I missed the parade for The Hoff.
St. Patrick may have driven the snakes from Ireland, but David Hasselhoff was there to drive the developers from the East Side Gallery, and I guess the later is more relevant for me now. Snakes get a bad rap, they’re not so bad.
It was madness. The media were all gathered patiently to await his arrival at Yaam and they all jostled for a piece of the big man when he arrived. He took it all in his stride, the rugged face of freedom.
The Hoff was charming, effusive, and good-humored as he lectured Berlin’s head-honchos on the merits of preserving mementos of the city’s turbulent history. Perhaps in an effort to appeal to their greedy ways, he pointed out how much money the East Side Gallery generates through tourism.
“It's like tearing down an Indian burial ground. It’s a no-brainer,” he said as he posed beside a sign saying, ‘The Wall must stay in in one piece, not in slices.’
He blasted the authorities for tearing down the crosses at Checkpoint Charlie there to remember victims who perished while attempting to reach the West.
“This is not the first time they’ve done it,” Hoff said, in reference to the gobshites in charge.
“This last piece of the Wall is really sacred,” he said. “It keeps the memories of all the families, the thousands and thousands and thousands of families, that were torn apart, alive.”
He added that it was important to keep mementos for the world to remember the Cold War division and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Some idiot asked him about the potholes and acid rain in East Germany, before I asked him, “What happens next?”
He didn’t know, but launched into a very entertaining monologue in which he made it very clear how important it is to him personally to keep the East Side Gallery intact.
“I loved that memorial,” he said. “It's like Anne Frank's house. It's a sacred thing.”
Afterward, as he was signing autographs, he said he didn't think he could afford the patch of land “but we can raise the money.”
Then he joked, “David Hasselhoff is going to police the Wall.”
Too many were outside when the presser ended, so they were all forced back in. That’s when I seized my chance. I saw the ‘Save East Side Gallery’ poster he had been holding up was still on the table, I grabbed it, and asked him to sign it. He did!
As he was signing, I told him I admired him for sticking to his guns and fighting for what he believes in. “Thank you,” he said.
It’s true. My estimation of David Hasselhoff has risen immeasurably. I didn’t really watch Knight Rider when I was a kid, and was more interested in his co-stars in Baywatch – Erika Eleniak was my first love – but to the begrudgers who take the piss and badmouth his East Side Gallery involvement, well, he’s doing more than you are.
The crowd went apeshit when we finally emerged and made it to the Wall itself. There were too many people, nobody could move. One guy in a silver skin-suit and jocks was dancing like a madman to The Hoff’s hit ‘Looking for Freedom’ to show him his gratitude for getting involved. He was hilarious, brilliant.
His girlfriend reckoned there were 100,000 people there, “easily way more than the last time.” A Polizei reckoned there were slightly more people than two weeks previously, so probably around 7,000. At first he said, “zu viel.”
When The Hoff made it to the van to sing ‘Looking for Freedom’ I knew it couldn’t get any better. People were even climbing the Wall to get a better look. I sought my own freedom and hurried down to Kreuzberg for what was left of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The green-clad folk were leaving as I got there – bah! – but those remaining had taken up residence in a beer garden with a stage where participants were being taught Irish dancing in the muck. It was authentic if nothing else.
The rest of the afternoon was spent drinking and talking. The naggins of vodka were unnecessary and ill advised though.
The Fernsehturm was green as I cycled home, as if it too was feeling the affects of too much alcohol. Such compassion. I love that Fernsehturm.
Meanwhile, the East Side Gallery’s fate remains murky and Hoffnung of a satisfactory outcome appears to have dropped despite his involvement. The diggers were back on the site this morning, and a spokesman for the investor Maik Uwe Hinkel told the Forum StadtSpree this evening, “We're going to keep building.”
Hinkel himself didn’t attend the meeting because of threats he received by email, but his associate Jürgen Scheunemann said it was too late for negotiations to buy back the land and that Living Bauhaus was going ahead with plans to build in any case.
Of course Hinkel has no interest whatsoever in history, culture or keeping open spaces along the river for residents. All he gives a shit about is money. Fuckers like that symbolize all that is wrong with governance when money is allowed dictate policy.
The Hoff says the only way you can fight money is with money.
“If it goes to the next step, we’ll come back with a huge concert and really rock Berlin,” he said.
Please Hoff, Berlin needs Hoffnung now more than ever before.
This video is by Luci Westphal, who has a habit of shooting cool videos. Check out more of her stuff here: http://vimeo.com/luciwest