Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest!

Mayor of Stuttgart Fritz Kuhn opens Frühlingsfest by tapping the keg!

Mayor of Stuttgart Fritz Kuhn opens Frühlingsfest by tapping the keg! Flickr/Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart

When I traveled to Germany last year, I was a bit disappointed that my semester was in the Spring and not the Fall. How could I ever become an extreme tourist in Germany without going to Oktoberfest? Well if any of you plan to do a semester in Germany during the Spring there is yet hope. The Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) is Europe’s largest spring festival, and lasts 23 days long. This year it began on April 19th and went through May 11th. It is located at the fairgrounds in the Bad Cannstatt district of Stuttgart. It is not quite Oktoberfest, but that is alright because it still offers the same attractions. Also, since it is not as big as Oktoberfest, instead of waiting in 8 hour long lines for the beer gardens, you might only have to wait 4 hours. If you go early enough in the day though you might not have to wait in line at all. I went to the festival twice last year, but unfortunately since I was more focused on the cultural experiences in the beer garden, I didn’t take many pictures. The internet has me covered on this one though.

One might think that beer fests are all about the beer, but it is actually a fair on steroids with beer gardens.

One might think that beer fests are all about the beer, but it is actually a fair on steroids with beer gardens. Flickr/Orkomedix

It is custom to wear traditional clothing like Dirndls and Lederhosen even on the roller-coasters.

It is custom to wear traditional clothing like Dirndls and Lederhosen even on the roller-coasters. Flickr/Rob124

Also, what would a beerfest be without other gut wrenching fair rides? I would suggest that if you want to enjoy the rides, you should do it before the beer garden.

Also, what would a beerfest be without other gut wrenching fair rides? I would suggest that if you want to enjoy the rides, you should do it before the beer garden. Flickr/baba_1967

 

If you get a bit peckish while going from ride to ride, there are many vendors that offer beer and food from around the world!

If you get a bit peckish while going from ride to ride, there are many vendors that offer beer and food from around the world! Flickr/Ken Hawkins

Ok! Now you have rode every ride that you could possibly stomach, so where better to go than the Biergarten! The wonderful place bursting with food, polka, more expensive beer than you could ever consume, and of course other drinkers!

A view from inside one of the many beer gardens. Stuttgarter Hofbrau Biergarten is the largest one at the festival.

A view from inside one of the many beer gardens. Stuttgarter Hofbrau Biergarten is the largest one at the festival. Flickr/Ken Hawkins

What should you order you ask? Well a liter beer is the most popular request, also known as a Maß.

What should you order you ask? Well a liter beer is the most popular request, also known as a Maß.  Flickr/ Giesbert Damaschke

If you get hungry again, then order a whole half of a chicken (complete with Brot and hand wipes) or a Tellerschnitzel. You don't even have to leave your table.

If you get hungry again, then order a whole half of a chicken (complete with Brot and hand wipes) or a Tellerschnitzel. You don’t even have to leave your table. Flickr/Ken Hawkins

When you are done drinking (your body will tell you) find a safe way to stumble home!

When you are done drinking (your body will tell you) find a safe way to stumble home! Flickr/Ken Hawkins

If you do find yourself in Germany, but are not near Stuttgart, then life is still good. Frühlingsfest  happens across Germany, but Stuttgart offers the best experience in my opinion.

If you do find yourself in Germany, but are not near Stuttgart, then life is still good. Frühlingsfest happens across Germany, but Stuttgart offers the best experience in my opinion. Flickr/Karsten Hoffmann

Unfortunately Frühlingsfest has ended this year, but there is always next year. For those of you who would wish to experience Oktoberfest but can’t due to the season, then Frühlingsfest will save you. If you are there for a year even better! You can go to both, and continue your good choices of gluttony and over drinking. If you are an alcoholic you should probably fight the urge and not go. Also, be prepared to have your body hate you the following day. You have been warned. Viel Spaß!

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Berlin School Films: Counterculture in Film

Flickr/Tekke

Flickr/Tekke

Last winter I came to the brilliant conclusion that I would take a 4000 level Film Studies course in the Spring. One might say oh that sounds like fun, what do you know about film studies? Not a thing, but since it is a course on German cinema it is relevant to my studies. There was definitely a learning curve on the film studies part, but after taking the class I can say I have gained a new perspective in viewing films.

Flickr/MorBCN

Flickr/MorBCN

The professor warned us at the beginning of the semester that the second half of the class would be focused on Berlin School Films, and that these were difficult to watch. If I had to use one word to describe the Berlin School style of film making, it would be counterculture. These films were indeed difficult to watch, but not because of gore, violence, or ideology. These films were so hard to watch because of the nothing they most often showed. The Berlin School is more of a school of thought than it is a school, but many of the directors that are categorized into the Berlin School style attended the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB).

