six months at The Munich Times and then The Munich Eye

This week at enemy grounds in Ingolstadt
  • People hear again and again that print journalism is dead, but when it comes right down to it, some people just want to hold the paper in their hands.
  • You’d think that being a journalist opened doors for you, but often the worst thing you can do is say, ‘I write for a newspaper.‘ (I knew this one already, because I’ve been working for my wife’s journalist office for a decade now…however, I’ve seen it repeatedly while researching my own stories in the last six months – no one wants to talk to a journo. Unless they’re in PR and in that case they have nothing I really want to hear.)
  • Being a professional journalist sounds impressive, but it isn’t. Writing for The Guardian means something in my book. Having been published by some two bit publication? Not so much. Over the last half year, I’ve heard repeatedly, ‘He’s a professional journalist.‘ You know what that means? He says he’s a professional journalist. Nothing more. It’s a real profession, but very few people are making a living at it. Very. Very. Few.
  • Some say the future of news journalism is at the hands of bloggers. I certainly hope not. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading blogs and write a few myself, but do I really want Lucy’s Football giving me analysis on the European Debt Crisis? She can’t handle her debt crisis.
  • The Münchner Merkur isn’t a bad paper. I had no idea how well written it was and have used it as a gold mine to find ideas for stories. I’m still a snob about reading the Süddeutsche, but my horizons have expanded to include news source at which I’d previously scoffed.

The last week has been mostly about the Oktoberfest here in Munich on the old Miscellaneous Blog de Lahikmajoe. I’ll be getting back to that soon enough.

Realised this week that I joined my paper (then The Munich Times, whose name I preferred, and later The Munich Eye) exactly six months ago. What a way to celebrate the half anniversary, right? With an assessment of what I’ve learned.

Here’s to another six months of sometimes quality writing and covering the news and events going on in Bavaria’s capital. Hope you’ll be along for the ride.

forgiving the unforgivable

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soldiers responsible for the flags at the memorial for the murdered athletes and coaches of the Israeli Olympic Team

One never knows what people will like. My last blogpost was one I’d saved, because although I thought it was morbid and dark, I thought it’d spur some conversation. Not in the least.

Amy over at Lucy’s Football commented on it, but she’d comment on me cutting and pasting swaths of the phone book. She’s on my team. Getting her into the conversation is sort of a given.

Why did I even go as negative as I did in Five things to harass the Dying? Well, believe it or not, there was method to my madness. I knew I’d be going to the ceremony commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics that day.

When I was having my first cup of tea that morning, I really pondered what it must’ve been like to be a family member of one of the slain Israeli athletes. Could I really forgive what was done in the name of making a political statement? If the people who perpetrated the crime never apologised or even saw that what they’d done was wrong, then how could forgiveness even be a topic under discussion?

I suppose the forgiveness is part of what’s slowly happening between the Jewish people and the German State. Think about it for a second, will you?

Your people were murdered in the millions in a methodical manner during a war that somehow engulfed most of the planet. Then nearly thirty years later the international community watches as your citizens are brutally murdered in the same country in which those wartime atrocities had taken place. How would you feel?

I know it’s very popular to criticise Israel, especially on the left, and I won’t begin to defend the way the present day Palestinians are being treated. It’s a travesty. Full stop. However, when I look at the way the Israeli citizens are treated in very symbolic ways, I can’t help but feel that there is some sort of prevailing anti-semitism on the world stage.

When the two athletes were killed at 31 Connolly Straße in the Olympic Village in Munich in the early morning hours of 5 September 1972, the world watched as those in control of the Olympics decided that the show must go on. Really? Two athletes had died at the hands of terrorists.

Because of enough of an outcry the Games were halted on that day while the police tried to figure out the best way to handle the situation. It was only much later that night that the remaining members of the team (both athletes and coaches), as well as one West German police officer, were killed by the terrorists.

Well,‘ you ask,’Certainly, they stopped the Games then, didn’t they?

