Monday, 30 January 2023

7x7 (10. 510)

loft apartment: a unique flat inside St Louis’ City Museum up for rent—via Miss Cellania  

relaxed minimalism: a happy medium combining clarity and comfort  

namensverbreitungskarte: an interactive maps illustrating the distribution of surnames in Germany  

nocebo: even when the patient is aware of taking an inert pill, a substance designed with no therapeutic value can lessen feelings of guilt and loathing—via the new shelton wet/dry  

synodic and sidereal: the question of lunar standard time is a challenge—particularly with multiple missions operating at once—via jwz 

kurashi: tidying guru Marie Kondo have accepted messiness after the arrival of her third child  

arragon mooar: the purportedly the most complicated home ever built—by inventor John C Taylor—on the market—via Things Magazine

Saturday, 28 January 2023

gang nach kanossa (10. 505)

Absolved and seeing his excommunication overturned, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV completed his ritual submission with his long journey from Speyer on the Road to Canossa on this day in 1077, humbling himself before Pope Gregory VII at a villa in Tuscany where the papal entourage was staying as guests. <Supplicating on his hands and knees while a blizzard raged for three days and nights before the Pope relented, Henry arrived with precious little time to spare as the Pope had deposed him during a Lenten synod in 1076 and vouchsafed that one year from that day, his loss of kingships would become irrevocable. Henry’s excommunication and forced abdication stemmed from the ongoing Investiture Controversy, a dispute over the precedence in civil and ecclesiastical authorities in appointing bishops and local clergy, whose loyalties could potentially either church or state, exacerbated after the suppression of the Saxon Uprising and the unilateral elevation of the bishopric of Milan with obedience to secular power—Henry being the Italian monarchy as well. In modern parlance, “going to Canossa” has become an idiom for mission of contrition—usually of the coerced kind, and though a colourful moment, it did not achieve political goals for either party, a rebellion stoked by the archbishops of Salzburg, Mainz and Magdeburg over loss of confidence in his leadership sparked a civil war within the Empire despite the Pope vows for support led to Gregory excommunicating Henry a second time, who having won the conflict, invaded Rome and replaced the fleeing Gregory with Antipope Clement III.

zรผndwarenmonopolgesetz (10. 504)

Having finally conceded to Swedish industrialist and con-artist Ivar Kreuger’s overtures (see link below for more on the Match King) for a financial lifeline to the struggling Weimar Republic (obligated to pay reparations for World War I with most other legitimate means of borrowing or issuing bonds severely limited), the Reichtag on this day in 1930 passed the Flammables Monopoly Law (see previously), awarding exclusive manufacturing rights to Kreuger and his subsidiaries. Quotas at fixed prices were extended to factories that bought into the scheme and were sold to the public at a set price, generating revenue to repay the bond instalments with interest, an arrangement which otherwise would have continued in perpetuity but debts were settled finally in 1983 by West Germany, the East having no truck with this deal.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

annex and honours (10. 494)

Occupied by elements of the US Army’s Eighth Infantry Regiment under the leadership of General Henry Tureman Allen, who recognising its historic and aesthetic value successfully argued its preservation over planned destruction of the strategic fortress, the American flag was lowered at noon at Ehrenbreitstein above Koblenz, the headquarters of American forces during the Occupation of the Rhineland, on this day in 1923 as the last remaining troops departed by train to the port of Antwerp. The band of the one-hundred fifty sixth French Infantry played them out with the “Star-Spangled Banner” and themselves in with “La Marseillaise,” the French taking on the role through 1930. With a flourish of being unstuck in time, the image is of the same flag from this first occupation being raised again in the courtyard of the fortress in 1945 when Allied troops once again were stationed in the demilitarised zone.

