Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Wurst of Times, Part IV: Tuesday 9/25

I was awakened Tuesday morning by the sounds of what I assume were kitchen appliances being thrown off the roof into a dumpster in the courtyard outside our window. It must have been a very large dumpster because the rain of refrigerators -- both large and small -- continued for what seemed like minutes. Fucking Nazis*. Nothing changes.

*Germans HATE when you refer to them as Nazis.

Emboldened by the ordeal, I arose with 15 minutes to spare on the breakfast buffet. As with most German or Austrian breakfast buffets that I have experienced, it featured sliced meats and loaves, various cheeses, rolls, pastries, breads, fruits, juices, yogurt, cereal, and, of course, muesli.

I had given the group strict orders to meet at 10:30. Our tent reservation was at 11:30, and the confirmation I got from the tent explicitly stated that everyone in the group had to be there. Germans are kind of sticklers when it comes to not listening to their orders, so I figured it's best not to rock the boat. Nonetheless, people took their sweet f'n time, so we didn't end up leaving until about 10:50.

At about 11:20, we exited the U-Bahn (that's the subway) station that lets out at the Oktoberfest grounds. There it was: the most beautiful sight these eyes had ever seen.

For those of you who don't know, or think you know, but are dead wrong, Oktoberfest takes place in what is normally a giant public park. 14 giant tents are erected, and I do mean "erected." These aren't just some temporary tents put up by Franz's Party Supply and Tent Rental. These are giant structures made of wood and concrete, made to hold thousands of drunkards, hundreds of thousands of liters of beer, and thousands of murdered half-chickens. Most tents are sponsored by one of Munich's 6 breweries (Hofbräu, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten, Paulaner, and Lowenbrau), while other tents are sponsored by restaurants and serve one of those 6 brewery's beer. On the Oktoberfest grounds, there is a rollercoaster, a Ferris wheel, various rides, carnival games, food stands, a hospital (or infirmary, depending on your point of view), women walking around in dirndls, griffins dressed in bright colors flying about delivering fresh pretzels to all who enter, and everything else you'd expect at a Bavarian celebration honoring the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. It was originally in October, but was moved up to the end of September to take advantage of nicer weather, which is a complete crock of scheiße because for most of the time we were there it was in the 50s and raining, including Tuesday.

Here's an overheard shot of whole grounds I took while I was parachuting into the grounds Tuesday morning:Anywho, our reservation was at Hippodrom, which is one of the smaller tents, but known as one of the tents to been seen in, which is especially important for 22 Americans who don't know anyone in Munich who would see them. The Hippodrom is also infamous as the tent in which, last year, Paris Hilton entered and proceeded to set up a promotional table for some champagne in a can that she was pimping. As you might expect, Germans don't put up with that kind of shit, so she got booted from the Hippodrom and, despite her blond hair and blue eyes, she was placed on a lifetime ban from the Oktoberfest grounds. That's awesome.
But I digress. Our tables at the Hippodrom were in "the gallery," meaning they were on the second level, overlooking the main floor. And we were eye level with the band, which turned out to be pretty sweet.

The band -- the legendary Simmisamma -- started around noon, and they started with authority by standing in a line and chugging a liter of beer. One guy (the guy on the far left) finished about 10 seconds before everyone else, making that dead dude from the Man Show look like an amateur. I guess that's why he died.

The bands are integral to the beer tent experience. As you would probably expect, there is an often-played toasting song. It's called "Ein Prosit," and it's only a few lines long, but everyone sings along and raises their glasses, even if they have no idea what the lyrics are.

Other popular songs include "Country Roads" by John Denver (no idea why) and "Viva Bavaria" (at least that one makes sense), and of course "Furstenfeld," as well as some DJ Ötzi classics, including the one that goes "a lie lie la-lie" and the one that goes "la-la-la-la laaaa" (or at least that's all heard). Everyone who isn't American apparently knows these songs. While this wasn't us, it's a pretty good video of the atmosphere (with "Viva Bavaria"):

Interestingly, while we didn't know it then or even a few days later, this would not be the last time we heard DJ Ötzi.

While at the Hippodrom, we took the only known picture of all 22 of us.

In addition to awesome beer, sweet music, and group pictures, our reservation included a half-chicken each. This might be the best half-chicken I've ever had.

The facilities at the Hippodrom were also a pleasant surprise. This was essential, as it was the place where I gave the first of many public presents to Munich. In fact -- not to be crass -- but after the week was over, approximately 94% of my life's public presents would be given to Munich. That's what a week's worth of draft beer, wurst, kraut, and potato-based sides will get you. Heed my advice: if you ever go to Oktoberfest, bring some Gaviscon. And some Immodium. And some Gas-X. I'm not kidding.

