Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Germans are funny. Ha, Ha, Ha. Just look at them dance. More camp than a row of tents, cuter than a schultute, putting the kitsch in kitchen fabrics, I bring you these frolicking Vaterlanders. Never mind that they could be Austrians.

Though the illustration style mimics Pennsylvania Dutch folk art, more than Bavarian Bauermalerai, nonetheless this print certainly folks about. And yes, meine liebe Kinder, Pennsylvania Dutch really means German: it’s just a mispronunciation of Deutsch. I like the guy playing the concertina, the hearts and the emphatically crowing roosters. I like the little dancing feet on these figures, and the feathers on the hats. This print would look adorable turned into a 50s dirndl-styled Lanz original dress.

And just how did a nice Jewish girl grow such a soft spot for all things Teutonic? Well, as a pre-teen I discovered the one thing that shocked my permissive parents: Deutschophilia. Nothing horrified them more than German twelve tone operas or wearing lederhosen. And as with all things enjoyed ironically, well, it’s just a short step to actually liking them. So beware what you champion under the so-bad-it’s-good banner.

Would I wear a dress or skirt made of this fabric to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel? I would, and without a glimmer of embarrassment. I’ll bet Kanzlerin Merkel wouldn’t even notice. Or maybe it would totally crack her up, I dunno. Would I wear a dirndl? No, that’s just too much.

Is it okay to make fun of Germans? Warum nicht? Mel Brooks has made a fortune doing this. Look at the amazing trajectory of “The Producers”. Now I know many educated, cosmopolitan Jews who will not go to Germany or Austria, refuse to speak German and generally boycott all things German. While I can see the roots of that method, and the soil it’s growing in, still I think that total avoidance creates mystique. Like the place radiates evil or something. I lived in Germany and had experiences good, bad and indifferent-- just like anywhere else.

And with that, Leibchens, I’ve got some Wagner to listen to.


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