Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I didn't buy a camera for nothing, part three--decorating special

(Left: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the vainest of them all? A mirror fit for a very flamboyant queen)

Today has been an interesting day. Of all the photos posted here, there are none of the most important place I visited; namely, the U.S. consulate. With all the cameras and police and security and Marines, one gets the feeling that taking pictures is not so welcome. We've all heard of the would-be terrorist whose ruthless, murderous plot was aborted because some fucking nosy meddling busybody responsible citizen alerted the FBI that an "Aaaa-rab looking gennilman" was taking pictures at Disneyland or of interesting architecture at Citibank or something.

I noticed that the two security officers working the front booth were both black--not African-American, just African. I couldn't help but wonder if they were put there because no one else would take the job, or because the powers-that-be didn't want to risk wasting perfectly good white lives in the case of a bombing or shooting. Of course the diplomat in me has a slightly less race-card pulling theory, that maybe black guys are just the biggest, baddest, scariest motherfuckers in the world and that any terrorist wanting to start trouble would take one look at these guys and beat a hasty retreat back to Syria. Either way you (I) look at it, putting your only two black employees in the way of danger you yourself are not willing to face smacks of Vietnam-era recruiting and age-old mercenary tactics. Put some Russian dudes in there, they already know how to use automatic weapons, you only have to pay them in vodka and they don't live past 55 anyway.

But to be sure, middle-eastern people are nuts. Just check out the kind of pointless shit they put in their houses. What is the purpose of this thing? I mean it's pretty, but no one is fooled into believing it's wrought of pure gold and adorned with precious stones. You think it's a store that sells decorations for restaurants but you're wrong. This is the kind of mess that Ahmed Q. Muhammed has in his house. Right next to the eyebrow wax and goat cheese.

Someone really has to tell these people that the days of Byzantium are gone, gone gone. Now the only people who over-decorate are those who are overcompensating for a lack of actual wealth i.e. residents of trailer parks, prostitutes, working-to-middle class black people, etc.

The Arabic writing means something like "Super Imperial Royal Gilted Home Decor For Those of Discriminating Taste."

You think you're just on a train to another broken-down part of the city, but you're wrong.

You are actually on your way to ancient Rome. Or wherever those kind of columns hail from. Evidently it's not just Turks and blacks who overdecorate. Columns in the subway station?

Super 70s. Love this train line all the way to Rathaus Spandau and one day (hopefully soon) will make a photo special out of all the crazy 70s-style stations.

Even the graff kids have love for Bäääääärlin (Berlin's mascot is a bear)

Gluing that stuff takes dedication and effort. This is what I call good vandalism.

Random pointless shot. Jannowitzbrücke.

Aaahh, Görlitzer Park. It looks so innocent and green here, but this is the very same park I wrote about in a different blog. Just because they reseeded the grass doesn't mean that about twenty feet to the right of this frame there aren't about sixteen dudes waiting to sell drugs to little kids. True story.

He's so sweet and clearly loves his photo being taken.

That's a bit better, you just have to catch him off his guard.

I was like "get yr dirty fawkin feet off me" and he was like "my feet are cleaner than your mouth" and I was like "fuck yo feet nikka!"

His feet evidently think they're funny.

Two things come to my attention. 1) I need a new jacket, because I am wearing this one in pretty much every photo I've been in within the last year. 2) I need to quit smoking because holy shit will you lookit that smoking toof.

Looks nice, doesn't it? A calm and quiet place where residents of our buildings can sit and listen to the birds chirping. Unfortunately people who live in our building can sit on their patios and do the same thing, so the majority of people who sit on our lovely benches are loiterers casing the joint and/or pissing in our bushes. They do however know "who the fuck I am" and when they see me coming they know there is going to be trouble.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not even my mama calls me out like you do.

A girl I was thick as thieves with in middle and high school recently contacted me over the Facebook. For the sake of anonymity we'll call her Shawna.

Shawna was one of those friends that girls have before they've "found" themselves. You know the kind. Bossy, domineering, manipulative, tells you what to do and who you can hang out with. Completely runs the show. I don't know why I tolerated/needed this sort of relationship as a girl (in adulthood I am very much more a leader than a follower). Maybe I was just desperate for friends. But I do know that I'm not the only one who had a girl friend who acted like an abusive boyfriend, except without the "let me just put the head in"-type talk.

