Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Indian Summer Crumber

I cannot believe how wonderful it is outside, so I'm going to keep today's miscellanea short, and then head out to buy some coffee, which you can actually buy on Sundays. I still miss the Malongo boutique at Galleries Lafayette, but the quick-and-dirty solution is one bag of Starbuck's Gold Coast Blend and one of Balzac's House Blend mixed together. Not what I'd make if I had access to a decent selection of varietals, but hey, this is World City Berlin, and there's no place to buy 'em.

First off, a couple of technical notes. With Marie's help from far-off New Jersey, I managed to learn how to make various adjustments in the blog, and will be adding several new blog-links in the near future. I also learned how to modify my statistics thingy there at the bottom of the page and now I can see how people get here and where they go afterwards. This is totally useless information, for the most part, but I hope to use it to dazzle potential publishers for my book when I head to New York in about a month.


The Pope is back in town. No, not the guy who put his beslippered foot in his mouth in re Islam the other day, but the Pope of Mope, Berlin's unluckiest guy. Only a couple of days after returning here, he managed to get his arm broken by a gang of bicycle theives who operate around the Kaffee Burger on Torstr., ripping off the bikes of the hip and trendy while they're inside doing whatever it is hip and trendy people do. It's his belief that these guys operate out of the Döner Kebap place on the corner, the one that was a sort of DDR-moderne-themed bar that never made it, Luxe. Since I refuse to ride a bike -- I'd much rather walk -- and since Kaffee Burger's walking distance for me, and since I'm not hip and trendy, and the one time I was at Kaffee Burger I had to leave almost immediately to find a couple of molecules of oxygen, I'm just passing this along for the edification and delectation of such of my readers who might bike down there, emerge mildly intoxicated, and find themselves suddenly at the mercy of the Nachtbus.

It's also worth noting that the poor Pope is the first person I've known or heard of among my circle of friends and acquaintences, male or female, who has been the victim of physical assault in the 13 years I've been in Berlin. That's what I mean by unlucky, but it's also a fairly remarkable statement for a city of this size over that amount of time.


He also passed on yet another Hip! Edgy! Berlin! story, this one from the New York Observer, whatever that is. I actually sat down with this Galapagos guy for two hours and tried to let him know what happens when foreigners come here and try to start businesses, but from the looks of this article, he must have thought I was a crank. That said, he really, really needs to learn something about this city, because besides the insanity of trying to start a business here, he was looking in districts like Neukölln (yes, David Bowie named a song after it; big deal, it's a ghetto) and Hohenschönhausen, where nobody but nobody would go. As a friend who's put on events in the latter part of town observed, people from West Berlin refuse to ride trams (why? But I believe her) and nobody's going to spend close to an hour getting someplace they can't get in and out of, especially late at night. Hell, the tram to my neighborhood from the LSD District in Prenzlauer Berg (that's Lychner, Schönhauser, Danziger, the border streets to the district where every third person seems to be an American) shuts down at midnight.

But he's in love. He came here for a couple of weeks, let various trust-fund artists walk him through their favorite Szene-kneipen, and now he thinks he knows Berlin. I've seen this movie before. I know he doesn't have very deep pockets, so I wish him luck.


Bike thieves are one thing, terrorist plots are another. One of the local tabloids the other day had a screamer headline: the Berlin Police had disrupted a terrorist plot to kill thousands of people at ... a Nena concert! This was presumably the concert I saw advertised at the Hauptbahnhof, which would be behind the station on the banks of the Spree river. According to the tabloid, a ship filled with explosives would come down the river and go off, killing all aboard and loads of concert-goers, and, presumably Nena und Band.

This is why I love the tabloids. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

But they can. And do. I heard a great story once about a freelancer who lucked into an interview with one of Germany's biggest idols, Tina Turner. Realizing he had an exclusive, he sold it to the highest bidder, the national tabloid Bild. They read it, didn't think it was too terribly exciting, and made up their own interview and signed his name to it. Tina Turner read it, flipped out, and sued. Bild coolly informed her that the writer wasn't on staff, but was a freelancer, so they couldn't take responsibility. So she sued him. He is no longer a journalist. Which, on some days, I consider a happy ending to the story, except for the lawyer's fees.


Thanks to the opening of the TeaRoom Berlin, to which I'll post a link if they ever get their website up, I'm in Prenzlauer Berg more often than usual, and the other day, walking down Metzer Str. towards Kollwitzstr., I saw green spiny things on the sidewalk, and, because I'm that kind of person, I gave one a kick. A bunch of little nuts flew out of it, and I realized that this wasn't a chestnut (which are all over the place), but, rather hazlenuts. I looked them up when I got home and sure enough, they come packed four to the pod. It just never occurred to me that they'd grow wild, but then I realized that that's stupid: there are those ubiquitous chestnuts, after all, and my friend Natalie once worked with a woman who had a couple of walnut trees. Once I made it known that I had uses for walnuts, I wound up with five or ten kilos of them.

So yes: Berlin is nut country. Especially in the fall. And the advent of another fall was the message those little hazelnuts were sending.

Which reminds me: time to go buy that coffee before it cools off out there.


Bowleserised said...

*hem* Lychener, Schliemann and Duncker.

Ed Ward said...

I always heard it as Danziger. Always.

Schliemann... yeah, you're right. Sorry.

Ed Ward said...

Okay, okay, I surrender. Backchannel I heard from Karen, who's even more of an authority about this stuff than I am, plus a former LSD resident, and Duncker it is.

Perhaps I should shave my head in penance. But that would mean the terrorists have won.

William Thirteen said...

don't know if you have already investigated them but coffeemamas at the hackescher markt sbahn has some good roasts which they make themselves. and some cute little coffee lesbians....

Ed Ward said...

Coffeemama over-roasts their beans something awful.

The Haarbüschel said...

Aw cmon, Neukölln is a ghetto... that's a cliché and it's just plain wrong. And since when exactly is Tina Turner one of Germany's biggest idols? Did I miss something in the last 34 years?

Ed Ward said...

Tina Turner did three nights at the Waldbühne on her last tour. That's not a niche entertainer. She's huge here. Or was.

Anonymous said...

OK, you don't really know me, but we met once through the Pope of Mope himself, and I'm another person who's been a victim of physical assault here in Berlin: a young guy at the Charlottenburg S-Bahn station put his arm around me as I walked past him and his rowdy buddies. I shrugged his arm off and cursed at him angrily, and walked on, whereupon he came up behind me and kicked me so hard in the back of the knee that I was afraid I might fall down. Granted, this is the only time in 12+ years that something like this has happened to me, but still.

Ed Ward said...

Not to minimize the psychological aspect of that, the physical part sounds relatively mild. (And if that ever happens again, knee him in the balls before it escalates and he'll be so embarrassed and/or writhing in pain that you should be able to get away.)

At any rate, now I've got two anecdotes. But this still isn't New York, if you see what I mean.