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Riding Shotgun  
With Adventure  

by Ron Langston  

Ron Langston

Chapter 7: Das Boot Camp

Bremen. I saw here what I did in every northern German city: square, sturdy concrete buildings designed to withstand anything but a direct bomb hit, and high-rises designed to sniper specs. Modern doves of peace or not, there is a reason "German" denotes "be nervous" in 23 languages. And "link sausage" in all others.

I was here with an armed task force from Summy-Birchard Music, a slippery, suction-cupped tentacle of the spidery multi-eyed monster media conglomerate AOL Time Warner. But more importantly, owners of the "Happy Birthday to You" copyright. Somewhere in this city sat a DSGDI Freitag -- in name and form, a badly translated version of TGI Friday's. And inside, renegade, reckless waitrons were singing -- not the acceptable, made-up mangled version of the song, but the real McCoy, and flaunting their wrongdoing by tacking on the "and manyyyy moooore" illegal addition to the end. The task force's instructions: Extreme Copyright Protection.

DSGDI Freitag. Short shorts and smiley-face buttons declaring fruity drinks or not, Germans in uniform made me nervous. The armband noting the special of the day was particularly unnerving. To convince them we were American tourists, and not the arm of singsong justice, we complained loudly about our table seating and drank our own water from our over-stuffed fanny packs.

After a meal of mediocrity so badly served that TGI Friday's would have blushed with pride, we informed the waiter of a birthday at our table. "You are not," the heavily accented teen asked in a well-rehearsed speech, "an American representative or enforcement arm of Summy-Birchard Music, a music subsidiary of AOL Time Warner?" "Of course not," the team leader responded. "We have to ask," said the teen, who undoubtedly like all Euros committed the horror of wearing Speedos to the beach. "There was some nasty business in Zagreb, Croatia, last week, that's all."

The bait was taken. The team leader smiled as he spoke, "No trouble here. Just sing us your copyright-violating cause to action, young man."

Next week -- Chapter 8: Never Seen a Cake Do That

(Transcribed by Davejames)

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