Sunday, July 20, 2008
I realize that I’ve neglected (nay, abandoned) this Blogchen for the past couple of weeks. It’s been crazy busy here—I’ve started two jobs, and I’m in the middle of moving to a new place in Mitte between Bernauer Strasse and Rosenthaler Platz.
I was at the movies last week (on Kinotag admission is only 4,50 Euros!) and I saw the trailer for Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex. I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement. As many of you know, I was mildly obsessed with the Baader-Meinhof Gang a couple of years ago. The cast includes some of Germany’s most illustrious actors, including Moritz Bleibtreu (from Run Lola Run) as Andreas Baader and Bruno Ganz (who played Adolf Hilter in Downfall) as Horst Herold.
The Baader-Meinhof Gang, also known as the Red Army Faction was one of West Germany’s most infamous radical left-wing organizations. Galvanized by the student upheavals of the 1960s, the organization became progressively more fanatic and violent throughout the 1970s and organized some of the most shocking and cold-blooded kidnappings and highjackings. In many ways, they defined the modern face of “terrorism.”
On October 17, 1977, the principal leaders of the organization, who were incarcerated in Stammheim Prison near Stuttgart, engaged in mass suicide ("Death Night") after an attempt at freeing them ended in disaster. Many members of the German left are still very suspicious as to the manner of their deaths. Stammheim was considered the most secure prison in the world at that time, yet Andreas Baader somehow managed to smuggle a gun into the prison (?!) in order to kill himself. Many people believe that the West German government (with the blessing of the US) may have executed them and made it appear as suicide.
The painting at the head of this post, by the Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum, is titled The Murder of Andreas Baader. It is rather amazing how many artists (including Josef Beuys, Neo Rauch, George Baseltiz and Sigmar Polke) chose the Baader-Meinhof Gang as a subject for their work. The following is Polke's Untitled (Dr. Bonn) which feature portraits of Andreas Baader and Jan-Carl Raspe:
Perhaps the most famous example is the “October 17, 1977” painting cycle (completed in 1988) by Gerhard Richter, who is arguably the most important contemporary artist in the world right now. Here are 3 of the 15 paintings that compromise the whole work, which are currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York:
Finally, here is the trailer for the movie, which will be released in Germany in the Fall of 2008. I’m assuming it will come out in the US some time in the New Year. This sh*t looks like it’s going to be good. Trust.
Monday, June 30, 2008
This particularly charming word stems from the German word for piglet: das Ferkel. Ferkeln is the zoological term to litter, but geferkelt combines both terms to mean: "dropping piglets" or, more precisely, giving birth. In the new context though, it refers to the upwardly-mobile couples of Prenzlauer Berg that defy Europe's negative birth-rate.
Example: Diese Tussi ist schon seit ewig schwanger. Hat sie denn noch nicht gerferkelt?!
Translation: That bimbo has been pregnant forever. Hasn't she dropped her piglets yet?
Ökotante: literally “eco-aunt”; a woman, generally of the same-sex persuasion, who enjoys wearing hemp or other such natural fibers (of course, made by workers employed under fair labor conditions.) These dull and sack-like articles of clothing are generally accessorized with chunky turquoise jewelry.
They only consume eco-friendly commodities and enjoy “multi-kulti” activities like performing in drum circles, collecting gourds and wicker baskets, and make fruit preserves.
Example: Diese Ökotanten geben mir ein Kopfschmerzen mit ihren Trommelei!
Translation: These eco-aunts are giving me a headache with their constant drumming!
Please note, that the above picture is precisely the opposite of an Ökotante. It is a remarkable image from a Berlin periodical from the 1920s—die Freundin--and captures the once and present glamour of the city.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
One of the benefits of moving to
When he first emailed me asking for recommendations for “youth hostels” (an indirect but transparent means of asking to stay with me) I wrote back: “Boris, you once told me that as far as Germany is concerned, they make good cars and beer, and that’s pretty much it—why the sudden change in heart?” Of course, he vehemently denied ever saying this. Boris is originally from Russia, so he’s got two chips on his shoulder—they still think all things French are amazing (look where that got the Romanovs) and they don’t want to admit that their greatest ruler, Catherine the Great, who effectively brought Russia (kicking and screaming) into the modern world—was basically German. (Just kidding, Boris!)