Friday, 20 January 2023

entente, dรฉtente (10. 482)

NATO leaders and affiliates met on the US Air Base in Ramstein with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss continued commitment to arming the beleaguered nation against Russian incursion and again press donor countries on the issue of the delivery of tanks and other heavy armaments. The US and Germany (newly minted Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on his second day on the job) unwilling to pledge either their Abrams tanks or their Leopard 2 Panzer (many European militaries are equipped with this German-made assault vehicle but cannot export them without German consent) and waiting for the other party to make the first move. This coyness is continued in the argument that stocks of the Soviet era weapons that Ukrainian forces are accustomed to are running low and that Western models are notoriously fussy, high maintenance and require specialised training to operate, but conceals the more salient factor of firing range that puts Russian territory within reach and could swiftly escalate the conflict already characterised as a proxy war between NATO and Russia on one side and dread hesitation on the other.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

7x7 (10. 476)

inflection point: one young person’s crusade to salvage writing, journalism before ChatGPT changes it forever 

beasts of burden: the giant donkeys of Ancient Rome—see also  

birth-rate: China registers its first population decline in six decades 

ren faire: author Eleanor Janega’s Once and Future Sex  

level 100 schlamm zauberer: police attempt to clear remaining protester demonstrating against the demolition of the hamlet Lรผtzerath for surface mining of coal—see previously  

☠️: a safety warning from the Electric Company (1973)  

midway in the midjourney of our lives: what AI does well and why AI is not intelligent

Monday, 16 January 2023

the night of january sixteenth (10. 423)

In a rather satisfying coincidence, this day in 1983 marks the the expiration of the monopoly for the manufacture of safety matches (Zรผndwarenmonopol) in West Germany when the rights were acquired by Swedish swindler, Ponzi scheme architect and racketeer Ivar Kreuger—the Match King who’d fit in perfectly with contemporary grifters and fraudsters—in 1930 with a loan of five hundred million Reichsmark to the Weimar Republic, whose bonds extended through World War II and finally lapsed—and the titular stage play by Ayn Rand (previously), inspired by the death of Kreuger († 12 March 1932—usually performed as Woman on Trial. The lover of industrialist Bjorn Faulkner (Kreuger’s analogue, whom Rand became obsessed with though was quite a questionable pillar to uphold) is accused of his murder and the author’s intent to dramatise the conflict between conformity and individualism leaves the verdict unresolved and invites the audience to decide. The courtroom setting is artistic license as most likely Kreuger committed suicide facing the prospect of bankruptcy once accounting manipulations were revealed, paying investors dividends from their own money. One year after its premier in Los Angeles, the production team took it to Broadway in 1935 and saw a revival in 1973 under the title “Penthouse Legend.” Meanwhile it was adapted into a film in 1941—which was not a commercial or critical success—and a 1989 Bollywood version called Gawaahi (Testimony), which might be worth seeing.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

but my friends, they’re waiting in the lobby (10. 375)

Though no one can say quite sure why Dinner for One (previously), an eighteen minute British sketch from Lauri Wylie and starring comedians May Warden and Freddie Fronton recorded in 1962, has been made a Jahreswechsel broadcast and standard New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day television—perhaps owing to one of penultimate lines delivered by manservant James (posing as one of the no-show guests Mister Pommeroy) wishes Miss Sophie a Happy New Year, since New Year’s Eve 1972, it has been continuously aired, first by the Norddeutscher Rundfunk based in Hamburg, since attaining cult status with even Netflix producing a short remake of this obscure tradition with characters from their most popular series and a German film consortium planning a prequel mini-series—possibly a murder-mystery —for the end of 2023.

Friday, 30 December 2022

mcmlxxxix (10. 370)

By dint of the limited permutations of the Gregorian, civil calendar, we discover that we can helpfully recycle (see previously) our calendars from 2017 or 1989 for the upcoming 2023. Not to be dismissive of the events bookended six years ago, the political turning points of the latter with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Perestroika, the Velvet Revolution, the uprisings in Romania and China, as well as the gradual dismantling of the apartheid government in South Africa, the return of democratic norms to Brazil and Poland and the first internet service providers seem to bode as auspicious points of correspondence. Having lived through it, may we may live in exciting times. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

schnappschรผsse vom krieg (10. 346)

