Homes Away From Home
The match made me think of one of my homes away from home. It finished just shortly before 4 am. I stayed up for it because I like to watch a good game of tennis, especially if it is played by two players who don’t grunt. The “GOAT” won in five sets. For many, he’s the greatest tennis player of all time. Others place him first in the Pantheon of best professional athletes.
I like to see him play for all those reasons and one more. He hails from Basel where I lived for six years. Basel is one of my homes away from home. The Kunstgewerbeschule I went to has been renamed Schule für Gestaltung which isn’t very helpful unless you know German. It roughly translates as College for Applied Arts. It was and still is famous for turning out some of the best “Swiss” graphic designers. It was a privilege to be just one of nine students being taught for four years by teachers whom we admired. Most important among them was Armin Hofmann who is now 97 and whose work is featured at the MoMA website. The college traces its roots to the Bauhaus in Dresden, teaching that less is more, and form follows function.
Which brings me back to Roger Federer because his logo exemplifies this design philosophy. It is design by elimination. How few parts does it take to suggest the whole? How can we use just one color? The result is as simple as it is elegant. It invites a second look the same way many of his shots deserve a replay. Like an unexpected drop shot.
Thanks to Roger for putting Basel on the map. His family home is in a suburb of Basel right next door to Riehen were I lived while attending college. From there, it’s just a couple of miles from the border with Germany and only a 45-minute train ride to Freiburg, my hometown.
There is something else Basel is famous for. It’s called Fasnacht (also spelled Fastnacht). Unlike any other carnival, it takes place the week AFTER Ash Wednesday. Some say the odd date harkens back to protests by the mostly Protestant citizenry of Basel against their Catholic rulers. This year it starts on Monday, February 19, and as always at 4 am when all electricity is turned off. It’s called Morgestraich (literally Morning Strike) and is captured on this YouTube video.
Colorful lanterns with designs created to spoof current events and personalities are carried not unlike the statues of saints in a Catholic procession. Costumes and masks (made of paper mache) are created new each year to reflect specific topics or themes. The music is all fife and drum which reverberates through the narrow alleys. There is much more than I can tell in this space. Read this online guide or search Google for “Basel Fasnacht.”
While still in Germany working for the Munich Olympics, I traveled both years to Basel for the event. I hadn’t heard of “bucket lists” back then, but you should put the Basler Fasnacht on yours. Munich is also anong my homes away from home.
What are your homes away from home? What’s on your bucket list? Let me know!
First published by Gerhard as his
January 2018 View from the Street Newsletter.