Of Witchcraft, Brewsters and Beer
by Alan D. Eames
The brewhouse recipe lectern serves also as a stowage space for hops at the Fischerstube Brewery in Basel.
14 October 2018 — Some 10 years ago [ed. this article was originally published in 2005] on a warm Vermont autumn afternoon I saw the witch. I had an epiphany — an overwhelming, instantaneous revelation that drew the threads of 30 years’ experience as a cultural anthropologist into crystal clear focus. She wasn’t a real witch, only a child’s Halloween decoration resting in a shop window in this drowsy small town. My witch was made of jig-sawed wood — just a silhouette. She stood bent, old and ugly, broomstick in hand, over a foam-topped cauldron while her black cat gazed on. The cat, the kettle, the witch’s pointed hat and broom; all these details of Halloween struck me full force. This cut-out witch woman, the stuff of childhood memory, was a brewster! No doubt about it, she was making beer! Her black cauldron — impossible to mistake — was a brewing vessel, its shape unchanged for thousands of years. There was even barm — yeast — bubbling over the top.
Returning home, I began sorting through hundreds of pictures I had taken all over the world. In photo after photo, century after century, the strict design of these beer pots — some pre-dating the beginning of recorded history — was always the same. The beer pot’s distinctive shape, narrow neck and fat round bottom had evolved through trial and error and is unique among all ancient and modern ceramics.
The heat exchanger and copper mashing kettel at the Fischerstube. Mashing determines the character of the beer.
In the myths and legends of ancient times, we find that witches have always been with us. There is, however, a difference between the witch of the ancient world and our dearly held version. To the Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, witches were not old, ugly, withered crones. To the contrary. If there was one singular feature to ancient world witches, it was the view that a witch was always a creature of outstanding beauty. Ancient witches seduced men, not with spells but through drop-dead good looks. The transformation in popular imagination of the witch from young and beautiful enchantress into old, hideous hag did not occur until the middle of the 15th century, about the time the Christian Church began to muscle in on the beer business.
My dictionary defines a witch as:
1. a person, especially a woman, who practices magic;
2. an ugly or malignant woman; hag. Witch, in Old English, is from Wiccan, meaning to practice sorcery.
The open fermatation vessels are in a protected cleanroom in the brewery. Hopefully we will see more women brewsters in the coming wave of microbreweries and craft beer.
To lend perspective, bear in mind that the knowledge of what happens in brewing — what process is at work when beer is brewed — lies less than 130 years in our past. Until Louis Pasteur came to rescue the French beer and wine industry, no one knew how and why fermentation occurred. Before Pasteur, it was all goddesses, spirits, and magic. Secret female stuff.
For thousands of years, beer making was the exclusive domain of women, until the age of Industrial Revolution (in the mid-19th century). Before this, women maintained power and status in male dominated societies through their skills as brewsters. In all ancient cultures, beer was believed to be a gift from a goddess — never a male god. Still surviving in the world’s most remote places — Mongolia to the Amazon, from Africa to isolated Scandinavian villages — places where the long shadow of [ed. the American brand] Budweiser does not fall, only women brew.
How did this happen? How was the ubiquitous village brewster transformed into witch — an old crone consorting with the Devil, who worked only evil?
I found the answer to this paradox in dusty archives in France, Germany, and Scotland. Court records hold minimal information regarding those accused of witchcraft; name, age (if known), and occupation. In the last category, I discovered a clue. Zeroing in on the occupations of condemned women, I was stunned to discover that some 60 percent of those who had occupations referred to themselves as brewster, alewife, or midwife. Remember that our notion of witch came along simultaneously with
1. the rise and spread of the early Church;
2. the birth of commercial male-run breweries; and
3. the creation of guilds for physicians/surgeons.
The Christian campaign against witchcraft erupted in the middle of the 15th century. Like a plague, it spread. Thousands were tortured, burned at the stake, or hung. This frenzy was — at its heart — a suppression of women and all things feminine; a hallmark of the early Church. Anxiety over female sexuality — became an either/or proposition — the Virgin Mary or the harlot. With the rise of cities and towns came commercial breweries. Only recently had men begun to brew within the walls of monasteries and church compounds. Governments quickly saw that large, established brewing enterprises offered rich sources of revenue via taxes. By the year 1445, the first men only brewers’ guild was established. Prior to this time, beer making was virtually nonexistent outside the home. All married women baked their own bread and brewed their own beer.
