Basler Fasnacht/carnival 2019 – Impressions from the Laddärne-Uustellig/lantern exhibition: About censorship

This is a difficult topic: Avoiding words that may discriminate those that are different from us, be it cultures, groups of people or peoples. A politically correct language does not imply that discrimination disappears, but more and more we are told to no longer use words that may highlight it.

It took me long to write about the carnival theme “censorship”, as I find it difficult. I was raised with curiosity, with respect and love for what is different around me or elsewhere, with an eagerness to learn and even adopt what I like. Cultures and people are different and I love that. It is an enrichment. Think of food, philosophy, language, religion or history beyond Europe centricity. I take traveling as an opportunity for experiencing diversity and enrichment. Blogging is my way of understanding and learning. Diversity requires deep roots – mine are in central Europe. Sharing my roots with others is also important for me – such as I do with my blogs about Basel and around.

Now this year, the carnival of Basel took up the sensitive topic of the politically correct language and censorship. Whatever I take notice of – people, phenomena – I give a name to them. It is a sign of awareness, respect and it is practical. But many names have now got the label “discrimination”. Yes, I agree, some of the names are related with a bad flavour, but where is the limit? The boundaries are being extended and I start to feel uneasy about what I am still allowed to say and what has now become a no-go. One example: Can I still say, Rome was founded in 753 B.C. which stands for “Before Christ”? Yes, the Romans counted their years “ab urbe condita” which reflects their Roman centric view of history. Counting years starting from the year Christ was born – this is surely a European centric view that has been exported from here to the Americas and to much of the world. It reminds of the European hegemony (now fading?). But it is a practical reference point that I have never thought about. Where is the limit?

Let us stroll through the lantern exhibition at the Münsterplatz (cathedral square) to study some of the lanterns that talked about politically incorrect names and censorship at this year’s carnival.

While looking at the line of houses across the cathedral of Basel in the morning sun, let us think about how the topic “censorship” came up: In the nineteen fifties two groups of “Guggemuusig” (playing a kind of brass and drum music) were founded under the name of “Negro Rhygass” and “Mohrekopf”.  Perhaps they allude to the fact that Africans are known for being excellent musicians. Since then the groups have played each year and their names have not bothered anybody. But now, someone from a different city (that has their own procession with clichés about different peoples) attacked the two groups for discrimination or even racism. This triggered the topic “censorship”. Let me assure that at the Basel carnival, I have always discovered all sorts of coloured heads under the masks of the carnival groups. I think, the carnival is a great opportunity for integration, which is the contrary of discrimination and racism.

Let us check out the reflections about censorship that appear on some of the lanterns.

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Reflection #1: Words and expressions forbidden by censorship

The Gundeli Gniesser are people that enjoy it – gniesse – from the Gundeli – an area in Basel. They list many words that will now be forbidden as they may nastily point at someone. Examples are:

  • “Wienerli” (sausage pointing at the city of Wien with the disrespectful diminutive “li”),
  • “Appenzellerkäs” (cheese from the canton of Appenzell with a rather strong smell),
  • “Peking Ente” (Peking duck) or “Chinakohl” (a sort of cabbage with “China” in its name),
  • “Älplermaggrone” (pasta made by the people in the Alps – called the “Älpler”),
  • “Mongoloid” (a name for the Down syndrome),
  • “Schwarzwäldertorte” (Blackforest cake, contains the word “black” and a region, the “Black Forest”),
  • “Russezopf” (Russian braided cake),
  • “Schwööbli” (small rolls named after the “Schwoobe” or the Swabians – with some fantasy the shape of the roll might remind you of one part of the body; with my own migration background I can easily smile about the “Schwööbli”),
  • “das isch türkt” (this fact has been twisted – why should the Turks twist things?),
  • “Idiotehügel” (idiot hill – small slope for beginners on ski – beginners are not necessarily “idiots”, they are just new to skiing),
  • “Googlehopf” (the cake called “Gugelhopf” – a delicacy in Basel and its surroundings – could be mistaken as pointing at Google)
  • etc etc.

Some of the verses on the lantern say:

  • “Mängg Wort wird zum Politikum, doch ab und zue wird’s äifach zdumm (Many words become a political issue, but sometimes it is simply too stupid)”;
  • “Nur ganz korrägt sötsch hütte schnuure, do blybbt nur s’Schimpfe hindeduure (Today you should only talk fully correctly, that is why you can only grumble covertly)”;
  • “Dr Moorekopf isch inne wyss und usse bruun – was soll das Gschyss? (the “Moorekopf” is brown outside and white inside, why such a fuss?”; the “Moorekopf” is a sweet brown chocolate half sphere with white foam in it; Moor=African; Kopf=head);
  • “Empöörsch Dy vyyl und mit Geduld, denn bisch au nie an öbbis tschuld (As you are often shocked and always point that out, you will never be blamed for anything” – this is very philosophical, I think).

