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Archive for the ‘Little Switzerland’ Category

In Memoriam – Five Years Later – Claudia Laffranchi – Hollywood Foreign Correspondent

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IN MEMORIAM
JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP REMEMBERING OUR DEAR FRIEND

Click to watch this YouTube selection of
some of Claudia’s work – Thank You Alberto Engeli, drzoom.com

We love and miss you, Claudia!

Each year during Festival season we are reminded of our community’s great loss. Claudia Laffranchi (IMDB – fb – tw), 49, Angelena-Ticinese, Foreign Correspondent, journalist and emcee of the International Film Festival in Locarno, was found dead in her Los Angeles apartment, in the early afternoon of May 22nd, 2012. 

Claudia was in very close contact with her Homeland Ticino in southern Switzerland, where she regularly collaborated with local television stations and newspapers as their Los Angeles entertainment correspondent. For the past seven years she was also the multi-talented, multi-lingual live emcee and presenter at the Piazza Grande during the Locarno International Film Festival.

This year’s “Locarno in Los Angeles” event would have been SO much richer, had she been around… sniff…

Living in Hollywood and having extensive first-hand exposure to the World of cinema and television, enticed her to also produce and direct. Claudia was welcomed to the elite circle of influential journalists by winning the prestigious 53rd journalism award given by her peers of the Los Angeles Press Club.

She graced thousands of people with her presence, her beautiful smile, her wit and sense of humor – and was a great cheerleader for the #Angeleno-Swiss/Ticinese community and the driving force behind the creation of Helvetic.LA, who encouraged many creative projects and actively promoted young talent, and mingled among the great Hollywood Stars with her usual poise, class, style, elegance and grace.

We were so much looking forward to growing old together – either in LA, in Ticino, or enjoying the Best of both Worlds – but she left us way too early. Our hearts are aching and our sincere condolences go to her loved ones in Ticino. 

Per Claudia’s Family wishes, her friends in Los Angeles had the chance to gather in a private ceremony Wednesday, to pay respects, celebrate her life, and say “arrivederci” to our dearest friend. 

In Memory of Claudia: Festival del Film LocarnoErich Maria Remarque & Paulette Goddard Foundation

Media:
(Italian Corriere del Ticinotio.chTicinonews, Giornale del Ticino, InfoInsubria, RSI-Quotidiano – video)
(German: Blick / GMX / Tages Anzeiger )
(English: LA Observer / ScreenDaily )

Previous Helvetic.LA stories of everyone’s best friend, our eternally beautiful Claudia 

#SwissTVLA – How to enjoy SwissTV @SRF in Los Angeles…

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SwissTV SRF on AppleTV

Have you ever wondered, how you could get an alternative to U.S. News? Would you like to enjoy a “Sunntigs-Jass” show, “Schweiz Aktuell”, or be informed in more detail about topics that are only briefly discussed on American Television?

Today’s technology allows you to watch SwissTV SRF anywhere you have a WiFi signal.

Add to that an AppleTV, and you’ll enjoy your favorite SwissTV SRF shows on your HD equipped television.

SO COOL!

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March 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm

A Swiss Watching A-Z of Switzerland

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“Guest blogger and soon-to-be LA visitor, Bern-based Diccon Bewes, will share some of his fun observations about Switzerland through the eyes of a British expat. Diccon’s stories remind us “Auslandschweizer” about our homeland’s quirkyness – and offers a “Swissness Manual” for non-Swiss friends trying to figure out why we Swiss are sometimes… …quirky.

Save the date: on Thursday, June 23rd, Diccon will be at the Beverly Hills Hotel for an evening hosted by the Chariman and Board of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. Come join us, have fun, and take home a signed copy of “Swiss Watching” (email SwissCenterLA@gmail.com for pre-purchase opportunity at a special price)” M:)

Thanks to the lovely people at Helvetic LA, I have a chance to introduce you to some of the many intricacies and oddities of Swiss life. And there are many. So many, in fact, that I thought I’d start with the basics – a crash course in all things Swiss, from A to Z, that was one of the most popular posts from my blog last year. Next time, I’ll get down to details. And there’s nothing the Swiss like more than attention to detail.

