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Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Baby, I'm Sick Of You

The Duke Jenkins Aristocrats - Baby, I'm Sick Of You

So, the newest book I finished (harking back to my NY Times post) was Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. This actually was a while ago, but somehow I haven't gotten around to writing on that. The book in general is kind of weird, in a way it is a Taratino movie as a book (and published before Tarantino ever did anything), lots of kind of senseless violence and virtually no plot (if that doesn't sound like Kill Bill I don't know what does, even though it has to be admitted that Kill Bill actually has a more coherent stoy line than this book had).

I cannot really claim that I didn't like the book, it wasn't bad in parts. But I guess I just can't really get into these later postmodern novels. Faulkner is full of violence (and every other human tragedy) but there these things are explained to an extent. The black guy who starts running amok in one book (can't think of the title or his name right now) one can feel with, even Quentin Compson committing suicide in the Sound and The Fury makes sense somehow. Maybe one is disappointed with how people decide to act sometimes, but you get it at the same time. In the Blood Meridian this kid is just a senseless killing and fighting machine. No explanation is offered, there is no thinking on his part portrayed that would somehow offer a reason for the things he does. I don't like that as much. I feel like the great advantage of a book over any other medium (mainly films) is that an inner monologue can (and often in good literature is) the main device used to portray what is going on and more importantly why. When this is missing, when it is just a group of riders, pillaging, raping and killing I don't really get the point anymore.

Anyway, I got myself another one of his books so maybe it'll grow on me, seriously need to start reading faster and more again though, too much time at the computer and going out (with the world cup definitly to blame for the latter).

Below, two pictures meant to convey the fun that the world cup here is and for those of you who don't know me, I am neither one of the guys in the sombrero nor the dude with the Ukrainian jersey.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's a Sin to Be Rich, It's a Low Down Shame To Be Poor

Lightnin' Hopkins - It's a Sin to Be Rich, It's a Low Down Shame To Be Poor

Apparently Bush is going to take flight before elections roll around. What a disaster this President. Can anyone remember a President who attacked another country without any reason to do, lied to his sovereign (the people) about reasons existing, has led a country tortured by a dictator before down a spiral of violence without any end in sight and now wants to get the hell out, before his party is voted out of office in the fall? Oh, and I forgot that he is constantly kicking human rights and the balance of powers through his treatment of prisoners and the fact that he without any kind of legislative approval has been spying on his own country. Seriously, which President can compete? Nixon was a criminal in the White House and Indochina, but at least he didn't start the mess in South East Asia. Ruther B Hayes made sure the Southern whites remained masters for another two-three generations, but the election results didn't leave him with much choice? I sincerely propose Bush for worst President ever and dare everyone out there to name me a counter-example.

Und damit man mal so weiß, was die Welt über die WM in Deutschland schreibt.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Waiting For A Train

Jimmie Rodgers - Waiting For A Train

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." -- George Orwell

Sehr interessantes NZZ interview mit Klaus Theweleit (no clue, who the fuck the guy is, but the interview is good).

Warren Buffett will donate about 31 billion bucks to the Gates foundation, can anyone please tell me how it is ok that someone has so much money. Sorry, but there is something inherently wrong with pure capitalism if it allows people to amass as money because no one can tell me that that is what his work deserved to pay him. I don't care what he does with it btw, that is not the point.

"It is very clear that there are foreign terrorists in Somalia," Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, told reporters in Nairobi last week. (NY Times) Isn't it wonderful that the US has therefore been funding the local terrorists during the last years? "In recent years, the United States backed a covert program to pay Mogadishu's warlords for their assistance in tracking down those in Somalia with links to terrorism." Alienating the population, until finally an islamic force conquered Somalia? I thought it was difficult to get into the State Department, where do they get all these morons from then?

