Genre of the Week: Alternative Für Deutschland by Jennifer Rostock

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Source: Pistenwof/Festival of Summer/Wikimedia  Link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AJennifer_Rostock-7.jpg

Founded in 2007, the band Jennifer Rostock has its origins that are considered unique. It features Jennifer Weist and Joe Walter, both natives of Usedom, located in the German state of Mecklenburg-Pommerania, who were childhood friends and gifted musicians. They later met fellow members Alex Voigt, Baku Kohl and Chris Deckert in Berlin and Werner Krumme while at a music workshop in Rostock. Their style of music consists of a combination of punk, electro-pop and Berlin-rock and since their founding, they have become popular on the German rock music scene, having released seven albums and toured in the German-speaking countries so far; that despite having songs released in German and English.

However, despite their punk lifestyle, they also have a world view on politics and have been engaged recently as more and more people are leaving the traditional German parties of the Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU) and joining the far-right party the AfD (Alternativ für Deutschland), whose policies consists of tax relief for the rich, less money for social and health care and banning Muslims and other groups from living in Germany- including stopping the influx of refugees entering Germany. With local elections to take place in Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Brandenburg this fall and on the eve of the federal elections next year, this band has taken an unusual approach to their music style by combining political propaganda and piano and producing a sing provoking the people to think before voting and/or even joining the AfD. Check out this video that was released recently:

Being short and to the point, each statement about the AfD and their policies are presented in an advertised form but with Weist having the confrontational gesture indicating that unless a person wants a brawl, and has the mentality of a Nazi that they should join the AfD, unless they have some time to think about it first and look for other party alternatives. The song is similar to all the campaigns that are going on in the United States, especially between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Speaking from an American expat’s point of view, such a provokative song would go great for people seriously thinking about voting for Donald Trump, whose policies are exactly the same as that of the party led by Frauke Petry- no immigration, expulsion of minorities out of the US, the return to isolation (which would be a first since the 1920s), and having a wall along the Mexican and Canadian border. This in addition to controlling the media and the freedom of speech among the American people. It makes me wonder how Weist and Co. would craft their song in English and address it to the public similar to that what she is doing for her people in the north of Germany. Music is powerful and controls the mind and hearts of those who listen to it, influencing them on what they think and sometimes do. It can be peaceful, but it can present a type of music that is classical but whose lyrics make it unusual and stunning. The AfD song by Jennifer Rostock may be considered a propaganda song supporting the party, but it has the typical German warning that you see in pharmaceutical commercials:

Zum Risiko und Nebenwirkung, lesen Sie die Packungsbeilage und Fragen Sie Ihren Artz oder Apotheke (Talk to your doctor or pharmacy about the risks and side effects of taking this medication)

For this song, which has won the Genre of the Week Awards, the first international Award by the Files, the slogan behind the song about the Alternative for Germany party goes along the following lines (something that voters in Meck-Pomm, Brandenburg and the rest of Germany should consider before going to the polls:

Zum Risiko und Nebenwirkung, lesen Sie über die politische Partei und ihre Agenda und fragen Sie die Experten. (Talk to the experts and read about the political party you are voting for).

Or in American English: Thinking about voting for the AfD? You better know what you’re getting into.

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Should Jennifer Rostock decide to write and sing about Donald Trump, what should go in there? It should be similar to what she sang about the AfD. Go to her website (here) and offer your suggestions. 🙂

 

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Don’t Swaggartize Our Facebook Posts With Your Politics!

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To begin my commentary, I would like to start off with an excerpt from the book of Proverbs 28:25-6:

A greedy man stirs up dissention, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper. He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.

