Looking at my photos of Leipzig, x larry wondered if Germans, especially the young, are filled with cynicism and self-loathing, so I responded, "I haven't been here two weeks, so I can't say much, but walking at least 10 miles today, I saw so much graffiti, some on brand new, gorgeous buildings, that I thought, There is a lot of anger and frustration here, if not a collective self-hatred. Why else would you deface your own city like this?
On the streets, the body language of the people, young and old, does not betray hatred or frustration, however. People are relaxed and friendly. Last week, Olliver and I had coffee at a serene eatery inside a park and it was so calming to see families just relaxing. There was no music, just talking. Years ago, I sat in a quiet beer garden in Berlin with my friend, poet Nguyen Quoc Chanh, and we were like, This is perfect.
Many Americans go out of their way to exude toughness, so the Germans, by comparison, are much more relaxed and, yes, gentle. During my two years in Italy, I found the teens there so much more innocent and relaxed compared to ours. They didn't try to come off as ready to kick your ass."
To illustrate what I mean by a relative calmness and indifference to appearing homicidal, I post the above image of Felix Lamm, the welterweight boxing champion of Germany. The dude is 10-1, so he's no Germknödel, but just look at the champ with his glasses. Would any American boxer pose like that?