cockfights, drinking, Germany

In an Unrelaxed Manner

“You must be strong,” he said as we sat in the bar in downtown Köln near old fat-fingered men with mustaches sipping tiny glasses of beer. The rest of the contingency consisted  primarily of rowdy young meatheads shouting partisan anthems for their favorite team.

This woman is everywhere.

My co-worker – he of the ‘strong’ comment – had invited me to attend the 111th Derby match between FC Köln and Borussia Mönchengladbach, one of the great rivalries in the German Bundesliga. Both teams sat at the bottom of the table, though FC Köln had been slightly more successful at getting the ball over the goal line and so hovered in the second to last slot.

The excitement in the bar was palpable and spontaneous demonstrations of team allegiance abounded with deafening, thick, throaty singing that shook the tables and rattled glasses. Sprinkled among the crowd were a couple of tables with fans from the opposing side. Sitting near the hall to the bathroom, we witnessed these poor shlubs as they made their way through the crowd to empty beer-soaked bladders.

And how did the faithful howl. It had to be a humbling experience walking through the throng of jeers. On occasion, a Gladbach fan would make a snide comment and the jeers would escalate to a slap on the back of the head. Tense words would be exchanged and eventually fists would be lowered.

In the days leading up to the match, my co-worker told me about the tense rivalry. While at the bar, I attempted to find out what really happens. Are there hooligans? Cop cars lit on fire? Urine water balloons thrown at opposing fans (a la Guatemala)? Given the hype, I was really expecting some good, old-fashioned excitement.

“The people, they sometimes behave in an unrelaxed manner,” was his only reply.

Continue reading


And now it begins…

I’ve been eying it up since I heard about it. The Haribo Factory (Hans Riegel Bonn) in Bonn has an internationally renowned badminton center on its campus. And yes, for those of you who don’t know, this world renowned producer of gummis and other candies is based in Bonn and if I could convey the delightful odor of this plant through the wonders of the Internet, I surely would.

But back to the point, I’m not sure if Hans Riegel was a big badminton fan, but it is indeed a beautiful space to engage in some serious shuttlecocking. Today I took the first step toward playing there. On my first investigative visit, I noticed a board reserved for people searching for badminton partners.

I thought this might be a fun way to make friends and so today I stopped in and filled out a form and posted it on the wall. I’m not sure if ‘Anfänger’ means ‘beginner,’ but that’s the level I marked on the card.

If you would like to visit or learn more about the Haribo Badminton Center, please click this link. If you come to visit, we will schedule some time to enjoy this fine activity.

cockfights, Holy crap, Uncategorized

News in Review

International Headquarters of the Mayville News

I’m straightening things up and prepping for a big move. Today I’m cleaning off the fridge. On one side I found my collection of favorite quotes from the Mayville News (nee Dodge County Pionier), my hometown newspaper.

Each week, editors at the paper scour old newpapers dating back to the 1800’s looking for interesting tidbits to include in the News in Review section. I think it was Hemingway who did that whole spiel about efficient storytelling and in many of the bits I cut out, you can find entire worlds crashing in fewer than 50 words.

I’m not going to take these clips with me on my journey, so I’m posting some of my favorites here. Most of them are missing the dates, but all are from earlier than 1940. Dates will be noted where available.

