Neues aus Absurdistan

Blick am abend

I probably shouldn’t admit to reading it. It’s not The Times of London after all.

Blick am Abend (“look in the evening”) is a small, some might say “trashy,” tabloid available free each evening at the Stadelhofen train station where I catch the train that takes me home. (Anything available free at the train station should probably be considered suspicious.)

I tell myself that I practice my German by reading it. And it’s true that I can understand most of it, which of course means that the stories are not especially challenging. After a year of reading it, I now know a fair amount about the night club scene in Zurich and a lot less about the political situation in Ukraine.

But my favorite column is Neues aus Absurdistan (“new from Absurdistan”).

These are funny – let’s say “painfully funny” – news stories from other parts of the world, but usually from the U.S. The U.S., as it turns out, is an overflowing source of material for this column. This week, for example, I read about “measles parties” in California, where parents are intentionally exposing their children to measles, explaining to news reporters that this was “the way God intended” children to acquire immunity to disease. God is apparently opposed to needles and vaccinations. Who knew? I thought the medical advances of the last century were a gift from God, but apparently not.

“You can’t make this stuff up” might be a better title for the column. There’s no attempt to be funny, though with my beginners’ German I probably miss a snarky comment here and there. Mainly the column exposes, well, the absurdity of life around the world and especially in the U.S.

I should probably stop reading it – not just the column, but the Blick itself – but I’m afraid that the damage has been done. I look back across the ocean and now see life in my home country in a new way. And a lot of it isn’t pretty.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.


6 Responses to Neues aus Absurdistan

  1. Jürg Kessler February 12, 2015 at 4:14 am #

    Good morning Doug
    Don’t be too hard on your home Country! Yes a lot is not pretty but a lot is! And a lot is not pretty here either and absurd enough!
    I look at News from two Points:
    1. What does it say? and 2. WHO says it? Now Blick am Abend? You said it yourself – good to improve your German but not for much else!
    Enjoy the day! Jürg

    • Doug February 12, 2015 at 9:10 am #

      Thanks, Jürg! All these months people on the train have probably been wondering why that nicely-dressed, older man from the village of Meilen was reading such a trashy tabloid.

  2. Toni eisenhauer February 12, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    I’m tired of people dumping on this country especially the current administration. If you’d rather live somewhere else I suppose you always could. Sorry to be so blunt ,but honestly !!!!! Toni

    • Doug February 13, 2015 at 3:11 am #

      Sorry, Toni. I don’t want to dump on the current administration either. Plenty of others are in that business. But seeing the U.S. through the eyes of others has been revealing to me.

  3. Steve Stimpson February 14, 2015 at 11:12 pm #


    I don’t take myself or the USA so seriously that I can’t laugh at myself/ourselves from time to time. Mark Twain was a master at helping us do that; too bad he isn’t around to add to the joy. Yep, we’ve plenty of problems, but there are plenty of folks that would trade places with us. Elise and I have traveled quite a bit, but there is never any place like home.
    Keep up the humor.

    Seems in my boyhood all my pals got inoculated from measles, mumps and chicken pox by exposure to one another. There may have been a few fatalities, but I can’t name any. Can’t remember any problems with peanut allergies or gluten either. What changed? Was it the peanuts or the people. Hmmm?

    Steve Stimpson

    • Toni February 19, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

      It’s me again Doug. I guess Jesus must just shake his head at all of us…trying to solve the world’s problems poorly . I guess I’t’s good we at least try.

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