Curating for @I_amGermany and reminded why I used to enjoy twitter

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Quite a week here in Munich. The Oktoberfest is waiting impatiently at the gates like heathen hordes. The skeptical and easily spooked locals are sure terrible things are going to happen at this year’s Biggest Beer Festival in the World.

All the while, I’ve been curating the @I_amGermany account over on twitter. I don’t talk much about this platform here on my blog for quite a few reasons, but the biggest is this:

The people on twitter already get it. Those who aren’t there can be weird about it and often react to its being mentioned with bafflement. However, they have clearly seen twitter mentioned as a source in the media.

It’s the folk who’ve set up an account over there, taken twitter for a test drive and found it a big disappointment…with these people? It’s been best to avoid the topic entirely. I’d try to compare them to former smokers being the biggest anti-cigarette crusaders, but I’m not prepared to wade into that one.

If you’re one of my readers in the last category, you might want to come back for the next post. Not that I’m going to go on about twitter necessarily. Well, not more than I already have.

However, the week I’ve had over at @I_amGermany has been so enjoyable that I felt I had to make some mention of it. If you’re so inclined, go take a gander. Oh, you want a link? Go here: https://twitter.com/I_amGermany

Here’s what a guy in Berlin wrote after his experience doing it a few years back: http://www.uberlin.co.uk/tweeting-for-germany-what-i-learned/ He describes some things I can undoubtedly relate to.

Why did I used to enjoy twitter, though, and what has this week reminded me of? It’s more than just the immediacy of it, but that’s a great advantage. In this case, I’ve connected with seemingly limitless people here in Germany, or who are somehow interested in Germany, and I’m skeptical we’d ever have *met* otherwise.

I’ve rattled on elsewhere about the meaningfulness of meeting such people virtually, so I won’t go there again…not now at least. Might dig back into that soon.

In the meantime, there’s the little local beer festival I mentioned above. The heathen hordes I mentioned are ever closer. The smell of their breath enters my nostrils and I can sense it’s going to be an eventful few weeks.

How did the American get on the roof of the toilet?

 

one of our local papers this morning
 
This blog has been only about refugees lately, and as much as I’m still obsessed with the topic (more on that another time), there’s so much else going on. Other things need to be dealt with. And quickly. 

For example: people climbing objects in public & standing on said objects. Like in the photo above. 

The headline reads: ‘How did the American get on the roof of the toilet?

My strong suspicion is that he climbed up there. The question they probably wanted to ask was: What on earth was he thinking when he decided to scale the toilet inside the tent at the Oktoberfest? Why indeed. 

Good question. 

It is the Oktoberfest. There are plenty of similar stories during these two weeks. 

The curious thing is this isn’t the only instance of something like this happening these days. Not just in Munich & not just during this exceptional time of year.

While scrolling through my feed on a social media site, which I choose not to mention by name, I saw a photo of a rather curvaceous woman naked from the waist down standing on a pay phone with multiple police officers below apparently trying to coax her to come down. 

Despite the outlandishness of the visual, my immediate reaction was, ‘Where did they find a pay phone? I’ve not seen one of those in ages.

Once I got over that shock, I could move on to the more pressing question. Specifically, why are people climbing atop such objects?

Is this part of the Zeitgeist & I missed the memo? Should I be climbing on things & belligerently refusing to come down? That’d certainly make this blog more entertaining at the very least. 

I’m not going to include the image here of the woman I’ve mentioned. Nevertheless, I’m confident if you type ‘naked woman on top of pay phone‘, you’ll locate it rather easily. But you should probably do that soon. My suspicion is the web is going to be flooded with this stuff before you know it. 

Fully upright, I might add (Octoberfest edition)

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Getting started early

Sleeping rough in your best Lederhosen? Yes, it’s that time of year in Munich. The Oktoberfest has arrived and shot off with a vengeance. The celebrating is in full swing.