She dictated where we went, who we went with, and how we got there. She did not approve of any of my other friends, although she was allowed to bring new people into the fold. I was not allowed to disagree with her about anything. She considered different viewpoints dealbreakers and I quickly learned to keep my opinions to myself unless they conformed to hers. I was not allowed to listen to hip-hop in her presence because anything played by KUBE 93 was made for and by idiots. I did learn to like a lot of indie and grunge music, but my heart was never really in it. When I got a couple of new close girlfriends in high school it put a strain on the friendship. One day, she dropped in unexpectedly at my apartment (yes I had an apartment in high school but that's a story for another day) while Lara was over there, and I did my best to keep Shawna out of the room where she was sitting. Shawna, like a suspicious lover, sensed that something was amiss and sought out the interloper. When she saw that I'd been "cheating" on her, she left abruptly, saying, "Oh. I see how it is." She walked out the door, concluding the friendship, five years of almost constant companionship over in an instant.

Fast forward ten years. This girl finds me on the Facebook, and starts claiming that she'd missed me, had wanted me to be in her wedding, had been looking for me, etc. I found it a little weird because she also let it slip that she'd known where I worked for three years, a shop in the very very public Pike Place Market... she could have come and said wassup at any point... but didn't. I digress. So we were chatting and that, catching up, and she starts asking questions:

--So do you listen to rock anymore?

--Not so much... I'm really into [insert hip hop artist here] at the moment.

--That is so sad, I thought I had converted you!

--No, it's not sad, it's fucking awesome, and judging people because of their music preferences is bullshit. I don't have time for that mess.

That put a hitch in her giddyup.

I became a fan of gay marriage on the Facebook, and a couple of days later (completely coincidentally) cut my hair in a dykey fashion and posted pictures of it in an album entitled "Super Gay Haircut", and set my status to "Odessa ______ cut her hair and now just looks g-a-y."

Shawna comes around talking about, "I find it funny that you are a fan of gay marriage, but are using the word gay in a derogatory manner. Old habits die hard, huh?" <-- this, on my wall for everyone to see.

I ripped her a new one for that. You're not going to call me out for being a hypocrite after I haven't seen hide nor hair of you in 10 years and you have no fucking clue what you're talking about. I am more empathetic towards gays than most people are toward themselves but you wouldn't know anything about it because I don't know you anymore. It's really just not going to go down like that.

Time and again I come into contact with people who want to call you out in front of other people for some ole bullshit. Why is that? What are you trying to achieve?
"You're so competitive."
"You always do _______, don't you?"
"Really? I've never seen you do ______" <--because you're with me 24/7, right?
"You really don't like so-and-so, do you?" <-- I am allowed to not believe everyone is a fucking saint. You can fake that funk if you want to.
"Everything for you is black and white."
"You're one of those people who.... [insert brainless generalization here]"
"But you would think that, because you come from America." or "You're really patriotic, aren't you?"
"You don't want any more? It's because you're trying to lose weight, isn't it."

I wish I had the audacity to say every little thing than came into my stupid empty head. Instead, I blog about it ;) but seriously, why is it always people who don't know you very well who think they are experts on You and want to call you out using absolutist terms like "always" and "never"? Who claim that you are "one of those people who"? Who end their accusations with "don't you?" and "aren't you?" as if you're just gonna go, "awww, you got me. I really do kick puppies, you're right." I find it the rudest, most ignorant thing EVAR.

For example, if I'm sitting with someone who is a nervous and neurotic mess, the last thing I'm going to say is "wow, you look really uncomfortable right now." Or if I'm with someone who is overweight and refusing unnecessary food, I'm not going to poke a finger into their belly roll and go "it's because of that, isn't it?" What would give me the right?

I think everyone should pipe down and keep it to himself when it comes to dissecting the motives and agendas of other people, because most of the time you're wrong, and the rest of the time you're just being a presumptuous dick. Next time I get called out I should just be like, "Wow, you're really miserable in your own life, aren't you? You're one of those people who always have to tell other people about themselves in order to direct attention away from the fact that you're a hot ass mess... aren't you?"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More €uros than Sense

My new boss has issues.

I don't know what they are exactly. I just know that he doesn't have his shit together.


°On the day of my initial interview, he couldn't be bothered to be at the office and showed up 45 minutes late, then was a bit of a condescending showoff.

°The boss is always late. No one knows where he is, and you are not allowed to ask.

°Numerous times he has scheduled meetings between me, him and the "head teacher" and had nothing to say. Worse, when I've attempted to contribute, he's allowed the "head teacher" to mire down any real meaningful discourse by evading direct questions and answering with vague plans and generalities. At least three times I have wasted two hours of my life getting absolutely nothing accomplished. It is quite a feat to out-underacheive someone like me, but these guys take the fucking cake.

