64 posts categorized "Munich"

German Youth Word of the Year: Revenge of the Alpha-Kevins

Better known as a bicycle
My Egg File

At Deutschland über Elvis, it's the most wonderful time of the year! 

No, I'm not talking about Halloween.  In southern Germany, Halloween is nothing more than the night before All Saint's Day, a grumpy, morbid Catholic holiday on which you can't dance. 

No, not Oktoberfest, during which nobody stays sober enough to recall if it's wonderful or not.  

And no, not even Christmas.  Like everywhere, Christmas in Bavaria demands you buy a shitload of useless overpriced stuff and drink too much.  But outside, at a market, in the freezing cold.  

The management of Deutschland über Elvis believes the most enchanting season starts with a vote for the Langenscheidt German Youth Word of the Year.  

100% Jugendsprache 2014
The 2014 results in book form, or as they say, unplugged.

We love words here in Germany. New ones, old ones, and especially great big long ones.  We take Word of the Year seriously, as you can tell from the list of official, grown-up, serious German Words of the Year.  

Why does the "Z" key sit conveniently under the right index finger on German keyboards?  Because when asked to describe Official, Grown-Up, Serious German Words of the Year, one simply may type zzzzzzzzzz.  

Not so the Youth Word, or Jugendwort.  Crack Munich lexicographers Langenscheidt sharpen their pencils and open their ears in pubs, on sports-fields and street-corners, at universities and Diskotheken. The results? 

Ouch!  Or as we say in German, Autsch!

Let's take a rando from the list of finalists.  Nowadays, German youth refer to their bicycles as Eierfeilen, or egg files.  In other words, a tool to sand off your balls, which are known in German as a gentleman's eggs.  Not only does this earn a snicker, but it also raises several important linguistic issues.  

Is a woman's bike an Eierfeile?  Why is the word Ei (egg) neither masculine or feminine, but neutral?  (In German, both males and females can have Eier.)  And finally, why use the word file, and not sander?  I looked up sander in German, and found two words, Bandschliefmaschine and Sandstrahlgebläse.  Enough said.

The Countdown, or das Rückwärtzählen zum Start.

Here's a selection of the 2015 finalists. Many of them sound like they could have been stolen from Fede's 100 Days of German Words Project, except his are actually in German. 

  • Swaggetarier—A bling vegetarian.  Someone who is a vegetarian only for the status.

  • Augentinnitus—A ringing in the ears, of the eye.  The unpleasant feeling of being surrounded by stupid people.  Interesting that the word conflates stupid with ugly. Beautiful + stupid is a thing, too.

  • Bambus—Bamboo.  An adjective meaning cool.  One wonders why the German language needs a word for "cool", when it has already borrowed the English word cool.  But with the world dreaming up so many cool things every day, no language can have too many words for coolness. 

  • Rumoxidieren—To hang around, rusting.  A verb that means to chill out.  Another odd one, since fashionable German already adopted the verb chillen to mean the same thing. Are German youth trying to de-Anglicise their slang? (A move I would support, by the way)  

    Or are too-clever Langenscheidt linguists digging shit up from their Latin dictionaries?  Let's really get Latin: how about intoxidoxidieren, for chilling out over a few drinks?

    Hat tip to my pal at Berg ≠ Burg for deciphering that one.
     
  • Bologna-Flüchtling—a student taking a break from studies.  Literally, a Bologna refugee, so named for the Bologna Process that unified higher education in the EU.  I had originally thought it might be named for the fashion of spending one's gap-year in Italy—which may still be the case.  For American readers, Bologna ≠ baloney, though in context, that might still make sense. 

  • Shippen—to be a couple.  A shortening of the English word relationship. E.g. Boris and Steffi are 'shipping.

  • Maulpesto—Snout Pesto.  This simply means bad breath.  At first, I thought it might refer to the distinctive fax-papery texture of your teeth when hung over.  Further, I thought that fax paper was a far better metaphor.

    Then I remembered this is a youth word.  No present-day youth were even alive at the time when faxes needed special paper, or indeed, when faxes were needed at all.  

    But that didn't seem to stop German youth from coining the word Arschfax, or ass-fax, to describe the practice of showing your fashion-brand underwear label above the belt of your low-rise jeans.  

    How did I get from bad breath to underwear in the space of a few sentences?  Hey, that's how we roll at Deutschland über Elvis.  

