Friday, September 12, 2014

Pretty Viktualienmarkt Pics

Last week I went on kind of a rant, so I thought I'd share some pretty pictures with you today.

 I got a new camera. It's one of those jobs that you can click on to your iphone and control with an app. I'm not much of a natural photographer, but I'm pretty pleased with these.
 Now that I'm looking at the pix, I realize I should have actually bought and ate some of these berries.

A pretty wreath. My husband, whose a better photog, pointed out I should have closed in on a single berry for more contrast with the depth of field. Next time.

Oktoberfest is around the corner, time to bust out the hops!

There's always room for wine and cheese...

Who was Ida Schumacher and why is this statue (occasionally adorned with flowers) dedicated to her? Turns out she was a Bavarian comedian and actress. All this time I assumed she was the first person to have a stand at the market...shows what I (don't) know.

These homies. The Viktualienmarkt is full of small bands of local guys standing around drinking beer, sort of like a Stammtisch sans the Tisch. Note the cigarette packets placed safely out of harms way.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Some Thoughts On Blogging

Lately I've been getting a lot of email from PR agencies asking me to promote products, services or events on this blog.

Wahlmüncherin is a hobby, a labor of love; an idea I put into action a few years ago when I made a promise to myself to organize my life more around creative pursuits I care about and find interesting.

I've never sat down and seriously thought out a strategy to 'monetize' the blog, attract advertisers or even how to react when approached.  If something seemed to fit (a cultural event, a service I would honestly consider using) I might write about it. I also have a soft spot for small, independent businesses or fellow Münchners trying to get something going. If someone approached me about a project/event, if I was inclined or had the time, I might write about it.

However, a recent exchange with a company got me highly irritated and triggered some strong feels about this whole blogging gig. None of this is new and has been discussed all over the internet ad nauseum, but here's my .02:
  • This is a blog, not a free or low cost advertising service. 
  • If a company/agency offers a blogger a product to try, it should be implicit that there is the potential for a negative post if the product sucks.
  • As a blogger, my loyalty is to my readers not some entity trying to sell something.
I recently discovered GOMI (Get Off My Internets). A venting grounds where (often very funny) self-described haters go to vent about bloggers. I would be lying if I didn't admit I love it. A lot of people commenting there (I just lurk) say what many are thinking. A recurring theme is people being sick of getting 'sold to' on blogs.

We all have to put food on the table. I'm also in favor of trying to support yourself with creative endeavors, I'm striving to do that myself, but without my husband's full time job, this whole operation would go kaputt. If you think you're going to make money by starting a blog, you're better off buying a lottery ticket.

Anyone can start a blog, it requires very little talent or skill and it doesn't entitle the person who has started it to compensation for doing it. As far as I can tell, people who garner large followings of their blogs, the kinds that are able to make money doing it, have one, some or all of these things going for them:
  1. They started at the right time (before 2006)
  2. They're really good writers and/or curators of unique content
  3. They're authentic and establish a real connection with their readers
  4. They're consistent, and disciplined about publishing content
  5. They're extremely savvy networkers and self-promoters
These days, though, the whole thing is getting so fragmented and changing so fast, even bloggers who have all five things going for them are scrambling. If they try to keep the endeavor going by shoving ads in their readers faces 24/7 people get sick of it. Grace Bonney writes very thoughtfully about this. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

I don't care if this blog ever gets a lot of followers, that's not why I publish it (in fact I can't even really tell you why I publish it). What I do know is that I care about how my readers receive it. For Wahlmuc I hope to be good at points 2-4.

I believe people have a strong reaction to being sold to on blogs because the medium is an intimate one. Writing a blog post is like inviting someone into your living room. No one wants their friends to start selling them Amway at a dinner party. It's tacky. It's a turn off. I do want my friends to tell me about things they like, or have used or bought, but only if it's genuine.