The Rhygwäggi are the “stones – Gwäggi- from the river Rhine – Rhy”. Their Alti Garde (Oldies) list expressions that have now become a no-go… such as

  • “Alti Dante” (elderly aunt, a very common mask at the Basel carnival, could be interpreted to be disrespectful of elderly ladies like me),
  • “Schwarzbrot” (Black bread is our crunchy, delicious dark bread. But… it contains the word “black”),
  • “Schwarzwurzle”… (we call the comfrey “black root” and, yes, “black” is censored, but, after having peeled them, they are all white),
  • “Pariser” (used to protect lovers, but it reminds us of the city Paris),
  • “Maitlibai” or “Schänggeli” (both delicious sweets called “girls’ legs” and “small thighs (of girls)”),
  • “Zwätschgegompfi” (plum marmalade, but a plum or Zwätschge is also a “stupid lady” in Swiss German, “gomfi” stands for marmalade),
  • “Indianer” (Indian; well I remember, as a child we loved to play “Indianerlis” and we dreamt of a wonderful world, where you would smoke the peace pipe to solve conflicts. As teenagers, we watched the film “Winnetou” with that handsome actor we all were in love with – was that wrong? Now in one kindergarden, the teacher forbid the kids to disguise as Indians for their childrens’ carnival),
  • “Mannschaft” (oh yes – a team is called “manship” in German, why not “womanship”, what a discrimination! Hm, I am a lady, and I have never thought about that before, at work we talked about “teams” anyway…).

The Rhygwäggi conclude: “Värsli brünzle isch kai Schlägg, usser de losch d’Wörter wägg (Creating verses is no fun, except you leave out the words” – “kai Schlägg” for “no fun” alludes to the fact that there is nothing to lick (schlägge or schlecken) such as a delicious sweet ice cream, so there is just no fun).

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Reflection #2: Shut up or remain silent to conform to censorship

The group Breo named their topic “Halt dini dumm Schnure” (literally: shut up your stupid mouth). On their lantern there is this face closed with a zipper.

The carnival group D’Gniesser had the same idea, a face with a zipper. They say: “Kai Sujet, kai Värs, so das wärs” (no theme, no verse, well that’s it) and “#kai Sujet, syg gescheit, sag nüt (#no theme, be clever, do not say anything)”. The name of the group “D’Gniesser” can be translated as “the ones who enjoy it”.

On this lantern, the pigs sit around a table with their mouths sealed up. “Sag lieber nütt – Stummtisch (Do not say anything – silent table)”. This is a play on words: stumm=silent, Stammtisch=regulars’ table; At the “Stamm-Tisch” the regular guests discuss politics and life over some glasses of beer, but due to censorship this table has become the “Stumm-Tisch” – by replacing the “a” by the “u“, “Stamm” turns into “Stumm” and “Stammtisch” into “Stummtisch” – with all regulars sitting silently around the table.

On the lantern of the Basler Dybli (Small Pigeons or Squabs of Basel), this Swiss boy hides his mouth behind his hands to avoid saying anything that might be forbidden. He stands in a maze, not knowing what is right or wrong and asks “Derfi oder derfi nid? (Am I allowed or am I not allowed?)”. In the wooden box you see the “Waggis”, a very common mask at the Basel carnival – but the Waggis with the long nose and wild hair can be taken as making fun of the farmers from neighbouring Alsace – and are we still allowed to make fun of them, is this not discrimination? And then there is the African man, the much disputed symbol of the group “Negro Rhygass”. Is it worse than the white sheep that kicks the black sheep out of Switzerland? I came across these sheep during the voting campaign about stopping immigration and this campaign was present all over in Switzerland. By the way, I believe the campaign with the sheep was invented in the town where attacking the Basel carnival came from… Everyone sits in a glass house. We all should reflect before throwing stones.

One of the verses on this lantern says: “Duesch aimol eppis lätzes saage, denn muesch grad e Muulkoorb draage. Jetzt miemmer unsri Sprooch uusmischte, sunscht lande mer no in dr Kischte. Dr politisch Drugg isch aifach zgross, drum heisst s jetzt Negro Freyi Strooss (If you say something wrong once, you have to take a muzzle. Now we have to clear up our language, otherwise we will end up in prison. The political pressure is simply too high, therefore we now say Negro Freyi Strooss”; meaning the carnival group is to be renamed from Rhygass to Freyi Strooss, as Freyi Strooss (Freie Strasse) is a much better address than Rhygass (Rheingasse) – hence the term “Rhygass” may be discriminating).

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Reflection #3: Cleaning (Säu…bere) the Basel carnival (cleaning it from forbidden words, amongst other things)

Another carnival group is called “Seibi” which is the colloquial name for the Barfüsserplatz, where pigs (“Säu” or in the older Basel dialect “Sei”) were traded in medieval times. The German word “säubern” (“säubere” in Swiss German) means “to clean”. “Säubere” has been split into “säu…bere”, and “Säu” are pigs in Swiss German (in German: (“Säue”).  “Seibi” and “säu…bern” are perfect plays on words: The “Seibi” group has selected pigs to clean the Basel carnival: “Mir Säu…bere d’Fasnacht.” They allude to censorship, but also to other issues that might need cleaning.

One verse on the lantern says: “Bym Orwell hän scho d’Sey regiert. Dert gsehsch wo das denn aanefiert (In Orwell’s novel, the pigs governed already. There you can see, where this leads to)”.

The Spoorepeter show this specific “dirty” emoticon on their lantern and say: “S’Engagement krängglet. (Engagement is getting weak)”. This may be a consequence of censorhsip – people are afraid get it wrong. Consequently they hide and do no longer engage toy say or do anything.

