Trump Blames Germany for US Woes

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Trump: I will impose a 35% tax on BMWs made in Mexico for the American market.

Germany: BMW’s largest factory is in the USA. BMW employs 70,000 Americans. We make parts for Ford and Chrysler in Mexico, as does Bosch, etc. We just might move all jobs to Mexico, too.

Trump: There are no Chevrolets parked outside of German houses.

Germany: Make a better car.

Trump: The EU is the vehicle for Germany’s economy.

Germany: Let us drive, we have no speed limit and we just won the Formula One Championship. Again.

Trump: Merkel’s ‘Refugee Policy’ was utterly catastrophic (said 3 times).

Germany: We’ve got this. It’s called leadership, even when unpopular.

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Trump: Merkel’s policy caused Brexit.

Germany: Finally, and good riddance. They were never wholly in. What does the UK make again?

Trump: Other countries will follow suit. They will leave the EU.

Germany: We hope so. Then it’ll be better. Countries like Norway and Sweden would reconsider.

Trump: NATO is obsolete.

Germany: Thanks for the assist, forever indebted; we can stand on our own (see BMW, Audi, etc.).

Given this past Sunday, one has to wonder why so many of Trump’s attacks were on Germany, a friend, when others mean the USA harm. Is it fear of the Teutonic giants, who can work circles around their American peers? And get 30 days paid vacation? And have unions? And still turn out massive profits? AND win World Cups?

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Germans Are Bad Actors

Germany would have you believe that Greece is nothing but a tragedy. The people seem to understand that there must be certain sacrifices for the European Union to work. Photo: Wikipedia

Germany would have you believe that Greece is nothing but a tragedy. The people seem to understand that there must be certain sacrifices for the European Union to work. Photo: Wikipedia

The money is gone. It isn’t coming back. Most of the Germans I’ve spoken to on the streets or in the cafes of Munich have known this since, like, FOR-EVER! Was there ever really any doubt? Not really.

Hey Germans, your leaders have been lying to you! Or they are completely incompetent (as if they never saw this coming!)! Choose your poison! Haw haw! We in the Western World owe so much to Greece, so many wonderful ideas (a Greek word) about philosophy, ethics, theology, cosmos, and yes, chaos (ALL Greek words), plus a plethora of Greek words on both our languages, can’t you Germans just let it slide? It’s only a little bit of money, Germans have about five TRILLION euros in the bank. (Just keep your eye on Spain and (eventually) France!)

We Americans are so used to being spoken to like idiots (Greek word) it hardly ever even registers when our politicians (Greek) lie. Unless, of course, we think we’re being lied to by a half-black guy with a Muslim sounding name. Then we might take notice if the TV news program (Greek word) that we watch every evening tells us to take notice. But normally, not.

In the good old days, Americans elected the smartest guy in the room to be the leader. In 1980 (not the first time) we moved away from this method (Greek) for a spell, went back to it for a president, went dumb, and then corrected this again with our current president. Germans also elect the smartest guy in the room while many other European countries on the whole did not. But it looks like the Greeks have decided to try the smartest guy in the room approach, and Europe has a crisis (Greek). He’s got the European Union by the short hairs. And German politicians need an enema (another Greek word).

Germany and Greece are much closer than most people know. They always sit next to each other due to their alphabetical similarities. Photo: LaptopsandLederhosen

Germany and Greece are much closer than most people know. They always sit next to each other due to their alphabetical similarities. Photo: LaptopsandLederhosen

The guy the Greeks have elected appears as if he might actually do what he’d said he was going to do, which has politicians in Berlin, Paris, London, and other European capitals shaking in their boots. The Democrats (Greek) and Republicans (Latin) in America’s (very, very old German word) Congress, however, are not shaking in their boots any more than normal because they are never pressured into keeping promises. NO AMERICAN ever expects their elected representatives to do what they say they’re going to do.