It does look a bit like there are casualties on the hill above the huge Volksfest, as the people who started quite early take a timeout. Perhaps they’ve been going all night. There are plenty of places that’ll cater to those who want such a thing.

I know people who live near where the Oktoberfest takes place, and they often take their holidays during the time just to get away from the insanity.

When I first moved here, I couldn’t understand the locals complaining about it. It’s one of the highlights of the year, right? What some citizens here call the Fifth Season. It brings so much business to the city: not just in the beer tents and on the carnival rides; there are also so many hotels and restaurants and assorted other locales that do bustling business.

A friend who manages a hotel assures me that they make a third of their annual profit during these two weeks every autumn. Because the local media has covered every possible angle about this thing, it’s always a pleasure to see what whimsical out of the ordinary tale that this year’s incarnation brings.

The best from several years ago was the live chicken who was protesting outside of the festival grounds. One of the most traditional to eat with your litre of Bavarian beer is half a broiled chicken. The number of chickens killed each year for this event is staggering to imagine. So, what do some animal rights advocates propose? To bring one very vocal chicken along to make her case in the name of all the chickens going to slaughter.

Wonder what miscellaneous non news will make itself available this time around. I’ll certainly pass it on when I see it.

Oh, and in case you’ve not yet seen this, here I am in my Lederhosen. Fully upright, I might add.

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Guinness is apparently good for you…apparently

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Who wouldn’t trust a gnome carrying beer?

 

Not sure exactly what’s going on in this window, but apparently Guinness is Good for You. I suppose that’s useful information to know. I thought the gnome holding up those several Krugs of Bavarian beer would be a nice way to mention that the Oktoberfest has begun here.

For the uninitiated, that means upward of two weeks of more and more tourists descending on Munich for the renowned beer festival. Pretty sure there’s no actual Guinness on offer there, though. There are plenty of Irish pubs in town if that’s really what you need.

I’ve got other things to talk about here, but life keeps getting in the way of regular blogging. I’m aware that blogging is still something people do. It’s a done thing. Not often enough by me, but a done thing nevertheless.

Hope you’ve got other things to read. There’s plenty out there – to read, I mean. Hoo-whee…that’s why I’m throwing this half-arsed blogpost up and rushing off. I’ve actually been enjoying a book that I can’t wait to get back to. As you were.

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.

Oktoberfest’s Black Economy-Flat Rental

Oktoberfest's Black Economy-Flat Rental

My colleague Michael Owens‘ piece on Oktoberfest’s Black Economy-Flat Rental got me thinking.

Since I’ve decided to blog incessantly about the world’s largest Volksfest over the next few weeks, this is a great segue into the economy of the ordeal. Especially the Black Economy, or the untaxed income, is something that you might expect at any event of this magnitude.

Hookers are bussed in for the extra ‘demand’ during the more than two weeks of bacchanalia, and as Michael writes many people take their holidays and rent out their flats for a bit of extra dosh

Endstation Floh-zirkus

Entrance to the Oktoberfest…or one of them

Here’s where we last were, but that was early morning. This is a Volksfest, or was originally intended as one, so the families and people more interested in the folk part of the fest come in the daytime. The mayhem mostly happens after dark, so I thought I’d show you a bit of that.

Once again, I’d like to show the bits and bobs of the Wies’n that might otherwise get overlooked. For example, I’m planning to interview some of the workers. They’ve got stories to tell, I assure you.

But first a bit about the food at this little event. Most people associate the Oktoberfest with drink, but the food is as integral a part of the whole ordeal as anything else. For many locals, an outing to the Wies’n isn’t complete until you’ve had a Händl and a Maß Bier (a whole chicken and a litre of beer). Last year, there were some loonies who had a pet chicken that they paraded around the grounds of the festival, and they said that this one chicken’s life had been spared. Animal rights and all, yeah? Sort of wrong place at the wrong time if you ask me, but who’s asking me?