Bungalow

Bungalow

The Berlin School Films that I saw during the class were Bungalow directed by Ulrich Köhler, Milchwald (This Very Moment) by Christoph Hochhäusler, Yella and Barbara both by Christian Petzold, Sehnsucht (Longing) by Valeska Grisebach, and Der Räuber (The Robber) by Benjamin Heisenberg.

Aesthetics

Flickr/Jonathan Kos-Read

One of the major things the Berlin School Films focus on is aesthetics, and the sounds and images in the films are meticulously planned. The films are known for long camera shots, weird camera angles, lack of non-diegetic sounds, lack of a typical storyline, ambiguous endings, focus on the negative space, unattached characters, focus on landscapes, and ambiguous images.

This Very Moment

This Very Moment

Milchwald, Sehnsucht, and Barbara are all loosely based on other stories. Milchwald is considered to resemble Hansel and Gretel, and is a story about a step-mother who loses her husband’s children. It follows the timelines of the lonely step-mother, and that of the children trying to get back home. Sehnsucht is a Romeo and Juliet type story, and at the end a scene is shown of children discussing the tale and relating it to Romeo and Juliet. The movie is about a man who is struggling with the love for his wife and his mistress, although he is not really attached to one or the other. Barbara is considered to be Petzold’s remake of the award winning The Lives of Others, a movie about life in East Germany before the fall of the wall.

Flickr/muckster

Flickr/muckster

My favorite movie from this genre of films is Yella. The first time I watched this film I was not very impressed. A plus for the movie was that it stepped out of the Berlin School norm and had a storyline. Yella is a film that deals with the East-West issues in Germany after unification. It follows the tale of a women who leaves her life, in what was formerly East Germany, to find success. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone that might not have seen it yet, so that is all I’ll say on the plot. This movie definitely has to be viewed more than once or twice to fully appreciate it though. There are many minor nuances in the movie that might be difficult to catch on the first viewing. Petzold’s focus on aesthetics in this film is almost unbelievable. The depth he went to in creating this film is quite amazing. He focuses on such little details, that in some cases have so much meaning, and that is what makes this film so intriguing.

Movie Poster

Thimfilm and Zorro Film

If anyone out there is brave enough to venture into the world of Berlin School Films, I would highly Film Posterrecommend watching Yella first. I would also recommend Barbara and Der Räuber. Although this style of film can seem rather boring at first, these three films follow a storyline, which make them easier to follow. Like Yella these movies often require more than one viewing to understand the meanings. Also, when approaching this genre the viewer will have to step out of the world of Hollywood cinema. A great thing about the Berlin School Films is that they make the viewer have to come to their own conclusions, instead of leading them in a single intended direction. Their are many more movies that fit into the Berlin School genre, but of the ones I discussed, I would not recommend Bungalow or Sehnsucht. To me these films go along with no purpose, and the main characters are painfully unattached from the world. These are typical traits of Berlin School style, but in my opinion these movies are just “l’art pour l’art” (art for art’s sake). Go forth though, if you dare, and make your own opinions on these films. They open the mind and offer a different viewing experience, than that which we know in Hollywood.

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How To Butcher a Black Forest Cake (And Still Make It Taste Delicious)

 
The Black Forest Cake in its natural habitat

The Black Forest Cake in its natural habitat

The Black Forest Cake wasn’t created in the Black Forest of Germany (obviously, you can’t bake a cake in a forest…) but was named after the cherries that grow there.

The Bollenhut

The Bollenhut

Now I have been making this cake for YEARS and nobody ever told me that there was a black forest cake hat. This hat is truly sensational, and combines two of my top 100 favorite things: cherries and hats.

 

At this point I feel that it is my civic duty as a global citizen to share with you the secrets behind this delicious cake.

Here is the first secret: I cheat.

They don’t sell Kirchwasser at Wal-Mart and I don’t have the patience to bake a chocolate cake from scratch. However they do sell cool whip, cherry pie filling and chocolate cake mix at Wal-Mart, and my short attention span can deal with all of those things!

So without further ado, here is the college kid’s version of a Black Forest Cake:

Make the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box. Put it in two circular pans.

 IMG_2494

 

I know what you may be thinking: that is not a circle. I know. I know my shapes and I also know I don’t have enough money to buy circular pans. So I went with rectangles cut in half. Hopefully it’ll taste the same!

 IMG_2498

 

Remove it from pan. I have never done such a perfect job. This cake flip is so good it should be on the cover of a magazine. Or win a blogging contest.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 1.40.31 PM

Lather some Cool Whip and cherry pie filling on top of that baby.

 IMG_2501

Now plop the other cake on top and repeat the last step. Feel free to make it fancy.

 IMG_2503

Wow. That is one not aesthetically pleasing cake. But it tastes good, further proving that it is truly what’s on the inside that counts.