In both Old Europe and in the New World, a woman with a surplus of beer found ready cash by selling ale to any thirsty passersby. To promote this source of income, women would place a broom in the road in front of their house. As villages turned into cities, women with a reputation for good beer permanently moved their brooms from the road to hang perpendicular over the door to their cottage. In time, houses became so crowded together, some enterprising brewster hung her broom — cantilevered — over the door — thus was born the first of all trade signs. The association of brooms with brewery is still seen from Africa to Peru, a lingering sign that beer making was a trade unique to women. Why the broom? By the 10th century, the ubiquitous broom had become the quintessential symbol of a woman’s household. [ed. More likely because the broomstick was the utensil used to stir the mash.]
Consider next the witch’s hat, that tall-steepled black headgear every child associates with witch. Our witch/midwife has her best days selling ales at fairs and festivals. These events — not entirely unlike our own county fairs and carnivals — drew the biggest, longest, free-spending thirsty audiences to the brewsters. Extending even to the weekly rural market days, people crowded into these events from all over the surrounding area. Amidst throngs of customers and vendors — alewives found the best way to sell was to be seen. Looking down an endless line of booths, a brewster was easy to find towering over everyone with her two to three foot high witch hat. By the 16th century the brewster’s hat, along with her broomstick, became the hallmarks of her trade.
Every witch has a cat. It’s an expected prerequisite to witch fashion. Why the cat? Anyone who has had stores of grain in the house will know. Rats! Rural women whose livelihood depended on the reputation of their ale protected their costly ingredients. Unlike today, cats were expected to feed themselves, guarding grain stores in the process. To the early Church, cats became the fabled familiars: agents of the Devil, nourished on its owner’s blood through a witch’s teat — a hidden nipple bestowed by the Devil himself. Some historians (myself included) ascribe many European outbreaks of plague and other pandemics to the Church having killed off tens of thousands of cats. Seeing Puss as a diabolical agent of Satan, it’s a miracle any of them survived.
Here then is a profile of a European witch and/or her New World counterpart. These women resemble, in every way, our beloved Halloween icon. A figure of fear and menace spawned by the fevered, misogynist imagination of the early Church. Widowed or never married, our witch is an independent woman living alone earning her living as a midwife while dispensing herbal lore and treatments. Of middle years, our witch — along with many in her village — adhere to the gods of the old religion: goddesses of fertility and nature. Anthropologist Margaret Murray observed: “The god of the old religion becomes the devil of the new.” Refusing religious conversion, our brewster soon becomes a target for the clergy and their interests. As an herbalist and healer, our witch well knows the properties and powers of the plants she gathers in the woods. Further, she well knows the mind and mood altering power to be found in some mushrooms and herbs. Then, as now, people seek out that which is most desirable. In beer, this is another way of saying the strongest will always be in greatest demand.
Elsewhere, in town, new commercial ale breweries must operate within established business hours almost always set by Church officials. Our witch had no such constraints on trade and would sell to anyone, anytime, who had the coin to pay. An additional burden on the male-operated breweries and taverns were taxes placed on the beer they sold.
Lastly, the emerging trade of doctor/surgeon has been established with its own guild to strengthen and protect the medical profession. Then, as now, doctors frowned on alternative medicine. Faced with growing ire from the Church, doctors, commercial brewing interest, tavern keepers, and tax collectors — it was inevitable that these eccentric brewster/midwives would feed the fires of an inquisition that would claim the lives of tens of thousands of women.
Now, only the faintest echo lingers from the voices of these doomed women. Once a year, in October, the image of these unfortunate women emerges — at Halloween.
NOTE: This article is dedicated to the memory of my ancestor, Rebecca Eames of Boxford, MA. She was condemned to death for witchcraft on September 17, 1692. Rebecca Eames was unique — not only confessing to having had sex with the Devil — but worse — having enjoyed it.
