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!

Antifascist demonstration

November 26, 2006 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Once in a blue moon, there is an antifascist demonstration here in Dornburn.They normally gather at the station (Bahnhof) and as I live in the Bahnhofstraße, they always pass my house. This time I noticed them convening when I walked my brother to the station. I quite like being around left-wing teenagers (if they’re not too drunk;-), although meanwhile I probably look like a bourgeois cow to them. I mingled a bit with the crowd and then went home, thinking about calling Daniel to join me for the demonstration, but made up my mind again. They were already passing my house, so I just joined them.

The sight of roughly two to three hundred teenagers to young adults in full alternative gear has something incredibly refreshing to me:-))) Myself, I was dressed in my pink tartan coat and a pink silk scarf with roses, but actually appreciated the difference. The last time I wore a Palestinian scarf (that the English term for “Palituch”?) myself is well 15 years ago, and I suppose me and my friends didn’t look much different back then (except for the fact that “we” were not as heavily pierced nor tattooed).

Yet, at the present day, I thought it was even more important that a few bourgeois looking people joined the crowd. As a matter of fact, it is a shame how few of the people looking on actually did join (a dozen?). A demonstration against Nazis is in my view a gathering that every citizen is obliged to join, out of decency.

I had two interesting encounters during the demonstration: A guy in his mid-twenties who sold me a socialist pamphlet for € 1,50 and then wanted to know where I came from. Told him from Cologne and that I’d be working here now. Apparently he knew someone from the SSK (Sozialistische Selbsthilfe Köln), a woman whom he had meet on an internship in Vienna. He then asked me where I’d be doing my internship here in Vorradelberg… sweet.

The same comment, yet upside down, was administered to me by another of those pamphlet vendors who wanted my email address so that they could send me updates about the next demonstration, explaining that it would be difficult to keep in touch with “older people”, because the Antifa was a youth movement :-))

The walk through Dornburn took about an hour. I walked close to the float where they had propped up loudspeakers, playing what seemed to be the current antifascist hymns. I really digged the music! Would they be offended if I asked them for a playlist? 🙂

Three people gave speeches on the market place, unfortunately neither of them was a gifted speaker – I thought that this was probably one of the differences between current and past left-wing demonstrations. The youngsters now probably have better music (thanks to better equipment, that is), but we had better speakers 🙂

At one point, a couple of Nazis dared to flash their bald heads and were immediately chased by the crowd – but the police jumped to their protection just as quickly. Eventually they were caught up in a hallway leading up to a bar called John’s. The police didn’t let any demonstrators in, and the Nazis were to stupid to get out (apparently, there was a way out at the back).

I wonder whether all of the demonstrators will grow up to be assimilated, just like most of us. As a crowd, we were distinctly leftist back then, as individuals we were probably the result of our environment more than anything else. Being a leftist (“Linker”) was somehow one of the things to do in Bad Hersfeld if you hung out with people who liked to go to the “Zigeunerkeller” and to “Ismet” (ould have been either that or being part of the posh crew who had the money to drive to and go out in Frankfurt). It was probably easier being left-wing than being nothing, in particular if your parents were not loaded. But if your parents were teachers, it was also not unlikely that you’d end up there – if your parents went to the same pubs as you, they could treat you to a free drink and a free ride home 😉

I don’t blame any of the youth today for being so unpolitical – my political spells are long gone, too. Nevertheless, it’s probably the only chance you’ll get at developing a political conscience: being young and being left-wing probably goes together better than being integrated into society (by means of the jobs we have, the flats we rent, the cars we drive) and being left-wing.

I think it was Kurt Tucholsky (and I am probably wrong) who said that being young obliges to be a socialist – and that being old and still a socialist means that you are stupid.

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