Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Time. Easy Living.

And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high
Oh, Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry
One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky
But until that morning
There's a'nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mammy standing by
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high
Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

There are at least 150 versions of this Jazz Standard by Gershwin.  It is my favorite song of all time.

If you haven't heard this tune oozing over the grimy/sticky balconies of a Berlin late-start summer already; get out more.  Or better yet, put your stereos to the windows and press play.  It is your pagan duty to welcome the sun.  Dance, monkey, dance.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

German Chix: Then and Now

I remember meeting a few expats around various tables in nightspots in Berlin during my first few months here.  I don't remember much of what they had to say as it was so banal.  My shit was too.  But there was this Indian dude at the table who, upon hearing someone say 'German girls,' jumped out of his shell and proclaimed "German girls are so boring."

I'm not sure what this guy meant.  Clearly he was one of 'those of the I.T. persuasion' out of the subcontinent who thought he was just, shall we say, Too Cool For School or All Dat and a Bag of Chips.  I smiled at him and imagined that the only experience he had with German girls was a glass of beer thrown in his face followed by a sheise storm.  Really.  Dude.  Put down the Kama Sutra.  And back away.

If pop music is any indicator of the social climate of a nation (let's just suspend disbelief, OKAY?), the pop songs on the radio in Germany are screaming for attention.  Some of the screamers are girls.  German girls.  Enter:  Tic Tac Toe (I'd do it.  Heh), a German girl band one hit wonder whose video 'Hey! Mr. Wichtig' (Hey! Mr. Right) caught my attention when I first hit Germany for the first time in 1997.  I was visiting a friend in Dusseldorf, he had MTV, they played the beJAYzus out of this video.

Tic Tac Toe - Mr. Wichtig | MySpace Video

These three amigas were part hip hop, part reggae, part b.s. pop.  And all the way feminist.  They weren't having any of the usual muscle men with their kleine schlongs or their weak dancing.  I'm not sure what they were having.  Probably each other.  More powah to ya, babies.

That was then.  This is now.  Enter:  Eurovision song contest.  I think this is some huge karaoke singer's version of 'Who Wants to Be a Star' or 'American Idol.'  Generally there are tragic results.  Which means I never hear of the hapless winners.  But sometimes, just sometimes, a sickly sweet, infectious pop voice pumps through the shitty speakers of my local kebab joint and I have to wonder to myself "who dis?"

I hate pop music.  I hate how it has no soul, no jazz, and no lyrics capable of catering to anyone over the age of 14.  But sometimes, just sometimes, a sickly sweet German girl with a slightly-Australian accent hits the speakers and bends my head slightly, just slightly, to the left.  And I give it a listen.

Both videos are bouncy, full of grrrrl attitude and all that.  Both songs made me bob my head to the left and/or right when I first heard them.  Obviously I prefer the second one because it was sung in English and I could feel for the poor young German girl who had 'painted her toenails for you' just the other day.  Wow, you've come a long way, baby.

But the first video had its lively island beats and rappy fist pumps to da man who dared to have muscles and nothing else.  Both the song and the girls in it had a certain je ne sais quoi.  Only in German.  So years after I had lived in the Czech Republic and Tic Tac Toe's silly pseudo-Ger-maican pop riffs had faded from my memory, a new beast hits the pop charts.  This time, she's wearing new blue underwear, sporting freshly-painted toenails, and is looking for your love.  She's your personal satellite.  Which is German for 'stalker.'

And Deepak said German girls were boring.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ludicrous Sports #43: Autoball

Ok, I got bored and switched on the German telly and I’m here to report—now I’ve seen it all: two tiny European cars and a giant inflatable rubber ball. The object? Drive as fast as you can (not easy for one of these zero-point-two liter-engine roller skates they drive in Europe) into the large rubber ball, knocking it into the opponent’s goal. Of course the drivers skid and slide into each other while chasing the elusive ball; madcap hijinks ensue.  And they call this sport Autoball.

The first contenders were from Italy and Ghana. The guy from Ghana had no chance. It seemed that he was just sitting there idling and revving his engine while the Italian drove circles around him. But wait!   I haven’t even got to the LUDICROUS part yet! Each time the Italian scored, the German announcer/DJ played some silly schlager music with an Italian bent. Something like “Aye-yi-yi! Pasta-Pizza for me! Aye-yi-yi! Pizza wonderbar!” I shit you not. I shudder to think what they would have played if the Ghana guy had scored.

Next match: Germany vs. Ireland. The drivers skidded and slammed into each other more than the ball. It was the Irishman’s fault. He kept driving on the left (groan). The Irishman’s skidding shenanigans left him in a smoking car. He had to change cars mid match. The German’s car faired better, even though the whole kraut mobile was composed of 50% duct-taped lights and fenders. At one point the Irishman drove his car into the German and pinned him to the wall so he couldn’t keep scoring goal after goal against him. The German, not having any of it, reached out of his window and started banging on the hood of the Irish car. Then he flipped the Irishman off.
What a friggin' Deutschbag.

“OOOOOHHHH!!!! Das grosse finger!” the announcer yelled.

Whenever the German driver scored his numerous goals (something like 5 to 0) against the hapless Irishman, the German schlager music would start up, this time something like “Ja, ja, ja! Ich bin Deutschland! Ja, Ja, Ja!” The Irish driver sadly scored no goals and we did not get to hear the German schlager version of a whisky-fueled jig. But that’s probably a good thing.

For the exciting tie-breaker, chock full of goal upon goal and schlager song upon schlager song, check this video.