Last, but not least (sorry):

Monday, June 19, 2006

Rollin' Stone

Muddy Waters - Rollin' Stone

This guy in a way sums up exactly the reason why I cannot take part in watching football with a massive amount of Germans cheering on their team. I hate and despise this whole thing of becoming just a part of the crowd, a faceless, nameless entity. It scares me how people lose every rationale and reason they had before. This in a way sucks as I am simply not able to enjoy certain things with other people (like lying in the arms of some random stranger just because Neuville just scored), but one, it is not like I have choice with what I feel here and two, why would anyone be part of a pure mass of people anyway? Not only does one lose ones own identity, it also easily leads to acting without using ones brain before. Finally, watching a group of people from the sidelines with an ironically curled eye-brow is way more fun anyway.

aus der taz:
Die Patriotismusdebatte langweilt. Es geht auch nicht nur um Party. Es geht darum, in der Masse Gleichheit zu erfahren. Meint Frank Lübberding

Kaum ist WM und fährt halb Deutschland mit einem Fahnenständer Schwarzrotgold durch die Gegend, sind wieder die Berufsabwiegler unterwegs. Dieses Nationalgefühl sei entweder gesund oder unerheblich, aber auf jeden Fall ungefährlich. Diesen Eindruck kann man haben. Nun ist es tatsächlich unsinnig, sogleich das Gespenst des Nationalismus oder gar der Nazis an die Wand zu malen. Vor allem weil die Neonazis schon längst aus der deutschen Volksgemeinschaft Fußball-WM ausgeschlossen worden sind. Sie stören offensichtlich das gesunde Volksempfinden.

Tatsächlich sind diese Analysen um Patriotismus oder Nationalgefühl so banal wie überflüssig. Sie erklären nichts. Es ist die ewig gleiche Debatte, die zu jeder Fußball WM seit dem Jahr 1990 aufgewärmt wird. In Wirklichkeit geht es um ein ansonsten heute verfemtes Bedürfnis, das seinen Ausdruck sucht. In dem einzigen Rahmen, den diese Gesellschaft noch zur Verfügung stellt. Es geht um Gleichheit.

"Innerhalb der Masse herrscht Gleichheit. Sie ist absolut und indiskutabel und wird von der Masse nie in Frage gestellt. Sie ist von so fundamentaler Wichtigkeit, dass man den Zustand der Masse geradezu als einen Zustand absoluter Gleichheit definieren könnte. Ein Kopf ist ein Kopf, ein Arm ist ein Arm, auf Unterschiede zwischen ihnen kommt es nicht an. Um diese Gleichheit willen wird man zur Masse. Wer immer davon ablenken könnte, wird übersehen. Alle Forderungen nach Gerechtigkeit, alle Gleichheitstheorien beziehen ihre Energie letzten Endes aus diesem Gleichheitserlebnis, das jeder auf seine Weise von der Masse her kennt."

So beschrieb Elias Canetti in "Masse und Macht" Gleichheit als Kriterium für die Bildung von Massen. Zu so einer Masse scheint Deutschland momentan zu werden. Am eindrucksvollsten passiert diese Massenbildung bei den Veranstaltungen, wo sich die Menschen zum öffentlichen Fernsehen treffen. Es scheint sogar völlig gleichgültig zu sein, ob man das Spiel live im Stadion oder an Public-Viewing-Orten schaut. Die Stimmung ist identisch.

Man begibt sich in Uniform und in Kriegsbemalung dort hin. Man legt Wert darauf, dass alle Unterschiede verschwinden. Dabei ist die Identifikation mit der Mannschaft oder mit dem Staat, für den diese Mannschaft antritt, gar nicht das Entscheidende. In Wirklichkeit fühlt man sich seinem Nachbarn verbunden. Dem Menschen, der rein zufällig an diesen Orten neben dir steht. Wenigstens für 90 Minuten.

Damit findet hier etwas statt, das der herrschenden Ideologie komplett widerspricht. Hier ist nicht mehr von Eigenverantwortung die Rede. Oder von der Individualität des Einzelnen - in der Masse spielt sie keine Rolle. Genauso wenig wie die üblichen Distinktionsmerkmale dieser Gesellschaft: sozialer Status, Einkommen, Bildungsstand. In einer Gesellschaft, die ansonsten Ungleichheit propagiert und durchsetzt, ist dieses offenkundige Bedürfnis nach Gleichheit in der Masse keine Petitesse. Das Nationalgefühl ist dafür nur ein Transportmittel - und wird mit dem Ausscheiden der deutschen Mannschaft - oder auch dem Titelgewinn - wie ein Spuk verschwinden. Massen zerfallen, wenn das Ziel erreicht oder verfehlt worden ist. Insofern ist die Lebensdauer dieser Masse begrenzt.