A is for apple. Ever since William Tell shot one off his son’s head, the humble apple has been the unofficial national fruit. Switzerland grows over 276,000 tonnes a year, more than the UK, and certainly has endless ways of cooking them.

B is for bureaucracy. Swiss red tape makes all others look pink. The Swiss love pieces of paper, which is just as well as there is a piece of paper for everything. An application for almost anything needs at least three different ones, all stamped and signed by the relevant bureaucrat.

C is for canton. Switzerland isn’t really a country; it’s 26 countries that give a good impression (to the outside world) of being a single entity. Each of the 26 cantons has its own laws, flag, parliament, taxes, number plates, and police.

D is for draughts, aka the source of every illness known to man. The Swiss hate draughts more than they hate the Austrians. Houses are hermetically sealed, train windows kept shut on even the hottest of days, and every stiff neck or cold is blamed on a draught. That famously healthy Swiss fresh air should only be enjoyed outside. With a scarf and without wet hair.

E is for Emmental, where the cheese comes from. A lush green valley near Bern, Emmental is synonymous with Swiss cheese in general, even though it’s just about the only one with holes.

F is for fondue. Switzerland’s gift to the culinary world is more than a cheese-and-wine party in a pot; it’s a national institution. Of course, most Swiss only eat fondue when there is snow on the ground but restaurants are happy to sell it to tourists all year round.

G is for Gotthard. It was control of the Gotthard Pass that gave birth to Switzerland in the 13th century. The wiggly road remains at the heart of the nation’s psyche, even if the Swiss are currently digging the world’s longest tunnel right underneath it.

H is for Heidi. It says a lot about Switzerland that it has a fictional five year-old as a national icon. Created by Johanna Spyri, the little girl from Graubünden has been delighting children and promoting Switzerland since being published in 1880.

I is for island. On a map, Switzerland may look like a landlocked country but it is in fact an island. At least it is in the minds of many Swiss: surrounded by the EU, cut off by its mountains and almost never going with the flow. Welcome to the landlocked island!

J is for Jungfraujoch, the pinnacle of the Swiss railway system. Literally. At 3454 metres up, it’s the highest railway station in Europe and has been since it opened in 1912.

K is for knives, of the Swiss Army variety. The little red penknife is a standard-bearer for Swiss design, but it’s not just for soldiers; hardly any Swiss man leaves home with his trusty tool to hand. But the knives used by the Swiss army are actually big and green.

L is for languages. Switzerland has four national ones – German (64% of the population), French (20.5%), Italian (6.5%), and Romansh (0.5%). Swiss Germans have their own spoken dialects, referred to collectively as Schweizerdeutsch, with German itself used for anything written or official.

M is for mountains. Over 70% of Swiss land area is made up of mountains, mainly the Alps but also the Jura. And with 48 peaks over 4000m, Switzerland is the Roof of Europe. All very scenic but it doesn’t leave much space for the population to live in.

N is for neutrality. Switzerland doesn’t take sides, and hasn’t done so for centuries. Instead the Swiss sit on the fence and stay out of their neighbours’ wars. Being neutral isn’t always easy but it can be easier than making a decision.

O is for on time. Late is a four-letter word in Switzerland where punctuality is a way of life not an abstract concept. Maybe it’s because of the watch industry. Never being on time wouldn’t exactly be the best advert for a country that makes some of the world’s best timepieces.

P is for politics. Switzerland is a people’s republic, thanks to direct democracy. That means a referendum every three months, the right to challenge any law, the chance to initiate new legislation – all adding up to the people having more power than politicians.

R is for Röstigraben. The imaginary line, which gets its name from Rösti a fried-potato dish more popular with Swiss Germans, is more than a linguistic divide between French and German speakers; it’s often visible in social policy, European issues, way of life and sense of humour.

S is for Swiss. In a multilingual country using the English adjective is often easier. So the national airline is called Swiss, the phone company Swisscom, the national lottery Swisslotto, and there are private companies like Swiss Life or Swiss Re.

T is for Toblerone. Cailler may be purer and Lindt pricier but there’s one brand that stands out, purely because of its shape. The triangular chunks from Bern are for many people (especially duty-free shoppers) the embodiment of Swiss chocolate.

