Saturday, March 19, 2011

Berlin Diary (2011)

A few days ago, I returned from Berlin and environs with my newlywed wife visiting friends and touristing. Being who I am, it is difficult to cruise the area without thinking of those things that were, and, given the touristic elements of the city that cater to such thoughts, this difficulty must in fact be common among those of a certain age. The Reichstag, famous for the fire that helped to launch the Thousand Year Reich, Checkpoint Charlie, which, when I last saw it, was a junkpile, the checkpoint itself knocked over amidst a scatter of fragments of the wall and MIG fuselage.

Monday 28 February
Spent the day watching Irving Berlin videos, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, the Star Trek TOS episode about the Nazis, rereading bits of Shirer's Rise and Fall and the Stasi Archives, plus studying the Werner Klemperer accent in Hogan's Heroes in preparation for the trip.

Tuesday 1 March
Spread chemtrails agents responsible for delusional parasitosis, matchbox sign, and increased boron concentrations over Northern Canada. Increased carbon footprint for the year severalfold.  Rough flight over the North Atlantic.  Fantasized about bombing runs coming in over Rotterdam, heading into the heart of Germany.

Wednesday 2 March
Cab driver accepted credit card driving us to Charlottenburg, arriving late at Ron Kuivila's sabbatical home, where, for 7 days and 7 nights, we are fed and pampered and entertained. An amazing meal by Bobbi Tsumagari, Ron's wife. Waddling after. Blog-o-media back home filled with old news, recently rediscovered due to John Galliano's pro-Hitler anti-Jew declarations, of Françoise Dior's Nazi sympathies.

Thursday 3 March
First tourist stop, Sans, Souci, in Potsdam. Why is there a comma between the two words?  Pictures of decorative painting, much gilding. Golden Chinese house. Ron's calimari specialty in the evening.

Friday 4 March
Breakfast made by Bobbi. Charlottenburg, more photos of decorative painting. Fell in love with the little Ostalgie DDR car models in the gift shop. Seeing pictures of the dome blown to bits, fantasized again about bombsights and the poor civilians below. Met with the director Stefan of the Opera Video and the singer Jennifer Lindshield.

Saturday 5 March
Breakfast again by Bobbi, fried Turkish bread, man! Back to Charlottenburg castle for more photos, as it goes on and on. Bought postcards showing the bombed out Reichstag, the visit of JFK (Ich bin ein berliner), the East German guards. Wrote pithy comments on the back, began a long search for a post office. Multichoir walkthrough installation consisting of popsong fragments, just down the street from checkpoint Charlie, then dinner across the street at the Italian restaurant, another of the Axis powers.

Sunday 6 March
8 am call for the video shoot. Stefan speaks a different language to everyone there it seems, a mix of German, Swedish, English, maybe some others. I am confused as not an actor, but editing can work magic. Sometimes I am told to start walking, but to where and how far I am not sure. In the video, I give the attractive bathroom attendant a 100 euro tip and then offer another, for sex I assume, but she, being a chaste and virtuous lady, refuses. Puh. I am forced to go back to my table of sycophants and drink champagne. Although promised much making out, none occurs. I complain about this with Sirje Viise, one of the other singers and find that she was promised this as well, and was also left without. Considered offering her some making out right then and there but worried about the almost sure rejection to follow.

Monday 7 March
Bobbi breakfast. Lazy day. Lynne and Bobbi shopped while I worked and imagined myself as a citizen of the world, telecommuting from my garret. Dinner with Stephanie Kaiser, Frieder's helpmeet and housemate. Frieder unfortunately was in Long Beach working on the production of Akhnaten by the Long Beach Opera. See entry on 14 March.