So to the Germans I say ‘relax’, forget about it. Stop going to Turkey to stake out your lawn chair before breakfast, lay on the beach all afternoon and eat all you can. Go to Greece and throw your good money after the bad. It’s the best thing you could do. Stop acting as if you’re shocked at the turn of events. It’s really more of a Comedy than a Tragedy, so please, play your part.

The two-headed monsters (next to the FC Bayern flag!) is a symbol of Dikefale, which has teams in both Athens and Thessaloniki. Comedy and tragedy. Photo: LaptopsandLederhosen

The two-headed monsters (next to the FC Bayern flag!) is a symbol of Dikefale, which has teams in both Athens and Thessaloniki. Comedy and tragedy. Photo: LaptopsandLederhosen

A Short List on How to Integrate into Bavarian Culture (For Beginners)

Germans are asking themselves 'what is a German'? The Bavarians are not having an identity crisis. Photo: Wikipedia

Germans are asking themselves ‘what is a German’? The Bavarians are not having an identity crisis. Photo: Wikipedia

With all that’s been happening with the demonstrations for or against immigrants in Germany, I thought now might be a good time to look at a list of ten things I’ve done (or plan to do, if I can ever get a signature from my wife on a few of them) to integrate, and ingratiate, myself into Bavarian culture. The list is long and I’ll add to it and update it often. Since we’re talking about Bavaria, I’ll limit my list to things that men should do.

Food and Drink

  1. Drink beer like a Bavarian. This means drinking beer before 10am, but only if it’s a wheat beer. Drinking Lager or (God forbid) Pils is the sure sign that you have not understood the beer drinking culture in Bavaria. Not drinking beer in Bavaria is similar to not drinking vodka in Russia. Unless, of course, you have a medical issue of some sort which might preclude you from imbibing. If you cannot drink beer, you can make up for it with an overindulgence of number two on this list.
  2. Eat pork often. My dad used to say to me ‘…those Germans (he meant Bavarians-they are what most of the world thinks of when they think of Germans) sure can cook a pig.” Truer words have never been spoken. The ubiquitous “Schweinsbraten (Germans would call it Schweinebraten)” is on every menu in every Wirtshaus (tavern, inn) worth its salt. Do NOT do what I saw a lovely Japanese couple do, take off the crisped fat (pork rind) and put it off to the side of the plate never to be touched again. It must be eaten with the tender, succulent meat. Leberkäse (Bavarian meatloaf) or Leberkäsesemmel (the meat between the sides of a Kaiser Roll) must be eaten once a week, normally on Fridays. Surprisingly, the Bavarians in Munich don’t really have a pork sausage to call their own, but they make up for it with number three.

    Do not attempt to eat these sausages with metal utensils if you entertain any hopes of becoming a Bavarian!

    Do not attempt to eat these sausages with metal utensils if you entertain any hopes of becoming a Bavarian!

  3. Learn how to eat ‘Weisswurst’ with your hands. These plump jewels are made from veal and a few other herbs and spices and are very mild in flavor. Do it right and eat it with Händlmaier’s sweet mustard which comes from Regensburg. They come to the table in a porcelain bowl of steaming water. Never boil them! Real Bavarian men suck the meat out of one end. The skin is inedible, which makes for great comedy if you have the opportunity to watch naive Americans (read the guidebook before you get here!) try and chew the skin. These sausages are normally eaten before the 12 o’clock bells, with a Breze (pretzel) and a wheat beer. That’s it. What else do you need?

