Little Men with Big GunsDate: Tue, 18 Aug 1998 11:59:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: k p firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: "At no time did I ask anyone to lie"
"Good evening, my fellow Americans. Before we begin with my next dispatch from Europe, I thought it would be a good time to clear the air. Earlier this year, as you all know, I testified in a bar after a few drinks that I engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with an intern in my office. As my friends and the independent counsel pried into my private affairs--very private--it became known that there was really no intern in my office. Ken Starr is a no-good jerk, and nyah, nyah, nyah! Thank you, and good night."
So, Munich. I've been here two days and have enjoyed the city and the surrounding mountains (short name: "The Alps") a great deal. I've also enjoyed the German newspaper headlines this morning which read something like: "Clinton ich bien ein Lewinsky: Blowh▀ein Jobstrasse und ze Oval Officeplatz."
The Germans have been very friendly, very english speaking, and very blonde. It's truly been a pleasure letting them show me that the reeducation camps I attended as a young jewish boy (short name: "Hebrew School") depicting them as the most horrible race on earth is no longer true. I was not looking forward to traveling through Germany to get to Prague for this very reason, but the only alternative is a southern route through Bosnia. I hear Bonsnia is cheap in August, but rental rates on sheets and automatic weapons at the hostels are extravagent.
Anyway, I've found Munich to be a stylin' city, similar in a lot of ways to Chicago. It's got the same sophisticated yet friendly people as Chicago, it's got a bit of a chip about being the Second City in Germany, and it's got great parks. Also, it seems everyone here under 12 years old is a Bulls fan, judging by their caps and shirts. I always assume they are American (unless they are 6'2" and blond) until I hear their friends call them Gunter. Then I realize they are German, and that like everywhere else I've been, the only American cultural icon more prevelant in Europe than McDonalds is the Chicago Bulls.
Regarding the stylish nature of my new German friends, I've been very impressed with all the black clothes and black leather shoes and jackets in all the stores and on the backs or feet of the women. (I don't notice the feet of the men). I feel like I'm almost in NYC. There's more black here than in Paris. Except maybe for black lung from all the Gitanes.
Speaking of black, I keep forgetting to report on two sad exchanges I've seen between local Police and people of color. (Sorry about the politically correct nature of that last phrase, but what does a PC Guy like myself call an African-American if PC Guy is in Europe and doesn't know the nationality of the person of color?) Anyway, the first exchange was in Amsterdam.
4:00 a.m. Centraal Station, the main train and bus station in Amsterdam. My two South African friends and I are waiting for the bus when 3 Dutch cops suddenly descend on the only black guy around. He's clean enough looking, with a receeding hairline and dressed in a jeans jacket and shorts. They start patting him down and giving him shit and intimidating him. He says, very loudly but shakily, "I'm American! Go Easy!" then carefully pulls his passport out from his inside jacket pocket. (Dutch cops don't have guns. Otherwise, they probably would have gotten mideval on his ass. The cops look closely at at the passport, think "Uh oh, we're going to create an international incident and have to give Clinton a blow job if we take this any further," apologize, and walk away. The poor guy was shaking and humiliated. But then I heard him say to everyone in hearing distance, "We'll, I'm used to it, but I got away easier here than I would have in America."
Scene 2: Paris Subway, 6:45 a.m. on my way to the train station for Munich. Sitting in front of me is this clean-cut Lebanese looking guy, about 5'6", not yet 30 years old, well dressed in a button-down shirt, slacks, nice shoes and holding a cell phone. I'm standing across from him unwashed, messed-up hair, dirty clothes and wearing a large backpack.(Hey, it could have contained a small nuclear device!) These three French cops with machine guns get on the train. One of them, obviously a dick who used to get beat up in high school, sees the Lebanese guy with his foot on the seat across him. Obviously, when dickhead cop was hall monitor in high school, "feet on seat" was a big non-non. He taps the guy's foot with his machine gun (what a tough guy!) and asks the cell-phone-toting terrorist for ID. Again, pulled out very slowly. DH Cop and his 2 machine gun friends start asking him all sorts of questions, then pull him off the train at the next stop. As I and the rest of the train was pulling off, they started to pat him down and make him empty his pockets.
Haven't seen any behavior like that in Germany. Just big, friendly people named Gunter holding huge beer steins and wearing Chicago Bulls shirts. So, Ms. Minsk (evil Hebrew School Principal), maybe the Germans have finally learned their lessons? Yes, they don't like all the Arabs who have entered their country and taken their jobs away from hard-working Germans. And yes, there are right wing neo-Nazis among some of the very German youth who are unemployed because of the immigrants (or is it because they are just losers akin to every bible-and-gun toting Anti-Abortion republican activist in America?). But my limited experience so far shows that Germans today are just nice, hard working, anal retentive, law abiding blonde persons trying to get ahead.
Final thought: The Germans really like to drive BMWs way too fast on thier highways. I'd like to join them, and that makes them cool. Anybody know the relative death rates of 1,000-KPH German drivers compared with us 65-MPH-limited American drivers?
Follow up e-mail: while I wait for the overnight train to Prague:
Ludwig II gets nasty with Wagner, or, My trip to Castle Hellenstein.