You know where this is going, right? After what was deemed a suitable period of honorable waiting, the Olympics went on. The prevailing wisdom was that stopping the event would be letting the terrorists win. Twelve people had been murdered at the Olympics, and the Israeli government should somehow be grateful that there was a memorial service for those who were killed. I don’t think that’s how they saw it. Am pretty certain they saw it very differently.

I’m prepared for preposterous comments here as a result of this topic. Please be warned that I’ll delete any ridiculousness. If you can’t be civil, go somewhere else. I’ve got little, if any,time for nonsense. Really, I don’t.

Here’s what I wrote about in The Munich Eye after attending the memorial: Flags at half staff for the victims of the 1972 attacks. Notice how respectfully I tried to deal with it without getting overly political. Of course, I’m aware I could be emotional on the topic. I decided my blog was where I’d make my editorial comments.

What would you do if you had a million dollars?

look of excitement

Wanted to do something special here for my hundredth blogpost, and little did I know that the subject would be chosen so perfectly for me. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that one of my blogging compadres is the blog lady over at Lucy’s Football.  Well, her life in general and her job in particular has been getting to her lately. Just last week, she wrote If I had a training company, you know I’d call it “Pulling a Train”, right?

While I was reading that, part of me considered, ‘Hm…I hope Lucy’s Football‘s superiors at her J.O.B. don’t read this blog. Or if they do, that they have a sense of humour.‘ Well, the answer to the first one is that they did. And the second? Apparently they don’t.

Earlier in the day, this appeared out of the blue over on twitter:

And my response? I think it’s great. Truly one of the best pieces of news I’ve heard in a long time, and my life is full of good things happening right now.

So in honour of the unceremonious sacking of one of the good guys, I’m dedicating this hundredth blogpost to the people over at Lucy’s Football. By people, I mean that wild-eyed, unruly-haired wonder. The first thing that came to mind when I sat down to fashion her a response was the scene in Office Space where they talk about what you would do if you had a million dollars. For those of you who haven’t seen this Mike Judge movie from 1999, go fire up your Netflix account or however you access media and watch the damned thing. Really.

For the rest of you, here’s a little reminder:

Peter Gibbons: Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you’d do if you had a million dollars and you didn’t have to work. And invariably what you’d say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you’re supposed to be an auto mechanic. 
Samir: So what did you say? 
Peter Gibbons: I never had an answer. I guess that’s why I’m working at Initech. 
Michael Bolton: No, you’re working at Initech because that question is bullshit to begin with. If everyone listened to her, there’d be no janitors, because no one would clean shit up if they had a million dollars. 
Samir: You know what I would do if I had a million dollars? I would invest half of it in low risk mutual funds and then take the other half over to my friend Asadulah who works in securities… 
Michael Bolton: Samir, you’re missing the point. The point of the exercise is that you’re supposed to figure out what you would want to do if… 
[printer starts beeping] 
Michael Bolton: “PC Load Letter”? What the fuck does that mean? 

For the more sensitive among you, I should go ahead and apologise for that foul-mouthed language. Wait a minute: you’re accustomed to accounts of sneaky fuckery and you’ve got stool. No need for walking on egg shells with you lot.

Now that she’s going to have all of this free time, I’d like to give ol’ Lucy’s Football a task. There’s a story behind it, and I aim to tell it to you in all of its glory.

When I was a younger man, I went through a bit of a rough patch employment-wise. There came a point where I decided that working was for chumps, and I resolved to cease even searching for gainful employment. It was a courageous decision for which I was not fêted to the degree I was expecting.

The way my friends would rub it in that I was in such an unfortunate predicament was that they’d simply ask me questions about the daytime television schedule. They assumed, and were quite right, that my leisurely day allowed me to become rather well acquainted with what was on offer while they were slaving away at their 9-to-5 positions.

When do they replay the Daily Show on Comedy Central?‘ they’d query. And I knew. I knew all too well.

Now, let me be quite clear here. I’m sure Lucy’s Football will find something better rather quickly. According to her  telling, almost anything she finds will be more fulfilling than what she was doing. My hope is that she’ll hold out for something that really utilises her..ahem..unique charms.

But in the meantime, ‘Hey Lucy’s Football…what’s the best thing on television at 11 am on a weekday?