Friday, July 3, 2009

Holiday in Berlin, Full-blown

So I've had the Zappa song on my brain ever since the plane landed...was it only yesterday?  The house sitters are taking care of the cats High Atop The Potter Building (and probably drinking up all our cocktail makings, but that's fine.  They deserve it).

Yes, Rando fans, you are hearing me pre-recorded this month.  And Tom Jones, just shut up about that being redundant.  I KNOW it is, but it's what folks say.  So there.

The good news is that you get to hear about what it's like for this American girl to live for a month just slightly east of where the Berlin Wall used to be, something that would have been inconceivable (not to mention downright impossible) for me as a child.  As a child, I watched movies about people who got machine gunned for sneaking over The Wall, people who were SPIES.  As a child, the kids in my neighborhood played War, which was always WWII, and they were always fighting the Krauts, a word that my parents told me was offensive, but I didn't need them to tell me that.  I knew it in my stomach.  

My grandma was German, and the first time I was ever in Germany and walked into a restaurant serving old-fashioned food, I got a nose full of a smell I hadn't smelled since Nana was alive. I was born in New York. I don't live here. I've been here three times, counting this trip.  I don't speak the language, except to say hello to cats.  But I'm from here.  I am.

Enough time has passed since the War that when you say you are of German heritage, folks think more about the "Do you want to pet my monkey?" skit on SNL than make stupid assumptions about racism and anti-Semitism.

So, that was pretty heavy, but there you have it.

And it's sort of what's happened here: big shopping centers in what used to be a no-man's zone where the Wall was.  Buildings that stood roofless after WWII now fashionably rehabbed and minus the shrapnel scars I saw even eight years ago, the last time I was back.  And a kick-ass Russian restaurant a few blocks from the temporary home of the Potter building, here in East Berlin.  No irony served with the borscht.  

I had a gin and tonic tonight, for those of you on cocktail patrol.  I wasn't into Visiting My Roots at that moment.  It's hotter than the hinges of Hell here, and nothing's AC.  But that's OK.

We were at the Berlin Zoo today, an old-fashioned people-centric place where you can actually see the animals up close and personal.  It may not be as kind as the more modern zoos where all you ever see is a tail sticking out from behind some authentic African fauna, but it was a fine place to spend a hot afternoon.  There was a blunt, honest sign in the lion house, advising visitors that the big cats will pee on them if they bother the big cats.  Lions can do that.   And in the right mood, I understand the temptation.

Think I'm going to have another sit out on the balcony and then hit the hay.  It's scary late here.

I'll keep you all posted.



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