Two verses on the lantern say:

  • “Engagement, dr Gerd hörsch lache, d’Hauptsach isch, ych muess nüt mache (Engagement – you year Gerd laugh, the main point is, I do not have to do anything)”
  • “Seesch, ass en uufgob uff dy zue will koo, machsch e Schritt uff d’Syte zum se duure loo (if you see a task approaching, you make a step aside and let it pass by)”.

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Post Scriptum: The Basel carnival is an event with thousands of participants and thousands of visitors

After the lantern exhibition I slender through the narrow streets of Basel. From the terrace of the Old University (founded in 1460), I can see many, many people on the “Mittlere Brücke” (middle bridge) and along the Rhine. They are not only from Basel, but also from many other countries. They enjoy our carnival which plays the role of a jester.

I do hope that censorship will not make the carnival shut up. I do hope that the carnival will continue to play its role as a jester for the people at power and for all of us. It is an organized and discrete valve for the feelings and thoughts of the citizens of Basel. The carnival group “Basler Bebbi” coined the term “shitblizzard” on their lantern: “Das git kai shitstorm of dym Handy, sondern a shitblizzard, Randy (this produces not only a shitstorm on your smartphone, but a shitblizzard)” – I do hope, it was a short shitblizzard.

Post Scriptum of post srciptum: In 2019, the Basel carnival took place from Monday, March 11th, 4 am, until Thursday, March 14th, 4 am. I participated like a butterfly enjoying the parades or the Schnitzelbängg, flour soup and cheese cake in one of the cellars managed by a carnival group and the lantern exhibition on the cathedral square.

 

Basler Fasnacht/Carnival: Impressions from the Ladärne Uustellig/Exhibition of lanterns, starting with some local topics.

Basler Fasnacht (the Basel Carnival) takes place pretty late this year (2019). It started on Monday, March 11th, at 4 am (Morgestraich). Monday and Wednesday afternoon, there was the Cortège (parade), when the Clique (carnival groups) show their Sujets (topics) and the Waggis (seem to be farmers from the Alsace) distribute gifts and Räppli (confetti). The costumes, lanterns and other requisites illustrate the topics selected by the groups.

On Tuesday the lanterns are displayed on the Münsterplatz. I love to visit the lantern exhibition early in the morning, when there are still few people. This is the the 1000 year old cathedral (reconstructed in the 14th/15th century after the earthquake) with the lantern that discusses selling weapons.

It is great to study the lanterns in detail and I am always overwhelmed by the creativity of the artists. These were some of the main Sujets (topics) in 2019: Local events (above all, the end of the trade fair Muba), censorship/shutting up/not engaging, environmental pollution, China invading economy and the world of beetles, emancipation and politics – e.g. with clowns as rulers.

Let me start with the local topics. It is fun to read the verses on the lanterns – I will select some of them and try to translate them to English, which is not always easy.

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Muba: Last spring Trade Fair show after 102 years

The Muba (Mustermesse Basel or Basel trade fair) opened their gates in spring 1917. When we needed a new refrigerator, a new piece of furniture or some wine, up to the late 80-ies we always did a research at the spring Muba fair and we benefited from the Muba discount. But since then the Muba has lost more and more visitors, perhaps also due to the internet. Now this year, in spring 2019, the last Muba took place and then closed its doors for ever. This was a major topic at this year’s carnival. The Blaggedde (carnival badge) shows the well-known clock of the Muba building alluding to the Muba closing down and the carnival lasting until closing down on Thursday at 4 am (“Ändstraich” or final stroke), when the road sweeper cleans the streets of Basel.

This is my Blaggedde – made out of silver and reflecting in the sun.

The lantern of the Breo and Glunggi, Alti Garde, shows our famous Muba clock that decorates building number 2.

The verses read: “S’isch d’Zyt abgloofe, s’ git nüt me z’hoffe” (“time has expired, there is no hope left”) and “kai Mäss me, alles blybt dehai, I by als Muba Uhr elai” (“no trade fair any more, everybody stays at home and me, the Muba clock, I stay alone”). The rat at the bottom asks: “Vo Basel lauft alles drvo. Jä, sölle mir jetzt au no goo?” (“Everybody runs away from Basel. Well, should we now also leave?”).

The Lälli Clique feels sad about the “Tempi Passati” (past times) and paint the melting Muba clock on one of the huge exhibition halls – like Dali’s soft watches. On the watch the verse says: “E grosse Bau, an dr Mäss kai Lüt – das Krüz trait au e Kirche hüt” (“A huge building, no people at the fair – this cross is also affecting the church”; “Mäss” means both trade fair and church mass and hence “Mäss” is reused for the mass in the church, where there are also less people now).

The Muggedätscher merge the words “Muba” and “bachab” (going down the river) to “mubachab”. One verse on their lantern says:”d’Muba macht dicht – e leidi Gschicht” (“the trade fair closes down – what a sad story”) and “Basel mit ihre Mässe, kasch en Globo vergässe” (“Basel with its trade fairs, you can forget that completely”) The lantern shows the federal council Doris Leuthard. She resigned this year and she shed some tears when giving her last speech in Bern.

The Ueli on the lantern of the Breo und Glunggi, alti Garde is also very sad – he is waving good-bye with his handkerchief. The Ueli symbolizes the medieval court jester and the jester is one of the traditional costumes at the Basler Fasnacht/carnival. One verse says: “Dr Ueli het Dräne uff dr Bagge…” (Ueli has got tears on his cheeks”).  The jester at the court could tell the truth to the king, and this is what the Basel carnival is about as well – show to our power holders, what the people feel and think.