U is for UBS. There are an awful lot of Swiss banks (328 different ones), but they rarely get a good press, what with secret accounts and black lists. Banking in Switzerland is more than the headlines, it’s about trust and stability, something which UBS is re-learning the hard way.

V is for victory, though it’s ages since the Swiss had one of those (except in skiing or tennis). But Switzerland wasn’t always so anti-war. It used to invade, kill and conquer with the best of them. Then it gave it all up for peace, and the chance to make money from letting others do the fighting.

W is for William Tell. He’s probably more myth than man but thanks to a German play and catchy bit of Italian music, Tell became a Swiss national hero for fighting the dastardly Austrians. These days he’d be called a terrorist and asked to leave the country.

X is for xenophobia. Not everyone in Switzerland is Swiss (21% of the population are foreigners) and not everyone who is Swiss is happy about that. Cue the nasty side of Swiss society: black sheep posters, minaret bans and long waits for citizenship. Luckily not all Swiss agree or vote for the SVP.

Y is for yellow. Everyone knows that Swiss trains are fab, but what about the Postbus? The ubiquitous buses have 783 routes to reach the parts the trains can’t, and a famous three-note horn taken from the Tell Overture. And they are yellow.

Z is for Zurich. Not the capital but the largest city, and the face of urban Switzerland: compact, efficient, cosmopolitan, exciting. At least that’s what its inhabitants think; the rest of Switzerland sees them as brash and arrogant. Or maybe they’re talking about the Germans who live there.

And if you’re wondering what happened to the Q, well there is no Q in Switzerland. Or more precisely no queue. For such a polite society, the Swiss can’t queue. They may shake hands at every possible opportunity but when it comes to waiting in line, the gloves are off, particularly when waiting for transport. At bus stops, train platforms and cable car stations, it’s a free-for-all. Scrum down, elbows out and every man, woman and child for themselves. Getting off a tram can be a battle against the tide of humanity getting in, even when there’s enough time and space for all. After six years in Switzerland, I’m still struggling to overcome my (very British) innate desire to form an orderly line. It’s a daily battle.

Written by swisswatching

January 15, 2013 at 9:00 am

Posted in Little Switzerland

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#StreetPiano Project Reaches #LA via Geneva

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We’d like to welcome guest blogger, Ms. Imogen Reed – featuring a story about the amazingly fascinating “Play Me, I’m Yours” Art & Music project, which currently delights Angelenos and visitors alike!

Thank You for your contribution, Imogen!
M:)
 

Street Piano Project Reaches LA via Geneva

There is a meeting place where Geneva meets Los Angeles and art meets music. If you didn’t catch the ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ artwork in Geneva and haven’t yet caught up with it in LA you may well be wondering what kind of a junction that could possibly be and how to get there. Read on…

Luke Jerram is a British artist. His art project began touring four years ago and has since touched two million people. As you read this, the number of participants is rising by the minute, not to mention the numbers of works or keys played. The work involves pianos and the project has 30 in LA at the moment. Local communities were invited to customize the pianos and passersby are now invited to ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’, a slogan that is written on each and every one of them.

Jouez, Je Suis A Vous

Just last June it was ‘Jouez, Je Suis A Vous’, when twenty pianos were placed around Geneva as part of the Fete de la Musique. They were placed by the lake, the Floral Clock, the Grand Theatre and in parks and squares throughout the city. Each piano has its own blog where content can be shared. The Geneva pages show a city genuinely pleased by the event. Many seemed to be adults who could play well but just hadn’t for some time. Suddenly they had time and the opportunity. Pedestrians were enchanted, stopped passing and stopped to sit down and listen.

One child played as a tram went by. A gifted man played to perfection by the lake as a boats went by. Passengers in taxis, tourists in carhire vehicles as well as local residents and cyclists looked on. Sometimes there was singing or other instruments joined in. Some chose fast catchy jazz pieces, some chose slow, moving classical works. People stopped to see what was going on, listened and joined in. That was Jerram’s intention. To provide a focal point around which communities would gather with the pianos becoming “a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space”.

It worked. The project has been so successful that it has now travelled to 22 locations; many are in the UK but also include Brazil, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain and locations in Australia and the US.

