Tuesday, September 27, 2005

September's Last Crumbs (Probably)

I really don't get the Berlin Marathon. How on earth do you hold a race that lasts two days? Actually, I guess the first day's race wasn't runners, since I walked out of the apartment to go to the store in the middle of it on Saturday and looked over my shoulder to goggle at the speed the runners were achieving, only to realize seconds later that it was an endless stream of grim-faced inline skaters. (I think it may be illegal to show enjoyment in this city, but I'd better check with a lawyer first). They kept going the entire time I was at the store, and were still going strong when I got back, which is a time-span of about 35 minutes. The chaos this occasioned among the vehicles that couldn't use Torstr., of course, was of legendary proportions. And Berlin drivers lose their tempers very, very easily.

The next day, they were going down Torstr. on foot (I guess: I didn't go check) at about 8:30. I know this because there are people who line the route of the race and applaud constantly. There are others who whistle, and then there are the idiots who bring airhorns and honk them. They are very loud. They can wake you out of a sound sleep. They should be illegal. I mean, if I can't play music after 10pm without fear of a visit from the cops, how can these cretins stand out there for 90 minutes, honking aimlessly, on Sunday morning?

The promotional billboards for this event are still up all over town. They make it seem like a very grim event indeed. My favorite shows a row of porta-potties with exhausted people lined up in front of them. The caption is: There's stage fright even at the Berlin Marathon. Boy, that'd be enough to sell me!

And, as always, the kicker line, in English, apparently delivered by Adidas: Impossible Is Nothing!

Memo to Nike: change it to Do It Just. Or maybe Do Just It.


Ever willing to risk my frail body for my readers -- well, actually, because I was curious and because I was too lazy yesterday to go to Potsdamer Platz to hit Salomon in Potsdamer Platz -- I bought a couple of bagels at the Turkish bakery on the corner this morning. They weren't bagels. They were normal Berliner Brötschen, one sesame, one poppy-seed, only in bagel form, and at 80 cents each, twice the price of their un-holed brethren. They were clearly not boiled before baking, and I am not looking forward to the impending Israeli-Turkish War. Does anyone know how to say "you have to use high-gluten flour and you must boil them before you bake them" in Turkish?

Actually, they weren't as bad as the horrid cakey things Cynthia Barcomi introduced as bagels here about ten years ago, but today I was rummaging through some old tear-sheets while trying and failing to create an Excel spread-sheet for this class-action suit for freelancers and discovered one of my old articles about bagels. Ten years ago, I was wondering why a delicacy which was invented sixty or so miles away (historians are uncertain of the bagel's exact origin, but place it in Poland and/or Russia) wasn't being made here. Today, they're trendy (I have, somewhere, a little booklet entitled Was Ist Ein Bagel?, which advises that it's pronounced BYE-gull), and every half-assed bakery (including the one on my corner) is making "bagels" and a couple of "bagel" franchises have erupted in the touristy corners of my 'hood. None are as good as the German Bagel Brothers franchise, though. And I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be bereft of bagels once I move to France.


The former White Trash Fast Food location on the other corner has been a hive of activity for the past few days, and it looks like it might be turning into a gallery. That's all we need: another gallery around here. But I have no way of knowing for certain, because someone's put a huge sheet of brown paper over the door and written on it, in English:


Fine. I didn't want to know anyway.


I feel guilty every minute I'm inside these days, because this fine warm weather won't last much longer. The current forecast is for rain starting tonight, and I'm just hoping Monday, which is a holiday (German Unification Day), will be cool and clear so that I can go to the last race of the season. Oncie the rain starts in, though, it'll be all downhill, and cold and gray will dominate the city once again. We've actually been very lucky, although the summer's been intermittent. Since the evidence is piling up that it'll be my last summer here, I really do want to get out and savor it until it's utterly gone.

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