Cherry Picking

The Jugendwort never fails to attract controversy, and in 2015 the press is running hot with outrage. Langenscheidt plucked the word Alpha-Kevin from contention, in favour of kirscheln. 

Kirscheln is a lame choice—if it had a literal meaning, would mean to cherry. The term refers to lovers who make it a point to stand close, like two cherries joined at the top of the stem, so that they may cuddle on impulse, or in German, spontan kuscheln. Gag me with a spoon.  

OTOH*, the phrase Alpha-Kevin actually gets used.  In German, Kevin is a byword for a dumb guy, and an Alpha-Kevin is a guy who has reached the zenith of dumbness...or maybe that should be the nadir of dumbness.  The German language is often employed to complain about the stupidity of others, so new insults always prove useful. 

A Wide Longlist

The long-list of nominated words on the Jugendwort website offers greater insight into the brains of our youth than the official shortlist.  If he wants to tell you he's hungry, a youth might remark "I'm a model".  In reply, you might suggest a visit to the Restaurant of the Golden Seagulls, or McDonald's.  A selfie-stick acts as an Idiotenzepter, or an idiot's sceptre.  A Twizzelditwazzelen means a long, satisfying draw on a cigarette; a word whose etymology, alas, defeats me.

Forever Jung

Why does Langenscheidt devote such attention to youthspeak?  The language spoken by the youngest among us surely gives us a clue to the future.  

And it's wicked fun to boot.  The Jugendwort mocks all those pompous language-purists, who figure large in chats held by the German chattering classes.

Munich has more than its fair share of blue-rinse pseuds, ready to tut-tut the way young people speak.  Bayerische Rundfunk, the Bavarian BBC, collected some senior citizens—combined age 238—to see if they could guess the meaning of the finalists.  

After breaking the Eis with a slug or two of Eierlikör, the trio were asked what they thought might be the Youth Word of the Year.  They agreed that it was likely to be an English word or phrase.  The youngest panelist, a mere slip of a lass at 74, guessed Fuck You.  

One of the first words to trip up the panel was Tinderella.  They imagined it must refer to a woman of incredible beauty, worthy to be a princess.  Or perhaps a modern day cosmetician, which stretches the meaning from Cinderella's original job as a cleaning lady.  As a sexually active speaker of any language in the 21st Century might guess, the word actually describes a woman who expects, naïvely, to find her Prince Charming online.  

(Its gay male equivalent, Grindrella, has a slightly different nuance.)

Smombie perplexed the trio; on first sight, it perplexed me, too.  Smombie mashes up smartphone and zombie.  It evokes a familiar scene; the wandering brain-dead, staring down at their iPhones, awaiting the next cat pic.  Though the elders couldn't guess the meaning, they responded warmly to the concept, and vowed to employ the word when next they sneered at kids nowadays.

So far, Null Punkten for the Bejahrter (literally, in German, the Enyeared).

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Erderotika, or Earth Porn

They didn't do much better with Earthporn, which describes a beautiful landscape.  The earth part posed no problem, since even wrinklies know about Google Earth.  But astonishingly, they couldn't decipher the term porn.

Even a cursory look at the internet auf Deutsch will reveal the term "porn" in common usage.  The panel may have had better luck if they checked the longlist, which contains the mildly more Germanly Erderotika.  Perhaps the elders were being coy. 

image from i.huffpost.com
Chancellor Merkel, in a rare display of emotion

Die Rätselhaftige Kanzlerin

Struck me as pretty rum that our group could not decipher the verb merkeln—to Merkel.

The panel worked out instantly that it referred to Chancellor Angela Merkel.  They imagined it might refer to a noble manner, dignified and respectable.  It surprised them to discover that it meant to do nothing, to say nothing, not to betray what you really think or feel—at least, not until you see the opinion polls.  e.g. When his girlfriend accused him of cheating, he Merkeled for several minutes. 

The rest of the world would not be so surprised.  The foreign press often describe Mrs. Merkel as inscrutable, an enigma, a sphinx.  It's her trademark. 

This New York Times op-ed by Anna Saubrey, opinion editor of Der Tagesspiegel, seeks to decode Merkel's quiet mystery. Alas, her account ends up just as inscrutable as its subject.  Perhaps those privy to the Chancellor's gehacktes Handy may know more of her inner thoughts, but the rest of us can only speculate.  

Merkeln, by the way, is winning. 

What word got my vote?