Alan D. Eames (1947—2007) was an American writer and an anthropologist of beer. He cultivated his reputation as the Indiana Jones of beer by crawling into Egyptian tombs to read hieroglyphics about beer and voyaging along the Amazon in search of a mysterious lost black brew. He travelled to 44 countries studying the technique and history of brewing. His most startling discovery was that beer is the most feminine of beverages. He said that in almost all ancient societies beer was considered a gift from a goddess, never a male god. Most often, women began the brewing process by chewing grains and spitting them into a pot to form a fermentable mass.
In 1968, he moved to New York City and opened an art gallery. He spent evenings at the New York Public Library researching beer. His beer-related business ventures began in the mid-1970s with his acquisition of Gleason’s Package Store in Templeton, Massachusetts, which became known for its large beer selection. He conceived, designed and operated Three Dollar Dewey’s Ale House in Portland, Maine, and another with the same name in Brattleboro. He found ways to cash in on his knowledge, including helping market Guinness stout. Never learning to drive or how use a computer, this is his last article. He stopped drinking the beverage eight years before his death in 2007.
> Fischerstube Brewery Tours (in German and English)
> Three Dollar Deweys Ale House closes after 40 years
> Broom Taverns in the Black Forest (in German)
Sayonara and auf Wiedersehen — Helmut Schmid.
On the train with Mr Schmid in Osaka, September 2001.
1 August 2018 — A month ago, the graphic design world said goodbye to one of our great typographers. Helmut Schmid passed away on July 2, at the age of 76. Born as a German citizen in Austria in 1942, he trained to become a typesetter in Germany and continued his studies under Emil Ruder, Kurt Hauert and Robert Büchler at the Basel School of Design.
Mr Schmid was best known for his book Typography Today (Seibundo Shinkosha, 1980), which was revised in 2003 and 2015.
Mr Schmid first lived in Japan for over four years, then returned to Europe — first to Stockholm and then to Düsseldorf where he spent three years — after which he returned to Osaka where he opened his own studio. In an interview with the Typographische Monatsblätter Research Archive, Helmut explained why he moved to Japan: “For me it was a continuation of Ruder. Japanese design to me is the proper use of space. It is all beautifully explained by Tenjin Okakura in The Book of Tea.”
Why Osaka? His answer: “I didn’t select Osaka, Osaka selected me.”
Visiting one of Helmut’s favorite places, the Ryoan-ji Zen Temple with Wolfgang Weingart and Hitoshi Koizumi
Kyoto, September 2001
I had the privilege of meeting Helmut several times, in Europe and in Japan. Although he had a very tough outside shell, hidden away inside was a soft, sensitive human being, with a carefully honed eye for detail. He relished in the beauty of simplicity, in fine printing and paper quality and most importantly, the sculpting of white space on a page, in space and with language, where the pauses in a conversation had as much importance as the actual words.
Kanpai, zum Wohl, dear Helmut!
> Helmut Schmid – Design with Attitude
> Schmid Today
> TM Research Archive
The most famous unknown artist in the region — Eddie Hara.
by Agung Hujatnikajennong
Eddie Hara’s Son of a Gun (acrylic on canvas, 150 x 200 cm, 2015) can be viewed until this Saturday, June 30 at Artstübli.
27 June 2018 — The creatures in Eddie Hara’s paintings overall represent the ambiguity of human nature and social norms or values. Looking at a glance like fish or other nautical creatures, mammals, dolls, crowns, robots or cyborgs, they often come with open mouths; rows of teeth at the front as if laughing. But their hands often grip a weapon, a sort of blade, sword or gun. Their ambiguous expressions represent the ever-contradicting and paradoxical sides of humans. Luminous eyes alter laugh into sinister sneer. Angels and demons merge together in one physique.
Lately Hara has also been presenting more and more icons identical to death or violence, such as skulls and fanged masks, with bright and cheerful colors. Another important element in Hara’s work is texts in between the drawings. Sometimes those are amusing, random phrases, but at some other times they guide us to his real intention: to express comments, criticisms, or mere traces of verbal expressions lashing out in anger.
His fascination with the consistent design of everyday envelopes — something which does not exist in his native country of Indonesia — inspired Eddie Hara to create this ongoing series called Postcards from the Alps.