Clothes and Costume

  1. Buy some Lederhosen, and wear them whenever you can. The more worn they are the better they’ll feel  and look. Don’t wear underwear. You need nice calves for the correct effect, but don’t let this stop you. Most people think that the only time people here wear Lederhosen (and for women, Dirndl) is during Oktoberfest. Wrong. There’s the Starkbierfest (Strong Beer Festival) in late winter/early spring, assorted holidays like Ascension Day (which coincidentally is Father’s Day in the Vaterland), May 1st, when the Maypoles are raised, any Volksfest or Dorffest (Citizen’s or Town’s Day) usually during the summer months, weddings, funerals, etc…

    I understand COMPLETELY why she appears bored, but as for him? WTF? Photo: Wikipedia

    I understand COMPLETELY why she appears bored, but as for him? WTH? Photo: Wikipedia

  2. This one really hurts because I grew up in Florida, but wear socks with your sandals. Yes, Birkenstocks and socks are the trend, and it’s been that way since the time of Friedrich the Great. Just do it so you don’t look like a tourist from America or even worse, Australia. You can wear this combo the three weeks it’s actually hot in August, just don’t wear them when you should be wearing…
  3. …proper hiking shoes. Take a lot of time in the store, try the shoes on and walk around all afternoon. You’d be surprised how bad a heavy boot can feel after an hour. Spend the money. You want a boot that feels comfortable enough to be buried in, and after your first real hiking tour with a Bavarian that’s exactly what you’ll be wishing for.

Around Town

  1. Buy a bike, and then buy another. The first bike you should buy is known as a Stadtradl (city bike). This is going to be the fastest, most reliable mode of transportation around most German cities. Looks are secondary. Get a bike with a basket on the back. Not for carrying anything, mind you, but every bike in the city has one and you want to look the part. Spend more money for the lock than the bike. The second bike should be your Ferrari. Buy an even more expensive lock, though you’ll rarely leave her (yes, her) out of your sight. If you think you’ll be riding the trails, get a mountain bike — and take a Bavarian with you; they are experts. If you think you’ll be riding the paved paths and roads around Bavaria, I’d suggest a ‘cross-bike’. It’s fast enough for the roads and you can still ride offroad. Choosing the correct bikes might be the most important thing you ever do in Bavaria/Germany.

    Munich is continuing to make the inner city more bike friendly, much to the chagrin of Mr. Mercedes and Ms. BMW!

    Munich is continuing to make the inner city more bike friendly, much to the chagrin of Mr. Mercedes and Ms. BMW!

  2. Get a comfortable, stylish backpack with an endless number of pockets. There are so many free newspapers, culture programs, empty beer bottles and Red Bull cans (they’re worth money) that you’ll need something to carry them all. And take along a few plastic bags so the last bit of swill from the said bottles and cans doesn’t leak in your backpack. Get a backpack that clips firmly to your torso.
  3. Take a few minutes to plan your route before you set off. Remember, in Munich sometimes the longer way is the better way. Take an extra ten minutes and walk through the known FKK areas (nudist areas) during those hot three weeks in August. Show off your sandals and socks, and of course your hot rod. Bike. I was thinking bike.
  4. Get a dog and TAKE IT FRIGGIN EVERYWHERE! Nothing says Bavarian or Munich like a dog or two. Bavarians don’t have children they have dogs. It must be a pure breed, no mutts allowed. It’s OK for the people to be mixed, but not the animals…

    Girls in Munich dig dogs and Lederhosen, therefore they must really dig dogs IN Lederhosen.

    Girls in Munich dig dogs and Lederhosen, therefore they must really dig dogs IN Lederhosen.

A Few Words in German I Stay Away from, and So Should You

Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan. Photo: Wikipedia

Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan. Photo: Wikipedia

It’s difficult to believe that spoken German is so difficult Just when you get close to understanding the grammar, have fewer holes in your vocabulary and you can begin to enunciate, you realize you can’t pronounce it! German sounds abrupt, and intense, with a sort of staccato sound of emphasis on the hard consonants like ‘k’ or ‘t’ or ‘z’.

Some sounds I can’t ever pronounce correctly, so I stay away from troubling words that contain them. And for very good reason. Two examples immediately come to mind.

