April 28, 2004

Signs of the Times

Spargelzeit: Among the top contenders for a German national delicacy would have to be Spargel -- white asparagus. During the brief Spargel season (roughly May to mid-June, according to what I can find), everybody goes a little crazy over this vegetable. We're definitely entering into the season -- our local supermarket hung out a huge banner this week declaring it to be "Spargelzeit!" (Spargel time!) Markets and vegetable stands everywhere have bundles of asparagus stacked up for sale. Even our latest stick of butter came with a spargel recipe printed on the wrapper. Shelby and I will have to sample some spargel dishes at the local restaurants (maybe we can find a restaurant that offers a Spargelkarte, a special menu of nothing but asparagus-centered choices) -- then we can go home and try some spargel dishes of our own, perhaps using recipes from spargeltreff.de ("The Meeting Point for Friends of Spargel").

Alice kommt: Yesterday morning, seemingly every other advertising sign inside the subway became part of a mysterious ad campaign aimed squarely at every red-blooded heterosexual male in Hamburg. Each ad features the same hot babe in a form-fitting dress, tossing off a coquettish glance at the reader, with a tagline about "Alice": Alice kommt (Alice is coming). Alice is coming into your life. Alice can't resist you. At the bottom of each ad is a URL for the website www.alice-kommt.de -- where you see nothing more than a slightly repackaged-for-Flash version of the same ads. If you follow the "Curious? Click here" link at the bottom and register for the website (my good friend "Biff Q. Mombeko-Jones" always lets me use his personal info to register for dodgy websites), you're provided with a new page where you can download a PDF of each of the three ads -- and that's it. (At least Alice is helping to further the Adobe brand!) So now I'm curious to find out what "Alice" will be; I'll admit that I've let this piece of sexy advertising lead me around by the nose. I'm guessing that it turns out to be something related to alcohol, cigarettes, cars, or mobile phones, typically the four most popular things to advertise to men inside the subway -- with an outside chance that "Alice" will turn out to be a tortured acronym for some government program. Maybe it'll turn out to be an innovative combination of all of them!

Valentino's, RIP: A couple of months ago, Shelby and I ate at Valentino's, the restaurant/nightclub that takes up the bottom floor of our apartment building. The food was very good, and the service was excellent ... because we were the only two people in the restaurant. After that, every time we'd walk past the restaurant's windows on our way home, we would look in and marvel at how empty it always was -- often three or four people, at the most -- and wonder how they could possibly stay in business. Now it looks like we've got our answer -- they couldn't. After a couple of weeks during which the restaurant stayed dark and newspapers piled up on their front step, Scout and I went downstairs this morning to find a cherry picker on the sidewalk, with men in the basket pulling the "Valentino's Restaurant" banners off of the front of the building. This news posting on a Hamburg-nightlife website claims that Valentino's is only closing for renovations and will come back better and even more glamorous than before, but I have my doubts.

Posted by Kevin at April 28, 2004 10:32 AM