Dateline: 11.27 21 Aug 1996
Location: Germany, Berlin, Alexanderplatz
Since the last episode, our dashing protagonist ate an outstanding
buffet lunch at a Greek restaurant named Samos (two thumbs up!) and then
chugged over to Malmö by boat to catch a train. Soon enough
the train itself went aboard the ferry to Germany, which o.d.p. thoroughly
explored in the company of a girl encountered 5 minutes earlier.
We pick up the plot in Berlin...
here I find myself tracing Franz Biberkopf's footsteps in what was then
going to be, and currently has been, the center of East Berlin. And it
shows, in the hideous construction that adorns one end of it, a remarkably
phallic tower with a bulb up top, the tower emerging from a white, hairy,
dirty pile of what may originally have been intended to be symbolic wings.
Here's another one of those contrast moments: to the right, fountains,
flowers, a church and pretty building; to the left, the aforementioned
Thing and concrete blocks, all of them dirty and in disrepair. But not
for long, I suspect, since the always industrious Germans have already
turned most of East Berlin into a vast construction site. Oddly enough,
I can't see any cranes from this point (then again, I am facing west) but
the noise of heavy construction equipment continues behind me. One thing
must be said about Berlin: it's big. No, make that huge. Half an hour in
a fast local train and you're still in the center of the city. But now
I have to go find a kebab joint and some postcards, I've only eaten tangerines
Burp. By luck, in search of a record shop, I would
up in the Turkish quarter of Berlin. So many kebab places that I had problems
choosing which one, "Türkiye Komünisti Partisi (Marxist-Leninist)"
posters all over the place, Turkish travel agencies, barbers, supermarkers
and not an Aryan in sight, except a few of us tourists (and I'll be damned
if I know how they ended up here). I just had a slobberific falafel,
3.50 DM and the best lunch I've had in... well, 24 hours, but you know
what I mean.
Another park: this one a little unnamed oasis of untamed
greenery near Potsdamer Platz, surrounded by construction equipment on
3 sides. I just visited E-Werk at Wilhelmstraße, finding it was quite
a chore. In the middle of an industrial wasteland of dirt, grime and the
occasional charred hulk of a building, I would've given up if I hadn't
a parking lot where one wall was covered with an odd profusion of flyers.
A few suspiciously well-kepmt longhairs whizzed past on bikes, so I decided
to continue my investigation. Walking into the courtyard, mellow ambient
dub from a little café was heard, and the fellow who accosted me
informed me that yes, this was indeed Berlin's and possibly the world's
most famous club E-Werk, as proclaimed by the one-inch-high stencilled
letters on a door to a basement. Not quite what I expected, I must say,
although the phenomenon is international (viz. Helsinki's Kaapelitehdas)
and intelligent, since it keeps the masses out. At least in theory.
The day's budget
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