Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Berlin Wall Today.

Finally, our new book on the Berlin Wall is out and on Amazon. It is The Berlin Wall Today, a full-color picture guide of what is left of the Berlin Wall (not that much, but more than you'd think).  I have walked that trail with my very feet, carrying a camera, so I can assure you, everything you see is actually there.

Amazon does not sell the book yet. So far, they have only put up the page. However, I sure hope that this is going to happen any time soon, say, next week. At that point, the book should also be available at Also, a German edition is in preparation. I‘ll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Evil Umpire

Wow! That was the greatest game probably nobody in the USA cared about: women soccer! Right now, Germany is hosting the Soccer World Championship for women, and the U.S. just won! Against Brazil, one of the favorites; not the finals, though, but America will be in the semi-finals. So there is a good chance the USA will win the World Cup.

It was an amazing game, with penalty shots, penalty shots wrongfully given, fouls, extensions, in the end, the USA was leading 5 to3 after more than two hours. Thousands of fans had congregated to Dresden, and they are now, I assume, celebrating. I would not know, first I am in Berlin, second, I know next to nothing about soccer: However, I have an American family from Iowa hanging out in my living room who was watching that very nail-biting game. If you are interested in details, check ESPN.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Does Berlin Love You?

Tourists love Berlin, but does Berlin love them back? Especially those young tourists that stay in cheap hostels, and hang out in sidewalk bars until long after midnight, and, when the bar closes, still hang out on the street? Drinking straight from the bottle? And some of those bars never close, of course.

Some Berliners start to get a little grumpy, especially in these residential areas that have been singled out as the new in-places. One of those is Admiralbrücke in Kreuzberg, a small bridge, for pedestrians only, where people from Australia, Italy, Brazil and the good ole USA gather, and party, and play music, and drink until 4 am. The people who live there ain't that fond of this kind of international flair. So now, the police is organizing some sort of mediation, somewhat tricky if you are dealing with a new batch of tourists every day, if you ask me.

Likewise unhappy are the residents of Simon-Dach-Straße in Friedichshain, a quiet residential street that has turned into bar row. I don't even know why. It was boring twenty years ago. When I walked by an apparel store in Prenzlauer Berg yesterday, they had T-shirts saying "Welcome to Berlin. Now go home". In English.

I can somewhat relate; recently, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a crowd of drunken Canadians on the street. How do I know that? They were singing "Oh, Canada." Anyway, Friedrichhain is now debating to zone out new hostels. So, if you need a drink in Berlin, you better hurry up.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mamma Mia, John Wayne

Did Michele Bachman flub when she confused John Wayne, the Cowboy from Winterset, Iowa, with John Wayne Garcy, the Klownkilla from Waterloo, Iowa? Not really, She was probably not aware of Garcy. This, on the other hand, leads to the question whether she knows Waterloo, her assumed hometown, at all. And if not, why did she start her campaign there in the first place as opposed to, say, St. Cloud, the town she actually represents other than to score points for the Iowa Caucus? Then again, isn’t scoring points for the Iowa Caucus what this is all about?

Where was I? Right, John Wayne, née Marion Robert Morrison, the actor. So, John Cowboy Wayne was in fact born in Iowa, albeit about hundred and fifty miles away from Waterloo, whereas John Clownkiller Wayne was born in Chicago, Illinois. Not that much of a homeboy, either.

What bothers me more, however, is that Bachmann did not mean to refer to John Wayne at all. Wayne was a womanizing, twice divorced chain-smoking Hollywood actor who did not enlist in World War II, who had a severe drinking problem (after all, he was an Irishman) and an early love for Socialism albeit, later in life, he switched to White Supremacy. What Bachmann was referring to is the characters played by John Wayne; the quintessential Indian shooting, waggon-circling American cowboy. Quite a difference!

Actors do confuse themselves with their characters from time to time — Joey Trebbiani who believed that he was actually Doctor Drake Ramory comes to mind, or Ronald Reagan, who played a GI in WWII propaganda movies. Later, he told an Israeli Premier that he had personally helped liberate Auschwitz in, I assume, Burbank. CA.

Basically, confusing John Wayne with John Wayne is like confusing Tina Fey with Sarah Palin. Speaking of which, I met Sarah Palin as well, in Pella, Iowa, a dutch settlement and the blondest town I‘ve ever been, including Groningen. She attracted a lot of fans who all could see themselves voting for Michele Bachmann.

On a different, but really not so different note, Bachmann started her campaign in a town called Waterloo. That might be a bad omen. Or, maybe, she meant to evoke the Abba song about that girl getting married on a Greek Island.


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