Olympic Village Karaoke Bar Says “Sorry, We Don’t Have That One Anymore”

The original version of Usain Bolt’s song choice ‘Tequila’ is about two minutes; he nearly stretched it out past ten.

London, England

Budding medalists wishing to remain welcome guests at Olympian Rhapsody, the only Karaoke Bar located within the walls of London’s Olympic Village, will from now on have to pick something other than ‘One Moment In Time’ to sing, it has been learned this morning.

Effective immediately, the bar’s Management has declared a Moratorium on the well known sports-inspired Whitney Houston power ballad, citing among other reasons “unspeakable over-indulgence” from the Azerbaijan Wrestling squad at several evening sessions since their arrival.

“Of course they weren’t the only ones, explained shift supervisor James Toland.

Much to answer for. Innumerable less well equipped athletic vocalists have been butchering one of Whitney’s toughest tunes.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that at least one member of every national team has attempted the song, which famously requires outstanding technical vocal ability in order to passably reproduce.

“High Performance athletes typically aren’t a group of people you’d expect to be looking to sing something edgy”, he went on.

“They’re generally too busy with training, nutrition and recovery to be genuinely concerned about what’s happening in the charts, you know?”

The move purposely comes on the day of the Games’ official Opening Ceremony.

… And the-hee-hee-hee ah-ha-ha-hanswers are aw-haw-hall up to mee-hee-hee-heee-hee-hee-heeee…”

“Hey, don’t get me wrong, full respect. ‘Moment’ is a tough one to do right, no question. Although if you’ve ever heard somebody singing it unironically, then you don’t need to imagine what a hyped-up, adrenalin-pumped middle distance runner is going to do with it. In a karaoke bar. In the Olympic Village. On the night before everything kicks off. Surrounded by his competitors.”

“Probably wearing his team tracksuit too”, he added.

“And maybe not as good at singing as he is at running the 800 meters.”

Toland said he could understand, up to a point, why most of his customers were requesting to sing something that they knew inside out, and also something that they were aware their audience would be very familiar with.

Click here or the pic, then Fast Forward to 5.46 and see the German Ladies’ Pentathlon Champion warming up for later on in the Village.

“Of course you don’t want to go too far off the beaten track. But look, we have a songbook here with over twelve thousand titles, and we don’t think it’s asking the world of these people to get out of their comfort zones for three and a half minutes. We have that Shakira song from the World Cup, for example. ‘Bad Romance’ too.

“Not a single athlete or team physio has asked to do that one yet.”

Other songs included on the Sorry-We-Don’t-Have-It-List at Olympian Rhapsody include ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, ‘My Way’, ‘Ironic’, ‘Zombie’ and according to Toland ” …anything that is, or sounds like it is, a National Anthem”.

They are also henceforth strictly enforcing a Three-Drinks-Minimum policy, said Toland .

“Per Athlete, not per Team, by the way. And that’s Drink drinks. There aren’t going to be any more Seven-Ups cut with mineral water around here unless it’s under six hours before a final you’ve made.”

Also banned. Though not for Sponsorship Infringement.

Paul Was Guilty Only Of Being Male.

With no hussies left in the group, Paul contemplates a wholesome couple of final days on Bachelor Island.

Germans draw no distinction between Good, Evil, Person, Place or Entity when deciding on whether to bestow a nickname. If it’s famous enough it gets a nickname. And it’s always the same nickname.

In Germany you know you’ve truly arrived when they slice off the last few letters of your name and cauterize the wound with an “i”. The obvious ones of course are the right wing political persuasion “Nazi”, and the former GDR’s ubiquitous secret police unit the “Stasi”.  “Kotti” and “Klinsi” are two more. The former signifies Kottbusser Tor, where smack deals happen in East Kreuzberg. “Kotti” is a byword among Germans who have never visited Berlin, and used by them, along with “Marzahn” (not Marzi. Yet.) in rambling explanations for the imminent collapse of Life As We Know It.

Klinsi celebrates while Kotti heroin addicts ride off with their drugs.

“Klinsi” is for Jürgen Klinsmann, one of the country’s all-time best loved goalscorers, and all-round Good Egg. His natural successor in terms of well-lovedness is Lukas Podolski, who probably not unrelatedly has an “i” at the end of his name already. His fans have chopped him lovingly back to “Poldi”

But even very heavily used nouns and phrases can sometimes get upgraded to the “i” class. “Prominente Person” (celebrity), for example, becomes “Promi”.

Prominent, incidentally, has a shared etymology with Menace. and the cutesified “Promi” is a word you hear a lot if you have a radio or television switched on with any sort of regularity. German telly, while short on promise, is long on “Promis”

And much as everywhere else these days, all cheaply makeable reality formats like house hunting, dancing contests, quiz shows or opening a shop sooner or later get a “Promi” upgrade.