Play LA

Did you play in Geneva? Get yourself to one of the thirty pianos in LA and play again. They are located in a number of downtown locations, including two at Bunker Hill, one in Chinatown, one at LA Live and one in Union Square. Then there are a number spread throughout the rest of the city and you can find out where your nearest one is on http://streetpianos.com/la2012/

Thirty pianists opened the event on 12 April by simultaneously playing the first prelude from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Then they handed them over to the public for its three-week turn. There is a free event ‘Love Letters to LA’ on 26 April at the piano situated at the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, where local artists will chose and perform a song that represents Los Angeles to them, unplugged.

So where does the art come in? Is this not a music project? The project has brought about an interesting fusion. The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra that has brought the project to LA has been busy commissioning organizations, individuals and designers to customize the pianos with their artwork. One piano by muralist Kent Twitchell marks Jeffrey Kahane’s fifteen years with the LA Chamber Orchestra, another bears mermaids and mountains by local artist Raoul de la Sota, another is colourfully decorated by an arts project that works to try to prevent students from dropping out of high school and another was decorated by the Braille Institute. The very preparation of the pianos called upon communities to work together and it is this that has excited Jerram about the brevity of the LA event.

Besides, it is the effect of the project that matters, not quibbling over categories. Public art plays a vital role in cities, whether it is the Jet d’Eau in Geneva or the letters of Hollywood in LA. So maybe you can’t play for toffee but fancy a go, or maybe you have been playing for years? Maybe you can think of something to play then post on the website that will put the Angeleno-Swiss community on the Street piano map? Get down there, join in. Enjoy!

Written by M:)

April 30, 2012 at 9:04 am

Happy Birthday, Ted Müller! – Burbank resident and oldest Swiss Abroad…

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… Herzlichsten Glückwunsch, Ted!

The Swiss Magazine “Schweizer Illustrierte” celebrates Ted Müller’s upcoming 107th birthday in a story written by our very own Angelena-Swiss Marlene von Arx. If you happen to be in Switzerland, make sure you stop by a newsstand to get a copy!

And if you’d like to wish Ted a Happy Birthday, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll gladly forward it to him.

...get the whole story in this week's "Schweizer Illustrierte", available on Swiss newsstands.

Written by M:)

July 26, 2011 at 5:37 am

August 1st, 2011 – National Day message to the Swiss abroad by Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Confederation

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Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Confederation

Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Confederation

Swiss citizens

For many of you our national day is a moment to take stock and to reflect. Wherever you may be on 1 August, you uphold the traditions of our country and confirm your attachment to Switzerland. This is why this is a very special day. Pride, love of your country, perhaps even homesickness: all these feelings may be experienced on 1 August. Take advantage of the opportunity and forget about your Helvetic modesty for a short while!

I would like to assure you that your love of Switzerland is reciprocated. Just as you feel attached to our country, Switzerland also cares about you, not only on 1 August but throughout the year. It is often said that the Swiss Abroad are ambassadors for Switzerland abroad. But in my view they are more than that. They embody our country’s attachment to the wider world. Thanks to you, the citizens of your host country learn more about our country. And if one day you come back to Switzerland to live, our economy will benefit from the experience that you have gained abroad. I would like to thank you for this contribution to our country’s prosperity.

Ladies and gentlemen

You all know that Switzerland has always depended on exchanges and trade with other countries. But in recent years our interconnectedness with the world has grown even stronger. You as members of the Swiss Abroad are the living proof of this.

A period of time spent abroad is almost a standard experience for many Swiss citizens. The ‘fifth Switzerland’ is extremely diverse. It includes pensioners in Spain, students in Germany, bankers in Singapore and development helpers in Tanzania. But I am also thinking of the growing number of persons with dual nationality, who in many cases facilitate our relations with their host countries. Their openness, their interest in people throughout the world and their adaptability are key qualities on the path to success.

The qualities that help you in your daily life have also helped Switzerland. Openness and adaptability have enabled our country to cope relatively well with the economic crisis of recent years. Today in many respects we are better off than other countries. But this also imposes an obligation: the obligation to show solidarity. Switzerland has again and again demonstrated its solidarity, even in the most recent past example of the deployment of Humanitarian Aid after the atomic disaster in Japan, or of Switzerland’s activity in connection with the upheavals in North Africa and in the Near East. I am proud of this Swiss solidarity.

