Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bites Of Early July

Hey, you know what? There's a big concert in town. Called Live 8! And you know what else? I haven't seen a peep about it on the streets. Nor were the crowds noticeably bigger when I went to the bank about an hour ago and walked down Friedrichstr. and then, out of curiosity (and to finish the pretzel I'd bought before I went to a bookstore) Unter den Linden.

Could it be that the hassles the local organizers faced (thanks, Herr Pope) made it impossible to advertise? Or are they maybe doing this via flash mob? I don't know, but it was only the belated discovery of the fact that Roxy Music was on our city's bill that even awoke a scintilla of interest. I mean, I'd like to see Brian Wilson some day, but a rock festival isn't where I want to do it, and the biggest name announced the last time I looked was the are-they-still-around a-ha (and, of course, the won't-they-please-go-away Crosby, Stills and Nash). Ah, well, I hate huge outdoor concerts, and have since Willie Nelson's first 4th of July parties, so I'm quite content to sit home and read.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in reading a live blog by a real pro blogcasting from what's undoubtedly a lavishly-appointed press suite in Philadelphia, at the U.S. Live 8, may I recommend my old pal Dan Rubin and his ground-breaking, newspaper-sponsored blog Blinq.


Debt relief for the Third World is very definitely a pressing problem. But it's not like the First World doesn't have problems, too. And I'm glad to see someone's doing something about one very serious deficit right here in Berlin: the humor deficit. I've gotten so many blank stares, so many incomprehending looks when trying to make a joke -- and it's not like I've got a particularly abstruse sense of humor or anything. It's just that Germans Don't Get It. So now, I see thanks to a link passed on by Frisco Mike, someone is opening a laughter school in Berlin.

Actually, whether this is a hoax or not, there's a point here. A few weeks ago, returning from the French tour, I knew exactly when the first Germans got on the train because one of them was laughing and it sounded like someone strangling a barking dog. There was a tension, a repressed sound in the laughter. And the only way to reach Germans, as everyone knows, is to teach a course. They're already used to great long theory classes before getting a licence to row a boat, fish, or drive a car, so I hope there's enough Theoretik attached to this school.

It's a great idea, though. I've always wanted to have a piece of boilerplate available, perhaps printed on cards, so that when I make a joke, I can explain what humor is. Or put an * after a joke, with a text at the bottom of the page: "* This statement was intended to be a joke, and is meant humorously. Humor can arise from odd juxtapositions, word-play, or intentional exaggeration, and not just the traditional German modes of slapstick, destruction of property, and infliction of pain. If you have any doubt whether or not a statement was made with humorous intent, it is always appropriate to ask the person making the statement if it was intended that way. If you seek further clarification, please ask."

Anyway, I think this thing will fly, and if anyone wants to help endow a chair there, ummm, just press that PayPal button on the side of the page there, and I'll make sure the money gets to, uh, the right place, okay?



Daniel Rubin said...

Dude, I am on the sidewalk in a folding chair, next to a humming ambulance and three fragrent sweaty police horses. But Madonna's on the big screen from London, and we've got a Hip Hop happening here

Indri said...

"the traditional German modes of slapstick, destruction of property, and infliction of pain"

For some reason, that line is even funnier than the ones around it. Although I very much like the "strangling a barking dog" part.