Sadly there aren’t enough letters in the English alphabet to convey how far down the Food Chain of Fame the protagonists of any show with the word “Promi” in its title tend to find themselves. But I gather Sanskrit has 53, and using its last one could get us close with-

” ह – Lister”

(Sounds like the throaty “h” of coughing up lodged mucus)

Anyway, one such show is Das Perfekte Promi Dinner, which unlike most “Promi” shows very occasionally has a proper, bona fide famous person take part.

The nobodies version is just called Das Perfekte Dinner, and plays out Monday to Friday, one one-hour show per day, each contestant hosting dinner for the other four on their given nights. The obvious downside is if Monday isn’t thrilling, you’re hardly going to watch the rest of the week. And if you miss Monday… well, what’s the point, you know? The Promi version gets blasted out in a two hour marathon Sunday nights, and while it can sometimes drag, at least you have your closure inside two hours.

Which is all by way of saying that assembled to cook dinner for each other over the course of a week in Hamburg and Berlin recently were Paul, Claudia, Wanda and Florian.

Paul starred earlier this year in The Bachelor, sorry, Der Bachelor, over the course of which twenty young ladies prostrated themselves before him in a series of gossipy, mind-gamey and even flat-out slutty attempts to win his heart.

Paul is dyed blonde, and has a strangely shaped mouth. He managed the neat trick throughout the Bachelor series of portraying himself as a man of almost old fashioned moral values, but as a man more importantly trying to source his Soulmate, while simultaneously managing to avail himself, with an apparently clear conscience, of any hand jobs that were going from the more forthright females in the group.

Unfortunately, l’Amour remained elusive, but he now qualifies by general consent as a Promi.

They probably didn’t, but then again, neither of them is terribly picky.

Claudia is a lady in her fifties who makes lots of money selling expensive things to other ladies in their fifties. She spends this money on shoes, sparkling wine and new dresses. She also admits that a portion of her wealth gets used to entice young men to eat dinner and, for all we know, maybe even have sex with her. Having sex is a subject close to Claudia’s heart. Other than the spiritual enrichment to be derived from Shopping, there doesn’t seem to be much else she likes discussing.

Wanda finished fourth in Heidi Klum’s modeling reality show some years back and still gets a bit of work doing all sorts. Underwear, voice overs, appearances. Her boyfriend is perhaps a photographer.

Florian is an actor, from a family of actors, which by rights should give him some kind of Promi Royalty status in Germany. I had never heard of him before, but he was the only one of the group you felt might have wrestled with the proposal from his agent that he do Promi Dinner. Although as noted, Promi Dinner does land the occasional Big Fish, so he doubtless reconciled himself to the gig by casting himself in this role.

Claudia’s till now moderately filthy joke is about to become unacceptably filthy.

The tone was set from the off as Claudia scattergunned racy mouthfuls across the table on the first evening at Paul’s. Unsure at how to proceed, Wanda and Paul looked to Florian for guidance, from whom none was forthcoming. Half heartedly they attempted to breezily deflect or politely ignore base statement after base statement, but Claudia wanted replies in kind.

Depending on the day of the week, she liked either Paul or Florian. Paul’s youthful energy was held up as her Ideal on the Tuesday, but by Wednesday evening he was so much stripling to Florian’s cultured, Bond-like cigar aficionado. Then she liked Paul better again. Wanda was under her radar.

Florian tried to keep out of things, prepared only to hazard a guess that maybe sometimes Claudia cried in private. Wanda thought a person who talked so much about sex couldn’t be getting any. Paul was intrigued and repulsed in equal measure by the whole business. His chief complaint was that Claudia insisted on continually crossing the line of good taste that separates Acceptably Smutty Banter from I’m Just Going To Get My Coat.

Of course Claudia couldn’t have known Paul’s precise threshold for such stuff, but she had surely seen an episode or two of his show. One of Paul’s suitresses, Katja, had made it to the final three with a similar Modus Operandi-

Intrigue, Repulse, Jack Off In A Beach Hut.

Across the table in Claudia, Paul could once again see his Past Errors made Flesh, Katja with a few more miles on the clock, this time passing him the veg and trying to play Footsie under the table. And when we saw him turn away in seeming disgust at yet another crassly formulated come-on from her, surely all we were seeing was his mind replay some regretted, tawdry slap and tickle episode, and the realization on his part of his inability to know that if push became shove, he’d be spiritually strong enough to say-

“Claudia, kindly take my penis out of your mouth”.

Bad News For Mauerpark Basketball Players.

Hoop Nightmares. Spontaneous first-to-eleven throwdowns are history. Photo from metaltraveller.com

Berlin, Germany.