°I was asked last week if I would do a one-on-one Business English session with a client who only had time for a two-hour consultation. That means that she wants to sit down with a professional and brush up as much as she can by speaking, being corrected, and taking notes. It means that after these two hours she does not want to see you anymore. Basically she wants to rent an English-speaking hooker, she pays by the hour and will not call you in the morning. Period.

Friday rolls around and she and I both show up to the language school, whose doors are locked, at the exact same time. I'm like "unnnnnnnnnbelievable", which was a lie, because I absolutely could believe that these unorganised fools would set an appointment for three o'clock and then not bother to show up. But attempting to salvage some semblance of face for the company I make up excuses and try to hide my frustration and dare I say it? anger. This is a challenge for me because I have a face like a cartoon character and you can read every single thought that has ever passed through my mind in a nanosecond; I have been advised never to play poker. Etcetera. After waiting five minutes or so it appears that no one is going to answer the bell and I have just about given up the charade of pretending to believe someone will let us in when Frau Boss, a tacky, trailer-trash bleach blonde with a bad attitude walks up and opens the door. I tell her, "We had an appointment at three?" She sort of shrugs like "and that's my problem how?" and nonchalantly lets us in. Apparently the entire office had been having a "team building excercise" wherein they ate cake and drank champagne. Having been a party to their "brainstorming excercises" I can only imagine the whirlwind of pointlessness the team building meeting must have been.

Herr Boss shows up and starts trying to convince our client to accept a free introductory hour which will be deducted from the total price of the course. She tells him that she doesn't need a course, she just wants a couple of hours. As if he hasn't heard her, he launches into his spiel about the duration and price of courses. I tell him, she doesn't need or have time for a course. She booked two hours and that's why I'm here now. He tries to persuade her that two hours is not enough and that our super affordable courses can be done daytimes or evenings. She and I look at each other like WTF and she's like, I'm leaving for Stockholm in ten days. I don't have time for a course, I only want two hours. (Keep in mind that Herr Boss himself is the one who told me about this lady and her very specific request only 72 hours before.) Finally he shuts the fuck up and leaves out so we can get on with our lesson. The lady and I get on like gangbusters but that's a subject for another blog.

°Today is Himmelfahrt, or in more recent years, Men's or Father's Day. Briefly explained it's some Christianized pagan holiday that gives men a reason to get drunk all day instead of going to work. It's a bank holiday, which for those of you in the back, makes it like Sunday or Christmas or Thanksgiving or whatever. Nothing's open.

A few days ago while planning lessons, I realize that our Thursday evening class falls on a holiday this week and shoot off an email to Herr Boss and ask him if the school is going to be open that day. I get no response all day. Around five p.m. yesterday I give him a call:

O: Hi Thorsten, did you get my email?
HB: No, haha, I didn't look for one.
O: OK, well I just wanted to know if we're holding class tomorrow? Since it's Himmelfahrt and all.
HB: Oh shit, that's right, it is! Haha, well then, no! We're not going to be open.
O: OK then maybe uh it would be a good idea for someone to call our Thursday night students and let them know not to show up?
HB: Yes, I'll do that, definitely.
O: OK so have a good day off tomorrow.
HB: I will! I'm gonna be drunk all day! Hahahaha.

At the age of 29, this dude owns two restaurants, an adult education center, a language school and probably a couple of rub-n-tugs, but all he really does is tell you about his "visions" and invite you to chain smoke with him. How this language school is ever going to make it when he's yanking around both clients and employees is a mystery to me. I really think he has more money than sense. More stories about him to come.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I didn't buy a camera for nothing, part two.

(left: the sink in the ladies' at Amrit. There are even two of these masterpieces side by side. Sigh.)

Amrit is a super delicious, super beautiful Indian restaurant on Oranienstraße in Kreuzberg. The decor is like something out of a movie and they are always bumping those Indian jams that make me want to do nothing but watch Bollywood films for the rest of my life.

I've only been there during the lunch specials. For €5, you get a huge portion of Korma/Masala/Jalfrezi/etc etc, rice, salad, fried bread and and soup. We're not talking no rich people's courses neither, but actual solid amounts of everything. If finish your plate and walk out of there feeling like anything smaller than a blue whale you need to enter eating contests, STAT.

The service there is hit or miss, though. While the food is always 100%, sometimes you get a waiter who hates life (or rather, just the people he meets in it who don't spend enough money). I thought this was Europe and no one cared about tips, but evidently I was wrong.

