Carnival Photo Report

February 1, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Posted in Culture, Life | Leave a comment
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It is the first time in x years that I am not spending carnival in Cologne – but yesterday we had our own little carnival celebration here in Vienna at ncl@MQ. We even set up a live video conference with a friend who has a little shop/gallery in Cologne where the party started – and they staged a little Polonaise for us in front of the camera:-)

Polonaise

Polonaise

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Carnival Photo Report, Pt. 6

February 20, 2007 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Carnival in CologneAnd here is the sixth post that should allow me to clear my holiday backlog. Day six was practically spent on the train – all in all, we spent 26 hours in trains in those six days. 15 hours from Dornburn to Cologne and back, 11 from Cologne to my mom’s place and back. But I was surprisingly productive on the train this time – I managed to grade all the papers I still had in that other backlog:-D I had planned to buy a set of Scrabble to make the journey more interesting, but then forgot about it. I’ve never owned one and only played it once before in my life (with an Italian set and English vocabulary in a German café), but I’ve become a bit obsessed about Triominoes recently and thought another puzzly board game might be good to add variety. One of my secret reasons to play Triomonoes is to restore my decrepit capabilities in maths. Calculators haven’t done me good, and when calculating grades I let Excel do all the work (safer for me, I suppose;-)

Carnival in Cologne But neither did we have a set of Triominoes on board, so all that we could play in the end was Hangman. We played until we felt sick about playing, guessing words such as T_A_R_A_ (a killer;-) and _D_R_E_I_B_R_U_E_S_T_I_G_E_ H_U_R_E_ P_O_S_E_I_D_O_N_S_ (three-breasted whore of Poseidon – we’re not really that creative or decadent, this just happened to become a code word for Triominoes.) I’ve always wondered how it is possible that repeated mental actions, once they’ve become boring, can make you sick, but they really do (or make me sick anyway). I cannot remember something similar happening with repetitive physical actions, such as cracking crabs or nuts – but maybe assembly line workers have such moments during their work… cracking nuts must be in the genes of us former hunters and gatherers, but assembling auto parts? I doubt it….

And at good last, this post really has nothing to do with carnival, only that it marks the day that I returned from carnival…

Carnival Photo Report, Pt. 5

February 19, 2007 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Friends | 2 Comments
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Carnival in CologneDay Five offered another opportunity for me and my boyfriend to get into our Bee & Meadow gear.

We went to a private party, a carnival breakfast to which my friend Jessica had been invited. She is a stunning tall woman, and had she been born as a boy, she would be a stunning tall man as the picture on the right shows:-)

It was the day of the great parade, but neither of us was really in the mood for going. Last year, we had collected several kilos of sweets during the parade. This year, I am planning to give up sugar and alcohol for lent, so collecting sweets might not be the best idea:-)

Carnival in CologneIt was a nice gesture by the city of Cologne to launch a beer campaign that featured my boyfriend’s name:-))))

After the party, we went home, slept a little, went for coffee and soup and watched movies for the rest of the evening: World Trade Center (directed by Oliver Stone) which was completely useless, and Good Night and Good Luck, directed by George Clooney, which was excellent.

Carnival Report, pt. 4

February 18, 2007 at 8:06 am | Posted in Friends | Leave a comment
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Day four wasn’t too carnivalesque either. We returned to the city at half past ten, went to Ehrenfeld – the burrough where my most of my friends in Cologne live – and from there to the “L”* bar where the last patron was just about to leave and no carnival music was playing. What a relief after another 5.5 hours train trip in a coach that was bracketed by fighting carnival corpses!

*Old friends of the “L” bar! It has a new owner who tore down that colourful wall and redecorated it to give it a slightly posher, not so punk but still trashy style. They also have good wine now (for € 2.60 a 0.2l glass) and I like it much better the new way. The picture in the link above shows the old “L” though.

Carnival Photo Report, Pt. 3

February 17, 2007 at 11:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Parts 3 and 4 of the report aren’t really reports on carnival, but of the way we spent the carnival holiday in general. We went “home”, i.e. to my home-home, i.e the place where my mother lives which was only 300 km away, but nevertheless we spent 5.5 hours on the train. She lives close to the border to Thuringia, which was formerly the border with the German Democratic Republic, and the infrastructure regrading public transport is still not ideal.