Looking at those hybrid, distorted creatures’ anatomy in his paintings, once I asked whether such images were the result of Javanese Wayang influence. Rather than instantly admitting it, Hara told me about the similarity of Wayang characters and those of the cartoon world, such as Mickey Mouse, Alice in Wonderland, and Batman, which have been alive in his imagination during his teenage years, long before he moved to Europe. This is an interesting statement in regard to the Indonesian art development that has long been under the shadow of fanaticsm of locality or Indonesian-ness. Hara’s statement explains why his work merited a lot of talk in the early 1990s.
He represents an emergence of Indonesian new artists who at that time refused to work according to the dictating, narrow cultural chauvinism. Not only absorbing stylistic influences of Dada, Fluxus, and art brut, Hara also admits being influenced by punk music, heavy metal music and street art (graffiti). He draws inspiration from a subcultural spirit that is still very much rebellious but expressed in far more casual ways.
EddiE haRA — This is NOT Street Art! Finissage: Saturday, June 30, 2018, 14:00 until 18:00, Artstübli, Steinentorberg 28, Basel
Opening hours: Thursday/Friday 11:00 until 18:00, Saturday 14:00 until 18:00
> Eddie Hara
The Portable Business Card Designing Machine — Only at I Never Read,
24 May 2018 — As previously mentioned, we will be participating in this year’s I Never Read, Art Book Fair during Art Basel. Please stop by to say hello, have a drink and see what books, diaries, vinyl record covers and other nice projects we’ve been working on lately.
We will have our infamous Portable Business Card Designing Machine set up and ready to go! Order your batch of personal business cards on the spot — with 4-colour printing and optional premium finishes. We will print them in offset and send them to you by snail mail.
K’Werk Bildschule will set up their table right next to our’s, showing off some of the new work by their young student artists and designers as well as publications that we have made with them.
The I Never Read, Art Book Fair will be held at the Kaserne, Klybeckstrasse 1B in Kleinbasel.
The opening reception is on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 from 18:00 until 22:00.
Opening hours on Thursday and Friday are 15:00 until 21:00 and on Saturday from 12:00 until 19:00.
> I Never Read, Art Book Fair
Amusing Nonsense — A Spring Poem.
Up the hill on Neuweiler Street in Allschwil.
4 May 2018 — Who said North Americans don’t have dialects? Here is an old verse by an unknown poet, to be recited aloud, with a thick Bronx (New Yoik City) accent:
The Spring is Sprung
Written by Anonymous (often incorrectly accredited to Ogden Nash)
De spring is sprung, de grass is riz
I wonder where de boidies is?
De boid is on de wing, but dat’s absoid,
De wing is on de boid
De grass is riz, de trees is green
And in de moitle tree a boid is seen.
A boid is seen and also hoid
And also felt. He dropped a toid.
Dis gets woise
And so de boid what did doit
Has got to die and dat’s a coit
I gets me gat intent on moider
Detoimined dis won’t get no foider
Oh boy! Oh boy! Am I pertoibed
I lifts me gat de boidie choips
I gotta give de squoit de woiks
But in the moitle tree above
There sits a little toitle dove
I’ve got me shooter primed but now
Two boids are sitting on de bough
And so, I cannot shoot de dove
Because de spring’s de time for love
Spring has arrived and the grass has grown
I wonder where the birds are hiding?
They say the bird is on wing, but that’s absurd
The wing is on the bird
The grass has grown, the trees are green
And in the myrtle tree a bird is seen
A bird is seen and also heard
And also felt. He dropped a turd
This gets worse
And so the bird what did doit (it do?)
Has got to die and that’s a coit (ringer? to throw something?)
I gets my gat (1900–05, Americanism; shortening of Gatling gun) intent on murder
Determined this won’t go on any further
Oh boy! Oh boy! Am I perturbed
I lift up my gun and the bird chirps
I have to give the squirt the works
But in the middle tree above
There sits a little turtle dove
Remember myrtle? (meaning unknown)
I’ve got my gun ready but now
Two birds are sitting on the branch
And so, I cannot shoot the dove
Because spring’s the time for love
The Chain Gang — Valuable books imprisoned in libraries.
