Sunday, May 27, 2007

I come here to get away from you.
...or what Jeff Tweedy said at the Wilco concert.

Jeff Tweedy, the singer of Wilco.

Walking into the Alter Schlachthof this evening, I felt that I had been instantly transplanted back to the United States. There were so many Americans around me, speaking real live American English in accents I haven't heard in a long, long time that it made me somewhat uncomfortable. Just this morning over breakfast I had commented that I haven't met any new English teachers lately, and was wondering what was up. Well, apparently they had all been holed up just waiting for the Wilco concert to come out of their undisclosed locations.

The concert was good, and I mean really, really good. Wilco is a band that I have quite liked for a while, after someone gave me a tape of theirs. I've always thought of them as a nice, relaxed rock band, with a kind of country rock sound that can't really be categorized, but it's somehow correct that they are from Chicago with this sound. And lately they've been working with Jim O'Rourke, who is one of my favorite musicians. He's in Sonic Youth now, he's also from Chicago, and despite his own fantastic sound that can't be copied, he's very humble about how good it is. I met him once at a bookstore and he seemed very surprised when I told him how much I liked his new CD. Anyway, Jim wasn't there tonight, but if you took the Wilco CDs and intensified their sound and energy by a factor of 10, then you might come close to what this concert was like. It really blew me away.

The crowd was also very enthusiastic, and gave Wilco a wild welcome to Dresden. Jeff Tweedy stated that they enjoyed their day in Dresden, and someone yelled "What did you see?" Well, the cover of the Americans was blown by this guy. He replied "You're an American, aren't you?" and the crowd exploded. People got really excited and started yelling out their home states and cities, and this is when Mr. Tweedy stated "I come here to get away from you! And I mean that in a really true way." Later on in the concert, he asked "What are all of you Americans doing here, anyway? Setting up hedge funds?" And some guy screamed out "Teaching English!!!" with more enthusiasm than I knew anyone could have for their career. Mr. Tweedy replied "I pity the fools." Thanks guy in the audience for making us English teachers look like a rowdy bunch who can't be respected! Then he dedicated a song to the Germans in the audience, and only the Germans.

This surprise at being confronted with sheer, untethered Americanism so far from America is something I face on a regular basis. Sometimes it's refreshing and I feel like I'm a little bit closer to home, but most of the time it's unsettling, because all of these loud, rowdy people are exactly the types I have always wanted to escape from my whole life.

Regardless of the loud Americans, I hope Wilco stops in Dresden again sometime. It was a great concert and I would definitely go again!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Frog Tunnels and Forest Bridges

You've got to love a country that has an amphibian protection system in place. When I first heard of this years ago, I checked the calendar to make sure it wasn't April Fools' Day. Don't get me wrong, I adore frogs, but the government actually spends money building walls and tunnels so that frogs don't hop onto the street and get smashed by cars? This is truly fantastic. Here's how it looks:

The froggy fence.

Careful! Frog migration!

It's a pretty good idea when you really think about it, because during frog migration so many frogs cross the street that if cars ran a good portion of them over, the street would get pretty slick with the little froggy corpses. So this is both for amphibian protection and our safety.

The forest bridge is another interesting German thing, but in my research of this topic, I found out that these not only exist in Germany, but also in England and Canada. This is a bridge, in Germany going over the Autobahn at various locations, that animals can use to get to the other side of the road without getting hit by cars. So that they use the bridge, high fences are in place along the highway giving them only one option of crossing the street: either use the bridge, or stay on your side of the street. And apparently animals really do use these. It might take a generation or two until the old animals who knew life before the bridge die out, leaving young animals who remember no other way of crossing the street except using the bridge. It's also animal friendly, planted with grass, so that no one can confuse it with a street. See below.

A forest bridge. This one's in England.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New Bunnies

Introducing Rocket...

and Rosie!

Since a house is not a home without a pair of bunnies, I had to get myself 2 new ones. Rosie has been with us for a while now, and following Waboose's death, I found it sad to have her live on her own. After much consideration, I chose Rocket as her new friend and living companion. At the begininning, the two ladies didn't seem to like each other, but shortly they began cuddling and enjoying each others' company.