Unfortunately, our reservation only lasted until 3:30, at which point we tried to go to a couple other tents to get some unreserved seats. I do not recommend such a tactic, especially with 22 people. By that point, the unreserved seats were pretty much all taken by sullen and unforgiving krauts, and even if there was room, it was only for 2 or 3 here and there.

One of the tents we tried was the Hofbräu-Festzelt, which is the Hofbräuhaus's tent. We had no luck there, either, except for Gregerson, Chandler, and Brendan, who sat with some suggestible New Yorkers named Laura, Laura, and Lauren until an unforgiving fraulein tapped them on the shoulder a couple hours later and said, "You must go now."

Most of the rest of us went back to the Hofbräuhaus to get some dinner and some dunkel. Sweet, merciful dunkel. It was raining, so the bier garten was closed, and most of the 'haus was packed, so we had to sit in a little corner room that is apparently the only non-smoking part of the 'haus. The room was also close to 100 degrees. And I ain't talkin' Fahrenheit, motherfuckers. All of these concerns were alleviated when we discovered that our waiter was once again Herr Fayad, shown here in a previously unreleased photo.

Over the next several hours, people came and went, but the important facts are as follows:

Some middle-aged Minnesotans sat down with us at some point, just as we were beginning to play the drinking game "Either Or" (in which one person gives two options, you go around the table to see which option everyone chooses, and then the person tells what he/she chose, and the people who chose differently have to drink). At first, the Minnesotans were hesitant to play, but they got into it. One of them was wearing a light Canadian tuxedo and had a fairly impressive mustache. For some reason, this guy -- despite his calm demeanor, willingness to play, and non-Swiss heritage -- rubbed Jer the wrong way. After the guy picked an Either/Or, Jer leaned in towards me and told me "I fucking hate that guy." The Minnesotans didn't last long. It's a young man's game.

At the table behind us were a couple dudes and a couple South Korean chicks who were not with said dudes. Thus, TG and Jer squeezed into the table and tried to talk to the South Korean chicks. The one that Jer was talking to was simply not interested in anything he had to say. The reason? There was a certain guy sitting directly behind her who slightly resembles Tom Cruise. From what I can tell, the only English words this girl knew were "Tom Cruise," "beautiful," and "handsome." These were the words she used to describe me as she turned around and tried to engage me in a conversation, occasionally touching my face. When I would turn and face her or talk to her, she would cover her face and cower, as if to say "I'm not worthy." It was the closest I've felt to fame since my guest starring role on Passions as Heath Carlos Montenegro-Fuentes, Alistair Crane's long lost Guatemalan half-brother. He taught me how to enjoy wealth, while I taught him how to force his grandson's ex-fiancée into sexual servitude.

Eventually the South Koreans left, perhaps unable to deal with my presence. I still don't know what happened to my wedding ring.

At the table on the other side of us were some Pennsylvanians in their 20s. They eventually combined forces with us and played some Either Or. I brought the table to the brink of discomfort when my category was "Would you rather have AIDS or would you rather one of your children have AIDS?" You can always have more kids, people.

As the night came to a close, the Pennsylvanians left, possibly ended up paying for the South Korean chicks' beers. This did not sit well with one of them (the one who was in charge of the bill), who didn't even like it when Nick hugged her.

Then we hung out with Princess Di and Steven Tyler.

After the 'haus, I'm not sure what happened, as the late nights have tended to blend together.


GMYH said...

Two things:
(1) I will probably not be posting for a couple days because I'm going to see Van Halen tonight and then to B-town tomorrow night after my show.
(2) How is it possible that GMYH has gotten about 2,000 hits in the last 24 hours? Intern, are you just sitting there hitting refresh again?

Matthew D Dunn said...

Great blog dude. Just found it today.

You are funny and I like your writing, the very last couple paragraphs of this post and those from part III were particularly good if I do say so myself in my humble opinion.

In addition to these facts, I am rather fond of Dunkel. AND I live in Bloomington IN. I'm blowing my own mind here so I'll just cut to the chase.

I find it somewhat suspicious that your blog color scheme is virtually identical to my blog color scheme and that you were blogging in 1996.

Very best,
Matt Dunn

PS. Go Penn State. What's up with the fist pumping after every first down? That's pretty stupid dude.

GMYH said...

Matthew D. Dunn,
In response to your comment, thanks for your kind words. Dunkel and B-town are indeed both awesome.

You have every right to be suspicious. I am stalking you (hence the color scheme thing). You can backdate posts (hence I wasn't really blogging in 1996, before I discovered Al Gore's internet).

Good luck with your PhD, and for the love of God, if you get pissed at school, don't shoot your textbooks with an AK-47. That's what handguns are for.


P.S. Go IU. Nearly every school does something dumb every first down. That's our thing. We haven't been to a bowl in 13 years. Give us a break.