The first pair is schwül and schwul. What could be so tricky about the two dots? The German ‘sch’ sounds like ‘sh’ in the word shoot, the German ‘w’ like an English ‘v’. So far so good. The two dots mean that there is an ‘e’ behind the ‘u’, so the first is actually ‘schwuel’. Most Americans (I think, I hope!) wouldn’t make much of difference between the two when saying them. It would be like trying to differentiate the vowel sounds of school and crude. Not much difference, if any at all. The first word means sultry or muggy or sticky. The second is gay, or more like gay and queer. Your situation has become very sticky but not gay for sure.

The second pair of words is Moshee and Muschi. Both words are nouns so they are capitalized. As we’ve already learned, the ‘sch’ is the same sound as an ‘sh’, perhaps a bit harder. A double ‘ee’ is about the same as the ‘i’. In fact the ‘i’ in German is pronounced ‘e’ as in be. The ‘o’ sounds like the ‘o’ in pot, the ‘u’ like ‘u’ in put. Sure there’s a difference but it isn’t very BIG. But in German it is, like, MONUMENTAL!  A Moshee is a mosque and a Muschi is a pussycat without the cat.

The one on the right has it, the one on the left doesn't. Photo: Wikipedia

The one on the right has it, the one on the left doesn’t. Photo: Wikipedia

Now, I realize that these words don’t come up that often in a normal conversation. But for me, if I can even begin to sniff that any of these words might be on the horizon, I excuse myself and go to he little boys room, where I feel more comfortable, that is, until the cleaning woman asks me to lift my foot as I’m standing at a urinal. That’s Germany!

The Saxons Are Coming, Run for the Alps!

The Saxons are coming! Miners from the coal mines. Photo: Wikipedia

The Saxons are coming! Miners from the coal mines. Photo: Wikipedia

My German sucks. It’s not as bad as my Russian, but it’s pretty bad. You’d think that after spending the better part of a dozen years in Munich, I’d have picked up a few more phrases beyond ordering beer and food in a restaurant. Priorities. My biggest problem (excuse) in learning German is that I’ve always been paid for my English language skills. Nobody has given me any compensation for my German skills. (And if you’ve ever heard my German skills you’d say the money should have gone to them, not me.)

It’s so bad that often when I go to a bakery, the nice assistants tells me how much I owe her in English (and they always mix up numbers like 34 and 43). WTF? And then they normally ask if I’m from England. And then Scotland. They are normally shocked (and I’m pleased, believe me) when they find out I’m from the USA. Well, I’m from California but grew up in Florida, so neither is considered mainstream America. Because of this, I tell them ‘I’m almost from America,’ which confuses them and pleases me even more.

I want to improve my German: please speak to me in German. We live in Germany, for Pete’s sake. I sincerely believe that many Germans, who ALWAYS say they speak ‘a little’ English (and can understand BBC or CNN as well as I can), are simply looking for a free English lesson, which they will then use on one of their infinite number of holidays to some foreign land where English is understood more than German.

These costumes are from an indigenous Slavic minority near Dresden, the Sorbs. Never heard of them? Neither have most Germans and as for the Bavarians, they'd like to keep it that way. Photo: Wikipedia

These costumes are from an indigenous Slavic minority near Dresden, the Sorbs. Never heard of them? Neither have most Germans and as for the Bavarians, they’d like to keep it that way. Photo: Wikipedia

The statement about living in Germany isn’t exactly true. I live in Bavaria. Bavaria is a separate country-just ask any real Bavarian. And though my German sucks and my wife’s is very good, I can understand the Bavarian dialect much better than her. She’s got me by a mile when it comes to Hochdeutsch, but I’ve got her beat here in Bavaria, or even Baden-Wurttemberg. I will admit, however, that I have no fucking clue what the people are saying when we are in South Tyrol, but I hear that goes for everyone not Tyrolean.

Now, most of those shop assistants in the bakeries and butchers are real hard to understand. Like, impossible. You see, they speak a very special dialect of German, that sounds real funny to us who have lived in Bavaria so long. The biggest difference is how the Saxons say the ‘ch’ in words like ich (I) or dich (you). The Saxons butcher the ‘ch’ worse than the Berliners. They’ve managed to make the pronounced ‘ch’ less sensical than Berliner Weissbier, a beer with fruit syrup in it, yes, FRUIT SYRUP!