Since I can't vote for Alpha-Kevin, I threw my weight behind Hayat, a term of endearment.  Hayat comes from the Turkish word for life. E.g. I love you, you're life.  

Why?  Well, first of all, it's Turkish.  Outside of Berlin street argot—and fast food menus—surprisingly little Turkish has made its way into modern German.  

(By the way, German isn't the only language that puts up a fight. Think of how little Spanish has made its way into American English, with Spanish speakers a much bigger slice of the US population than Turks in Germany.)

Second, it's really nice.

Cynicism weaves through the Jugendwort list.  A good deal is just trash talk.  

Don't get me wrong, I like a good zinger as much as the next guy. But there's a time for optimism, too.

Hayat has echoes of l'chaim, the Hebrew toast to life.  Conflate the words love and life?  May we always find them in harmony.  

The photo of Mrs Merkel and her patriotic iPhone is embedded from the Huffington post, and the photo links to the source. 
All translations are my own, and thus subject to catastrophic mistakes.
*English Youth Word of the Year 1998


The Definition of Sanity

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Peace.  We heard that word a lot over the recent holiday season.   Prayers for it, wishes for it, regret at how little of it seems to abide.  Heavenly peace, peace on earth, the prince of peace, peace to all men, peace was on everybody's lips.

Isn't it ironic that the new year always begins so peacelessly?

That goes double for our otherwise genteel neighbourhood.  A mere 5 doors away from us, we find the Europaplatz; a noble public space which the city government, for one night of the year, surrenders to hammered arsonists with explosives.  They're so drunk, most of them can't even find the place, and begin to blow shit up anywhere handy.  This was the view from our front window at one minute past twelve. 

 

That jars with my customary New Year's resolution.  From the previous sentence, you might conclude that I make the same, unsuccessful resolution every year.  You'd be right.   

My new year's resolution would appear to fit the definition of insanity often attributed to Einstein: it's crazy to do the same thing year in, year out, when the only result so far has been failure.  

Personally, I prefer a different definition of insanity: Giving fireworks to drunks.

My usual New Year's resolution aims for an oft-misunderstood state of mind; that is, mindfulness. To be present in the moment, to abandon that which angers, to be thoughtful in word and deed.  To mutter, when needed, Reinhold Niebuhr's famous Serenity Prayer, minus the first word.  

In 2012, I made a binding promise, in public, to be mindful.  Like, with a meme on a website, and everything.  It lasted eight days. 

This year felt different.

An afternoon walk on New Year's day, as always, revealed a the detritus of the night before.  But the sun, low in the sky, cast a light that made the trash, abandoned atop some recent snow, seem almost poignant. 

Detritus footpath

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Detritus whirligig

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Detritus beastmaster
Cars tried, and failed, to keep their dignity under the snow dumped on them.

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Buildings and trees schemed which pals to tag for the Ice-Bucket Challenge.  

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The usually sombre St. George's Church felt quite perky.  Under fresh snow, even their graveyard shines with optimism.

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By the time I reached the Maximiliananslagen, our local park, I was primed for a good mood.  Mind you, the park lifts your mood no matter what.  Its visitors have mastered the very skill I lacked; an unselfconscious ability to hang out, and enjoy simple pleasures. Especially on the sledding hill. 

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Yes, Rover, the yellow snow always smells more interesting, doesn't it?

It was then, I stumbled on an impromptu lesson in being present in the moment.  Three hung-over-looking men decided that the best thing to do this fine day, was grab a few shopping bags, and in an ass-chilling fit of madness, go for a slide.

  

I shall use these men—clearly too old to find joy in anything so childish as losing control of the direction in which their butts are travelling—as my example for 2015. 

This year, the resolution might stick, mildly.  I'll keep you posted.

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Blueskystudio2The first photo is entered in the PhotoFriday Weather challenge.


Wir Sind Papst Nicht Mehr!

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After Thursday's angeljacking, yet more post-Papal sentimentality.  This flyer tells us that a mere €10 will secure a souvenir coin, commemorating one of  "the most important stations in the life of our German Pope."  That is, the day he quit.

But hurry!  The limited edition of a mere 20,000 means your devout grandmother might end up with an empty sideboard.  

The celebration feels aWirsindpapst bit subdued, when you compare it to the heady days of 2005.  People still remember the front page of Das Bild, which loudly declared We Are Pope! 

The faithful here in Bavaria view the former Archbishop of Munich through rose-coloured glasses.  Many will admit that their favourite son had a troubled Papacy; few will call him a failed Pope. 

