Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blog Lag: Explanologies and Edutainment

The month in Europe is over. I'm back in New York City. My sunny penthouse in Berlin is but a gauzy memory, and with my hard New York shell softened by an April's worth of gentle rousing by the tintinnabulation of Teutonic church bells drifting through its windows, I found it particularly jarring to be jolted awake this morning by the perpetual cacophony that emanates from the nearby "Boulevard of Death" here in Queens.

In short, I'm a bit down in the mouth, and it doesn't help my gloomy mental state to know I've been delinquent in making regular and timely updates to this Web log. For this, I apologize not only to my loyal readers (now numbering in the high single digits), but also to the overly-ambitious, perfectionist side of myself that planned to "blog" every day. I know you, dear reader, can forgive me; I just hope my better half can accept my proffered "masturpology."

In my defense (now I'm masturfending), a major obstacle to regular, real-time posting was the very subject of this blog: the rigorous "lifestyle" of an international spinner of prerecorded phonographic (and compact) discs. While there are far more stressful avocations, there's no getting around the fact that this line of work is frequently exhausting. After all, it requires remaining conscious way past my usual bedtime (6:00 PM, directly after devouring the TV dinner and watching my nightly "CHiPs" rerun), traveling far beyond my usual time zone (Eastern Standard), consuming strange foods and generally running myself ragged in the name of making kids on drugs dance. This leaves me feeling exhausted and ashamed, with little energy to write.

As a result, I've fallen behind on current events. But fear not, as I plan to make amends by using the next few posts to catch up on hitherto undocumented travel over the last month. You can look forward to my musings on gigs in Zurich, Rome and Paris, as well as a delicious (and romantic) getaway to Naples, the pizza capital of Florida Italy.

I'd like to offer another apology, as well. Actually, it's more of an explanation (for simplicity's sake, let's just call it an "explanology"). I am cognizant of the fact that I've been writing like an "Ugly American" in this blog, wallowing in my ignorance regarding local customs (e.g., growing a beard and heading to the local supermarket to beat down visiting "DJs") and language (e.g., pretending "pinnwand" means "needle-dick" instead of "bulletin board"). I realize to some of my more worldly readers, this smacks of the worst type of American ethnocentrism (it may also reek of arrogant provincialism, with lingering notes of xenophobic exceptionalism and a touch of BK Flame).

How can I justify the twin sins of reeking and smacking? Surprisingly, I found that ignorance, that crude cousin of naivete, could actually enhance appreciation of a foreign land - especially if I was "appreciating" in the name of cheap laughs "edutainment" on this blog. In Berlin, my 3D glasses of stupidity revealed fascinating details obscured to the experience-blinded eyes of natives and seasoned expatriates. Take, for example, this photo I snapped of a fellow commuter on the local tram:

As a New Yorker, I assumed the suspicious gaze and accompanying obscene gesture with the bottle was this gentleman's way of saying kein danke to my sitting across from him. In reality, he was actually attempting to help me avoid getting a fine for Schwarzfahren, or riding without a fare. You see, in the barrier-less Berlin transit system, commuters must purchase (and validate) a ticket for entry or risk a fine from plainclothes transit officers on patrol. However, in the gentrified neighborhood of Prenzlauerberg (the Berlin equivalent of Park Slope) in which I was residing, there is an obscure local law that grants riders the option of purchasing subsidized bottles of organic rote bete saft in lieu of a ticket. Riders must begin sipping the sanguine juice immediately upon entry into the transit system, since validation in this case takes the form of the Reißzähne, or "fangs," the lack of which is easily spotted by any patrolling officers:

In my ignorance, I unwittingly captured an illustration of an obscure, local transit law, something far more "edutational" than the cheap snapshot of a funny-looking German commuter I thought I was getting. A native Berliner would never have documented such a pedestrian component of their daily commute, just as a native New Yorker probably wouldn't stop to photograph a subway turnstile. In other words, my ignorance paid off, and you, dear reader, are the beneficiary.

There's a lot more to share, but CHiPs is about to start. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. That dude will even take your child fishing.