Man sollte dieses Phänomen aber auch nicht gleich als Party oder Event in die üblichen Raster sperren, wie es derzeit praktiziert wird. Auch ist die Kommerzialisierung durch die Fifa oder der Medienwahn um die WM keineswegs die Ursache dieses Phänomens. Die Fifa kann nur die Tatsache zu Geld machen, dass der Fußball zurzeit die einzige Sache der Welt ist, die ganze Nationen in Canettis Massen verwandeln kann.

Die Medien lösen den Wahn auch nicht aus - sie greifen ihn nur auf. Aus einer Hockey-WM wird sich kein Masse bilden lassen - so sehr sich die Medien auch darum bemühten.

Offenkundig ist diesem Phänomen auch nicht mit den üblichen Debatten um Patriotismus und Nationalismus beizukommen. Die sind zurzeit wirklich nur langweilig - sowohl im Alarmismus, der allerdings kaum stattfindet, als auch in der Abwiegelei. Wenn man Canetti richtig liest, hat das Ganze sogar eine mythische Dimension.

Bei den öffentlichen Veranstaltungen wird die jeweilige Mannschaft bekanntlich auch angefeuert, obwohl die Chöre von den Spielern selbstredend nicht gehört werden können. Das erinnert an eine Anekdote aus Canettis Buch:

"Mirary heißt auf Madagaskar ein alter Tanz der Frauen, der nur im Augenblick des Kampfes getanzt werden darf. Wenn eine Schlacht angekündigt war, wurden die Frauen durch Boten verständigt. Dann lösten sie ihr Haar und stellten auf diese Weise eine Verbindung mit den Männern her. Als die Deutschen im Jahr 1914 auf Paris marschierten, wurde zum Schutz der französischen Soldaten von den Frauen in Tananariva das Mirary getanzt. Es scheint trotz der großen Entfernung gewirkt zu haben."

Die Masse muss Canetti gelesen haben. Sie ist in einem tranceähnlichen Zustand. Sie glaubt an ihre magischen Kräfte. Selbst im Angesicht der deutschen Abwehr.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Echte Patrioten

aus der FAZ:

Darf man das schreiben? Oder wird einem dann die Staatsbürgerschaft entzogen? Darf man schreiben, daß einem unser neuer Fußball-Nationalstolz unheimlich auf die Nerven geht, und das nicht nur, weil er von einem in Kalifornien ansässigen Schwaben ausgerufen wurde (und wir Badener sind).

Ohne uns als zwölftem Mann gehe es nicht, heißt es, das ist verständlich bei dieser Abwehr, aber müssen wir uns deshalb schwarz-rot-goldene Farbe ins Gesicht schmieren und läppische Hüte tragen? Müssen wir jeden Morgen die deutsche Flagge an unserem Auto hissen? WM-Brötchen essen? Lidl-WM-Aktionsbier trinken?

Müssen wir in „Bild“ lesen, daß wir Costa Rica kurz und klein hauen? Müssen wir uns Marcel Reifs überhebliche Kommentare über diesen wahnsinnig schwachen Gegner zu eigen machen, der gerade mal zwei Glücksschüsse schwächer war als unser Wunderteam? Und das Schlimmste: Müssen wir im ZDF "Nachgetreten" schauen?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


So, after the overdue goal by Neuville in the 91st minute, Germany has started into the World Cup with two wins (which according to the commentator, they 'haven't done since 1990 and before that in 1974 and we all know what happenend then' (in case you do not live here and thus this hasn't been pounded into you yet, Germany won the World Cup in both instances)). Great.

This prompts me to try to explain in some kind of coherent manner why I do not like and do not support the German national team even when I actually watch quite a good amount of football all years (unlike most girls (and guys too for that matter) running around with flags on their cheeks screaming for Deutschland now). So, why is that the case.

Truth to be told I don't really know exactly, a friend of mine recently (and repeatedly since) claimed that I am a counter-person. With that he meant that I always (or most of the time) choose whatever is less popular or maybe the opposite of whatever is the popular favorite. He definitly has a point and I think that might very well have something to do with it. Yet, when I was in Frankfurt for the weekend and watched England-Paraguay play with approximately 3,000 British fans, I completely supported England too (and not only because I love the 'Ten German Bombers' song) even though that definitly was a mainstream opinion in the Main Arena.

