Wednesday, October 09, 2002

For those who didn't receive reports along the way, here's my general
epistle on the Oktoberfest in lovely Deutschland.


Mein freund Matt und Ich arrived in Frankfurt
and we then went to Heidelberg. He knows
a couple there, Sonja und Thomas. Sonja was an exchange
student in San Diego, where Matt claims to be from.
They are a very nice couple, and generous.
We talked some about the US position on Iraq,
something which concerns me. Don't know what will happen.
There's a very large US army presence in Heidelberg, so
they are very concerned as well.


Now, wouldn't you know it, I was in Germany while Oktoberfest was going on.
So of course I went.
Matt and I took a train to Muenchen to see this world famous fiasco.
And it was wild in a scary-clown way.
Like some nightmarish Las Vegas Circus Circus hotel writ
large.



Imagine a huge fair ground, with millions of people there from all over
the globe. They've come here to wander the space of a few city blocks
filled with tents where there's food, beer halls, and carnival type games
and rides. Several people are walking around in traditional German dress--
the women look like Heidi and the men look like a yodelers, wearing shorts
even though it's freezing. The beer is some of the best. And it even
tastes good. In the beer halls, there are thousands of people jammed in,
listening to German bands in traditional garb; 'oompah' bands, they are.
The bands play pop musik (actually the same four songs) and every ten
minutes, they sing the traditional German toasting song, which sounds
something like 'I'm toasting...' chanted over and over, but it certainly
isn't. I heard a lot of "Take Me Home Country Roads" by John Denver, some
oldie that goes "...hey baby, I wanna know-oooooooh, would you be my girl?"
And some song about "Alice." Who the Hopfbrau is Alice?



I think I said 'Prost!' (Deutsch for 'cheers') with one hundred people
during my Friday night at the Fest, with people
from all over the world, especially Irishmen. And a lot of
Italians. Many Italians. So many so that people started thinking I was
Italian
; mostly other Italians. Weird. I should definitely push the
Italian aspect more, they are My People after all.
Met some Irishmen too. We ended the night singing tunes like "Dirty Old
Town" from the Old Country.



Speaking of a truly international incident,
a Scotsman lifted his kilt to a whole beer hall my last day at the
Uber-Festival. I was not more than a yard from him, ugh! The
exposure his wares got him summarily kicked out of the hall within moments,
amid cheers and jeers from the crowd. Nothing gets a beer hall going
more than frontal male nudity. It marked a hedonistic low point during
that Oktober pageant of absurdity. I hear from German friends that
Scotsman exposure is not uncommon at Oktoberfest.
Strike one, Scotland. How I weep for my My People!


Fortunately, my last day at the festival, I had had nothing
to drink and was very sound in mind, for another international incident
erupted in the Augustiner Biergarten. Some
liquored-up tough guy started punching a little girl's balloon (yes,
children are everywhere as there are no restrictions). The girl's father
told him to stop and then the father started getting pounded by Die
Tough Guy. Some Italians and Matt had to hold the tough guy
back. He continued punching people. One of the Italians got to bleeding,
but he is okay. I am unscathed. I went to get the (seemingly
nonexistent) security, trying to explain that we had a clear and
present toughguy situation. I had to use international words and symbols,
yelling "agh!" and punching myself. I'm sure they thought I was just
another American fool, making games with armed officers.
The Polizei finally came and hauled Herr
ToughGuy to jail. I'm sure the little girl
will be scarred for a while.



After Oktoberfest, I took stock of the previous few days events. I just
had to look down. I had
Oktoberfest all over my shoes-- soaked in were all sorts of sweat, blood,
vomit, alcohol, food and slime, little bits of broken glass,
the kind of stuff you find on the sticky floor of fraternity. It was
disgusting. Took me a good 15 minutes to clean it all off.
What's the color of Oktoberfest? you ask. The color of
bile.



I don't think I'll ever go back. True beer fest aficionados tell me that
Oktoberfest is good to avoid. It's just a bunch of trouble-making
tourists
who
don't know better. The real beer festivals are much better I hear, especially
with a large group of friends who can chat and laugh into the night.



And that's all the news fit to blog.

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