to Berlin

A bike chained to park fence in Berlin
We waited in our hot train car to leave Paris for Berlin.  Our car seated six people.  There was a small arm rest and open windows.  We were accompanied by several other young people; a punk looking guy with bleached blonde hair and a bottle of beer.  A couple with giant luggage.  The woman had curly brown hair that she wore in a pony on top of her head, like broccoli,  and the man was slightly chubby and he wore a political shirt.  They argued in an Eastern European language that I could not identify.

I had just recovered from a few days of depression where I drowned in self criticism. I was glad to no longer feel blue and welcomed the chance to leave Paris for a few days.

The man's shirt was a picture of "the dude" from the Big Lebowski.  I immediately felt a sense of connection to him by seeing this shirt.-

Sketch for Edward Scissorhands
I reflected on the day.  Finally, Cam and I had gone to Cinematheque Francaise.  We waited an hour in the heat after two prior failed attempts, but it was worth the wait.  The Tim Burton exhibit was comprehensive and convincing, although perhaps a bit self indulgent. (Did we really need to see his middle school and high school drawing projects?).  Nonetheless there was a ton of drawings, some good, some bad.  I left with the impression that he had a total vision that he continued to follow and that drawing was at the root of how he conceived of all his artwork.  I appreciated that he said something to the nature of {he decided when he was young to not care about if he drew well, but rather to focus on just drawing}, and in the process I could see that he had found his own style.

Melies' Studio Model
-Our train had started the cool air entered the window.- 

Other highlights of Cinematheque Francaise included seeing all the early film devices like. zoetropes, magic pictures, and many of them were useable and interactive.  What a joy!  Sets of Melies, a model of his studio, the original robot costume from Metropolis.  I wanted to keep a picture of it in my mind forever.


Kreutzberg Street
We spent 24hr in Berlin and had a great time.  Granted, on the way there I did not sleep a bit and was exhausted at random moments through out the day but we did manage to walk around Kreutzberg and check out a great thrift shop where I found a crazy cool wool jacket that reminded me of Bauhaus weaving.  We looked at a market called Hermmanplatz in the center where there were all sorts of restaurant stalls.  Then we walked to downtown Kreuzberg in a rather artsy area and had lunch at a Turkish kebab place that claimed to be the inventor of Donner Kebab.  From there we walked a mile and 1/2+ to checkpoint Charlie.  We took breaks along the way to get out of the sun and even ducked through a few parks.

I noticed in Berlin:  Everyone was outside.  Tons of bike riders and park enthusiasts.  Nice wide streets, second hand stores, and inexpensive food.  Spaces seemed youthful and unpretentious with lots of re-purposed furniture.

Pension Berlin
Common Room
Such as our Air B and B spot.  Cam had found an excellent place to stay-it was an old convenience store that had been transformed into a studio and pension by our host Frank and his girlfriend.  He had added all sorts of interesting touches like a coin floor, collaged walls, and floor lamps turned into hanging lamps.  I loved his ingenuity.

Coin floor of Common Room
Alexanderplatz Collage in Bedroom
From Checkpoint Charlie we walked to the Brandenburg Gates and then past the Reichstag, and finally into another park.  We wondered into a shopping area with lots of movie theaters.  Then we took the Metro home.

Checkpoint Charlie Sign
McDonald's next to Checkpoint Charlie

Brandenburg Gates
Back at our hostel we took a nap as the evening gave way to rain.  When we woke we walked to the bank and then to a crazy convenience store for batteries.  Crazy mainly because I noticed at least two people in full loud conversation with themselves.  We stood in line behind one of the crazy men, a tatooed guy, and a group of friendly young punks.  We wondered around further in the misty summer night as lanterns and christmas bulb strings turned on at restaurants in old houses with setback yards where people dined.  The night had a warm glow.  The cool air of the rain brought people to eat outside in covered areas. 

We found a Currywurst stand by following Cam's instincts and sat for dinner as group of young Turkish men kindly give up the single table in front of the stand.  Currywurst  is a bratwurst covered with a curry ketchup and accompanied by fries.  It was delicious but not something I could eat every week.  After the cheap dinner we walked towards the direction of our B and B.  All around young adults our age were out for the night, enjoying dinners, sitting on porch stoops having a beer, holding each other from sadness.  I saw a woman in a window playing an accordion.  I saw a couple doing standup at a club.  We decided to have a beer at the Pony Salon, mostly because I liked the name and its outdoor seating.  The ceiling of the bar was covered in record posters.  The furniture was a mish mash of vintage couches.  The waitress was friendly and gave us large beers with a side of pretzels.

Cam and I entered into deep discussions about our residency, Berlin, St. Louis, our frustrations with being an artist.  I was so drawn to our discussions that I didn't even want to play pool.  Two beers later as the bar was shutting down the old man sitting next to us began to chat with a traveler about to enter his car.

"Look at how great Berlin is, Wow!", said the traveler.
"It's inspiring, 60 years ago it was destroyed and now it is so creative, so much freedom, " he continued.

The man replied, "Yes, it is like the dawn after a dark night."

I thought about how St. Louis had the possibility to feel like Berlin.  To be slow, creative, let it all hang out, exist together, be weird, not be all about money but rather ideas, support the arts.  To heal from our racist roots, our separated city with its invisible walls.

I  thought about my future- I wanted to be able to travel.  I wanted to have a home.  I wanted to meet travelers.  I wanted to pay my debts.  I wanted to be involved in art community.  How do I get there?  How do we get there?

Pension Berlin Flag



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