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Subject: London #15 - Europe(ans)
(Posted on Mar 3, 2014 at 03:32PM ) Tags:
The conversation with Cory McCracken in the pub over some beers before the wedding attempted to describe the differences between European countries  on a simplistic level, but there is actually a lot more going on for sure if you really dig into it, country by country, culture by culture, and language by language. 

The Heaven and Hell comparison is a classic take, not invented here at all, and I really did see it on the wall of some pub pisser for the first time as this photo can attest (to the fact it was on a wall somewhere on the planet). There are several variations of the joke using more or fewer countries in the mix.


But, unless one is European, or knows that region of the world well enough from living there or via extended travel, it may not mean much. For someone like Cory who had never been there at all, that was certainly the case. So that’s why I decided to take that old advertising industry maxim of Above the Line, Below the Line (sometmes called ATL BTL) and put it to different use altogether to explain Europe succinctly in a way that most folks could easily understand circa 1991.



From Bob's perspective at the time, being some single guy traveling the word for weddings, and looking at Europe with a meandering, simple, two-zone North-South dividing line:

Above the line, it rains, they drink beer, the indigenous food sucks,
trains run on time, and people work like back home.

Below the line, the sun shines, they drink wine, the food’s great,
trains run late, and nothing the fuck gets done all day.

Sure, the reality on Europe (and the rest of the world) is a lot more complex than that, and these pretty funny yet insightful map perspectives reflect that (scroll well down the page to hit the Eurocentric ones) as put together by Bulgarian designer, Yanko Tsvetkov. His maps are a little more polished and refined than this one here looking at how the English see (the rest of) Europe through the lens of soccer / football.

These two videos below poke a little fun at Italian - German, and British - French stereotypes. Take what you will from them, and you could create an endless list pitting different countries against each other in similar fashion. Like hello, Canada - USA, for example. 




Then there was this more structured 2013 Economist take on how Europeans viewed each other from different parameters. 

This last Daily Candor piece from September 2007 drills even further, and looks at many European nationalities one by one and what they think about each other, as aggregated by an American (albeit with Croatian heritage) living over there. If you really have time on your hands, you can troll through the hundreds of related comments by others and a follow-up posting if you are into this.

One can sit and debate this for hours on end with all kinds of examples and exhibits to prop up a perspective, but the best  way for me is getting a diverse bunch of my European friends around a table somewhere over there with several bottles of sumpin’ to grease the conversation, and sorting it out that way with some good-natured jousting and taking the piss out of each other over the course of an evening. 

At the end of the day, maybe Turkish (Jason Statham) had it right in Snatch, and our needing to generally pay better attention and be a little quicker with things..."before zee Germans get there" anyway.


But what does Bob know, as some Canuckistani born-and-bred palooka of Ukrainian heritage with a Polish passport, and a bunch of years living iand working in different places in Euroland? He certainly remembers giving folks over there a good laugh on a few occasions while struggling to learn a few local lingos over the years. But hey, you know you are down and good with learning a new langiage when you can, eventually, debate argue with your girlfriend in her native tongue, and give as good as you get. laugh