Painting with Words: Post-Oktoberfest 2008

Oktoberfest in Munich-- the crowds were what I found most striking at first, the singing, the food and drink, the jovial tourists from all nations dressed in Tracht (the traditional costume of Southern Germany and Austria). My best friend and I smiled as we watched the happy participants in one of the largest parties in the world go on gravity-defying rides, raise their mugs, and eat ravenously as they clapped and stomped along to traditional Festzeltmusik as well as "We Are the Champions", "Seven Nation Army", and "YMCA". We tried to take our beer mugs off the festival grounds so that we could keep them (something security is very strict about) and, of course, were not allowed, we made fun of some of the odd things we saw and marveled at the beautiful things as we walked among the tents-- and then it was time to head back to Garching for the night, a suburb of Munich where we would be staying with a mutual friend.

Unterbahn was crowded with rowdy party-goers in festival attire, tiredly hurrying into their blue-and-white trains. The floors near the bathrooms in the usually-clean subway halls were flooded with water. The Bavarian conductor of one train was yelling in a heavy dialect to keep away from his doors because he wanted to get moving and did not have an eternity to wait. My friend and I smiled at each other as we headed toward Garching. . . and then as we slowed again, I peered out of the window into the night and saw a man in his Lederhosen, wearing a modern wristwatch, holding his head in his hands (I imagine he was very tired and had enjoyed a Maß of beer too many). Surrounded by the garish lights and the trains, memories of the festival and its brightness and stunning tents and rides, he seemed to stand out rather starkly from his blurry environment, and I began to think about the juxtapositions of "traditional" and "modern" in today's Europe. Unfortunately, the new sometimes seems so fast, so bawdy, so irritatingly raw and thoughtless, leaving the old stunned or deteriorating, trying to recover and adjust, to re-establish its relevance to a new generation. On one hand, this painting is a simple recording of an instant in my memory from a dazzlingly remarkable evening; on the other hand, it is a bit of a statement about the relationship between old and new in modern Germany as well. . .

[The original is not available, as I would like to keep it in my permanent collection, but signed 11X14 prints can be had for $30, 8.5X11 prints are $17.]

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