Monday, August 14, 2006

Authentic living

New Glarus Hotel
Originally uploaded by mizidymizark.

We are so jaded, we living in the regime of cool, that we suspect phoniness whenever we encounter joyful authenticity.

I recently read a review of a favorite restaurant of mine - where the New World's best fondue is to be found - accusing the place of being "kitchy".

I've been to that restaurant many times, and I've never found a trace of kitch anywhere. So what is it that the author found?


Switzerland is a modern country completely at peace with its peasant heritage, its "Volkstum". Go into any cable car, restaurant or tavern in the mountains, and they'll be playing Alpine music over the stereo. It's not kitch; it's a celebration of heritage.

Trust me: Here is a TV ad for Switzerland, from YouTube. It ran in Germany during the buildup to the world cup. The idea was to suggest to soccer-weary German women a vacation in Switzerland during the tournament.

They play with all the national stereotypes, including the alpine music in question. It's modern, folksy, sweet and a little racy all at once.

[A rough translation of the voiceover is "Dear Women, consider spending your World Cup-summer in a place where the men care less about soccer - and more about you.]

The Chalet Landhaus Inn plays the same music. It's just like in Switzerland.

In fact, the entire hotel is uncannily authentic - not only the old-fashioned volkstum stuff, but the minimalist DESIGNsuisse architecture of the rooms. Alas, the restaurant's reviewer misunderstood the sweetness of "yodeling on the sound system" as phony heartland kitch.


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