Born this day in 1922 and still taking pictures, Michelantonio “Tony” Celestino Onofrio Vaccaro immigrated back to the US to avoid being conscripted in Italy and despite already having an impressive photographic portfolio just out of high school his first draft assignment as a photo-documentarian with the Army Signal Corps didn’t pan out and was instead assigned as a scout, fighting in Normandy, Luxembourg and Germany—though still affording opportunities to shoot images, evocative impressions of the front captured in 1944 and 1945. After being discharged, Vaccaro remained in Germany, contributing to the Army newspaper Stars & Stripes and recording life post-war in Frankfurt. Returning to America in the early 1950s, Vaccaro took assignments with Look, Life and Flair magazines as a society photographer, marrying a model for fashion house Marimekko, and after a decades’-long stint teaching at Cooper Union published a selection of his extensive wartime archive, under the imprint Entering Germany: Photographs 1944 – 1949. Click here for a gallery of Vaccaro’s diverse subjects.

Friday, 9 December 2022

wort des jahres (10. 374)

The Gesellschaft fรผr deutsche Sprache in Wiesbaden (previously) has announced its Word of the Year for 2022, Zeitenwende—the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, for among other things real and feared declines in German leadership and influence economically, in industry, armaments and FuรŸball and for the return to war in Europe, and other terms and neologisms in the running. Rounding out the top ten were: Krieg um Frieden—war for peace, Gaspreisbremse—price controls for utilities, Inflations-schmerz—inflation pains, Klimakleber—for the Last Generation protesters glueing themselves to artwork, Doppel-Wumms—a double-boon for the electro-auto tax credit in the US “Inflation Reduction Act” that skews heavily in favour of American manufacturing at the expense of other markets, neue Normalitรคt, das 9-Euro-Ticket, Glรผhwein-WM—for the fact that the Qatari World Cup wasn’t held in July but rather during Weihnachtszeit, and lastly Waschlappentipps—that is, government-issued suggestions on energy conservation in the shower.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

reichsbรผrger-razzia (10. 369)

Various media outlets (EN/DE) are reporting a nationwide raid—an anti-terrorism operation—of some one hundred and thirty properties across Germany carried out by thousands of police officers has netted twenty five individuals on charges of treason with as many more suspected of colluding to overthrow the government. Two ringleaders identified by prosecutors, in line with privacy rules as Heinrich XIII P R and Rรผdiger v P, are among the arrested and are known champions of the Reichsbรผrger, sovereign citizen movement, a loose coalition of groups that rejects the legitimacy of the Bundesrepublik on the basis of their argument that the constitution in place prior to World War II was never properly nullified and the Basic Law has no authority, now mixed with an unhealthy dose of QAnon ideology. Primarily a tax-avoidance scheme and attended with fantasies in line with those of the Cosplay Caliphate, the organised groups were armed and had a plan, with portfolio and cabinet positions already designated for key members and were apparently already in negotiations with Moscow to establish diplomatic relations.

Monday, 28 November 2022

i am a camera (10. 341)

The title of John van Druten’s theatrical adaptation taken from the first lines Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 Goodbye to Berlin (see previously) that goes on “…with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking” opened on Broadway in the Empire Theatre on this day in 1951. Also made into a film just over a decade before the second stage adaptation (which this play largely informed, though set primarily in Isherwood’s rented room rather than the night club) starring Shelly Winters as Fraulein Sally Bowles,van Druten’s work did not garner universal praise from critics, prompting the famous three word review from New York Times drama desk editor and playwright Walter Kerr: “Me no Leica.” Yes and the Buggles also recorded the song “Into the Lens (I Am a Camera)” in 1980 from the same quote.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

solange der vorrat reich (10. 335)

An Aldi native and a long-time shopper though I tend to patronise other grocery stores within walking distance or at the terminals of my commute, I had never heard of the term ‘Aisle of Shame’ and felt a bit personally affronted until reading on that there was a community of fellow enthusiasts of this ever-refreshed and replenishing smรถrgรฅsbord in the central row of food and non-food items available as long as supplies last. Not savouring the task of grocery shopping, I appreciate this serendipity incubator and the cult status accorded to these bargain bins of seasonal and limited edition merchandise and will go specifically to check them out.

