Well, we seem to have our best gigs in summer, and this year’s no exception.
Jarrod moved away and then moved back home over the course of this most recent trip round the sun, and we’ve even reconnected with former (& hopefully future) fiddle player & singer Violeta, who’d moved to Chile.
Now she’s back in Germany, albeit up in Cologne, but you won’t believe our luck…
This Friday evening we’re playing a show at a local school, and Violeta is sitting in with us. That’s right. Like old times for Old Braunfels.
Then we’re playing in the afternoon on Saturday 8 July at the Straßenfest in Türkenstrasse before we have a private party to play up in Ingolstadt.
It’s going to be a weekend of good times with old friends and the soundtrack for all of it?
Well, hereabouts it’s going to be played by Old Braunfels. Hope to see you there.
Before I started reviewing films for English language publications, I regularly attended it as a viewer – as a member of the public, which is why I can still imagine what it’s like from that perspective.
I’ll even tell you how you can get into it, if you’re so inclined.
Because I tend towards independent film, I spent those early years seeing some real duds. There was the confessional autobiographical account of a sex addict, which was one of the worst cinematic experiences I’ve ever had.
However, there have been some gems mixed in with the rifraf. That’s why I get so excited each year when Filmfest comes back round.
Here’s how to do it. Well, how I do it. First I get my program, which I suggest you do too, if you’re at all interested in such things – and if you’re anywhere near Munich, I suppose.
Immediately, I separate the wheat from the chaff. How does one do that exactly?
Next, see if there are any actors and/or directors you already know. If you find a movie from or with somebody you already like, read the blurb and decide if you want to fork over the dough and waste a few hours of your life in a dark cinema, while there’s all that beautiful summertime going on outside.
That’s where I am, by the way. Watching reflections of light projected onto the wall in some cinema in Munich. And loving it. Best week of the year, I assure you. Doesn’t get better than this.
Well yes, of course. Saw this old photo, and it reminds me of previous summers hereabouts. Wanted to write something a bit more substantial, but this will have to do at the moment. There’s simply too much living going on to sit down and record any of it.
However, this is where I leave my musings, so there will be some such of that here soon.
Purportedly, Yann Martel said:
‘I like using animals because they help suspend my resder’s disbelief. We have certain ideas about dentists. We don’t have many ideas about rhinoceros dentists.‘
A couple of cold sometimes rainy days and the natives are getting restless. ‘Where’d the summer go?‘ they grouse.
Last summer it was unbearably hot, and so many people would have none of it. You might insist that it’s human nature to complain about the weather, and of course you’d be on to something, yet the dissatisfaction expressed hereabouts seems particularly vigorous.
Settle down, my dear Münchner…it’s supposed to be nice again this weekend. There’ll be plenty of that hot, blistering sunshine back here soon enough.
To be clear, I’m poking a little fun here, but I’m sure there are plenty of you who appreciate the weather as it comes. Having grown up in a place where there were two seasons (hot and hotter), I absolutely love living in a place where the seasons are so pronounced.
Soon enough the leaves will turn vibrant shades and we’ll be breaking out our favourite sweaters, but in the meantime? Let’s appreciate what we’ve got right here in front of us. What do you say?
Many European cities are empty for the entire month of August. Well, not empty exactly, because there are still plenty of tourists. Yet the locals are gone. None of this is new, by the way.
Parisians are notorious for abandoning the City of Light and make a mass exodus to the Côte d’Azur and points far beyond. Italian city dwellers aren’t any different I’ve been told.
And here in Munich? There are plenty of people still here through the first few weeks of August, but it seems like they’re either filling in for those that’re long gone or they’re busily preparing for their own escape. An already emptier than normal city is about to get emptierer.
That means if you steer clear of the places where tourists flock, you can enjoy some of the most beautiful things our city has to offer. Without others elbowing you out of the way, you can get a seat at your local café. That cool place that does brunch on the weekends? On a Sunday morning, which would be packed to the rafters at any other time of year, your cool brunch is remarkably attainable.