  • February 9, 1909 – One of the Hungarians at the Iron Mountain mine was severely slashed in a stabbing battle.
  • Lawrence and Clark have 1,000 bushels of onions which they would like to give away. If you would like them, go and get them.
  • Arthur Schellpfeffer, Town LeRoy, was taken to Chicago for the Pasteur treatment after he was bitten by a cow that was found to have hydrophobia.
  • February 14, 1889 – The body of a young man who had taken his own life was found on the grave of his bride of only a few months in the local cemetery. The young man had come to Mayville about a year ago, and since his wife’s death he had been morose.
  • Some 150 people attended the Cub Scout pet show in which 50 pets were entered. Wilmer Hundertmark’s cat “Nigger” won the prize as best of show. Everything from clams to chickens were entered.
  • During the past winter, David Bernit, Town Hoerman farmer, de-horned 1,300 cattle.
  • Franz Muche of Town Williamstown has purchased a four-year-old fox from John Schraufnagel in Town LeRoy for $55.
  • Walter “Shorty” Buschkopf, our jovial chief of police appeared on our street on his trusty motorcycle.
  • The City Council granted permission for C.W. Doctor to operate his popcorn stand and popper along either side of Main St. between Buchanan and Horicon Streets.
  • April 24, 1929 – A band of gypsies in high-powered cars visited our town on Thursday, but Police Chief Shorty Buschkopf soon had them on their way out of town.
  • Bonus Entry: The amazing LeRoy Meats Butcher Shop has the best catch phrase I have ever seen in any ad, “We would like to meat you!”
cockfights, hell, Holy crap, New Mexico, SantaFe

Enter The Santa Fe Chip

“Did you just throw me the f#$%in’ finger?!?!” he bellowed in rage.

Mullet McJerky Truck

This is kind of what Mullet McJerkypants was driving

The 1981 Chevy pickup, a mildewy milk chocolate brown, sped up behind me and then slowed down and forced me off the road. With no one-way streets to zip down and no place to retreat, I pulled over and slowed down.

“Who the f&$% do you think you are?” he continued leaning over to the passenger side. As he blocked traffic, others began to honk their horns in displeasure.

Santa Fe is an interesting place. While it may give the impression of a laid back, slow-paced town, many of the natives have a breakfast burrito-sized chip placed firmly on their shoulder that can be triggered at the drop of a hat. I’m not sure what causes it.

In some towns you can blame the oppressive heat for keeping people on edge. In others it is based on horrid traffic patterns and a stressed populace. But in this instance I guess it could just be attributed to a random outburst from some heavily tattooed, mullet-sporting, curse-bag driving an old truck. Or drugs.

It was the end of a beautiful day and the sun was throwing its Tuscan-style light all over the town. I was on my bike at the intersection waiting for the light to turn. As I took off, the curse-bag honked at me and pulled up uncomfortably close. Naturally, as I am wont to do when riding my bike, I copped a self-righteous attitude and displayed my finger of indifference, which was not appreciated by this citizen.

He quickly pulled up beside me at a steady 10mph and shouted expletives my way before pulling in front and forcing me off the road and then pulling up on the curb to continue his tirade.

My pulse began to quicken as synapses fired and senses flared – fight or flight? – how do you defuse this situation?

Fortunately, another car witnessed the exchange and pulled up beside the truck and yelled at him to back off.

This is not the first time I’ve encountered the Santa Fe Chip and it will likely be the last, but I would like to thank the kind person who pulled up beside this belligerent motorist and allowed me to avoid the whole ‘fight or flight’ decision.

cockfights, SantaFe

Stereotypes Collide in Santa Fe

The other day (meaning about three or four months ago) I was sitting around minding my own business and watching Mix the cat who had figured out how to get up on the ledge above the door.

Suddenly KABOOM!!! Crash and Screams! Destruction!

Kitty leaps down from his lofty perch and takes shelter under the sink in some cranny. I run to the front to witness a shirtless, tatted-up, hispanic man leap out of his Land Rover and run back to a suburban that had crashed into my neighbor’s wall.

The Hispanic man grabs the door open starts trying to choke the driver who was in a black Chevy Suburban with one of those weird plastic Thule roof racks (“Not enough room in this truck, so I have to add more storage capacity!”). The driver of the suburban is a caucasian man in his 50s with long gray hair pulled into a ponytail and a denim button-up shirt.

So I run back to get my phone to call 911 and then run outside. By that time, the two men have been subdued and people are freaking out and the all are warring with words and difficult glances. The wife who had been in the Land Rover is screaming about her husband being sent back to jail and holy balls! The wife of the other man is screaming at the other people and has to be subdued.

