160/2024 – “Football’s Coming Home”

Lyrics: “Three Lions” – The Lightning Seeds, 1996

Less than a week from today this big sport event where 22 guys will be kicking a ball around is going to start here in Germany. I try to avoid naming it, because I’m not sure if I’m allowed to name it without having paid for the licence to name it. I’m only half kidding. From what I read in the news and magazines and what I hear from people who are more closely involved with this whole event, I know there are very strict rules. Not just about the EURO (vague enough, I hope), but about sponsorships and what is allowed to be seen and said and everything. As a progressive, left-leaning person, critical of mass consumerism and corruption and all that, I should be boycotting everything about this event. But I’m not. I’m not massively engaged either though, I’m sitting somewhere in the middle ground.

I live less than an hour away from 4 of the 10 host cities in a metropolitan region which has always liked to claim to be sort of “football central” in Germany, so for the next few weeks I claim that football is indeed coming home after all.

There must have been schedules about signage and advertising, because two days – a week before the opening match – it was all dialled up a bit around here. Small banners going up in the city centres. Very big banners going up on buildings. Ads on big screens and small screens.

In the supermarket it already started weeks ago. Sponsors and consumerism and all that.

Photo of football candy from HARIBO
Football related candy

Do we really need football / tournament related candy? I don’t know. I didn’t buy any of this, in case you were wondering.

I admit these days I am a tiny bit worried about safety / security in regard to this event. Not just from the usual suspects – Nazis, Islamist, left-wing nutcases – who might want to use this hugely televised event for some kind of attack. We’ve been there before. I also worry a bit about regular people to be honest. With society – not just here in Germany but everywhere – becoming more splintered and divisive  and with a growing lack of empathy and decency towards others combined with alcohol and emotions (because it’s football) I sometimes worry what might happen. We’ll have to wait and see.

More and more people in Germany openly show right-wing tendencies or at least don’t mind fascists in parliament or don’t care about the forementioned lack of empathy and decency. We do have a problem with racism in this country and football is no exception, on the contrary. There is a new TV documentary out about it, which I haven’t watched yet, but plan to do tonight. In a survey 20% of the people said they’d prefer less players of colour in the German team. 20%! Which sort of fits into of the 15-20% of votes the right-wing party AfD seems to be getting all over the country. But it scares me!

That was an unplanned tangent. The thing I still wanted to share / boast about is: I do have a ticket for a match! Connections, baby! I mean, with all the sponsors and cities involved there are many, many, many people who got a bit easier access to some tickets. I still had to pay full price after all! I am already mildly excited about it, because it will be a once in a lifetime experience, I think. I doubt I’ll get such an easy chance again.

Tickets are only available in digital form. Not as PDF to print out or to present as file on your phone. No, you need the official app. You need to register (with your passport ID) with the organizing entity. At least the tickets showed up in the app with enough time for the match next week, because I was starting to get a bit worried.

The ticket includes free travel on public transport on match day. Do you just show the digital ticket for that? Nooooo. You need to download ANOTHER app for that. Data collection for mass consumerism and all that. I try my best to be aware of that and reject cookies and such as best I can. But there is only so much you can do these days if you still want to participate in events like this one, right?

While I’ve been typing this I’ve been watching “Donots” in the free Rock am Ring live stream. I just logged in to see who I might want to have on in the background while typing this. I did neither know line-up nor timetable. I don’t consider myself a Donots fan as such, but it’s been fun to watch and listen.

159/2024 – “Something as Simple as Rock ‘n’ Roll Would Save Us All”

Lyrics: “I Still Believe” – Frank Turner, 2011

This is just a quick rundown of the few podcasts I listened to this week; mostly in my car while driving to the office three instead of two times this week. Work’s been busy and I ended the week with almost three hours of overtime. Next week might go similar. But things are moving forward, that’s what I should focus on.

Anyway here is the top of my recently listened to podcast list:

Screenshot of my recent podcast list
Podcast list

Below that (which I wasn’t able to screencap on my phone in a landscape mode) is

There also was

  • another informative, well balanced “A Muslim & A Jew Go There” (from last week, I still need to catch up with this week’s)
  • A bit out of left field among the fangirling, self-care and current politics issues podcasts, is the DLF “Hörsaal” podcast (in German), which I try to listen to from time to time to broaden my horizon. The podcast basically is audio recording of a science lecture, usually not from a regular uni class or curriculum, but often from special lecture series or conferences. Either way, I always learn a lot. This episode was about the problems arising nowadays from the Allies Forces decisions to disarm Germany after WW II by dumping all stashes of Nazi war munitions into the North and Baltic Sea. Nerdy topic? Absolutely, but fascinating:

    “Meeresforschung: Welche Gefahren von alter Munition ausgehen” [German]

This week’s podcasts highlight today was a long Talkhouse Podcast chat of Billy Bragg with Frank Turner. (fangirling – see above). I sort of knew Billy Bragg of course. I mean who with an interest in rock music and/or progressive politics hasn’t heard or sung along to “A New England” at some point in the last four decades ?!?!? And I was well aware of Frank relationship with / connection to Billy, but it was still super interesting to learn more about it. Learn more about Billy as well, because while I know off him and what kind of troubadour he is, I didn’t really know a lot about him. I shall rectify that by listening to more of his music on the weekend. Highlight of this chat was the common thread of how making music and listening to music and going to gigs and finding your people in the process shapes you and your view of the world and how much it all can mean to people. Or not just can, but does mean to people. Case in point those two guys who have been standing “on raised platforms in rooms” for 40 / 20 years. And also myself, who has learned and changed so much since I started listening to Frank’s music and going to his (and other) gigs and meeting people and all that.

I downloaded another new podcast interview with Frank today. Yes, I know, I’ve heard all the stories and anecdotes by now, but in most chats there are still tidbits of information I haven’t heard before. In the “Listen Carefully” one Frank mentions literal references to a song, which I never knew about and to be fair, I still don’t see / haven’t found the line he has drawn there. But I jotted it down to look into it at some point and if I find the reference and source material and all I might include it in the “Lyrical History”. In due time…

154/2024 – No Idea Where This Is Heading

Besides tearing through “The Guncle Abroad”, the sequel novel to “The Guncle” – Spoiler Alert: I didn’t like it as much as the first one – I spent quite some time today to further go through all the posts I put in draft mode on here yesterday to find out which one to keep in an edited form. Almost 400 posts ended up or will end up in the bin. A part of me almost starts to regret my decision to close down most of this blog, because I’ve written a lot here over the past 4 years. A bigger part though feels good about limiting the amount of personal information I share online.

Just for the “fun” of it, I looked up when I first started writing a personal blog, as I still have those texts archived as HTML files on my computer): September 2004! Woah! That’s been a long time. I changed blogging services and titles a few times since then. The language only once (from German to English).

I honestly still don’t know what I will use this space for in the future. There will still be fangirling, in fact it’s those posts about gigs and songs and books that I’ve kept here so far. I guess in my writing about Frank’s music there will still be a lot of personal stuff from me, because the way I can relate to his music makes it personal.

I’m also in the process of consolidating a few vacation posts where I share photos to at least keep the photos without all the random minutiae of my vacation days.

Photography might be another new focus here. Not that I’m any good yet, but I’m trying. With my macro lens here for instance, though it’s safe to say that that’s not going to be a speciality for me, I think.

Close up of my Kaweco fountain pen
Close up of my fountain pen's nib

I also finally watched part 4 of the Frank Turner documentary “The Work: 50 States in 50 Days”. There might be another post about that, if I find the time to rewatch all 4 episodes before 24 June 2024. My purchase ticket to watch is valid till then. We’ll see.