It is the Americans who have managed to crown minced beef as hamburger, and to send it round the world so that even the fussy French have take to le boeuf hache, le hambourgaire. – Julia Child
Maybe we were feeling nostalgic, maybe we were wanting to marry our American roots with the ingredients of our current home and the beverages of our European neighbors. Maybe we had just learned that people around the world throw “American parities” where the theme is represented by red solo cups and popcorn and we just wanted to set the record straight. Maybe I had just found this new blog of burger genius and felt inspired. Whatever it was, last weekend S and I and our friend Mike decided to throw a burger night. We spent the day gathering ingredients and had a blast following this easy six step recipe for a great burger night in Mainz:
My sister sent me this video of Chris D’Elia’s standup routine, “Scary Germans & British Heist Movies.” The scene where the Germans are at his birthday party and he’s afraid to eat their cake made me cry laughing. But in fairness to most Germans, they are an incredibly friendly and fun loving people, although usually quite reserved. My German teacher once remarked that when one gets on the bus, all the Germans are quietly looking out the window or reading a book and generally keeping to themselves and being German, but during festivals, everyone is hugging and waving hello…they’re acting like Americans.” It’s true that Germans are generally very reserved, which can make Americans perceive them as cold and creepy. It’s also true that many Americans stereotype Germans based on old WWII movies. Hello! We’re not all cowboys and Germans aren’t all evil spies or dictators. After living in Germany for only three months amongst “the Germans” and observing them in their natural habitat, I already feel compelled to stand up and say, “Germans are humans, too. And they’re nice.” But…first I have to tell this story that I think is hilarious about a German being not so warm….
Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.― Banksy, Wall and Piece
Graffiti. In the US, it’s called vandalism…unless you’re famous. Then they cut it off the building and auction it at Sotheby’s for millions. In Paris, it’s an underground movement. This is the city of the Salon, after all. Except…now the impressionists are not only welcomed in the Louvre, but have their own wing. Who knows? Maybe they’ll have a Banksy in there one day.
Here, in Germany, under a bridge in Wiesbaden, just across the river from Mainz, are a series of walls where graffiti is legal. This is pretty cool for the street artists. I can imagine that running from the cops at 3am mid-spray only to come back to find that “Carl” has tagged your spot and ruined what you already started, all while trying to escape the threat of civil or criminal prosecution, can be pretty tiring (although, undoubtedly, part of the fun). And it’s really cool for those who are lucky enough to walk by it. This tunnel of amazing street art is the site for “Meeting of Styles,” which is a graffiti event that travels all over the world and celebrates international street artists. Meeting of Styles formed in Wiesbaden in 2002 as a community for the exchange of ideas, inspiration, and skills associated with street art. On June 13-14, the landscape of this tunnel will be completely changed during Wiesbaden’s next Meeting of Styles, but for now, it looks like this:
The day before the Rosenmontag parade in Mainz, Wiesbaden hosts a smaller, but still fun, parade of bands, dancers, and festooned floats. Some might say a warm-up for the main event, but it’s more like a really really delicious appetizer that you vow you’ll order as the main dish next time, but then you don’t do that next time because after you had the main dish the first time, you decided you really do want that as the main dish the next time…point being, both are awesome, but the main dish is better. Comparisons aside, we had a blast at the Fasching parade in Wiesbaden. We danced to the music blaring from our friends’ homemade sound system cart. A group of five dancing penguins, we made friends easily. Others dressed as penguins even wanted to join our colony. One of the floats, in addition to tossing out candy, gave me a bottle of champagne. It was a great day. But when I looked back at my pictures, I realized that I only chose to shoot really scary things, kids, and dancing penguins. Either Fasching is actually really scary and the bubbly protected me from realizing it in the moment or I’m naturally inclined to photograph the bizarre. I’m leaning to the later, but either way, I had a great time and so did the little kids, who were way too preoccupied with collecting candy to be scared. Here it is.
Next Monday, or Rosenmontag, the Monday before Shrove Tuesday, is the Fasching parade in Mainz, otherwise known as Carnival, which reminds me of the thrilling time we had in Nice this time last year. Here are some of my favorite photographs from that weekend:
On a wing and a prayer. My view approaching Frankfurt.
I am happy to report that I’ve arrived safely in Germany and am, as the German’s say, “sliding in” to what portends to be a very happy new year. Arriving about a week ago, I unpacked most of my clothes and the essentials that I shipped from home – cook books for all of the cooking that I plan to do with my new found spare time and the thrice weekly outdoor markets of Mainz, a few framed photographs, Scrabble, and a few other odds and ends. I’m lucky that my fiancé (I’ll call him “S” here) preceded me in the move (by about a year) and found this lovely two-story apartment (photos to come) right on the city’s main square and across from a 1,000 year old cathedral, the Mainzer Dom, who’s bells – charming during the day, but quite annoying first thing in the morning – ring every hour.
S and I spent New Year’s Eve or “Silvester” at the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden. We sipped champagne and sekt with fun and welcoming friends from S’s office, tried our hand (unsuccessfully) at roulette and black jack, and “slid into the new year” with an amazing firework display over downtown Wiesbaden.
S and I at the Kurhaus