Monday, February 28, 2011

The Last of the Mohicans

I made it back to L.A. just in time for a very boring Academy Awards presentation — I hope next time they pick Stephen Colbert as a host. And, the King's Speech? Huh? A movie about a stuttering monarch? Why not a movie about Prince Charles getting his ears done?

About the Tea Party; there is one very interesting thing: Judging from talks, and looking at badges it seems to be a movement that is, at least, 75 percent German-American, if not 90 percent. And it sure feels like visiting my relatives when I was a kid, especially the part when my grandfather warned me about brown-skinned Gipsies coming into Germany to commit crimes. Other than that, those folks don't have a lot in common with the speakers who were mainly Washington insiders pretending to be farmboys.

Not all people where white; though, I met a Native American who joined the Tea Party because he is against too much immigration. Well, better late than never.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tea for the Tillerman

I made it to Phoenix, to a Tea Party Convention - very interesting. It's basically older white people telling each other over and over again that America is the greatest country in the world — or it would be, if it would return to the original Constitution.

I personally would be fine with that: no taxes, no immigration laws for white people, and Manhattan would still be affordable. They also want to abolish Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, no problem for me as well, I have health care in Germany. I just hope they keep cars. I love my little red beetle. It could make 180 miles per hour, which is, of course illegal, although I don't recall anything in the original Constitution limiting my freedom to speed. Maybe I should volunteer for a speech. Or maybe not.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Black Sheep

Welcome to Hollywood! I arrived in Los Angeles, Berlin's partner city in the USA, just in time for the Oscars, and I spent all day climbing up to to the Hollywood sign; not by foot, of course, I am over thirty-four. No, I was part of a guided tour for journalists, given by City Councilman Tom LaBonge who might, as I also learned today, run for mayor of Los Angeles (in two years). The Hollywood sign is astonishingly high, inaccessible and flat, you can by no means sit in it and watch L.A. You can see L.A. through the letters if you climb high enough, though.

This time I decided to rent a car; turns out you are not that faster after all as opposed to taking a bus. First, I managed to get lost while trying to enter a freeway, then I got stuck in an area with very worrisome street names — Slauson! Florence! - then I got lost again upon leaving said freeway, all whilst trying to use my Blackberry as a GPS. Also, they have a lot of traffic in L.A. I rented a red beetle. I got upgraded since I only paid economy, then again, Alamo charged me fifty bucks for a full tank.

Meanwhile, at home in Berlin, everybody is mad at the former shooting start Klaus-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the German defense minister who, as it was just found out, has plagiarized his Ph. D. He had to give back his doctor title and might well loose his job. My hunch is, this it not all that uncommon in politics. American papers are not covering it yet. Maybe their reporters are stuck in traffic.

More tomorrow, I am really tired.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Devil's Spy Post

Berlin has a new tourist attraction: The former Cold War spy post at Teufelsberg (Devil's Mountain) in the Grunewald district. The facility looks like moon station from a Sci-Fi-set from the 1950s, a futuristic ensemble of white domes and towers. It has been used by the U.S. Army to listen to Soviet radio traffic until the Wall came down. But since the Americans left, it became pretty decrepit. Now a historian, Andreas Jüttemann, gives guided tours on the weekends (call 01149-30-804 033 90).

According to Berlin newspapers, the area has been sold to developers quite some time ago; to an architect from Cologne. The architect is squabbling with city authorities about what should be happening there for years. The city wants the area to be declared as a forest, the architect, however, is filing for landmark protection for the buildings. He is planning apartments, a café, and a spy museum within the towers.

The last few weeks, Teufelsberg has been run over by curious people, so they have added new tours. Obviously, Berliners have sneaked into the area previously even without those tours, judging from the graffiti. The last time Teufelsberg was used, by the way, they did a vampire movie there.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tear Down This Street Sign

Berlin is divided again, this time it's about Ronald Reagan. Should the Gipper, who would have turned hundred a few days ago, get his own street in Berlin, named after him?

This is what the CDU wants, the governing party in Germany. Secretary of Defense Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has already criticized the city government for not pursuing it. Berlin's City Hall, however, is not that thrilled, and neither are quite a few Berliners. Berlin is governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Post-Communists who resent Reagan for his policies — Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iran-Contra, Bitburg, Lebanon, and Afghanistan where Reagan allied himself with the Mujahedin. When Reagan visited Berlin in the 1980s, a million people took the street against him.

More importantly, most Berliners don't even believe that Reagan took down the Wall by giving that famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate, no more than David Hasselhoff did. They credit either the Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev, or of course, themselves. After all, Berliners in the East stood up against the Stasi and the GDR, risking their lives, Berliners in the West took down the Wall with their very hands and hammer to sell the pieces. So a SPD politician already suggested honoring the citizens of East Berlin instead.

In addition, naming a street after Reagan is legally difficult; the city has a guideline to basically honor women in street names because, right now, they are underrepresented. So the daily Die Welt came up with a compromise: How about naming a street after Nancy Reagan? Another one could be named after Raisa Gorbachev, that should leave everybody satisfied.


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