You want to go to a public swimming pool and actually find a spot on the grass? You won’t be alone there on a sunny day – there are some left over locals, after all. You’re not completely alone; this isn’t exactly a ghost town. However, you will have room to breathe. Not that it’s difficult to breathe here in this beautiful city nestled near the foot of the Alps.
If you’re in Munich this August and you think you simply have to get out, then I guess you should do what you must. If you can calm that urge though, there’s quite a lot worth sticking around here for. If you stay here with me, we’ll practically have August all to ourselves.
It snowed here a week or so back. In April. It happens.
This isn’t Vermont. Or Norway. But it snows here in April. Sometimes.
I found myself humming Prince‘s ‘Sometimes it snows in April‘ and considered writing in great detail about how much I adored that song, but on the one hand I had so much to say and on the other…well, I was somehow at a complete loss for words.
Yet there it was snowing and now it’s not – the break in the weather and a sunny day and it seemed like everyone was outside today. Photos of friends all over Bavaria and beyond. So pleased people are greeting the springtime. Reminders that
Days are getting longer. After you’ve had a handful of overcast days, then a gorgeous sunset can make all the difference. It might’ve been a nice evening anyway, but you look up from whatever you were doing, and suddenly there’s glorious yellows and oranges floating in the kitchen window. Whether you were already in a decent mood or not, a moment like that can elevate your perspective.
That’s what happens when I look at that photo I shared up above. It perfectly catches the mood of the amusement rides at the Auer Dult, which is a traditional festival that occurs several times a year here in Munich.
‘Holding on to a moment‘. I see the pair in the picture reaching out for each other’s hand and love that they’re holding on. Additionally, I imagine something similar to that light that I mentioned streaming in my kitchen; the way I wanted to capture not just the visual memory, but the whole feel of it, as well. That moment caught in time holds all of these associations for me. Of wonderful times at the Auer Dult, of course, but of other Bavarian sunsets.
Other yellows and oranges floating in. Holding on to a moment, indeed.
Recently came across the term ‘nomophobia‘ and it couldn’t have entered my vocabulary at a more opportune moment. That feeling when you’ve made it out the door, but something just isn’t quite right. You know you must’ve forgotten something, yet you just can’t put your finger on it. Then suddenly you realise, ‘Where’s my phone?‘
That’s what nomophobia is: no + mo(bile) + phobia. Fear of not having your mobile phone. Some of you are predictably thinking, ‘Has it really come to this?‘ The easy answer is yes. Yes, it has.
On that note, I have a story for you. For quite a few, it won’t sound like all that big a deal. I’m already predicting rolling of the eyes and poorly stifled sighs. Say what you want, for me it was a horror story. One moment everything was fine. It was a beautiful sunny day in Bavaria, and I was walking through the streets with a spring in my step.
Somehow it was almost cinematic the way it unfolded. Wish I could say a black cloud darkened the sky or a menacing bird entered the frame, but in reality there was nothing that could have foretold what would happen next. Instead it was a film in which the absence of trouble made you all the more uncomfortable.
Now that I look back on it, I can say something was definitely about to happen, but that’s unquestionably a matter of seeing it in retrospect. Instead, it came out of nowhere. One minute I had my phone in my hand, and suddenly time slowed to a crawl. As if a scene that could only have been created with CGI effects, I could see my phone with its pristine screen fly out of my hands and take on a life of its own.
Through the air it flew, the music swelled to a crescendo and then BAM. It slammed to the ground and right at that moment time returned to normal. The screen was covered in a spiderweb of cracked glass. There was no amount of wishing that was going to turn time back and make this one right again. If it was a car, you’d say it was totalled. The screen, at least. The phone itself seemed fine.
Luckily, there’s a place in downtown Munich that replaces phone screens while you wait. Yet that’s where the second part of the horror story comes in. The woman at the shop said I’d have to be without my phone for an hour and a half. No sweat, right? Easier said than done.
