March 13, 2010


One of the things I have always been angered by is that sentiment, often expressed by British and American "cultural elites", that nothing matters if it doesn't come from their dream factories. If you are not from Harvard or Yale, if you don't have the right breeding, if you don't come from the right country, you cannot possibly know what you are talking about, since...

... since, well, your country is a cultural wasteland, it must be, for otherwise they would know about it, somebody would have sent them a Facebook update or a Blackberried message. And to those I say, the things that you don't know I could fill books, nay, libraries of books with.

There are amazing Swedish crime story writers, first and foremost Henning Mankell, who just now – after ripping up the book charts and the TV channels with his Wallander series – is getting some tentative recognition in Hollywood.

I guess that Kenneth Branagh playing the role in two BBC series made it easier to digest for them, and isn't that just the saddest thing?

In Germany, the late, great Ulrich Noethen would have been – if he had been born in the United States – able to hold his own against some of the US actors I adore and value, like Dustin Hoffman.

Thomas Ziegler's Sardor books from the 1980s are quirkier and more fleshed out than anything Michael Moorcock ever wrote in the realm of fantasy fiction, and that is by no means to look down on Moorcock, whose works I also love and adore, but Ziegler took the rules of Moorcock and pushed them far beyond breaking point.

Andreas Brandhorst wrote books that – if only James Cameron had been able to read them – would have been on the screen already, for nobody I have ever read has had the ability to describe a truly alien culture the way Brandhorst does.

And then there is Walter Moers. The genius who has come up with modern fairy tales, whose ability to play with the German language in such depth, such beautiful poetic manner that I am constantly in awe of him. Well, I also ant to kill him, dissect his brain and gobble up whatever talent is in there, but that's just me. The 13.5 Leben des Käptn Blaubär is a modern classic, and the other books are... just as majestic, and how is it that the same guy can then turn around and do Der Bonker, taking apart Adolf Hitler and reducing him to what he was.. a pitiful, sad wanker?

And then there's music. It still creeps me out a little that most people around the world know Nena's 99 Luftballons (if you don't know, watch Grosse Point Blank, then you will know). It also creeps me out a little that Tokyo Hotel is drawing crowds everywhere, but I chalk that up to the cutest goth girl ever singing, uh, okay, cutest goth boy ever? Well, cutest materialised Manga character since anything they did in the Japanese band Malice Mizer.

But there are also other bands here now again who can do music, like Silbermond and Juli and Wir sind Helden, and for over a decade these musicians didn't even have a chance to be recognised as everybody flooded the music markets with cheap, instantly forgettable bubblegum pop from the likes of Britney Spears.

I guess what I'm trying to say to everybody is that you should always try to find out something about other cultures, about what they can bring to the table, some of those things are worthy of global success.

And with that in mind, Germany's band Revolverheld, with Spinner.

Yes, this goes out to all the dreamers. Everywhere.