Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Kulturzeit

Thanks to Olison, who left a comment in my last post, and others who e-mailed me, I've confirmed that my book appeared on German television last night. The program was "Kulturzeit" ("Culture Time") broadcast on the ZDF/3SAT network. Based on the surge of both Web hits and German-language book sales (for a while I was #286 on German Amazon, which is pretty darned high), it must be a pretty popular show. My German publisher seems extremely happy.

I still don't know if this is the program for which I was interviewed last July. German TV reporter/producer Dennis Wagner e-mailed me in June 2006 and said he had a relative dying of cancer, saw a review of my book in a German magazine, read it, and liked it very much. He said he was planning a U.S. trip in July and would appreciate a chance to interview me. We subsequently met in San Francisco. However, at the time he told me he worked for another program on a different station, so I don't know if what appeared last night was his piece or something completely different.

I actually met with Dennis twice. He was on vacation driving down the West Coast with his girlfriend and her three young children, when he thought he'd take advantage of my proximity and interview me. He wanted a photogenic location and I suggested San Francisco's Legion of Honor, an art museum on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, about an hour's drive from my home.

Dennis was a very enthusiastic, friendly man, maybe in his early thirties, and I liked him immediately. Unfortunately, the Golden Gate was completely socked in by fog. We drove high and low, all over the Presidio and down to Baker Beach, trying to find a location either above or below the deck of gray clouds, me in the back seat of his rented minivan with curious and adorable non-English-speaking moppets singing songs in German. Even within 20 paces of the bridge's toll booths, we couldn't see a bit of it. Gesturing at a wall of gray fluff and reassuring Dennis, "But it's right there! Big bridge!" did not seem to help.

At last, resolved that the fog wouldn't burn off in time to do us any good, Dennis settled for a road overlooking a golf course rimmed by cyprus trees with the fog billowing through the branches. I think it actually looked pretty cool--telegenically interesting and a bit gloomy, fitting the mood he wanted. If you couldn't shoot a big orange bridge, this was second best.

So Dennis set up his tripod and camera, wired me for sound, asked about two questions... and his battery died. He thought he'd charged it but his Europe-to-USA current adapter must not have worked correctly. He had no backup, no plug that could run off the car battery. We were done. He apologized with much regret, I told him about the American wonder called "Radio Shack," and we parted. Half of my day and his journey of 10,000 miles wasted by a bad transistor.

He contacted me that afternoon to say he'd found a new adapter and would appreciate a chance to meet again the next day--this time with a guaranteed charged battery. I liked Dennis a lot but wasn't thrilled. I might have even grumbled and declined, until he asked pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top. Oh, all right. Dammit.

Back to San Francisco, fog just as impenetrable as before. Back to the exact same spot wearing the same clothes, in case he could salvage some footage from the previous day and stitch it together. He interviewed me for maybe 15 minutes, seemed very satisfied and appreciative, and took off with his girlfriend and moppets toward Santa Cruz.

And that's the last I heard until maybe yesterday. As I said, I'm not sure that was Dennis's piece. If it was, I'm glad he got it together and it was well received. He promised to send me a copy; if I get it, I'll let you know.

1 comment:

Dennis Wagner said...

Dear Brian,

Hmm. It seems, that you didn’t get my email, which I sent you in September, after finishing the report about your comic - which is still the best adult comic I have ever read. That email included the film - which - yes - its true - was repeated at “Kulturzeit”. I will load it up to Youtube - so you can watch it everywhere online.
It was great time meeting you and I´m still very grateful that you could make time for a second try to interview you.
I didn’t know that the report was repeated on another channel - but the chief editor of German Comic Magazine “Comixene” has seen and appreciated it - and contacted me.
To fulfill my story - the mother of my brother’s wife died from cancer last autumn.
And my girlfriend and I did quit smoking. Not least because of your book. Thank you for that too. If you once should come over to Germany - you have to contact me!
Greetings from Berlin, Dennis Wagner