August 28, 2005

Yet another Piano Man update.

From The Independent:
He was, in fact, 20-year-old Andreas Grassl, a farmer's son from a small village on the German-Czech border. His family lawyer has categorically denied that he faked his illness. It is thought that his problems may stem from his fear of being the only gay in his village. German newspapers, who had given the myth of Piano Man the same attention that he had received the world over, appeared positively disgusted to discover that the mystery patient was from Bavaria. "It's all over," sighed the Frankfurter Rundschau. "The truth is often so awfully banal." One left-wing newspaper remarked that it was better to be "half-dead and playing the piano in a British psychiatric hospital than living as a homosexual in a Bavarian village".
Interesting, this loathing of Bavaria. Is there a state in the U.S. that Americans would react to this negatively?

There's also this from The Australian:
Andreas Grassl, 20, had bombarded German television stations with requests to appear on their shows. He also wrote to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and singer Robbie Williams asking them to help him launch a career in the media.

Grassl eventually got a column in a local newspaper in which he dwelt scornfully on the instant fame of pop stars and reality TV contestants and said he would "so love to be a millionaire". He achieved a different kind of fame during four months of psychiatric treatment in Britain. He refused to speak, expressing himself only by drawing and playing pianos. The mystery prompted a hunt across Europe to identify him.

A selection of Grassl's writing, including articles and letters in his school magazine and his columns for the Bayerwald Echo in the Bavarian town of Cham, reveals his preoccupation with celebrity....

From the age of 10, Grassl begged regional and national television and radio for the chance to take part in shows. He reported every triumph, no matter how small. "On December 6 my voice was heard for approximately 20 seconds on the Czech radio station Cesky Rozhlas 7," he boasted in one edition of the school magazine.

Grassl's first break came at the end of 2000 when the Bayerwald Echo agreed to let him write a column entitled Cult aimed at teenagers.

His subjects ranged from Britney Spears to a US election campaign. A former Echo journalist described him as scatter-brained. "He'd suddenly get hyperactive, pouring out one idea after another so you couldn't get him away from your desk," he said. "But he obviously had creative talent."

In one column he criticised the effortless fame acquired by others through programs such as Big Brother. "It's suddenly the fashion to shove people inside a container, pull them out one after the other and then turn them into pop stars for a week," he wrote....

Carey Cooper, a psychologist at Lancaster University, said Grassl may have been suffering from "Hollywood syndrome".

"It's a real problem among all the failed actors in Hollywood when they get to the point where they can no longer accept that they've failed," Professor Cooper said. "They begin to act as if they are famous or find means unconsciously or consciously to attract attention."
Seems a little like Rupert Pupkin, doesn't it? Well, I hope he's enjoying his fame.


John Thacker said...

Bavaria is wealthy and votes conservative in basically every election. They have their own separate conservative party, the CSU, which runs instead of the national CDU in Bavaria, but always allies with the CDU in the Bundestag. Bavarians tend to be conservative Catholics, and tend to be more likely to wear either formal clothing or traditional clothing than the rest of Germany.

The CSU is more socially conservative than the mainline CDU, and has won every election in Bavaria since the end of World War II. In the last election they won a two-thirds majority.

The hatred for Bavaria is little different from the dislike for wealthy, conservative, "redneck" Alberta by the rest of Canada, or much of the dislike of Texas by liberal Americans. (On a separate note, there are states that Southerners and conservatives tend to dislike, like New York and Massachusetts.)

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

Is there a state in the U.S. that Americans would react to this negatively?


West Virginia: for fornication among people who came from the same uterus in the same town (in the same house); also the joblessness, lack of education, backwardness.

(Note: And West Virginians hate Virginians, having lost out in the ham marketing department).

New Jersey: For placing the really ugly cities near the places where non natives are most likely to see them (along Turnpike and near airport). NJ is very tricky that way, keeping the good parts in the closet, until, as governor, you come out and, well, whatever.

Detroit: For its years of proud municipal incompetence and aggressive dedication to high murder rates. If the joblessness and declining manufacturing base does not kill you, a killer will.

New York: Cause its reach and intellect is like the big penis you don't have, and are not sure you want, but you are envious anyway, and know that everyone there is stupid, liberal, corrupt or just really really mean.

There is always some place that some Americans react negatively to or life would just be kind of dull. Hate is very life affirming at times.

NotClauswitz said...

According to my German friends, Bavaria is Germany's Texas. Even though a pretty-much lifelong Californian I'm beginning to like Texas more and more - I already like Bavaria, Munich especially - Paulaner Beer is right up there with fresh from the keg Pilsner Urquell, and it's not far from Old Empire conservatism and my past stopmping grounds of Vienna.

I'm Full of Soup said...


That's the best and finniest post I have ever seen on this website. You take answering Anne's questions very thoroughly.

I am from Philly and particularly liked the NJ overview.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

For my two cents I would have to say Mississippi. Texas, like California is big and mythic, while Mississippi just has a past.

amba said...

That's so disappointingly banal. As banal as Bavaria. To learn that the Piano Man was just trying to get famous, or in a sulk or a breakdown because he'd failed to! Here he seemed like some kind of romantic 19th-century waif. And he turns out to be just a 21st-century wannabe. He should never have broken his silence.

(I've always thought that "wannabe" sounded like a marsupial. Hey, I've been a marsupial lately. Does this make me a wallaby wannabe?)

All the talk about being the only gay in the village helplessly reminds me of a T-shirt on sale on Bleecker Street -- "Your village called. Their idiot is missing."

Finn had me in stitches. Or Stinn had me in fitches.

amba said...

From New York, really really mean and proud.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.