Tag Archives: Germany

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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FRANTZ – Movie Release in Los Angeles – March 24

FRANTZ, the latest film from renowned filmmaker Francois Ozon, will be released in Los Angeles on March 24 at the Landmark’s Nuart Theatre.

CaliforniaGermans has 2 pairs of movie tickets to give away for March 24 in Los Angeles! If you would like to receive a FREE pair of movie tickets, send us an email here with your full name and mention the movie “FRANTZ”. We will choose and contact 2 lucky movie goers among the first 10 emails we receive.

-FRANTZ –

A haunting tale of love and reconciliation through the eyes of the First World War’s lost generation.

Set in Germany and France in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, (1914-1918), Frantz recalls the mourning period that follows great national tragedies as seen through the eyes of the war’s “lost generation”: Anna (21 year-old Paula Beer in a breakthrough performance), a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien (Pierre Niney, Yves Saint Laurent), a French veteran of the war who shows up mysteriously in her town, placing flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien’s presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany’s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz, conjured up in evocative flashbacks.

What follows is a surprising exploration of how Ozon’s characters’ wrestle with their conflicting feelings – survivor’s guilt, anger at one’s losses, the overriding desire for happiness despite everything that has come before, and the longing for sexual, romantic and familial attachments.

Inspired by Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 film Broken Lullaby, FRANTZ is an elegant and dramatic love story—both between two individuals and between two nations at the core of the imperiled European Union experiment.

Early Praise for FRANTZ

“Exquisite and haunting…one of the talented director Francois Ozon’s very best films.” -Paper

“A richly imagined and superbly assembled period piece.” -The Hollywood Reporter

“Astonishingly beautiful and inquisitive. It’s impossible to deny the sheer narrative sophistication.” -Indiewire

Run time: 113 minutes, Rating: PG-13, Language: French and German with English subtitles


Credits: MusicBoxFilms

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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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A Personal Lesson in German History

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A Personal Lesson in German History

Have you read Author Dieter Kermas recent article “Das Erste Mal Durch Die Mauer?”  If not, I highly recommend it.  I find it very fascinating to hear about experiences from people who have lived during a time of major historic events.  Back in the days, when my grandma from my mother’s side was still alive, I begged her to keep telling me stories about World War ІІ.  Since I (obviously) wasn’t alive at that time, I tried to imagine how life was back then through my grandma’s stories.  And boy, did she have experiences to share!

She explained to me how she felt the earth shaking from bomb fire while she and her family were puckered up in an underground bunker.  Another story consisted of her sister losing her baby while in the bunker because of a lack of breast milk.  She also told me how it felt to be part of the Bund Deutscher Mädel, the female youth organization during the Nazi regime, which was part of the Hitler Youth.

I was beyond impressed by what my grandmother had to live through during her long life.  The world we live in today is far from peaceful; we do live in a time surrounded by war and terrorism.  Thankfully, so far I wasn’t personally impacted, meaning that I haven’t lost a relative or friend through a terror attack nor was I the victim of one.  I would not know how to deal with something that terrible, while my grandma endured several losses and tragedies in her lifetime.

These personal experiences really sparked my interest in history.  Unfortunately, I had a really bad history teacher during High School, who made the subject unbearable and unnecessarily boring.   Due to that, I lost interest in the subject, and my hunger for experiencing German history myself kind of subsided for the next couple years.

I know it might be a shame to admit, but I had never visited Berlin until 2010.  I just didn’t really feel the urge to travel much around Germany when I was younger.  That changed after I came back from my Au Pair stay.  I developed an incredible urge to travel, and if it would just be for a weekend.

It just so happened that one of my Au Pair friends, who I met in the states, moved to Berlin after she came back from the U.S.  She invited my other good Au Pair friend Doreen (name changed due to privacy) and me to come visit her in Berlin.  Finally I was going to visit the capital of the country I grew up in and could experience a grand piece of German history first hand.