Tuesday 8 March
Breakfast again. First, Sigmar Polke show at the Berliner Akademie der Künste, saw the machine to revolve a potato around another potato, great political posters. My favorite (see above): "Deutsche Arbeiter! Die SPD will euch eure Villen im Tessin wegnehmen" (German workers! The SPD wants to take you your villa in Ticino!)  Wondering why we don't spend our family home evenings making political posters that we glue to banks and corporate headquarters so that we can be arrested and beaten and held in company-run underground jails for months and months, starved, kept from sleeping, cold water poured over us. Then, wandering through the embassies, the Brandenburg Gate, cleaned of its shrapnel and bullet marks, into the holocaust memorial, where Ron and I, fresh from the Polke, reminiscing on fluxus, came up with a horribly incorrect image of bathing beauties in bikinis, one each perched on each monolith of the memorial. Please shoot us so these thoughts do not infect our youth. Continuing on, to the symphony hall, remembering our favorite Nazi conductor, von Karajan, who gender integrated the orchestra only because he was fucking someone he wanted close by, or something like that anyway. In the evening, went to Radialsystem 5 to see Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop. Their artistic work did involve making out, with messy extra lipstick, see entry on 6 March. And they performed La Monte Young's Poem for Chairs, Tables, Benches, etc, reinforcing the fluxus thoughts earlier, along with Cage, the Bach Children, Purcell, others. They are very tight players, a joy to watch. The acting in between the pieces, although charming, needs more rehearsal or maybe will just never be as good as their playing.

Wednesday 9 March
Train to Dresden, rebuilt, thought of Slaughterhouse 5. The rebuilt sections are so new, beautiful, but like cartoons or matte paintings when seen in the distance against the portions of the city that still remain. Beautiful view of the city and the river as the sun is setting.  Train to Prague. Next to our hotel, American style table dancing. Never went in although wanted to, as I am a whoremonger.

Thursday 10 March
Prague sightseeing. Stopped in to the tourist center of the chamber of deputies and was pounced on by the woman working there who clearly gets no tourists.  Wanted to show us everything, kept asking why we were there. Backed out slowly, kept hands visible, ran up the hill to the Prague castle, got there too late, resolved to come back in the morning.

Friday 11 March
Taxi back up the hill as we are wimps, Prague castle very fine, clearly we need a larger house, and a chapel and pipe organ, and a family symbol / icon / crest - the whole branding package. Then, the Jewish synagogues. Lynne fuming over no-photography policy in the Spanish Synagogue, which was awe-inspiring. Back to Berlin, moved in with Tracy and Eric and Vigo.

Saturday 12 March
Vigo's birthday, so thrown out of the apartment, sat in the Пастерна́к cafe watching the lights change over the wasserturm across the street all afternoon, hot chocolates and then food and then more food and then more chocolate. While walking there, found several post-automats, but couldn't get them to work.

Sunday 13 March
Lynne helped Tracy and Eric priming the new apartment while I worked, then visiting Stefan for his birthday and Jennifer and all, watching the rushes of the video. Oh my. See entry 6 March re Erling not an actor. On the way, found a post office, but closed Sunday.

14 March
Neues Museum, Nefertiti in her beautiful room, Akhnaten. Remembering the end of the opera: the monotheist and his failed city (see entry 7 March) which Bisso and I emulated at the end of Sub Pontio Pilato. The painting on the bust of Nefertiti is really beautiful. So much painting lost: Egypt, Greece, the columns of cathedrals. Everyone thinks that the ancient world was devoid of decoration but in reality it was as loud and gaudy as a Peter Max poster.  More walls riddled with holes. Not as many as '93.  They've done a great job rebuilding the museum. It was fabulously painted from top to bottom, then blown up during The War, and the rebuilding treats it like an archeological site, preserving the bits that survived with minimal restoration, then filling in the holes with modern construction, keeping out the rain. Walked across the river to the Neue Wache war memorial, searching for the Tajikistan tearoom, then finding it only to discover that it had been reserved for a women businessperson's inspirational lecture or somesuch.

15 March
Worked during the day, as franticness increasing with approaching deadlines. Met all our hosts at Schlögls in the Mitte for one last German food blowout, Schnitzel's all around.

16 March
Up at 4 to catch flight to Heathrow, then on to SFO. Finally mailed postcards in the postbox around the corner.

1 comment:

Lynne Rutter said...

"So much painting lost: Egypt, Greece, the columns of cathedrals. Everyone thinks that the ancient world was devoid of decoration but in reality it was as loud and gaudy as a Peter Max poster." so true, but how thrilling to see these things both ways. I wonder if you too can be scrubbed clean of your gaudy paint job, with time and exposure.

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