O, Lord. We stared into our beers. This was just before the Bush administration ran our Ship of State onto the rocks. That episode also marked the first time I was ever out of the States and really REALLY embarrassed to be an American. This was before Iraq and torture, though. This was before Ken and I had our conversations about how we should just let the nice folks at the Edinburgh Festival (our next overseas jaunt) assume that we WERE Canadians, as Scots often will, hearing an accent that sounds like ours.
We spent the rest of that day in Amsterdam pretending we'd never heard of the Fourth of July.
It's different this year in Berlin.
First of all, we have a brilliant statesman for a President. OK, a lefty like me is going to have some issues with the guy, a man who's essentially a centrist Democrat who divides ideas into smart and dumb instead of left and right--but I refuse to be part of the circular firing squad that has been the American Left Wing for far too long. Loyal opposition is one thing. Essentially teaming up with the character assassins on the right without thinking about the results of policy is something else. But this is no time to get into all that.
Let's face it--Obama rocked Berlin, not too long ago. And despite whatever qualms anyone might have about him, America looks radically different over here than it used to, and it's a HUGE change for the better. For real.
Last night, we went to hear an organ concert. I happen to love organ music, even when it's not mixed into the background of an Arcade Fire track. Unfortunately, this one was a little bit like watching paint dry until the very last piece, Smetana's nationalistic "The Moldau". That rocked. And we walked back to our apartment. At Alexanderplatz, a Michael Jackson impersonator was moonwalking amidst the roses and candles at the local shrine to MJ.
Back at our apartment, a cool breeze blew in through the terrace, where we sat outside listening to Randoradio--Treavor Hasting's excellent July 4th show. It felt good to hear something American and 4th of July-ish. Treavor put on The Comedian Harmonists for us during voice breaks, and Robyn Hitchcock, of course, who defies national boundaries.
And you are not going to believe this, but I swear it's true--somewhere in this city last night, there were fireworks. We didn't see them, but we heard them for sure.
Off to Museum Island today...