We went there because of the mentioned accommodation problem and because, if we turned around the accommodation problem, it meant it was an excellent opportunity to introduce my boyfriend to my mother, and all went extremely well 🙂 She was absolutely delighted about him, my mother’s boyfriend enjoined the male company (he often seems a bit intimidated by my presence, or even jealous), and I learned so many things about my own home and the surrounding area.

Carnival in CologneThe village where they live (and where I spent the seven unhappiest years of my life after we moved there from a town – which is probably the reason why I know so little about it) is an official reserve in UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Project, for its unique combination of biodiversity and rural civilisation. Here is a link to the Wikipedia page in German which desribes the Biosphärenreservat Rhön.

My mom’s boyfriend is a former forrester/ranger and helped map the area. My mom is a farmer’s daughter and belives in growing her own food, gathering the gifts of mother nature and preparing them in her own tiled oven. We had a very wholesome stay, in terms of nutrition, education and tending family relations 🙂 I am even looking forward to going back which has rarely happened before:-D

The pic shows my mom and her boyfriend.

Carnival Photo Report, Pt. 2

February 16, 2007 at 10:34 pm | Posted in Film, Food, German | Leave a comment
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Friday, February 16. The day after Weiberfastnacht went by calmly. Carnival is a love-hate thing for many people – it’s impossible to engage in it half-heartedly, and one can easily grow tired. I wasn’t in the mood for an encounter with hordes of drunk and mega horny people in costumes on Friday – also we had a bit of an accommodation problem and wanted to leave Cologne the next day at 7:23 in the morning.

So we spent most of the day walking about town, went to a One-Dollar-House twice, i.e. to a second run cinema where you pay very little for a ticket and get next to no service, but what do you need really besides a pop corn making machine in a cinema?

The first film was a nightmare: Klimt (2006) by Raoul Ruiz, which pretended to be a biopic of the live of Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. I was surprised to learn that it was an Austrian-French-German-British coproduction, as it offered itself like a U.S.American fantasy about the sexual life of European artists around the turn of the 19th century. It was the first time in ages that I left the cinema after having watched only half of the film. That was when Klimt’s mother asked what he wanted for lunch on Sunday. “Goulash”, he said, and his sister wondered, “You can’t get enough of your Goulash”, upon which the mother had a fit of hysteria, screamed and threw about pieces of the puzzle she was working on, being joined by the sister who also slapped her (own) face. Nikolai Kinski is also in it, and so desperately trying to channel his father that the first three minutes alone are reason enough to leave the theatre. People don’t have sex in the brothel, but the women wear moustaches.

The next film we saw was Borat. Nothing much to say about it, not half as shocking (nor half as funny) as people claimed it to be. I had one epiphany though: If a man becomes really fat, you can no longer see his genitalia. I had always wondered about that.

We took one photo: of a Red Bull promotion vehicle after having bought Thai Red Bull at a Chinese store. It comes without the fizz, but apart from that tastes exactly the same.

Carnival in Cologne

Carnival Photo Report, Pt. 1

February 15, 2007 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Friends, German, Posts in German | 2 Comments
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Carnival in CologneThursday, February 15, Weiberfastnacht, i.e. the day before Shrove Tuesday in Cologne. People agreed that Saint Peter must be from Cologne as we were blessed with the finest weather in years: Dä Petrus is ne Kölsche! I was a bee, and my boyfriend the cutest meadow ever. Later on, we danced Polonaise* in the backyard of a friend’s house. It did not matter that the sun did not reach us there: we had the sunshine in our heart.**

*) a stately Polish processional dance popular in 19th century Europe, according to Merriam-Webster

Carnival in Cologne**) Dat Hätz vun der Welt, jo dat is Kölle, dat Hätz vun der Welt, dat schläht am Rhing! Es och der Himmel öfters jrau, un dat Sönnche schingk jet mau, doch mir Kölsche han im Hätze Sunneschingk***

***) A translation into both English and German, as not all German speakers are able to comprehend the Colonian tongue.

Das Herz der Welt, ja das ist Köln,
das Herz der Welt, das schlägt am Rhein.
Ist auch der Himmel öfters grau, und die Sonne scheint etwas matt,
doch wir Kölschen haben im Herzen Sonnenschein.

