3.29.2005

What's in a name?

"Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was 'civis Romanus sum'. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'" --JFK, June 26, 1963, Berlin.


While pouring over Pitchfork Media and thier review of the new Decemberists album with Jonathan, I breifly showed him this blog. He said the same thing everybody does.

"I am a Jelly Doughnut? Why is it called that? I don't get it."

So here's why.

"Those who believe the story correctly point out that the phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" translates as 'I am a jelly doughnut', 'ein Berliner' being the common name for a type of jelly doughnut. He said it because while that phrase does truly mean 'I am a jelly doughnut,' it also roughly, but correctly, translates as 'I am one with the citizens of Berlin.'"

I was first told this story while nursing a sprained ankle on a snowy Easter Sunday in Berlin, and for some reason, I've always loved it. Can you imagine? The leader of the free world announcing to hundreds of thousands of Berliners that he is, indeed, a jelly doughnut. It's fucking beautiful. I wish I had been there.
Now there is definitely something lost in the translation that makes it hard to truly understand what it was like--what that actually sounds like for the phrases "jelly doughnut" and "citizen of Berlin" to sound so similar. It was Peter Counts who finally put this into perspective for me.

"Imagine Seattle in the same kind of situation--divided head of state of a troubled country, seeking the support of the world. It would be like a foreign diplomat coming here declaring: 'I am a satellite.'"

Now this also serves to clear up the mystery of my e-mail address. For those of you who are still confused, it is SATTELITESEATTLEITE. Two t's, one l; a citizen of a city who is not always around, but is always nearby. I'll miss you all. Thanks to all who came last night; it's people like all of you here that makes leaving so hard.
--M

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