The Library of Leiden, engraving by Jan Cornelis Woudanus, 1610.
27 April 2018 — In the Middle Ages a collection of 150 books constituted a major library. These hand-transcribed and handbound volumes were irreplaceable assets, and exceedingly valuable. To solve the problem of possible theft, books were chained to the shelves, attached by a chain which was sufficiently long to allow the books to be taken from their shelves and read, but not removed from the library.
A chained book from the Bibliotheka Gymnasii Altonani.
The chain was usually fitted to the corner or cover of a book to prevent wear from the stress of taking it on and off of the shelf. The books were housed with their spine facing away from the reader with only the fore edges of the pages visible, so that each book could be removed and opened without needing to be turned around, avoiding the tangling of its chain and possible damage to the book. To remove the book from the chain, the librarian would have to use a key.
The chained library of the Bolton School in Bolton, UK.
The earliest example in England was established in 1598, and only a handful of chained libraries are known to have survived with their original furniture, chains, and books.
> Cathedral Library, Hereford, UK
> Zutphen Librije, The Netherlands
> Francis Trigge Library, Grantham, UK
> Guildford Royal Grammar School (unfortunately boys only), UK
> Wimborne Minster, UK
> Biblioteca Malatestiana, Cesena, Italy
> Bolton School, UK
> Chained Libraries on Atlas Obscura
To tell the truth — I actually do read.
The Age of Erasmus — Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London, by Percy Stafford Allen, first published in 1914, reissued in 1965 by Russell & Russell, Inc., New York.
23 April 2018 — The Rhine, dashing against the piers of the bridge which joined the Great and Little towns, brought fresh air and coolness and health. The University, founded in 1460, was active and liberally minded. The town had recently (1501) thrown in its lot with the confederacy of Swiss cantons, thereby strengthening the political immunity which it had long enjoyed. Between the citizens and the religious orders complete concord prevailed; and finally, except Paris, there was no town North of the Alps which could vie with Basle [ed. The official spelling today is Basel, pronounced Bah’-zel] in the splendour and number of the books which it produced. This is how a contemporary scholar [Beatus Rhenanus] writes of the city of his adoption. ‘Basle to-day is a residence for a king. The streets are clean, the houses uniform and pleasant, some of them even magnificent, with spacious courts and gay gardens and many delightful prospects; on to the grounds and trees beside the St. Peter’s, over the Dominicans’, or down to the Rhine. There is nothing to offend the taste even of those who have been in Italy, except perhaps the use of stoves instead of fires, and the dirt of the inns, which is universal throughout Germany. The climate is singularly mild and agreeable, and the citizens polite. A bridge joins the two towns, and the situation on the river is splendid. Truly Basle is Βασιλεια, a queen of cities.’
Three key figures in Basel’s publishing history
• Johann Amerbach, born in 1440 in Amorbach, Germany, died in 1513 in Basel. He was a celebrated printer who was the first to use Roman type instead of Gothic (blackletter) and Italian (italic). He was said to spare no expense in his art.
• Johann Froben, born c. 1460 in Hammelburg, Franken, died in 1527 in Basel. He was also a famous printer, publisher and learned Renaissance humanist. He was a close friend of Erasmus von Rotterdam and worked in cooperation with Hans Holbein the Younger.
• Johannes Petri, born 1441 in Langendorf bei Hammelburg, Franken, died in 1511 in Basel. He was the third of the famous incunabula printers in Basel. Incunabula is Latin for swaddling clothes or cradle, which refers to the earliest stages or first traces in the development of something, in this case, the printing industry.
We will be participating in this year’s I Never Read, Art Book Fair* during Art Basel.
(* The official spelling is with a comma, this is presumably artistic license.)
The I Never Read, Art Book Fair will be held at the Kaserne, Klybeckstrasse 1B in Kleinbasel.
The opening reception is on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 from 18:00 until 22:00.
Opening hours on Thursday and Friday are 15:00 until 21:00 and on Saturday from 12:00 until 19:00.
More details to follow.
> I Never Read, Art Book Fair
> Union Catalogue of Incunabula (in German and English)
> Incunabula Short Title Catalogue
Modern Vintage — Marco Naef’s debut album is out now.
