oddly enough


Sorry for the recent lack of updates… my very own “Sommerloch” – “summer-hole” -, meaning lack of real news in July and early August.

I thought this year there was not going to be a big one in Germany, given the economic situation and the government’s reform agenda. Well, I might have been wrong.

Usually, the fact that nothing is really happening during the summer in conjunction with the fact that many journalists prefer to hang out in beer gardens, too, but nonetheless have to fill papers and airtime means that some bullshit story becomes blown up to an unbearable extent by free riders looking for some publicity.

Goodies from the past include a runaway Crocodile named “Sammy” terrorising a lake, and some Bavarian politician jokingly floating the idea of Germany buying the Spanish Island of Mallorca, as it is half German during the summer anyway. Of course, that would have probably lead to another war with HM the Queen, whose subjects tend to occupy the Island’s other half. So after filling “Bild” templates for a couple of days, the joke was silently buried. Usually, a single story won’t carry the day for the entire two months – as attention spans are invertedly proportional to the amount of time spent in beer gardens. But sometimes, those responsible for filling airtime and pages are just lucky…

Like right now, when the Italian Prime Minister’s Nazi slur is offering plenty of opportunity for all interested, mostly unknown, parties, to get some longed for publicity. Take the case of the previously invisible Italian Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for tourism (of all things!), Stefano Stefani (Lega Nord), who evidently thought that he had use the opportunity to utter something “nazi-esque” quickly, as long the fire was still burning.

So last Friday, he complained in a letter to Lega Nord’s party paper “La Padania” about uniform, “super/hypernationalistic blonds who loudly invade Italy’s beaches” [reader Hans Ze Beeman mentioned this in his comment to the previous post.] He also said Germany itself was “drunk with inflated self-importance.”

Inflated self-importance – he probably knows what he is talking about. The Austrian paper “Der Standard” has translated his article into German, should you care. I haven’t found an English version on the net yet, and I don’t think translating his remarks is worth my own precious beer garden time…

Translated or not, supernationalistic or hypernationalistic (the papers aren’t quite certain as far as the translation goes, and super [supra?] nationalistic rings a different bell in my head), the blonds and Schulzes, the Godfathers and publicity free riders on either side of the Alps are liekly going to stay with us for the forseeable future.

It’s just too good a show.

When the Chancellor’s Official Spokesman, Bela Anda, hinted that Gerhard Schroeder might consider cancelling his already planned private trip to Italy if he were not welcome, “Bild”, Germany’s most important tabloid, took the opportunity to try to prove its clout by keeping Gerhard in Germany, which, in return, has led Mr. Stefano to invite him to his own house at lake Garda to show his remarks did exempt at least certain Germans of his criticism – the Chancellor, for example – or his wife, who accidentally hails from Frankfurt… but then again, who knows. They are separated, according to Der Standard.

At a press conference yesterday, he boldly refused to regret his remarks, even in light of mounting criticism by scared tourism managers. But he did manage to say at least something helpful, albeit rather self defeating – in his very own opinion, Germans are intelligent enough to not to listen to an Italian Parliamentary Undersecretary’s rants when it comes to making decisions about their holidays.

Well, of course, normally no one would listen to him. That’s exactly why he wrote this article right now, when there was still a chance of someone picking up the story. So the consequences are not entirely clear, although very likely neglectable. They probably to some extent depend on the time German journalists want to spend in the sun.

However, Gerhard Schroeder for one seems to be “doing the Hanibal” this summer, given that the Junior Minister’s superior, and the Italian forign minister, have both officially regretted his subordinate’s remarks (see The Scotsman).

So there’s still a change there will be pictures of Schroeder invading an Italian beach with died blond hair, wearing camouflage Bermuda shorts and a European/German flagged t-shirt, firing from a pump-water-gun…