Have you ever been to Hamburg? It's actually a nice town. It has lots of canals, more than 2000 bridges, and more trees than any other city in Europe. Germans usually list it as their second favorite German city, after my darling Munich (die Weltstadt mit Herz, the "secret capital of Germany").
I was in town sort of on business, and took a walking tour. The guide was a tall young woman with horrendous teeth, so bad you could scarcely look at her. But she was opinionated and funny, not afraid to call a building a scheusslichkeit (horror, with overtones of excrement) and you ended by warming to her. I loved how much she loves her town.
Apparently when other Germans hear that you are from Hamburg, they are likely to say, "Hummel hummel! Mors mors!" The Hamburgers find this deeply annoying. The guide explained that this was not something that locals would say. It's rude! They use it mainly at football games.
The story is that in the late 1700s there was a foul-tempered water-carrier in the old town, who was disliked by all the Hamburg street urchins. The children would run at his heels taunting him, calling "Hummel, Hummel!"* and the man, who couldn't chase them because he was loaded down with the many gallons of water, would call back, "Mors, mors!" which was short for "Klei mi am Mors" ("kiss my ass!")
This ever-repeated dialogue became well known all over the city. The beleaguered water carrier became a symbol of the city and there are several statues of him. The Hamburg water trucks have a picture of him on their sides. At soccer games in Hamburg, when someone scores a goal for the home team, the announcer finishes the report of the score with "Hummel hummel!" to which the audience roars "Mors mors!"
You know those open-air art exhibits where different artists will each paint a copy of the same statue, all over the city? In Paris a few years ago, there was one with cows. New Orleans had fish, Lake Charles (Louisiana) has alligators, Los Angeles has angels, but in Hamburg, it's the old water-carrier.
*There is some dispute about what the "Hummel" meant. Some say the water-carrier lived in the former house of a beloved soldier named Hummel. Others say the Hummel referred to the bent back of the water carrier.