Yesterday this dude earned his three strikes pretty quickly. Strike one was when he told us he wasn't "allowed" to bring us tap water. Lie, and a poorly told one too. I have been there a thousand times and have never had any problems; his, on the other hand, was a face I had not seen before. Strike two was when he brought out one salad for four of us. Now when I go to Amrit with one other person I'm always sad because they bring us the same amount of salad that they bring when I'm alone, but try bringing that one salad for four people and you are going to have problems, pal. He was skeptical that we would finish the one, I guess because fat foreigners are only interested in eating cookie dough and french fries. Best be sure he brought us another salad, and we ate all of it. Easily.

Strike three was absolutely the icing on the cake however. Laura has a pretty light appetite most of the time and finished about half of her monster portion at lunch. When she asked for a box the sycophantic asshole fuckface lskajdflkasjdflaksjdfldaskj ffuck i hate this dude, he told her, "I'm very sorry but there's not enough there. That's only two bites. I can't ask the refrigerator to box up two bites." (He kept saying "kuhlschrank"--"refrigerator"--when referring to the "küche"--kitchen. They sound similar but not so much alike that it doesn't make you a moron for getting the two confused.) Laura was about to tolerate that bullshit when I spoke up, "what the fuck difference does it make whether you've got two bites or an entire plate, you're a customer who wants to take home her leftovers." So she decided to tell him that it was actually kind of senseless because she really did have much much more than two bites and if she wants to take it home who is he to tell her how much she is allowed to take home? and offered to pay him 50 cents for the packing. Oh god just when I think about this fucking retarded assmonkey piece of shit I get mad, then he told her that he would have to ask the refrigerator if it were ok, he'd try his best but not make any promises, because it's such a small amount of food, he might get in trouble. FUUUUUUUUUUUCK. I want to go burn that guy's house down, seriously. We were pissed, but he still made €2 in tips from the table. He told Laura to have a nice day and she mumbled "I hope he doesn't have a nice day" and she's never ever like that so you'll have to believe me when I say he was a fucking dick about EVERYTHING. Consensus was that we marked ourselves from the beginning as ghetto trash because we asked for tap water instead of buying overpriced drinks. We noticed that the table next to us was getting excellent service and extra everything; I guess you have to order enormous foo-foo drinks with umbrellas in them at three in the afternoon to be valued as a customer. (p.s. laura's leftovers literally filled the to-go container he brought her.)

Laura sometime before the packaging incident.

Cookie and Graham as Graham is paying and not looking too pleased about it.

My "sexy" cougar

My feral cougar

Lady Bag. Evidently you shoot the lady first, then slip her in the bag and toss her in the basket provided (instead of flushing her down the toily).

This doll store always creeps me out. There was a dolly in there whose startlingly authentic expression of disappointment, longing and resignation was so life-like that I got a little spooked, cos she's staring straight at you, but it didn't translate to digital photography so instead of showing you that one, I decided to show you a doll that looks like a small, female, porcelain version of Daniel Boone. Seriously wtf is up with those shoulders?

Then we went to Murray's Irish Bar for Lucy's going away party. Murray's is crap and as I'm on (or off, whatever) the wagon I had to get stoned and drink Apfelschorle all night.

Laura looks like she's enjoying the super laaaaaaaame open mic performer. Have you ever lived in a hostel, or belonged to a youth group, or been with a group of six or more white people to a beach or park? Then you will know exactly the type of music this guy was playing. "Baby Hit Me One More Time" acoustic is neither ironic nor clever. Old reliables like Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine acoustic were also popular. Evidently one time I got really wasted and sang all the words to Killing In The Name Of so now every time I get around this particular group of people while armed with guitars one of them screams "Dessie's gotta do Rage! Dessie, do the Rage!" (Only Irish people call me Dessie, pronounced Dezzy. lame) I've not been drunk enough to get in front of a barful of strangers and do acoustic Rage again though.

Brigid and her man Damien are usually the ones screaming for Dessie to do the Rage.

Graham has hated all of us since the beginning of the day. Lame. At least Cookie's into Hotel California or whatever other bullshit-ass campfire song is being sung.

Ach... the one thing denied me the entire night. However... I'm sure my liver will thank me in 20 years.

Square apples are grown in boxes.

I love crazy people. I don't mean crazy like your aunt who likes the bingo, or your mother-in-law with the OCD, I mean like screaming-at-inanimate-objects-in-the-middle-of-the-street crazy.

I have this theory that most to all of them will act normal if you treat them normally. If during one of their outbursts you sort of metaphorically poke them, they will stop, just like a snorer. Of course, like a snorer, they'll inevitably resume disturbing your peace just as you were beginning to enjoy it. The trick is to force them to realize that other people do exist in their world and can see, hear, smell and touch them. This usually results in a negligible amount of self-consciousness and they move on to terrorize the next batch of daisies down the road.

