not a Berliner

There in the distance? That's the JFK bridge in Hamburg.
There in the distance? That’s the JFK Bridge in Hamburg.

Lately, there’s been plenty for me write about, and I just haven’t been doing it. The last several posts were photos that I certainly liked, but there wasn’t much text. The whole point of this blog is to show off my writing, so these filler posts without much content go against what I originally set out to do. There might be times when a curious photo and a few lines of texts is all I’ve got time or energy for, but I’d prefer that to be the exception rather than the rule.

My favourite week in Munich tends to be when we have our Filmfest, which starts this weekend, so I already had something up my sleeve in which I’d planned to ramp up this blog again. Then I was out and about with Ella and Louis, the sister and brother Hungarian Vizslas that have featured prominently in this blog, and found myself walking across the John F. Kennedy Bridge.

Why not at least  a mention of what happened today, 26 June, exactly 50 years ago? If you’re like I am, you check out ‘this day in history’-type entries in the paper or online, so you already know that this is the day in 1963 that Kennedy gave his famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘ speech in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg in West Berlin

Whatever you think of his politics, and I’m most certainly not going to get into that here, it was the height of the Cold War, and a significant gesture of solidarity to the citizens living in the divided once and future capital of Postwar Germany.

The Berlin Wall went up, and the Americans response was to send planes in filled with supplies, so that the city could continue to survive while surrounded by  Soviet-supported East Germany. Not an easy time here in my adopted home country, and at that moment in history it was incredibly unclear what was going to happen next.

The gratitude that West Germany felt for Kennedy’s show of support – both symbolic, as well as practical – was what led to major German cities naming things like bridges after him. The one here in Munich is the northern part of the Middle Ring Road that goes over the River Isar. It’s not particularly beautiful, and I doubt many locals under a certain age even realise that the bridge even has a name. 

The Kennedy Bridge in Hamburg (pictured above) is what divides the Binnenalster and Außenalster, which are the beautiful lakes right in the heart of the Hansestadt that is Hamburg. Whether you’re on the S-Bahn or ICE Train between the Main Train Station and the Dammtor, in which case you’re riding along the JFK Bridge, or walking along the Alster, there’s a memorial to Kennedy staring back at you. 

Fifty years. Not such a terribly long time, I suppose. Wonder if they’d still name any of this stuff after him today. 

up in the Hochbahn in Hamburg

Sternschanze U-Bahn and S-Bahn station in Hamburg

This is a blogpost I’ve been waiting to do until I had enough photos to make it make a bit of sense. Not that this blog always makes much sense. What’d be the point of that?

No point, I tell you.

In the S-Bahn in Hamburg.

Just like other major German cities, Hamburg has both an U-Bahn and S-Bahn system. Most of the time, the U-Bahn system is underground, but like Boston’s T or Chicago’s Elevated, Hamburg has what’s called a ‘Hochbahn‘. All over the city in the U-Bahn stations, there are auld photos of the 100-year old Hochbahn. I’ll include those in a future post.

Here’s my favourite train station in Hamburg:

Hamburg’s Dammtor in the late afternoon.

This art deco train station is on the S-Bahn line, which as Wikipedia describes, is a, ‘…city centre and suburban metro like railway system in AustriaGermanySwitzerland and Denmark.’

Retro photo of a Hamburg shopping scene.

This photo has nothing to do with the Hochbahn, but I liked it and I decided it was going in this blogpost. It’s my blog. If you don’t like it, get your own damned blog.

 

 

 

 

 

drunk trains in the night

interior of an earlier S-Bahn

Roughly two thousand people showed up Saturday night to protest Munich’s new law that you can’t drink on the S-Bahn (Schnell-Bahn directly translated as fast trains, but I like to say suburban trains). The term *people* I use very loosely.

As the night wore on, ten trains had to be taken out of commission. Lights had been destroyed, windows broken or covered in unspecified nontransparent material, and seat cushions ripped into pieces. After the evening’s festivities, it was discovered that nearly fifty trains had been damaged.

At least ten people are being held responsible (based on closed-circuit camera evidence) for the worst of the damage.

Since 2009, it’s been against the law to drink on the U-Bahn (underground trains), or in the trams and busses. It was only a matter of time before the S-Bahn, which is owned by the formerly state-owned Deutsche Bahn, followed suit.

The protesters were informed about the event and given regular updates on Facebook (very little good comes from that website anymore, does it?) and what started as a relatively relaxed evening turned rowdy between ten-thirty and midnight. The new law went into effect as the clock struck twelve.

Tell me, does this surprise anyone? People protesting not being allowed to drink on public transportation by getting their drink on in that very venue? (exactly the same sort of protests happened in London and Hamburg when they instituted such new policies). What started out peacefully gets quickly and increasingly out of hand?

This is a dog bites man story. The real news would’ve been if the increasingly inebriated people had become reasonable and actually considered the other people in their general vicinity.

‘All in all, the trains were more than six thousand minutes late. That’s over a hundred hours, according to the head of the S-Bahn. The damages add up to more than €100,000. Despite all of that: there wasn’t a single injury.’ (source: Süddeutsche Zeitung Monday 12 December 2011 my translation!)

Do any of you understand the gravity of this? Trains should not be delayed. Not here. This is the beginning of the end of society. Or the end of the beginning.

That same head of the S-Bahn even indicated he had nothing against a goodbye party for drinking on the trains. Can you believe that? The person in charge of this organisation actually sounds reasonable. He insisted that he drew the line at aggressiveness and property damage.

Oh, and some train employees were spit on.

This isn’t mock outrage on my part. This is me trying to tone down what jerks I think these protesters were (and are).

Fine. You think the new law is inappropriate and repressive and whatever, but do you really spit on the people working overtime to make sure your blotto self and your friends don’t fall onto the tracks and get hit by a train?

Can you fathom how indignant these people would be if they were treated in the same manner? If they were spit on for being morons? If their right to protest were infringed upon in any way they’d be up in arms.

You know, there’s probably a better way to tie this up. A funnier approach to the whole account. A perspective that shows either the protesters or the story itself in a different light. But I’m not going to do that.

A group of people show their disgust that they could no longer, in a civilised way, drink alcohol on the trains in Munich by being thoroughly and indisputably disgusting. They really made their point, didn’t they?

I’m not opposed to drinking and more importantly, I like a bit of debauchery. Actually, I’m quite the fan of a lot of debauchery. But these folk are on my opposing team. They really are.