Friday, September 30, 2016

Friends Of The Maytag Repairman

Americans, except for the very young, remember the famous TV ads featuring the Maytag repairman. The idea was that he was lonely because no one ever called him, ostensibly because Maytag appliances were so dependable.

Well, there are not a lot of Republicans in the City of St. Louis. (Much of the rest of the state is a different story.) Their table at the Hispanic Festival gets about as many visits as the Maytag repairman. They are certainly enthusiastic, out expressing their point of view, surrounded by posters for candidates there is zero chance I will vote for and flags of Latin American nations (me gusta mucho Costa Rica y Argentina).

But note the Trump poster and then the Mexican flag on the table. Cognitive dissonance?          

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Street Portraits At The Hispanic Festival

Faces on the dance floor. Everybody's smiling. I doubt I would. I can't dance to save my life. Just plain clumsy. 

It occurs to me that there is one kind of dance where no one ever smiles: tango. It's deadly serious and has an entirely different attitude..        

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


One of a group of Mexican dancers about to perform. It makes me think me think of the preparations of a bride.

I swore I wouldn't watch the debate. Well, I'm letting the audio run while I edit pictures and write this. Sigh. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

I Don't Have To Try To Speak German Any More

And my efforts were so pathetic. I had a couple of years of it in high school so I can make the sounds.  Been there a few times but not often or recently enough to retain much. And three genders and all those case endings and no simple way to make possessives. Enough. As I've mentioned, my best languages that I'm bad at are Spanish and French. The former is  more useful in the U.S.

So STL had its little Hispanic Festival over the weekend. I could read the signs without using Google Translate. And yes, we do deserve great taste.



Sunday, September 25, 2016

Gee But It's Great To Be Back Home

Back to the warmth and security of unsere Stadt auf dem Mississippi. St. Louisans are charming, friendly people.  Or most of us are.

Last Monday was 19 hours from first liftoff until last touchdown. Then work was, well, sort of a blow to the head. No time at all to edit or comment. Need to do what I can when I can.

And, hey, a great big thank you to our CDP colleague, Halcyon, and her husband for inviting us to their home for dinner while we were in Berlin. Meeting other City Daily members around the world has been one of the great pleasures of this work.               

Monday, September 19, 2016

Walking Around Berlin

I didn't think I'd get a post done today but I'm sitting at an airport between flights. These are a few things we saw walking around Berlin Sunday. From top to bottom:

There were regional elections in Berlin yesterday. A common type of poster had just a photo of the candidate, his or her name and the party. This one was modified.

A group had a demonstration in front of the Brandenburg Gate about saving elephants. Although my German is limited they seemed to claim that the animal will become extinct in 10 years without human intervention. I like the shoes on the man in the second pic.

A snack bar near the Tiergarten.

What not to do in the U Bahn subway.

Port-a-potty, German style.

Walking back into the fan at work tomorrow.      

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I Am A Jelly Doughnut

In 1963, at the height of the cold war, John F. Kennedy went to this city and made a famous speech. Ich bin ein Berliner he proclaimed -  I am a Berliner.

However, some people said that wasn't proper German. He should have said Ich bin Berliner, the equivalent of saying I am American. Ein Berliner is form of jelly doughnut popular in Germany. So, people said, Kennedy announced that he was a jelly doughnut.

Well, according to Wikipedia, this is wrong. The article tells us:

There is a misconception that Kennedy made a risible error by saying Ich bin ein Berliner. By using the indefinite article "ein," he supposedly changed the meaning of the sentence from "I am a citizen of Berlin" to "I am a Berliner" (a Berliner being a type of German pastry, similar to a jelly doughnut).
The indefinite article is omitted in German when speaking of an individual's profession or residence but is still used when speaking in a figurative sense. Since the President was not literally from Berlin but declaring his solidarity with its citizens, "Ich bin ein Berliner" was the only way to express what he wanted to say.
Furthermore, although the word "Berliner" is used for a jelly doughnut in the north, west and southwest of Germany, it is not used in Berlin itself or the surrounding region, where the usual word is "Pfannkuchen."
What a downer. The photo above is of a Berliner, which we had with coffee at the top of the Berlin Tower this morning. American doughnuts are better.

