by Dirk Dajerk
COLOGNE (CP) A special task force has been set up in the western German riverside city of Cologne to prepare for what officials are calling “a catastrophe waiting to happen” as Germany’s band of English-speaking expatriate bloggers prepares to descend on the city in late October. Police have already booked reinforcements from neighbouring Bonn and Aachen to help cope with the threat.
“They trash practically every place they visit,” moaned Cologne police desk sergeant Pensell Puscha. ”Just look at what they did in Dresden.”
Now generally known as the “Dresden Disaster,” in public safety circles, the 2007 bloggers’ meetup/donnybrook at the eastern German city on the Elbe is now used in training sessions as an example of how not to prepare for a visit from Germany’s English-speaking bloggers.
“Dresden was hit totally by surprise,” said Cologne city counsellor Bieriz Mylaff. ”By the time we called in for extra help, the rioting was totally out of control. We’re definitely not going to let that happen to us.”
The annual bloggers’ meetup has grown from an informal gathering eight years ago of five online droolers desperate for the real-life company of anyone willing to tolerate for more than five minutes their tedious whining about the trials of expat life to an unwieldy gaggle of at least 25 who plan the event down to the last triviality for months in advance on three different platforms: their own blogs, an event website and discussion board, and now Facebook, that death of all blogs. That’s not to mention the usual slurry of time-sucking drivel on Twitter.
“You’d think they could just decide they’re going to get together somewhere and have a few beers, but no-ooo,” lamented Cologne police detective Slyck Dyck. “From the morning after the last meetup ends they start planning the next one. They plan side trips with Umlauts. They plan Friday night dinners and guided tours the next morning. They kick back for the afternoon, but that has to be planned, too. They gather for a Saturday evening dinner and then go out to a frickin’ gay bar! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
“Then they all have this thing they call brunch when they’re all hung over on the Sunday. They even make allowances for kids, the annoying little brats.”
The choice of Cologne as a meeting point and the timing itself has been the subject of controversy ever since both were decided months ago in an online poll.
“Cologne? Nothing but a massive pile of bricks, bells and gargoyles surrounded by whackos, clowns and an ugly shopping centre,” lamented one blogger from Hamburg. ”I haven’t even considered going there for years. That part of Germany is so full of whores, they outnumber the cars! Even the neighbouring city of Bonn has decided to take action, setting up parking meters so the city can recoup a few losses on the clean-up.
“And while we’re at it, what about the timing? Why hold it at the end of October? It’s damn near winter! Didn’t we decide a few years ago to hold it closer to summer so we could at least have half a chance to enjoy a warm evening or two? November in Dresden, we had to burn buildings just to keep from freezing to death.”
Critics are also pointing out the dangers of just walking around Cologne, citing the tendency of entire buildings to suddenly collapse in on themselves, swallowing up irreplaceable manuscripts by, among others, Karl Marx and Heinrich Böll – along with the odd human life or two. They’re calling for safety checks to ensure visitors won’t end up in some sort of black hole.
Feeling stung by the criticism, organisers are scrambling to reassure attendees as well as the general public.
“We’re gonna have like, fun and stuff, so they should just lighten up, you know?” said one organiser. ”Besides, if they don’t like it they can just stay home.”
The Cologne engineering department is taking no chances as the group is set to storm the upper reaches of their famous cathedral sometime on the Saturday. “We’ve installed structural reinforcements, so we’re reasonably confident the building will withstand the extra burden of the lot of them humping up those stairs to the upper reaches,” said chief city engineer Helmut Askew. ”We’ve also taken the precaution of installing audio reminders at every level suggesting they look up from their smartphones once in a while at the amazing artwork surrounding them.”
Participants are expected to hold a vigil in memory of one member who has been to every meetup since the beginning, but will no longer be attending. J, or J for short, has finally decided that Germany – or at least Bonn – indeed does suck, and has voted with his feet accordingly.
J’s absence will most be felt on Saturday evening when the evening’s traditional gay bar outing will take place.
Other absentees include Eurotrippen, holder of much of the blame for the 2007 Dresden Disaster. Having lived the expat life for a number of years, Eurotrippen and brood returned to the States in 2009 to become ex-expats, then returned to Germany not long after to become ex-ex-expats, but are now back in the States, finally having decided that the status of ex-ex-ex-expat is what they enjoy the most. For now.
Any illusions the gathering is attended by all of Germany’s English-language blogging scene will be shattered by a brief Google search. Perennial hold-outs include the culprits behind Observing Hermann, Planet Germany, Charlotte’s Web, Ich werde ein Berliner and some guy in Cologne itself who calls his kid His Holiness. The Irish Berliner, voted in an informal poll of one as Germany’s most outstanding blog, is a newcomer to the no-show crowd.
“Well, that’s a good thing,” said one Cologne officer. “The damage would be much worse if they showed up, too.”