General: October 2005 Archives

just say no

In the U.S. we can't get very excited about protesting our outrageous invasion and destruction of virtually powerless nations and peoples who present no threat to us whatsoever, but in Germany a good many citizens have always questioned whether it's moral even to posess an army in the first place.

Today is the 50th anniversary of Germany's very controversial decision to re-arm after the Second World War. Barry and I happened upon this spirited demonstration marching down Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse tonight. The sign reads something like:

50 years of Bundeswehr
are 50 years too many


BERLIN - Soldiers held a torch-lit parade late Wednesday outside the Reichstag parliament building to mark the modern German military's 50th birthday, accompanied by protests with anti-war activists shouting "Soldiers are murderers".

. . . .

Police said that 1,200 protesters turned out for the event. Some scuffled with police and threw stones, but no major violence was reported.


It's a very complicated site for me. It's how we can find our way back to our apartment from anywhere in the city, it's where we joined our friend Dan for his sorta-rehearsal lunch soon after we arrived, it's the highest thing in the city, it was a point of pride for a people who had so little in material things to get excited about, it's kind of outrageous, especially down around the base of the tower, it's a wonderful retro entertainment machine, and, all in all, it's kinda neat. It's the Fernsehturm above Alexanderplatz, as seen at dusk tonight.


I found a number of these small gilt paper bombers wheat-pasted on the lower walls of the former Berlin Postfuhramt. The 1881 building on Oranienburger Strasse is used today for occasional art installations.

ducks in the moat

Yesterday I wrote that I hoped to put up some pictures of townscapes we've seen outside Berlin. I'm sorry but they will have to wait until I return to New York. We're both too busy just being here to do much posting.

I can easily show these two ducks however. They were lording it over the quiet moat surrounding the beautiful early rococo Schloss Rheinsberg, Frederick the Great's home before he succeeded his father as king.

I never approach a moat without thinking of T.H. White and the visit of Merlyn and the Wart to the moat of the Castle of the Forest Sauvage. Unfortunately I didn't see a perch yesterday.

CORRECTION: Our friend Kate, writing from Antwerp, tells me that they are probably Coots, or Waterhoentjes, which means they actually aren't ducks at all.




We drove into the country this morning through the unexceptional, but totally charming landscape of the Mark Brandenburg, the historic core of the country, Prussia, which became the modern German state. It rained most of the day, but in these circumstances that somehow made it even more delicious to be alive.

I guess this is our fall foliage tour, but there's no mistaking it for New England.

The view of the ancient village seen in the distance in the top photo is balanced by the sight of the very modern windmill generator on the other side of the road. We had originally stopped the car to look at the yellow flowering plants [unidentified, and not so yellow in the image] and the colorful brush between the field and the road.

Tomorrow I hope to get to show some town images.

Barry, sitting uneasily

The beautiful red marble which covers the pillars, every wall and even the benches inside the Mohrenstrasse stop on the number 2 U-Bahn has an interesting heritage. It once decorated the walls of Adolf Hitler's lordly Reichskanzlei [Imperial Chancellery], which had stood just a block away. The DDR officials apparently saw no reason to waste resources while rebuilding the transit system after the war.

and I love the idea of a circus, not least for the posters

the waves of the Spree below the station at Schiffbauerdamm, just as it started to rain





We visited the twice-weekly organic market in Prenzlauer Berg this afternoon. It rained lightly for much of the day today, so the light in these pictures is just a little exotic. The vegetables at the top on the left look especially weird, but I swear the color is very accurate. I have no idea what the beautiful roots might be. I can't read the sign. This particular stall seemed to specialize in produce from Israel.

The second photo should give some idea of how gorgeous the produce was. This cabbage and broccoli looked unbelievably perfect, and almost fresher than they would have while still in the ground.

The third image is that of the busy exchange at another stall, and the last offers a peek at the crowd and the ambience of the immediate neighborhood of Käthe-Kollwitz-Platz. The easiest way to describe it to someone familiar with New York would be to say it's not unlike Brooklyn's Park Slope - only different.



