Or: the Trials and Tribulations of an Uptown Girl with a Boyfriend from Old Europe

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Location: Basel, Switzerland

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mysteries of the Day

1. Since my earlier encounter, I've been wondering: is there some secret simpatico between Germans and Scots? The Steuben Parade, New York City's annual German celebration, also featured a bagpipe company. Several bagpipe companies, in fact. (Yes, I'm conflating the Swiss with their northern neighbors. But since the nice guys with square flags hosted several floats in the Steuben Parade, I feel somewhat justified.)

2. Has anyone else noticed that Switzerland has way more than its fair share of graffiti? There are probably more abused walls and overpasses in Basel than in all five boroughs of New York City. It's baffling, given how clean and orderly the Swiss are otherwise.

3. And while I'm at it, why on earth are the y's and z's switched on German/Swiss keyboards? Yes, I'm aware they use the 'z' more than the English, but honestly, it's not as if the American keyboard was laid out for maximum typing efficiency. Quite the opposite, actually. Way back in the Dark Ages, before computers and even IBM's ball typewriters were invented, there was a different, more efficient layout. But good typists got so fast that the typebars couldn't keep up with their fingers and jammed. The QWERTY layout was introduced to slow them down.



Anonymous Andreas said...

Hi there!

1. Yes, we loooove bagpipes! So don't miss out on the Basel Tattoo (3rd week of July), tickets and info over here: http://www.baseltattoo.ch/wcms/

2. Aaaaargh, graffiti everywhere! This morning when I went into the office (new software version to test) I even saw a nice slashscript on a COW STABLE (ZH Oberland). Must be that all kiddoes here are going for that homie in da 'hood gangsta rapper look. :o(

3. Dutchies AZERTY, French too but with the M moved around someplace etc. etc. Have a look in Settings how many different keyboard setups there are... Seems every other country has their own.

February 18, 2007 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Archana said...

my dearest charro! i just have spent an indulgent few hours catching up on your entire blog, and its a joy to read. its like you talking, except well, u r a continent away... anyway, am glad u r taking this huge life change as an adventure, and stay well. see ya soon. hi to stefan.

February 19, 2007 at 7:07 PM  
Anonymous jessica said...

i'm glad you're finding the crazy things here interesting, and not annoying. there's so much to find!
you should come visit me in neuchatel, c'est tres, tres beau with the sun these days!
p.s. i got a new website, so update your sidebar link!

February 21, 2007 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

Andreas - The problem with Swiss graffiti is that it's so boring, I mean, minimalist! A swipe of black here, a pass of white there... that's it. In Los Angeles, at least they turn it into artwork!

Archana - <3 <3 <3!

Jessica - Thanks! I have a lot of catching up to do! Will let you know when I'm next around Neuchatel (was nearby a few months ago). Long awaited arrival of the car will help.

February 22, 2007 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Global Librarian said...

Be very careful where you walk at night in Switzerland. You won't get hurt.

But if you stand too long in the wrong place, you'll probably end up with graffiti on you...

February 24, 2007 at 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Murs said...

I just came back from NYC and the lack of graffiti just baffled me. Is this really where the practice appeared? There's no trace of it.
Switzerland's graffiti scene is quite famous around Europe. DARE from Basel is a legend. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLmVZ1N_VWA )
What is interesting once you start looking at it is that every city has its own style. The most vivid and peculiar is probably Neuch√Ętel with the UNO ZOO crew. Geneva's got some of the cleanest writers. And a city like Lausanne has got minimalist/conceptual as well as very classic writers.
You've got to dissociate graffiti from the hip-hop/ghetto crowd. There is some overlapping but generally writers are anonymous regular looking guys. The type of guys you would never imagine out at night with spray paint. There is clearly some visual noise on the Swiss walls. For every Mozart there are dozens of Fergie. But the quality of a good number of pieces is very high.

May 23, 2007 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

Murs - Rudy happened, and since then, there's been very little graffiti around the city. Aside from in the art galleries, of course...

May 23, 2007 at 4:17 PM  

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