Sports enthusiasts who, since the reunification of Germany in the early 90’s, have met informally at Mauerpark in the former East Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg to play basketball on its basketball court are learning today that as of next week, it will no longer simply be a matter of showing up with a ball and a “Game Face”.

The increased popularity of the park as a meeting point for locals and tourists in recent years has resulted in huge crowds gathering there, especially on Sundays, when the nearby weekly flea market takes place. It has also had the knock-on effect of more people than ever before playing basketball on the basketball court, as well as large crowds assembling nearby to watch play.

Until now, it has not been necessary to pre-book time on the court, with basketball playable by anyone who spontaneously showed up. Nor was any cover charge demanded of spectators. But city authorities have announced that as and from next Sunday, basketball may henceforth only be played by players who have applied for, and received, a special permit (Sondergenehmigung) from the local district’s environmental offices.

The Halftime Show is always popular with Mauerpark basketball fans. Photo by Simon Pokorny

This will take the form of a combined permit and rental contract between the city of Berlin and those who wish to play basketball on the park’s court. Precisely how much the permit should cost is unclear, but will be based on the size of the area in use, i.e. the basketball court’s surface area and the surrounding parkland from where spectators watch games.

Applicants will be required to enclose a list of desired dates and approximate playing times in advance, and will agree to engage a private security service for the duration of their games, as well as ensuring that a medical response unit is on hand in the event of crowd violence, or sports injuries incurred by players.

The details of the special permit also mean that, among other things, players will now be obliged to provide reasonable sanitation services in the public park, which itself has no permanent toilets, for basketball spectators. Added to the costs of the permit itself, these new conditions could mean an outlay on the players’ part of approximately €2500-€4000 per game.

Interior of Dixi Klo‘s high-end portable toilet, “The Festival-Goer Imperial Mk.2″

“It simply was no longer feasible to allow the basketball games in Mauerpark to continue happening in their current form”, said one city official.

“When the court was built, it was never intended that people would play basketball on it all day long. Thousands of people watch games there now over the course of a Sunday afternoon. This constitutes an unacceptable risk to public safety for which the city of Berlin cannot be held responsible.

He continued, “If basketball players insist on playing so impressively on a public court that they cause bystanders to stop and watch them, they need to realize the financial opportunities available both to themselves and to the city. Selling drinks would be one way of covering their costs, for example. Assuming the city issued permits to sell drinks in a park on a Sunday. Which, of course, it doesn’t. Or they could try an admission fee to the general area? Or get money off anybody who stands in the same place for more than two minutes. Something should be possible.”

Mavericks Kingpin Dirk Nowitsky is rumoured to have already block booked July Sundays for himself and his friends.

One regular user of the Mauerpark basketball court who declined to give her name stated that the new system would be unlikely to find much favour with casual players.

“I suppose if I had to pre-schedule my games weeks in advance, then hire a bunch of portable toilets for the afternoon and pay First Aid staff and bouncers to hang around and wait for something to happen, it would probably make me think twice about playing basketball in Mauerpark.

“Imagine it rained unexpectedly and I didn’t want to play basketball! The portable toilet company would still want its money, right? And I bet the bouncers would be grumpy too if I cancelled them half an hour before they were meant to start work.

“Anyway”, she continued, “I don’t see how I can be expected to chase people for thousands of Euros for watching basketball, and play basketball at the same time. Shooting hoops at the weekend isn’t meant to be a hassle”

Nobody else was available for comment.

Me and My Big Mouth.


Just good friends? Of course not. Now read on…

When meditating for more than a moment upon Ireland’s chequered yet in the main glorious industrial past, one’s thoughts will tend naturally to drift briskly towards those twin behemoths of portable, disposable heat and light generation, Messrs. Maguire and Paterson. In Victorian times they famously gave droves of destitute Dubliners somewhere to go during the day, and by the late 1800’s their premises behind the North Quays near Smithfield was regularly rated top in the city by the local Chamber of Commerce, somewhat ironically perhaps, for its almost complete devoidness of heat and light.  Both men also won prizes at more than one Captain-of-Industry-Golf-Day-Out in tribute to their general intransigence where matters of employee remuneration and health insurance were concerned.

Of course all of this is a matter of record. But a lesser known known fact about the two is that Chauncey Paterson and Noel Maguire also happened to comprise, as a unit, the world’s first quasi-openly gay couple.

Both were affirmed agnostics. Neither was possessed of any great board-treading talent. They thus took perhaps the only avenue left to a pair of men keen on spending a lot of time with each other in 19th century Ireland, and formed a business partnership. Precisely what direction their business should take was neither important nor immediately clear to either party, but Paterson had lived in London during the mid-70’s, and professed more than once in public after his return to having found the overall picture of depressing gritty urban realism there “way ahead of here”.

A picture whose grittiness and depressiveness was assisted by the daily swelling ranks of an already flooded match girl market.