My fascination with psychos drives my friends nuts. They can't understand why on earth anyone would voluntarily tolerate the presence of a crazy, much less encourage interaction with one. What I say is this: when you're as entertaining as that guy, I will pay you more attention and him less. Until then STFU.

I want to make it clear that I don't talk to crazies and drunks because I think they are funny freaks, or because I need someone to whom I can feel superior, or because they are funny like clowns/funny haha. I talk to them because they are some of the only people who will tell you exactly what is on their minds. They don't have the capacity to give a shit about what you think about them. This is why people believe they're crazy. I, on the other hand, believe they might have gotten it just about right.

Who knows why people scream at themselves? Not me. This dude was super into it. Sorry the video is on its side but it was the only way to get his whole body in the shot:

My friend clearly thought that I thought that this guy was entertaining like a monkey in a zoo, but that's not the case. I thought he was fascinating. You have never heard a more spirited conversation. If politicians had this much heart it would make it much harder to actually pick one to run shit. Too bad the conversation was in German; I would have liked to have understood more of what he was saying.

Unfortunately he decided to get really really upset with himself (or his cigarette, or his reflection, depending on whom you ask) and start flailing about the table. Mind you he was not a paying customer or anything and the proprietors of the cafe we were patronising seemed to have no problem with his snotty, vomit-covered, piss-soaked bulk loitering about their premesis, and they made no move to expel him when he started to lose it. He went into a high-pitched, loud-as-banshees screaming match with himself, banging on and kicking the table and nearly upending Cookie's cup and saucer. Remembering my old "metaphorical poke" trick I said curtly, "Hey!" He kept on. I went, "HEY! HEEEEEY!!!!!" and banged my fist on the table, hard. In a loud, authoritative tone I commanded, "RUHIG UND LEISER, BITTE." ("CALM DOWN AND BE QUIET, PLEASE.") He went silent and I was quite pleased with myself, but this guy was a tough nut and was back at it before a couple minutes had passed.

Finally a dude from the bakery next door finished watching the spectacle (he had appeared amused the entire time) and told the guy to keep it pushing. Half an hour later we saw him only a block away, doing the same thing to another sidewalk cafe.

What a funny town. In Seattle there are precious few places a Crazy can yell at himself with impunity, namely; the bus stop, the waterfront and the park. We have a modicum of decorum and smelly yelling bums are not tolerated anywhere in public. Even the library discriminated against them, banning people from bringing in overlarge duffle bags or sleeping at tables. Now if your duffle bag was North Face and you fell asleep in a Noam Chomsky book chances are you'd be left alone, but don't let it be an army duffle issued to you back in 'Nam and MAD Magazine because they have security officers to deal with scum like you.

If the crazies are always treated as the dregs of society, they will always behave like the dregs of society. End of story. I don't believe that your average mentally-disturbed dude on the street is incapable of rehabilitation, I think he just doesn't give a shit anymore about being "normal", especially not after having seen how cruel and judgmental Normal People can be (hell I don't want to be part of Normal People either but I don't have any mental illnesses to excuse me from having to tolerate their society... yet).

For this reason and others, I don't support pushing the crazies out of the library, away from the sidewalk, or off the beach, at least not until they threaten my coffee, or that of a loved one.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Art Shows are the New Emporer's Clothes, Unless They're Playing Naughty By Nature. Then They're Called "Parties".

A friend of mine who works at an art gallery which shall remain nameless (as we are not interested in giving them any undue publicity--someone might actually read this blog one day) admonished me the last time I went to a show, for the unspeakable crime of having too good a time. (The DJs had played Jump, so I jumped.) Later I was told that it was a "gallery, not a party", which I found laughable/insulting/humiliating, as the place was covered in graffiti, everyone was drunk, there were two DJs on the decks and not a soul over the age of 35. I've also been coming to their shows religiously for the last two years and I think by now I can tell the different between a formal vernissage and a party. That was a party if ever I saw one.

So I said basically, "Fuck yo gallery's couch nikka" and on Friday night, although the nameless gallery was also having an opening, I opted instead to head out to Kreuzberg's Bethanien, which had DJs and booze and people under 35 and even balloons, although the balloons are supposed to be art.

ItalicThe show was good, very chill, relaxed vibe. All the freaks in town came out to play; I should have gotten photos of some of the people but I was feeling a bit tactful that day and decided to give the weirdos a break. Most of the art was pretty standard hipster fare and not really worth noting, besides a see-saw bed and a table set for 12 with whatappeared to be white chocolate flatware and food, which was in the process of melting under twelve individual heat lamps.
The space itself was gorgeous, I'm not sure how old the building is, but it looked like some sort of baroque-era secondary school or something; there were little girl's rooms. You know what I mean by Little Girl's Room? The kind with super uncomfortable or even metal toilet seats, paper that takes off your ass skin, puke-colored paint, trough-sink, powdered soap, the distinct aroma of guilt and secrecy? Oh you don't? Me neither...I was just testing.

In attendance were: Sabrina and the 'Stoph

Andrea's hot 29-year-old art teacher boyfriend who looks like Kurt Cobain

Sabrina's totally creepy and perverted-looking ex-boyfriend from high school, named (the Angel) Gabriel

and of course, me!

(Does it reek of desperation that the only pictures I post of me are the ones I took myself? Oh well, I suppose it'll stay between you, me, and the rest of cyberspace.

This was one of the cooler pieces I saw. The blob in the middle is actually a smoky spire which was spiring up into outer space (by that I mean it was like, moving.)

Let's have a peek inside...

Aww, it's a totally cute little model town! I wonder if in addition to the fire and ruined buildings if there are any dead bodies or dog poop along the sidewalks... just like in real-life Berlin! OK, not the dead bodies. But poop. Lots and lots of poop.

All that work for a bit of a shadow against paper. I want to stay home on artist's grants and play around with popsicle sticks all day too. Fuck.

This dog was such a soldier, I started to wonder if the was a piece of art. Turns out he is just the most patient and attentive dog EVAR. S/he was waiting on his/her master to get out of the loo. Also check out the tight pants, Keds and Chucks in the background... yeah, it was that kind of party. Sigh. The hipsters are starting to get along with the rastas and the punks though so there'll be no more Berliner versions of West Side Story in the near future. Should make for interesting parties this summer.

Jumping ahead to Saturday night. My Australian friend Cookie has done the officially tackiest thing I have yet to see at a barbecue slash picnic. We've all heard of people putting ranch on pizza, fries on burgers, tartar on fries (I am guilty of three out of three of the above) but seriously potato chips on a cheese sammich? Ew to the maxx. She was like "don't knock til you've tried it" and I was like "well I've not tried sky diving or deep-fried candy bars but that's because unlike you I have an instinct of self-preservation, you're not getting any younger you know... how's your cholesterol?" then lit my 38th cigarette of the night. Nothing like a little hypocrisy to spice up an alcohol-free Saturday night. Bleh.

Here's the culprit and her husband sharing a bottle of wine out of plastic cups. You can't tell from this picture but Graham is officially the most English person you have ever met. He's dry and proper and isn't into a whole lot of public displays of anything which isn't dry and proper. He is super smart and has a rad sense of humor though and he runs around like a kid when it snows. Good shit.

No matter how long I make art, hang out with artists and art enthusiasts, or attend art events, there are some things I'll never even be able to pretend to understand. The open road? Random shots of people buying stuff at the grocery store? A building standing firmly on its foundation? The sky failing to fall? Why am I wearing headphones when there is no dialogue or music on the video? Sometimes I think I just need my MTV (kidding, kidding). I didn't want to let on that I didn't get it. Art shows are always a bit Emperor's Clothing-y for me.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

(Left: The face of nosy. This guy was staring over my shoulder at what I was doing with my camera for so long that I decided to immortalize him in the act. Nosy muhfucka.)

My friend Nichole is the first and only person I've ever known who admits she has a "staring problem". Sometimes we'd be on the bus or at a bar and I'd go, "why are you staring so hard at that guy... he's going to notice." And she'd be like, "Yeah I know, I have a staring problem." And just keep staring.

Myself, I'm a self-professed nosy muhfucka. That means: I want to be in your business, to the point of cupping my hand against the wall to listen to your conversation, but I don't want you to realize it.

There's nothing wrong with being nosy. In journalistic circles they might even call my preoccupation with jumping in other people's Kool-Aid "inquisitiveness". Which is actually bullshit because it's not like I'm writing a book about their business or anything, like a cop asked me once:

I was downtown, on my way to work, when I saw the cops harrassing an old black dude chillin in the doorway of a closed Rite-Aid. I stopped because I have seen the cops take black people into deserted areas for questionable reasons and I wanted them to know that I'd seen and noted the names of all of the officers present. One of them told me to keep it pushing and I told him that my tax dollars paved this street and paid his salary so I could stand there as long as I wanted, thank you very much. He asked snarkily if I were writing a book or something so I replied "yes" and he goes, "Well pull out your pencil and paper then! What kind of writer are you, with no pencil and paper? Bahahahahaha" so I kind of slunk away in shame, but I gave the old black dude the knowing-eye and retained the names of those shithead cops in my mind.