I have three blogs. Soon to be two. This one (Wahlmüncherin), one I started where I write about project management for small businesses (and was started out of a mix of genuine passion and commercial reasons) that I will soon shut down, and one that is explicitly commercial and about products I sell on my e-commerce site - sure I throw in personal interest stuff, but it's clearly a part of my store and about me selling my stuff.

My conclusion from starting all three: Be explicitly commercial or don't be commercial at all. People aren't stupid. They get what you're trying to do and will respond accordingly. As a blogger, I'm happier and more comfortable approaching each post with that clarity. I guess these 700+ words are just a long winded way of saying this:

I will never try to sell you something on this blog while pretending I'm not.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Great Bavarians: Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog Venice Film Festival 2009.jpg

Listening to this 1998 Werner Herzog interview from the Fresh Air archives yesterday reminded me of a.) how much I enjoy listening to him speak b.) that he's from Bavaria (Munich born) and c.) I've very much enjoyed his films.

A portion of the interview that particularly fascinated me was his recounting of his childhood in postwar Germany. He tells of fatherless boys ruling entire, decimated city blocks and his own peaceful but impoverished childhood (he was often hungry) in a remote village in the Bavarian Alps with a group of laid-back, gum chewing, American G.I.s.

The Herzog films I've enjoyed include Mein Liebester Feind, Encounters at the End of the World and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. I'm looking forward to seeing his past and future films too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Date Night In Munich

One of the reasons I started this blog was that I found myself repeatedly answering email queries from friends, family or colleagues about to visit Munich. What is there to do? Where should we eat?

As I got to know the city better, I also wanted to share the side of it that I had come to known by exploring so much of it on foot, and just living here day to day. I think  Munich is one of those cities you can drop into, explore Marienplatz and the Altstadt and get funneled into all the clichéd Bavarian sites (I'm looking at you, Hofbräuhaus). Which is unfortunate, because you'll totally miss the true heart and vibe of this town.

A friend who is visiting with his family recently emailed me asking about some good places to go out on a date night with his wife. The irony of this request is that said friend is from München! However he left to study in the U.S. (he's half American). We've sort of swapped lives a little bit: He lives in Los Angeles. I left L.A. when I was 18 and would also have to email someone to know where to go and get a good meal.

So anyway, here was my advice to an ex-Münchner:

Nice/Fancy/Romantic places:

Gold Loch in Haidhausen. Here's a good article on it from the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Small menu, excellent wine selection, right across form Johanniskirche. Reserve ASAP and don’t let them put you in the Keller.

Upper Eat Side I haven’t been here yet, but it’s big on my list. Geising (Ober und Unter) is becoming the next hip place (because no one can afford to live anywhere else!) I think their deal is kind of ‘nose to tail’ emphasizing local Zutaten aus Bayern.

Gar Punkt This place is supposed to be excellent. Good wine, unsuspecting and kind of hidden in Obere Au, can be hard to get reservations.

Vinaiolo  Kind of old school, but very romantic and right next to Maria Passagne in case you want an Absacker.

Hip & Fun (but on the loud side):

Attentat Greischer Salat  Another Geising joint; crazy salads and lively atmosphere. I wrote about it here and here's the Yelp review.

Spezlwirtschaft Hipster alpine food right in the middle of town. Was recently in the NYTimes. Live DJs and Rahmschmankerls among other items.

Hey Luigi I never get sick of this place, but it does get crowded/loud.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make reservations. The M.U.C. Is a sleepy little town next to L.A. NYC and Berlin, I know; but it is impossible to get in anywhere spontaneously especially on the weekend.

Guten Apetit!

Image from Upper Eat Side Instagram feed.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Just a Typical Saturday Morning

 I was running some errands Saturday morning and stumbled onto this scene. I have no idea what was going on.

You'd think that after living here for over a decade, that I wouldn't be taken aback by running into people in full blown Bavarian regalia in broad daylight in the middle of the street, but it does. Fortunately this was right in front of Marienplatz, so I looked like a tourist and along with the rest of them took pictures with abandon, which I'm usually to shy (or scared of getting yelled at) to do.

