EVG in Germany

Saturday, June 24, 2006


"I had a bad experience at this game. Did we lose?" -- Ari Lev, 7:15 PM, June 22nd, 2006, approx. 80 minutes after the U.S. got bounced from the World Cup.

Ari, needless to say, should not drink on an empty stomach.

First and foremost, that was NEVER a penalty. The U.S. team maybe didn't deserve to advance, but it would've been nice to see what the second half would've looked like if not for that call.

I got to my seat at the stadium and a guy, Eric, that works at VH1 was sitting two rows in front of me. Gotta love the small world thing.

Ari, Ilan and Brandon headed back to the U.S. today. Orly and I are in Berlin and may head to Prague in a few days.

There are lots more GREAT quotes from the two weeks we spent driving around in a Mitsubishi Grandis and causing general nervousness among both the passengers in our car, motorists and pedestrians. I'll share more soon... but this has to be shared now... before the Ghana game this guy, a D.C. United fan, shared with us two things:

1. The previous night he'd had a bad experience with a döner kebap. He said: "I've traveled to more than 80 countries for work, and I've NEVER had a meat problem like this." He really said meat problem.

2. He also was, generally, a very nice guy... he just didn't know how to write a good song. Proof? This ditty he taught us on match day: "Michael Essien has a really nice haircut... because his mother is a whore... but he's gonna score a goal."

You really need to hear the tune to totally get how funny it is. But the total lack of logic is right there in the quote. We talked about it for awhile Friday and we still haven't been able to figure it out.

Until next time... keep your hair shaggy, or send your mom to Germany to be an underworked hooker...

Monday, June 19, 2006


I'm not really even sure where to begin.

After Black Monday, we headed up to Amsterdam for a 24-hour stay. When we arrived, I successfully navigated the streets of central Amsterdam in a rental car, nearly every second almost hitting a biker or driving into a canal. Good fun, regardless. We stayed in a beautiful room overlooking the Liedesgracht canal and enjoyed everything Amsterdam has to offer, including the local "cuisine."

On Wednesday, we drove to Köln. On the way, we took small German backroads, stopped so Ilan could scope out a real life windmill and even bought strawberries from a roadside stand.

In Köln, we stayed with Bianka and her two kids. Bianka was Ilan, Orly and Ari's au pair for a little more than a year back in the '80s. She was a great host and her children were wonderful too. After Germany beat Poland on Wednesday night, we partied in the streets with everyone. (Someone forgot to tell them it was only the second game of the tournament.)

Did some sightseeing on Thursday, and Friday too before we decided to make a side trip to Luxembourg. Let me say this now, and I want to make it clear so I'm going to say it in big letters on a separate line.

Someday go to Luxembourg, even if just for dinner.

We made it to the center of the capital city (also called Luxembourg) for dinner by about 6:30 on Friday evening. We had an amazing meal -- Orly and Ilan ate something delicious called the WHAZZZUP, which the barman sheepishly admitted was named seven years ago after the Bud commercial. It involved two burgers, some kind of great sauce and an omellete on a roll. It was fantastic. I had a salad... but, since I am in Europe, I had them put steak and chopped bacon on it. So good.

As we left the restaurant, a student concert band was warming up in the courtyard, and as we walked past they started their first song. It was instantly recognizable as..... "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. Except played as an instrumental... by Luxembourgian kids... without those inane lyrics and in a totally mellow style... it was GOOD. Like Right with a capital R. I have a video of about 30 seconds of it on my camera. I wish I could post it for you. It's just amazing.

After a few hours in Luxe, we hit the road for the three-hour drive to the next shitbox hotel. We didn't leave anything in the room this time and everything was fine.

There was the Italy-US game on Saturday, which was great. If you saw it, you know how well the U.S. played and hopefully you could hear us singing on TV. It was LOUD in the stadium and the team was SO MUCH better than against Czech Republic. If things go well on Thursday, then the U.S. would play Brazil next Tuesday. That, as you might imagine, would be very fun indeed.

