Berlin … Remembrance of Things Past

When I saw Olen Steinhauer’s tweet with a pic from a Berlin café a couple of days ago, something in me snapped.

It’s been about 15 years now, since I’ve last visited “the capital” but there were times in the 30 years before, when I was there almost every month. As much as I love my “gingerbread” hometown of Nuremberg, in my heart “Ich bin ein Berliner”. So this blog today will be a little walk on “Memory Lane” and contain some memorable films and music related to Berlin …

transitstrecke
Passing this iconic tower meant that you had only about one more hour to drive before reaching Berlin. My most memorable adventure on the “Transitstrecke” was, when the old car we were driving, broke with burning motor, while we were stuck in a traffic jam, still on the eastern side. A truck driver rushed to our aid with an extinguisher, but then we were stranded. This was in the 80s, so no cell-phones and wandering around on eastern territory was out of the question, if you wanted to stay alive and not be mistaken for a fugitive. But it seemed that all in all it was our lucky day, because after a while a diplomat’s car stopped and towed us across the border at Drewitz *phew*. This was the smoothest crossing ever 😉

For those not so familiar with Berlin’s situation back then, some historical information. West Berlin really was an island in the German Democratic Republic (= the soviet zone). You could fly there, drive there by car straight on the “Transitstrecke” or go by train. You got stamps in your passport when entering (and leaving) the GDR and you could only stop at assignated points, because you weren’t to contact locals while transiting. The trains would stop for hours in the middle of the night, at a non-public station near the border and then they were thoroughly searched inside and outside (with dogs) to prevent East Germans from fleeing.


David Bowie’s very emotional trip on “Memory Lane” through Berlin with lots of old footage.

I’ve travelled really a lot of times between Nuremberg and Berlin – and my passport was full to the brim with those ridiculous stamps:

passport-stamps

So, my father is from Berlin and also my mother’s father. As a kid I went there regularly to visit my grandparents in West Berlin and delighted in driving around in the yellow double-deck busses. When I got older, I read the biography of “Christiane F.” a young heroin addict who had to prostitute herself. That made me see “Bahnhof Zoo” in a slightly different light …

schweineimweltall
These are my Berlin grandparents and my great-grandmother (the kid is one of my uncles) in the mid 50s, roughly 5 years before the wall was built. Now everyone would guess, that they gathered proudly around their “Volkswagen” to have that pic taken. LOL … very wrong! This is the so called Berlin humour: they actually never had a car, but I’ve inherited my granddad’s grin 😉

My mother’s sister (my godaunt) moved to Berlin in the beginning of the 80s and when we visited her in Berlin-Kreuzberg for a week in 1984 I really fell consciously in love with the city. When I got 16, I was allowed to visit my aunt together with my best friend(s) and we spent some interesting rather “nocturnal” weeks – as Berlin had no “closing time” like the rest of Germany. I particularly liked the “Bhagwan” disco “FarOut” on Kurfürstendamm next to “Schaubühne” – unlike other discos I knew, this one was not dark, sticky and labyrinth-ish, but just one really big room with a high ceiling, warm lighting and bars in every corner and they played great music too 😉


This is still my (inofficial) hymn to Berlin – from early 80s new german wave band “Ideal”. When this – their first – record came out, my father listened to it literally non-stop during a full 14-day-family-holiday in Bavaria – you’d think, we’d freaked, but I still love every song 😉

Other unforgettable experiences included driving through Berlin in the early morning hours, with someone we just met and who turned out to be a) obviously pretty wasted because he was b) ignoring EVERY red light he came by while going at c) about 70 km/h … yeah well … when you’re 17 it’s really all a bit YOLO 😉

Also when you’re 17 and in Berlin, sleep is clearly overrated … so once we went on a daytrip (trip as in TRIP … as this was still more surreal as just driving on the “Transitstrecke” and not only because we had a hangover!) to East Berlin. We crossed the border at Friedrichstraße and had to walk over a mirrored floor there – so if we had skirts on they could have checked, if we were smuggling whatever under them … please?!. Then we each had to change 50 german Mark (about 25 Euro now) in (ahem, worthless) GDR cash. We’d set up a date with east German relatives of my friend, who met us outside. They had a full sightseeing schedule prepared: visiting the Brandenburg Gate to finally see the Quadriga’s horses heads and not only their butts like from the western side, walked “Unter den Linden” past the Berlin Dome to “Palast der Republik” and then they invited us for lunch at the restaurant on top of the East Berlin TV tower. When we entered we were seated (although almost no seats were taken) and were told that we had one hour to order and eat. This would be the time that the restaurant (who was slowly spinning) would take to make a full turn, so you could watch over the roofs of Berlin in every direction. Yeah well, almost every … because when you were able to look in the direction of the western part of the city, the hour was almost up and exactly THEN your meal arrived. I realised that our “seating” hadn’t been random, but calculated – you really had to watch your plate, eat up and then leave during that last quarter hour – no looks at the “fiends in the West” allowed. In review, this was the most ridiculous experience I’ve had in my whole life so far.