 

This German tradition that I have so cavalierly butchered holds its own amongst the dessert battle throughout Europe. In my expert opinion (I eat a lot of desserts) the Black Forest cake crushes the cannoli (figuratively and literally, it is a very dense cake), defeats flan and massacres macaroons. Black Forest cake is yet another example of German excellence, throughout not only Europe, but the world.

German Cooking for the American Woman: Aschermittwoch

About  30% of the German population is Catholic and celebrate Ash Wednesday.  They have the same cultural practices as many other Catholics around the world, including eating fish on Ash Wednesday.

The Germans celebrate carnival activities before Ash Wednesday. The time before Lent most people take it as the last opportunity to drink, eat and have a good time. In the United States we call it Mardi Gras.

Als Clowns verkleidete Jecken feiern am Montag (04.02...

A common trait around Ash Wednesday is the celebration of Carnival in costumes.

Here is a German recipe for the American Woman that can be enjoyed on Ash Wednesday.

curry-fisch-reis_480
Curry Rice with Fried Fish

Ingredients:
2 frozen fish fillets
1/4 onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 medium hot peppers (if you like your curry spicy!)
1 clove of garlic
8 cherry tomatoes
2 stalks of celery
1 cup of rice
1 cup of curry soup
1 cup white wine (optional)
A pinch of curry powder
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a pan. While the oil is heating put about 3 cups of water in a pot and wait till it boils. Fry the fish fillets on both sides in the pan of oil. Cut up the 1/4 of onion into small pieces and add it to the pan of oil and fish. Once the pot of water has come to a boil add 1 cup of rice. Then sear the rice in the curry soup you choose. Cut the vegetables small and add to the pan of oil and then close the lid. Now, add the curry powder, salt and pepper. Stir the rice again and again in the pan with all of the other ingredients. This is the time to add more soup and white wine as you choose. Finally, pour a little water into the mix and you are ready to eat!

For more German fish recipes for the Catholic holiday you can visit this website.

Is Less Face Time More Effective For News?

Newscasts in the United States rely heavily on made-up men and women with deep, enticing voices to present the best, most current news to viewers across the world.

NBC's Brian Williams

NBC’s Brian Williams

NBC Nightly News‘ Brian Williams is the face, voice and main icon for the network, representing one of the most reliable sources broadcasted on television. Audiences trust him, interpreting news through expressions and tone.

However, this does not seem to be the case when it comes to news-watching on Deutsche Welle (DW), a global media forum featuring multiple languages like German – if you couldn’t already tell by its name. Watching DW’s live stream was visually stimulating, but not in the way Americans are used to.

DW's Brent Goff

DW’s Brent Goff

I watched “Germany Today” followed by “The Journal,” along with newscasts by DW’s main presenter Brent Goff. Notice I said “presented” rather than “anchored.” Normally, when you watch a U.S. newscast, an anchor like Brian Williams welcomes you and leads viewers through the show. The segment “Germany Today” merely started with the male presenter saying, “Here’s what’s happening today,” and the newscast was off.

Interestingly enough, I spoke with Goff through Facebook, and he agreed with he differences in U.S. and European news anchors, especially since he’s an MU grad as well. DW’s newscasts are extremely informational, but again, less personable.

A “package” is what broadcast journalists refer to as a story with video, interviews and the reporters voice speaking over it all. DW’s newscasts generally consisted of package after package, along with other national stories presented as voice overs layered on video. Click here for an example of one of my own, published for KOMU-TV in Columbia, Mo.

Those packages and stories were broken up only by music sounds and transitions. We don’t see the presenter’s face at all, whereas Willams gets face time every 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on the story.

Now, DW produces newscasts more similar to what we’re used to in the states as well, but the fact that other faceless shows also exist is intriguing. Below is a DW newscast that uses more anchoring like a Nightly News segment, showing Goff’s Missouri roots.

While the anchors lead the show more in this example, I still don’t find them as conversational as I’ve been taught (trying) to be. Feel free to check out one of my newscasts below. I’ve been working on facial expressions and tone to improve my delivery of the news.

If you’re not sad during a sad story or express any inappropriate expressions while anchoring, audiences lose faith and respect in you, just like that. However, if you master these methods, the rapport you establish with your viewing area can benefit you and skyrocket your show up the ratings.

I’m wondering what is more appealing to viewers because many people do relate to local and national anchors, feeling like they’ve grown up with them or known them for an extended period of time. Without that face time, you lose the personal element of the news, even if it may be distracting during a flub, at the very least.

DW presents the facts just like U.S. networks do, but I wonder what actually suits audiences better and provides the best platform for news consumption. There are so many positive reviews of DW online that I had trouble finding any other opinions out there about its coverage.