Carnival in CologneThe heart of the world, yes, that is Cologne.
The heart of the world beats on the river Rhine.
May the heaven often be grey and the sun shine a bit dull,
but we Colonians have the sunshine in our heart.

Picture of the Polonaise below.

Carnival in Cologne

Taking a holiday off blogging

February 14, 2007 at 9:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Later today, we’ll pack our things to travel to Cologne. Wieverfasteleer* begins tomorrow! I am going to dress up as a bee (Bienchen) and my boyfriend as a flower (Blümchen) – neat type of role reversal, huh? *Chuckle* :8) There will be no posts on this blog in the meantime, but I am going to post my carnival photo story upon return. Bis dahin ein dreifach donnerndes Kölle… Alaaf! Kölle… Alaaf! Kölle… Alaaf!

*The 6th day before carnival ends and lent begins.

I’m a busy bee (during carnival)

February 11, 2007 at 11:09 am | Posted in Gender, Popular Culture | 3 Comments
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And now for something completely mundane: Carnival in Cologne is coming up and I’ve been working on my costume this weekend. I am going to be a busy bee this season. I made a two-piece costume consisting of a skirt and a top made of yellow-black man-made fur. In order not to be confused with a tiger, I am going to stuff the top with paper, which will make me look more like a bumble bee, probably. I am going to wear 1975 (approx.) Nina Ricci sunglasse to fake the insect eyes, but I still need to get a a hair ring with two golden globes on a wire. I know exactly what I want, which is why it will be difficult to get 😉

Wieverfasteleer It would be perfect with wings, but I don’t really want to buy any, so I might go without. In that case, I might just attach a memo on the back of my costume, saying “Genetically Modified Queen Bee. No Sting, no Wings. International Patent”, which would also be good to add at least a slight political note to my costume. Also in honour of Bakhtin’s notion of Carnival, which is supposed to defy the regular social order – it’s the only time that subversion is de rigeur (and hence not a subversion, as we know).

This costume shall also keep me warm on the 15th of February, Weiberfastnacht, my favourite day in Carnival, where the celebrations begins at 11.11. in the morning. Weiberfastnacht means Women’s Carnival (rather: hag’s carnival), and the women take charge of the city of Cologne at that hour. Who ever wears a tie is going to lose it – it’s tradition to cut off the tie of anybody who dares to wear one that day (the mayor is more or less obliged to wear one, in order not to spoil the fun). Symbolic castration – Bakhtin would have liked that. [Image Source]

Kölner Dreigestirn 2005This is the “Kölner Dreigestirn” (Triple Star of Cologne) of 2005: Jungfrau, Prinz, Bauer (Virgin, Prince, Farmer) [Image Source]. There is also a Kinderdreigestirn (Children’s Triple Star) where the Virgin is not impersonated by a boy, but by a girl. Either one thought of such effemination as being too traumatic for a boy (or possibly harmful for his sexual orientation) or they didn’t dare to exclude girls from the honorary offices that are available – a practice that grown-up women are already used to. With the exception of Weiberfastnacht, carnival, and particularly what’s happening in the carnival clubs (Karnevalsgesellschaften) is a strictly male business.

There are only males on the board of each club – interesting fact on the side: The booard of a carnival club is called “Elferrat”, “Board of Eleven”, and during a session, you’ll mostly find 11 men on the stage (see picture below, source). But the origin of ELF is the French Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité – a slogan which the Western German countries under Napoleon, in spite of the occupation, had come to appreciate.

Elferrat

There is only one all-female club, Colombina Colonia, founded in 1999, which – according to my own, unauthoritative perception – did partake in the big parade on Monday (Rosenmontagszug) for the first time in 2006. Oh, and of course there is also a gay carnival club, the Rosa Funken (Pink Sparks – Funke being a typical name of uniform-wearing carnival clubs), Cologne being the gay capital of Germany.

Last year I had a mild form of pood poisoning that sort of spoiled the fun. Hope I’ll last longer this year!

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