Thursday, 24 November 2022

salient factor (10. 331)

Whereas the American term panhandle or bootheel might be more prevalent in certain contexts, salient is the universal descriptor for the elongated, peninsular protrusion of a national or sub-national jurisdiction into another—in turn taken from the strategic lingo of otherwise a bulge that projects into enemy territory. While falling short of the imposition of exclaves and enclaves, notable European examples include the province of Trieste, Schaffhausen in Germany and Inn, Lugano and Mendriso in Switzerland as well as on a state or department level the Gironde and Lower Franconia with many other places vying to extend their influence.

Monday, 21 November 2022

turnverein (10. 323)

As a socio-political movement meant to promote German culture, liberal politics as well as physical fitness, the gymnastic club movement, the Turners, was founded in the early nineteenth century by Turnvater Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (see also) as a way to also introduce conversation and action for statehood at a time when the constituent states were under occupation by Napoleon and ultimately suppressed and exported with immigration to the United States in the aftermath of the failed European revolutions of 1848. One of the largest associations, the Cincinnati Turnverein, was founded on this day in the same year—a centenary stamp was issued by the US Postal Service, the members of the Bund fighting for the North (Union) during the American Civil War and acted as bodyguards for Abraham Lincoln and through the turn of the century an important and influential civic organisation. Despite being a wholly domestic institution having little to do with German roots or contemporary geopolitics, Turners’ clubs were regarded with suspicion during the World Wars and active groups dwindled from the thousands to just a few dozen which still host events today.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

kit kat klub (10. 320)

Wildly successful, with the award-winning musical reprised for subsequent productions in London (Dame Judi Dench playing the original Sally Bowles in the West End version and Jane Horrocks, “Bubble” from Absolutely Fabulous in the 1993 revival) and New York and a 1972 cinematic adaptation, Cabaret, with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb with book by Joe Masteroff and based on Christopher Isherwood’s semi-autobiographical accounting of the end of the Weimar Republic and the Jazz Age in the early 1930s, Goodbye to Berlin, had its Broadway premiere on this day in 1966 at the Broadhurst Theatre. Chiefly narrated by the club’s Master of Ceremonies, whose numbers depict the privation, chaos and upheaval of the interbellum times and the impending catastrophes to come with the Nazis gaining political power.

Friday, 11 November 2022

menas of egypt (10. 293)

Early third century wonder-worker and Coptic soldier in the Roman army martyred for refusing to recant his Christian faith, Menas (โฒ€โฒƒโฒƒโฒ โฒ˜โฒโฒ›โฒ—Amen), is commemorated on this day, corresponding to 15 Hathor on the Egyptian calendar. Garnering a posthumous reputation for intercession on any number on ailments, Abu Mina, the site where his body was buried (according to legend, the camels bearing his corpse stopped twice in this exact location and refused to move further) after being dismembered by fellow soldiers became a popular pilgrimage—following Constantine I (previously) sending his ill daughter, Flavia Valeria Constantina—later known as Saint Constance, destination with terracotta flasks with the saint’s iconography taken as souvenirs and found from Heidelberg to Cheshire and all points in between. Protector of the falsely accused, peddlers and travelling salespersons, Menas is the patron of the city of Heraklion, Koblenz and many Swiss villages in the north Alps.

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

klangberlins (10. 285)

Via Pasa Bon!, we quite enjoyed this series of videos from Berlin’s Symphony Orchestra synchronising, Foleying and reproducing the soundscape of the city with musical instruments, including an U-Bahn experience, a currywurst ImbiรŸ, a Trabant motor and much more. We especially enjoyed the trip to the zoo.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

hubertustag (10. 268)

Fรชted on this day as the Apostle of the Ardennes and patron protector of hunters, opticians, metalworkers, mathematicians and chicken roasters, the sainted eighth century bishop of Liรจge (see previously here and here) is regarded as the originator of ethical deer stalking and preached compassion for animals as God’s creations—Hubertus himself converted whilst pursuing quarry in the woods and had the vision of a Crucifix floating suspended between the antlers of a stag—and is credited with formulating a set of rules and tactics to follow. Until very recent times, the saint was invoked as a cure for rabies (see also) through the use of a sacramental metal nail worked into the form of a cross called a St Hubert’s Key (Hubertusschlรผssel, Clef de Saint-Hubert), heated in fire and branded at the site of an animal bite, possibly with the effect of cauterising the wound.