Monday, 30 April 2007
They pretty much only work to order, so when they get back home shortly after stupid o'clock, they wash and grade it and put your order in a plastic tub with your name on it and filled with water to keep it fresh until you collect it.
I got there at 10:30 and there were just 4 orders left for collection.
I don't want to know what time stupid o'clock really is...
Sunday, 29 April 2007
I've heard of this programme, but it's not the sort of thing I watch.
It's called "Looking for Germany's Superstar" and it's been around for a couple of years by all the media hype you can't get away from.
It appears to be the equivalent of "American Idol" and whatever it's called in the rest of the world and involves a mix of
- people with zero talent who are the butt of jokes from a panel of minor celebrities, one of whom is brutally ignorant and uncultured
- people with moderate talent who are the butt of jokes from a panel of minor celebrities, one of whom is brutally ignorant and uncultured
- people with supposed talent who are the butt of jokes from a panel of minor celebrities, one of whom is brutally ignorant and uncultured.
So Lisa Bund evidently belongs to the latter group, because they're down to the last 3 and she's still in.
And she's a local girl. (Sort of, at least)
She works in Mum and Dad's "Sock Corner" in the Augustinerstrasse, which has now become a sort of local Lourdes for the terminally starstruck, with people turning up from all over the country to leave talismans (talispeople?) for Lisa and sticking letters of praise and affection on the windows.
I didn't see many socks in the window, though. Mostly pretty raunchy-looking undergear.
Not that I have a clue about stuff like that......
Postscript: She got the chop last night. I'm not sure if that's good or bad...
Saturday, 28 April 2007
Our Billy Crash is the nom-de-plume for Martin Kijaszek, a local hero who writes and sings rock and blues in local dialect.
And writes musicals.
Last night was the world premiere of "Die Wäschbrigg" at the "Traube" in Armsheim, a village disco (glitter ball and all) waaaaay out in the woops.
The story line - as far as I can work it out - involves 2 washerwomen on a Wäschbrigg ( a floating laundry boat - here's a post from the early days of MDP explaining their history), one of whom finds a message in a bottle with a map, pointing to the location of the Nibelungen treasure right under the Wäschbrigg.
Hubby puts on a diving suit, lowers himself into the Rhine, never to be seen again.
Sounds like a simple plot, but given that the last scene involves
- 2 washerwomen
- a flatulent policeman whose trousers keep falling down
- a man in a deep sea diving helmet and prison garb
- a Mafiosi from Wiesbaden (of all places...) demanding payment for disappeared hubby's visit to his cat house
- an accordion player whose role involves frequent visits to the dunny
- Billy Crash himself, wearing a captain's cap (in place of his customary black stovepipe hat) and looking like a cross between Gary Glitter and one of the guys from ZZ Top....
Well, it was more involved than that.
Double entendres, not so double entendres, nod-nod, wink-winks galore, gross flatulence, frequent references to bodily functions, sly and not so sly digs at Wiesbaden, inside jokes, voices from the deep, audience interaction, all in the local dialect.
And the band played on. While all this thespian stuff was going on upfront, the 5 piece band lived behind the backdrop of the view of the sun setting behind Mainz cathedral.
Cue for a song.
Backdrop slides away, band appears on a platform which transports them - with a whiplash inducing jerk - onto centre stage where they play a mixture of blues, rock and country.
Really good music.
Great lead guitarist.
And the (supposedly widowed) washerwoman rips some wicked blues.
And - this being Germany - the Metrognomes are there in full force, of course. I'll get used to it one day.
And then - with a jerk - the platform rumbles back (the lead guitarist told me during the break that he was worried that the keyboard guy would end up on top of him...), the backdrop slides back into place, the band disappears and the acting continues.
This is great cult entertainment.
This isn't lowbrow, cheap laugh, stuff.
It's slapstick and farce at its finest, with good music, skilled musicians and put on by people who have day jobs.
And it's a true story. Sort of.
Martin's mother, Anni, used to do her washing at the Wäschbrigg in Mainz-Kastel and he used to tag along as a kiddie - he's about my age- in the 1950's.
And the show's dedicated to her.
I don't know if she found the Rheingold from the Nibelungen Saga
But this is treasure enough for me.
Friday, 27 April 2007
Those are lyrics to a song I know and I can't for the life of me think what it is.
This really is pretty much all that's left of the blossoms in the Ritterstrasse.
It's like pink snow.
When our friends Isla and Bill were over here in 1986, we took them down to see the blossoms and then the pink snow a few days later.
Isla - in her mid-50s - picked up handfuls of the petals and whirled them into the air.