The new album features a duotone gatefold cover with lyrics and copy hand-typed by Marco on his Hermes Baby typewriter.
14 April 2018 — When you think of Switzerland, usually chocolate, cheese and dubious Swiss bank accounts come into mind. Marco Naef pushes you beyond the cliché and serves up precision dream pop, seasoned with a pinch of rain-soaked sadcore.
The musical mastermind behind The Night Is Still Young is a bustling local musician who not only celebrates personal liberation, but extends a hand for you to join him on the journey with his debut album King of the Bees.
The inside illustration is a sgraffito, scratched out on cardboard by Zurich artist Walter Wolff.
For well over the past year, we have been fortunate to be a part of Marco’s team, hiding out in the back office working on everything from organizing crowdfunding, to pep talks over lunch or beer, as well as the photography and graphic design for the album cover artwork.
Early sketches for the cover.
The vintage feel of the album was carefully considered and the gatefold contains dozens of tiny details which may be overlooked at first glance — from the Tipp-Ex (similar to Liquid Paper correction fluid) to the stereo logo, to a dreamy description of the industrial location we used during the cover photo shoot.
Looking for the right spot for the album photo shoot.
Lucky number 3 of 500.
The album is available in a limited edition of 500 signed and numbered copies, pressed on 180 gram black vinyl and may be purchased directly from Marco or his label Radicalis here in Basel.
Red lights are green and all doors are open. Highly recommended!
> The Night is Still Young Official
> Radicalis Music
> We first raved about Marco Naef touching the soul here in 2013.
> Swiss Hermes Baby (in German)
The All Wave Recording Movement — A forward-thinking, punk-ethos concept.
Kim Deal’s nice, old-school logo shines as a beacon on albums that have been recorded according to this philosophy.
20 March 2018 — Back in 2008, Singer/guitarist Kim Deal from the Dayton, Ohio based band The Breeders teamed up with musician/sound engineer Steve Albini to create a movement to describe their stubborn analog preferences: All Wave Recording.
Albini describes All Wave philosophy: “Everything should be an analog sound recording of someone playing or singing, rather than using a computer to generate or digitally manipulate sounds separated from the dimension of time in which they were performed. In short, to record All Wave one must use no computers, no digital recording, no auto-tuning, or any other mainstays of contemporary production.”
On an online blog called Talk Bass, a user named project_c from London made an interesting comparison of the music and printing industries:
“There is also a certain element of snobbery involved in this, which is similar to many other areas where cheap new inventions replace complex and expensive processes which take years to master. The people who invested heavily are going to feel protective about those things.
“If you look at print and typesetting, there are close parallels you can draw. They involved years of training and the use of expensive equipment which was too big to fit into an ordinary home. Digital and desktop publishing have eliminated the need for those things in everyday life and as a result they’ve become esoteric and niche practices. They haven’t died, but their roles have changed from everyday life to specialization and exclusivity.
“Does any digital print match the quality of a screen print or a poster printed with wood block type? Not at all. Those things have a tactile feel which digital printing doesn’t even come close to. But, does that matter when it comes to printing 8000 leaflets for, say a company that sells windows? Not in the slightest. So in the same way the role of analogue recording has changed from something which was an annoying everyday task for most applications, to a specialist area which works well in a certain context that calls for it.”
Ten years on, The Breeders recently released their fifth studio album All Nerve.
> The Breeders Official
> Talk bass music blog
> Electrical Audio’s list of recorded bands (including Nirvana, Wire, Low, Mary Timony, Silkworm, Don Caballero, Electrelane, The Stooges)
Go Local! Part X: — Sausenburg Castle, on the edge of the Black Forest.
The Blauen (or Hochblauen) is directly north of the Sausenburg Castle, and is 1165 meters in elevation.
The castle ruins include a circular rampart, a tower which is open to the public and several wall segments.
5 February 2018 — Sausenburg is a castle ruins in southern Germany, just on the edge of the Black Forest, about 28 kilometers from Basel. It is north of the town of Kandern in Baden-Württemberg, built on a hill of 665 meters, between the villages of Sitzenkirch and Malsburg-Marzell. In the beginning of the 12th century, the area was given to the Benedictine monks of the St. Blaise Abbey. The castle has homed lords, counts and margraves until it was destroyed by the French army in 1678, during the Franco-Dutch War.