German Cooking for the American Woman

Kartoffelpuffer

German recipe for the American woman! Today I’m going to attempt the potato pancake and give feedback and helpful hints that will make the process easy and yummy.

First thing is first, ingredients:
2 eggs
2 tbsps all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
6 potatoes
½ cup finely chopped onion(optional)
¼ cup vegetable oil (for skillet)

images

In a bowl combine all the ingredients listed above. While combining heat a large skillet with ¼ cup vegetable oil. Pour 1/3 cup potato mixture flattening the potato like a pancake and fry until golden on both sides. Take the pancake off and drain on a paper towel like you’re cooking bacon and keep warm in 100 degree oven.

Can be served with applesauce, sour cream, or ketchup! Enjoy!

For more potato recipes refer to http://www.germanfoodguide.com/kartoffel.cfm

Bach to the Basics

I plan to engulf myself into a completely foreign land and culture this summer. Even though I’ve studied German since junior high school, I never had the chance to make it across seas. Now, the time has come. Leipzig, the city of music, is my summer destination.

04nextstop-span-articleLarge

Photo courtesy of Oliver Hartung for the New York Times

Because Leipzig is known to be such a vibrant city, I wanted to familiarize myself with some of its musical sites and sounds, or at least some upcoming concerts. A New York Times article, while a bit dated, shows Leipzig as a huge art hub, and I don’t see this scene dwindling in popularity anytime soon. Songkick showed more than 400 shows coming to Leipzig, and naturally, I YouTubed as many as I could. Just as expected, I found a range of bands varying from folksy, fun tunes to electronic ragers.

Obviously every band wasn’t German-speaking, but my curiously leaned more toward those that were. Next year will be the 330th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s birth, so hopefully I’m traveling into a musical whirlwind – or these days some electronica rather than graceful compositions. However, there’s more than just electronic music, don’t worry.

Whether you fancy classical music or modern alternative music, it can all be found right in Leipzig. The Bach Museum plays instrumentals and hymns of Bach’s work, while the Werk II moves away from that style and into hosting popular multicultural events. To find more music like the links I posted, I think the UT Connewitz and Conne Island seem most appealing. The UT Connewitz shows modern, alternative films and Conne Island features hip-hop, ska, and again, more alternative.

Bach’s birth isn’t the only reason for Leipzig to celebrate at these venues either, keeping the music industry going strong. In June of this year, it will also be his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s 300th birth anniversary. In honor of this event, along with  anniversaries for Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Strauss, a series of events and exhibitions will open, adding to already-standing museums and complimenting other festivals like Bachfest Leipzig.

For the full report, click here.

Bushido for Berlin: German Rap and Politics

In June 2012, he completed an internship in the office of Christian von...

Center, Rapper Bushido

When I first visited Germany I was surprised to see the differences between their rap music and ours in America. The styles, messages, and even the beats seem to be quite different in some cases. The biggest thing that stuck out to me, though, is how political their rap can be. Sometimes American rappers will touch on political topics, but in Germany there seems to be an entire branch of political rappers. They rap for and against political policies, and even world issues.

Die Fantastischen

Die Fantastischen 4

Rap, or hip-hop, in Germany came about in the 80’s, and was quite similar to the rap in the United States, including the fact that it was made in english. Since the style of German rap was so similar to American old school rap, it did not grow in popularity until the 90’s. A notable name for the rap scene during the 80’s was Die Fantastischen Vier (Fanta 4) from Stuttgart. In the 90’s Fanta 4 followed suit, with the group Advanced Chemistry, and started rapping in German. This would be the moment that German rap rose in popularity within Germany. Rap was not the only thing on the rise in Germany during the 90’s, though. After reunification between East and West Germany, there was a rise in immigration, and this is the period that one can notice the use of rap as a voice for current affairs. Billy Jam, a radio host from New York’s WFMU, wrote:

“By the early ’90s, Turkish-German, the country’s largest minority, became a powerful voice in German hip-hop. German-Turkish rap essentially came into being in the 1990’s as a direct correlation with the rise of anti-immigrant feelings in Germany and violent attacks upon Turkish immigrants in the country. Hip-hop quickly became a voice for this marginalized sector of German society and consequently the number of Turkish-German rappers has multiplied vastly.”

Immigration to Germany had been going on since the 50’s, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification, there was a rise in violence against Ausländer or foreigners, especially those of Turkish decent. Consequently, from the 90’s on German rap has become very politicized.

Rioters threw Molotov cocktails at the complex, trapping residents inside. It...