It was great.
Abraham Lincoln left a comment on the original post about the trees doing their best to attract pollinators.
That really is a major problem this year. Fruit orchardists are really concerned, because of the concurrent explosion of blossoms and also - perhaps more critically - because of bees abandoning hives in great numbers.
It's called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and scientists are linking it to the effects of mobile phone radiation.
There's also a quote from Einstein (that sounds more and more like an urban legend) that's doing the rounds:
"If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination ... no more men!"
A bit scary...
Thursday, 26 April 2007
Duff quality, but I actually forgot to ask the ambulance crew to get the Nikon while they were strapping me down...
So it's courtesy of Nokia and Treo @ .7 megapixels
This is the Med School and Clinic of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. Well. the entrance anyway.
Behind this original facade is a huge area of specialist clinics with a really good reputation. (The Vincenz Hospital is better for artificial hips, they say, but I have no first hand experience on that. Yet.)
But their A&E clinic is supposed to be the best for miles around (says Simon and Sophie's Mum, who's a doctor and she might know) and I thought they were crash hot.
The regime's a bit brutal, though.
Night sister throws you your pharmacological dose for the day at stupid o'clock (after checking every hour to see if you've still got a pulse and blood pressure. And if she's able to blind you with her torch...)
Beds get made at 6:30, the Kosovo Kleaning Krew drifts in at around 7:30 and dab around a bit with their cloths, breakfast from the non-twin twins turns up at 8 and the boy-doctor who's still soporific from sleeping off a 24 hour stint turns up shortly after to start another 24 hours.
And all the time. it's like MASH, with helicopters dropping off people with intense need of TLC at the pad in rapid succession.
Outside the window.
But I think I'll try and avoid the place for a bit....
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
Coefficient of friction = 0
Strapped to a stretcher
Suspected spinal/neurological injuries
ER at University Clinic in Mainz
2 broken ribs
Overnight imprisonment for observation
3 roommates, all members of the German team for the Snoring Olympics
And now they want keep me for another night.....
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
They're great kids.
You'd like them.
It was Simon's First Communion on Sunday, which is a pretty BIG DAY around here if you come from a Catholic family.
Someone gave him an iPod with a couple of songs already loaded.
And forgot to leave the USB cable.
This would send me into a state of panic. And I'm 50 years older than him....
So they turned up yesterday in the hope that I'd have an iPod (yes, of course) and I'd lend him the USB cable (yes, of course). And how much music have you actually got?
So Sophie turned up today after school today to ask if-Simon-could please-have-a few-tracks-of-the-15,000-odd-you've-got-on-the-hard-drive-and-could-you-please-help-us-get-them-onto-the-iPod?
So they chose (with a little encouragement at times, but mostly with comments like "Cool" and "Wow")
Toad The Wet Sprocket - Walk On The Ocean - John
Söhne Mannheims - Wenn Du Schläfst - Simon
Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story - John
Robbie Williams - Strong - Simon/John
Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Zephyr Song - Simon/John
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium - Simon
Nine Days - Absolutely (Story Of A Girl) - John
Mutton Birds - While You Sleep - John
Jeff Beck - Sophie - Sophie (And thanks to Jefito)
James Taylor & Carly Simon - Mockingbird - John
James Gang - Walk away - John
James Blunt - You're Beautiful - Simon (for sure...)
Don McGlashan - I Will Not Let You Down - John
Bob Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone - John
And then Simon asks " Are they all legal?"
"Well., most of them...."
Simon turns up this evening wearing his #13 Michael Ballack soccer shirt with a "Sportfreunde Stiller" CD.
"You can borrow it" he said.
"For a week, if you like"
You really would like them.
Monday, 23 April 2007
This was worth the wait.
And it's worth two pictures.
Moan if you want to. I don't care.
The Bugner family in our village still grows asparagus the way it's meant to be grown.
No foil tunnels.
No black plastic covering the rows to speed things up.
They wait until it's ready and then they get up at stupid o'clock and harvest it.
And they charge €7 a kilo from the beginning of the season to the end.
Can't be fairer than that.
So when we saw the sign on Friday, Pavlov's Dog syndrome set in.
Ordered some on Saturday, picked it up yesterday morning, ate it yesterday evening.
- minted new potatoes (Galatina, scrubbed, not peeled)
- some good local ham plus a slice or two of prosciutto
- homemade hollandaise (with a pinch of paprika from my mate Tibor's mum's garden in Hungary)
- chervil fresh from the garden.
And a really nice Sauvignon from the Loire.
As Bernie Ashwell would say:
"This is the life, eh, John?"
