Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas cancelled

Christmas was cancelled. Despite the tree (brought home in the back seat of the Trabi), a Christmas brack, presents, a bottle of brandy and two bottles of rum, it didn’t happen this year.
We’ll go home next year. It’ll be Christmas then.

UPDATE: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Turns out it was only postponed. Santa never came back to take back his presents so they were opened today.
“Santa’s a good man,” the young man affirmed. He was happy with his haul – a fire truck, Aer Lingus playset, dinosaur book, a couple of jigsaws and the world.
He wanted a map of the world; now he has a football-map he can kick around
Well, there’s no time for dallying. The next big event is the horizon. We have our stash of sparklers and fireworks to shoot at unsuspecting passers-by from the balcony.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Munichization of Berlin

A puncture forced me to walk home from work tonight, forced me to see all the shit I’d been oblivious to as I’d been whizzing by on the bike.
It was even worse than I feared it would be. Starting off along Reinhardtstraße, past the Friedrichstadt-Palast on Friedrichstraße, along Torstraße, up Kastanienallee, I saw what it had become – art galleries with more space than art, bright clean delis with more mark-up than food, and shiny shops with blinding lights filled with all manner of worthless designer shit that nobody needs.
I used to comfort myself with the thought all these places would soon be out of business but they’re not. They’re multiplying if anything. Someone must be buying the crap, eating in these places, paying for the wasteful space in which to throw their money away.
Humans roaming by on the pavements seemed oblivious to the affronts presenting themselves on each doorway. Maybe they even welcomed them. Well-heeled girls laughed as they breezed past in groups, dolled up for the Saturday night ahead. There was a time they didn’t bother.
Bottle collectors were scarce on the ground. I guess people would rather smash bottles than pass them on. Maybe they don’t drink from Spätis at all anymore, preferring instead to give all their money to the fancy bars.
There was one headbanger at the bank, sitting at the doorway looking for money talking to himself and jerking his head back and forth like a woodpecker, but he was the exception proving the rule.
Kastanienallee, aka “Casting Allee” due to the posers who hang out there, was devoid of headbangers, punks, deviants or personalities. Everyone I met looked the same – well dressed, comfortable, boring.
The beloved bear that used to adorn the side of a building beside U-Bhf Eberswalder Straße is gone, hidden behind some admittedly nice-looking but obviously fucking expensive apartments.
Spaces along the way are being filled in by more. I thought of the Bumerang and how that had been fucked over by gentrification, of Blu’s fellow artists destroying his murals in protest at what the city is becoming, and mourned the process of change, specifically the forces driving that change.
It’s not what it was, and nothing ever is no matter how much you want it to stay the same, but this race toward Munichization is not Berlin. It’s not Berlin.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Madrid: Strange days

Perhaps going to Madrid in December was not a good idea. There was nothing but deep blue clear skies, warm comforting sunshine and golden dreamlike colors. The whole thing was surreal.
Back in Berlin there were reports of lakes being frozen over, ducks walking on ice, hardship, misery and general down in the dumps shittiness…
But we had a grand time in Madrid, my original destination when I fled Ireland only to be seduced and ensnared by Berlin on my way there. Madrid knew, somehow, and taunted me with its wares for the past week while Berlin was at its weakest.
I won’t be home for Christmas so it was good to see the parents, good for the young fella to see them and for them to see him. Christmas doesn’t matter, but people do.
My dad broke the news he wrote a book when he was a younger, recently sent it off to a publisher’s, and they were to print it this week! So I look forward to reading that. I hope it’s good.
I brought him and the young fella to see Rayo. I think Rayo have two new fans. The young fella was complaining that night when I brought him to bed that he “only saw one football match. I want to see two football matches.”
I saw two, two defeats, but the manner in which they played made them victories. ¡Aupa Rayito! But yeah, Madrid was good to guests last week...
Fuck it, there are more important things than football. Madrid is going through a difficult time despite the weather. Weather doesn’t put food on the table, doesn’t pay the rent, doesn’t put clothes on your back.
People were sleeping on Plaza Mayor, the main square, Madrid’s Alexanderplatz, because they’d nowhere else to sleep. I’m sure they’re sleeping there now as I type this.
Every metro trip was interrupted by a man or woman’s tale of hardship. I don’t know how many people got on that train and poured their hearts out, how they’d lost their jobs, how were entitled to nothing from the state, how they were fucked and reduced to begging on the metro.
Others begged on the streets. You couldn’t get far down the path without someone asking for help. They all looked like they needed it too.
They were only outnumbered by the policía. They seemed to be on every corner, on every street. I’m not if the two things are related but it sure isn’t a healthy sign the place is infested with police.
The week before we arrived, an 85-year-old woman, Carmen Martínez, was thrown out of the apartment she had been living in for the previous 50 years. Her son owed money and couldn’t pay the debt.
Rayo stepped in to pay her rent in a new place but of course matters should never gotten so far.
At least the weather was good. The parrots were squawking appreciatively.
The first snow fell the day after we got back. The sun is already a distant memory…