Riot against foreigners at Rostock

Not all German rap is political, but mainstream German rappers like Sido, Fler, and Bushido all are known for their politically controversial lyrics. The rapper Bushido is a great example of this. Bushido’s real name is Anis Mohamed Youssef Ferchichi. He was born to a German mother and Tunisian father, and grew up in middle-class Berlin, but soon after leaving school he was charged for crimes of vandalism and drug possession. When he started his rap career he joined with German hip-hop label Aggro Berlin, who is also known for provoking controversy. In a paper on changing demographics in Germany, J. Griffith Rollefson states, “as the racialized descriptions, symbols, and alter egos of the label’s artists indicate, Aggro Berlin is in the business of capitalizing on government and media fears in a racially hypersensitive nation.” This fit well with rapper Bushido who’s lyrics are known to be misogynistic, nationalist, homophobic, and crude. Other controversies of Bushido include tweeting anti-israel posts, having possible ties to a Lebanese organized crime gang, assault, and copyright infringement. One of his latest controversies comes from his single Stress ohne Grund (Stress for no reason). In the song he says:

Und ich will, dass Serkan Tören jetzt ins Gras beißt,
Ich schieß auf Claudia Roth und sie kriegt Löcher wie ein Golfplatz

In this segment of the song, he is speaking about two politicians. The first one, Tören, he wants to “bite the dust”, and the second one, Roth, he says, “he shoots [her] and she gets hole like a golf course.” Also, in the song he speaks about the gay Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, and others. Bushido had charges filed against him, because the song was considered homophobic, racial, and violent. In a later interview, he stated that the song is “in no way a call to violence and that if he shoots with anything, it’s words.” Bushido also wrote a bestselling autobiography and played himself in a film about his life, but after all of this controversy, the next step he takes in life is quite surprising.

Bushido Internship

Bushido interning in German Parliament

In 2012, Bushido announced on Twitter that he would be starting his own political party. In an interview with Bild Magazine he says, “he was seeking to become mayor of Berlin and win a state parliamentary seat.” This comes as a surprise to many, and Bild Magazine even asked him if it was a joke, which he said it was not. He even did an internship in the German Parliament to learn more about politics. At the time of the interview, Bushido did not know what his party would be called or what platform the party would have. He did say, however, “while the platform for his as-yet unnamed party is not complete, he’s committed to helping those in problem areas, especially immigrants.” His goal is to make life easier for immigrants living in problem areas. He doesn’t just want to give them money though. He “wants to create more incentives [for immigrants] to voluntarily [learn German],” which would be a start to making life easier for them. He also wants to bring other German celebrities into his party, like actor Moritz Bleibtreu from Lola Rennt, former Wimbledon champ Boris Becker, and music producer Dieter Bohlen. When asked about his past lyrics of homophobia, misogyny, and violence, he says, “These texts are past … I have nothing against gays. And my God, we love women, women are sexy.” While the next elections are not until 2016, I think it will be very interesting to see what comes of this. To see a rapper, who has a controversial and criminal past that made his living on crude and violent lyrics, step into the political realm is something to follow in the future. It is hard to say how much success he will garner politically, but maybe his popularity in the rap industry will help him to become mayor of Berlin. Since rap has such a strong political voice in Germany, maybe it is possible for the two worlds to collide. 

Sources: A Brief Overview of German Hip-Hop from Billy Jam /// Changing Demographics: Migration Flows from or to Germany /// Bushido Ballyhoo: When Hip-Hop and German Politics Collide /// German Rapper Bushido Starts Own Political Party /// Rüpel-Rapper Will Eigene Partei Gründen

The importance of Colors for German Authorities

This is my last blog post for the semester, and I wanted to end with something that would get everyone talking—something I, personally, find interesting. I began my quest on Google and when I couldn’t find anything, I moved to Twitter. #TGFTwitter! (It means “Thank God for Twitter” for you Twitter acronym amateurs).

Tweet post on racial profiling case in Germany

I came across an interesting interview recently conducted by Spiegel Online International with a 26 year-old Black German man who won a two year proceeding court case. It finally came to an end, but this marks the beginning of a never-ending battle of racial profiling.

I never thought about racial profiling as a critical issue in Germany as it is here in American, but this matter affects human rights all over the globe. Racial profiling is a subcategory of racism, and should not be accepted. I know the race talk is a touchy topic to discuss and many don’t like to enter those boundaries. But, sometimes those sticky subjects are the ones that get ignored and need the most attention.

I found interesting facts about Black Germans as I searched various blogs, Youtube channels, Google, Twitter, and other news sources.

Gong back to the issue involving the black German architecture student, he was racially profiled when two German police randomly asked to see Identification in Kaasel Germany.

The black German student tells his story as follows:

Yes. I had just purchased a cup of tea from the snack vendor in the train when the police officers asked me in a commanding tone to show them my identification. I wanted to know why, but got no real answer, so I refused. […]  Yes. I had just purchased a cup of tea from the snack vendor in the train when the police officers asked me in a commanding tone to show them my identification. I wanted to know why, but got no real answer, so I refused. […]  I didn’t want to be treated differently any longer. The police brought me back to the station in Kassel, where I was asked if I spoke English and had papers. They threatened to charge me high fees for taking my photograph and fingerprints, and for holding me in a cell. Then I showed them my driver’s license and they let me go. It was the worst day of my life.

