Three questions to get us started here:
- Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
- Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
- Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld?
What’s that? No? Well, then… apparently you are NOT, in fact, one of them. I, however am. You see, Mike took a little solo adventure (supposedly) to Bielefeld a couple of weeks ago.
The next question you are probably asking yourself is something like “um… ok… AM? What in the heck is Bielefeld?” I don’t blame you. However, as usual, there is more to the story than the straight-up answer, which is basically that Bielefeld is a town of about 3 and a quarter thousand people in the northwestern quadrant of Germany and is home to both a university and several international companies. I hope you are wanting more than just the straight-up answer!
Bielefeld is *perhaps* most famous (bear with me… famous may be a stretch, too) for its AKA… die Bielefeld Verschwörung. You can look the translation up, or I can just tell you that it means the Bielefeld Conspiracy! OOOOOHHHHH… Conspiracy! Intrigue! Mystery! I know! Keep reading!
It seems that there is some question as to whether the city actually exists. Maybe, just maybe, it is a conspiracy between the authorities (whoever THEY are) and an entity known as SIE (They, or Them in German… according to the theory, SIE is not a kind reference to they or them, and is definitely not meant to be the polite form of “you” in German). That’s right… so… If you answer “yes” to any of the questions which opened this post, you, too, are part of the conspiracy and are trying to continue to ruse that Bielefeld actually exists! If you know Mike, you, too, are one of them! Little ol me!? Bwah ha ha ha!
The whole idea apparently was meant as an internet joke, hardly to even be tangled up in words like “hoax.” As these things are wont to do, though, it developed a life of its own. The story goes that this dude posted the idea to a usenet group back in the 90’s after what must have been an awesome party he went to. The idea took off, though, and the City Council of this poor city tries very hard to overcome the rumor mill. They deal with phone calls daily… even today! (no, not me) questioning their existence. Unfortunately (for them! I think it’s hilarious), they released a press release several years after the rumor started verifying their existence… on April Fool’s Day. Really. I can’t make this stuff up.
Some of you may be wondering why Mike would travel hours by himself on a cold, windy, snowy day to travel to a city that may or may not exist. Is it because he had a nefarious agenda to become one of THEM? I certainly hope not! I prefer to think his intentions were pure. What, per chance, are pure intentions when it comes to adventures to Bielefeld?
Besides Starbucks, there are several other factors that may contribute to this rumor’s (she clears her throat) popularity. One of these is that there is a ‘flame war’ (for the uninitiated, such as myself, I will tell you what I learned on looking this term up: it is a hostile set of interactions between internet users) between the Usenet administrators and that of another internet group based (*supposedly* wink, wink) in Bielefeld. The town can be a slippery sucker, though. The Autobahn doesn’t really pass through town at all, and for a number of years construction on the central train station lent a certain uninhabited look to things. It is located in a relatively rural area, and after WWII, nothing of national importance was rebuilt there, so most Germans haven’t ever heard of it either. I mean… if it wasn’t for Starbucks…