That's it for now. On Monday we will be 19 hours from departure from Berlin to arrival in St. Louis with two connections. I've got a terrible week at work ahead. Many more pictures to edit, which we will get to when time permits.

The Fat Angel

We had dinner Saturday night at a restaurant called Der Dicker Engel, The Fat Angel. It was recommended by someone back home. We would never have found it on our own. It's a good neighborhood place serving well-made, traditional German food. What sets it apart is the name and theme. Wacky.

The big thing in the top picture soars over the dining room. The Raphael putti are not leaning on the bar waiting for a drink. They are painted onto a glass wall between the dining room and the bar. Everything was simple and good. The wine label translates as "nice dry red wine" and it was. A typical German meal involves pork and potatoes, and lots of it. That's how you get to be dicker.            

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Luther In The Rain

Mrs. C is Lutheran. (My ancestors were Irish and Polish, so you can figure that part out.) We did a day trip today to Wittenberg, also known as Lutherstadt. I like to think of it in English as Lutherville. It's the town where he lived most of his life.

We've had warm weather and dry conditions the whole trip until today. There was a light but steady rain when we arrived, and guess who didn't bring an umbrella. We had arranged for a guide, Bettina Brett,  who found one for me. And so on into the Reformation.

2017 is the 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther published his 95 theses, which may or may not have been nailed to the door of the church below. That door now has them all set out in bronze. This town is going to be a zoo next year. All the hotels are already booked. They are still working on things at the moment but there was plenty to see.

Luther and the painter Lukas Cranach the Elder were pals. Bettina told us that his favorite pastime was making portraits of Marty. For example, the painting in yesterday's post.

And, in the end, we tourists are everywhere. Better we went this year.               

Friday, September 16, 2016


It's almost midnight in Berlin and we have to get up and out tomorrow for a day trip. So a quickie with two Berlin icons: the Brandenburg Gate and Lukas Cranach's portrait of Martin Luther from the German Historical Museum

Saturday it's all Luther, all day. Report to follow. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016


My wife and I have been subscribers to the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra for something close to forty years. My father's boss was on the board of directors of the New York Philharmonic and I had the privilege of attending a number of times as a child. When I got bored with rock and roll in my early 20s, this was the direction my interests took me.

We attended a performance of the Berlin Philharmonic Thursday evening, the stuff of legends in my head. The ghost of Herbert von Karajan stalks the halls. He would not have approved of the program: American Composer John Adams conducting his own work. The first half was from the 80s, Harmonielehere. We've heard him conduct it in St. Louis. A fair amount of the audience left at intermission. They missed the brilliant second half, a symphony - violin concerto called Scherezade.2.  

Attending this performance was a big deal to me.   

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


We made it to Berlin. It's hot and we're tired so explorations tomorrow. First, though, the terrific museum of German emigration in Bremerhaven, Das Deutsches Auswandererhaus. All of Mrs. C's great grandparents left through this port. Her great grandfather on her father's side, Juergen Kruse, came in 1858, well ahead of the millions that would follow later.

The journey begins dockside in Bremerhaven's harbor, apparently at night to make embarcation all the more frightening.  It continues through steerage accommodations on a ship: cramped, without privacy or anything good to eat. Then into a second class dining room, which looks quite jolly by comparison.

Eventually we arrive at the new world - New York City. My wife's great grandparents got there far before the famous Ellis Island immigration center opened. They would have disembarked at Castle Gardens, now Castle Clinton in New York's Battery Park. (As would my Irish fore-bearers. Unfortunately, we know little about my mother's Polish family.)

Germans spread out across the country. My wife's family farm was outside of Bremen, Kansas, a hamlet of 45. Hanover, with 900 people, was a few miles further away.

The museum's journey ends, appropriately enough, in Manhattan's Grand Central Station. If we had waited around a little longer we could have caught a train to St. Louis.         

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Essen wie ein Deutscher

A bit more from Hamburg: eat like a German.My first tip is to be ready to consume large amounts of meat. They do eat fruits and vegitables (Früchte und Gemüse) but be prepared for a lot of Fleisch. A Brötchen, pretty obviously, is a little sandwich and in a port town it's easy to find them with fish. Schinken und Käse is ham and cheese.

Which reminds me - it's time to go to dinner here. Heading for the Bremen Ratskeller.