Note how the blurbers use the word "station".  Does it suggest Ratzinger is being crucified by unbelievers?

Previous popes faced financial fiddles, conspicuously gay priests, and the systemic abuse of children.  None of these problems appeared overnight.  But what was Benedict's response?

Insiders tell us that the Pope was as shocked and appalled by much priestly behaviour as any reasonable man.  A sympathetic BBC Op-Ed reminds us how then-Cardinal Ratzinger led a Good Friday service in which he called out the "filth" afoot, and how it could sink the Church. 

As he assumed power, he choked.  He went back to what he understood best—theology—and doubled down on it.  Stricter adherence to doctrine would cleanse the church.  And, indeed, it would.  If it mattered.

No clerical criminal resorted to Catholic doctrine to justify his corruption, nor the abuse of children in his care.  No misunderstandings, or lack of clarity.  Every offender knew, and understood the rules.   Besides, the secular world, it could be argued, operates on even stricter doctrine than the church does. 

Nope.  The Pope needed people skills, not theological rigour.  Can you think of a worse place to learn people-skills than the Catholic Church?  And the Bavarian Catholic Church, at that.   It's a double-whammy.

When the chief clergyman faces a child whose life has been destroyed by treatment at the hands of fellow clergy, perhaps he might stifle the mumbo-jumbo about the how the abusers' contrition trumps everything else, and how it is the obligation of the victim to forgive.  Secular courts take contrition into account, too.  But they don't let contrition erase the crime. 

Confession is good for the soul.  So let me confess that I was raised, and confirmed, a Roman Catholic.  I am one no more, in part because my Catechism seemed to hate children; it was used in the classroom to justify cruelty, and not love.   The current Church hierarchy stands aghast that their actions can be construed as expressing anything but the epitome of love.  No amount of theology will correct the fact that the priesthood relies on scripture to tell them what love is, rather than personal experience.

Before you buy a coin for your devout grandmother, think about sending your ten Euros to a victim's charity instead.  Surely, a much better way to commemorate Benedict's papacy.  Happy Sunday.


The Angel of Piste

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The Angel of Peace.  Her golden wings have flapped ineffectively since 1899, when the Munich city fathers screwed her to a column in the überspiessig suburb of Bogenhausen.  That makes the Angel of Peace—in German, der Friedensengel—a neighbour of ours.

Her day job doesn't tax her very much.   She reminds us of a warless quarter-century after the Franco-Prussian war.  German kingdoms fought shoulder-to-shoulder, and repelled the armies of Napoleon III in a spat over who would be the King of Spain. 

The creation of a strong, united Germany out of many disparate monarchies changed the political landscape forever.   A strong, united Germany would ensure peace for generations.  Wouldn't it?

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In truth, the now-beloved Angel was a bit of PR window dressing.   Coming together as a nation put Bavarian troops under Prussian orders for the first time.  This humiliated the Bavarians, and reminded them that their king, the notorious Ludwig II, was unfit to command.  The Angel  told Müncheners that they should view this new state of affairs as just peachy. 

Nowadays, we've forgotten all that.  Müncheners love the Angel for her beauty, and who can argue with the message?  "Her angel wings seem to reflect the golden light of an early morning sunrise.  Poised in grace and tranquility, [the Angel] can serve as a reminder to seek peace and calm."  So says Horst Kohl in his authoritative Bismarck and the Creation of the Second Reich the blurb for the Angel of Peace Barbie® .

The good burghers of Munich, after a schnapps or three, sometimes take the piss out of our poor angel.  Especially around Karneval time, or as we say in Bavaria, Fasching

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Last year, a few tipsy sculptors made a Schneeengel tribute on the plaza before her.  It proved such a hit, that they came back in 2013.  This time, they made the tribute grander. 

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Look at the size of that gal!  The Tagezeitung wonders if this is not the work of American snow-artist Ignacio Marc Aspera, since his technique allows for exceptionally high snow-sculpture.  They dismiss this speculation in short order.  Frankly, neither the art or the engineering is up to scratch. 

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The lady's weak engineering begins to show.  How un-German!

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But let's celebrate her strengths rather than criticize her weaknesses.  Some rascals added amusing details.  The original bears a rose in her right hand, and it looks like the snowy tribute as dropped it.  Or simply a Valentine's gift scorned?

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As warmer weather approaches, her days are numbered.  Already, the snowplows circle ominously.