The Rumpel-Clique discusses the wine fair that was also part of the Muba. I loved to compare wines from various Swiss producers and from all around the world by tasting the wine before ordering it. Well, you had to carefully select, what you wanted to taste… some people staggered through the Muba halls after their wine tastings.

Breo und Glunggi, alti Garde, sum up “Basel Mässe kasch glatt vergässe” (“Basel trade fairs – you can forget them totally”).

The signpost points to other trade fairs in Switzerland such as BEA or OLMA or to Internet trade markets such as Zalando.

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Do all citizens (Bebbi) think about leaving Basel?

This is the lantern of the Alti Garde of the AGB (Alti Glaibasler) and Spezi Clique. They think that not only the rats of the Muba, but all Bebbi (citizens of Basel) think about leaving their home town, but where to?  “Dr Bebbi dänggt, he nundefaane. Y wott jo furt vo Basel, aber wo könnt y ächt aane?” (“The citizen of Basel thinks, hm oh dear. I want to go away from Basel, but where on earth could I go to?”; Nundefaane is a softened curse imported from the Alsace. “Faane”=”banner”; “Bebbi” is a gentle name for the citizens of Basel).

A nice detail is the fountain with the Balisisk. There are about 25 of these Basilisk fountains in Basel set up in the late 19th century. They provide drinking water for men and for dogs (separate bowl at the bottom). Some time ago, I blogged about the Basilisks in Basel and their fountains.

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We want our Basilisks back at the Wettstein bridge – d’Basilisgge zrugg an d’Wettschtaibrugg!

Not everybody wants to leave Basel, the basilisks are faithful, and this is why the Höibärgler want to bring them back to the Wettstein bridge: “Mir hole d’Basilisgge zrugg and d’Wettschtaibrugg” (“We bring back the Basilisks to the Wettstein bridge”).

This is a very local topic. For the Wettsteinbrücke, an artist created four basilisks, now only one is left here, two are somewhere else in Basel and one is in Meggen near Lucerne. The Höibärgler want that the other three basilisks return to their original places at the Wettsteinbrücke. This is the one Basilisk that was allowed to stay at the entrance to the Wettsteinbrücke.

Well, I feel ashamed about the Wettstein bridge that has become an ungraceful bridge in the 1990-ies, after the city of Basel had rejected the proposal of Calatrava. Some more decoration for the bridge is not a bad idea, I believe. Yes, I agree with the Höibärgler: Bring back the Basilisks!

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Picasso in Beyeler

In 1967 Picasso’s “Harlequin” and “two Brothers” remained in Basel, though the donator who had financial problems intended to sell them. I was a teenager then and I remember the enthusiasm and the legendary decision of the inhabitants of Basel to keep those two paintings. Again this year Picasso is venerated in Basel: The Beyeler museum shows his early paintings of the blue and rose period. The Gellerettli pipers group created a lantern with the topic “himmelblau und rooseroot” (azure and pink): “Z’Basel dräumt me himmelblau und roosarot. Jetzt git’s niemets, wo an d’Muba goot” (“in Basel people are dreaming in azure and pink. Now there is no one visiting the Muba (trade fair) any more”; presumably because they all prefer to see their Picassos in the Beyeler museum).

By the way, the name “Gelleretli” comes from the French “quelle heure est-il?” which means “what time is it?”.

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TV series “Tatort” (“site of crime”) in Basel

Last summer, the TV criminal story series “Tatort” took place in Basel. The Spezi-Clique Stamm take this up with the lantern that shows the city center. In one of their verses, they play with words: In German you can understand “Tatort” as a “site of crime” or as a “site of action”: “Bim Roothuus froog ich mii, ka das iberhaupt e Tatort sy” (“about the townhall I ask myself, whether this can be a site of action at all” (translating “Tatort” primarily as “action” and not as “crime”, indicating that the town council may not be too active).

As related to the townhall: There are a lot of jokes about a baby participating in a townhall session with its mother. A baby is called a “Buschi” in Basel and the rhyme says: “The baby thinks that this is really not possible – me at the Grand Council. But it has to wait for another five years, until it can join kindergarden”.

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Goma in the Basel Zoo, called Zolli here

I remember the year 1959… I was eight years old then and Goma was the first gorilla baby born in a zoo. We were very proud of our “Zolli”. After having given birth to more gorilla babies, the old lady died last year. The Jungi Spale-Clique takes up the topic with their lantern. One side shows this photo album of Goma.

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Separate tracks and paths for bicycles.: A performance of the Alti Stainlemer

Already at the Morgestraich, after 4 am on Monday, I noticed the rolling wheel of the Alti Stainlemer moving forward in the dark. It is their “rolling stone”. This may be a punch, as the name of the Clique (carnival group) “Alti Stainlemer” contains the word “Stein” or “stone”.

In the Cortège (parade), one guy sat on top of this rolling stone and the whole group was on wheels. Some painted signs for “bicycles only” on to the pavement.

Hence, I conclude, the “rolling stone” is another bicycle, a huge bicycle. I do not know, whether I would like to stand up high on that rolling stone, as one member of the group did. In Basel there have been a series of votings about separate paths for bicycles that the Alti Stainlemer are alluding to.