Another exercise in the fluidity of time occurred at this point. I stumbled out into the late afternoon sunlight and looked ahead at the vast expanse of time in which I’d have to interact with the world in analog. Just me and the street and all its goings on. I had a camera in my bag, but what use was that to me if I couldn’t immediately share the photo on just one of a variety of platforms? Wish I could say that was a rhetorical question, but it was a genuine conundrum in that moment.
Self reflective, I could certainly chuckle at myself and think back to a time when most of us weren’t carrying mini computers in our pockets. As easily as I could laugh at myself, it was still quite an uncomfortable position to be in. The hands on the clock of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) at the Marienplatz were barely moving as the tourists stared up oblivious to my plight.
It’d been only ten minutes since I’d left the repair shop, but I was tempted to ask a Japanese woman with a selfie stick if I could commandeer her phone for a few moments. This was ridiculous. Calmly, I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that I could get through this.
Remembering countless inspirational talks about the reframing of a seemingly overwhelming situation, I resolved to see this as a unique opportunity. Free of my shackles, from this new perspective I could savour a newfound independence. For a little more than an hour, my time was all mine. No one could interrupt my thoughts or demand my time.
All of a sudden, I was like one of those ‘simplify your life‘ articles in which my existence was magically transformed by simply eschewing some form of technology that made the rest of us slaves to the machine. Looking ahead, I imagined writing this text about the myriad inspirations and epiphanies I would encounter in this new caveman life in which I was immersed.
I wish I could say that my visions sped up time or made all of it more bearable. Sadly, it wasn’t the case. Some time in a nice café with a copy of the local paper, which kept me wonderful company, was my saving grace. Oh, and the last thing I did before relinquishing my mobile to the screen doctors who calmed me by assuring they’d ‘make it all better’ was to text a friend where I was going to be for the next hour or so.
She met me there, I set the paper down, we looked into each other’s eyes like people in old movies used to do and then we had a conversation. Just like that. It was pure decadence.
This isn’t a horror story, after all. Got the phone back, of course, and sent a few messages assuring folk that I was still among the living. Happy ending, right? Well, more than you might think. A few times since then, I’ve just left the phone at home.
Can’t you just see me? Walking in the park with the dogs? Like a genuine person. Somehow I think the Information Superhighway will survive me taking the off ramp more regularly. Believe it or not, I can’t wait.
For quite some time, I’ve intended to change the tagline on this personal blog. I’m not certain how long it’s been, but it might’ve been from back when I started that if you clicked on my site, you’d see:
‘pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’
It was an allusion to the Wizard of Oz, as well as a commentary on the way in which each of us creates our persona online. Essentially, I was saying: read my thoughts here, but please don’t expend any energy looking backstage.
I’ve chosen to live in a country that takes privacy very seriously. Because of Germany’s complicated history with the government surreptitiously observing its citizens, there is a genuine desire to ensure users ability to control how much of their private lives they display. It’s easy to be cynical about such a position, and my friends who work in cyber security would quickly insist that most of what we think of as online privacy is an illusion. However, I continue to respect the lengths to which they go to keep fighting the proverbial good fight. Europeans in general and Germans in particular are earnest about this. Quite commendable, if you were to ask me.
Yet the above tagline no longer works for me. It’s no longer the message I want to get across here. Not remotely. Instead, I’ve decided to take on an entirely new position. Frequently some event will happen hereabouts and I’ll receive queries along the lines of, ‘What in the world is going on over there?’
My response is to write this blog as a meta answer to that exact question. The new tagline:
‘Missives from this corner of Old Europe’
Implied in this is my eagerness to take on whatever questions you might have. If you read something here that you’d like to know more about, say something in the comments or drop me a line via email.
Hope you enjoy the new direction, and I’m already looking forward to some lively exchanges.
