WARNING: This one is long, but I think worth it, it should be fun. Read at your leisure, with either coffee or whisky. Or mix the two for maximum effect (mmmmmm).
Hello from the middle of Berlin! My stay in the lovely garden hut has ended and my stay in the lovely Lalor hut has begun. My Luke Lalor has agreed to put me up in his apartment for the next few weeks, which is fantastic on many levels, most immediately because it's not an hour away from town but right in the heart of it. This will allow MUCH easier access to the various things I need to do in town, and there are still oh so many.
Staying here will also allow me to register this address as my own. This means I go to the Bürgeramt (Citizens Registration Office) and tell them I'm officially living here, then they give me an official piece of paper that says I'm officially living here, officially. It's like posting something on Facebook; until you post it, in the eyes of the rest of the world it didn't really happen, and until I have that official piece of paper I can't do much of anything here in Berlin. The next step after getting my "announcement", as it is called, is opening a German bank account and then buying German health insurance. There is a mandate in Germany that all people living here must have health insurance. This is one of the ways they keep health costs down (silly idea!!!! made even sillier by the fact that is works. paid for by Glenn Beck for President) so I must have it before I can get a visa. Then, it's nearly visa time, which is going to be quite the stressful day. I will drink all the beer in the land when I'm done with that, so much beer that the children will have to go without this Winter. And it will be good.
Speaking of Winter, they're predicting the worst winter in 1000 years for Europe. I marvel at my timing, I really do. I am always in the right place at the wrong time, it's a gift really. I figure what this amazing talent of mine will provide for me is a lifetime of instability and more stories than I could ever possibly put on the page. I've already got me a plenty.
Speaking of stories a plenty, it's been an exciting weekend. It started off with a burlesque show at Nollendorfsplatz. I've been to some burlesque in Seattle, some really unbelieveably amazing burlesque in Seattle. I wanted to see what was going on Berlin, burlesque wise, since it only seems logical that it should be fantastic here. I paid 16€ to get into this show, which is A LOT for Berlin, but it was supposed to be the best to be found here, and I wanted to see it. IT. WAS. HORRIBLE. The only saving grace of the show was the woman who did a fire spitting routine, but about the only way that can't be cool is if she accidentally catches you on fire (if she catches herself or someone else on fire it's still pretty damn cool. Don't lie, you know you agree). The rest of the show was like watching high school burlesque. Not for the underage bit, the thought of which is quite creepy, but because of the sad amateur nature of it all combined with the "we're trying really hard up here!" feel to everything they did. This is the difference between professionals and amateurs; professionals never let you see them sweat. This is especially important in Burlesque because your pasties fall off. There was way too much sweating. It was disappointing. We need to get the Burlesquers of Seattle over here to show them how it's done. Berliners would EAT IT UP.
Oh!! I almost forgot the best part of the show though. They did a "costume contest" for those that dressed to the hilt in the audience, in kind of a 20's meets goth meets hipster meets stripper kind of aesthetic. They called four ladies up on the stage. I was not paying much attention, the costumes were not that great, and they're ladies (sorry ladies, bobbies haven't done anything for me since breast feeding, and that was purely practical). But then, one of them started puking. Perhaps she'd had too much punch, perhaps she doesn't like crowds, perhaps he flashed back, PTSD style, to that humiliating middle school costume contest, I don't know, but she started puking. To which the MC of the contest said, in a deep British accent (don't ask) "Oh dear she's vomiting!" After they'd lead her off stage the MC called for "another contestant! Perhaps someone who won't vomit on our stage!" It all happened so fast I barely got to revel in the schadenfreude of it all before it was all in the past. But, memories are truly a lovely thing, and I've thought back on it with a chuckle and a "ooooh, that poor girl!!" many times since.
A dance event in East Berlin followed the bad burlesque, and it was just as one would expect from a dance event in Berlin; dark, smokey, in a run down building, good music, and only one or two sloppy people. That's right, the Germans, as a whole, keep themselves REALLY put together at parties, it's kind of a nice change of pace. No one is falling over drunk, even at 5am, no one is belligerent, everyone is having a good time and being pretty calm about the entire thing. Except for one guy (there's always that one guy...) who was WACKED OUT on something and was basically trying to rape everything that walked by him. He got the message quickly when he got his hand forcibly removed from around my waist, my elbow up at his neck to keep his face away from mine (he was trying desperately to get his nasty lips to mine) and a Look that should have killed him except that the drugs he was on must have protected him from my powers. It was a good time over all but I was quite happy to get to bed.
Saturday night (that's right folks, only to Saturday night so far!) brought (Cocktail d'amore), a monthly Berlin party, in a basement in some old building in East Berlin, with great music, and calm but fun guests. Furry homo guests. My people :) We started with some martinis at a friends house and then arrived at about 1am. We were some of the first to arrive. Disco naps are a prerequisite for going out here. It was very soon packed to the gills though and was VERY fun. Lots of cute and hot guys, lots of dancing, lots of chatting, lots of good fun. We left around 5am, though the party was hardly near ending. I had a big day ahead though and there will be more chances to walk out of parties into the noon day sun, blinking and staggering, later on.