But if you don't want anyone watching or listening to what you're doing, it's a good idea not to do it in public. It's funny to me when people get mad that you stopped to check out the spectacle. I had a girl once come up to me at work in Pike Place Market, mad that I was laughing to other people about an argument she had had in the middle of the street wherein she overturned a stinky fish tub on a fish guy and cussed him out. She threatened to come to my house, get me fired, call the wrath of Apollo upon me, etc. I was like, "You are making an asshole of yourself in literally in the most public part of the city. Get over it."

Or this guy, who got mad when I took a picture of him pissing in the middle of the sidewalk. He told me that taking pictures of him was verboten, I told him that public urination in the middle of a street festival was verboten, he grabbed me by the shoulder and attempted to drag me off to the police, holy fuck was he drunk.

I listen to my neighbor fighting with his girlfriend, partly because it's too much drama to just let go, partly because they are screaming at the top of their lungs, partly because I want to make sure he's not beating her, and mostly out of revenge for the fact that they have hours-long sex sessions and I don't get a choice about whether I have to hear that. So sometimes I open my door and put my ear out into the hallway where it's easier to listen in.

This guy with the stupid hair made the fatal mistake of being too damn nosy. He should take a lesson from me. You see, while I am helplessly addicted to getting in yo bidness, I make sure to be discreet. I was checking out this guys idiotic hair from behind, but when he kept turning to check me out, I would avert my eyes. At some point it got old because he kept staring and if there's one thing that drives me nuts, it's being stared at. You see all the nice orderly people in the line minding their business, or maybe checking out the person in front of them on the sly, well this dude had to turn around 180° to see what the fuck I was doing. I had decided to take a picture of him from behind when he gave me the perfect opportunity to take his picture from the front; here he is pictured trying to get out of the photo. You see Mr Greenhorn you have much to learn about the art of nosiness. Now you are on the internet. Muahahahahahaha.

So, a word to the wise: pay attention to everything and everyone, because other people's business is usually more interesting/worthy of ridicule/shamelessly debauched than yours, but don't get caught doing it, because God forbid they should actually feel some embarrassment and start making a habit of just picking their noses/scratching their balls/screaming on their cell phones/beating their children/masturbating at home. Good thing Nichole doesn't have a camera.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ugh, I'm going to be 28 this year. For most normal people that means little more than finally being respected by your elders and qualifying for jobs which require a bit more responsibility and maturity.

But for someone like me, who is terrified of responsibility and laughs in the face of maturity, it means: in two years, you're going to have to start acting like a grownup.

The other day, I was walking down the street, going about my business, listening to the Bee Gees and bopping along. Singing, dancing, walking to the beat, shaking my shoulders, inventing little choreographies in my head and testing them out, doing the disco finger, etc. Of course I was walking on a non-arterial street, but the point is that if anyone saw me doing this the first thing they might think would be: "Now that is someone who is into her music." Or maybe "I wonder if she's drunk." Perhaps "Aah, to be young and full of life and energy, even if it makes you look like a fool."

But I'm pushing that age where it won't be so cute anymore. As I was going along, enjoying my good time, I thought to myself, "what about in five years? Ten? If I saw a 38-year-old lady doing the disco finger on the street I'd reckon she escaped a loony bin."

The problem is that I am SO silly. I am entertained by any- and everything. I do not have a refined sense of anything, much less humor. Some of my favorite recent jokes are:

"Hey, it's Ole Five Breakfasts!! What's going on, Ole Five Breakfasts?" (boyfriend eats like three different things for breakfast when he's feeling hungry. First cereal, then buns in the oven, then müsli, then a nutella sandwich, etcetera) I laughed my ass off hard, like tears streaming down my face when I thought up that one. Then I noticed he didn't get enough to eat at lunch and started poking around the kitchen. I was like "eh, it's Johnny Five Lunches!! Bwahahahahahahaha!!!" again, seriously, dying from laughter. Next day I was at it again and gently, lovingly, he goes, "seriously dear... 'Ole Five Breakfasts' isn't funny," which just made me crack up all the worse.

I had never heard something referred to as "The bomb dot com" until some hipster Latina girl on YouTube said it yesterday, and it is now my new thing. I love it precisely because it is so stupid. Christoph again was not impressed, and every time he rolls his eyes, it will make the phrase that much sweeter.