There was lots of music going on, and it seem like some sort of 'Gathering of the Tribes' for oompah music. If anyone knows what it was all about, let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Surfin' M.U.C.

Every week I look at the ‘write Wahlmünchnerin post’ task on my calendar and think ‘What am I going to write about?’ And then I go for a walk.

I had to run an errand yesterday that took me down Prinzregentenstrasse past the surfing spot right before Haus der Kunst. In almost four (!) years of blogging about Minga how could I have neglected this place?!

I’ve noticed this scene becoming more and more of an iconic image representing Munich. It’s been in the New York Times, in Löwenbräu ads and was the opening sequence of a short Monocle film about why Munich regularly features in it's top 10 in their annual report on the best cities in the world.

A few years ago, heavily encouraged by my husband, I went to see a film on river surfing (who knew?) Keep Surfing, which premiered in Munich. The film revealed the entire history of how this spot got started, and even featured our neighbor (!), Dieter 'The Eater', who is a regular there along with his daughters. Here's a clip:

You’ll never catch me riding around like a nut on that wave, but no matter how many times I've seen it, I'm always compelled to stop and watch awhile whenever I pass by.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Heart Soccer

Before Wahlmünchnerin was even a twinkle in my eye, I kept a little blog to keep friends back home abreast of life in my adopted country.

I started this post with a deep sigh, thinking about how I would explain all my feelings about the World Cup.  Luckily I was able to dig up a post from waaay back in 2006, when the Weltmeisterschaft was in Germany and I caught my first ever case of Fussballfieber.

I'm re-posting  it here for your reading pleasure, Enjoy.

Well it's finally here.  The 2006 World Cup, in Germany. We knew for years, months that this was going to happen. I would see the progress of the new Allianz arena as I would make my weekly trek to Düsseldorf, It didn't really hit me though until right before the first game. Suddenly the entire WORLD is here - in a good way. I was riding my bike through Marienplatz when I heard someone yell 'Pinche Borachos!' Suddenly confused and feeling like I had been teleported back to L.A., I turned to see a large group of Mexicans, draped in full Mexican regalia and taking pictures with (of course) their massive Bier Glasses. 

Everywhere you turn, there are Croats, Australians, Brazilians, Hollanders, Ghanaians, Americans, Koreans, you name it, in a good natured national frenzy. 
After each game there is a street party - the size of which depends on the teams playing. The opening game in Munich between Germany and Costa Rica (Germany won) literally resulted in people pouring into the streets and stopping traffic and the city (and country - unlike the Olympics, the World Cup takes place all over the country in various cities) just didn't sleep at ALL that night.

For the first time since any of my Germans friends have lived, Germans are going nuts waving the German flag around (with no disturbing undertones), happy to play host to the world and determined to get it right this time - no disasters ala the 1972 Olympics. Proper Police are everywhere although the mood has been nothing but festive and friendly with everyone on GREAT behavior. Flags, German tri-color mohawk wigs, bracelets, T-shirts and all kinds of other WM (Weltmeisterschaft = World Championship=World Cup) paraphernalia are in evidence everywhere. I knew things were getting out oh hand when I bought a head of lettuce and the cellophane it was wrapped in was printed like a soccer ball.

Basically it's a party every day. You can't go anywhere without a flat screen TV or giant projection of some soccer game being shown. The weather immediately got it's act together on June 9 (day of the first game) and got warm and sunny, so everyone could rush to the Biergarten to while away the days watching the various games drinking Bier and eating their picnics (We are still trying to master the art of home office in the Biergarten – laptop battery life remains to be the main issue – many Biergartens have WLAN/WiFi). 

I know this is not even a blip on the radar screen at home, not even a sub-blip, however words aren't enough to explain how fun and exciting this is. It's a very universal event where everyone gets to identify with their tribe on the world stage, while at the same time feeling part of the global whole. I even made myself a USA/Flag tattoo so as not to be confused for a Brazilian during the blow out Brazil-Australian game and subsequent street party yesterday. Partly for identification purposes, and partly because I was bustin’ with pride by how the US played the night before.