Dear fellow countrymen and countrywomen,
On behalf of the Federal Council I sincerely wish you a happy 1 August.

Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Confederation

Written by M:)

July 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Of Sundays and other holy-days

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“Guest blogger and soon-to-be LA visitor, Bern-based Diccon Bewes, will share some of his fun observations about Switzerland through the eyes of a British expat. Diccon’s stories remind us “Auslandschweizer” about our homeland’s quirkyness – and offers a “Swissness Manual” for non-Swiss friends trying to figure out why we Swiss are sometimes… …quirky.

Save the date: on Thursday, June 23rd, Diccon will be at the Beverly Hills Hotel for an evening hosted by the Chariman and Board of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. Come join us, have fun, and take home a signed copy of “Swiss Watching” (email SwissCenterLA@gmail.com for pre-purchase opportunity at a special price)” M:)

Public holidays in Switzerland can be a minefield for unsuspecting visitors – and expats. It’s all down to holidays being mainly holy-days and so can pretend to be Sundays. And Swiss Sundays are still special.

Today is Auffahrt. At least it is in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland; elsewhere it’s Ascension or Ascensione. Whatever you call it, it’s a public holiday to celebrate Jesus going home. Before I came to Switzerland, I was a bit hazy about the exact timing and meaning of Ascension Day, mainly because it isn’t a holiday in Britain. We have the much catchier name of Early May Bank Holiday, which does exactly what it says on the packet. But in Switzerland, most public holidays are still linked to religious festivals, so I discovered that Ascension Day falls 40 days after Easter, and is the moment when Jesus ascended heavenwards – which in German has the unfortunate name of Auffahrt. It can’t have been much fun up there for Mr Christ. Given that Heaven as we know it is essentially a Christian concept, it would have been empty back in 33AD as there were as yet no dead Christians. And not even St Peter to welcome you through the Pearly Gates, as he was still down on earth fretting about having betrayed Jesus three times in one evening.

In Switzerland, public holidays count as Sundays, at least in terms of what’s allowed and what’s not. So that means no shopping, no DIY, no recycling and no mowing the lawns. And since public holidays are classed as Sundays, it follows that the day before them are Saturdays (even if they are not), when shops have to close earlier than normal. For example, yesterday was a Wednesday officially but was actually a Saturday in shopping terms because the next day was Ascension Day, which is a holiday, ie a Sunday. So this week is rather odd: essentially it’s Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. And because Ascension Day is always a Thursday, many people make a bridge by taking a day off for a four-day weekend. The shops are open, but many offices aren’t.

But when the day before a holiday is actually a Sunday, then it clearly can’t be a Saturday, since Sundays take precedence. This only happens for the date-related holidays, such as Christmas, New Year and Swiss National Day (1 August), which wander through the week. Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and 31 July are thus logically always Saturdays, except when they fall on Sundays, when they stay as Sundays. Got that? The thing is that even if you live here, you tend to forget that the day before a holiday is a Saturday, meaning that the shops shut early. Just ask my friends who ended up at the convenience shop in the petrol station at 6.30pm on Wednesday evening, looking for food.

At least Ascension Day is recognised by all the cantons. There’s nothing worse than planning a day-trip somewhere, only to get there and find that that canton has a holiday the next day, so everything shuts early. Sorry, there is something worse: to get there and discover everything is shut because it’s a holiday. It happens. All the time, because this is Switzerland, where cantons decide their own holidays, so some have more than others.

The best canton to live in is Ticino, the Italian-speaking one south of the Alps, and not just for the food. The rest of Switzerland may cast aspersions on the Ticinese work ethic, or lack thereof, but it’s surely no coincidence that this is the canton with more public holidays than any other. In addition to the seven recognised nationally, the Ticinese get another eight to enjoy. That’s fifteen in total. They need to celebrate events like Epiphany, St Joseph’s Day, Labour Day and the day of Sts Peter and Paul, the canton’s patron saints. I wonder how much flats are in Lugano; maybe I should move there and get almost two more weeks off work?

Written by swisswatching

June 2, 2011 at 3:44 am

Posted in Little Switzerland

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