This Black man was on the phone in a hotel lobby — so, staff called the police!

❝ A guest at a Portland hotel is alleging he was harassed by staff when he was asked to leave the property after taking a phone call in the hotel lobby late Saturday night.

Washington state resident Jermaine Massey was in the lobby of the Portland DoubleTree when a security guard informed him that police were on their way to escort him off the property.

❝ In a series of Instagram videos of the incident recorded by Massey and obtained by CNN, he is heard asking the guard, “But why? But I’m staying here.” “Not anymore,” the security guard replies…

❝ DoubleTree General Manager Paul Peralta issued a statement about the incident Wednesday, calling it, “unfortunate”…Massey accused the guard of “harassing” him, and in a statement provided to CNN by his attorneys, characterized the incident as “calling his mother while black.”

Every now and then I say to myself, “Self! I don’t believe there is any new and original way Americans might illustrate the racism so deeply rooted in this society? And, then, I am proven wrong.”

Salt Lake City hotel evacuated because of bear repellent

A housekeeper was hospitalized Sunday after a can of bear spray discharged in the Marriott Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

The woman was pushing her housekeeping cart on the 6th floor of the hotel, near 100 South and West Temple, when the cart bumped a can of bear spray that had been left on the floor of the hall.

The can sprayed when it was struck, shooting out a substance that “is like pepper spray, only 10 times stronger,” said Salt Lake City battallion fire chief Clair Baldwin. Investigators were trying to determine why the can was left in the hallway.

The woman was unable to open her eyes after being exposed to the spray, so she was taken to a hospital, Baldwin said. All guests at the hotel were evacuated for about a half hour while crews ventilated the building.

WTF? I never stayed in a hotel as snazzy as the Marriott when I used to be on the road in that neck of the prairie. My budget didn’t allow for that level of classiness.

But, even in the lower-priced motels near downtown, I don’t think anyone was ever worried enough about bears strolling in from the woods to bring a can of bear repellent indoors!

Polish fire brigade rebel against ‘Heil Hitler’ command

A Polish fire brigade has rebelled against its commander after an alleged campaign of humiliation and abuse of power that saw him force them to greet each other with a “Heil Hitler” each morning.

Angered by their commander’s behaviour the firemen from a station in the eastern city of Augustow went over his head and made a plea to regional command to have him removed.

In a letter to regional headquarters the firemen at the station listed 27 allegations of abuse of power, which also included the commander using emergency phones to order food, and permitting friends to stay at the fire station bed room.

“Friends of the commander were allowed to stay, and firemen were mobilised as if it were a hotel,” the firemen claimed in their letter. “We had to carry luggage and bring food and drinks for the guests.”

The station commander, along, apparently, with his deputy, also reportedly subjected to anyone who questioned his command to abusive tirades involving strings of expletives.

His alleged insistence of firemen using “Heil Hitler” instead of the traditional greeting of “Good day” was resented in particular given Poland’s immense suffering under during the years of Nazi occupation.

Golly, it’s only taken regional bureaucrats a month to get round to removing the station commander and addressing the situation with an investigation.

Some of Japan’s hotels advertising their RR view

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Japanese hotels near stations are trying to attract train spotters with rooms marketed as having a “rail view”.

Most people would prefer a room away from the tracks, fearful the double glazing would not block the rattle of a passing early morning express. But some hotels near stations in Tokyo are turning a potential disadvantage into a business opportunity.

They are trying to broaden their appeal beyond tourists and business travellers by marketing rooms to train spotters…

The Hotel Mets Akabane in the Japanese capital has a scheme guaranteeing rooms with a view of the tracks on the fourth floor or above…

The rival Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower overlooks Shinjuku station, one of the busiest in the world. Its “Just like the N-gauge Model, Train View Stay Plan” is named after Japan’s standard size of model railway sets.

The offer includes a gift of a paperweight made of a piece of track, as well as a copy of the latest railway timetable.

Hobbyists run the gamut from antique and old to modern and visionary – regardless of subject.

I recall sitting with mates in the Highlands – properly lubricated by an old single malt – listening to recordings of steam trains leaving station and climbing some famous grade.

I’d probably enjoy the approach of a Japanese bullet train as much – though in different fashion.

Dutch city turns churches into a luxury experience

It has been a while since I’ve enjoyed going to church so much.

As a lapsed Catholic I tend to keep my church attendances to Christmas and, if I’m feeling quite a lot of guilt, Easter. However, I would happily go to “church” at Maastricht’s Kruisherenhotel on a daily basis.

A former gothic church and monastery dating from the 15th century, the buildings have been beautifully renovated to welcome disciples of a new kind of religion — luxury.

Boasting 60 rooms, dazzling but sympathetic light installations and a mezzanine restaurant and accompanying womb-like wine bar in the church’s nave, it’s easy to be quickly converted.

The food is also pretty good; my fish and scallops starter followed by venison the perfect communion for a late autumn evening…

The religious theme continues on the left bank at Selexyz Dominicanen — yet another church that has been converted, this time into a fabulous English- and Dutch-language book store…

It now features a three-story black steel bookstack in the high nave, together with a noisy cafe in the choir. If it sounds like desecration, you couldn’t be more wrong. It is a book and architecture lover’s heaven on Earth.

As proud locals tell my wife and me, there are plenty of empty churches in the area that could do with a similar makeover.

Given the tendency for interesting, albeit often traditional architecture, it’s nice to see disused churches brought to productivity.