When they walked us back, they motioned us to follow them behind the pillars of “Neue Wache” and gave us german Mark in exchange for the east cash we’d been forced to change earlier (wherever they’ve got the west cash, as this was obviously forbidden!). They were a bit panic-ish and constantly looking over their shoulders (but telling us not to). You really felt like in some sort of bad spy-movie…


“The lives of others” won an Oscar and is really worth seeing – it shows exactly why my friend’s relatives felt uneasy in their own country – just everyone could be an informant and working for the “Stasi” (state security, well more to secure that everyone was staying WITHIN this state).


This is an excerpt from Billy Wilder’s hilarious movie “One Two Three” shot in Berlin in 1961 just before the wall was built. The film was a total flop when it came out, because after the wall was built, obviously no one found it funny anymore. But it really is and you can see (as well as in Wilder’s “A foreign Affair’ with Marlene Dietrich) a lot of Berlin and how much was still destroyed and in ruins.

After the fall of the wall in 1989 I was mainly in Berlin for business reasons (setting up software-systems and training staff at arthouse-cinemas and indie-distributors) or to attend the Berlinale filmfestival. Northern parts of Germany are really not famous for their food, but Berlin was an exception: apart from “Currywurst” and the first “Döner Kebap” who was invented in 1972 not in Turkey, but in Berlin (in a small snackbar between “Zoo station” and famous cinema “Zoopalast”), you could get pretty amazing Falafel, all sorts of really good asian food and my favorite restaurant always was “Cafe Einstein” in Kurfürstenstraße – I’m sure that they still serve the best “Wiener Schnitzel” outside of Vienna.

So finally a last movie-tip:


“Lola rennt” (Run Lola Run) one of the first movies – and also a pretty amazing one – from a re-united “new” Berlin.

• moving pictures • play it again Sam BLAME IT ON THE MUSE SIGHT SOUND & TASTE THINGS FROM DINGS

Dinner For One … or: If I had Richard Armitage for Dinner

Three days ago I happened upon a tweet – you know the sort – what if I could invite “4 famous people for dinner”?

There were already some answers: “Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Freeman, Moses and Richard Armitage” and “Henry VIII, Chrissie Evert, Nelson Mandela and Richard Armitage” … normally I just skip such nonsense, but the mentioning of “the Muse” got me thinking … and so I wrote: “I would invite: the Canterville ghost, the Invisible Man, my friend Harvey and Richard Armitage 😉 and Richard could just simply do ALL their voices – this might be interesting.” … yeah well and then I thought:

“Hey, why not simply throw a virtual dinner party?”

dinnerforone

Virtual or not – I swear this is what happened when I called Richard to confirm the date 😉 :

Phone ringing.
RA: Hm?
me: Hi, this is the annoying stargazer from Germany. What about dinner at my place, Saturday eve?
RA: What? Who gave you that number?
me: Your publicist.
RA: W O T ??!!
me: Relax, there’ll be three other, er, actors, attending.
RA: What in the world was she thinking? I don’t do “dinner-parties”! I’m an anti-socialite!
me: Yeah, that’s why she thought this might be the perfect setting …
RA: … ?
me: because the other guests will be the Invisible Man, the Canterville Ghost and my friend Harvey.
RA: … but they don’t even exist!
me: I see that you’re beginning to get my point …
RA: The only thing I see, is that you are even madder than I thought!
me: In fact this is a top-secret test-recording for a new talk-show project.
RA: But I hate talk-shows!
me: Yeah I know, so this is one, where you’ll have all the questions & and all the answers.
RA: Pardon?
me: Because you will impersonate the other guests. You know, like in that old Freddie Frinton sketch “Dinner for One”.
RA: But I can’t do voices! This is one thing that haunts m…
me: *SNORTS* Yeah right, she and I had a good laugh about that one …
RA: *unintelligible*
me: Didn’t you just mentioned recently, that you’d like to play the Invisible Man?
RA: yeah, but …
me: 5 courses …
RA: … no, listen …
me: Italian …
RA: … really I …
me: 100% homemade, good wine, Grappa …
RA: *sigh* … ok this sounds like an offer one can’t refuse, but …
me: Well, that’s settled, Mr Moody. See you around 8 then – it’s an informal kitchen-dinner, so just come as you are! *click*
RA: *stares at his phone in disbelief*

As the 72nd mostra d’arte cinematografica in Venice just started, when I read the initial tweet – here’s my “dinner all’italiano” – starting with my most beloved venetian dish:
sardeinsaor
insalata
risotto
milanese
pannacotta
All prepared by yours truly – recipes on request 😉

• eating out & getting drunk • RAw musings BLAME IT ON THE MUSE SIGHT SOUND & TASTE

Still Moonstruck … Love Crime

This is the first song Siouxsie Sioux made in 8 years (together with Brian Reitzell).
It’s for the final episode “The Wrath of the Lamb” in the 3rd season of NBC’s “Hannibal”.