 

One should perhaps add in the book of Proverbs that one who blindly follows a liar with a potential of interrupting conversations for political promotion is more of a fool than those who are self-righteous and believes not in Jesus but his own tuition.  Since the nominations of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for US president (even though Jill Stein and Gary Johnson should also be added to the mix), the era of poli-bashing has taken hold on the American landscape. At the family table, fathers and sons are fighting from different political poles, putting others in the middle, like it happened during the Cold War with a divided Germany. Locals in different countries are asking us American expatriates what we think of Donald Trump (which many of us have compared him to Adolf Hitler). Friends are unfriending or even blocking others on facebook because of political opinions, which I think is pathetic and shows me what the late Günter Grass once stated: “If you have 500 friends on facebook, you really have no friends.”

 

Point taken!

 

But there is another trend in social networking which has become an annoying trend: A friend posts a comment about an event on facebook only to have a person on his/her friends list market politics and bash the candidate with his own post, when the story posted on facebook is anything BUT relevant.  Take this example that I experienced  most recently:

 

I post a commentary about me switching bike dealers after they overpriced us (family and me) for bike repairs and inspections, which included overcharging for the repairs on my end but not charging for the inspection on my daughter’s bike when we ordered a part, but giving us the “Oh by the way, you have to pay for the part AND the inspection.” treatment, when the part arrived- in other words, withholding information without informing the customer in advance!   This is in addition to bad service we (as a family) had been receiving prior to that. We basically posted by saying “Have a nice life, your competitor is around the corner!”

 

In response, one of the people in my network had the cheek to market politics by saying:

 

And that’s how capitalism works!! The customers decide who survives and who fails. Now imagine it was a government entity that treated you like that. What is your recourse, especially if you have no other option than to deal with them (i.e. DMV). I’m sure your complaints about one or more government union employees would be handled in a timely and efficient manner… 

 

 

Furious, I had to reply in a fashion similar to Walter Sobjeck in the Big Lebowski which went along these lines:

 

 

You’re a child who loves to enter a cinema in the middle of a religious film, not knowing which actors are playing Jesus Christ, Pontius Pilate, Joseph, Mary and the Three Wise Men, let alone when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead!

 

In response, another conservative replied with this comment:

 

The government is ALWAYS the issue….they set the prices for everything….you should have gotten into healthcare a few years ago….the money is already spent.

 

And my response:

 

 The government is NOT the issue here. We’re talking about the Geoff Schaffer approach to customer service, which is always making the customer happy (no matter what) and if so, they will come back. This bike shop was a family owned business until they expanded in 2010. Since then, they’ve thrown away the concept of honesty and family friendliest and have started doing the Trump approach which is customer selection- a blow to winning any customers.

 

(The name Geoff Schaffer was used as a replacement of the manager of a restaurant in Iowa whom I worked for during the summer breaks from college,  because of privacy reasons, by the way.)

 

Not to worry though, many people in my network have dealt with similar issues, regardless of which political side they are on. But the point is that the intrusion of personal posts for political gain to provoke a political argument can be best compared to the preaching of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, whose religious commercialization influenced the lives of many Americans and Evangelicals during the 1970s and 80s. In fact, as a child growing up in Minnesota, I can remember his TV shows and commercials dominating the airwaves, even though we had four key channels, including public television, with every fourth household having cable TV.  His preaching from that bygone era can be seen today, like in this video below:

 

 

Many people loved him, yet there were many who thought he was as annoying as the people who have intruded on people’s privacy on facebook, to a point where his defamation flocking would await him, like in this infamous “I’ve sinned….” sermon:

 

His confession revealed two things that are worth noting in this article:

 

  1. The value of the sermon or lecture spoken unto by one person has to equal one’s actions. One cannot have a double standard like Mr. Swaggart has, but also one’s lecture or sermon has to include hands-on experiences.

 

  1. If one enforces onto others, then one has a problem in life which cannot be dealt with alone but through help.

 

The second one has nothing to do with politics and who is at fault but one where a person’s life is not what it should. Sometimes these people are hanging on to the nostalgia that had existed 30-40 years ago and cannot adapt to the changes that we are facing even as we speak. There are some who have missed one train too many in their lives and are struggling to salvage what is left of their lives. This includes pivotal years where decisions made can have an impact on a person’s life (that is a separate article for next time).  And there are some people whose children have disappointed them in their development- some justified and some not. Their attempts of molding them into their liking fails and they become the black sheep in the family. The same applies to friends and peers, whom they knew in high school but have become strangers since then.