When was the last time you saw a Goggomobil? For me it must have been 1961, or maybe a couple of years later. This one was spotted this afternoon on Knaackstrasse, in Prenslauerberg. The sunroof isn't stock, and it's the only glass on the car that isn't a flat plane.

ceiling fixture in entrance porch of office wing

detail of ceiling in great hall

We had about an hour to kill before the Lachenman/Nono/Stockhausen concert in the gorgeous Konzerthaus this evening, so Barry and I took the U-Bahn to fabled Tempelhof Flughafen. It was dark when we arrived, so I thought it would be best to try only for some pretty abstract images.

construction scaffolding below the rails

the trains roll through while the station rises around them

They're building a great railway station in Berlin today, while in the U.S. they're working to dismantle what little remains of what was once a great passenger rail system

Barry and anonymous entertaining Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt in the Hamburger Bahnhof this afternoon

seen on the edge of the pavement across from our Wohnung this morning


We're staying on Rosa Luxemburg-Platz, only steps from the national headquarters of the PDS, or rather of its successor, Die Linke. I've worn my very red button every time I've gone out, and it seems it escapes the attention of almost no one here. [in the U.S. I sometimes think it's invisible]

Anyway, a few days ago an open-faced youth stopped us a hundred meters from our door to ask if we knew where the PDS office was. I was silly-proud to point him in the right direction, and it was near their building that I spotted this poster this morning.

This is a very political people and they will not be deceived this time. It's my own country that I'm very worried about.

FOLLOWUP: It happened. Everybody marched. No one was hurt. There were eggs thrown (by the anti-antis). The counter-demonstrators outnumbered the neo-nazis three to one. The police outnumbered both. There were ten arrests however, none of them of partisans from the extremist right.





pushing up green

, Hans Haacke's conceptual and somewhat controversial contribution to the Reichstag, installed in the interior court to the north, is very visible from the roof of this amazing building, at least to those with a bit of curiosity.

Outside, the dedication has remained unchanged since 1916, when it was added to the west front:

on a clear day you can see them all

above the inclined plane

We spent hours this afternoon at Berlin's Jewish Museum. I don't think the impact of architecture has ever brought me almost to tears so easily. Yes, the city and the nature of the collection has set the visitor up for it, but I had not yet gotten beyond the ramps inside Daniel Libeskind's masterpiece when I had to stop and catch my breath.

I had expected much, but I was given more.

groom and groom seated inside the Neuer Salon of the Berlin Mitte Standesamt this afternoon.

Dan and Adrian confront the Beamte

Laurence was invited by the presiding official to go with his camera anywhere he wished. He did.

It was the funniest wedding I've ever been to.

Dan said it certainly must be the most documented. Everyone had a camera and half of those were in video mode. One hour later, at the lunch following the ceremony, Laurence presented each of the grooms with a CD including hundreds of his raw stills alone. I think the presentation itself was documented.

We enjoyed the day in the company of wonderful people in a wondrous mood in a wonder of a city. Tonight we wish them all good fortune.

walls of our borrowed apartment, in a 1929 Hans Poelzig building, disappear near the ceiling

inside Der ehemaliges Palast der Republik, a small carnival on the Platz outside

the streets below are even more cool


This noble old building lies directly west across the Spree from Museum Island, in the midst of the most heavily touristed part of Berlin. It still shows the scars of the battle for the city after sixty years.

Just steps away from it to the south, another veteran of the war has been totally repaired and restored. The many holes left by large and small-arms fire exchanged in April and May of 1945 have been filled by stone cosmeticians, who have painstakingly simulated the subtle textures of the original rusticated stone on the surfaces of their plugs. See the image below, taken hours later than that above, as we left the Pergamon Museum in l'heur bleu.


seen from the Strassenbahn haltestelle across from our apartment

celebrating [whatever] near the Fernsehturm tonight

the new East Berlin

youth dallying at the schnell Imbiss, age rushing on

just testing

My old camera, a tiny digital, the DimageX, recently had to be sent in for repairs again. I really was planning to get a grown-up camera anyway, but the combination of immediate need and an impending trip to Berlin finally triggered my springing for the NIKON D70s which took the picture above.

It doesn't fit into my pocket [on some days it will just have to stay home], but there will be compensations. See this earlier image taken with the miniature.

It's a shame, but I haven't had the time to even look at the manual or the DVD guide I bought. I've also not yet even tried to figure out how to use another new purchase, our Photoshop software.

Basically I want pictures, not gadgets. I don't want to be too distracted by the machinery, but I know I'm going to have to do some homework to get what I want out of this magic box.

For a while longer it's going to be just point and shoot, but I am going to pack that camera manual.

This page is an archive of entries in the General category from October 2005.

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