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The sun may soon do the snowplow's job.  A sign on her back urges caution in the face of collapse (literally, the signwriter warns us of avalanche).  But until then, she remains another of Munich's curious popular tributes, which take over public spaces

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UPDATE

On the last day of Benedict's Papacy, dammit if someone didn't turn our angel into the Pope. 

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The sculptor remains anonymous, but he's now left a clue.  His Snowliness wears a mitre fashioned from a cardboard box.  That cardboard box once contained a Liebherr 2321-23 model upright freezer

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Liebherr, by the way, means beloved lord in German.  So to out the artist, we need to look for a devout Catholic who likes ice cream.   In Bavaria, that should narrow it doen to about nine million or so

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Playing with Feuer

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Living in Munich, we enjoy high levels of peace, safety and public order. Which is why it's so surprising to witness the Silvester, or New Year's Eve, in action.

There's an awful lot of recklessness with fireworks, and many drunken revellers toss firecrackers around simply to cause mischief.
A fave trick, it seems, is to toss a string of crackers at someone's feet and tell them to dance.

On Monday night, I witnessed someone throw a string of crackers under the wheel of my neighbour's Porsche; luckily, it only smoked up the upholstery. (Was this a political statement, like the rash of car burnings in northern cities?)  The ever watchful Papa Scott assures us that the injury toll in his northern city of Hamburg has declined in recent years, but I suspect this may be more luck than management.

Our place is near the Friedensengel in Munich, where police close off the street to give tipsy pyromaniacs a free rein. Even today, we can smell the cordite in the air. I posted the photo above on New Year's day in 2008, and it gives a hint of how we face down the dangers of a festive occasion.  The überlin blog gives you a filmic taste of what it's like to be in the middle of a German public Silvester celebration.

Drunken assholes love to toss firecrackers into post-boxes. It's such a common problem, apparently, that the post office has worked out a procedure. The deliverable mail is dried out after the fire brigade's dousing, placed in a plastic sleeve, and delivered with a very, very obsequious letter of apology, asking the recipient still to trust Deutsche Post nonetheless.   It also asks one not to blame the sender for the condition of the article.  This kind New Year card arrived from Berlin damp and smoky, but legible.  

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Let me use that card as a segue.  Master Right and I belatedly wish you all a happy, bountiful, and above all, safe 2013.

Better in Boarisch

Boarisch cash machine

Christmas season is almost upon us.  In Munich, that means Oktoberfest season is finally off our backs.

Oktoberfest brings the same cheese-level as Christmas, but with a different subject matter.  Bavarian cheer becomes almost as unavoidable as Christmas cheer.   Everybody dons lederhosen, sings corny songs, eats wild game until he grows antlers, and drinks super-proof beer brewed to make you extra gemütlich.

The local dialect gets laid on thick, too—it calls itself Boarisch, though standard German would call it Bayerisch.  You hear Yaw instead of JaNayn instead of neinHod instead of hat.  And a simple d' instead of the more precise der, die or das.  I still have trouble with the last of those, even after all these years, so the season is a godsend. 

Stadtsparkasse (city savings banks) around Bavaria allowed you to conduct your ATM transaction in Boarisch, as you can see from the screen above.  I tried it, and liked it.  Boarisch grammar is much more devil-may-care than standard German, which sounds a bit prissy by comparison.

The producers of the summer-comedy Ted even released a special version of the movie to coincide with Oktoberfest.  (For those of you who don't know, it's a movie about a boy's teddy bear which gains the gift of speech. As his owner grows, the two pick up some bad-boy habits, until true love puts a stop to it.)  The movie would be released with the bear speaking Bavarian, instead of Hochdeutsch.  Here's a scene of the stars bloking out on the couch; I cannot understand a word of what the bear is saying, but I guess that's the point. 



In German culture, Boarisch is a byword for unintelligible.  When translators faced the testy problem of dubbing the jive scene in the Zucker Brothers movie Airplane!, they chose to make the two jive-speakers speak Boarisch, with German subtitles.


(The jive scene wasn't the only challenge the translators faced—as I've written before.) 

One can also find a version of Ted in Berlin yoof slang—or as they say, the bear Berliniert.  (Those who would like to compare the two, can do so here). 

I would call the Berlin version krasser (groovier), but that wouldn't be very toll (groovy) of me.

 

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The Jackson Feen

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Munich's Promenadeplatz reeks of refinement.  Galleries, private banks and the nearby Funf Höfe arcade cater to the well-heeled. 

Some of those heels walked backward.  Michael Jackson often stayed on the north side of the Promenade, in the plush Bayerischer Hof.  If fans were persistent, he'd appear at the window of his suite and wave.  (Note, this was not the German hotel where he dangled his infant son before the crowd; that was the Hotel Adlon in Berlin.)

When Jackson died, his Munich fans gathered in the Promenadeplatz to console each other.  Near the spot where they often gathered to wait for him, sits a plinth bearing the statue of Flemish composer Orlande di Lassus, who did rather well for himself in the 1500s as the court composer for Albrecht V, the Duke of Bavaria.  It seemed like a good place to leave cards and flowers, and light candles. 

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Other places across Germany welcomed Jackson's grieving fans in that summer of 2009.  Jackson had befriended a family from suburban Hamburg, and fans paid respect outside their home.  In Berlin, fans gathered not at the Adlon, but rather the wax museum across the street, which had moved Jackson's likeness to the front foyer.   Some have commented on how much Jackson felt at home in Germany—and how much the nation took him to heart.  (Did both feel unduly persecuted for past misdeeds?)

In Munich, though, the flowers and candles kept coming.  Nobody saw a need to stop them.  The statue of di Lassus was inconspicuous, in contrast to the square outside the Adlon, which faced the Brandenburg Gate.  The City of Munich adopted a benign stance, since the shrine appeared to be meticulously well-tended. 

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Who tends these delicate mementoes and knick knacks?  Michael Jackson fans, devoted and well organised.  These (mainly) women are known as the Denkmalfeen, or Memorial Fairies.

Chief fairy is Sandra Mazur.   She and her fellow fans established a foundation for the care and upkeep of the memorial; fresh flowers, laminated photos, plastic covers, candles and the like.  Named the Heal the Children Foundation, funds over and above those needed go Doctors without Borders, to support kids in Somalia.   These fairies are mercurial souls, who tend not to attract much attention, though Bayerische Rundfunk caught a few in action on the third anniversary of Jackson's death in June this year.

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Tending, alas, is necessary.  Many a Denkmal objector has tried to sabotage or disgrace the memorial.  One particularly inventive cab driver, I understand, took to scattering birdseed amongst the memorabilia, to attract pigeons who would defile the site with droppings.. 

Understandably, the fairies soon sought to create a pigeon- and cabbie-proof permanent memorial; a bronze statue similar to the other bits of street-jewellery nearby.

The City of Munich felt a lot less benign about that idea.  They squashed it.

A wet spokesblanket for the Council declared that Munich is suffering from Memorialitis, y'know like it was different from every other fucking city in Europe.  The letter of rejection from mayor Christian Ude says that there was "insufficient connection" between the city and the King of Pop.  The fairies beg to differ.

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The fairies were in action as I drove past on Friday, so I stopped for a chat.  They were preparing the memorial for Jackson's 54th birthday, which would have been today.    It surprised me to find that these women are, like me, in their fifties, since one always thinks of fans as teenyboppers, right?  But our salad days came in the eighties, and youthful infatuations die hard. 

It also surprised me, briefly, that quite a number hailed from the former East Germany.  We forget how Communist authorities distrusted western pop as a subversive influence, and with good reason.  Artists like Jackson, Sting and Genesis played within earshot of eastern crowds, and their music spoke of freedom, rather than the lightweight diversions a western audience would read into them. (Well, maybe not Genesis.  Had I to endure Phil Collins drumming for a three-night season, I would have soundproofed the wall rather than tearing it down.)

The Stasi even had a file on Jackson, since the star apparently visited Checkpoint Charlie and peeked across No Man's Land from the observation platform.   This was revealed to be a hoax, using a Jackson double—only discovered because the TV station that arranged it nearly punked itself decades later.

Like many Müncheners, I would chuckle as I passed this obsessive, mildly-bizarre homage to a disturbed superstar.  But after talking to the people who tend it, for whom it is a symbol of more than I imagined, I shall think twice before I snicker.


Wealthy, but Why?

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Diamond dominoes, in a jeweller's window on the Maximiilanstraße.
They won't leave you much change out of €20,000

Europe, bless us, is in technical recession, and it looks to get worse.  But—touch HolzGermany seems to be doing OK under the circumstances .  (Probably because Germany pretty much engineered those circumstances in the first place.)

