My latest trip to Basel was a mixed bag. I had hoped to visit my favorite music store and get a CD, but I now believe the CD doesn’t exist yet. I must have missed the information on Bait Jaffe’s website. “Klezmer Soul Food” is the name of their show, not a new CD.
At Musik Hug, I joked with the sales guy about not having CDs by local performers. I did find a cool Klezmer anthology that I got. The card reader wouldn’t recognize my AmEx credit card. After several tries, the sales guy rubbed the magnetic strip with his fingers, then Voila! It worked. We joked about his “magic fingers” and I said maybe I’d better take him along with me on the rest of my shopping.
Went into a nice Italian restaurant to restore myself and watch the powerful Rhein go rolling by. A nearby modernized bridge had an old-fashioned little tower in the middle that reminded me of an anecdote about Gen. Guisan, credited with saving Switzerland from a Nazi invasion.
After dinner in Basel with a friend late in 1939, they went outside for a walk. He went to a key bridge into Germany and saw only a single, sleepy untrained watchman there. That’s when Gen. Guisan knew they were in deep, uh, trouble.
Before WW II started, he had been appointed top general of the woefully-underprepared Swiss Army. They weren’t worried, because the Swiss government had close connections with the French, including the overwhelmingly armed and experienced French Army. The Swiss, not to mention the French, figured Hitler didn’t have a chance.
Of such miscalculations are war and destruction made.
Later, I saw an impresssive looking church named the “Predigerkirche Basel” that was open from 2 pm until 4 pm. It was built around 1255 during a time of great rivalry between the Franciscans and the Dominicans. In Switzerland, the Domincans are called “Predigern,” preachers, so it is a Dominican church, as opposed to a parish church.
Since the Franciscans went around with no shoes, they are called “Baerfussers,” the bare-footed ones. There is even a BaerfusserPlatz in downtown Basel. You can make lots of witty puns using baer (bare) and baer (bear – the animal and mascot for the city of Berne (get it? Baern?).
And the Baselers are famous for their wit and creativity. Here’s an example, below on the right.
And now, back to the medieval theological battles.
Supported by different members of the aristocracy, the two orders have battled it out ever since. See Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose,” for an excellent and hilarious debate between two of their representatives.
It feels crass and/or tourist-y to take pix inside houses of worship, so I usually don’t do it. Anyway, I found pix on the Internet: