- BABIES. All babies come from Basel. You just need to look at all the storks pootling around the fields.
- LSD. LSD comes from Basel. It was made by local chemist Albert Hoffman in 1938, though he didn’t realise until 1943 when he accidentally absorbed some through his fingertips. He described the sensation: “I sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”
- ISRAEL. Israel comes from Basel. It was arguably founded here in 1897 at the World Zionist Congress. Theodor Herzl, one of the congress organisers later wrote in s diary: “If I were to sum up the Congress in a word – which I shall take care not to publish – it would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.“
- RIGHT ON CLASSROOMS. Alternative education comes from Basel. Well, the Rudolf Steiner variety anyway. He spent a lot of time here.
- MATCH POINT. Top tennis comes from Basel. In the form of Roger Federer. (If you include Münchenstein inside the city limits.)
- ANTHROPOSOPHY. Anthroposophy comes from Basel. You what? Well, if you really need me to spell it out, I will. (Sigh.) It’s a spiritual philosophy that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development—more specifically through cultivating conscientiously a form of thinking independent of sensory experience. Got it? Yeah, me too. And you can blame Rudolf Steiner for that one too. (Assuming you count Dornach as inside the city limits.)
- AIRPORT NOVELS. The world’s first best seller comes from Basel. Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant in 1494. Look, there it is on your shelf between Ulysses and Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. All very neat looking. You’d hardly think they’d been opened at all.
- BOND VILLAIN MAXIMILLIAN LARGO. Klaus Maria Brandauer lives in Basel (in the village of Grenzach).
- KICK THE POPE. Kick the Pope comes from Basel. Well, kind of. In 1431 the Council of Basel adopted an anti-papal attitude, proclaimed the superiority of the Council over the Pope and prescribed an oath to be taken by every Pope on his election. (The Basel group were later declared heretics and excommunicated, and the Pope was affirmed as superior to the Councils.)
- VALIUM. Valium (or Diazepam) and Librium come from Basel too. To help them calm down after all the fuss with the excommunication.
- SUPERMAN. Superman comes from Basel. He was thought up by that sunny personality Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche who hung out here.
- THE BIRD’S NEST. The Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. It was designed by Herzog & de Meuron Architekten in Basel.
People who didn’t make the list: Arthur Cohn. He won some Oscars, made some films. No? Me neither. (You can’t count the Munich attack doco- that was Kevin MacDonald.)
And there was no room either for the Basler Harassenlauf. If Switzerland ever hosts the Olympics, it’ll probably be an official sport. It’s a race you do in pairs, each holding one side of a beer crate, from which you take a bottle each, drain it, and repeat, till the case and bottles are empty and you’ve reached the finish line.