The verses on the rolling stone lantern are: “Dr Baschi – sträng und ganz bestimmt: “Ass jo ekain my Tesla nimmt”  (“Baschi says severely and clearly: Nobody to steal my Tesla”; the head of the police department, called “Baschi”, acquired Tesla cars for the police of Basel). More verses: “Wär in dr Schwyz en Auti faart, ghört bald scho zuenere gschützten Art” (“those who still drive a car in Switzerland, will soon belong to a protected species”). And:

“Ein uff em Velo schreit “Du Schlampe”
und znacht faart är denn oony Lampe.
Am Schtopp halte macht er nyt.
Worschynts isch das sy letschte Ritt.”

“Someone on a bicycle shouts: “You sloven”
and at night he drives without light.
He does not stop at the stop sign.
Could well be that this is his last ride.”

Yes, macabre… But some cyclists are really brave and audacious, when moving in the city traffic.

With the rolling Alti Stainlemer I end the review of local topics at the Tuesday Ladärneuustellig or lantern exhibition on the Münsterplatz.

 

 

Basel Carnival 2018 – about the lantern exhibition: Eating insects, figugegl and hol’s dr Geier

Let us come back to the lantern exhibition 2018 on the Cathedral Square with some cheerful topics: Eating insects, Figugegl and hol’s dr Geier.

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Eating insects

Eating insects – this is a new gourmet trend that can be well expressed in the masks and fancy costumes matching the lanterns.

Look at this enticing menu made from insects. “Dä Börger isch feiner mit e paar Säggsbeiner” – “this (ham)-burger is more delicious with a few (animals with) six legs”.

Enjoy the barbecue at the edge of the plate: “Made, Würmer muesch uffspiesse, erscht denn kasch s’Ässe richtig gniesse” – “grubs, worms – this is what you have to skewer, only then you can enjoy your meal.”

This lantern plays with the words: “Dr Wurm isch dinne” – “the worm is inside”. Yes, the worm is inside the meal, but in German this means at the same time: “This is, where the rub or the problem is”.

At the cortège, the Pfluderi were disguised as grasshoppers assembling around this huge grasshopper. The verse says: “In dr Gourmetbaiz froogt e Maa, könnt ich d’Made saignant ha” – “in the restaurant a guest asks, whether he could have the grub rare”.

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Figugegl

Many, many years ago, Figugegl was the publicity for Fondue, one of the Swiss national meals (melted cheese). Figugegl was an acronym: „Fondue isch guet und git e gueti Luune“ or “Fondue is good and gives good humour”. The Gassegotter replaced “Fondue” with “Fitness” which leads to “Fitness isch gsund und git e gueti Luune” or “Fitness is good and gives good humour”.

The Gassegotter comment the trend for extreme slimness by recommending that „äs birebitzli rund isch gsund“ or “a little bit “round” is healthy”.

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Hol’s dr Geier – Basel first

Trump says „USA first“. On this lantern I found „Basel zerscht“ or “Basel first” , along with – „hol’s dr geier“ or “the vulture may grab it”.

Well, the vulture might be a sign for bankruptcy, but… “D’Roche Schuublaade sin no lang nyt lär, das fräit e jede-n-Aggtionär“ or “the drawers of Roche will not be empty for many years, this makes every shareholder happy”.

In addition I find here a tought about the lantern exhibition at the Münsterplatz or Cathedral Square: „Dä Münschterplatzz (isch) schön, Ladärne dört obe schtön“ – “That Cathedral Square is beautiful – lanterns are standing up there.”

Yes I agree, the Cathedral Square is beautiful, in particular, when the lanterns are “up there”. And I agree: Basel first! – I look forward to next year’s lantern exhibition on Tuesday, March 12th 2019.

 

Basel Carnival 2018 – about the exhibition of lanterns: The world at risk

Let us come back to the lantern exhibition 2018 at the Cathedral Square. This time I will talk about the gloomy topic that largely dominated this year’s carnival: The world at risk.

This is, how the Giftschnaigge illustrate the subject “Risiko – risk” on their lantern: “D’Wält stoot uff em Spiil” – “The world is at stake”. The metapher for “at stake” in German is “auf dem Spiel” which relates to the politicians gambling. The punch with gambling only works in German.

Three politicians are on the lantern below, Kim Jong Un loving the United States (hm), Putin sitting on an innocent unicorn and Trump uttering something not very nice.

The Alte Stainlemer painted more abstract faces for Kim and Trump at PjöngJangeles alluding to the Olympic Games in South Korea and simultaneously to the competition about “Ballistic Games” between the two.

The other side of their lantern shows Kim and Trump competing to score. In the cortège or parade “incarnations” of the two competitors even perfomed their score mastering. In another “incarnation”, Trump and Kim played with a globe and from time to time placed it on a nuclear power plant tower.

The Schnurebegge say on their lantern: “Es dien die beide wirre Irre zünftig mit de Sääbel klirre” – “the two confused fools are jangling heavily with their swords”.

The group CCB (Central Club Basel) invented the new name “Corean Club Basel”. Kim presents a very explosive menu, it is “a bombe surprise”.

“Wenn die acht so wytermache, wird die Wält usenander krache” –  In case these eight guys will continue in this way, the world is going to break apart”. Do you recognize the eight faces that the Dupf Club assembeld in this balloon?

Some lanterns show visions of where we may end up, in case the politicians will continue in this way.

