Category Archives: Editorial

Spice Up Your “Fahrvergnügen” – Go Big & Bold With Color

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Car Colors in Germany – All Used to Be Possible

Did it ever occur to you that car colors here in California are quite boring? A recent look at a major shopping mall’s parking lot seems to proof my point…

It almost looks like a car dealership; all white cars on one side and black/dark colors lined up on the other. Pretty subdued, no?

In my childhood, car colors must have gone wild in Germany… At least, I remember our cars having all kinds of vivid colors then. In fact, over the years I would say that we had cars of a pretty broad variety of colors. From a bright red to an ochre Special Jeans Edition” Volkswagen Beetle to a green VW Bug, all the way to a dark violet Mercedes that belonged to my uncle, and my Dad’s lightly linden green 1980’s Mercedes that got replaced by a (boring) silver Benz, to a strikingly yellow Ford and bright metallic blue Peugeot. A kind of gold/beige BMW was in our collection as well… indicating the doom of car colors ahead of us, I assume.

Coming out to California as a teenager, two particular facts regarding cars stood out for me. One was, these monstrous things on wheels roaming California freeways, called Monster Trucks. Second was the fact that the Mercedes Benz here in California had a golden-colored Mercedes star instead of the distinct silver one I was used to from Germany.

That golden Mercedes star together with a golden grill just didn’t cut it for me. It clashed with my image of Mercedes’ sleek elegance conveying a touch of understatement. Everything seemed to be so “bling” in California…

My last car in Germany before moving to California used to be a deep electric blue, but after coming out here I settled for a black one… yes, a boring, black colored SUV! Okay, I admit, not every color goes well with every car model. And the Ford Explorer I had then might not have looked as sharp in electric blue… Besides, at that time, I didn’t want to embarrass my son at his school by standing out with a color that would announce to everyone in the drop-off line that “the Germans” have arrived. We tried to fit in.

But honestly, if you look around you, the cars here in CA make up for a pretty boring car-landscape; from black to white to daring gold or beige/brown, and for the more adventurous type perhaps a dark blue! If you encounter a red, then I am sure it’s some unobtrusive wine/maroon red.

Okay, some Hippie Volkswagen Bus in happy, sunny colors might brighten up the freeway in front of us sometimes, while Ferrari & Co. of course stick out on the streets and call our attention; not only because of their design, but also because they seem to be the only cars these days that dare to put on some bold colors. That’s why, when we see one of them, we have to make sure not to stop breathing since the color alone is taking our breath away!

To my dismay however I found out that the Germans and in fact the Europeans as a whole, are now following the, supposedly fading, American trend towards boring auto colors.

According to AutoBild, the absolute favorite car color of the Germans in 2016 continued to be silver/grey, followed by black and white, and red fell to a sad fifth place. For comparison, in 1986 the color white had not even made it to 2%. Imagine that!

Americans, on the other hand, are on their way to discover (some) color again. While white, black and grey still dominate the top spots, “Blue…” according to the Chicago Tribune, “…is expected to be the hottest car color for 2017!”

I couldn’t confirm this striking trend yet. But, I’ll be for sure keeping an eye out for this splash of color on the streets…!

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Images: CaliforniaGermans & Pixabay.com

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Homage to Alf Lechner – Prominent Contemporary German Steel Sculptor and Family Friend

Würfel - Alf Lechner, Copyright©CaliforniaGermans.

Homage to Alf Lechner – Prominent contemporary German Steel Sculptor and Family Friend

I was born when he just had his first Gallery showing in Munich, in 1968. Later on he shall become my unofficial mentor for the arts.

Who is he? Alf Lechner. One of the “…most important German steel sculptors” according to Simone Schimpf, Director of the Museum for ‘Konkrete Kunst’ in Ingolstadt. Alf Lechner passed away February 25, 2017 in his home in Obereichstätt, Bavaria. He was 91 years old .