For the second time in the last six months or so one of my Mitbewohner (flatmates) has decided to go shack up with his girlfriend. Move in with his beloved, in other words. All’s well. I wish each of them the best and wonder who’s going to move in next.
Then I strike on a comical thought:
There have got to be women out there who want to take their relationship to the next level, right? Well, my place appears to have some good mojo for just such an objective.
Is your guy hesitant for whatever reason? Will he not communicate his objections?
Have no fear! A few months at mine, and he’ll be raring to go. You’ll have him signing his name on the joint rental lease in no time.
You don’t even live in Munich, you say? No worries. Just send him over, and we’ll sort this out in record time. We might even get him hooked on the local beer in the process.
Just think: you get a new, improved version of your fella. Ready to talk commitment on the one hand, and the makings of an unhealthy relationship with particularly strong beer on the other hand.
I’d consider that a win-win situation, wouldn’t you?
Don’t all of you beat the door down trying to be first in line.
Above is a photo I took only several days ago. It’s ok. I know it’s a decent shot. However, as much as I like it, it reminds me so vividly of one I didn’t get. It was years ago. Perhaps even in the first few years I’d lived in Munich. If I had a mobile phone at the time, which I’m not entirely sure if I did, I’m sure it didn’t have a decent camera.
Let me set the stage. It was wintertime and very early in the morning. I had to be somewhere, and I was very likely grumbling about the time of day that I was expected to arrive. I’d just left the main train station in Munich, which was positively bustling with excitement. So many people rushing here and there on a weekday morning before the sun had even made a proper appearance. The scene reminded me of New York’s Grand Central Station on a Friday afternoon, and I suppose I even asked myself, ‘Where are all these Germans off to at this ungodly hour?’ I’ve since found out that what I saw was a common sight in one of our local train stations. People like to awaken early and get where they’re going, preferably before everyone else does.
Yet that morning, I had neither the time nor the consciousness to consider such things. Almost as if on autopilot, I trudged on toward my destination. Soon I was coming out of the underground system at the Marienplatz station, which is right in the middle of the historic city, and if I remember correctly, I was suddenly and miraculously more awake. Only several hundred steps from coming out into the fresh air, I found my eyes inexplicably drawn to look up at the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Lady).
At that moment the sun broke from behind the rows of buildings to the east, and the church was bathed in the brightest sunlight. Yes, I know it’s preposterous for me to be writing this down while telling you that words can’t describe how beautiful it was. It was similar to the photo above, which is why I’ve included it here – why it made me think of that shot of dawn all those years back. Here’s how I’d like to describe it, though, because I’d like to make a bigger point. If I can get you to think of a similar experience you’ve had, you’ll know exactly what I’m getting at.
Can you think of a moment in time that was so beautiful and so otherworldly, yet you didn’t have some device nearby in which to record it? No app that seamlessly allowed you to shoot a glimpse in time and instantaneously share it to acquaintances and future acquaintances far and wide? Maybe your camera was back in the car. Possibly you were out running and you’re one of those sorts that enjoys being out on the trail without such distractions.
Your memory could be like mine from years ago before these ever-present moment capturing tools took on such a central role in our lives, but it could also be something that happened last week or last year. Look, I read enough stuff about eschewing technology that I don’t want to fall into a clichéd pitch about how great life used to be before we sold our souls over to the machine. I read something years ago that you know a device or program or app has really made it when people start writing about how great it used to be and now they’re so over it. That’s not at all what I’m trying to get at. Not remotely.
Nevertheless, I’m frequently reminded that I couldn’t have experienced that moment looking up at Our Lady in the glimmering sunlight all those years ago if I’d been absent-mindedly stumbling through my day glued to my screen like I sometimes still am.
This is a plea that you take a moment to look up sometimes. If you can’t let it stay home without you, leave your phone in your bag when you’re meeting up with a friend you’ve not seen in ages. I’m not advising something I’ve not done. It’s something I’m constantly telling myself. Constantly.