One of the things I like is the Steckerlfisch (fish on a stick) at Fischer Vroni, but even better than that is an Ochsensemmel (ox meat cooked to where it’s falling off the bone and served on a roll with a garlic sauce). It’s something I always have at least once each year. Here’s the way to the Ochsensemmel dealer:

waiting in line at the Ochsenbraterei

Then there’s one of the oldest amusements at the Oktoberfest. It’s a carousel that’s been around forever, but I’ll find out more specifics when I’ve asked more questions. Until then, here’s a few of my favourite shots of the old curiosity:

light shining round the horse on the carousel 

And you know I like the pigs, so here’s one you can ride:

 

pig on the carousel

And right next to the carousel is one of the things many people walk by again and again but never bother exploring. Let me show you first and see if you know what it is:

Floh-zirkus! That’s a right. a flea circus!

Here’s a shot from straight on:

You know you wanna go in there, don’t you?

Here’s what it says on the plaque there on the right:

Wonder what all this means…

I’ll provide the translation after I see what you think it means. Leave a comment if you think you know what this says…actually, leave a comment regardless.

Otherwise, what would you like to see more of in my Oktoberfest posts? People? Drunkenness?

My suspicion is that you like oddities. I’ll try to find more of those.

 

zeroing in on the Wies’n

All the beer

Well, did you come here for more Oktoberfest? I’ve got more…plenty more. Another two weeks of this. If you want.

To be forthright, the caption on the photo above is actually not entirely true. It’s not All the beer. That wouldn’t fit in one photo. Unless you took that photo from a mile up in the air.

There’s a lot of beer at the Oktoberfest. As one would expect of a beer festival.

What? That’s not what it is? Well, I suppose you’re right. There’s much more to the Wies’n than just beer. There’s wine and liquor, as well.

morning at Spaten

This is one of Munich’s famous brewers. In the distance you can see the iconic Frauenkirche, which is the cathedral that is in the centre of many photos of Munich’s skyline.

young girls on the Hackerbrücke             (we’re getting closer)

Just FYI: we’re almost there. Can you taste the beer yet?

St Paul’s in the distance
We’re there…we made it. Here’s the Oktoberfest.

Aren’t you glad I brought you here?

 

Walking by the Wies’n: from the train station to the Westend

Sunrise on the way to the Wies’n

What a perfect morning it was yesterday. My dogs have turned a corner this summer when it comes to training, and I can leave them off their leads when there’s little traffic. I still have to watch them carefully and am aware it’s still dangerous in a big city. Nevertheless, we have a wonderful time in the early morning when the city’s just beginning to shake off its slumber.

So, the Oktoberfest has begun and I’ve decided to write about it here on my miscellaneous blog. My aim is to share the peripheral stories of the world’s biggest folk festival. Our tour takes us by the site of the Wies’n, which is what the locals call the 2-week event, and through the Westend neighbourhood of Munich.

These guys go round doing odd jobs for people, and they’re paid based on bartering for their labour

These are journeymen, and for hundreds of years they’ve learned a trade by going ‘on the tramp‘, which I assume is where the term ‘tramp‘ comes from. If you’re interested, I’ll do some more research about these guys and write about this phenomenon in more detail.

statue outside of St Paul’s

Now we’re near the Oktoberfest. This guy’s outside of St Paul’s, which is the church across from the Wies’n. I included a photo of it in one of yesterday’s blogposts. Again, I’ll find out who he is if you want me to.

‘Döner macht schöner’

This marketing slogan means that if you eat Döner either life will be more beautiful or you will be more beautiful. Yet you can’t eat it at this location anymore, because they’ve closed shop. Used to be good, though. I promise.

Marais: Geschmackssachen

Named after a neighbourhood in Paris, this is my favourite café in this part of the city. It’s just the right sort of quirky. Ever find yourself in the Westend, step in and have a look around.

There…that’s enough for today. It may seem like this has nothing to do with the Oktoberfest, but I assure you it does. Be patient and you’ll know a bit more about my adopted hometown than you would even if you were here swilling their amazing Bavarian beer.