Friday, August 05, 2005

Sommerloch, Part 3

In which we continue with the trivia of summer in Berlin...

I've just been push-polled! I was sitting here about 5:30 this afternoon, minding my own business, and the phone rang. "Hello, can you answer a few questions?" Maybe; I'm working at the moment. "Ah. These will just be quick questions." Okay. Never mind that I do everything I can to wreck these things because of the assumptions they have: I love to say I read 8-10 magazines a month -- which I do -- and then not check a single one of the (German) ones they list. Hey, folks, you're not alone here, you know!

"What is your age?" I told her. "Are you retired, or -- wait, you said you were working. Do you work for someone or are you independent?" Independent. "What's your profession?" Journalist. "And your income?" Varies (to put it mildly). "Are you happy with the amount you pay in taxes?" Whoa! That's a push if I ever heard one. I told her I was American, and that was that. She must've been disappointed: she'd reached someone the right age, living in the East, self-employed... Exactly the target audience.

What's going on here, of course, is the upcoming election, barely a month away. One of the big issues is that the CSU/CDU, who are currently the front-runners, have pretty much admitted they're going to have to raise taxes in order to put the economy back on the rails. Poetic justice, of course: if they hadn't bungled the Wiedervereinigung, the unification, so badly, if Helmut "I am not bribeable" Kohl (yes, he actually said that the other day) hadn't run an administration filled with bribe-takers and influence-peddlers, if the economic transition had been handled carefully, this might not be necessary.

But, like, whatever, right? I mean, I can't vote because I'm not a full-blooded German of German ancestry. I still wonder about the thousands of Turks around me, three generations strong by now, who've been disenfranchised since they got off the plane 40-odd years ago. Now that the chances of their homeland coming into the EU are bleak indeed, one wonders if they wish they could vote. (Great article by William Pfaff in the New York Review of Books analyzing this so-called "EU constitutional crisis," incidentally).

But, whatever. It's Sommerloch.

***

I realize that "German men's fashion" is an oxymoron, but the stuff they can sell to 20-something working class men in my neighborhood continues to boggle me. I just saw a guy, on my way to the store, walking with his girlfriend. He had on sand-colored wide-wale corduroy long shorts which came to below his knees. But an arc from the upper thighs to just above his ass had been cut out and a hunk of camo-printed cloth sewn in there. I think somewhere there's a cabal of German-haters who design these things, but that just has to be the ugliest thing I've seen anybody wearing in some months.

4 comments:

Chaussee said...

Just for the record: you do not have to be a full-blooded German of German ancestry to become a German citizen. After having lived for eight years in Germany, you can apply for German citizenship (granted, with a lot of requirements: you have to speak German, have to be employed, etc.). If you are born in Germany and one of your parents has lived in Germany for more than eight years, you are automatically German. Once you are 23 years old, you have to decide whether you want to keep German citizenship or whatever other nationality you belong to. So the real problem is dual citizenship, not gaining German citizenship. Which, of course, is not to say that it's much harder to become a German citizen than a US citizen, say. Anyway, a good number of Turks decide to become German citizens every year, based on German immigration law, you can look up the numbers at www.destatis.de, just do a search for "Einb├╝rgerung".

Indri said...

That's funny. At virtually the same time you were being "push-polled" (a term I don't think I've heard before) the same thing was happening to me. Except my phone call was clearly from an organization trying to get marijuana decriminalized in San Francisco. It didn't even seem like the writer of the questions had made any effort to conceal the orgnization's bias.

I went with the most outrageous answers I could, just on principle. Although I didn't disagree with any of them.

Ed Ward said...

Aha, Chaussee, I didn't realize that. I'd been told that yes, you could become a citizen if you passed a number of exams, one of which was set up to prove that you possessed "a German sense of Ordnung," which made my mind reel. I'm aware, of course, that there's a Turkish member of the Greens in the Bundestag, and figured that's what he did. But thanks for clearing that up.

Shawn said...

Ah..bad fashion sense...and I thought that market was cornered by the County Fair goers of my fine state...