How Riesenrad (Ferris wheel), that is. Bankrupt Berlin is resorting to yet another desperate measure to remain poor but sexy no matter what. And loving every minute of it, of course. Amusement park fan and manager mayor Klaus Wowereit proudly displayed plans for the construction of the $176 million Great Berlin Wheel yesterday, a 185-meter tall Ferris wheel which will stand taller than the London Eye Ferris wheel in, uh, London, and will then become the biggest Ferris wheel in all of Europe.

When asked how the construction of such a structure would help the city of Berlin address its pressing budget problems and over-stretched finances or the city’s terribly high unemployment rate or its infamous bureaucratic overhead or its inability to pay for the renovation of its own Staatsoper or to rebuild its own Stadtschloss or to even keep its well-loved Tempelhof Airport open or to do (or even not do) a hundred other things, Wowereit responded by saying: “Huh?”

And then China steps in. Still pissed off about the recent Dalai Lama visit to the Chancellery (its here in Berlin too, by the way) and also very suspicious about the goofy name of Great Berlin Wheel (sounds too much like Great Wall of China or something), the Chinese quickly responded – a full month in advance – by beginning the construction of their own amusement park monstrosity, the 208-meter tall Beijing Great Wheel which will of course be even greater and grander and already has a nicer ring to it (in Chinese ears, I guess) and will become the biggest Ferris wheel in all of the entire world or even universe maybe when it gets finished by next summer and don’t worry it will.

No one in China knows what this thing will cost because no one in China cares. But riddle me this: Why does this MAD Ferris wheel arms race have to go on like this (I hate Ferris wheels)? Why can’t we live in peace? And why couldn’t it have been roller coasters instead?

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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