So, what should be one of the loveliest sentences in German, ich liebe dich (I love you), sounds like ‘ish liebe dish’ straight from a date night with Nag and Nagaina, the two cobras from Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

I have adopted Bavaria (not Germany) as my new home. Or to be even more specific, Munich, that world city with heart. And in doing so, I’ve also learned that for Bavarians, the Saxons are the butt of more jokes than any other German speakers, except the Austrians. And I think I know why.

Saxony, like Bavaria, is a Freistaat, a free state, which means absolutely nothing except it makes the natives of those two states prouder and more likely to say that they can secede from the Republic of Germany anytime they so desire. Pure rubbish, surely, but I simply nod and take another swig of beer whenever I hear it from a Bavarian. (It’s more often than one might think.)

This picture sums up succinctly how the Bavarians feel about the Saxons from Dresden. Photo: Wikipedia

This picture sums up succinctly how the Bavarians feel about the Saxons from Dresden. Photo: Wikipedia

So why do Bavarians have such a prickly feeling when it comes to the Saxons? Some of it probably has to do with the Saxons’ communist roots. A bit more, possibly, has to do with the Saxons desire to boil pig knuckles rather than roasting them in the oven. Also, as I’ve said, the Saxon dialect is strange. But the biggest reason (I think, no, I hope) has to be the fact that after the Fall of the Wall, so many Saxons moved to Bavaria and stole their women. And jobs.

One of the nicer areas of Dresden. Nothing can compare to it here in Munich. Photo: Wikipedia

One of the nicer areas of Dresden. Nothing can compare to it here in Munich. Photo: Wikipedia

The Saxons keep coming. The economy around Dresden, the capital of Saxony, continues to idle while the one around Munich hums. There are many jobs to be found in Munich, so the Saxons come to take them. They may not be the highest-paid jobs but they are secure jobs, with future potential to move up the food-chain. And while the Saxons are moving up? They get a chance for a free English lesson if I patronize a bakery, butcher’s or boutique they just happen to be working at the right moment.

Twas the Global Warmed Weekend Before Christmas

Christmas the way it used to be in Munich. Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

Christmas the way it used to be in Munich. Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

Twas the last weekend before Christmas

And all through the town

It felt almost tropical

There was no ice around.

 

Not a snowflake had fallen

Only rain fell in sheets

Like any spring evening

There were puddles on the streets.

 

No mulled wine stand was crowded

Everyone preferred a cold beer

Short sleeves were in fashion

Although Christmas was near.

 

Wool hats and wool stockings

Hung unsold and forlorn

Wasted coats from New Zealand’s finest

That had not needed to be shorn.

 

Green leaves still stuck to branches

The ice rink was a pool

There was no frost or snow

The weather was balmy, not at all cool.

 

Rather than roasting a fowl

We’re thinking of eating lighter fare

Something much more summer-like

Like a steak cooked medium rare

 

But winter is surely coming

Yes it’ll come soon we know

Sometime around Easter

We’ll have our first and last snow.

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Is this even possible anymore around Christmas? Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

Is this even possible anymore around Christmas? Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

Christmas Charity and Sunday Sidewalk Steals, Munich Style

The TV stand. Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

The TV stand. Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

I was feeling much in the Christmas spirit, so I decided to donate my old TV and the piece of furniture it stood on for the last decade to some local, less-fortunate inhabitants of this fair burg. Also, my wife had been pestering me for a few months that she wanted it out of our apartment and that putting it in the cellar was NOT an option. The two things collided.

So I did what any samaritan would do. I walked a circumventive route and placed the TV in a tunnel that runs under a major road near our apartment, making sure the whole time that nobody saw me do it. It was wrapped up in a blue IKEA bag, with a remote control, and a cable. Merry Christmas.