I carry many memories of Alf Lechner and his family in addition to the stories that I heard from my parents. Many times we visited him at his early home in Degerndorf, a home with a beautiful orchard-like back yard and with big steel sculptures greeting every visitor in the front.
I remember how impressed I was each time walking among his huge sculptures admiring the beauty of these, often rusty, big steel giants set against wild green nature that was sprinkled with rocks and pebbles. I could feel these big giants’ fascinating energy. They seemed to be one with earth’s breath and exhaling a magic beauty of strength. They were talking to me. Together with the untamed nature surrounding them, they were telling me a story. A story I didn’t understand in words but rather through my senses.

To me, this was the beginning of a long-lasting love for contemporary art, for impressive sculptures that would take me in and absorb me with all their might and take my breath away with their raw beauty.

Alf Lechner – Family Friend and Mentor

My father and Fredi, as we all called him, met long before Fredi became Alf Lechner, the famous German sculptor. He and his first wife ‘Bim’ and their three children, Veronika, Angie, and Katharina were part of my parent’s wedding, with Fredi being my parents’ Best Man. I remember spending many luscious dinners at their beautiful rustic house in Degerndorf, a house that sported a huge red entrance door with a golden door knocker. Something that must have really stuck with me since I vividly remember that beautiful door even today. I am sure this is the reason I always longed for a beautiful red door inviting guests into my home.

The house in Degerndof was big and beautiful, but also eerie in some way. At least for a then four/five-year old. I remember a spooky wine cellar and the creaking of the wood floors when searching for Fredi’s youngest daughter Katharina hoping she would spend some time with me while my parents enjoyed their time with Fredi and Bim. And then, there were the Siamese cats adding to the mystery of this fascinating home.

When I was about eleven, Fredi overheard a conversation I had with my parents while he and Bim were visiting us in Munich. My school offered violin lessons and one could take part in the school orchestra if you had a violin. It was a cool thing to be part of the school orchestra then and I tried to convince my parents how important a violin would be for me… Well, my parents didn’t budge. I already had a piano and piano lessons my mom said and that was enough. But the conversation took a surprising turn when suddenly Fredi tuned in to the conversation offering to lend me his old violin! What can I say, my life took a turn it might not have, if it hadn’t been for him. My path in the arts was paved and later on I went on to study music and theater.

Through the years my family and I saw new sculptures on his premises switching places with their older brothers, making their homes into museums and cities around Germany, sometimes changing in appearance from rusty to polished majestic steel titans, but always carrying on with the all-encompassing theme of simplicity.

Time moved on and my personal visits became less frequent as I turned an adult, especially after my move to California. But I feel fortunate that my older son got the privilege to meet this prolific artist several times as a toddler and later on again while visiting Germany, when we all got a chance to see Fredi again in his new home in Obereichstätt, where he showed us around his amazing sculpture garden in the midst of nature. A setting I think suits his sculptures best. And of course, we paid a visit to the “Lechner Museum” in Ingolstadt.

I cherish my many more memories and will always recall Alf Lechner fondly. I am grateful for every moment I was able to spend with this gifted sculptor and experience his powerful, analytical mind at work that managed to get the essence of simplicity captured in steel. I am forever grateful to him for having opened my eyes to the beauty of nature, to the energy of texture, simple movement and form and particularly for having ignited my love for the arts.

Striving for Simplicity in Alf Lechner’s Own Words

„Mein ganzes Lebensziel ist die Einfachheit. In der Einfachheit steckt so viel Kompliziertes, dass man gar nicht einfach genug sein kann“, sagte der Künstler einmal.

“My whole goal in life is [to strive for] simplicity. In simplicity lays so much complexity that we cannot be simple enough.”

 Alf Lechner2003 - copyright ©CaliforniaGermans

Rest in Peace, Fredi!

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Images : Copyright ©CaliforniaGermans & Rufus46

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Practicing German with Siri

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Practicing German with Apple’s Virtual Assistant, Siri

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Apple‘s  iPhone it turns out is not only an esthetic jewel but also a helpful source for practicing some daily German!

My husband recently upgraded his iPhone to the latest version, and gave his old phone to our 10-year old, who has eagerly been waiting for calling an iPhone his own. He happily grabbed his prey, and for the next hour or so he seemed to have completely disappeared.

Looking all over the house for him we finally stopped short in front of his room. Behind closed doors we heard his voice and someone else’s. Surprised my husband and I drew closer wondering who had come to visit him. We certainly didn’t hear the doorbell ring.