Now we're in Büdingen/Dudelsheim, staying again with Raffi at the home where he grew up. Today and yesterday we've seen some nice schloßs (castles) and invented the sweet new German TV game show, Schloß oder Dom oder Fabrik oder Barn, coming soon to a German TV channel near you.

Until next internet cafe...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


You take the good with the bad, at least that's the way the saying goes.

Good: We got to Gelsenkirchen on Monday morning, hung out in the city center in the bright sunshine, and had beers, sang songs and basically had a blast with about a thousand U.S. fans or more.

Bad: The U.S. got absolutely stuffed by the Czechs and our good friend Rosicky (which the Czech fans and stadium announcer pronounce Roh-sid-ski).

Worse: We returned to our shitbag hotel about midnight and I found that my laptop computer, cell phone and digital camera power cord had been stolen. Oh yeah, and one match ticket for both the US-Italy game on Saturday and US-Ghana next week.

That was a bit of insult to injury, but all things considered it could be much worse. This is the way I'm cheering myself up, in no particular order:

  • I had my passport with me at the time.
  • I have my camera with me and never deleted any pictures off the memory card, so I still have all of them from this trip.
  • Knowing this could happen, I backed up all my photos and music and the majority of my documents before I left for Europe.
  • I filed a police report, have renter's insurance and barring a deductible of about $500, they should help pay for me to replace the phone and computer.
  • Since I've now reported the phone stolen, Verizon has suspended my service for 30 days, so I'll actually save about $50 on that bill.
  • On the FIFA site, they say "no one will be penalized for lost tickets" so there's a good chance we'll be able to get the tickets replaced when we get back to Germany.
  • The German police that left the police report for us were SUPER nice and even left a note on our car windshield that said: "Have a nice trip!"

Other than that... there's been lots of funny stuff happening, we're having a great time (really), and it's been fun. I had just written a lot more here that I think lightened the mood a bit, but it's just mysteriously disappeared off the screen. Oh well.

Until next internet cafe...


Monday, June 12, 2006


Saturday, June 10, 2006


If you want paella, go to Spain. If it's prosciutto you crave, head to Italia. And if you're in the market for schadenfreude, all you have to do is come to Deutschland.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, schadenfreude is a German word that's thought to have no English equivalent. It means, in short, "pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune."

The Germa
ns invented the term and therefore are surely the best practitioners. This was evident late on Friday night as the Germans -- happy enough with a 4-2 win over Costa Rica -- doubled their pleasure when Poland was upset 2-0 by Ecuador. We were sitting in the park after the Germany game...

...when we heard an eruption of noise from a nearby bar. "Must be a goal for Poland," we said, as how many Ecuadorians could there be in Berlin, some 4 hours drive from where the game was being played. Nope, a moment later we heard the announcement that it was Ecuador that scored to make it 1-nil. After sitting in the park until the moon came out...

...and the sun set... (which doesn't happen until almost 10 PM here, which makes me about THIS

...we set off for another cafe and another beer -- except Raffi, who was laughed at by the waitress for ordering a tomato juice. Soon we witnessed another Ecuador goal. Cue more schadenfreude-inspired cheering/jeering of their neighbors to the east. If someone would've made a "How many Polish guys does it take to screw in a lightbulb" joke just then I would've lost it. I really enjoyed it that much.

As for the Germany game itself, there was a great atmosphere inside the tent at the beer garden and I didn't have to tell anyone to get naked in order to hold onto the seats. The final tally: 12 people in our group, six goals, four for the home team, several fine beers consumed.

Tomorrow I set off for Dusseldorf to meet up with the Levs and "Mellow Yellow", who is not Asian.

Until then...

Friday, June 09, 2006


I made my first attempt at grassroots marketing today. I kinda doubt it'll help.

This is the big set-up they have going to watch the games in Potsdamerplatz at the Sony Center.

Other scenes from the hours leading up to the first game...

At the drei-v-drei game, there were some Dutch guys cheering on the dudes in red as if they were the Holland national team. Good stuff. The dudes in red won be several goals.
Now I'm off to try to save 12 seats at a beer garden for one hour by myself, without knowing how to say much in Deutsche. Last night Phillip taught me "Maches Naches" (sp?), which means simply "Make yourself naked." That oughta help me keep the space clear.

