Glockenhelle A-capella

An a-capella song sung in a voice as bright and clear as a bell.

From Spiegel’s review of Dolly Parton’s concert in Cologne last week, describing how she sang “Little Sparrow.” They said she captivated the crowd with her openness to the world and self-irony.

“The bigger the hair, the closer to God.”

(Glaw ken HELLA   ah cah PELLA.)

“Ich lasse es nicht zu, dass Sie unseren Blödsinn hier als Unfug bezeichnen!”

“I will not stand here and allow you to call our malarkey foolery,” ladies and gentlemen of the court!

From the Cologne carneval comedy troupe Stunksitzung’s 2013 mock trial of several office ladies for snipping off a colleague’s tie on Weiberfastnacht, after first making him will-less by singing traditional carneval songs multiple times and pouring old man’s schnapps into him. At work.

Unfug means monkeyshines, horseplay, mischief, flim-flam, foolery, skylarking and rags, so the root word Fug, which is no longer used, must be the opposite of that.

The internet says Fug derives from old Germanic words for things that fit well together and indicates meetness, appropriateness, ability, skill, virtuosity, craft, artistry [Kunstfertigkeit, Schicklichkeit]. It’s still used today in the phrase Fug und Recht, lawful authorization.

(Ichh   lossah   ess   nichh t   tsoo,   doss   zee   oonz ren   BLID zinn   here   olls   OON foog   bets EYE chh nen.)

Gerokreuz

Gero cross,” one of the most important pieces of medieval European art we can still look at today.

In the 900’s, Cologne’s Archbishop Gero traveled to sophisticated Istanbul, then Constantinopel and the capital of the Roman empire, to bring back a bride for the Ottonian heir to the Holy Roman Empire. Her name was Theophanu and she was the Byzantine emperor’s niece. Many artists accompanied the twelve-year-old bride back to central Europe, which was living rather quietly at the time.

Probably carved during the reign of Otto II and Theophanu, the large crucifix was called Gero’s after being placed over his sarcophagus. It’s considered a boundary artwork on the threshold between the interesting but comic book-like figures of the early Middle Ages and the more human depictions of later centuries; we have managed to recover so few similar images from that time and place though, making this relic especially unique and difficult to compare. The placement of the Gero cross and other religiously important artworks indoors and smaller churches outdoors at specific points on circles that are centerpointed at the main altar in the Cologne cathedral and have varying radii can be interpreted from mentions in texts, other surviving art and medieval theologians’ well-known obsessions with numbers and hierarchies.

The large wooden figure of Jesus on the Gero cross is a thousand years old, having survived major fires and e.g. rococo fashion trends. That’s a bit miraculous.

(GAY roe   CROY ts.)

Stääne

Stars, in the mardi gras-distributed dialect of the Roman-founded city of Cologne (Rhine).

(SHTAANE ah.)

“Bin eine alte Kommode, die viele Schubladen hat”

“I’m an old cabinet that has a lot of drawers,” said actor Hildegard Krekel, known for playing the Sally Struthers daughter character in Germany’s excellent version of the Johnny Speight “All in the Family” family of television series, called “One heart and one soul” (Ein Herz und eine Seele). She was also the dubbing voice for Bette Davis and Helen Mirren, according to her obituary; Hildegard Krekel died of cancer on 26 May 2013.

Episode 4 of “Ein Herz und eine Seele,” under the Hitler-like Archie Bunker patriarch known as Disgusting Alfred, is about a funeral and was the reason a friend once explained to me that, in certain regions of Germany, the funerals are more fun than the weddings.

(Bin   eye n   oltah   come MODE ah   dare   FEEL ah   SHOE blod en   hot.)

Besichtigungsbauwerk

“Structure built for viewing purposes.”

Investigations are still ongoing into the March 2009 collapse of the Cologne city archive, though it’s pretty clear that subway tunnel work caused the tragedy. The five-year statute of limitations will expire in only one year. Engineers and the district attorney are now working together to find out how exactly what occurred, including building a fascinating “viewing structure,” 30 meters deep, into the relevant subway support walls and possibly shifting soil layers. Which is good inter alia because the massive stone walls of Cologne’s 800-year-old cathedral, one of the world’s few ships of time, which were strong enough to survive WWII bombing may be being damaged by vibrations from a new subway tunnel that went into operation in December 2012.

Update on 18 Jan 2014: Cologne prosecutors filed charges against ~100 people, including employees of the office responsible for the project, Cologne Transport Services [Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe, KVB], and of three construction companies and one subcontractor firm, who were working as inspectors, planners, “projecters” and construction workers.

The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger said the scenario currently favored by prosecutors for causing the collapse of Germany’s most important municipal archive is that there was a hole in the wall of the subway tunnel under construction, through which water continuously got into the tunnel, creating a hole between the tunnel and the historical archive.

Two people died in the collapse. Ultimately, about 95% of the (unique, irreplaceable) historical documents kept in the archive were recovered from the wet sinkhole, Spiegel.de reported, but it is estimated that it will take about forty years to restore them. The Cologne archive had ~30 kilometers of shelves. About 60,000 of the recovered Cologne documents have been distributed to multiple archives in Germany for restoration and digitization.

Update on 24 Feb 2014: Charges have been filed, but it may take years for the trial to start as engineering investigations continue. Spiegel.de said they’re now focussed on “lamella 11” in an underground “huge construction” called a “slotted wall” or “slurry wall” [Schlitzwand]. After a sudden flood of water bursting in from underneath was ruled out by an expert [a so-called hydraulischer Grundbruch], the current scenario is that lamella 11 may have been damaged during final tunneling work, “but although the foreman should have noticed it no notification was made to construction management” because, it is assumed, they wanted to be done. There was serious cost pressure to finish, among other pressures. In this scenario the records documenting the work may also have been manipulated shortly thereafter. Divers are now using the Besichtigungsbauwerk to search for more evidence, presumably contending with even more interesting pressure differentials as Seattlites discovered after the breakdown of our giant tunneling machine in December 2013.

(Beh ZICHH tee goongs BOW verk.)

Bärlauch

Bear leek.” Wild forest leek whose leaves look like lily-of-the-valley but smell oniony. Makes a great soup when its wide dark-green leaves are chopped up, sautéed with butter and olive oil, cooked with chicken broth, refined with heavy cream and puréed. It is not the same plant as Pennsylvania’s wild garlic (where these days I would probably grill the bulbs and cut up the chive-like stems for raw garnish, though I’ve never experimented with it as an adult).

Not too long ago word was that German bärlauch only grew wild in the woods, and cooks had to collect it there in springtime, in the healthy fresh air; but I saw delicious-smelling bärlauch growing in a Cologne botanical garden last Easter.

(BARE l ow! k.)

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