— The Thing Germany Gave the World that Doesn’t Suck. Or Maybe it Does?
Germany: The twentieth century asshole. Before Russia went sideways, and any country whose populace had a tan and wasn’t all about Jesus, the Germans were the enemy of all. Through two World Wars, Nazism, communism, and Formula One driver Michael Schumacher, the Germans just haven’t been able to give the world anything of value. Oh, sure, Marx was okay, and the Brothers Grimm can scare a five year-old to sleep, and I like a good white sausage every now and again. But truthfully, when you give the world genocide and badly realised socialism, it’s hard to recover.
Nobody ever says: “Ooooh, sweetie. Let’s go out for German tonight!” I’ve never been to a German film festival. They’re surnames are unpronounceable and waste consonants. The language sounds like a drunk Rottweiler chewing glass. And I’m not aware of German liquor which can make me ten times smarter, a quarter fraction more charming, and a foot taller. In fact, we’d be just fine to wipe the whole lot of them off the planet. But that would be oh-so German of us.
And then there’s Oktoberfest. Festivity. Beer. Pressed meats. Beer. Blonde girls in pigtails in knee highs serving gargantuan glasses of beer. Men in weird shorts and suspenders. And beer. With one random act of annual debauchery the Germans make themselves tolerable. While here at Headshots, we’ve rarely celebrated Oktoberfest outside of the comfort of our own home with a twelve-pack of OV and a Heidi Klum poster, we thought we’d take an opportunity, as the Oktoberfest season comes to an end, to consider what the Germans are up to.
1. What to Wear (Boys) – Lederhosen
Lederhosen are the funny outfits German boys wear as penance for the sins of their fathers. They consist of short shorts made from a burlap sack held tight against the scrotum by suspenders. It is often compared, culturally, to either the Scottish kilt or American cowboy. In other words, it has become a gay icon.
2. What to Wear (Girls) – Dirndl
This hot girl set-up is best known as “what the German girl wears in porn.” It consists of a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron, and while I don’t know what any of those things look like individually, I can tell you that they look great crumpled up next to my bed the morning after Oktoberfest. Traditionally, the Dirndl also may refer to a German woman or girl as well as the dress. Nice work Germany, reduce the fairer sex to the equivalent of their aesthetic. Have you learned nothing from your many, many errors?
3. The Munich Original
Though the name “Oktoberfest” has been appropriated by every half-assed village with a keg and an urge party in early fall, Oktoberfest typically refers to the original, which is a 16-day festival celebrating beer held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. The celebrations features white beer, white breads, white sausages, and pork (really, still?) as part of the party. It’s kicked off by a 12-gun salute (good, firearms and alcohol, another gift from the Krauts), and a tapping of the keg by the mayor. Then the entire population of Germany gets drunk enough to forget. There are also roller coasters, underage drinking, and a ban on tobacco, a sure recipe for happy times. Sounds like Headshots third wedding.
4. Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest
This is recognized as the second largest Oktoberfest celebration in the world, a nine-day celebration that begins the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving and goes until the NHL season opens, because Canadians love three things: being drunk, having a different Thanksgiving than the Americans, and forgetting the Second World War. The fete includes the prerequisite beer and ignoring Nazism and communism, as well as Hip-Hoptoberfest, Rocktoberfest, Dogtoberfest, and Pridetoberfest, because everyone loves the abuse of a suffix. There’s also a beauty pageant, and fittingly, if you’ve ever been to Canada, it’s not something to endure sober. In fact, an icon of the event is Tante Frieda, a short chubby woman wearing a dirndl, which (as I mentioned) translates loosely as a “hot girl set-up”. Jesus, Canada, just give up would ya?
5. The Beer
Germans are militant about their beer and its purity (seriously? What is wrong with these people?) The Reinheitsgebot (pronounced who-won-the-war-kraut) sometimes called the “German Beer Purity Law” or “Bavarian Purity Law” is a regulation of the production of beer. It takes all the fun and creativity out of brewmeisting, and makes it a dictatorship of production. Typically, at Oktoberfest, local organic white beers are most popular, while dark beers are frowned upon and considered inferior.
Leave it to the Germans to take a festival of beer and make it a thinly veiled celebration of the horrors of their past. So, while on the surface, Oktoberfest appears as a wild and free party with hot girls and cold beers, I would reconsider participating. Is this why we won the war? Is this why we dropped the bomb? And the second bomb?
Next October, let’s say we just grab a six of Budweiser and celebrate Columbus Day, a recognition of a wealthy Spaniard who came to America and began the systematic extermination of its indigenous peoples.
Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).
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