Here I am in Berlin, procrastinating doing the blog as the dial up connection makes it such a task. Also, the mood I slip into once I’m here, well, I am afraid it is contagious and it’s not something you would want to catch. Berlin Blues. Some things make me happy here, like sitting here and watching the ‘Making of Dark Side of the Moon’ dvd with Jasmine or taking Lucy for a walk, seeing old friends like Andrea, Petra, Sabine, Asita or Jaquline.
I am just over this place and yearn to be back in NYC. I get stuck in some kind of no mans land living two lives. When I come back to Berlin, it takes a while to get my foot back in the door for most things, you know getting back in the loop. People tend to scorn your for leaving them (be it customers, the press, friends, promoters, pets, everyone!). Then, after a few weeks when the ball starts rolling along nicely again, I leave back to NYC and when I arrive there, again, it takes me a while to get the ball rolling there again. It goes on and on, back and forth. Having one life and one bunch of worries is usually overwhelming for a person. Imagine having two lives. I sometimes think I have more than two. I do enjoy the fast paced air of it all, I would die of boredom if I didn’t live on the edge like I do, but the multi-tasking it takes to run two or more lives gives you insomnia.
Flight over was hell as usual. From my door in NYC to my door in Berlin it is always a 15-hour journey. When I get to my flat, it smells strange, like any empty place smells after being abandoned for months. I get hit with a stack of bills; bills that I never knew could exist (paying for radio waves for each TV and Radio you own, trash man charges, for example). I realize every time I come here, that Berlin is in dire straights. It is literally going out of business. Everywhere you look, shops have closed down, and restaurants have gone out of business. This town is so broke they can’t pay attention. So they keep raising the rents, raising prices (they pay for a liter of gas what Americans pay for a gallon) and they pay between 30% to 50% taxes (the richer you are, the more taxes they take).
All of this and top it off with miserable moods all around you. Service in shops and restaurants are beyond snotty. Even if you walk out of your house in a good mood, you will probably come home pissed off or sad, I am NOT joking. Maybe it’s the area of town I live in. I live in Wilmersdorf, which is know as a well-off area and it could be that money makes people uptight, snotty, bitchy, and hard. After all, it’s easier to be a prick if you are rich than poor right? Poor folks pretty much have to be nice.
I have always liked this area (Wilmersdorf and Gruenewald) because it is sparkling clean, safe and quiet. But the folks round here are judgmental snobs, quick to bitch, moan and gawk at you. Even the cashiers at the video shops are ruthless wankers, blowing cigarette smoke in your face as they yell at you in front of other customers. Yes, they smoke in video shops, in fact, all shops. I find it hard to find a spot in Berlin where they don’t smoke actually. Not sure if you can smoke in church, haven’t been in a while 😉 Oh how they LOATHE Americans here, they fucking HATE us here. If I wasn’t well known here, I would go around saying I was Canadian just to get some peace on the street. All of their anti-Bush anger gets thrown in your face repeatedly (and loudly). I will get a shirt printed “I didn’t vote for Bush, so back the fuck off”.
True, I am on the rag, but still, these feelings are legit. I always compare both countries over and over again, trying to make sense of it all. Germans make the best bread and cars, but they are grumpy and the men refuse to acknowledge a pretty woman. They are always right and never say they are sorry. However, Americans make the best films and TV shows and love to laugh and live for the moment. BUT, we are loud and invented the term “scammer”. So, you can see, both places have their ups and downs. I laugh the most in the USA though. It enriches you to live in another country, but then again it confuses you and puts you in an eternal state of feeling like a stranger. You learn so much and grow so wise you feel you have outgrown your hometown but then again you never fit into the other country completely. The Grateful Dead have a song “Feel like a stranger” that hits the nail right on the head.
Being in NYC though makes it all seem ok. No matter what kind of freak you have evolved into, you fit in just fine there. In Berlin, not so. Each section of town has their dress code. If you dress too nice in Kreuzberg, you will get a “oh, you think you are special huh? Hand over your money then”. If you wear ripped jeans or snearkers in Wilmersdorf, people will stop talking and look down their noses at you and STARE you down. No point in me going over each section unless you are planning a vacation here.
I haven’t had sex or karaoke for too long now, so everything looks even worse then it is. Sunday, however, there is a big karaoke party being thrown for me in honor of my birthday, so I will get to sing soon and have a laugh. The magazine I write for here the Ex-Berliner is throwing the party and Berlins best karaoke DJ, ‘Karaoke Monster’ will be the DJ, but there will also be a band, you can sing with the band backing you. They will rotate, DJ karaoke/band karaoke and so on.
Feel Like A Stranger
Inside you’re burnin’ I can see clear through
Your eyes tell more than you mean them to
Lit up and flashin’ like the reds and blues
Out there on the neon avenue
Well I, feel like a stranger (feel like a stranger)