|Gerhard Lahr, Berlyn|
The first time I visited Berlin 18 years ago, I was a mere babe. I was on my Grand Tour of Europe: a month of sleepless nights and my first time out of the US (my second if you count the fact that I was born in Germany and lived there when I was literally a baby).
I kept a journal during my Grand Tour in 1994, so I've taken it out now to see what I said about Berlin. The first thing that strikes me about this journal is that it's 9/10 empty. Obviously, I hadn't caught the blogging bug yet. In fact, in 1994 I didn't know what a blog was. There probably was no such thing as a blog. There was, however, the 'journal'--which I didn't care for much either apparently. Was I having such a grand time just living that I forgot to write about it? Here's the paltry lines I wrote about Berlin (word for word despite the embarrassment that this will cause me):
Berlin was/is angry, loud construction, dirty street people and very young kids, drugs. A woman physically pushed me aside--and I called her a bitch; she was/is. (People in Europe are buried standing up, I assume.) The couple from Australia--talked non-stop for almost 3 hours--good company.
Lordy lordy. What the hell did I mean by "People in Europe are buried standing up," and where did this come from? I don't remember the Australian couple at all, but I remember the woman man-handling me as if it were yesterday. It was my fault. I stopped right at the top of the escalator--me and my oversized backpack blocking the way for the people behind me. Now, I would push me out of the way too, but then I just thought people in Berlin were hard, rude. How dare they not coddle naive tourists?
Berlin has become my second home in Germany. I have family there now, and they're the sweetest people in the world (I'm also not such the naive tourist that I was 18 years ago). Have you ever heard of the Berliner Schnauze? It's the name for the loudmouth, hard-ball humor so typical of people from Berlin. Imagine Berlin bears play-clawing at each other. I've become used to it over the years (even pretty good at it), but it caught me off guard at first.
I forced my partner--André the post-impressionist garden furniture repairman--to drive by the East Side Gallery so that I could take pictures of the not-so new renovation of Berlin's most popular outdoor Berlin Wall museum from our car, which was driving in the bike lane. I did not visit this section of the Wall in 1994; but if I had, I would have seen THIS, which is horrible. For the renovation project, many of the artists were located and asked to restore their work. The result is a success, but it is already succumbing to vandalism. I love street art, and can't understand why someone would deface it.
|Dmitrij Vrubel (Dmitri Wladimirowitsch Wrube), Danke, Andrej Sacharow, Russian dissident and human rights activist, honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.|
|This is part of the mural that says "Get Human . . . Save our Earth" but I can't find the name of the artist. If you know it, let me know.|
|Birgit Kinder Test the Best -- the now legendary East German Trabi (Trabant), metaphorically here breaking through the Berlin Wall. This car was also used literally to smuggle East Germans across the border.|
|Salvadore de Fazio, Dawn of Peace (detail)|
|Gabriel Heimler, Der Mauerspringer (The Wall Jumper). The coincidence of this woman walking by on the West side of the wall brings to mind the West's turning a blind eye to the plight of the East German Folk for so many years.|
I must be off,
Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O'Type. Allen writes fiction, creative non-fiction and of course this here blog. His work has appeared in numerous places both online and in print. Read more about him HERE.