Morning in Berlin

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Welcome, Herr Knowles.

Good morning. Jetlagged Josh’s internal clock is all out of whack, so I’ve been up since about 6AM. Now I’m sitting at my computer playing with the internet, but earlier I took a ran out from the hotel out across the Tiergarten to the Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag. It’s been raining (and it’s terribly cold, actually), so I had to wear my jacket and dodge muddy puddles dotting the dirt paths through the park. On the walk back I nabbed a bag full of croissants and a cup of coffee which I brought back to the room and quickly squared away.

Fun fact about my hotel (Hotel Sylter Hof), learned by reading the two large signs just outside the entrance on the sidewalk: This hotel has been built on the site of the offices of Adolf Eichmann, the gentleman responsible for orchestrating the Holocaust. Holy shit. The past month I’ve seen Downfall and read Inside Hitler’s Bunker (upon which the movie was based). Seeing the sign about Eichmann and then running and walking around the former Berlin bordergrounds (Brandenburger Tor, Potsdamer Platz, et al) were a powerful combination. This is the first time in nearly a century than Berlin has been able to grow as a part of the European and world community and, well, it’s growing quite nicely. It’s a beautiful town.

Anyway. I arrived just yesterday morning from New York City. Nothing remarkable to report about the flights, except that I don’t like flying around in airplanes one bit, especially when they shake around roughly seven miles over the middle of the north Atlantic Ocean (or Océan Atlantique, as the good people of Air France refer to it) in the middle of the night. The 7AM flight out of Charles de Gaulle in Paris was notable only because our small plane was filled almost entirely by older men in nice suits and ties, off to their mid-morning meetings at the branch offices in Berlin. Almost no women aboard. Plenty of copies of Le Monde, though, opened across seat-back trays, under close examination to make sure Jacques Chirac isn’t pulling any stunts and that no major business trends are being missed.

Before that, New York. Christian travelled up with me and we stayed at the sexy Chelsea Star hotel during the week and then at Sean’s place in the East Village over the weekend. We walked up around Times Square and Central Park a few times and came down into the Village to attend the ITP Spring Show on Tuesday and to get food and drinks with Sean and Johanna. The city feels so dense and choatic — especially in comparison to squeaky-clean Berlin — with gunk and goo and grime on nearly everything outside, with buildings looming heavy overhead and throngs of people flowing around every which way. The packed nature of Manhattan Island is something I worry about my ability to adapt to, I’m so used to spacious, lazy Austin with it’s relatively large coffeehouses and bars and green everywhere. We did walk through Central Park a couple of times (stopping at the National Design Museum on 90th to see a strange exhibit about “Extreme Textiles”) and we did spend several hours both on Saturday and Sunday watching the dogs in the dog playground at Tompkin’s Square Park (in the East Village). The dog park over there is great… It’s two pens, one for all dogs and one for dogs under 23 pounds. And both were littered with dogs or all shapes going bonkers, running around like crazies, making futile attempts to hump one another, picking fights, barking at people on bikes, or peeing on various standing objects. And walking back from the dog park on Saturday we even came upon an African Grey parrot looking out the sidewalk-level windows of an apartment building. Christian freaked and we hung out playing with it through the window (and then came back the next day to say “hello”). It seemed to have too much dog-exposure because it yapped like a little mutt of some flavor as it parrot-waddled back and forth along its stand, lifting its feathers in a gesture Christian interpreted as wanting something, probably wanting to play. We called it “the Admiral” and it happened to live in a building with a small plaquard out front noting that Charlie Parker lived there between 1951 and 1955 (or so). Four years. Hopefully some time an apartment I lived in for a few years will merit landmark status… It’ll make the market value of my little grassing-odored efficiency at 1701 Enfield Road skyrocket!

Anyway, there’s really too much to go into all at once here. I should mention, though, that Christian got to kiss the Samshing Pumpkin’s James Iha on the cheek at a rock club and we ate sushi at the excellent Cube 63 with the two craziest sushi chefs one’s likely to come across, Ben and Ken Lau. And Ken’s animated girlfriend who’s spooked by pigeons.

Well, I should wrap up. I’m sitting at the desk facing out my second floor window down to Kurfürstenstrasse and the sunlight and fluffy cumulus clouds beckon me out. I need ot shower the sweat from my jog off of me and I’ll probably walk the few blocks down to the Zoo to hang out for a while. Check out some birds and monkeys. And maybe a rhino. Maybe even a lion.

More soon…

P.S. If you’ve read this far, here’s your reward: I’ve started putting my photos online already. The subsite’s kind of a mess right now, but you can at least see some of what I’ve been up to. Let me know if something’s obviously amiss (since I’m on the road I can’t double-check things very well). Yip!


Posted Fri, May 20, 2005, 5:51am EST by bren

you and the zoo animals.
good to see you landed safe and sound.
go eat at dada for me. mmmm. fried cheese.

Haloumi Käse...

Posted Fri, May 20, 2005, 5:10pm EST by Josh

I actually already had a haloumi cheese pita thingie... Excellent. But not at the Iraqi Expatriates place. Ill have to go back...

Right now Im in Barcelona. Looks like Ill be joining some friends for a screening of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Nerds. Awesome!


Posted Sat, May 21, 2005, 4:46am EST by bren

Barcelona, eh? Well aren't we fancy.
I can't wait to get over the pond. Dammit. Month and a half left.


Posted Wed, June 15, 2005, 1:53pm EST by ANONYMOUS



Posted Sat, June 18, 2005, 6:00am EST by Nicole

How's this for strange.. I came across your entry when I googled my own address: (1701 Enfield)!! My family owns this building; I moved in about 2 years ago after living in Germany for four years. Also, Berlin ist doch geil, oder? :)