My friends and I crammed every possible Berlin sight into our two day stay.  Of course, we couldn’t miss the Brandenburger Gate or the German Parliament.  But the monuments that struck me the most were the Holocaust Memorial and the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall.  Those brought back the imaginations, and I was finally able to grasp what my grandmother used to tell me about.

While at the Holocaust Memorial, some darkness overcame me.  Not from the clouds in the sky that were hanging above us that day,  but rather from what the Holocaust represented during World War ІІ.  It was beyond saddening to see those hundreds of ceramic stones on the cold ground, each one representing the victims of the horrendous concentration camps.  We can all just pray that something like this is never going to repeat itself.

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Checking out the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall, also known as the “East Side Gallery”, which represents freedom, was more uplifting.  I don’t remember any of the news coverage from 1989 when the wall fell, but seeing those monument parts from such a big part of German history was just amazing.  Each of those pieces still represents the fate and pain so many people had to endure during that certain time period.

This trip definitely had an impact on me and made me realize how appreciative we can be of not having to endure a world war at first hand.  Let’s keep praying that it will stay that way.

Images: © Anne-Kathrin Schulte
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Dating is no Fairy Tale.. The Exception to the Rule

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Dating is no Fairy Tale.. The Exception to the Rule

Dating…Oh, dating in the US… I could probably write 10 articles about this topic and still would have something to say. Where should I start, where should I stop?! Dating in the states is definitely a whole other level than in Germany. I had my fair share of experiences, some of them I’d rather forget and some of them I’ll never let go.

I made my first experiences with American men while I was working in Northern California as an Au Pair. Since I knew that I had to go back to Europe after a year anyways, I wasn’t taking the dating game out here too seriously. But what I expected was at least some respect and decency. Oh boy, do I remember being out in the bars and clubs and guys just starting to grind on us girls without even saying “Hi” first. Back up dude, we don’t do that in Europe.

Where I am from, people come up to you and AT LEAST introduce themselves first. Sometimes with a really plump line, but at least they say something instead of just expecting you to rub your body parts against them. So, needless to say, that was one of the first things that set me off about the dating game over here.

But my doubt in dating American men changed actually after I moved back to Germany in 2009. The fateful incident occurred in March 2010 during a night out in Dusseldorf’s old town with one of my closest girlfriends. All we had planned was getting a couple drinks at an Irish Pub and catching up since we hadn’t seen each other in a while.

During our deep conversation, my friend suddenly glimpsed over to the bar and pointed out a pretty cute guy. I looked over to see if he was as nicely looking as my friend had said, and what can I say, she was damn straight right. I know how cheesy this next sentence is going to sound, but it is the ugly truth. As soon as our eyes met, there was something in the air. My heart skipped a beat when he made his way over to our table and started talking to us.

That was the first plus point he earned. He scored the second one when he turned out to be an American who was in Dusseldorf for a business trip. In the back of my mind I never expected anything more to happen due to the fact that he lived in the states and was about to head back home from his work gig in two days, so all we did that night was flirting with each other with no intention of anything more, at least from my side. I had no idea that this encounter was about to turn my whole life around.

As the end of the night approached and my girlfriend and I where about to make our way home, the guy reached into his pocket and handed me his business card. He also said that he had an European number for the next couple days and that he would love to hang out one more time before heading back to America. I have to admit, I was a little smitten and hoped I could get to see him one more time before leaving town.

Because I am one of those individuals who never want to give anything away too soon, I waited one day till I reached out to him again. Or, as I should say, tried. As soon as I dialed his number, I received an automated system telling me that the number was not available anymore. So I contacted him a day later through Facebook and email, wishing him a safe trip back home. I never expected to actually hear back, but from that email on, we stayed in constant contact.

Since I had booked a trip to go back to SF to visit my former host family anyways, I decided to also visit him. By that time, he was about to transition from Washington D.C. to Huntington Beach. I had never been to beautiful HB before, so it was just another bonus for me to take on a road trip down the coast to pay SoCal an extended visit. And what can I say, that vacation changed so much for me. I fell in love, both with a man and with the city I am so happy I can call my home now. Sounds cheesy again, right?

Image: pixabay.com

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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