Something like the opening credits from a Bond movie in reverse, as it was on during the final scene.

It sounds totally crazy but I actually felt a sort of wild joy and relief during that final fight scene. Call me creepy. But it all made sense to me in the end. This was a furious ménage à trois, salvation, deliverance and somehow a “becoming” for all three of them.

For me a perfect ending to the t. And I don’t want a season 4 anymore now. This was a good as it gets.

I hope the song is out soon.


 
Love Crime

Oh, the skies, tumbling from your eyes
So sublime, the chase to end all time
Seasons call and fall, from grace and uniform
Anatomical and metaphysical

Oh, the dye
A blood red setting sun
Rushing through my veins
Burning up my skin

I will survive, live and thrive
Win this deadly game
Love crime
Love crime
I will survive, live and thrive
I will survive, I will survive
I will

• moving pictures • play it again Sam SIGHT SOUND & TASTE

Moonstruck … part 3: a full moon, PMS & musings about my favorite full moon film

After two chocolate bars and a pizza (I’m not talking slices here) I’ve decided to occupy myself behind my desk to distract me from heading to the fridge again …
Men who claim to be “moody” have literally no idea what female hormons can do to your mind combined with a full moon … No. Idea. At. All. … Moody Shmoody.

I’m not only emptying my fridge today, but I’m also in the mood for a romantic film tonight … so dying Dolarhyde is postponed until tomorrow. Right, what’s it going to be then?

One of my favorite films, and in fact the most suitable for a full moon, is Norman Jewison’s “Moonstruck” from 1987. Jewison was already 61 when he directed it, he is famous for very different films: Doris Day comedies like “The Thrill of it All” and “Send me no Flowers”, dramas like “In the Heat of the Night” with Sidney Poitier (rewarded with 5 Oscars) and the original “The Thomas Crown Affair” with Steve McQueen – all from the 60s.

When the film came out in Germany, there was already some buzz about it – so, despite not being overly fond of Nicolas Cage and rather amused about the choice of Cher as the female lead, I went to the cinema with my SO on a lovely full moon evening (no shit) in the spring of 1988.

moonstruck

I was bewitched. It was funny. It was dramatic. The actors were so so good. (Cher, who was 40 at the time – while Cage was 23! – indeed won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her performance!)
The music! Show me another film that manages to combine old italian pop songs like “…when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie – that’s amore…” so effortless with something like Puccini’s love-duet from “La Bohème”!

The lovestory! As “Pretty Woman” came out only three years later, “Moonstruck” qualifies as a sort of pre-“Pretty Woman” for grown-ups. When I look at it from an astrological view point, it is in fact the ultimate Chiron love story. Two people who have been wounded in the past, who share a “to hell with love” attitude, one trying to live without it, the other still licking his wounds, meet and immediately “recognize” each other’s sore spots, putting their fingers exactly where it hurts the most. As they are both hot-headed Italians the result is quite explosive 😉

tumblr_mjxiexB5V51s39i26o1_500
That’s how Nicolas Cage looked like 27 years ago – not so bad, eh?

Ronny Cammareri: You ruined my life.
Loretta Castorini: That’s impossible! It was ruined when I got here! *You* ruined *my* life!

Loretta’s (Cher) mother Rose is played by the wonderful Olympia Dukakis (who also won a Golden Globe, an Oscar and a BAFTA). She is equally struggling with her marriage in a side-plot and gains some great insight into a man’s brain from her daughter’s fiancé Johnny:

Rose: Why do men chase women?
Johnny: Well, there’s a Bible story… God… God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Now maybe men chase women to get the rib back. When God took the rib, he left a big hole there, where there used to be something. And the women have that. Now maybe, just maybe, a man isn’t complete as a man without a woman.
Rose: [frustrated] But why would a man need more than one woman?
Johnny: I don’t know. Maybe because he fears death.
[Rose looks up, eyes wide, suspicions confirmed]
Rose: That’s it! That’s the reason!
Johnny: I don’t know…
Rose: No! That’s it! Thank you! Thank you for answering my question!

So, I’ll be heading out tonight like the grandfather … walking his dogs on the streets of New York City and howling at the moon with them “Piano … non tirare … ho detto di non tirare … guarda la bella luna!” (Slowly … stop pulling … I told you to stop pulling … behold the beautiful moon!)