Sunday I went with the lovely Erik Mittasch and Mike Rattigan to Saxony and Dresden, almost due south of Berlin about 2 hours drive. It was GREAT (there are some photos up, hopefully more to follow soon), Dresden is quite beautiful with some really great buildings. And a stunning history, pre WWII and post. The pre is really fascinating, with city walls, catholic conversions, ships in caves and fabulous party palaces. The history during and after WWII is stunning, in the sense you will stand back and look at pictures and monuments in stunned silence. The place was leveled, firebombed actually, turned basically to rubble. These beautiful buildings, and all that history, destroyed. Then it was in East Germany, and while some things were rebuilt, much of it remained in ruins until after reunification. Recently a famous church, the Dresden Frauenkirche was finally reconstructed, after laying in ruins for more than 50 years. Check out the pictures, especially the one of what it looked like after the firebombing. It was a pile of stone with two corners poking up like rotting teeth and the statue of Martin Luther standing guard in front. Now it's been rebuilt, with a combination of new stone and the old stones that could be salvaged, giving the exterior a freckled look that serves as a constant reminder of our past. It was amazing.
More amazing followed at the home of Sir Walter, a 90 some odd year old man who lives in the country side outside of Dresden about 40km. His home is a 700 year old house (700!!!) that was once part of a cloister, but now is home to him and his huge collection of antiquities, gathered from around the world in his many travels. Sir Walter has some money, and it spent it wisely, amassing one of the largest private collections of such treasures in Europe. The house is filled with them, on every wall, in selves, on any flat surface available, everywhere. And of every variety you can imagine. It was mind blowing, there are also a few pics of that, hopefully again more to follow. The one of me standing in front of the jade ship is a must see, go check it out in my profile. This ship was about 5 feet long and 3-4 feet high, all of carved jade. It's not carved from one piece of jade, that would be too easy. Each sail was an individual slab of jade, carved in great detail, and then they hang on jade hooks on the jade masts. The number of jade pieces was amazing, like looking at a model ship that is made of wood and cloth (those were on the shelf in front of the jade ship, 3 AMAZING examples), but all in jade. I can't imagine how much it is worth, and it's just sitting out for you to touch if you wise. I put my hands in my pockets and tried very hard not to trip on anything.
We listened to a concert there, of a music teacher/jazz composer from Dresden, a mousy woman with frizzy blond hair, glasses and very prominent top teeth. She played various wood flutes, recorders, a standard flute and the piano, while accompanied by a drum set/percussion and a bass player. She had written all the music, and it was very Vince Guaraldi meets George Crumb. It was perfectly lovely. The percussionist needed to give it up a few times as he started to sound like he was again a teenage boy banging on anything that would make a noise and calling it "art", but her music was sweet and the bass player actually was wildly impressive, at one point playing a contrapuntal solo consisting of a baseline and harmonics. The other highlight of the concert was watching said mousy blond woman rock the f#%k out on the recorder, like she was John Coltrain taken away by the spirit of jazz, complete with crazy random fast squeaky high notes, bending and weaving and bending back at the knees to better force the expression out of the instrument, blond frizz hair jiggling like jello over her hard pressed bespectacled eyes. As I said to Erik "I've just seen the whitest chick on earth rock her tits off on the recorder. I can die happy." I have decided to go on living, but only because I really want to see if anything in musical performance can ever top that vision.
So, a HUGE THANK YOU to Erik for organizing the trip, to Mike for being constantly entertaining and interesting on the trip, and to the lovely land of Saxony for adding to what has already been a spectacularly interesting couple of weeks. I'll be back to the area soon I hope, to see more of your treasures and hopefully add some music to the ethers. I'm hoping I can do a concert at Sir Walter's, that would be UNBELIEVABLE.
If you've made it this far, I'll give you one more gem from the weekend; we tried last night to go to the Yellow Lounge party, which is actually run, in a way, by Deutsche Grammophon, arguably the best classical music label on Earth. That's right, a classical music label that throws parties. This one featured Hélène Grimaud, pianist extraordinaire. The doors opened at 9pm, I arrived at about 8:45pm, to find two lines, one stretching one way around the block, the other stretching the other way, filled with people 20-40 years old, and some old people who walked up and said in confusion "maybe there's a disco in here too...." There is not. So, let me say that again; PARTY run by a CLASSICAL MUSIC RECORD LABEL, starting at 9PM, with LINES SO HUGE they stretch around the block, to see a classical pianist play, and she would probably start around 11pm. We didn't even bother to try and get in, certainly someone would have decided we were not fabulous enough and would have denied entry after the hour and half it would have taken to get through the line. Moral of this story; I AM IN THE RIGHT PLACE.
It's now most definitely time for bed, big day ahead tomorrow, I'll let y'all know it goes. Keep your cars running out there, the winters going to be cold, I don't have any boots, and I think the only solution is global warming.