He is not the first to experience this racial profiling as a black German. When considered a foreigner n your own country, it hurts. Everyone yearns for the same respect and acceptance. There is an assumption that people make, and I am also guilty of thinking, that there can only be White Germans. My misconception of no Blacks in Germany stems from the lack of their history, and culture presented in mainstream media. When I think of Germany, I think of their Nazi past, BMWs, Frankfurt beef, and beer. Could it be because of my own personal ignorance, or because the media purposely leaves out information that doesn’t fit within the “norm”? I believe that we are both responsible.

A few comments I found shows the lack of knowledge people have, including myself, about other race and racial profiling:

juju88: there isnt such a thing as a black german, like there is no such thing as a white chinese, is the typical anti-white rethoric.

LairdKeir: As a foreigner married to a Chinese woman and whose son was born in Germany, I can say Germany has been an extremely hospitable and welcoming country provided you follow the rules and respect their country as a guest. I write this as someone who actually has experience with the country and its people, and will not attack people out of ignorance.
I also teach outside Dachau, so am all too well aware of its history.

Kriol Kidd: Give Germany a break……it’s not like they have a history of asking different looking people for their papers or something…….

KamranAghajani:90% of violent crime in Germany last year was done by Turkish, Moroccan and Somali immigrants….
aka people of at least some color.
sorry, this is good news for all Germans, as thugs do not care what color you are when they rob or assault you.

 

I could read on and on the comments people made about the court ruling, but it shows that people have different levels of knowledge and opinions when it comes to the topic of race. While reading a few, I had to shake my head in shame for what some people thought was politically correct.

Black German Student Story continued…

  The first ruling of this case resulted in a dismissal of the case. A German court ruled police authorization to carry out ID checks on the basis of skin color. This created outrage among human right activist organizations such as the Amnesty International and the Initiative of Black People in Germany.

If this is true, it is essentially illegal, Tahir Della of the Black People in Germany Initiative rights group told The Local (a German publication). The authorities always said the police do not do racial profiling.

 Initiative of Black People in Germany (http://vimeo.com/18867923)

Source: Huffington Post

To bring the situation up to current ruling, a court in Koblenz, Germany

The case closed this past Monday. The judges ruled in the favor of the Black German student and said police should not conduct spot checks on people based on their skin color. Many rejoice in this victory.

There’s disagreement among the police as to whether they welcome the ruling.

 The court’s deal with the law in an esthetically pleasing way, but they don’t make sure their judgments match practical requirements,” said Rainer Wendt, chair of the German Police Union. The ruling will make the work of the police more difficult.

I am happy to hear the ruling was in favor of the German student, because equality rewarded to all citizens of a country is fair.

Black German groups responded to the ruling and racial profiling issue in creative ways. A flash mob video, created by African Socialist International (A.S.L.) group, took a stand to create awareness of the troubling issue of racial profiling among Africans and Blacks in urban Germany that many try to overlook.

African Socialist International (Video)

This is not the only incident I found in which race is an issue, and racial gestures made towards Black Germans.

Here is an example of blackface used in a German UNICEF’s extremely patronizing ad. The fact that the ad agency found it okay to place this type of message in Germany shows that it is accepted in Germany.

One point that stood out for me that the German student said in his interview is very important to this entire article.

First, this isn’t just about me, but about everyone who has had a similar experience. It also isn’t a very nice thing to be the person who speaks up about racism. Additionally, I don’t want people to point their fingers at me because I filed this long-overdue case.

The moral of this post is that there was an underlying issue that needed addressing, and somebody needs to take a stand. This reminds me of a past blog article I wrote about, and how Twitter was the first to take a stance online in the removal of a Neo-Nazi group. It is all about being the leader that starts the chain reaction. Racial profiling and racism still exist, and change needs to occur not only in Germany, but also in all nations.

If you are interested in more sources and topics regarding Black Germans and racial topics here are some other things I found:

 

@Twitter takes a stand against Neo-Nazi group #Bock

*Disclaimer: grammatical and content changes made* 

Where do we draw the line on the idea of freedom of speech on social media? Where is the point where we have gone to far? I imagine lines are drawn when published web content rallies and promotes negative ideas and assumptions about others. This content doesn’t uplift the group, but degrades their character.

