Flip Flop Flying

3,169: German things

with 4 comments

I met a friend yesterday. We walked past an S-Bahn station, and near the steps down to the platform there was a dude with a ghetto blaster*. That boombox was playing 99 Luftballons, and I mentioned to my friend that, aside from Hitler and the national football team, Nena was probably the first German thing I had knowledge of. Not sure if that’s true, but it probably is. 99 Red Balloons was 1984 in the UK, I think, so can’t really imagine there being much else of German origin in my brain at that point in my life.

*Just realised for the first time in my life that that word is probably a bit racist, innit? I’ll replace it in my head from now on with boombox, or maybe just with Bj√∂rk’s pronunciation, jettoblasta.

After my friend and I parted a couple of hours later, I got thinking some more about it. I would’ve known Da Da Da by my second favourite German band, Trio. I knew The Model by my favourite German band. Liverpool had beaten German teams in the European Cup, and Kevin Keegan played for Hamburger SV. So my original assertion was kinda true, but not entirely. I would also have known a very skewed British view of Germany from watching Auf Wiedersehen, Pet on ITV.

In general, though, I’m not sure how much I knew about Germany before I visited Berlin for the first time in early 2000. My school friend Paul had a German friend (I think she was called Uli, I remember her being pretty), there’s a load of football-related stuff I remember, and I remember the Wall coming down. Aside from things confirming stereotypes, though, I don’t remember any view of Germany as a real place existing in my brain.

Same is true of lots of places you’ve never visited, I guess. In the latter part of 2005, when I was living in Berlin, I had a Mexican girlfriend, and we visited Chiapas (her home state) for Xmas. I didn’t say anything to her about it at the time, but I was a little surprised that there were trees and jungle there. I hadn’t even thought to consider that the desert-and-cacti mental image I had of Mexico might not be the whole country.

These were failings on my part. But also in the way foreign places are always presented in their most basic terms. Eiffel Tower and accordion music, lederhosen and oom-pah music, moustachioed man sleeping under a cactus. TV and movies need to do better. It’s their fault. (It’s not a huge leap, also, to see how this level of thinking, of generalising, has impacted our lives in deeper way. Awful shit like Brexit, Trump, etc.)

While we’re talking about Nena, though, it would be wrong not to link to my fave song of hers, the 2002 re-recorded version of Leuchtturm. Nobody I know (who I’ve spoken to) likes this song. I am entirely alone. German friends prefer the 1983 original. It’s understandable, but for me, this song reminds me of still being relatively fresh in Berlin, and parts of the video were filmed near my flat, and that was v exciting for me.

A wee bit of artwork
The Holly and the IV, from 2013

Other business

Remember this every time an artsy site tells you how great these artists are

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
You & I by One Direction. Watching that video just now, which I’ve not done for ages (quite a good video, simple and clean), I got to thinking about what it would be like if a band like the Beatles had never existed and just came back in the modern era. Like, let’s imagine all of our brains are erased of any knowledge of the Beatles and their songs, and they came back with modern-sounding versions of their whole catalogue. Would we love them as much? Probably. Would they have a long-lasting influence? Probably not. Unless we also erased all music that was influenced by the Beatles, too, which is a pleasant thing to try and imagine. Not because I want it erased, I just enjoy thinking about such things. You’d have to get rid of so much music. How much? Like, more than 60 or 70%, right? Even if a song is not directly influenced by them, it might be influenced by another song that was. They are the filter than everything has gone through.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Falklands War

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Written by Craig

December 15th, 2016 at 3:02 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah

4 Responses to '3,169: German things'

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  1. How long are you in Berlin for this time round?


    15 Dec 16 at 04:33

  2. Couple of months


    15 Dec 16 at 05:17

  3. Thanks for writing! It’s been very enjoyable to read along.


    16 Dec 16 at 05:20

  4. Thank you, Katrin!


    16 Dec 16 at 05:41

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