Saturday, January 24, 2009

Let's Say You've Been Evicted....

...and no, you didn't get a subprime mortgage. You aren't somebody with sterling credit who lost their job. You are a group of leftists squatting in a building in the German city of Erfurt. What do you do?

You kidnap a clinically depressed loaf of bread, of course.

Yes, they kidnapped Bernd das Brot (Bernd the Bread) the star of three programs on the German children's tv channel KI.KA.

Bernd initially made statements on behalf of his captors that were released on YouTube, which were pulled down after protests from German public broadcaster MDR--which owns the rights to Bernd.

According to witnesses who saw the videos, Bernd said things like, “The squat must absolutely stay! I’m prepared to show myself in public again, but I can’t at the expense of my conscience.”

Clearly this is some kind of base hoax. This doesn't sound like Bernd at all. He's a sort of combination of Oscar the Grouch and Eyore with a German flavor. The general tenor of Bernd's conversation is summed up by his frequent exclamation "Mein Leben ist die Hölle" (my life is Hell) or his admonition "Geh nach Hause" (Go Home!) which he yells at his audience from time to time.

I tried contacting KI.KA to via email to see if I could communicate with Bernd and verify that he had not been kidnapped. I got back a one-word, unsigned message: "Mist."

That's German for "crap." And it's one of Bernd's favorite expressions. I think we can assume he is safely miserable at KI.KA studios instead of miserable in captivity.

Whether the squatters succeed or not, they deserve some plaudits for this relatively shrewd maneuver, because they've definitely attracted attention. Bernd has a huge, adoring public--and they're not all children. Bernd is actually quite popular with German adults, as you can see from this music video Tanzt das Brot (Do the Bread Dance).

You can get a feel for Bernd's shows in this brief YouTube clip. Don't worry if you don't know German--the tone of voice says it all. Just watch the first two minutes or so. Oh--and those two other creatures with him? Those are his constant companions, Chili das Schaf (Chili the Sheep) and Briegel der Busch (Briegel the Bush).

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