From what I heard of the story, the two men had been in a disagreement and so the hispanic man was chasing the gray-haired ponytail dude and he unwittingly turned down our street, which wasn’t a good idea since there are no outlets. So the guy in the Land Rover forced the other man off the road, ran him into a wall and then tried to throttle him.

Luckily no one was seriously injured, but there was a small boy in the back seat of the Land Rover and I saw the news in the paper the next day and the guy in the Land Rover was charged with a whole laundry list of dirty deeds.

Now, I would ordinarily find no humor in this situation, but…

A while ago a friend visited and he commented on the number of older men sporting ponytails in Santa Fe. I’d never noticed it before, but it was true. If you don’t have latin roots, you’re likely some 50-something caucasian guy with a ponytail. I guess it’s not really funny, but it was interesting to see these two collide outside my house.

Mix the cat emerged from under the sink two hours later.

cockfights, New Mexico, petpeeve, SantaFe, Uncategorized

Santa Fe Police State

Things are bad in Santa Fe. Real bad.

Any night you step out of your house in Santa Fe, you may be confronted by police! Not quite to that extent, but there are flashing road signs all over town proclaiming, “100 days and nights of summer! Police everywhere!” And it’s not even summer anymore.

I can understand public safety and trying to stop that last numbnut who’s out drinking until two and then drives home and crashes, but the idea of police everywhere freaks me out.

Yesterday while on my way to work, I saw a new sign covering a city bus. It was recruiting new folks to the Santa Fe Police Department. There were five or six officers in riot gear in a v-formation staring out at me on my bicycle, nightsticks in hand.

As I continued on my ride, it got me thinking about the marketing for recruiting coppers. The last time I was in Albuquerque, there were billboards with a cop in riot gear crashing into the scene on a rope and these blazing fonts that speak to adventure, excitement and the cracking of heads.

I’m not sure that the type of people these ads appeal to are the people I want making judgement calls in tricky situations. Trigger happy, gun nuts who are excited by the idea of getting suited up in riot gear and busting down doors do not seem to be the types who would have the jurisprudence to make good decisions.

It may be the ease of publicizing police abuse on Youtube and the like, but there seem to be a lot more cases of cops cracking heads, tasing innocent folks or shooting the wrong people in the back of the head.

I want police officers who’re attracted to honor and justice, not nightsticks and tear gas. Although, it would be fun to bust down a door sometime or completely level a kid on a bike without worry.

Oh yeah, Santa Fe Critical Mass Rides meet every Thursday at 5:30pm on the plaza. Be there!

cockfights, New Mexico, SantaFe



Just a couple quick ones from the Land of Enchantment.

Last week the bolo tie was named the official state tie of New Mexico. It joins the official state question of ‘Red or green? (referencing types of chile)’ and the official state bird, the roadrunner.

New Mexico is one of the last states where it’s legal to have cockfights, but it may be outlawed in the current legislative session. After that you’ll only be able to sate your thirst for cock in Louisiana. (A roadtrip may be required before the end of the legislative session.)

Once a month Bernalillo county publishes photos of everyone convicted of drunk driving listing their name, blood alcohol level city of residence and when they were apprehended. An amazing form of public humiliation that should be nationwide.

Albuquerque, epicenter of all good, features the Sheepskin Seatcover Store, Beef Jerky Store and I heard a rumor they had a store dedicated to Lucha Libre, the popular Mexican wrestling (Please see Hijo del Santo en La Frontera Sin Ley).

Cheeks, the only strip club in Santa Fe, had an ad for Customer Appreciation Week featuring Bridget the Midget.

Oh yeah, and one more I almost forgot about. In the continuing war with drinking and driving and drivers who drink too much (a huge problem here I hear) the state has purchased a pile of talking urinal cakes to install in bars. They will deliver a message of hope, peace and not drinking while driving. I’m curious to see what will happen. Since these will only be installed in men’s bathrooms, will New Mexico witness a rash of female drunk drivers? Maybe we can install talking tampons in women.

More on these when I get my act together.