When Germany does OK, Munich does very well indeed.  On a GDP-per-head basis, Munich ranks up there with bank-boated towns like Frankfurt. 

The average Münchener contributes 60% more to the Volkswirtschaft than his Hamburg or Berlin counterpart.  If the stats counted toney exurbs like Starnberg, the difference would prove greater, for sure.

Though Munich houses a modest million or so inhabitants, it is a city of corporate titans.  Alliance, Siemens, BMW, M*A*N, Airbus and scores of others are based here, with many more in nearby smaller Bavarian cities.  A brace of multinationals make Munich their regional HQs—McDonald's prominent among them.  Tech start-ups and media companies, as well as both Apple and Microsoft, operate out of the city.  A mammoth airport, a lively academic community, a refined arts scene, and an enviable sub-alpine lifestyle attract them.

But there's one curious fact.

Looking at the figures in the Wikipedia link above, why do Milan and Vienna do so well?  Not only does the average Milanese account for almost twice as much wealth than a Münchener does, he generates more than a Londoner, New Yorker or Tokyoite. And a Viennese does surprisingly well, too.

What gives?  I have my theories, but none explain why a Viennese should pump seventy-one thousand bucks in to the Austrian economy every year, when a New Yorker pushes only sixty-six through America.   Has it something to do with creative-class entrepeneurs?—A San Franciscan outperforms his counterparts in London and New York, but curiously, not Washington DC.  None of them match Milan, though, whose citizens are responsible for a whopping $88,000 of wealth each, last year.  That's a lot of shoes and handbags. Armchair economists, go wild in the comments.

Munich may not be qute as rich as some of its bigger counterparts, but it hasn't yet needed to pawn the silverware.  You might find those dominoes on eBay, soon, though.


Englished Up for the Cup

Ah, the British football fan makes friends wherever he goes, does he not?  

I was living in Japan for the 2002 World Cup, and recall how the city of Sapporo behaved as it hosted the England/Argentina match.  Car dealers removed display models from their forecourts.  Teachers made children play indoors.  Bars posted signs proclaiming No Foreigners Aloud.  Some closed entirely, and others even boarded up their doors and windows.

The City of Munich, like Sapporo, has imposed a public drinking ban for this weekend, as Bayern Munich hosts British team Chelsea for the final of the European Champions League.  Many publicans have shown some distatste for English visitors.  Ugo Crocamo, proprietor of trendy H'ugo's bar and nightclub said, “I will have 500 Bayern fans, I don’t want Chelsea fans here.” 

Chelsea supporters who wish to test his resolve should note that you'll find H'ugo's at Promenadeplatz 1 in the Altstadt, accessible from the Karlsplatz transport exchange via tram #19.  That's across the street from the Bayerischer Hof, Munich's swankest hotel, who might also appreciate your custom, as would the Mandarin Oriental (Neuturmstraße 1, also on tram route #19), where your team is staying.   You're welcome.

Munich police have adopted a relatively gemütlich approach to potential troublemakers.   The Polizei Präesidium reached out to Chelsea fans via their club, and will hold a chummy "Fan-Talk" in the bleachers behind their block of seats, fifteen minutes before the game begins.  "Conflict situations will also be resolved primarily by means of communication", says the aptly-named Deputy Commissioner Robert Kopp, "though troublemakers and offenders will be red-carded timely and consistently."  Trust me, you don't want to get a taste of their consistency.

From our perch across the river in genteel Bogenhausen, the game won't affect us much. Except to notice that it has generated a flurry of English language in the public media. 

Adidas took over the cement seats on which Müncheners cool themselves by the Stachus fountain.  Banners invited fans, in English, to sit amongst each other in harmony.

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I noticed later that most of the banners which invited Bayern München fans to sit next to Chelsea fans had been removed, and the rest vandalised.  Perhaps Ugo has a point.

Note this rotating sign on the Prinzregentenstraße.  First, an English beer ad, aimed at Chelsea supporters, which reminds us that beer fuels your screams—screams of passion, screams of rage, screams of pain, screams of sorrow.  I doubt that such a sentiment would be allowed in a jurisdiction where its English meaning would matter, given the restrictions on what alcohol advertising can say.

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And next, the local version.  Münchener Hell, under the Heavens of Bavaria.   Beer drinkers here seem to behave a little like the wine drinkers our British football supporters sneer at.

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Chelsea fans, take a leaf out of the Bayern München playbook.  Relax a little.  It's only a game.