And Gutenberg Lived Here: Of Mardi Gras, Flying Donuts, And All Things Gutenberg

Yesterday we went downtown early.

Make that VERY early.


Here you have to be crafty,

and wily,

and go down so early

the rest of the more cars than members of the populace

are still having breakfast,

or are at work waking others members of the populace

at seven a.m.

(or before.

Believe it or not,

we once had roofers, after a giant storm,

who came at five thirty a.m.,

tossed two broken roofing tiles off the roof ,

created a huge hole,

we never really found out why,

but they surely must have had a reason, right?

And disappeared

to not appear again until….

would you believe the next morning?)

So anyway,

Early Morning.

Us on the way to the city with the car,

since we couldn’t carry back everything we had to pick up on a tram,


That was when we discovered:

that we got the absolutely LAST parking spot in the town-


it is Carnival here,

or actually,

only nineteen pre-carnival days left to buy:

masks, costumes, pre-ordered tickets to the different balls,


theatre pieces with carnival theme,


get ready,

enough bottles of wine, huge pretzels, and huge two-pound rings of baloney,

with garlic no less,

to feed an army.

The later two on the list, of course, to be frozen till the carnival guests arrive,

expecting to be fed, helped with make-up,

and pinned or sown into clothes at the last-minute

before going a ball

or event.

Hopefully without you.

And this is where the German word marketenderin comes from-

originally the women who travelled with troops

in times of real not carnival-fake military campagnes,

to supply the troops

with, of course,

wine, pretzels,

and two-pound rings of garlic baloney-

to keep off Jewish vampires?

And thus it is,

that at exactly that moment,

as you pull into town to start your acquisitions,

in our case, actually linked to spring cleaning,

that, my friends, is when you suddenly realize,

that instead of thinking of cleanliness,

you have forgotten you should have been doing pre-mardi-gras shopping.

And that,

blazing burst of the obvious,

this entire town is fantastic, exciting,

leaves no rest to the wicked,


is totally nuts right now.

Nuts as in,

Plem plem, as the locals say.


Fourteen days of strenuous getting ready,

the kind normally seen only in campaigns in the Bello Gallico,


For the last five days, of course.

Womens’ Thursday,

when the women of the town roam around with GIGANTIC sewing scissors-

to cut the ties off of every male they can find-

and Lord help the male caught without a cheap tie

he bought just that morning so they can cut it off.

This is followed by a lot of feminine camaraderie,

otherwise known as drinking,

(one of the favorites being egg nog)

and a lot even more camaraderie-based very loud “hen” parties,

featuring performances by the top carnival entertainers,

male only if you please,

who offer tailored for women jokes,

and try to make it off the stage alive.

Then there is TV Friday-

the four biggest corporations put together a tv roast

of all the top politicians of the day.

From 8:11 at night

(eleven- in German elf- stands for “egalite, liberte, and fraternite,”

the motto of the French revolution-

till midnight,

when swipes are taken at the issues of the day-

(Two years ago, Obama appeared and declared democracy for the second time in the tv roast)

and at the local issues

“we don’t really care that our local mayor is now living with his gay boyfriend,

also a mayor. If only he weren’t the mayor of Wiesbaden.”

(Gutenberg and Wiesbaden have for centuries

had a historical Hatfield/McCoy type feud going on.

Probably since the monarchists sat on the other side of the river

and shot at the Gutenberg Republic with non-confetti-filled cannons.)

And that leaves three more days,

for a kids’ parade, a parade with floats through the suburbs,

and then, on Rose Monday, the whopping great million visitors

carnival parade.

With tossed hard candy,

(duck when they throw, and pick them up from the street after)


and hard rolls.

Accompanied by a LOT of yelling and drinking.

So at the moment, we are, as I said, in the middle of preparation.

For over a million tourists.

Who are expected to take back several million dollars, yen, and Euros worth of:

in addition to postcards, t-shirts, calendars,etc

“Gutenberg spirits,”

a heavy percent schnaps in small bottles,

drink at your own risk,

“Gutenberg air” in a ring-top can,

“Gutenberg sauce” to marinate white see-through Gutenberg stink cheese,

“Cathedral hard-rolls-”

a little high-priced, but ten cents of the price goes to repair the cathedral.

“Gutenberg” hot dogs and burgers,

“Gutenberg spunde cheese” –

a white bakers cheese with onions and paprika, and thinned with yoghurt

“Gutenberg” huge soft pretzels,

“Gutenberg donuts”-

when someone whizzes a jelly donut at your head from the top of a two-story float-


But still, it is a lot of fun,

(as long as you are dressed in a thick coat, hat with ear flaps, and gloves,

and have reservations for coffee somewhere afterwards,

and it keeps the carnival club members,

often going six to eight generations back,

off the streets for a while.

So, I would suggest you pull on your ski underwear,

three layers of sweaters,

and come on over the bridge.

Or off one of the tour boats.

Just remember to put a lipstick heart on each cheek,

beanie boppers over your hat,

and please buy one of the “plakaetche”

the plastic badge on a string,

often shaped like a clown or a duck,

from one of the vendors.

It supports the parade.

Oh, and don’t forget to yell.


copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

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