Wiesbaden Sleeping Beauty

Wiesbaden is an interesting blend. It has a bit the architectural flair of Nice (just less sophisticated), combined with a "proletarian" population like Offenbach (just with no decent boxing ring) and the infrastructure of Lagos, Nigeria (just more expensive). During the bombing raids of World War II, Wiesbaden stayed largely undestroyed, unlike neighboring Mainz. There was just nothing worth bombing Wiesbaden, and I guess that has not changed until today. I could imagine that Wiesbaden behaved like a pretty adolescent girl from a wealthy family back then, that did not develop any other skills than being "blond". Today it is one of the most backward minded towns in the Western part of Germany. Making it the provincial capital of Hessen, only washed in a bunch of civil servants and public employees, which are also not exactly known for innovation and productivity. But they do spend large pensions and contribute to the purchasing power on the overpriced Saturday food market. Then Wiesbaden also was the home of a US Airbase, which brought their kind of popular entertainment, dietary habits, and the daily reminder that there is nothing like "Military Intelligence".

The traffic of the 21st century has been just dumped on a 19th-century town layout. Luckily back then, this was conceived in the spirit of a megalomanic William II and contained large boulevards, which are now congested multi-lane motorways. Tramways have been discontinued in the 90s. The building up of new rail-based infrastructure has been used for political tactics in the city parliament. There are more SUVs, large Mercedes, BMW and Audis on the road than in the roughest parts of Duisburg. This car market in Duisburg is mainly sustained by the influx of 2nd hand vehicles from Düsseldorf. By contrast, Wiesbaden has its own "Düsseldorf" within, which is a group of "professionals" and their wives handing down their oversized transport to the "proletarians" at good prices. Wiesbaden is also home to another milieu though: the greenish Bourgousie. Paradoxically, many of them are also against the build-up of decent transport infrastructure, like the proposed "Citybahn"-tram. I guess it's because they can walk to their yoga classes and soul refinement sessions. There is a fine line between being mindful and narrow minded, which maybe crossed by spending too much time meditating. Taking the bicycle would be a bit dangerous. Wiesbaden was recently in the national news for being the most bicycle-unfriendly town in the country.

On coming Sunday there will be a runoff election between two candidates for the post of the city mayor: Gert Mende (SPD) and Eberhard Seidensticker (CDU). I know neither of them but found their political manifestos very reactionary and missing the point. One should not judge a book by the cover, I know, but clearly: Eberhard needs some physical exercise. I am always suspicious of the management skills of a person, who can not even manage their own body's energy budget. But let's see. His slogan is "Gutes besser machen" (making good things better) and this may already point at a distorted assessment of the status quo. As I said, I met neither of them. So it’s hard to have an opinion on their capabilities.

My take on Wiesbaden is, that the "blond" time will be over soon. There is only a certain distance to fall back in a world which is moving forward, and there is some chance for arbitration during the catch-up period. That's what I am counting on. And imagine how beautiful Wiesbaden will be when "Sleeping Beauty" ends the nap. Quite nice.