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

post-moonstruck … *spoilers* now that the Dragon spread his wings one last time … what is Richard Armitage becoming?

I just finished watching the Hannibal season 3 finale. And it’s funny, but I don’t wish for a season 4 anymore, I’m ok. Honestly. Not because it was bad, but because they’ve finished it beautifully. I don’t need to know more. Sometimes the best stories should continue in your head – this is one of them.

It’s a bit like in Goldman’s “Princess Bride” where they are riding into the sunset, while he is about to die for sure. It doesn’t matter. Siouxsie’s song, Will & Hannibal’s final understanding, the Dragon ‘flown away’ on bloody wings, Bedelia waiting – that’s as good as it gets.

hannibal-1
hannibal-3
(my screengrabs)

The more pressing question for me is now, what Richard Armitage’s ‘becoming’ will be like. Of course they’ve wrapped Hannibal almost half a year ago, but the real impact of this piece of work will hit now, when viewers are condemning or celebrating the final result.

In december 2014, before I knew that he would take on that particular role, I wrote in a letter to him:

letter-from-dec2

When the announcement of his participation as Dolarhyde in Hannibal was made, I was genuinely happy about it. This finally looked like a coming-to-terms with a darker side than he’d experienced before. But because a large part of the fandom showed quite some lack of understanding for his take on this gory and disturbing role, I felt compelled to write something of an astrological explanation. It was published by Servetus (thanks again) on her ‘me + richard armitage‘ blog on february 9 in 2015 and contained this part:

why-ra-is-fd

(The overdue review, containing his corrected birthtime is to be found here -> Why Richard Armitage IS Francis Dolarhyde … and you should love him anyway.)

So, as he obviously felt compelled to have his teeth fixed after “North & South” and also another prominent part of his physique about 2 years ago – I’ll quote a well-wisher on this “to look a bit more conventionally handsome” – I wonder if he feels compelled to continue “improving” his looks after playing a disfigured serial killer, whom an army of fans still kept swooning about? I hope not.

Despite promoting “Moonstruck” yesterday, I ended up by rewatching “The Artist”. Jean Dujardin won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, the actor’s prize at Cannes and whatnot for his role. He is certainly charming but in no way “conventionally handsome” – his teeth are crooked far worse than Armitage’s ever were and the nose is also on the larger side. And – as it’s a silent movie – the only two words he gets to say in “The Artist” at the very end, are uttered with the most off-putting french accent “Wiz pleasure.”

dujardin-the-artist

So, Richard, here’s some serious advice from this crazy stargazing-girl: you are currently experiencing very prominent/life-altering transit aspects. Pluto, “the transformer”, is squaring your natal Chiron (a lot about his role in your career/life is to be found here and here) while Uranus, “the enlightener”, is also moving closer to Chiron again (you felt his full impact during the whole run of the Crucible last year).

At the same time, transiting Saturn is moving through your fourth house (of family / private life) challenging your “big dreams” in this part and equally challenging your Sun in your first house (of beginnings / our personality / our “heart”) – all of this together is asking you to face your fears. Fears of being not handsome or successfull enough and the like. And also to overcome them and accept yourself as “perfect as you are now”. As Hannibal put it “The particular body you currently occupy is trivial.” – what you can achieve with your mind, is important.

I want to see you in more such intense roles, I want to see films or plays directed by you, I want to see Thorin’s secret diary published – whatever – surprise me, your fans and yourself by your becoming!

• moving pictures • RAw musings BLAME IT ON THE MUSE SIGHT SOUND & TASTE STARGAZING

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

Moonstruck … part 2: a full moon, PMS & crazy theories about Richard Armitage

In about 5 hours the moon will be full. Since I woke up this morning I’ve been trying hard not to follow her example:

So only coffee but no breakfast before walking the dogs!
Ha!
The breakfast after walking the dogs however included two big slices of toast, soaked in maple sirup, with custard and blueberries.
Shit.
OK. I need a distraction. Pronto, because the fridge is full.
And. I. Still. Feel. Hungry.

So I played the viola until the fingertips of my right hand felt liked I’ve touched an electric fence and my bow arm threatened to fall off.

A vivid image of cheese pops up in my head…
Shut up brain, this is not going to happen.

So I sat down and played the piano for about half an hour – found out that in the first of my old sheet music books, which my dad gave back to me last weekend, there’s a note from my grandma: I’ve successfully finished that first part in January 1980 … awwww … sweet 🙂 … surely it’s time to have some bread and cheese now?

OK. There is only a small rest of a franconian “Obatzder” left … if you define small as in “an inch high on your toast” …
Bugger.

I need a distraction that involves more exercise. It’s too hot to take the dogs for another walk, but … hot … yeah ok I have some watering to do out in the garden, so shlepping the big watering pot around might qualify. A bit of digging in the dirt won’t hurt either.

One hour later … walking over to the fridge. Opening it. Taking a good look around. Closing it. Standing in front of it, looking hard at the closed door.

That won’t do. Grabbing the fags and heading to the terrace … normally I don’t smoke before sundown, but at least this will add no weight. An image of a stupid old anti-smoking-ad drifts through my head: Smoking makes you thin! (Illustrated by a skeleton.)
Yeah. Right. Whatever.

Sitting in the sun and dragging on the second Gauloise, I start wondering about the Armitage obviously channeling his inner hermit [sic!] since his birthday. What if …? What if I really am right about him playing John the Baptist in Yael’s Salomé in Washington from mid-october to mid-november (heading straight to south africa afterwards)? So he might be preparing for rehearsals right now. But because they haven’t published anything about the cast yet, he obviously can’t tweet about it? Losing his head would be a nice twist in his ongoing role-deaths.

After Yael tweeted on february 5, about her new production – I googled if she had cast someone already. On Backstage.com I found casting calls. I never saw “Salomé” on stage, but that strange Ken Russell movie, somewhere back in the 80s. As I was familiar with the story it struck me immediately, that they were searching for every leading role but “John the Baptist”. So I assumed, that she had found her baptist already 😉
 
salome_farber_feb10_2015

This was her latest tweet: an article about two new adaptions of an ancient [sic!] legend and here is a link to the play itself.

Well, we’ll know soon enough.
And I can’t believe that this post took me only an hour and I’m hungry again.

This is going to be a looong day.

• RAw musings BLAME IT ON THE MUSE