January 21, 2010 |
Watching Michael Haneke accept his best foreign film Golden Globe for "The White Ribbon" the other night was a bit strange. Strange because the slender, smiling, polite, white-haired Haneke looked like a kindly retiree pleased to have just made it to the early-bird special, and not the notorious purveyor of austere horror and cruelty of "Cache," "Funny Games" and now "Ribbon. " The Austrian filmmaker's latest is his most highly regarded, in part because he purportedly uses his knack for creepy atmospherics in the service of a Big Idea - that there was something in the repressive German culture of the early 20th century that gave rise to the horrors unleashed in subsequent world wars.
July 15, 2001 |
The Rev. Ernest A. Spangler bangs his hand on the table and decries that fabled "one vote. " "This country was one vote away from making German the national language," Spangler said, referring to colonial lore that says in 1795, Congress came within one vote of making German the national language. The much-quoted anecdote is not entirely accurate. The vote was actually to translate federal laws into German. But it's probably better for Spangler that Americans did not adopt the language of Deutschland.
October 4, 2009 |
German food isn't sexy, unless the thought of liver dumplings and pig knuckles gets you all in a bother to go for a hot polka. So I guess it's little wonder that Bavaria hasn't yet inspired contemporary American chefs quite in the same way France, Italy, Spain, and Asia have. This is a tradition built for belly-filling schnitzel comfort, not foamy molecular fusion. But while the slow fade of German flavors on the national stage is no surprise as we go light, seasonal, and trendy, the near disappearance of it from Philadelphia is hard to grasp.
September 24, 1989 |
A clown named Scooter was decked out in paisley suspenders, plaid pants and a shock of curly, orange hair. Riding around on his bike, he commanded plenty of attention from the children. "Hello, Mr. Clown," said one. Scooter the clown held out his horn so the little boy could push it to create a moment of music. "This is my first year in this parade," said Scooter. "I used to watch it on television. " The 19th annual Steuben Day Parade, in honor of Baron Frederick William Augustus von Steuben, the Prussian soldier praised for transforming George Washington's Continental Army into an effective fighting force during the American Revolution, was held yesterday in Center City.
March 23, 1986 |
It happens every year in late winter. The Colonial Ethnic Societies of Philadelphia get the colors out of the mothballs and gather 'round the festive boards to honor their heritage. Three societies celebrated their roots this month. The Welsh Society, founded in 1729, held its annual St. David's Day dinner, honoring the patron saint of Wales, on March 1. The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick toasted the patron saint of Ireland on March 17. And, sandwiched in between, was the 221st anniversary dinner of the German Society of Pennsylvania, founded in 1764, on March 15. There are other Colonial Ethnic Societies, of course - the St. Andrew Society, the Society of the Sons of St. George, the Scotch-Irish Society and the Daughters of the British Empire, to name a few. And they're all part of one of America's greatest blessings - a little thing called tradition, the glue of this pluralistic society.
March 19, 1999 |
Think of it as a German version of "Pennies from Heaven," a musical drama whose cheerful, whimsical, sometimes downright silly lyrics fly in the face of the grim reality of its pre-World War II setting, and you have a fair notion of the tone of Joseph Vilsmaier's "The Harmonists. " Now, realize it's a true story being told, of a beloved, internationally known singing group - five vocalists and a pianist (or three Aryans and three Jews, as the Third Reich counted them) - which was disbanded during Hitler's purge of "degenerate art," and you can appreciate the irony of the group's full name, the Comedian Harmonists.
April 2, 1989 |
For the six members of the Jewish-German Dance Theater, it is simply "the issue. " It is an experience they grapple with every day. It forms the crux of their identities. It informs their relationships with other people. It figures so large that it cannot have a name - not the Holocaust, not World War II, not the War Against Fascism. So they call it "the issue," and when they say that, at least they know what they mean. However subterranean their language, these dancer-actors grab "the issue" by the horns in their dance-theater piece But What About the Holocaust?
February 22, 1987 |
As the little bell at the door of Walter Rieker's meat shop in Fox Chase announced new arrivals, the customers waiting for their orders in front of the counter good-naturedly passed the time in small talk about the weather, mutual acquaintances and the heavy loads of smoked meats spread before them in bountiful array. It was a normal day and a normal gaggle of shoppers, but to fully appreciate the banter, it helped to know your leberkase from your gundelsheimer: The conversation was carried on in German.
April 23, 1989 |
Otto Leukert is a time traveler. On the third Saturday of each month, he takes a group of more than 150 people away from where they are, and back to the place they came from. Leukert doesn't work his wonders with fancy tricks or formulas. He doesn't do it with mirrors. All he has up his sleeve is a commitment to preserve his culture, a big screen and a projector. It's the magic of the movies. Leukert runs the German Filmfest, a monthly series of German-language films that has a devoted following among German-Americans - primarily senior citizens - in the Philadelphia area.
April 1, 2001 |
For South Jersey high school students taking German, the springtime Sprachfest celebration is an annual tradition. Schalick High School's German Club hosted this year's event on March 24 at the Pittsgrove high school. "It's an opportunity for German students to hone their German-speaking skills and to learn more about German culture," said Christine Webb, a German teacher at Schalick and the German Club adviser. Sponsored by the South Jersey chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German, the Swiss Institute in New York City, the German Embassy, the Austrian Cultural Institute, the Goethe-Institute, and other groups, the event centered on German recitations of original and published works.