 

All of them have one thing in mind, they have at one time in their lives listened or watch a Jimmy Swaggart sermon and learned a great deal about getting involved in other people’s lives by invading them and impose their ideas . And even though Swaggart has produced some great sermons, the people are following the directions the wrong way.

 

Yes, people like you!

 

I could point my fingers at Swaggart for his religious “morals”, but it would be the same as deferring responsibility for all the personal problems in life onto Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  But Swaggart’s rhetoric and tactics have given some people the wrong idea of getting others involved- preach on the outside while hiding from the real problems on the inside.  Sometimes too much of a good thing is not good at all, especially when infringing on topics with their own political agenda, almost all of which are irrelevant.

 

So knock it off! Think before posting your political comments on other’s facebook posts. Because one day, you may receive a comment by saying:

 

You’re out of your element!

 

 

And if Jimmy Swaggart is still preaching these days, let us hope he preaches about respecting people’s rights and preferences over politics before the US Presidential Elections. After all he has taught us on how to swaggartize others, he owes us that sermon at least. Only then will he be forgiven of all his sins.

 

Amen!

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Showdown at Fehmarn

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The Beltretter Petition Drive at the Burg Market Square. Photo taken in August 2016

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Petition Drive to Stop the Construction of the Tunnel at Puttgarden in Full Gear; Discussion about the Fehmarn Bridge’s Future is on.

BURG/ FEHMARN- For the second time in three years, I had a chance to take a trip to the German Island of Fehmarn, located between Denmark and the state of Schleswig-Holstein, connected by the Migratory Route Highway connecting Copenhagen and Hamburg. Astonished by its beauty and the hospitality the people there gave us our last time, for my family and me, which also includes a friend of ours and her daughter, Fehmarn appears to be the place to go to relax, swim, run along the coast with the wind in our faces and bike to our favorite places for fish with fried potatoes Holstein style.

Yet on this trip it was totally different. Different in a way that the inhabitants of the island are divided over a mega-project that is coming to cross the island- the noise that is comparable to the noise one see along the Migratory Route, which seemed to have increased since our last visit. When visiting the state of Schleswig-Holstein, especially in the eastern part, one will see a blue X every second house along with its slogan, a Christmas light set depicting the Fehmarn Bridge at every fourth house, and this van with the Belt Retter slogan on there, lined up with hundreds of people talking to representatives of the group fighting to stop the project from happening, and signing petitions in the process.  The scene is getting brighter and bluer as the weeks come along….

…..and for a good reason!

Since my visit in 2014, I’ve been covering the events on Fehmarn, which involved not only the island’s future, but also that of the Fehmarn Bridge. To recap on the situation, the Danish Government have been cooperating with the German authorities regarding the construction of the multi-track/lane tunnel connecting Puttgarden (GER) and Rodby (DK), thus eliminating the need for ferry service. The tunnel would feature two tracks accomodating long-distance trains as well as six lanes of motorway traffic, creating a total width of one kilometer including the property acquisitions. At 20 km, it would be touted as the longest tunnel in the world that would serve automobile traffic. At the same time, German government authorities in Berlin and Kiel as well as the German Railways are working together for a new bridge on the south end, spanning the Fehmarn Sound- replacing the island’s iconic span which is the first of its kind ever built.  At the moment, transportation authorities have deemed the 1963 bridge to be functionally obsolete and at the end of its useful life. According to the latest reports from LN-News in Luebeck, planning is in the works to have a new iconic span resembling the Golden Gate Bridge to be discussed and possibly voted on. If approved, construction could start in 2018 and be finished in 10 years.