All very frightening, but this is what the Basel Carnival is about – discussing both cheerful AND gloomy topics. The Carnival acts as a catalyzer for good and bad feelings. In my next, third blog about the exhibition of lanterns, I will take up some more cheerful topics.

Basel and its Carnival – about the 2018 exhibition of lanterns: Fake news, digital world and sharing economy

Short overview of the Basler Fasnacht or Basel Carnival

This year the Basel Carnival took place from 19th to 21st of February 2018, for the first time as a Unesco World Heritage.

As always, it started with the Morgestraich – a word that cannot be translated. Look at this link from the Luzernerzeitung, to see how, on Monday at precisely 4 o’clock a.m., the lights go out, the drums and pipes start playing and the lanterns start to “walk” through the dark night. This is the magic moment that kicks off our “three extraordinary days”.The 2018 motto is: “D’Boscht goot ab” which means “we are kicking it off right”, but which in addition alludes to the post offices (Boscht) that are changing dramatically right now.

Many of the topics taken up at the 2018 Carnival were political. I will present some of the political and some of the more cheerful topics by strolling through the lantern exhibition at the Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square) which takes place all Tuesday and on Wednesday morning. During this time the Cliquen or carnival groups do not need their lanterns. They pick them up again later on Wednesday for the second parade or cortège. In the cortèges of Monday and Wednesday, the lanterns match the masks and the disguise to illustrate the topics selected by the groups.

Also the Schnitzelbanggsänger (some sort of minstrels) comment the events of the year. Here are two verses about fake news and about #metoo (both sung by Stächpalme which in biology is a holly. However, literally translated it is a “biting palm tree” alluding to the biting comments the Stächpalme makes).

Fake news:

Dr Trump het gnueg vom wysse Huus und wird neu Chef vo Twitter
Dr Pabscht hürootet d’Lindysey Vonn und landet hinter Gitter
D‘Merkel schtolkt dr Macron z’Nacht im Dussel – s’isch e Gruus,
D’Queen kifft mit em Butler – ich verfolg der Fake Niuus Bluus.

Trump is sick of the White House and now became head of Twitter,
the Pope marries Lindsey Vonn and ends up behind bars.
Merkel stalks Macron at night when drunk – it is just gloomy.
The Queen smokes weed with her Butler – I am following the Fake News Blues.

#metoo :

Jetzt goot’s em Santiglaus an Kraage.
die alt Frau Niggli isch am Klaage,
Er hege’re vor 80 Joor – sy heig das lang verdrängt -,
won‘r sy in Sagg geschteggt heg, ans lingge Schynbai aneglänggt.

Now Santa Clause has a problem.
Old Mrs Wicky is complaining,
it was 80 years ago – she has suppressed that for a long time -,
that, when pushing her in his sack, he touched her left shinbone.

During Carnival the weather was mostly clouded, sometimes sunny. It never rained. Temperatures were chilly, as the frozen Tingueley fountain shows.

Even the ducks avoided the water – simply too cold.

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The exhibition of lanterns on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning

Our Cathedral from the 11th and 14th century is a great background for the lanterns exhibited at the Münsterplatz or Cathedral Square.

Let me start with the lanterns about fake news, the digital world and the sharing economy. Important details on the lanterns are the small verses – I will try to translate some of them.

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Fake News

The Barbara Clique takes up the topic “Fake News” and transcribing it to our local dialect “alles glooge, feyk niuus” – “all lies – fake news”.

Their lantern is a big Pinocchio on one side.

Pinocchio’s long nose alludes to the fact that he often lies – and this is what fake news are about – lies.

The other side of the lantern shows all the well known politicians looking down into hell where Pinocchio is emerging.

These are some of the verses:  “Isch dr Trump am Twittere, isch die ganzi Wält am Zittere” – When Trump is twittering, the whole world is shivering”. And “Dr Trump froogt dr Erdogaan, lyydisch au an Greessewaan?” – Trump asks Erdogan, do you also suffer from delusions of grandeur?”

Walking around the lantern I find this verse: “S’git Lyt, die dien sich soo verbiege, dass sy nit mergge, dass sy liege” – some people are distorting their body so much that they do not notice that they are lying” (distorting alludes to lies).

And another small detail: “Do im Roothuus dien si liege, bis sich alli Bälgge biege” – “Here in (our) townhall they are lying that all beams are being distorted.” In our dialect (and also in German), “to lie, until the beams are being distorted” or “to lie, until you are distorted” means that you are REALLY lying.

The group Seibi Mysli (little mice from the Seibi or Barfüsser Square) transformed the alternative facts into our dialect: “Lätz geschwätzti Facts” or “Wrongly stated facts”. The verse says “do muesch dy frooge, verglemmi alles glooge” – you have to ask, what the deuce, all just lies” (“verglemmi” is a rather soft swearword in the Basel dialect, I am not sure, how to translate that into English).

And the washer women are complaining: “Mir Wöschfraue könne de News nümme draue” – We washer women can no longer trust the news”.

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A digital world

Digital was another topic coming up – everything goes digital, even the war. But there are also more cheerful sides about digital, which are google omnipresent for searching and the Emojis.

The most innovative (and I assume, the most expensive) lantern was the globe made by the “d’Revoluzzer”. It is not a painted lantern, but it consists out of 40 screens that are changing scenes. The globe weighs more than a ton and is pulled on a cart. By the way, when you pronounce “digital” in Basel, it comes out like “digidal”.