And if you want the dead-easy hollandaise recipe (if that's not a play on words...)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup of butter
3 tsp lemon juice
cayenne pepper to taste
Heat butter in a pan until it starts bubbling. Place egg yolks, lemon juice and cayenne pepper in a blender, blend for 5 seconds. Slowly pour hot butter in a steady stream with the blender running.
Sunday, 22 April 2007
She was born here, her Dad was organist at the Johanniskirche and she lives bang in the middle of the Old Town.
Can't get much more authentic than that.
She's best known for her interpretation of French chansons and also for her own compositions.
Seen her frequently at concerts at the Rheingau Music Festival over the years and she combines a youthful freshness with a biting sense of satire. And a writes a good melody.
But I didn't know that she paints, too.
Until we got the invitation to the vernissage yesterday in the Frankfurter Hof, that is. (Second time there this week - Paul Carrack last Wednesday).
So off we toddled - normally free nibbles and bubbly, which is always useful - to join significant chunks of what passes for high society in Mainz (which excludes us, I hasten to note) who turn out when there's free nibbles and bubbly on hand.
And a good evening was had by all. My mate Peter Krawietz was on hand to read the laudatio, Nanette sang a few ditties, free bubbly and pretzels from Peter Ditsch, (how did I know..?) and some very good watercolours of the Cap Verde islands.
Pretty impressive stuff.
But crikey, I wish she'd put on some weight.
Talk about skinny!
She''ll need to watch out when she goes swimming - boaties are going to mistake her for a channel marker....
Saturday, 21 April 2007
And it really is something quite special.
A road in the Oberstadt (Upper Town - you get the idea - a bit flash...) that's lined with flowering cherries forming a solid canopy of tender pink... Oops, classic case of being swamped by the effusiveness of their descriptive skills.
This year was short and sweet. Not to mention life-threatening.
The heatwave that we had last week pretty much turbocharged everything and instead of having a couple of weeks of splendour, it's lasted maybe a week.
And talk about dangerous.
It's normally a quiet suburban street, but they're upgrading a railway tunnel which requires them to commandeer the main drag into Mainz for close on a year (don't ask me..) and shunt the traffic through... the Ritterstrasse.
So it was a case of zipping out, composing and shooting and diving back to relative safety.
Thank goodness for autofocus...
Friday, 20 April 2007
They look so light, you'd think they'd float on air.
Lilac blossom, roses, vibrantly green beech leaves, coreopsis and lots of other flowers, the names of which promptly fled my brain when I heard the price. It must have been the sudden rush of blood that adrenalin shock produces.
We bought one anyway.
Only lasted 3 days, which definitely displeased certain members of the household. Words will no doubt be spoken.
It'll compost well, though.
Thursday, 19 April 2007
This one I like a lot.
I guess the rest were OK too.
I got coffee AND lunch....
Wednesday, 18 April 2007
There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
It's not so very, very far away;
You pass the gardner's shed and you just keep straight ahead.
I do so hope they've really come to stay.
There's a little wood, with moss in it and beetles,
And a little stream that quietly runs through;
You wouldn't think they'd dare to come merrymaking there.
Well, they do.
There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
They often have a dance on summer nights;
The butterflies and bees make a lovely little breeze,
And the rabbits stand about and hold the lights.
Did you know that they could sit upon the moonbeams
And pick a little star to make a fan,
And dance away up there in the middle of the air?
Well, they can.
There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
You cannot think how beautiful they are;
They all stand up and sing when the Fairy Queen and King
Come gently floating down upon their car.
The King is very proud and very handsome;
The Queen - now you can guess who that could be?
She's a little girl all day, but at night she steals away.
Well, it's Me!
This one's by Steffi Herz - a very talented raku potter and prolific producer of fairies.
Of which we have more than our fair share.
And don't look at me...
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
Which has occasional frosts.
"It's great to have seasons again" she said.
I have to agree with her.
I can't say I'm a big fan of winter, but I do like spring.
Yesterday was good.
I broke down one of our 3 compost heaps, top-dressed the garden with it (it's rocket fuel...) and potted loads of cuttings.
And then we had a brilliant evening, with soft spring light that picked out the blossoms of one of the tree peonies.
I think it's Paeonia Suffruticosa, but I'm not sure - I went into immediate shock when I saw the price when Mrs JB bought it..
It's definitely not Paeonia officinalis - that's the herbaceous peony and they're due out in May/June, around Whitsun.
Which is why they're called Pfingstrosen over here.
Monday, 16 April 2007
Instead of growing sugarbeets (which are losing their EU subsidies as we speak) or cereal crops, farmers around here have moved to growing pick-your-own cut flowers.