 

The current situation during the visit:

The Belt Retter movement has been gaining steam in the past weeks, with organizers and supporters collecting signatures and letters of petitions in much of Schleswig-Holstein- in particular, the eastern half and of course, Fehmarn Island itself. Tens of thousands of signatures have been collected online, as well as in person at the markets and other events. I was lucky to stop at the Belt Retter site at the market square in Burg during our visit to talk to the representatives there, and get some information on the latest with the Puttgarden-Rodby Tunnel (aka Belt Tunnel). The Danish government, which has been keen on moving forward with the project, had previously rejected an earlier proposal for the tunnel last year because of approximately 249 errors in the design and concept, according to officials of the organisation I talked to at the market. After reworking the project, a new proposal was submitted back in June by the coordinators of the project, LBV Luebeck and Femmern A/S, and now the clock is ticking on the part of the locals, the Belt Retter organisation and all other parties opposed to the plan, who had previously petitioned to stop the first draft and succeeded last year. Between now and August 26th, you have an opportunity to submit your petition online or through contact with the representatives of Belt Retter, who will then forward that onto a committee that will feature representatives of the tunnel project, environmental and legal experts, local, regional and state representatives and others involved with the project, who will review it and take further measures. Possible legal measures, such as lawsuits and court order injunctions are on the table should it become a necessity.

Attempts are also being made regarding ways to preserve the Fehmarn Bridge. Rehabilitating the bridge for continual use has been ruled out because of the cost intensitity, but also because it is predicted that the bridge’s lifespan would be prolonged by only 30 years. However, such rehabilitation techniques have been tried on several bridges made of steel, including the steel wiring that is also found on the Fehmarn Bridge. The findings: such rehabilitation can prolong the life of a bridge by up to a century, counting maintenance and other essentials. Already done was the Bay Bridge and (also) the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, this is also being conducted on the George Washington Bridge in New York City, built in 1938 under Swiss Engineer Othmar H. Ammann. Crying wolf over the potential failure of the bridge, as was stated by authorities of the government in Berlin and the German railways, the issues of rust, especially seen by the author while revisiting the bridge this year is only minor. Bridge rehabilitation experts would also agree that rehabilitation would be cost effective, saving taxpayer money by up to half the cost for a new bridge. In other words, and as I signed my petition against the project, I even noted, the movement to stop this mega-project with the tunnel should also include rehabilitating the Fehmarn Bridge.

Opinions are split down the middle among those who are vehemently against the project because of the negative environmental and economic impact as well as those involving tourism and culture and those who are in favor because of the need to modernize the infrastructure and bring in more tourism. It can even be found with the two different stickers at a souvenir shop at Suedstrand in Burgtiefe with the blue X and green check marks, the latter being for the project. Protests from different factors, including the Scandlines (which operates the ferry between Puttgarden and Rodby) have increased loudly in numbers, opposing the entire project. While those supporting the project say that it is a necessity and will come anyway, the Danes are becoming more and more sceptical of the tunnel concept because of the exploding costs for surveys, legal issues and the redesigning of the system. Many have joined the movement on the German side, which has increased tremendously since my last visit.  While it is expected that the construction of the tunnel is to begin in 2020 and last 10 years, should the petition become a success for the second time, it might derail the entire project, putting it on ice indefinitely.

And with that, hopefully in the eyes of locals and people attached to Fehmarn, a return to normalcy which includes accessing the island by two-lane traffic or ferry, coaxing passers-by into stopping on the island for a visit and vacation. This is something you cannot do with a mega-project that would cut the island into two if proponents have their way.

Do you want to stop the project, click here to read the information and sign the petition. Contact details are available if you need further information. The information is in German, but you can talk to someone with English or Danish knowledge if you have any questions. It takes 2-4 minutes to do and consists of multiple choice questions that are user friendly.  If you’re still not convinced that the project cannot be stopped, go to the wordpress version of the Flensburg Files. There, you can click on the gallery with pics of the places visited this year with some comments on my part.

Checkout the articles written about the Fehmarn Bridge Situation including the bridge, by clicking here, here and here.

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