Friday, December 02, 2005

News Of The Hood

Whew, I just walked down Friedrichstr. to Galleries Lafayette to pick up some supplies for dinner, so I hope you don't mind if I warm my fingers up by typing some before I have to go out and buy the rest of the ingredients.

Somehow, winter lowered the hammer while I was in Amsterdam. One day I was there, the headlines in the Dutch papers said the whole country had been paralyzed by a gigantic snowstorm, and sure enough, as I rode back on Monday, the ground around the Dutch-German border was thick with newfallen snow. There was even some on the ground here when I got back, but it's long vanished. I guess I can't complain. It is, after all, December. Which means that it'll soon be time to go out to make a scientific survey of all the local Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) which seem to cover every square meter of otherwise-uninhabited land. I saw some today: there's a bunch of little sheds by the Westin Grand Hotel on Friedrichstr., one of which was offering "Gluh Kirschbier," which must be warm, spiced, kriek, an idea that does not appeal. Another offered big hunks of fatty pork, which was slightly more appealing.

But the real news is in the wasteland between the Palast der Republik and Humboldt University, where Vodafone has opened a skating rink and there seems to be a Weinachtsmarkt with a huge ferris wheel. Anyway, the dancer has served notice that we will, very soon, undertake this systematic study, and I'm looking forward to it. One thing the Germans do right is Christmas. And yeah, I'll try to take photos.


Another discovery I made on this walk is that the Bode Museum is open again. I'm not sure what's in it anymore, since they've shifted all the collections around to "rationalize" them in the wake of the city's reunification, but it would appear to be the collection of Byzantine and pre-Renaissance art, which makes it a priority for me. Plus, of course, it's the closest city museum to my house, and it's nice to have the forbidding domed thing unswathed with scaffolding for the first time in five years. (In fact, every time I looked at the scaffolding I got a nice feeling of schadenfreude. Back when I was trying to start my magazine, there was this odd guy who used to hang around at meetings but never seemed to want to do anything. Turned out he was spying on us, trying to learn how to get a magazine going, and get one going before we did. His "magazine" turned out to be a single sheet of paper folded in quarters, and the first -- and last -- issue was all about what to do in Berlin that summer, tops of which was a visit to the Bode Museum, which had been advertising for six months that it was about to shut for five years for renovation and rationalization of the collection, and, in fact, was closed by the time his pitiful pamphlet hit the streets.)

This will, in fact, make a nice project for the months before I leave: visit these newly-opened museums here and see what's in 'em. Since I'm not a 9-to-5er, going on a Tuesday afternoon in the winter often means having these places pretty much to myself.


Even closer to home, Tucholskystr.'s worst gallery, the Squares Of Color gallery (not its actual name, but there was a period of about three years when all the shows there were simply that: squares of color in various arrangements; the silly end was obviously coming when one artist, an American woman, displayed a wall full of those potholders kids make from loops of fabric), finally went out of business, so another eyesore on the way to the S-Bahn has been eliminated. What's replacing it until the end of the year is, according to the sign they put up a "Konked-Out X-Shop," which tells me nothing except that Germans should have to pass an exam before using English on signs. (Another candidate is the guy who's just opened a coffee-shop on Chausseestr. and has carefully etched into the window glass the fact that he serves "muffin's" and "bagel's.") Anyway, I've walked past this place a dozen times and, except for some clothes on hangars, I can't tell you what the concept is or what they're selling.


A reader in Italy wrote me an e-mail to ask what the story was with White Trash Fast Food, because apparently a guy she wants to go see was playing there on New Year's Eve. Their website said nothing except that they were reopening, but yesterday a friend came by and mentioned that he'd been to their opening party last week. They've relocated into one of Berlin's worst locations, a mammoth place just up from Torstr. on Schönhauser Allee that opened first as an Irish pub, then turned into another Irish pub, and then was four or five other things before it sat dark for a year or so. The pub area is large enough, but there's a huge club area downstairs: the place can easily hold 1000 people, which sort of puts into question the club's infamous exclusivity. Anyway, the website puts the official opening as tonight. Sorry I won't be able to report on it. I have other plans, and anyway, I'm sure I'd never get past the doorman. I sure hope so, anyway.


Okay, fingers are warm, so it's time to freeze 'em off again. More news as it happens.

No comments: