Thursday, February 03, 2005

Technology runs with scissors

Webcam Alert!!!

If you have tried to view the goings-on at this year's Fasnacht in Luzern, Switzerland using the webcam link I provided in the previous post, there are two cameras currently down. I apologize for this major incovenience. It's obviously out of my control. Still, I would like to recommend someone be flogged for this breakdown of technology and for allowing it in effect to put out two of its own eyes. Once again it goes to show it only happens when you need it. The rough translation being provided by the Swiss webmaster for this unprecedented and untimely occurrence is as follows:

Important Report: Our Webcams at Schwanenplatz and Kapellplatz is temporarily off-lines. The interest to our Webcam at Schwanenplatz was so large that the server binding came nearly to succumbing. We have however already a solution, in order to be able to operate the webcams on Güdismäntig and Güdiszischtig again. thanks you for the interest in our webcams and apologizes for this breakdown. We are however very confident that we can offer the full offer starting from Monday again.

I just love how foreign languages mistranslate into something recognizable, but slighty goofy. Hopefully, they will be up before the big parade on Güdismäntig (Good Monday). For many of us all over the world, this is the only portal to our beloved Fasnacht. And once you've survived a week of Fasnacht, you are smitten forever. I cannot express how much joy and fun is visible in the faces and expressions of the costumed Fasnächtlers, the giddy peal of children interacting with masked gargoyles and clownish characters, how extremely friendly and helpful the local citizens are, how safe everyone feels, all of this without any visible security or police presence whatsoever.

On the last night of Fasnacht in 2003, I was in the crowded medieval plaza of Weinmarkt talking to my new friend Rocky, who is a member of the KUF group Nostradamus and who happens to own and operate the only Harley-Davidson motorcycle shop in Luzern. We were watching the waning revelries of the die-hard maskengägelers with smiles on our faces as the last night of Fasnacht is all night and no one leaves until dawn. With music bouncing off of the walls of the historic Hotel de Balances and the other old buildings that line the courtyard, Rocky turns to me and, in his warm but limited English, says, Not too bad, eh? So what do you think?

I turned taking a long moment to scan the whole bustling scene of Weinmarkt nodding my head at the ebb and flow of friends and families, lovers arm in arm, animal-costumed children running about like fiesty roosters afire, the many tall and intricately realized floats and their lavishly decorated rapidos, which are the converted motorbike-type farm vehicles used to pull them, and said to Rocky, Not too bad at all.

And it suddenly occurred to me: I had not seen one uniformed police officer or security guard, not one scuffle or fight or arrest among the throngs of imbibing gentry, no disorderly or unlawful displays of any kind during the entire week! This could never happen in America, I told Rocky. And it's true: We Americans can't go a few hours, let alone a whole week, at a festival without a fight, or worse, breaking out. Here in the States, it has been my sad experience to witness firsthand that civility is a rapidly disintegrating social adhesive. Privilege has its price, I guess.


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