I used to think that I actually do kind of like the German national team, but then I went with my parents and watched the game against Poland today and I not only detested most of the Germany supporters in there, I also rooted for Polska all game long.

As I said above, I don't really have an explanation for this, just an attempted one. What I think Germany can be proud of in its history after the 2nd World War is the fact that we never really developed a patriotic/nationalistic pride. I assume no one here will try to argue the folly of nationalism with me here, so the virtue of not having that should be clear. Now, I know that this is nationalism is as prevelant in other countries, most likely more so than here, but somehow that doesn't bother me (the US for reasons not explained here is different). I don't care about people running around waving English, French or Italian flags, Germans doing that, I just find them distasteful.

I guess what this boils down to, is the fact that I actually hold Germans (because I am one after all) to higher standards than other countries (which I have to concede is a sort of nationalism in itself). I just feel that with our history we should know better, but I guess we really don't and that pisses me off.

Finally, one last comment in a similar vein (and I am kind of quoting something a friend said the other day to which I wholeheartedly agree though). This whole business about 'finally' becoming a normal country, about 'finally' being able to be patriotic really is a joke. The people who commited these atrocious crimes are still alive (and some of those who endured them as well), my grandfather still says things that I would be embarassed to repeat anywhere and so do thousand others. This whole state (the BRD) was built by and on people who should have been sentenced to prison for years on end. I am not saying Germany is a bad country nowadays, truth to be told I believe in many regards it clearly belongs to the world's best choics for living, yet that doesn't change the fact that only two generations ago we committed these crimes and sorry but two generations really isn't long enough to just shake off this guilt and walk on.

In this sense, I hope the Czech Republic will win the World Cup, or Argentina, or Italy, or the Dutch, or England even Brazil if it can't be avoided, but please don't let Germany win. I will not be able to rejoice with that many morons on the street waving flags and screaming their lungs out, I guess I am just too patriotic for that.

Maybe the stupidest aspect of all this is, that half of the guys/girls wear shirts saying 'Germany'. How stupid is that?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Such a sellout event, how can you even dare to compare a hero who fought for his land and people to the folks who nowadays join the military in order to have a job or get an education and then serve in unjust wars like the current one.

The world cup commenced on friday here and it is nuts. Thus, I hope you will excuse my few posts during this time and the fact that I have no music to offer either. Just a couple of notes:

- I am back living at home, because three Swedish guys are occupying my room right now (and are making me filthy rich at the same time).

- The British fans taking over the city of Frankfurt was one of the craziest football things I have ever seen (There were ten German bombers in the air!!!)

- This has the look of the longest and possibly best parties I have ever attended, the last couple of days in Frankfurt seriously were an outdoor party involving all of city and about 70,000 guests.

- Africa again seems to have sent two really good teams that will fail (Ghana & Côte d'Ivoire).

- There is no way Germany is even in the top 5 of teams I have seen so far.

- I don't like all these German flags floating around everywhere all of a sudden, makes me uncomfortable.

- I only watched the last 10 minutes of Australia - Japan today, lucky me, 84th minute 1-0 for Japan, 90th minute: 3-1 Australia.

- Most impressive team I have seen so far, probably the Czech Republic, they killed the US today (who were supposed to be decent at least).

Thursday, June 08, 2006

St James Infirmary

Louis Armstrong - St James Infirmary

'The figures show that the New Orleans metropolitan area, and not just the city, remains vastly shrunken in population four months after the storm, having lost 378,000 people, and that those who remained were more prosperous and were far more likely to be white.'

Not that I have anything against white or rich people (well, I might be a little biased towards folks with too much money), being white and coming from a decently well-off middle class background, but this is really sad somehow considering that New Orleans has been the source and concentration of the most amazing group of musicians over the last century, most of whom have been black and poor (Bobby Charles being the notable and outstanding exception I can think of right now). I wonder and fear what will happen to this hotbed of music.

The most troubling aspect of American democracy really is the fact that basically only people who are well-off vote. Am not even going to bother explaining this, but it is really worrisome how low voter-turnouts are and stuff like this ensures that minorites and poorer people (and less-educated ones) simply don't vote.

Last but not least, the US has to stop supporting shady totalitarian groups only because they share an enemy with them. That only leads to militant opposing groups to emerge or consolidate these groups' support in the general population. Plus, from what I have read about this islamic group is not as radical or anti-western as people make them out to be. Looks like the lessons of Vietnam (don't alienate a powerful group simply because they might have something in common with your enemy) have not really been perceived though.

A Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin

Bing Crosby - A Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin

The World Cup is starting tomorrow, so I guess there will definitly be a hot time in the town of Berlin, even though slightly different than Bing Crosby imagined it (who historically was wrong anyway, since not the Yanks but the Red Army had to bear the brunt of taking Berlin).

You have to be kind of amazed at how the Republicans manage to give the impression that 'activist judges' are to blame for the surfacing of gay mariages and/or unions in the United States. This completely diverts from the actual topic which is that the GOP wants to limit the constitutional rights of one group of people (to put it into context, just what is the difference to Bush asking for a constitutional amendment to define mariage as a union between a white woman and a white man (which is the way it was perceived until late in the 19th century)?).

This kind of reminds me of this whole issue of states' rights in the run-up to the Civil War. Yes, some people were supporters of a union of states rather than the union which began to emerge during the first half of the 19th century (like John C. Calhoun or Thomas Jefferson for example) and I can understand their ideal and point too (and truth to be told, I think history has proven them right, especially Thomas Jefferson's vision of preserving the historical exception (I don't want to use the word novum) of an egalitarian society has been destroyed)), but most defenders of slavery especially in the later stages of the game (meaning the Dred Scott Case or the Fugitive Slave Act) happily took advantage of federal regulation solidifying their position as slave-holders or traders.

Point in case, basically talking about states' rights being infringed upon diverted from talking about the moral (and unconstitutional initially) wrong of slavery. A master stroke of PR back then with the intended result of making it difficult for abolitionists to argue against it. Same thing with today's activist judges. The only thing these people are doing is defending people's right that all men are created equal (I am not even bothering to put citation marks on this), yet pretending that they are somehow part of a liberal conspiracy makes it possible to divert from an argument that the Republicans would like to take away the right to pursuit of one's happiness from some people.

That is why the title of that Washington Post article is completely misleading, there really is no debate on gay mariage, there is a debate about excluding people from their basic human and constitutional rights.

Finally, I hope that you are rejoicing with me, that the current administration has seemingly come to its senses and started offering a deal to Iran. I wonder whether Rice is to thank for that because she seems to have more leverage than Powell did or whether some people (Bush maybe? since Cheney apparently is too old to actually change his opinion according to facts on anything anymore) actually learned anything from the disaster called Iraq.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Let's Impeach the President

Just wanted to add two things to the events unfolding in regard to Haditha.

#1: As bad as the killings of civilians is as long as we are not talking about an army directive to kill these people (as apparerently was the case in Korea) then Abu Ghraib was worse. Simply, because it seems clear that officers (or the secretary of defense) in the upper ranks were responsible for issueing commands that were and are not compatible with any laws and (more importantly to a lot of people maybe) the defined goals of the US in Iraq (one of which is trying to win over the people as the only chance to ever get out of there with any kind of idea remaining intact for the US). The marines running amok in Haditha on the other hand are just what happens when you give young (and not that greatly educated) guys guns and the power that comes with those (guns). Sad, but in a way an expected result of the corruption that guns bring with them.

#2: In Europe (Germany at least) this does not seem to be such a big piece of news and the reason for that lies in a very sad fact I believe: NO ONE IS SURPRISED. Sorry for the caps, but if you think about it, it's crazy. The single oldest democracy in the world, that has defended the free world in two world wars and against a totalitarian communist threat after that (going a little overboard during the latter defence maybe, but hey...) and yet, no one here is surprised that American soldiers massacred a 76-year old man in his wheel-chair and his grand-children (and I don't know how many other people). The most important front in this war (if that's what you want to call it) is the propaganda one and the US is doing so badly on that one, it's not even funny. If people here are not even shocked by American soldiers committing atrocious war crimes like this and higher ranks covering it up, what is the rest of the world thinking?

I close with a new Neil Young song referring to the worst American president of the 20th (and 21st, but then that is not that difficult) century:
Let's Impeach The President

Seriously, has any president ever done a poorer job? Ruther B Hayes maybe, but apart from him? The worst attack on American soil ever and Bush responds by starting the biggest anti-American initiative including terrorist rallying cry ever. What a moron, what a loser. This gets me so fucking mad.