We live in a nice neighborhood in Munich, an equally desirable location for expats and natives alike. The area is very middle-class. Before we moved here a few months ago we lived in an area that is celebrated for its ‘cultural diversity’, code words for a large immigrant population, a methadone clinic, and blocks of social housing. We loved that neighborhood, too, however, just not for the same reasons that we love this neighborhood.

Free shoes. Does anybody actually wear shoes formed by somebody else's feet who is not blood related? Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

Free shoes. Does anybody actually wear shoes formed by somebody else’s feet who is not blood related? Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

One of the things we loved about the old neighborhood was there were plenty of children (immigrant children, of course, since Germans have general apathy to too many progeny), which meant there were always plenty of goodies at the bi-annual community flea markets. We were always trying to pick up cheap toys, used books, kitchen utensils, etc.

One of the more interesting things we’ve learned about life here in Munich compared to our former lives in America is that if you wait for the after-the-flea-market sale, you sometimes can get some good things dirt cheap. Like free. That’s right, here in Munich, one of the richest cities in the world, people leave their old used worn-out stuff on the streets for others to take. And take it they do.

The TV stand. I wanted to take a picture of the TV on the TV stand, but in the eight minutes I was away to fetch the stand, the TV was taken. If you look closely, you might be able to see exactly where on the stand the TV had spent much of its existence. Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

The TV stand. I wanted to take a picture of the TV on the TV stand, but in the eight minutes I was away to fetch the stand, the TV was taken. If you look closely, you might be able to see exactly where on the stand the TV had spent much of its existence. Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

Now, I’m not sure if the taking of things is because people are struggling more than we think just to pay the bills, or it’s the more likely possibility of Germans’ legendary frugality manifesting itself in this behavior. Or perhaps it’s as simple as good old-fashioned laziness. Whatever the reason, most people I’ve spoken to think it’s a great thing.

One thing is for sure, it is the best, most direct way to recycle, though it does little for the bottom line of the economy. This throws conservative Americans into a tizzy, since consumerism is the pathway to Heaven. The Germans use less but buy better quality. I digress.

The first and last Sunday mornings of any month are the best time to go sidewalk bargain hunting. These are the days that normally follow Saturday moving day, most new renting agreements naturally begin on the first of the month. Another difference is, unlike in America where tossed furniture, kitchen appliances and old bicycles normally are found at the end of a long dark road to nowhere, here in Munich they are left just off the main traffic areas. They can be procured on side streets too, it’s really just a game of luck. There is no real organization which is about as exciting as it gets for Germans.

Here in Munich you have to take your old things to the Wertstoffhof  (recycling center), where you may or may not be asked to show a valid residency permit with your current address, to make sure that one, you are allowed to dispose of your stuff in Munich and two, to determine if you’ve brought them to the correct center for your ZIP code. If you have all of these things then you are directed to the correct container (there are about 30 different containers-no shitting), by a gruff Bavarian man (always a Bavarian) who reeks of Leberkäse and cigarettes.

New shelf. This shelf fits perfectly in our little nook. Our daughter believes it's a place to keep her cars and trains, and so there you go. Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

New shelf. This shelf fits perfectly in our little nook. Our daughter believes it’s a place to keep her cars and trains, and so there you go. Photo: Laptops and Lederhosen

I have also been the recipient of the deep discounting deals on the pavements as well. Recently, my wife and I were walking with our daughter and came across a basic shelf which fit perfectly in a little nook we have in our apartment. A thorough cleaning, a coat of lacquer and a few well-placed tacks in the back and, poof, we now are the proud doting parents of a ‘brand new’ shelf.

But like anything in life that’s good, there are limits. Last week the city finally came and removed a completely banged up fridge from the sidewalk around the corner. The police had placed a note on it, asking the owners to please remove it. It sat on the sidewalk, untouched, for about three weeks. Rumor has it that the old owners are back in Romania or Bulgaria already, so the city had to take it away.