Digital may end up in a digital war, as this gloomy figure illustrates grabbing everything in its way.

The young department of the group (Clique) Rätz show a more cheerful aspect of digital. They ask “Dänggsch no oder guuglisch scho?” – “Do you still think our do you already google?” “Google” is transcribed to “guugle” and is often used as a verb in our local dialect (Du guuglisch=you google).

Without thinking first, the Jungi Rätz comment that we often google everything such as “WorumWärWasWämWoWieWenn” – WhyWhoWhatWhomWhereHowWhen”.

The very small guys of the Naarebaschi (very small guys are “Binggis” in Basel) illustrate the topic “Emoji instead of ABC”. Maybe the Binggis hope that they do no longer have to learn, how to write, but can use Emoji instead. At the cortège (parade) they all came disguised as Emojis – a great topic for small guys or Binngis.

The lantern of the Binggis gives an overview of Emojis. I particularly like the brownish emoji with the happy face.

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Sharing economy

The Wiehlmys or digging mice (I also found the “biological expression” “root vole”) propose to “rent a mouse” which in our dialect can be expressed as “Muuslehne”.

The verse on the cash says “Nyt me, was me nyt uuslehne kaa, fir Gäld kasch aifach alles ha” or “Nothing that you cannot rent, for money you can have everything.” Yes, I have heard that you can even rent sheep to cut your lawn…

 Let us put off some more lanterns of the Cathedral Square exihibition for some later blogs.

 

Basler Fasnacht – impressions from the Ladärne-n-Usschtellig

Fasnacht 2017 at Basel (carnival) was celebrated in March, from Monday 6th/4 a.m. to Thursday 9th/4 a.m. Let me recall impressions from the Ladärne-n-Usschtellig or exhibition of lanterns.

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The exhibition of lanterns (Ladärne-n-Usschtellig ) takes place on the Münsterplatz –  a great background

On carnival Tuesday, the lanterns (Ladärne) are presented on the Münsterplatz – the cathedral underlines the solemnity of the many pieces of art presented here. They are the centerpieces of the sujets (or themes) that the Cliquen (carnival groups) have selected for this year’s carnival. Here I am remembering some of the themes.

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One theme: China – buying enterprises

China is buying enterprises, also in Switzerland. “Kyna duet do läädele” (China goes shopping here). Syngenta was on their buying list – may be La Roche (La Losch) is next and then also the “Fääle” (the Rhine ferry boat, it seems that the Chinese say “l” instead of “r”)…

… or they may intend to buy the Sutter Begg (a well-known bakery), the Basler Kantonalbank (bank of Basel), BVB (the public transportation of Basel) and more…

The Asian cat is greeting us.

Another theme: Angscht – fear – adds a black mood to this year’s carnival

Many lanterns are dark. “Angscht” or “fear” is omnipresent.

The Lälli Clique presents Atlas trying to prevent the world from falling apart.

Idefix, the small dog of Obelix, swears “bim Teutates” and underlines his anger with his paw: D’Wält spinnt” (the world is crazy –  but I love Basel),…

… they are are all cheating (alles trixt)… VW, Fifa and Bangge (the banks)… and they are paying no taxes (verstüürnix)… and Service publix? – Well, I watch Nexflix”

“Extrem rächts” or extremely right-wing – is a tendency that worries some of the carnival groups. Ghosts from the past?

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Some more joyful themes: Heidi, holes in Switzerland, Pokemons and more

This patriotic Swiss scenery – an almost perfect world – is brightening up the mood: Heidi, Spyri’s novel about the girl from the mountains, has recently been filmed. Here she is acting in front of the camera with Gaissepeter (goatherd Peter).

The new Gotthard railway tunnel has been inaugurated shortening travel time between the Ticino and the rest of Switzerland. For the inauguration festîvities, our Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard wears a jacket with round holes – resembling our cheese from the Emmental. Her jacket is controversial – many like it and some do not. “GottArt” for the Gotthard is a punch and the marmots welcome the tunnel as well. I think, the jacket with holes is a great and courageous idea.

Pokemons are hidden all over Basel and around the cathedral. This hype became a wonderful topic full of fantasy, primarily for some “Jungi Garde” or kids in the carnival groups.

The City-Hupfer allows tourists to hop (hupfe) AROUND the Basel city center. AROUND the city center, because much of the center is car free: The tourists have to leave the bus and walk to reach the sights. The number plate is “BS or Basel 2017”.

The Swiss boxer Anton Gjergjaj is very successful. Here he is as batman with the black double eagle on his red coat. In the cortège (parade), the drummers and pipers were cobras.

This lantern is full of details commenting the world. I particulary like “the hundred days of Sankt Ischias” in the damp Verena canyon. The monk is suffering from sciatic pain (Ischias). “Das Kreuz als Kraftort” translates to “the cross as a place of power”. In German it is a punch, as “Kreuz” can be both the Christian “cross” and also the lower part of the back (where the sciatic pain hurts).

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Yet another theme: Food

The Binggis (young kids) ask where the milk comes from, and they ask it in German, French and Italian. Well, we buy our milk in shops, and it comes in cardboard boxes – like the shape of the lantern. Kids from towns may not know the real source – cows, as the white color and black spots suggest.

