 1930s after a British officer included it in the uniform of the Desert Patrol. During the 1936 Arab Revolt, protestors wore keffiyeh to hide their identities from the British. The British banned wearing them, so of course the entire population wore them in protest, and it became a symbol of resistance. The distinctive red-and-white design began gaining popularity in the 1960s.
That’s all I’ve got this week!
Another sleuth has a “wild guess”:
Dang — I missed the last contest by one window. I really have no idea this week, but I’m guessing Monrovia, Liberia. Why? Well, you look for clues wherever you can find them, and when you can’t find one, you have to make one up. Others may disagree, but the following snippet of the photo resembles an American flag, and the setting looks like it could be Africa, and what African flag looks just like an American flag?
If nothing else, I hope this will serve as a chuckle for someone, somewhere.
Another has a bit of a laugh:
This window is in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, for sure. Near the Aldi ... ;)
Back to Africa:
I think the photo is Hotel Le Mirage in Tangier. There’s a sign visible in the background of the photo that seems to have “PONT” as the first word, which is French for “bridge.” French-speaking desert country is probably Morocco. There’s also a sign that says FGI in a distinctive font, and a search for FGI Morocco gives this site with the same font. Searching near FGI Morocco SARL in Tangier for hotels pulls up Le Mirage, which satellite view and images show has a courtyard swimming pool like the one shown.
From a previous winner:
The picture looks like somewhere in West Africa, but hunting for hotel swimming pools in Ghana, Togo etc. got me nowhere. In the end I found similar-looking streetlights in some pictures from Burkina Faso:
And I found a hotel in the capital city, Ouagadougou (the Sopatel Silmande Luxury Hotel & Resort), with the same style of sun loungers round its pool. But the pool itself ain’t right, so I have reached a dead end. I’ll be waiting impatiently for the answer on Friday!
The super-sleuth in Augusta reveals the right country:
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