I had hoped to receive press accreditation to cover the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011, but I was denied. Fortunately, Mr. Lava, a DJ of international renown, already lives on the continent. He has agreed to write a series of articles following the build-up to May's Eurovision showdown.
Because of its proximity to the Dutch and Belgian borders, its easy access to the Rhine, and its sterling reputation as an international business and financial center, the German city of Düsseldorf is often referred to by its residents as "The Crossroads of Europe." But this May the city will live up to that slogan more than ever before, as Düsseldorf's half million residents will soon be joined by hundreds of enthusiastic Eurovision Song Contest fans.
Germany is celebrated for its financial savvy and its bratwurst, but in recent years the country has perhaps become best known for its carnaval des animaux. Thus, the rising tide of tourists arriving in Düsseldorf's market square are now greeted by the stuffed remains of Knut the Polar Bear, who dramatically rears up on his hind legs with a face frozen in a perpetual roar of victory. Spirited zoo-keepers last week euthanized and stuffed Heidi the Cross-Eyed Opossum so that she might join her big brother; opossums are famous for hanging by their tails, and so Heidi now dangles stiffly from Knut's burly neck like a grotesque necktie. Paul the Octopus had once been a part of this tableau mort, but the mason jar containing his remains has gone missing--rumored to have been mistakenly sold as fruit preserves in one of Düsseldorf's outdoor markets.
Eurovision! Like the Olympics, the song contest is a bastion for peace and international good-will. Consider that today Italy talks about leaving the European Union, but in 2011--after a 13 year absence from the song contest--it will compete in Eurovision. Croatians have no interest in joining the EU at all, but they are determined to take home this year's trophy. Even staid Finland has lately shown more pride in Lordi's 2006 Eurovision victory than interest in the EU. Eurovision unites, whereas the EU divides!
One need only look at the facts. Before 1956, the year of the contest's inception, Europe knew only war. After 1956 a peaceful Europe came into being, although a fear of total nuclear annihilation hung over the continent like a raincloud over Charlie Brown's head (Cold War paranoia survives today in the form of that country-sized U.S.S.R. museum called "Belarus," the world's wilting hopes for Ukraine, and a general terror of Georgia-occupying Russia). Of course, one cannot also forget the wars that shredded the Balkans during the 1990s. And there is also Armenia's and Azerbaijan's "frozen conflict" regarding the disputed territory of the NKR which, due to complex loyalties in the region, plus gas pipeline transit issues, will probably lead to World War III. Besides these few things, Europe has never known such peace.
I am Mr. Lava, and I have come to Düsseldorf to suck all this in and blow it back out to you in a series of dispatches that have not been fact-checked, because this is only a blog. I look forward to sharing my impressions with you between now and the final day of competition. I am a Eurovision believer, and I will goddamn make you into one, too.
Eurovision, I have never felt more alive!