30 August 2015

Rega Comes to the Picnic

Switzerland's beautiful countryside seems like a serene dream of peace and quiet -- until you trip over a cow paddy or glacier, then fall down and fracture your self-esteem or more important body parts. That's when the vaunted Rega Swiss national rescue chopper descends from the heavens and sweeps you to safety.

Or the morgue -- hey, they're medics, not magicians.

On Saturday, picnicking above the cliffs of Creux du Van in Canton Neuchâtel, my beautiful hiking companion and I were lucky enough to witness these angels of mercy rescue a hapless young American woman. Rega plucked her from the woods with a medic dangling expertly at the end of a cable on a winch. He stabilized the woman's apparently broken arm, protecting her from a certain dearth of postable vacation experiences.

My beautiful hiking companion remarked that it seems a requirement to join Rega is that you be a really hot-looking guy. She said she was looking forward to the first annual Rega Rescue Calendar.

They've certainly got the gear.

26 August 2015

Swiss Trains Become a Creative Canvas, Like It or Not

I guess it’s the old argument between artistic license and conventional wisdom. 

A few days ago I saw a train pulling into the Neuchâtel station with two cars covered in graffiti. Highly unusual for Switzerland, where the whole cleanliness thing and respect for other people’s property is generally sacrosanct. 

The design and execution of the graffiti were sometimes exciting, sometimes annoying.

 The spray painters painted right over the windows with no regard for anyone inside who prefers to watch the passing Swiss countryside rather than the backside of the artists' aerosol expressions. Maybe that was the point. “WAKE UP!” they perhaps intended to urge us. “Unglue your eyes from the same old bucolic Swiss scenery!" they perhaps wished to shout in their fuck-you aesthetic manifesto. 

What do you think? Shall we applaud these renegade artists, or sentence them to Sysiphean scrubbing?

09 August 2015

The Greek Gods Reborn in Neuchâtel

Yes, the ancient Greek Gods are currently hanging out by the lake in Neuchâtel. Last night we saw the whole gang giving birth to themselves at a dazzling outdoor theatre performance under a suitably threatening sky.

Gusts of warm humid breeze wafted in from the lake, which seemed like an amniotic background for "Theogony, the Birth of the Ancient Gods," the comic story (in French) of how the Greek pantheon of deities came into being. And when bolts of lightning -- real lightning -- flashed across the heavens right on cue, it was easy to suspend our disbelief as five superb actors on a bare stage brought to life hundreds of gods.

For more about how a Neuchâtel actor and professor of ancient Greek language and literature created the play from an 8th-century BCE Greek text, there's my story for Newly Swissed, Birthing the Greek Gods in Neuchâtel.

15 July 2015

Smurf Enclave in Geneva

The weirdest apartment buildings in Geneva and beyond are called the “Schtroumpf,” buildings.

The word was made up in a moment of frustration by Peyo, the Belgian creator of those little blue beings whom English speakers know as the Smurfs. When he couldn’t think of the French word for “salt,” he uttered "schtroumpf," according to Wikipedia. (The spelling was probably figured out later.) The word “Smurfs” is the Dutch translation of “Schtroumpf” – so a faux trilingual made-up word from a made-up word. 

Can you believe the architects were Swiss? Le Corbusier is rolling in his grave. More info and photos about the Schtroumpf Buildings are here in my latest for Newly Swissed. 

And voilà, some additional photos. Imagine living in a place like this ...

02 July 2015

Stan is Most Definitely the Man

Stan the man is proving himself just that, whether wearing Wimbledon white questionable shorts or something less.

14 June 2015

Slippery in Geneva

The latest from Marie-France and me for Newly Swissed -- another brutal report from the trenches.

01 June 2015

Caught in the Rye

We know summer has truly arrived in Serroue above Neuchâtel when the rye sprouts its spikey coiffure.