The West Trail is a long hiking trail, maintained by the Black Forest Club. The path is 280 kilometers long and runs from Pforzheim to Basel, crossing over Mt. Blauen. The mountain’s name may be derived from the German word Blau (blue), as the coniferous forests have a bluish hue when seen from a distance. The views are well worth the trip, any time of year.
> Schwarzwaldverein (in German)
> Black Forest Tourism
Not to be taken for granted.
by Helmut Hubacher
Our version of Swiss Käsekuchen (quiche). Es het solang’s het – When it's gone, it's gone!
29 January 2018 — Traditions should be carefully maintained. As usual before Christmas, I picked up some nice Lebkuchen (gingerbread) at the Christmas market in Berne. I consider it to be the best you can buy.
And when I’m in Berne, quiche is on the lunch menu at Gfeller am Bärenplatz. I met up with Ruedi Strahm, a colleague from the Swiss Federal Council, a friend and former pricing supervisor. Then another surprise guest showed up at the table. She greeted us. Simonetta Sommaruga took a seat at our table for four. [ed. For those who don’t know, she is a current member of the Swiss Federal Council, served as vice president in 2014 and was one of the seven co-presidents of Switzerland in 2015.] Just after half an hour she stood up to go. She had to get back to work. She said her goodbyes and headed back to the Federal House – without a bodyguard. Yes, and so what? What’s so special about that?
Actually, there is more to it than that: Off the cuff, I don’t know of any other country where this would be possible. It comes to mind that maybe it would be plausible in Vienna. I rather doubt it would happen in Berlin, Paris or Rome, or anywhere else for that matter. The fact that a federal councilor can walk around without a body guard is a privilege. The other guests in the restaurant no doubt recognized Sommaruga. But who really cares? In the capital city of Berne, this is a normal, day-to-day occurence.
What can be deduced from this politically?
Terrorism is raging worldwide. The newspapers remind us of this on a daily basis. So far we’ve been lucky, but will it remain that way? No one really knows. There are no signs to help predict when something bad might happen and it’s as if subconsciously we are in a continuous state of emergency.
The head of the Swiss Army recently noted that Switzerland [ed. with 6,5 million inhabitants] has a total of 17,000 police officers. Compare that number to Berlin – with 3.5 million inhabitants – they only have 24,000. The picture of a relatively peaceful and secure Switzerland is still spot on and one can’t help thinking that we live more comfortably than most people worldwide.
We know it and appreciate this. It’s not necessary for someone to constantly talk us into believing it. We are somehow slightly accustomed to the fact that everything is predetermined and inevitable. So is everything alright in our Switzerland?
When I listen to what people around me are saying, we are pretty open-minded here. We’ve been doing international business for quite some time. In Moscow before WWI, there was already an office building with the company’s name on the door: Ciba AG. Today we have a globalized economy and Swiss entrepreneurs have always been business minded, with a suitably accomplished workforce.
The new Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis is head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Foreign policy is an affair – what’s more important is foreign commerce.
Trade relations with the communist dictatorship of China are easier than with the EU. China is far away, and it doesn’t really matter to them. And for us too, they are far away. Business is doing fine. But on the other hand, the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker desperately wants to negotiate a blanket agreement on doing business with Switzerland – instead of just leaving us alone. The majority in the Federal Parliament just wants to do good business with the EU. Then they would be satisfied.
But we have a foreign policy problem with the EU, which has been causing the Swiss a lot of trouble. The new foreign minister Cassis likes to emphasize the fact that “I have been elected by the SVP.” (ed. Swiss People’s Party is anti-EU, anti-immigration]. We are very curious to see how Ticino plans to break the deadlock with Brussels.
Helmut Hubacher (born in 1926, Krauchthal, canton of Bern) is a Swiss politician. He was president of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland from 1975 to 1990. After an apprenticeship as an SBB station official, he became general secretary of the VPOD (union for public services’ staff) in 1953 and editor-in-chief of the Basler AZ newspaper in 1963. From 1956 to 1968 he was a member of the Grand Council of Basel-Stadt, from 1963 to 1997 he was National Councilor. In his writings, he deals critically with the Swiss political landscape.
