Dixie Peach: I've been everywhere, man!

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I've been everywhere, man!

Three or four years ago one of the government-owned TV stations in Germany began to show one of my favorite late night TV viewing obsessions. I don't know the name of the show - I guess it had one but I don't recall ever seeing it. Maybe it didn't have a real title because it's got to be one of the cheapest shows ever made.

All the show consisted of was a guy in a Ford with a camera mounted on the dash. The radio was tuned into some jazz station, a blurb would appear on the screen that they'd be driving from, say, Pottsdam to Braunschweig, and off he'd go. Just a guy driving on the state roads listening to jazz and whenever they'd enter a new town of any real size you'd see the name pop up on the screen. That's it. The utter simplicity of the show was inspired. No commentary, no special effects, no plot or message - just a guy driving from one German city to another. I loved it. In a strange way I was fascinated at the little villages and towns and cities they'd drive through. I liked seeing what people had in their yards. I liked seeing what grocery chains other towns had. I liked seeing bad drivers passing the car and see the scenery along the roads. I even liked hearing the jazz on the radio and liked it even more if they happened to be taping the show during radio show featuring big band music. All in all it was a peaceful, relaxing show to watch as one winds down from the day and gets settled for sleep.

Then they stopped showing it. Very disappointing because I'd begun to look forward to seeing where we'd travel (by this time I felt like I was a personal friend of the driver who was never shown...more than his right arm anyway) and to seeing the German terrain. Disappointed me quite a bit actually.

And then I found a new late-night TV treat. Not quite as good as the car tour show but close. It's a train tour show! Like the car tour show I get to see the countryside but there are some differences. Unfortunately there's no music. Maybe it's because the train engineers aren't employees of the TV station so you can't predict what music they'd play. But on the upside, it's not just trains in Germany. These are trains traveling all over Europe. So far I've seen some of Germany, a bit of Scotland and lots and lots of France. Same premise as the car tour - just a camera up front and little pop ups telling what town they're in if they happen to stop at a station.

I've learned a few things so far. First, the train stations in the little towns in France look way shittier than the ones I've seen in Germany. Second, there are backpackers waiting for a train at every single train station they stop at, regardless of what country they're showing. No exceptions. You see the train approach the platform and without a doubt there will be two or three scroungy looking fellas hefting large backpacks waiting to jump on the train. And as the train pulls out of the station you can see two or three others walking to the station exit. Third, people build their homes amazingly close to rail tracks. How do they stand it? You can be rolling through open country and when you see a lone house it's built up thisclose to the tracks. Fourth, there are an amazing amount of sheep in Scotland. And they all run like the devil when a train rolls by.

If they take this off the air they'd better replace it with something else just as good. I'm thinking that a camera-on-the-bridge-of-a-river-barge show would be good.

Maybe then we can see if sheep run from boats.


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