WOW MOM will never get old. I was so stoked to see a garbage can with "Wow! Wow!" on it that I had to do my WOW MOM for the camera. The fingers are the Ws or Ms, and my mouth is the O. See? Hilarious.

The worst thing about me is that while I know this shit isn't funny to anyone else, I just. can't. stop. laughing. When you're young and cute people just sort of giggle at you and think you're a bit silly/drunk/stupid, but when you get a bit older? People will just think you're homeless/mentally challenged/schizo.

I think it is TOTES unfair that I have to be a schizo, while grown men and women here walk around with stuffed animal keychains on EVERYTHING. On backpacks, purses, bookbags, beltloops, etc. Sometimes a middle-aged working man will have several on his attaché or lunch pail or whatever the hell it is that middle-aged working men drag around with them on trains. NOT fair. If you were to walk around with dirty, beat up stuffed animals attached in a hundred places on your backpack past the age of 19 in Seattle people would start directing you to the nearest VA hospital.

I also do not and will not dye my hair in raver-colors past the age of, oh wait, I'm already too old for that. Grown women go about their business with purple, orange, blue, fire-engine red hair. I don't know why fire-engine red is so popular. And they don't do it at home with Manic Panic either, we're talking sitting in a respectable salon and asking the hairdresser to please give you a cut and foil and add a bit of Vibrant Violet in there while you're at it.

So, in conclusion, there are different measures of maturity in different parts of the world, and if I have to be schizo in order to enjoy my life, then so be it. I mean, who wants to go through life not feeling the beat?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I didn't buy a camera for nothing, part one.

Welcome to a little bit of my world.

In the foreground are Christoph and his mom, and in the background are his brother and dad. His mom just turned 57 and it was her idea for us all to go on an exhausting hour-long ride through the dust and rocks and shit to get to a restaurant and eat some schnitzel that I could have made way better out of a package at my house. I suggested that I would cook the celebratory meal, but she declined. The woman is a better cook than all your momses and gramses put together times ten so the two points of cycling an hour to a restaurant were: 1. You are all fat and need exercise. 2. It's my birthday and I'm not cooking for you ingrateful assmonkeys, and I'm not choking down your pathetic attempts at culinary art either.

Just because I think it's cute. He doesn't always look like a kindergartener on his first day of school, I swear it.

Yet another great thing about Berlin... respectable people actually live here, and I'd bet good hard-earned money that there are no immediate plans to replace the broken panels of glass or remove the graffiti. You live on Weserstraße, you will have to put up with boarded-up windows and spraypaint all over everything. Deal with it.

Some more third-world looking shit in the middle of the Second World. Oh wait, this is West Berlin, so it's technically a colony of the First World. My bad. Dang we need to get on that shit stat.I haven't seen Woolworth's since I was like, ten. OK, that's a lie, because I see this one all the time, but Woolworth's here isn't like Woolworth's used to be back home, which smelled like popcorn and 35 cent coffee and back-to-school clothes.

Crossing at the crosswalk literally saves lives on this street. They should do PSA or something.

I felt like such a tourist taking pictures of myself on the street, but simply put it had to be done. Just another day in the life.

There are like ten streets in ten different districts here called Karl-Marx something-or-the-other. Karl-Marx Straße, Karl-Marx Allee, Karl-Marx Platz, etc. Once you get in the East, Rosa-Luxembourg and Frederick Engels Streets are quite common too. Effin commies. The ungrateful West Berliners have only dedicated one street to John Foster Dulles, the man to whom they basically owe their entire continued existence. You'd all be speakin' Russkie and living in mud hovels if it weren't for him.

Now you too can live on Best-Insult-Evar Straße.

Pedophilia and homicide are not too hot here, but bike theft and animal cruelty are super fashionable at the moment. This definitely beats out the drowned-cat-and-duck-tied-together-with-a-bit-of-hemp-twine combo I saw on the canal last summer. People were walking around this atrocity as if it were just another bit of organic waste on the street. Hey, it biodegrades.

"Berlins gröstes Bräunungscenter" translates literally to "Berlin's biggest Tanning Salon". Very helpful in Berlin's biggest Turkish neighborhood. The boys and girls of Neukölln go from golden-brown to burnt sienna, frost their tips and smoke menthols. Like a Muslim version of Lynnwood (sorry for the Seattle reference).

I was feeling a bit tired of life myself, but the pack was empty. :(

A suitcase and a plastic bucket lid. Like an urban version of the happy mask-sad mask deal. How fitting a piece of art for this town. This installation has been chillin on this fence for weeks now. I hope it's not taken down any time soon.