Listening in to the conversation we heard him speak German!! The conversation went something like that:

“Hallo”  – “Siri grüsst Dich ebenfalls.”

“Wie heisst Du?”  – “Siri. Es ist mir ein Vergnügen.”

“Wie geht’s?” – “Mir geht es prächtig.”

“Bist Du ein Mädchen?”  – “Ich verstehe nicht.”

“Bist Du ein Mann oder eine Frau?” – “Ist das relevant?”

“Was machst Du?” – “Ich mache die Hausaufgaben für meinen Weiterbildungskurs.” (eine eifrige Siri!)

“Was ist Deine Liebelingsfarbe” –    “Meine Lieblingsfarbe…, naja, wie soll ich das in Deiner Sprache ausdrücken? Eine Art grün , aber mit mehr Dimensionen”

“Was ist dein Lieblingsessen?” – “Ich rede nicht so gerne über mich”.                ODER  Siri antwortet vorwurfsvoll: –  “So was solltest du Deinen Assistenten eigentlich nicht fragen.”

“Wem gehörst du?” – “Entschuldigung ..das habe ich nicht verstanden.”

“Magst Du orange?” –  “Das möchte ich lieber nicht sagen.”

“Hast du auch mal Bauchweh?”  – “Das kann ich nicht beantworten.”

“Erzähl mir einen Witz” – “Zwei iPhones stehen an der Bar… Den Rest habe ich vergessen.”  

Manchmal hat Siri aber auch einen Witz auf Lager, dann klingt das so: “Auf der Wiese: Schaf zum Rasenmäher: “Mäh!” Sagt der Rasenmäher: “Du hast mir gar nichts zu befehlen!”

After having been somewhat reluctant to hand our child another digital device I had to revise my opinion. Apart from practicing his speaking skills, he also listens to Siri’s pretty well pronounced German, and he can improve his writing as well since one can also read the answers in German on the display.

Of course, should you like to go beyond the basic German Q/A s, you might still want to consider taking a real  German language course…  🙂

Happy New Year – Frohes Neues Jahr!

We wish you an exciting New Year’s Eve and a functioning TV so you can watch the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop on time, in case you are not actually over there… 🙂 Here is a link for a live streaming of the annual New York City celebration!

But first enjoy a German classic – Loriot und der kaputte Fernseher!

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Puzzled By The Trump Phenomenon?

image“Americus Trumpus”

If you are as startled as so many following this year’s presidential election, and if you have been watching in disbelief and sometimes in painful awareness what’s happening out there on the election campaign battlefield…, you might be looking for some answers or perhaps just for some relief to make it through the next couple of weeks until the election in November.

On a recent trip to the East Coast I might have found something for you that can at least put a smile on your face while awaiting the outcome of November 8, 2016 …

When following the historical Freedom Trail in Boston we made a stop to check out MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology) and its museum. While browsing the university’s bookstore my eyes spied a brilliant book written in Dr. Seuss style. Supposedly a children’s picture book its witty content is written in verse form explaining the utterly curious phenomenon of the “Americus Trumpus”!

Supported by hilarious pictures, which astoundingly resemble a particular person, we all got to know too well this election season, children will enjoy this book as much as adults. Adults will also appreciate the timely humor and parody behind it.

Let me introduce to you “A Child’s First Book of Trump” by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal!

"A Child's First Book of Trump" by Michael Ian Black, published by Simon & Schuster BFYR

“A Child’s First Book of Trump” by Michael Ian Black, published by Simon & Schuster

A book that will explain to us not only the peculiar species “Americus Trumpus” but also the phenomenon that we witness every day these days. But there might be a solution after all… .

“A Child’s First Book of Trump” might not be your regular picture book for children, but one thing is for sure :                                                                         You are never too young to learn how to deal with a bully!

You can purchase the book via Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Price tag: $12.28

Images: CaliforniaGermansVideo: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
“A Child’s First Book of Trump” by author Michael Ian Black & illustrator Marc Rosenthal
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (July 5 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1481488007
ISBN-13: 978-1481488006

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