Plough a furrow in autumn and pop in your bulbs.
In spring, put out your sign, an honesty box and some knives and sit back and count the money.
Narcissus and tulips are full on at the moment, but it's not without risk.
Especially if you have a hot spell.
Then everything comes on line with a bang and your season lasts a week instead of 4.
Like now. 4th day of almost 30 Fahrenheit temperatures.
And €0.40/US$0.55 a blossom?
Tibor, my mate and fellow sufferer at Mainz 05, has an allotment.
With lots of tulips.
(I like "for free")
Sunday, 15 April 2007
(And Rainer Fetting, the artist, would no doubt have approved. After all, he did title it "Der Flug" - "The Flight")
This sculpture teeters on the edge of the roof of the Kleine Haus, the stunningly modern extension to the Staatstheater, built 1994 and 1997.
It's almost as if he's being consumed by the fire suggested by the sun's reflection on the roof's edge.
But Real Life's Catch me I'm falling captures it perfectly for me.
Maybe Rainer would care to reconsider the name, then?
Saturday, 14 April 2007
The market in Mainz this morning was full with a mixture of what should be seasonal produce at this time of year - leeks, cabbages, beetroot and suchlike - and what we could normally expect in few weeks.
Lilac blossoms, for example.
It was 29 degrees Celcius (84 Fahrenheit) this afternoon.
It's like living in a time-lapse film at the moment - Brrrrrrrrrp and Spring's gone in a matter of days.
And Mainz lost at home. Again.
Friday, 13 April 2007
2:42 into the Stones' "Gimme shelter"
Then she rips in with
"It's just a shot away, it's just a shot away"
And Charlie Watts thwacks a whiplash rimshot.
Oh, I'm on the wrong blog. I thought I was over at YMBFA.
Here's a picture of a rape field in its (almost) full glory.
They're at their most impressive when you fly into Frankfurt airport early evenings in April/May. Huge patchworks of blinding yellow and tender green as far as the eye can see.
I never tired of it.
The rest of the world might know this as canola (which is the syncopated form of Canadian Oilseed, Low Acid, its experimental name way back when)
The oil's chockablock with Omega 3's and 6's and you can use to run your car if you're that way inclined.
And you can feed the leftovers to cattle as a high protein animal feed,
I use it instead of olive oil on rare occasions - has a high-ish burning point and it gives chicken breasts an excellent crust.
So - all in all - a fairly useful plant.
Just wish they wouldn't market the honey.
Definitely an acquired taste.
Thursday, 12 April 2007
(It used to be called the City Theatre - Stadttheater - but obviously got ideas above its station somewhere around 1989)
The theatre was built between 1829 and 1833 by Georg Moller, the star architect and city planner of his day.
In its original form, it was revolutionary, with a semicircular extension suggesting the separation of the auditorium from the stage in a radical departure from classical theatre architecture.
Safety considerations and the need for greater seating capacity resulted in a significant dilution of the design in 1909.
Dilution? They buggered it up.
But it's still a fine structure and acoustically quite exceptional.
The glass dome perched on top - not uncontroversial, as it's euphemistically described - houses "Mollers Restaurant", a pretty flash eating place.
Even less uncontroversial is the poor (lack of?) sound insulation between the restaurant and theatre.
The muted clinking of glasses wouldn't appear to be much of a problem, but when private functions kick into the raucous singing of rugby songs (or whatever the local equivalent of "Dinah, Dinah" might be), the ballet aficionados who've plonked down €80 or so for a seat tend to get somewhat shirty....
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
It's an excellent place, but it's somewhat short on width to compare favourably with those two.
Which wouldn't have worried my mate Georg (Schorsch) Lautner (RIP) who used to have a gallery at the top end of the road and whose sketches and etchings are still the benchmark of Mainz graphic art of its type.
He wouldn't bother about having to correct for parallax error and PSing images to death - he'd just ignore the fact that there are houses a couple of metres across the road from whatever he was sketching and metaphysically place himself 30 metres back to get everything in....
This is the Baroque façade of the Augustiner Church, the monastery church of the Augustine order in the 18th century and now a seminary church.
I think Schorsch would have quite liked the perspective......
Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Monday, 9 April 2007
I'm hijacking this post for a good cause. I hope for your understanding.
(This is the 50th Parallel, by the way. Runs bang through the Gutenberg Square in front of the State Theatre and the Cathedral in the background)
In my other job, I'm an (occasional) music blogger in a loose group of very minor planets drifting around in Jefito's orbit.
One of us, Scott Malchus, has a little bloke called Jacob.
