Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GERMANY, CHAPTER 3: Jagermeister Doppelgangers

A dirty German hippie Chris Pontius doppelganger tries to make his acoustic guitar weep for Ronnie James Dio.

I’ve drank Guinness at the Guinness brewery in Dublin. It was delicious. And sipping a pint on the seventh floor’s “Gravity Bar,” with panoramic views of the city and Phoenix Park, certainly didn’t dampen the experience. Because Guinness does indeed taste better at the brewery. To be honest, it tasted better all over Ireland and England. It’s not a huge difference, but it is pleasantly notable. Since returning home, I’ve often entertained the idea of playing the smug snob and turning my nose up before an American pint. “An American pint of Guinness? Ugh. Disgusting. It doesn’t travel well, you know? I, for one, won’t drink it anywhere but Ireland! Maybe in England. Maybe.” I’m surprised I haven’t met that asshole at a bar yet.

So it was in kind of in the same vein that I constructed this blurry notion that in Germany the Jagermeister was “better.” Specifically in the sense that it wouldn’t cause the same suffering I endure the day after drinking it here. Because I was closer to the origin, I reasoned, it was therefore purer. All of the impurities and pollutants that cause the blackout drunk and then bludgeon the senses the following day are developed during transit. “It doesn’t travel well.” Jager germs? I don’t know. This, anyway, was my thinking when we ordered our first shots of Jagermeister in Berlin. That is if I was thinking at all. Which I probably wasn’t because it wasn’t long before the brain’s activity fluttered, ebbed, and finally subsided there in that dark bar on Wiener Street.

There were two bars near our apartment that we frequented while we were in Berlin. They were only about a block away from each other and, as I’ll say as many times as I can, they were both on Wiener Street. The first one was called Bar 11. We liked it because it was very dark (“none more black”), wasn’t crowded, and the bartender was a Mic-E Reyes doppelganger. He’s the one that gave us our first shot of Jagermeister… and our second, and third, and fourth, etc..

The other guy is "Cyclops German Salman," but he doesn't look as much like Salman Agah as "German Shaka Mic-E" looks like Mic-E Reyes.

We were in the country of the word's origin, so it's really no surprise that we saw a lot of doppelgangers while in Germany. Here's another, "German Rocky Dennis"—I mean, "German Shaun White."

At first I really did believe Jager was better in Germany. I love the taste of that cold, minty, syrup as it slides down the back of your throat. And all the herbs give it a vaguely medicinal quality, which, on the one hand, is sort of unpleasant, but at the same time I like to fool myself into thinking that it’s healthy. Like Guinness, “It makes you healthy and strong.” The shit was going down so easy at Bar 11 that I began to entertain the idea of getting one of those Jager machines for our house. “For the bedroom!” Tania said. (I married her for a reason.) Except those Jagermeister machines sound like a fucking lawnmower.

Setting: Living Room. Dave and Tania are on the couch watching TV.

DAVE (getting up): Good night.

TANIA: Good night? It’s only 4:30 in the afternoon.

DAVE: Yep. Pretty tired. Big day tomorrow.

Dave opens bedroom door, exits stage right.

TANIA (to herself): Weirdo.

Tania goes back to reading and watching TV. She is interrupted by a loud noise coming from the bedroom. WHIRRRRRRRRR! Tania jumps up and runs to the door.

TANIA: Hey! What’s going on in there? Are you drinking Jagermeister again?

DAVE (muffled): … uhhhh… no…

Silence for a moment. Then the loud noise again: WHIRRRRRRRRR!


This is Charles Rivard. He's Canadian and he rides for Adidas. He also happens to look just like Charlie in the original Willie Wonka movie. After a long day of skating, the Canadians preferred the weed to the beer, so they didn't come out drinking with us very often. When they did, they tried to make up for the time missed.

This is George, the Adidas TM, and I getting our asses kicked at the other bar on Wiener Street. The full story will be up on the King Shit website soon.

One night while we were at Bar 11, Dio died. Dio didn’t die in Bar 11. He died earlier that day. Presumably somewhere else. We know because a dirty street minstrel came in to the bar and announced that his favorite musician of all time was dead and that he was going to totally harsh our mellow by playing Dio songs at us. Fucker. He totally looked like Chris Pontius, too. With a ponytail. And shorts. He might even have been topless? And when Chris has a guitar in his hands, he’s pretty fucking funny. So I’m not surprised, given the amount of Jagermeister I had drank, that I was deceived into thinking—even with the announcement—that this filthy German hippie with the acoustic guitar was going to entertain us with jolly songs about lesbians and such.