> This article originally appeared in the Basler Zeitung on January 18, 2018
> If in Bern, be sure to visit Gfeller am Bärenplatz
Fresh, direct and unpretentious — Swiss posters on tour.
by Stephanie Kalt
The exhibition is at the Markgraefler Museum in Muellheim, Germany until 27 May 2018.
23 January 2018 — Dieter Tschudin, whose posters from his private collection will be on view from 2 February 2018 in the Muellheim Markgraefler Museum, knows exactly what kind of posters he prefers – posters which communicate in a direct, unpretentious and fresh manner.
Sitting down with him to discuss his collection, you can already feel Dieter Tschudin’s fascination with posters. He’s just come back from the museum, where he just hung the exhibition. Passionately collecting posters for over sixty years, it all began during a drawing class where he was tasked to collect a few posters. Tschudin’s first stop was in his neighborhood at the Basel Mustermesse.
If he spotted a particular poster on the street that he liked, he would rigorously search for it’s maker, in hopes of receiving his very own copy of the prized print. He has many stories of collecting the posters, including one particular specimen which took over three years to get his hands on – underscoring his passion and commitment. Today his private collection is made up of several hundred posters.
Minimalist imagery that convey clear and simple statements – this is what fascinates him the most. And to this day, Tschudin strolls through the streets with eyes wide open, hoping to be surprised by a good poster. For him it is about time to present his collection to a wider audience because, as Tschudin says, posters should be out in the public and not in some dusty cellar.
Pierre Augsburger: Bally, 1968
Flavia Cocchi: Danese, 2005
Stephan Bundi: Stadion, 2008
The exhibition Format F4 – Swiss Posters in World Format contains 38 selected posters which were created between 1948 and 2017. From a wide range of topics, the exhibition has four main sections by various designers representing the basic needs of society, such as food and drink, fashion and jewelery, architecture and design and music. The exhibition is stimulus for personal reflection on the development of perception itself.
The transition of the tools of the trade, from handmade to computer-aided design, is also apparent, showing not only how poster design has developed but also society as well. The viewer undertakes a journey through time, back to the origins of creating a poster.
The poster exhibition Format F4 – Swiss Posters in World Format will be showing at the Markgraefler Museum in Muellheim until May 27, 2018. Dieter Tschudin will organize guided tours, a chance to pass on his great knowledge about the collection. During the exhibition, discussions with guests from the design industry will take place. Debate is especially welcome, as Dieter Tschudin is pleased when critical viewers express their opinions.
Exhibition ‘F4 – Swiss Posters in World Format’, February 2 to May 27, 2018
Markgraefler Museum in the Blankenhorn Palace, Wilhelmstrasse 7, 79379 Muellheim, Germany
Phone +49 7631 801 520, www.markgraefler-museum.de
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 2–6 pm
Trains from Basel’s German train station to Muellheim are about 35 minutes.
Opening reception: Friday, 2 February 2018, 7 pm
Guided tours with Dieter Tschudin, Riehen
Sunday, 11 February and 8 April 2018, 3 pm
Sunday, 13 May 2018, 11:15 am
Guided tour with Bettina Richter, Zurich
Friday, 18 Mai 2018, 6 pm
Discussion with Dieter Tschudin with guests from design, art and commerce
Friday, 23 March 2018, 6:30 pm
with Melk Imboden, Buochs; Ricarda Gerosa, Basel; 2x Goldstein, Rheinstetten
Number 18 and counting — The new year has arrived.
Newly restored doors of the Sant Christoffel building at our office in Basel.
3 January 2018 — As referenced by musician and writer Nick Cave, the Three Rules for Happiness include the following:
1.) Having something to do.
2.) Having someone to love.
3.) Having something to hope for.
When talking about numbers, the essence of the number 18 has to do with humanitarianism, independence, and building something lasting to support humanity.
In this respect, let’s hope that 2018 brings some clarity out of the nonsense from 2017.
> Nick Cave Official
> Nick Cave on Instagram — Special moment in Milan