Friday, March 27, 2009

Rebuilding the Berlin Wall: Smoother, Cleaner, More Commercial

Call me a skeptic, but are we really to believe that they are completely destroying the East Side Gallery (Berlin Wall with purty pitchers) in order to 'preserve, reconstruct and remember' the monument? They talk of the history of the wall, the artists who came from all over the world to commemorate the fall of communism in Berlin with a blast of paint on the one remaining segment that wasn't torn down.

And that they're destroying all that history--get this--to preserve the Wall. Ahem. Why in the Flying Fuck are they putting bureaucrats in charge of anything 'historical' or 'artistic'? Can't the Mighty B's be happy making our lives miserable in the usual way--parking, registration, jobs, etc.? No, they wanna be part of art and history.
OK, cut back to my arrival in Berlin to see why I'm actually pissed off. I was planning on getting around to the important monuments of Berlin once it wasn't January 10th, minus 10 Celsius. I was thinking a jaunt around town with my camera would wait until the thawing of the frozen dog turds on the street, at the very least. In late February I took a walk by the East Side Gallery section of the Berlin Wall (the only preserved section left, other than a few chunks by Potsdamer Platz--which are dwarfed by the massive skyscrapers above) on the way to a party on a boat. Well, Berliners do that party thing, so we went. We passed a long section of painted wall and realized that it was the famous East Side Gallery section of the Berlin Wall. We saw some cool artwork in addition to some added bad graffiti and such. I looked down the street and saw that the painted wall continued into the distance. I swore I'd get back with my camera. When the frozen dog turds thawed.

So a few days ago I went back to get those pics. After some months of some pretty craptastic weather, I had to go. Even though I was in charge of my girlfriend's sick dog while she was away, and the little bastard was was puking and shitting in the flat, I had to go. I took the sick dog for a nice drag for a couple of km's down to the Wall. I started snapping, leash in one hand, camera in the other. A few blocks on down the wall I noticed a construction fence. And the noise of jackhammers. I was looking forward to getting snaps of some of the more famous wall paintings--the kissing commies, the 3 cartoon faces in Pop Art style, etc. But I was greeted by a long stretch of gray, bare wall and the sound of construction. As I continued down the road I met a few confused tourists scratching their heads and an individual handing out flyers to the tourists. I took one. It said 'Europe is closed for renovation to better serve you' or something like that.

My only bitch about this whole thing--other than not getting my photos of the 'original' wall--is this: you know damn well they're gonna have McDonald's, KFC, Nike and other ads on this fucking thing when they finish it. Who else is gonna pay for the 'historical reconstruction of an important part of European history' smack dab in the middle of this 'Global Crisis, Inc.'?

I plan to document the entire reconstruction process, right up through the time they "bring the original artists back to repaint the wall", here.

Meanwhile, you can take a photographic virtual stroll down a section of the wall as of yet undisturbed by the jackhammers here:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One Presidential Fast Food Deserves Another

Found in the 'American Food' section of my local Berlin supermarket.

Yes, you're reading it right:


Like, Oh. My. God.

Just when I thought that the JFK / Berliner jelly donut thing was wacky enough....

I'm not sure which part of the product would insult Obama more: having his name on a frozen fast food box, or the whole 'fried chicken' stereotype reference.

Talk amongst yourselves, I'm feeling verklempt.

P.S. They taste pretty good, by the way.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Berlin Cops Adore Nazis, Push Antifascist Demonstrators Around A Bit

I've always heard that Nazi or Neo-Nazism is illegal in Germany. Wearing the swastika or other Nazi symbols, singing 'Deutschland Uber Alles' and doing Hitler's high-handed salute, are all verboten.

Recently I've come to realize that this is total bullshit. I first had my suspicions several years ago on a visit to a small town in the former East Germany. There was a large tent with a party going on and a bonfire outside. After waltzing into their tent for some fun, I noticed that everyone was bald. With bomber jackets, camo pants and high-laced boots. I had walked into a skinhead party in a village field. So, casually, I ate some of their munchies, drank a few of their beers and slowly strolled away without speaking to anyone.

Upon my arrival in Berlin a couple of months ago, there was a fashion issue of the local English rag 'Exberliner.' I despise fashion as any red-blooded heterosexual from the States would (ich bin ein Redneck), but I picked up the mag anyway hoping to find ads for pubs and grub. I found that they covered all areas of fashion in Berlin, including NAZI FASHION. WTF? I thought this Nazi b.s. was unacceptable. Well, the clothing had some mods (I dunno, maybe a pretzel on the armband instead of swassie), but it was undeniably clothing for goose-stepping fools with too much time on their hands.

Today I was awakened from my Saturday afternoon nap to the sound of shouting. Usually the Berlin party crowd waits til after midnight to begin their drunken howls under my balcony. Not today. I stepped outside to see a large crowd of young whippersnappers wearing black clothes and bandannas pulled over their mouths, marching. Various street punks joined in to provide some local color. I was drowsy as any fat slob who eats pizza and beer all the time would be after a nap, but I snapped to attention when a white-helmet-sporting-cop started pushing one of the protesters around. The kid wasn't doing anything. In fact, he was headed AWAY from the shouting youth. But the cops wanted him fenced in. I went for the camera and took a couple of mediocre shots from the balcony. I headed down to the street to find out what was going on, and while people were milling around on the street corner I discovered the following: the shouting miscreants were various members of anti-fascist groups protesting the opening of a new(neo?)Nazi clothing store. I have to wonder where these brain dead boneheads get the money for designer fashions (one such brand I read about is Thor Steiner, a Norwegian designer who makes clothing for fascists)? Maybe they pay for their swag with gold teeth ripped from the mouths of dead Jews.

I hung around to get some snaps, but I got a bit nervous when one of the cops started video taping me as I was taking pics (see above left). I'm not usually keen on photographing cops in any country, especially ones where the cops actually wear jackboots and grimaces as part of their uniform. Today's coppers wore jumpsuits and helmets as well. In a country where Neo-Nazism is technically illegal, why does the largest city in Germany not only tolerate fascism, but recruit some of them as cops?