Thursday, October 13, 2005

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles
Those that know me intimately (and occasionally otherwise) know that I harbor anti-German feelings. I attribute them to my mother feeding me a steady diet of Holocaust literature as a child, taking me to see Judgement at Nuremberg at age 9 and a visceral dislike for lederhosen, Zyklon B and oompah-pah music in general.
Yes, I briefly owned a Volkswagen as a teenager and adore dachshunds, but it's one country I've no desire to visit and a Beamer or Benz ain't never gonna be in my future no how. (An easy vow to keep given my lifetime hand-to-mouth financial management plan.) Admittedly, occasional contacts with real-life Germans have proved positive, though that never stopped me from a cheap, snide asides about lampshades, soap, invading Czechoslovakia and Kristallnacht.
Addtionally, a marriage to a like-minded, witty Jew only aided and abetted the syndrome.
Which is all by way of confessing that I accepted a freebie press invite from a friend at The Other English Language Paper in Hong Kong last night for an Oktoberfest affair sponsored by Luftwaf, I mean, Lufthansa Airlines held at a swanky Hong Kong hotel.
What can I say? Free. Food. Beer. Free.
Ethics? Moral qualms? Can I spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y? Everyone has their price and mine was cut-rate, especially when the alternative was another bleak night with instant noodles, the Beam or Daniels boys while fitfully switching between CNN, Turner Classic Movies, badly subtitled Hong Kong '80s flicks and Japanese porn (no subtitles needed) on cable.
The brats, pretzels, roast lamb, pig knuckles, sauteed salmon, German beer, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes flowed like the Rhine and were served up, er, well, very efficiently. With machine-like precision one might say. Almost, oh...yes, `Panzer-like' in the presentation.
And, yes, the entertainment. Folks, you haven't lived until you've seen several hundred beer-goggled Chinese snake-dancing and writhing ecstatically to tubas and accordions.
The high (or low) point came when the (authentic German) band took a break and reappeared clad in shades, black dusters and fedoras and solemnly began a tune I recalled only very dimly, a mawkish, treacly ditty circa 1959 or `60 called The Three Bells. For those mercifully unaquainted with it, it traces the uneventful life of a simple small town fellow named Jimmy Brown who is born, gets married and dies as the villagers sing at each crucial event: ``Lead us not into temptation, May his soul find the salvation, of thy great eternal love.''
That's it. Yeah, I don't get it why it was briefly No. 1 on the Billboard chart either but the band found a way to visually pump it up.
At the chorus they opened their coats to reveal nothing underneath except cow bell-like gongs strapped to their groins which they rang by shaking their flabby hips which in turn swung clappers -- hanging from cords tied to their lower thighs -- up to hit the bells.
``Ticky-tacky! Ticky-tacky! Ticky-tacky!'' the bandleader shouted, urging them and the audience on.
``Ticky-tacky!'' the liquored-up Chinesischs Völker echoed joyfully in return.
``Tacky-tacky!'' I muttered. ``Just tacky.''
achtung, baby..
Ja Whul, mein Komerade
No, man, you made that last part up. I know it, I just know that can't be true. You were drinking that schnappes and just sort of had a fantasy there at the end, right? RIGHT?
Man, if my fantasies involve fat German men wearing nothing but gongs, weird clapper devices and raincoats, I'm in worse shape than I thought.
BTW: No schnappes. Just brewskies.
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