Bis morgen... (If you're in the US, turn on ESPN2 at Noon Eastern.)


Thursday, June 08, 2006


Okay, so it wasn't the NC-17 thing you were hoping for, but this cool park is near the home stadium for the two former East German soccer clubs in Berlin (both play now in the lower divisions of the German league), and it features swings on the edge of a hill that overlook what was once West Berlin. The stadium was basically just barely on the East side of the wall. (That's Raffi, king of Berlin, on the left.)

"So you say you'd like to meet at Alexsanderplatz at what time? Let me just check my watch, which I felt the need to purchase after stupidly missing my connecting flight. Oh yes, 1 o'clock would be great for me. See you then."

"Or would you rather meet near Ronaldinho right now? My watch says I'm there. No? Ok, I'll go have a currywurst instead. Auf wiedersehn!"

More imaginary convesations from a guy with cell-phone-withdrawal syndrome another time...

I am now firmly aware that there is a massive difference between a “vacation” and “quitting your job, turning off your brain and heading to
Europe.” On a “vacation”, I’ve never once missed a connecting flight because I’ve loafed around the lounge for too long, failing to realize that I’d have to go through passport control and down The Longest Hallway in the History of Mankind at the Frankfurt airport. I ran and I ran, even incorporating a moving sidewalk or two along the way, and still I was late. In turn, I had a few extra hours to spend chilling in the Frankfurt airport, so I amused myself by watching little kids and businessmen play fusball on the tables that Lufthansa has placed throughout the terminal. I had a go myself, but one-man fusball leaves a little something to be desired. Even so, I scored two goals and did the robot in honor of Peter Crouch.

The comedy of errors continued on the ground in Berlin, as I walked off the plane and straight out through security, not realizing, quite illogically, that I should’ve probably grabbed my luggage first. This led to a trip to the Lufthansa baggage claim office to speak with a nice woman with spiky red hair. She told me to walk past the bus station, down some stairs and look for the white building. “Your luggage will be there in 45 minutes,” she said. And so it was. Here’s a pic of me waiting for my bag. I tried to take this self-portrait twice, and didn’t realize I was blinding the customs officer behind the window with the flash.

When I finally got my bag, I passed the gentleman you see over my shoulder and his colleague asked me if I had any cigarettes. I thought it was quite rude for a gainfully employed guy to try to bum a smoke, but it turns out it was a standard customs question. I told them I had none, but volunteered that I would be off to Amsterdam in a week. They warned me to watch out for the space cakes, I thanked them and I was off. A bus and a train later and I made it to a café in Prenzauer Berg to wait for Raffi. The weather is here, wish you were beautiful, etc. etc.

Until next time…


Wednesday, June 07, 2006


The left is me about to hit the road, and the right is Paul. Paul is living in my apartment in Williamsburg. If you see him around, say hello.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I propose a new rule: When about to spend a month or more out of the United States, you must absolutely destroy your body by consuming extremely American food on the night before your departure. Case in point? Last night, in a stupor brought on by the intake of several bottles of the fine American lager Budweiser, I stumbled into my local White Castle. It was there that I purchased the food you see above. Harold and Kumar would be proud, I think.

Friday, June 02, 2006


When I first moved into my neighborhood about a year ago, I'd noticed there's this shop on my walk to the train that had a sticker up saying it accepted MasterCard: "The Official Card of World Cup USA '94". Well, today on my way to my last day of work I noticed it again, so I snapped a picture of it. I figure it could be a good sign.

Another good one this morning: I just flipped on KEXP, which has been my best friend for five years, and the song that was playing was this Barmy Army track called "Sharp as a Needle" that features football chants and announcer commentary -- including a passing reference to Ian Rush, whose skills on the field were rivaled only by his fantastic late-'80s mustachio.

I swear this blog gets way more exciting in a few days. I promise. Even I'm bored with this.

Until next time...