• moving pictures SIGHT SOUND & TASTE

Just “Hanni” from the Block … documentary about Mads Mikkelsen from 2011 (arte)

Searching for “Hannibal” previews I happened upon this great documentary with Mads, that french-german tv network “arte” did in 2011. It’s almost an hour long – the camera team follows Mads and his older brother around the quarter in Kopenhagen where they grew up, he talks about his childhood (in a working-class family, without any contact to art, except radio plays), how strange it was to meet the Queen at the Bond premiere and that he still feels like “Jenny from the Block”.

I never saw his first movie “Pusher” which he did, while he was still at filmschool and many of his other earlier or Danish films – so it was interesting to see some clips here, he really is a very good and versatile actor … and those ballet moves in the studio weren’t bad either for an “old man” 😉

I always thought he might still be a last degree Scorpio (yeah well, the things “Hannibal” does to your perception 😉 ), but seeing this I’m rather convinced that he was born after 01:30pm, and in fact maybe at 02:30pm, which would give him a Sagittarius Sun and an Aries Ascendant. He seems to be quite fiery at heart, despite his Scorpio Moon 😉

Hej Mads, if you ever happen across this, I’d really like to know! 😉

So don’t be put off, because the whole documentary has a german voiceover (it really sounds rather pleasant – as far as german can sound pleasant to anglophile ears 😉 ) you can hear quite a lot of what is spoken in english or danish anyway, and someone did an english translation – the link is provided under each of the four parts on youtube.

• moving pictures SIGHT SOUND & TASTE STARGAZING

My entry for #CannibalCouture …

I had so much energy left today that I finally realised my Alana-Mason-cosplay for @Tattle_Crime ‘s #CannibalCouture contest.

cannibalcouture2

Tiny Hannibal – try to spot him – gives Alana a really bad dream here: she’s suddenly sporting Mason’s haircut (and somehow gained 30 pounds *lol*) and has to feed Will’s dogs from her cheek 😉

I tried to hide the remote for the camera in my knife hand while hoping that the piece of Prosciutto di Parma would stick to my cheek until I was finished.

*tadaa* very funny experience … and the dogs liked it too 😉

Edit august 16: this is the perfect opportunity to introduce the four-legged family members – from left:
Yuri, male Sloughi, 10 years, with me from puppyhood
Ali, female (neutered) Galgo-Greyhound-cross, 7 years, rescue from Spain, with me for 3 years now
Casimiro, male Italian Greyhound (american type), 3 years, with me from puppyhood
Siddhartha, male Italian Greyhound (european type), 9 years, adopted when he was a half year old, because he lost his former home

• moving pictures THINGS FROM DINGS

“Desire is Hunger is the Fire I breathe” … Patti Smith & The Great Red Dragon

After a lot of intense stargazing which resulted in an equal lot of blogposts over the weekend about on-screen and off-screen chemistry between Richard Armitage and several actors & directors (including Rutina Wesley!) and not least myself & “The Witches of Erebor“, I finally managed to watch Hannibal 3.10 very late last night in bed – the perfect setting in review ;-).

About two months ago in “Richard Armitage, Hannibal and the 7 Year Itch” I had “predicted” that the episode airing on august 6 might be the most intense of the series. Well, we don’t know what will happen in the next three ones, but this was undoubtedly the highlight among the first three!

This experience was topped by some intense “Kopfkino” today: when I drove to work this morning, hearing Patti Smith’s classic “Because the Night” on my random playlist, flooded my mind with vivid pictures of the episode. This really made me wonder if any of the actors had this song on his on-set-playlist – Rutina perhaps? 😉

Anyway, beautiful, magnificent song … and heartbreaking, breathtaking episode. So I’ve added the wonderful lyrics and music for everyone else to muse about it too … welcome to my “Kopfkino” 😉


 
Because The Night
(written by Bruce Springsteen & Patti Smith, 1977)

Take me now baby here as I am
Pull me close, try and understand
Desire is hunger is the fire I breathe
Love is a banquet on which we feed

Come on now try and understand
The way I feel when I’m in your hands
Take my hand come undercover
They can’t hurt you now,
Can’t hurt you now, can’t hurt you now
Because the night belongs to lovers
Because the night belongs to lust
Because the night belongs to lovers
Because the night belongs to us

Have I doubt when I’m alone
Love is a ring, the telephone
Love is an angel disguised as lust
Here in our bed until the morning comes
Come on now try and understand
The way I feel under your command
Take my hand as the sun descends
They can’t touch you now,
Can’t touch you now, can’t touch you now
Because the night belongs to lovers …

With love we sleep
With doubt the vicious circle
Turn and burns
Without you I cannot live
Forgive, the yearning burning
I believe it’s time, too real to feel
So touch me now, touch me now, touch me now
Because the night belongs to lovers …

Because tonight there are two lovers
If we believe in the night we trust
Because tonight there are two lovers …

• moving pictures • play it again Sam • RAw musings BLAME IT ON THE MUSE