The obvious word-play around “match-making” had the effect of functioning as a sign to both, and the circle closed when they resolved one drunken night over the backgammon board in a gentleman’s club on Fitzwilliam Square to “go to work” on Maguire’s wealthy aunt, Margaret (more affectionately known to the former as “Madge”).

Venture capital duly flowed, and by 1891 they had established themselves as the second largest employer of semi- and unskilled Labour on the Northside, with Official Ireland content to leave the minutiae of the pair’s private lives broadly unpublicized.

Maguire’s aunt Margaret insisted on a match named for her as condition of providing the start-up funds.

This seemingly tactful reticence on the National Media’s part was largely on account of the ubiquity of Maguire and Paterson advertising in Dublin at the time. No newspaper could be randomly opened, barely a single public wall could be stared at without the beholder landing upon some pithy phrase alluding to the superiority of Cara matches. By way of example, it was postulated as early as 1894, that without M&P advertising revenue, the cover prices of The Irish Times, The Independent and Irish Press would necessarily rise an unrealistic twenty-two-fold.

Of course, “Cara” is the Irish word for “friend”, and most commentators have correctly interpreted the choice of trade name as an oblique reference to the love shared by the two. Moreover, the portrait of both men cheek by jowl must surely be worth a proverbial thousand words. But this really only scratches the surface.

Their seemingly prosaic matchbox copy can be exposed under closer scrutiny as a veritable Da Vinci Code of double meaning and bawdy insinuation, and trove of the more profane street argot of the time.

The most obvious questions to pose when examining the packs are.

(a) What is a “safety” match?
(b) Why bother asserting an “average contents”, when no serious person would base their choice of match on such a rough estimate of cost-per-match?

Our answers are fairly straightforward. The terms “safety match” and “average contents” were simply coined by Paterson as anagrams of various racy aphorisms pertaining to his and Maguire’s sexual predelictions.

Nonce Teargas Vet (Paterson had been a victim of police brutality at a Christopher Street Day celebration in 1863), “Chafes Ma Testy” (Maguire had never forgotten the physically vigorous Scottish Shinty champion Drew McLachlan, who had introduced him as a teen to the ways of l’amour masculine) He’s steamy. Fact. (needs no elaboration), are just a few of the lines Paterson furtively insinuated onto their matchboxes.

Denizens of the city’s seamy underbelly soon caught on to this Trojan Horse of meaning, and so it was, that by the early 1900’s, thousands of visitors to public houses and moonlit parks in the capital were using Maguire and Paterson matchboxes to discreetly signify specific homosexual leanings.

M&P matches quickly became sought after humorous novelty items, and also enjoyed a huge export trade to France and Luxembourg. Competitors promptly decided to get in on the action

Come and get me! An early attempt to muscle in on the Gay Matchbox Market.

Less subtle than Maguire and Paterson’s work, but equally effective.

The practice of producing gay-friendly safety matches became so widespread that a knock-on market in heterosexuality-asserting matches evolved in its wake.

You were above suspicion (or beneath consideration) with a packet of Robots.

In matters of commerce and those of the heart, however, things rarely stay the same. And so it was over time that the two “cáirde” began to grow apart. Maguire was unwillingly relieved of his stake in the company by Paterson after a devious series of machinations involving hitherto undeclared sulphur and sandpaper purchases, which in 1904 mysteriously came to the attention of the Revenue Commissioner.

A punitive settlement was reached, albeit one absolving Paterson af any blame. He retained control of the company name and Maguire struck out on his own, setting up a “boutique” match company. Specializing in limited edition runs of matches with eccentric brand names and unusually coloured heads, he never managed to completely get over Paterson’s breach of trust, nor the change in domestic affairs between the two. Many of his new box designs eloquently reflected his state of mind in a given year.

Chauncey laughed in Noel’s face when he saw this one.

Paterson, revelling in his new-found life as rapacious homosexual singleton, regarded Maguire’s emotional matchbox bulletins as so much maudlin nonsense, and on more than one occasion returned fire in similar vein with a well-chosen and utterly unambiguous composition designed to let Maguire (and the rest of Dublin’s match buying public) know he wasn’t missed.

Maguire repaired to Wexford in shock for six months after Paterson’s “Woodmen” went into production.

Maguire saw out his Twilight Years in what today is one of the grander stately homes left in Co. Sligo, a close neighbour of the Gore-Booths, who were in turn old acquaintances of his monied aunt. Rumours of an on-off dalliance with one of the family’s daughters Constance, (a signatory of the 1916 Declaration of Independence) were never confirmed. He succumbed to injuries sustained in his capacity as spectator at a road bowling championship in Leitrim in April 1934.

Paterson was not invited to the funeral, and outlived his erstwhile cara by almost a decade. He was shot dead by two masked men at the counter of a Finglas pub in 1943.