Sunday, July 02, 2006

Theater of the Absurd

In Weimar I spent the afternoon with a couple of guys from the Music Composition course named Glen and Nathan. We were in search of a concert of some sort to attend because Weimar is the center of German high culture and going to concerts is the sort of thing that one does when one visits Weimar. Our search reveals that anything really interesting will be happening next weekend, which doesn’t help us any, so our choices for that night ended up being 1.)a mass by Handel or 2.)an electronic music recital. We weighed our options carefully: Handel didn’t have any particular connection to Weimar, unlike Back or Lizit, both of whom lived there, and a ticket to this concert would cost 12 EUR. The electronic music concert however was free, and was someone’s final project at the Franz Lizt conservatory, and we all kind of liked electronic music, so we went to that.

Now when I think of electronic music, what I have in mind is some sort of techno derivative (alas, I am an uneducated louse who can not differentiate the myriad of techno genres). Since the poster and the information guy at the school both said that a violin would also be played at the concert, we went in with no real expectations for hearing art, but thinking that this would be some sort of techno + violin combination that had a potential to be really interesting.

These people were definitely in the possession of the latest noise making technology. Unfortunately, they got so wrapped up in making all kinds of cool sounds that they forgot to actually write any music. The most entertaining bit was in the last piece when the girl spent about twenty seconds playing a putty knife. Then she picked the poor, abused violin back up and it was back to screeching. As a whole the concert represented everything I hate about avant guarde art and violins. Luckily, we were able to get out the door without talking to anyone, because none of us at enough good will left to even complement the violinist’s dress.

We scooted from the conservatory to the town square, which is the public viewing place in Weimar for the World Cup. We got there about five minutes into the USA-Italy game and were able to snag seats on the fest benches. It was a pro-Italy/I’m-just-here-to-watch-football crowd, but there was a sizable American contingent (mostly FUBiS students) complete with flags and painted faces.

Half time rolls around and the commercials start rolling. I should say commercial. It was for beer. Scenes of suspiciously good looking farm hands harvesting something, probably hops, were cut with scenes of a remarkably good looking man, presumably the land owner/brewer ridding a horse through the fields. The last shot is a family gathered around a table toasting something with glasses full to the brim with beer. Either the sound was turned off, or it was just down very low, because I could not hear the thing. This played through twice, while a band set up on the stage in front of the big screen.

It turned out that the band was a South Korean group playing modern songs on traditional instruments. They were stopped in Weimar or a visit before going on to Leipzig to play for the South Korea/France game. They weren’t bad, I might even say that they were good, except that their drummer had no rhythm at all, and rhythm is pretty much the most desirable characteristic of any percussion player.

I couldn’t really see the band very well, because it was about dusk by that time and the powers that be decided not to turn any lights on for the stage. The band was back-lit though, because the screan behind them was still playing the beer commercial on a continuous loop. Off on my right I could see the small TV in the beer tent, where the usuall half-time replays and analysis were running. Behind me there was a larger than life statue of Schiller and Goethe looking on. This random South Korean band playing bizare pop music was playing its heart out and the whole time this beer commericial keeps playing over and over and over and over and over and over behind them. It passed the realm of advertising, went through propaganda, and then straight on into absurdity.

No one thought it was as funny as I did.

[If I cared, I'd find some sort of logical transition to put here, but since when have I cared?] Berlin, and the rest of the country too, is getting more and more Cup Crazy with every day. Take for example the victory dances of German coach Jurgen Klinsmann: in the first game against Costa Rica, he just did this little fist pumping number for each goal. Over the course of the past three weeks this has gotten more and more elaborate, to the point that last Friday, when Miroslav Klose scored the tying goal in the game against Argentina, Klinsmann ran the length of the bench, kicking up a wedge of turf in the process, and jumped into the arms of one of the substitutes, before turning around and hugging the assistant coach as well. I’m getting into this as well, I’ve learned most of the words to the chorus of “Weltmeister” and the “Finale in Berlin” song gets funnier every time I hear it.

In attending* different games I’ve noticed that the fans of the different countries all cheer differently. The Italian cheer book consists of one verb (forzza, which means GO!), thee nouns (Italia, Ragazzi, and Azzuri, Italy: guys, and the blues, respectively), and inarticulate screaming. The goal for them is to make as much noise as possible for as long as possible. The Mexicans have a few chants, most of which I can’t understand because my Spanish vocabulary is all about food, but their favorite is the one where they spell out Mexico. For the USA, when we remember that we have a soccer team (which isn’t often) we just chant “U! S! A! U! S! A!” for as long as we feel like doing so, this is the way we cheer for every sport except football and basketball.

When the name of your country is Deutschland however, spelling doesn’t make for a good chant. The do however have a very long book** of catchy chants. Unfortunately, it can be hard to understand what exactly they’re saying since as a rule no more than 30 people are ever using the same chant at the same time. So to help you blend in with the crowd of German Football Fanatics, I’ve put together a do it yourself list of phrases which can be assembled in almost any order to make an acceptable German cheer:

(world master = world cup champions, in German the World Cup is the Weltmeisterschaft, lit. world mastership)
*Schwarz-Rot-Gold (black, red, and gold, the national colors)
*Seig or Seiger (victory or victor)
*Tor (goal, which also means gate, many puns are bandied about at the Brandenberger Tor, where the fan mile begins, puns are a major part of most German jokes)
*So schön’ (so pretty/cute/beautiful)
*Any explicative starting with S
*The name of any player

Just mix those together with your favorite adjectives and conjunctions, and any conjugation of the verb sein (to be) and you have a cheer. If you really want to get fancy, sing it to the tune of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”, “My Darling Clementine”, or “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Here are some examples:

The olé song*** (German version): Olé, olé, olé, olé, wir sind die Champions, olé! (Olé, olé, olé, olé, we are the champions, olé!)

For the big goal scorers: Lu! Lu! Lu! Lukas Podolski!
Miroslav Klose! *clap clap* *clap* *clap clap*
Michael Ballack! *clap clap* *clap* *clap clap*
For the goalie: LehrmanLehrmanLehrmanLehrman or
Hans Lehrman *clap clap* *clap* *clap clap*
The favorites: Deutschland, Deutschland, Deutschland, Deutschland!
Berlin! Berlin! Finale in Berlin!

If you’ve got that pretty well handled, then you might also try to lend your hand to taunting your defeated opponents. When a player on another team is sent off with a red card, yell Auf Weidersehen (good-bye) in your best taunting sing-song. When Germany wins, parade through the streets and sing: “Schade [Gegeners Name] alles ist vorbei! Alles ist vorbei! Alles ist vorbei!” ([Tough] shit [insert name of opponent] it’s all over! It’s all over! It’s all over!) or “Geht’s schön’ nach Hause!” (It’s nice at home!)

That’s just the basic guide. If you get out to the middle of the crowd and you can’t remember any of this, then you can’t go wrong with inarticulate screaming and wild clapping. Booing the referee and yelling “Blind!” (the word is the same in German) can’t hurt either. At the end of the game, don’t forget to sing the olé song and Queen’s “We are the champions”

-bis später, Yami

*OK, watching them on TV with thousands of other people
**Except it’s not actually published anywhere
***In the States, the only word to this song is Olé.

1 comment:

genesis said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! i can't wait to see you on saturday!