Yes, that’s a place. The first musical interpretation of Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf, performed at a theater near Munich, apparently doesn’t—for better or worse—veer into Producers territory. “Adolf Hitler does not appear on stage as a character. There is merely a type of narrator and a musician,” the director, Malte Lachmann, told The Times of London. “This isn’t about frumpy fräuleins in dirndls and people goose-stepping in SS uniforms. It is us having a serious look at what Hitler’s values were, how he expressed them, and what all this means for us today.” Which explains why the show’s creators resisted what must have been a strong temptation to adjust the title slightly and call it Mein Kampf!
In this week’s cultural-crackdown news from China, the country’s broadcasting regulator called for “healthy” cartoon content “that ‘upholds truth, goodness and beauty,’” according to The Times of London.
Meanwhile, a very American cartoon pinup—Jessica Rabbit, the memorable femme fatale from the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit—is herself in for some cultural revisionism. “Last week the Walt Disney Company announced that it was updating the Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin ride at Disneyland in California to re-invent Jessica as a lead character with an agency of her own rather than a slinkily dressed victim of male violence,” reported The Times. “She will no longer be the louche character Kathleen Turner breathed into cinematic life with the immortal line, ‘I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way’, but a female detective cleaning up a weasel crimewave in 1947 Los Angeles—much as the late Bob Hoskins’s private eye character Eddie Valiant did in the original film.”
Disney has been overhauling and diversifying many characters and rides at its dozen theme parks around the world, and Jessica Rabbit’s animatronic figure is already gone—but will return “in a role ‘more relevant to today’s culture,’” the newspaper reported. Some fans have expressed doubts online. According to The Times, a user called “Old Mouse” commented, “This is an outrage, the worst Disney decision since they closed Mr Toad’s Wild Ride in Disney World in 1998.”
The site of a World War II Polish codebreaking office that its organizers say predated Britain’s Bletchley Park has opened as a museum: the Enigma Cipher Center. “A handpicked group of Poland’s brightest mathematics students would spend a dozen hours each week unscrambling German ciphers,” said The Times of London. “In 1932 three of them hit the jackpot: they broke the ‘unbreakable’ Enigma code.” Poland kept the operation top secret until war was imminent. Then the three young cryptologists—Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski, and Jerzy Różycki—met Alan Turing in France, according to the newspaper, “to divulge their methods, paving the way for his efforts at Bletchley Park. Beginning in 1940, Turing and his team developed the machines to decrypt enemy missives, giving the Allies a strategic edge believed to have shortened the war by as much as two years.”
Mayor Virginia Raggi, trailing in the polls before this city’s weekend election, has accused opponents of using wild boars (Sus scrofa) as a kind of political cudgel (Fustuarium politica) against her. The boars have lately become a problem in Italy’s capital, and a video of a pack of 13 of them casually navigating heavy suburban automobile traffic—they look disturbingly relaxed—recently went viral. “It is clear that wild boar are a problem that does not only concern the capital,” Raggi told The Guardian. “If a lady is chased by a wild boar in Formello, a small town north of Rome, the next day the newspapers say I am responsible.” In May it was reported that a group of boars had made off with a woman’s groceries after having surrounded her in a supermarket parking lot, but now it’s Rome’s mayor they appear to have surrounded.
President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, have lodged a criminal complaint against a photographer and a gallery owner over a photo of the French president Jet Skiing last year. The picture, widely distributed at the time, has been on display for the past several weeks as part of an exhibition of “vacationing French presidents,” at a gallery across the street from the Macrons’ Élysée Palace residence—“A provocation,” said the couple. Thibault Daliphard, the photographer, told the AFP news service, “It is even incomprehensible…. The photo on the jet ski shows a young, dynamic president with almost a Kennedy vibe, so I don’t see how negative the picture is.”
Two dozen graduate students will be pursuing a kind of master’s in caffeine next year when the University of Florence offers a nine-month course of study about coffee. “We will cover all aspects of the business, from the origins to the preparation and serving of the drink,” the head of the university’s Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry, Francesco Garbati Pegna, told The Times of London. “The course is the only one of its kind, as far as I am aware.”
Coffee is the second-most-popular drink in the world (after tea), and while it’s true the Italians don’t drink nearly as much of it as do the Scandinavians, Florence makes sense … Italy! Espresso! Doppio! The master’s program—“Master UniVerso Caffè”—will initially be taught in Italian, said the newspaper, but if it’s successful, it could expand to English for international students.
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail