Monday, July 02, 2007


“Release the hounds,” or “item number one: I love you”

I don’t know if there’s any special significance, back in the States, to July 1, but it’s as if the gods of American tourism said, “Smithers... release the hounds.” For that suddenly, Berlin was beset by American tourists. Maybe people naturally plan their trips to begin at the beginning of the month.

Not that I have any right to complain. Being as how I’m an American tourist and all. Not having brushed up on even some limited tourist German for this trip, I’m not even attempting German in my interactions aside from: numerals, “yes,” “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “do you have [item identified in English],” “do you speak English? and “and.”

The old saw, “they all speak English” seems a bit less true than I remember from my trip two years ago. Now it seems like around half of them do, maybe less. But a great majority show a fairly patient willingness to try to communicate, a charming quality traditionally attributed to the Italians, and so you can get by. Still, if I ever come back here, there will be serious language learning attempted.

Speaking of things American, there’s something of a buzz about Tom Cruise going on around here. It appears that Cruise is portraying Claus von Stauffenberg in a movie now filming. Staffenberg was the aristocratic German army officer who attempted to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. The Germans, bless them, are so very keen on rejecting their Nazi past that they’ve built Stauffenberg into a great hero, and many of them are uncomfortable with having that role played by a Scientologist – which the Germans reasonably view as an authoritarian cult.

You won’t ever hear me praise suicide bombers, but the fact is that Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt failed because of his determination to survive. Stauffenberg placed the briefcase bomb under the map table around which Hitler was conferencing with several of his generals, and then slipped out of the room, having set the bomb to detonate long afterward to give himself time to escape the Fuhrer’s heavily guarded compound. Someone inadvertently kicked the briefcase behind a heavy oaken table support, which effectively shielded Hitler from the bomb blast. The coup attempt failed, of course, and Stauffenberg wound up dead anyway in the wave of executions that followed.

But let’s go back to happier thoughts. The other half of this post’s title is something I overheard an American tourist say here in Starbucks. Speaking on his Blue Tooth or whatever cell phone headset device it was, he said, “I have two items to go over. Item number 1, I love you.”

It sounds sort of sweet in print, but believe me, in person it sounded officious. But it did put me in mind of the lovely walk B and I took through the Tiergarten yesterday, Sunday, July 1. Yes, the hounds had been released. But love was in the air. Couples everywhere!


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Uh, I believe it is probably because it is the Fourth of July week. Most people take vacations then because they get the extra day off. I'm finding a lot of people on vacation, including 80% of my office.
So, are all these couples American tourists? Except for the swan couple, of course.


jjmcyn - (jay-jay-MY-sin) what you need to take after spending an intimate evening with "Jimmy Jo/e"
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