Photo by Petr Kratochvil (www.publicdomainpictures.net)
The Local is brilliant. Come on, you bastards, admit it. It's your Cliffs Notes. Here's what happens:
You move here. You tell yourself you can speak German. You want to know all about this rich and wonderful culture where you've made your home, so you get one of those free two-week subscriptions to the Tagesspiegel. Then you start wading through the marshes of the German news. When you've finally made it to the other side of a particularly long and boggy article, you look down, and your boots got sucked off your feet somewhere. You've lost them and you've got no idea what the article was about.
So before you press on, pretending you always walk around in your socks, you take a quick glance at The Local, which happily explains all Germany's daily issues in a concise and witty form.
Not only does it do that, but it provides a forum, beneath every single article, for the most bitter, paranoid, furious and plain batshit insane people who ever got hold of a passport and found the right side of a keyboard.
There are people lurking underneath The Local's most innocuous articles so barmy that Reverend Terry Jones, or the Pope, might tell them to step back and re-consider their opinions in a more rational light. But then, neither Jones nor the supreme pontiff has ever had to cope with the bubble of sheer, unalloyed, anti-German hatred that swells slowly inside the soul of every expat living here. That psychosis has to be released somewhere, and The Local's comments section is that precious, precious valve.
Here are this week's best – all [sic], naturally.
Best paranoid of the week, underneath the latest E. coli story:
"harcourt": "I genuinely don't want to be alarmist but in the last 24hrs I've been asking myself what an attempt at biological terrorism would look like. I do hope the authorities might be thinking along the same lines especially with the recent death of Bin Laden."
From the silky irony of that "genuinely" through to the chillingly genteel "do" inserted into the innocuous "I hope," this comment offers an exhilarating insight into the mind of a psychopath. It could almost make you weep in sympathy, but then a cold realization takes hold. What do you mean, harcourt, you've been asking yourself about biological terrorism? And what's that unholy smell coming from your kitchen?
Best US foreign policy expert of the week, beneath a story on how US helicopters have been keeping a Bavarian village awake at night:
"LarsBar": "Maybe the city can negotiate a agreement more to their liking with Taliban or the Russians."
That's right; "LarsBar" is offering the Bavarian town of Ansbach a choice. Choose now, people of Ansbach. It's either military helicopters at all hours of the night, or Islamic communism. Is that really what you want? A bunch of Muslim communists looking at your kids and eating your goddamned Nutellabrot? No, I didn't think you did.
But this week's angriest nutter award goes to "Ich", for this comment, under the headline: "Catholic doctors offer homeopathic 'treatment' for homosexuality," which drew some protests by the German Lesbian and Gay Federation (LSVD) against the church.
"Ich": "What does the LSVD fear? Having attained political ascendancy, the LSVD is proving as jealous of its new found perogative as any Spanish Inquisitor, as one might have expected from a group known more aggressiveness than deliberation."
Wow. It probably takes years of inhaling petrol fumes to be this batshit. Consider this a reward for your commitment, "Ich". How do you do it, even though you've got no thumbs?