“Fleisch isch geschter – mir grille, grille” (Meat is yesterday, we are barbecuing, barbecuing). “Grille” is Swiss German for “to barbecue” and “grille” is also the insect “cricket” that we may eat in future (instead of meat). “Grille” is a punch that only works in Swiss German.

The Queerschleger look for healthy “super food” such as carots, mais, cucumbers or fennel. “Güürkli” or “gherkins” are another option. In all… juice and organic vegetables are good for our heart, and also “gsund fir d’Katz und dr Hund” (healthy for the cat and the dog).

On this same lantern, the crab shows the white flag… and it may be successful, if we restrict our diet to nothing but vegetables.

May this white flag brighten the often dark mood of this year’s carnival and give hope that Atlas will hold the world together such that next year’s carnival will present more bright topics.

Yes, next year in 2018, Fasnacht will be on February 19th to 21st. As always it will start on Monday at 4 a.m. with the Morgestraich (“morning stroke”, see the video of radio Basilisk). It is celebrated with the Cortège (parade), Schnitzelbängg (carnival songs), Kinderfasnacht (children’s carnival), Guggekonzärt (“dissonant” brass music) and Schyssdräggzygli (small groups piping and drumming). It ends with the Endstreich (“final stroke”) on Thursday 4 a.m. The Fasnachtscomité explains it all and the internet is full of reviews and videos. I always enjoy the creative skill that the groups (called “Cliquen”) demonstrate year after year and look forward to 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

Around Basel on a rainy day – in search of the Benkenspitz or Bänggeschpitz

Today it is a rainy and rather warm mid-February day in 2017. I set out to discover the Benkenspitz or “Bängeschpitz”. This is a narrow forest “wedge” of Benken (Switzerland) extending into France between the two French villages Hagenthal and Neuwiller (the border between Switzerland and France is drawn in pink on this Swissmobility map).

benkenspitz

This “wedge” called “Benkenspitz” is some 900m long and some 100m wide. The narrowest place is at the “entrance” in the south – just 62m wide. In the Internet I found some secondary information that says this forest “wedge” has already belonged to Benken, when Basel acquired it in the early 16th century. It is assumed that this might have been a good place for hunting. Actually I came across quite a few hunting stands in this area both on the Swiss and on the French side.

My  blog “Around Basel – looking for old boundary stones on a sunny cold day” talks about my cold winter walk to the boundary stones between Oberwil (that until about 1800 belonged to the Bishopric of Basel) and Benken (that – with Biel – had been acquired by the town Basel soon after 1500). Today it is rather warm and rainy. The Passwang is still covered with snow.

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I am on the Bielhübel in front of the water reservoir with its natural pond.

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Not far from here are the beautifully restored boundary stones from the 17th and 18th century that mark the border between Oberwil (Bishopric of Basel) and Biel-Benken (belonging to Basel).

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I continue my way above Biel and come across a lady on a very, very dirty mountain bike. “Have you seen anyone on a mountain bike – I have lost my husband… no?… “Matthias, Matthiaaaas”… I do not want to frighten the animals, there is so much deer around here… I am from Spain… Matthiaaaas, Matthiaaaaaaass…” and finally Matthias replies and she is happy. “You are looking for boundary stones?… there is one not far from here…”, she says knowing well the history of Biel-Benken. Right, here it is, shortly before reaching the Swiss hiking path marked in green at the Swiss-French border.

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From here I continue along the Swiss-French border between Neuwiller and Biel-Benken. A small footpath follows the boundary stones, marked with the Swiss cross on one side…

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… and with the “F” for France on the other side (1816 – this was just after the Congress of Vienna in 1815).

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Later this well prepared hiking path ends and continues as a muddy path. EXACTLY where the nice path ends and the mud begins is – guess what – the border between France and Switzerland.

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I cross this road to continue following the boundary stones. I meet a lady with two dogs. She comes from Neuwiller in France and takes out dogs of various owners. We speak French with one another while one of the dogs barks loudly at me – with a French accent.

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After having paved my way through a muddy meadow, I cross the road connecting Benken with Neuwiller. Again, it is very clear, where the border is. Baselland (Basle Country), the canton of cherry trees, says good-bye to the cars crossing the border and driving to Neuwiller in France.

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I cross the road and follow the ditch that is the border between Switzerland and France. This one boundary stone is nicely coloured on the Swiss side.

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Still following the ditch I approach the “entrance” of the Benkenspitz. It starts on the meadow between the two forests.

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I first see the boundary stone to the west of the “entrance”. I am confused, but then I find the stone marking the east of the “entrance” to the forest “wedge” and enjoy the view of the Jura hills in Switzerland.

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I continue along the east line – one boundary stone after the next to make it all clear, where Switzerland ends in this narrow wedge and where France starts.

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A huge tractor cuts trees – in France. I  have reached the end of the Swiss wedge called “Benkenspitz” and return back along the west border – again well  marked.

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I leave the Benkenspitz behind me and continue to follow the French-Swiss border. This is an interesting cooperation: A Swiss traffic sign (only residents are allowed to drive here) and a French hiking sign of the Club Vosgien.

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And – across of this French-Swiss cooperation – be aware, following this hiking sign takes you to France, only allowed when having nothing to declare!

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Along vineyards the boundary stones lead me down towards Benken.

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I take the bus back to Bottmingen – good that public transportation works so efficiently.