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Eddie Escapes Africa

Cologne for the red-blooded, meat-eating, warmongering American male.

by Vincent Abbate


Six years ago, Eddie fled a mechanic's job on Long Island for a jaunt around Europe. He hung out on nude beaches in Greece, hellraised in several continental capitals and spent some months getting reacquainted with relatives down on the arch of Italy's boot. Since then, he's dreamed of moving to Italy, finding an Italian girl and settling quietly into the lap of la dolce vita. His roundabout scheme to make it happen has included a year at an American embassy in Guinea (hobnobbing with diplomats in Africa in hopes of a transfer to Europe) and two stints on Long Island working construction jobs and doing other seasonal work. "I am now determined to fulfill my destiny. I will work hard for a year. Pay off all my bills," he wrote during the last of his two stays on the Island. "Then head to the motherland." But another embassy job materialized, this time in Cameroon. Today, Eddie still lives thousands of miles from il bel paese, in a country where, according to him, there's nothing to do after work but drink and gamble. (As if he'd otherwise be heading to the nearest public library.)

Since Africa, Eddie's become so hungry for what he calls civilization that when he turns up for a stay in the European city I fled Long Island to, it's to suck up as much WC (Western Culture) as possible. It's not High German (art museum, gothic church) but Low German Culture (beer museum, pool hall) he seeks. I guide him through a maze of cheap entertainments and greasy food, and he burps, farts and sings his way down the streets where I live, loving every minute of it.

What follows is both a tribute to male urges and an answer to Eddie's standard question whenever he's here and we stand still for more than thirty seconds. "What are we gonna do now?" Cologne for the rambunctious American male. (If I ever do leave this city, Eddie, this is all the information you'll need.)


Jackie Chan Outlet Video, beer and snacks are your standard down-time equipment? Video Markt, at Salierring 42, offers all three (plus color copying!) till one a.m. daily. While the food's pricey, their four-day, five-video package (about 10 dollars) is a steal. Like most of the city's outlets, Video Markt closes on Sundays, but it doesn't charge for the day, so you can add another free 24 hours of video pleasure and some animated Japanese smut to your weekend program. Their good selection of films in English includes classics like Chaplin and Hitchcock and modern cinematic masters like Jackie Chan. Only through Eddie's intervention did I discover that this man is God.


Zülpicherstrasse is a ragged and lively street where university students hang out. Around the corner you'll find Uncle Marc's (Roonstr. 19), an unassuming and mostly empty little bar with no set opening hours. If it's open, odds are a skinny bartender will be headbanging to speed metal. For an adrenaline rush, enter, head to the back corner, drop a five-mark coin into the blinking, winking Schwarzenegger pinball, and tell Uncle Marc to keep those funny little glasses of beer coming. I hate guns, but love the feel of that Terminator trigger. God bless America.


A year in Yaoundé and the beginnings of an ulcer haven't stilled my friend's taste for local specialties like Himmel un Äd: fried blood pudding served with onions and mashed potatoes with apple. If you're like him, head to one of the many Brauhäuser near the train station. Natives tend to shun these as touristy, but the fun-loving visitor shouldn't give a rodent's butt about saving face. Früh and Sion are most popular and have everything you want in a German restaurant: hearty food, casual atmosphere and Kölsch, the tasty local brew. Less rustic but just as good is Peters, at Mühlengasse 1, and if you want to follow the lead of the most powerful red-blooded male on the planet, who during a G-7 summit drank the most publicized glass of beer in Cologne's history, head to the Brauerei zur Malzmühle (Heumarkt 6.)


Sometimes I ask myself: what does Germany have that the U.S. doesn't?

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