I make this point to bring up the history of Nazi Germany and how residue of this upsetting time still exists through the Neo-Nazi movement in Germany. Many of these young and old radicals hold the beliefs that destroyed so many lives and brought the end to innocent individuals. Why would these individuals want to revive the cruel social and political ideology that promoted racism, extreme nationalism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism?  I have no idea, but I do know the Neo-Nazis moved to a modern approach of spreading their views by the way of social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, and personal blogs.

But, one brave social media outlet took the stand against a Neo-Nazi organization for the first time in history. There is always a first time for everything, and today (October 18th) happens to mark the first time Twitter decided to enforce a policy they put in place back in January to shut down any microblogging account that goes against the laws of the country they reside—when it comes to publishing online material. (Source: Spiegel de International)

 

We announced the ability to withhold content back in Jan. We’re using it now for the first time against a group deemed illegal in Germany, says Alex Macgilliray.

 

Twitter calls this policy the country withheld content:

Many countries, including the United States, have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content. In our continuing effort to make our services available to users everywhere, if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.

Twitter made the right decision (in my opinion) to take down the @Hannoverticker account after Germany police of the Lower Saxony requested for the site to be taken down. Earlier in the year, Germany officials banned the Neo-Nazi organization, but they continued to communicate their ideas via social media. Chilling Effects is a microblogging service that has the capability to taken down US-based site’ content, and removed the @Hannoverticker account from Twitter.

 

Request letter from the German police of Lower Saxony

In American, some would look this at as citizen rights infringed upon. Because Germany’s laws on freedom of speech is different then the U.S., Nazi symbols, support, and slogans is criminally prosecuted.

 

Twitter only decided to ban access to the twitter page only in Germany and not the United States. Of course I had to see for myself. The Neo-Nazi group has 500 followers and 1,011 tweets. 1,011 tweets might seem like a lot, but as a person who has over 15,000 tweets, this seems minor. The follower number is not enough to be an influential account on Twitter. I believe the incident of shutting down their Twitter account will bring more followers and attention to their page from U.S. Twitter followers. And to check if my theory was right I went back to visit the page and here is what I found. There was an increase people following the @Hannoverticker account page by the end the day.

 

The situation is viral and received buzz from bloggers all around the world. They all hold different opinions on the removal of the Twitter account:

Responses from a New York Time post

 

Hasan Mir made an interesting comment on Twitter in response to a New York Times article about @Hannoverticker account should not be shutdown. He is right that banning access will not solve the issue completely, but I believe this is definitely a place to start a chain reaction.

I honestly believe they should also consider banning the page from U.S. viewership, because in any country or language the Neo-Nazi message is offensive. Where do you stand on this issue? Should the page be taken down for good? Should they ever took precaution to the page in Germany and restricted it? I would love to here your comments.

Across the borders on Motorcycle

Recently I’ve watched a video, called ‘what can you do with 40 000 RMB’ (6,278.15 US dollar). It talks about a newly married couple, a Chinese girl and a German boy who spent almost 4 months travelling by motorcycle from Shanghai to Hamburg, Germany. I can hardly imagine that someone would give up his job and spent almost all his money to travel in such a crazy way.

Of course, for most Chinese people this is totally crazy. But for Germans, it seems it’s kind of normal. When I was in China, I met an old lady from Germany who was giving a photograph show in our university. In her show, she presented the photo she has taken while crossing countries from Europe to Asia on her motorcycle.

Source:http://www.unterwegens.de

So I did a little research on motorcycle traveling of Germans. Then I found a website, Entdecke dein Abenteuer. This guy successfully travelled around the world with his motorcycle and he published a book about his trip. If anyone is interested in such a way of travelling, you can definitely find lots of useful information on his blog.

Source: http://www.motorcycle.com/

Every time I saw those people in leather jacket and leather pants driving Harleys on the highway, I thought they were so cool. Riding a motorcycle is absolutely a total different experience than driving a car. And it’s a good method to relieve stress. Someone even wrote an article about it Motorrad-Reisen als Therapie für gestresste Manager.

Although I think travelling by motorcycle is kind of cool, but there are still lots of problems. If it is raining, what can you do? Riding through the rain, would that be too cold? I do admire those people taking adventure in such an abnormal way. But for me, a person who always thinks too much, well, I’d rather take a train.

Detective Conan in German and foreign movies in German

Source: www.buch.cn

Have you seen “Detektive Conan”,a famous Japanese cartoon series? Maybe you haven’t seen it but you might have heard of it. It’s is one of my favorite cartoons and I keep following it. Since it’s a Japanese cartoon, of course the lead character Conan speaks Japanese. However, if one day Conan speaks German, what would it be like? Below is a video of “Detektiv Conan  Folge 286 Kampf Im Gericht” .

It is strange for me to see Conan speaking German, however, it’s really good material for me to learn German. So I did some research and found out, in Germany this cartoon series was actually broadcasted by RTL II since 10 April 2002. So far 333 episodes of German translation are available. However, since 2006, no more new episodes were broadcasted. Still, it is very crazy, 333 episodes of Conan in German! If you’re a fan of Conan and German, please check this out “Detektive Conan“.

