A globetrotting producer chronicles his misadventures while filming unscripted videos from around the world.
Former ad man Murphy founded the video production company Travalliance Media on a straightforward premise: head to the airport with a small crew, arrive at the destination and wing it. Naturally, when someone’s job relies on spontaneity and chance, things are occasionally bound to go wrong. And that’s where Murphy turns his capricious lens: to the often humiliating and uncomfortable struggle to get the perfect shot. Available as both an interactive e-book and traditional paperbound edition with supplemental photos and online videos, Murphy’s Bourdainian journeys take him to more than 20 locations, including Dublin, Tel Aviv and Moscow, as well as aboard America’s Grand Luxe train line. He and his companions try and fail to explore the seedy side of Bangkok, dodge piles of donkey dung in a downhill race to catch a boat in Greece, inadvertently go clubbing with a group of young Vietnamese women and try to avoid one aggressive tour guide after another. The stories vary in entertainment value, but most of them feel incomplete, too safe and anecdotal to be fully engaging. While in Vegas for a television appearance that never happens, Murphy devotes most of a chapter to mocking a drunken man he finds asleep in his hotel hallway. Aside from trying to stir the man, nothing much happens and Murphy ends the section with a bit of characteristic cheese: “It seemed pretty clear to me that this particular experience would ‘stay in Vegas.’” The author throws around puns (about the Chinese god of fireworks: “Zhu Rongs do not make a right”) and makes ample Murphy’s Law jokes. Some readers will be drawn in by this depiction of a germophobic 40something dude who still makes potty jokes, flirts with young foreign ladies and describes his travel-workout regimen in full detail. On the other hand, Murphy’s cool-dad tone (he references Bowie, Glenn Miller and the fact that he owns both an iPhone and an iPad) makes for a charming if infrequently obnoxious traveling companion.
More memoir than travelogue, Murphy’s collection of escapades offers an interesting exposé of an unusual job.