“Shave you wooly whores/ If I want to see Chewbacca I’ll watch Star Wars.” —from “Shave” by Chris Pontius

Nope, the Berlin balladeer was completely devastated by the death of Ronnie James Dio and he wondered if he could bum us out too and ruin our night with his horrible renditions of crappy Dio songs?

“NEIN!” I yelled at him. I actually know that word. “NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!”

Whatever shitty Dio song he tried to play, I didn’t recognize it. And then I suddenly realized, “I don’t know any Dio songs!” Which made me kind of happy. Like the Insane Clown Posse, there are some things I’m proud to be ignorant of.

“Water, fire, air, earth/ Fucking Dio, how does he work?” —“Miracles” ICP

(Star Wars, incidentally, is another pile of shit I’m proud to not know anything about.) Unfortunately there is one Dio song I do know.

“Holy Diver!” I blurted out after the first note came over the car radio one day.

“How do you know that?” Tania asked astounded. I’m not sure if she was pissed because it was the first time I had ever named a song before her (Tania can name any song in one note or fewer), or if I had just revealed some awful truth about myself.

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s ‘Holy Diver?’” Who doesn’t know “Holy Diver?”

Tania, apparently. She claims she’s never heard it before. To me it’s one of the many unfortunate elements on the periodic table of classic rock. Like it or not, I’ve heard that song a million times. But apparently I’ve never really listened to it very closely because otherwise I might have wondered, as Tania did, “What the fuck is a holy diver?”

Very good question. I have no idea. And from what I can tell, nobody else does either. Have you ever read the lyrics?

Ride the tiger
You can see his stripes but you know he's clean
Oh don't you see what I mean?
Gotta get away. Holy Diver.

I didn’t think it was possible to hate that little metal midget any more than I already do, but it is. Do I see what you mean? No. No I do not. None of it makes any sense. There’s a lot of nonsense about a tiger, but then suddenly the Holy Diver goes to a costume party, “Holy Diver/ You're the star of the masquerade/ No need to look so afraid.” I’m interested in any interpretation of this song you may have, but in the meantime I’m just going to hate it. Because it’s okay to write dumb lyrics (Kiss), and it’s okay to write lyrics that don’t make any sense (Melvins), but there’s no excuse for dumb lyrics that don’t make sense. Dio fucking sucks.

Whatever the Teutonic troubadour was trying to play for us was not “Holy Diver.” But even if I knew Dio’s entire catalog note for note, I don’t think I would have recognized what this fellow was trying to play because the dude was a ham fisted drunk. I can’t imagine any Dio song being that difficult to play, but our wandering minstrel tried to start this particular song four times, and four times he had to stop and apologize for the behavior of his clumsy paws. At first it was annoying, because, you know, dude was being all serious and trying to pay tribute to his imaginary dead friend, shithead Ronnie James Dio, but by about the fourth attempt it was just hilarious. It was a fitting memorial to one of the worst “musicians” of all time: some drunk German gutter punk butchering a heavy metal ballad to a crowd of people who weren’t even listening.

“Nein,” I said when he came to our corner of the bar with his empty hat. “Nein danke.” I should have spit in it. Even if he had managed to play something we liked, we needed our Euros to pay for all the Jager shots that Mic-E just kept pouring for us. The Jagermeister was delicious, but it certainly wasn't any "better" than the Jagermeister we have here. The two worst hangovers we suffered in Germany came after nights of Jagermeister shots.


I wonder if you could get a silencer for one of those Jager machines? Or an IV drip would probably work.

I was joking about getting one for the bedroom, but when you consider that they're only $300, it's not really that unrealistic. And, after using their website's "Tap Machine Profit Calculator," I learned it will "pay for itself" in just under three months. And it'll fit right where Tania's pillow goes!


Unknown said...

It is actually "nein" and not "nien" but I understand your mistake, and I’ll try to explain it. You (sorry but most Americans do) pronounce, for example, Bill Weiss's last name (the "ei" part) with an E sound, but in the Germanic language it is pronounced with an I sound. For example, “nein” sounds exactly like nine (if that makes any sense?) whatever… Been enjoying your writing since the early Big Brother days!!!

RyGar said...

I almost ended up on the wrong side of some fists when Dio died, and I proclaimed my complete lack of concern. As for Jager, I can't touch it. Instant blackouts, black hangover shits, crossed eyes, and un-shakeable sense of impending doom follow that evil green buck around.I did notice that the bottles have a tag advertising the machines as a practical appliance for the sensible sipper.