Anyway, I told him he was totally welcome to stay, provided that sightseeing did not revolve exclusively around the Third Reich (which is, understandably, beginning to annoy most young, modern Berliners). Like most people whose image of
But sightseeing took a back seat to watching the game (sorry, old Fritz). In total we watched 6 games (two on each day) but the most memorable one was
Thanks to my prodding (and running) we managed to get a seat in an outside restaurant which was projecting the game on a large tarp. We shared our bench with two enormous Turkish guys, who, after joining our table, promptly offered us their selection of mixed nuts and cigarettes. For a moment, I felt as if I had been transported back to the summer of 2002, and was hanging out in some remote village in eastern
The cheers of the audience and the blaring speakers that marked the start of the game brought me out my reverie. The Swiss scored first, and sent the audience (which overwhelmingly supported
When the game finally concluded, an impromptu band was playing and there was a euphoric pandemonium at Kotbusser Tor. But the evening wasn’t over—we raced up to chic Prenzlauer Berg and met up with Edgar, another friend staying with me (but who has absolutely no interest in soccer) at the Marietta Bar.
I forgot the charger for Trevor’s old camera, and so I’m not able to take the sexy images that grace the pages of T$ and Erichen.; so instead, here the jingle/anthem of the 2008 Euro Cup. It is really, really catchy. One of the first leitmotifs of this Sommermaerchen, no doubt.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Biedermeierei: The warped attempt to behave in a bourgeois, genteel manner, similar to the emerging German middle class of the Biedermeier era, between 1815-1848.
Example: Wir sitzten hier auf deiner Terrasse und essen Spargel und trinken Wein. Dass ist ja eine Biedermeierei!
Translation: We're sitting here on your terrace and eating asparagus and drinking wine. How very Biedermeier!
Saturday, June 7, 2008
I began this entry, my first serious attempt at this Blogchen, sitting in
In the last months and weeks before my departure to
Of course, I needed these independent opinions, preferably in print (and preferably from the New York Times) to affirm my decision. I’m sure there were plenty of articles to the contra that I conveniently ignored that would have fuelled a doubt that stems less from the move to
I remember the days of August 2000, just after completing my undergraduate degree from NYU, about to embark on PhD in Art History at UC Berkeley, when I temped at a law firm in midtown Manhattan and made a killing billing the maximum possible number of hours (even if I didn’t quite work all of them.) Back then, of course, I could talk non-stop about the superiority of
All what should be said, in the end is this: if there is one thing in my life I regret, if there is one thing I could undo, it would be the decision I made to move
Would it have been possible to do such a thing (“overcoming”) in
Around the New Year of 2008, my friend T$ recommended I read Joan Didion’s essay Goodbye to All That, which recounts her departure from
I enter a revolving door at twenty and come out a good deal older, and on a different street… I want to explain to you and in the process perhaps to myself, why I no longer live in
That was the year, my twenty-eight, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every word, all of it… [I]t was a long time indeed before I stopped believing in new faces and began to understand the lesson in that story, which was that it is distinctly possible to stay too long at the Fair.
Of course, this essay is right in line with all the other material I’ve found that has endorsed my decision to leave. Nonetheless, the essay spoke to me on a number of levels. In
I can’t help but think of the characters of Holly Golightly in (the novel NOT the movie) Breakfast at Tiffany’s and of Malone in Dancer from the Dance. It frightens me, however, that following their departure, both figures disappear into obscurity. It is never known if Holly ever does find a place to call home like her cat (“African hut, or whatever, I hope Holly has, too.”) or if Malone finds the peace of mind that drove him from
In that sense, I am relieved that I have no intention of neglecting the ties to the friends, family and loved ones I left behind. You guys know how I am on g-chat. And, of course, I have this blog, quite possibly the most public attempt of “staying in touch” (although I wonder, in the coming busy months how much time I’ll have for it.)
Perhaps, then, it’s less about leaving New York behind (although, like Didion, I’ve “stopped believing in ‘new faces’”) and more about finally returning for good to a place that has always felt like home, always made my heartbeat quicken and always made my eyes sparkle: Berlin.