The German Conan reminded me of a Chinese movie with German dubbing, “Internal affairs”. I’ve seen the Mandarin and German version and was so amazed that the voices in 2 versions are so alike, except the languages are different.

It seems that the Germans have imported lots of foreign movies and TV series, especially those come from the US. The only thing they altered in these imported things is the voices. I rarely see the Germans making their own version of these series/movies, as opposed to how often the US makes original movies and series.  For example, the Americans made their own “Internal affairs” rather than giving English dubbing to the original movie. I was wondering why would this happen. Maybe it’s because that the Germans don’t have a big movie industry and making another film would cost lots of money and it just so happens that the demands on movies and TV-series are so huge that they have to develop the dubbing industry to balance this. In the contrary, Americans have a highly developed TV and movie industry, so they don’t have to do this like the Germans.

Here is some supplementary information regarding German dubbing speaker : “Meine Top 10 der deutschen Synchronsprecher“.

(Shades of) Grün – From LA to Gorleben, Germany to Durban, South Africa

While Americans are occupying LA,

Occupy LA

Credit: OccupyLosAngeles.org

German protesters are occupying the street to Gorleben, Germany, which is used to transport nuclear* waste from France to the depository in Gorleben.

Anti-Nuclear Protest

Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

At the same time, in Durban, South Africa, the United Nations climate change conference, is taking place.

Americans are protesting the unsustainable political system. And the grassroot effort is spreading around the world. Alongside, Germany is taking the lead in fighting for environmental sustainability. Political and environmental sustainability are actually entwined. Environmental sustainability is restricted by politics, and changes in environmental policies are part of the structural change.

The Kyoto Protocol, the agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emission, will expire next year.The climate change conference this year is expected to picture the future of world climate change. Representatives from governments and organizations all over the world try to “assess progress in dealing with climate change” and “adopt decisions and resolutions”, according to the Durban conference website. But it doesn’t seem promising.

Before anything else, are we leaving the future generations a clean place to live in? In an interview discussing the Durban conference and Germany’s environmental policies, German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen said that “the environmental mountain of debt is a bigger problem” compared to the financial debt,. “When a financial bubble bursts, you can always resort to bailouts and pull back again from the brink. When ecosystems collapse, you can’t just approve a bailout package. Indeed, there is a danger that you can’t return these systems to a healthy state.”

How soon is a global grassroot environmental movement coming? Or shall we just wait for good news from Durban?

*Know more about the nuclear situation in Germany here.

Those German Bands Singing In English

Have your heard of Scorpions? I’m not referring an insect, but the band who sings the famous song “Wind of Change.”

Ten years ago, I listened to this song for the first time. I knew nothing about German culture back then. I just felt the rhythm was good and I had no idea about the lyrics and message the singers were trying to deliver. All I knew was that it was a good English song. So I thought they must have been from the U.S. or England. Several years later, I had an intimate contact with Germany and wanted to improve my German by listening to German music, so I sought out some German bands. Surprisingly I found out that the Scorpions came from Germany but never wrote any songs in German.

The Scorpions aren’t the only German band who sings in English. In order to please their U.S. fans, the popular band “Tokio Hotel” had their most successful songs translated in English such as Monsoon from “durch den Monsum.” The English version sounds so awkward to me; maybe it’s because I’m more familiar with the German version. Somehow I felt the German part was missing in the English version.

Source: http://ixmissxhim14.glogster.com/tokio-hotel/

Im Unterschied zu anderen Bands ihrer Zeit schrieben die Scorpions ihre Liedtexte von Beginn an auf Englisch, da sie von Anfang an das internationale Hard-Rock-Business erobern wollten.” This is a quote from Wikipedia about the Scorpions’ choice of English. It says that, in order to gain success in international hard rock, the band decided from the beginning to write all their songs in English. I think this is also an explanation why some German Bands or singers choose to sing in English. My German friend also tells me that if the German bands have English songs, this would help them to achieve success in Europe and even the whole world.

True, nowadays English is becoming more and more important. We also say that music has no boundaries. When the singers perform a song, they are not just saying the lyrics with melodies, they are interpreting the lyric, and they are delivering the feelings which can be expressed not just by words. Sometimes, we hear a foreign song but can still understand it without understanding the words.

Source: http://rammstein-pics.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=64800301

Besides, if they sing their songs in a language which is not their native language, how can they keep their original identities? I don’t think there is a necessity to abandon their mother language and go English. The famous German Band “Rammstein” also gained international fame without any single songs in English. And there are lots of people who’ve become interested in German and want to learn German because they like Rammstein’s German songs.