He's got cystic fibrosis.
Which is crap.
Read about it here
Jeff Giles - Jefito - pinged a bunch of us if we'd like to do something useful.
Click on the logo to find out more and see if you want to help.
Spread the word. This is grassroots stuff.
I think we did OK. It's important to do SOMETHING.
Oh, and Scott has NO idea that this has been going on behind his back.
Sunday, 8 April 2007
This looks like an innocent kitchen studio, but - if the truth be known - it's really a secret military installation.
Why else would people come out of the building and ask why I was taking a photograph? And tell me that I needed permission.
To take a photograph of a commercial building.
From a public road.
And just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not following me....
Saturday, 7 April 2007
Trains come in at one end and go out the other.
Not like Frankfurt or Wiesbaden.
There, trains come in, stop and somehow get magically turned around before they can leave. Definitely sub-standard places.
Here's an ICE heading across the Rhine from Wiesbaden.
Could be going backwards, for all I can tell.
(That would save them having to turn it around, I suppose)
Friday, 6 April 2007
This bloke looks positively threatening.
Even more so in stereoscope.
Reminds me of a CIO I once has as a customer.
Thursday, 5 April 2007
This is the Bischofsplatz - Bishop's Square. The Bishop's Residence faced this spot from 1802 to 1962 and prior to that, the custodian of the cathedral's art collection from 1666.
And - as from 1962 - a parking structure for the adjacent Karstadt department store. (The protests against the demolition of the damaged structure must have been quite hefty at the time - the history books still mention them)
This gateway is all that remains and was the equivalent of the tradesmens' entrance.
Wouldn't have minded seeing what it looked like from the front...
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
3 blocks, 23 stories, 610 apartments, around 1500 inhabitants.
Featured in a popular docu-soap a couple of years back.
Mrs JB does the rental administration. For the last 20-odd years, in fact.
She could tell you some stories.....
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
It used to be the commercial heart of the city up until the 17th century
It runs from the Leichhof (originally the cathedral cemetery) right down to the confluence of the Holzstrasse, Neutorstrasse and Kapuzinerstrasse.
It's survived a period where it appeared to consist exclusively of shoe shops and Italian restaurants.
These days it's a good mix of galleries, eateries, book and music shops and cafes, with the odd boutique thrown in for good measure.
There's the Frankfurter Hof for live music, the Augustiner Church to cleanse the soul and cobblestones to break high heels.
It's a pedestrian precinct, but sometimes it's easy to forget.
Monday, 2 April 2007
......the street signs in Mainz really are red and blue.
Nothing to do with a Napoleonic decree, though. (Well, it was April Fools Day yesterday...)
And the urban legend that it has something to do with the fire brigade is also way off the mark.
Up until the middle of the 19th century, you could pretty much give your house whichever number you liked.
Dr. Josef Anschel was a logical person and the situation evidently offended his sense of aesthetics.
In 1849, he proposed that the streets running parallel to the Rhine should have blue street signs and be numbered sequentially starting from the south, with odds on one side of the road and evens on the other.
And that the roads leading to the Rhine be numbered started from the river and they should have red street signs.
The council turned him down.
4 years later, the police commissioner resurrected the idea and since 1853, it's been dead easy to find your way around the city.
Sunday, 1 April 2007
The French influence in Germany dates back to the occupation of the city by the French Revolutionary army in 1792.
And in 1793, the Jacobins of Mainz - together with democrats from the surrounding region - proclaimed the Republic of Mainz.
Prussia wasn't too keen on that idea and besieged and bombarded the French into submission within a matter of months.
The French must have liked it here, because they were back in a flash, (1797) occupying Mainz and the region until 1814.
And again between 1919 and 1930 under the stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles.
And again in 1945.
So it's not surprised to learn that the roads leading out of Mainz to the south (and passing through the villages) are called Pariser Strasse (Paris Road) and that people still refer to umbrellas as "paraplu", pavements as "trottoir", wallets as "porte-monnaie". country roads are "chaussee", alleys "reilscher" (from "Rueille"), a baby's pram is a "chaise", a brake a "Mick" (from "mechanique") and folk "promeniere" when going for a stroll.
And street signs and house numbers in Mainz are to this day bleu, blanc et rouge.
Napoleon decreed that in 1798 and it's never changed.
They did something similar in Cologne at the same time, numbering houses sequentially, so that "4711" happened to belong to the Mühlens family who made perfumed products....
That was repealed in 1811, but Mainz has stuck to its guns and continues to oppose attempts by the Federal government to force conformity with the rest of the country.
Good thing, too.