POPKOMM 2007: Berlin, Germany
Fri, Sep 21, '07
Hallo aus Berlin!
IS that even right? My German is plain awful
Geez Louise, I LOVE Berlin!
It's my 3rd day here in Berlin and I still don't understand people very well,.. lol
I'm having a hard time with the accent, however today I spoke with some people from Dusseldorf and I understood everything they said,.. And here I thought it was just me! I have been speaking German every day, I've managed to buy a cell phone, get around the city on the subway, and order food,.. My ability to speak the language is in pretty sad shape,.. The first day was the worst, although i feel like today a cloud had lifted and many words and phrases have been coming back to me one by one,.. Anyhoo,..
PopKomm has been an absolute blast! I have met music professionals and musicians from all around the world! As a matter of fact, Coming into Berlin from Frankfurt I met a guy from LA on his way to PopKomm also,.. He happens to be a Berklee grad, just like me, and is a songwriter and producer! crazy,..I hope we keep in touch!
The last time I was here in Berlin was 1989, before the fall of the Berlin wall. I was an exchange student at the time. Our group had come to East Berlin to visit students from an east German partner school. We weren't allowed to cross over to West Berlin during our stay. What a difference a wall falling can do to a city! I am amazed and excited to see the changes in this city. My memory of East Berlin was one of scared faces scanning our group from the corner of an eye, gray buildings, deserted streets,.. There is so much building going on, so much new construction, happy people,.. Cafe's, restaurants, music clubs, movie houses, arts, theatre, you name it! So far, we've been going to Popkomm during the day, then around 4 or 5pm we start sight-seeing,..
Last night, we visited the holocaust memorial (which was just unbelievable and moving) the Brandenburg Gate (which everyone has seen at least once in old Nazi WW2 footage with the nazi flags and soldiers crossing through,..) The gate had originally been built as a symbol of Peace, then bastardized by Hitler to b a symbol of war,.. This city's history is told on every block, seen on every face and via the architechture. Yesterday, my friends and I split up and traveled the city,..I visited checkpoint charlie,.. Well what's left of it,..and then did some window shopping,.. The weather here couldn't be better,.. And I'm just tickled pink to be here! I'm looking forward to coming to Popkomm next year I think,.. So far its been an amazing experience!.
And there it is,..I'll be checking in again before leaving for home on Monday,.
Sat, Sep 22, '07: LOST IN GERMANY
Does anyone know that King's X song? It's been in my head all day.
But in a good way! At the moment, it's 2:30AM and I am sitting in an internet cafe a few doors down from our new hotel room. We are now in a new neighborhood called Friedrichshain. I could live here! It's very similar to NYC's east village, or really what the east village was like a few years ago,.. It's quite safe but has an edgy feel to it, lots of cafe's and independently owned shops,..Art galleries and music everywhere. Friedrichshain, like the rest of Berlin, is filled with graffiti art,..not the type we see in NYC, but actual murals!
it's amazing, I've snapped a bunch of pictures and I hope to make a collage of them.
Last night I actually got the opportunity to do an impromptu show at a women's bar called Begine. What an amazing venue! My new friend, Claudia set it up for us. Sonya wasn't able to attend because she had pre arranged plans, and Will wasn't allowed in because, well,..He's a man,..(No men allowed!)
Claudia and I played about 6 songs each in a short round robin format, and Pantera did an A Cappela version of her awesome song (one of my favorites actually) "Sugarman". I REALLY enjoyed Claudia's music and she was even kind enough to give me a copy of her CD! I hope that we stay connected, I really enjoyed spending time with her and everyone we met at Begine!
And the venue! WOW!
The acoustics were stellar! no amplification necessary,.. What a joy it is to play in an environment like that! I also met some new friends and had a nice conversation with the club owner who has invited us back next year, or whenever we return to Berlin.
How cool is that?
If anyone in the Berlin area is reading this, or if any of you are planning a trip to Berlin you have to go there!
please visit their website: http://www.begine.de
And remember, it's ladies only,..
Today and tomorrow are off days now that PopKomm is over. My old friend , or as I call her, my German sister, Regina has come to visit me here in Berlin with her boyfriend, Andre. So far, we've spent the day sight-seeing and reminiscing about old times. We also met Pantera, Sonya and Will at a restaurant and had a grand old time drinking Berliners and eating yummy food. Berlin is a pretty amazing city! I didn't expect to become so smitten! Today we went around the city on a double decker tour bus, and we also visited a place where I had been 17 years ago before the fall of the wall, called Alexander Platz. The main attractions in this area are an old church, the radio tower and the 24 hour clock. I have pictures of these sights at home, and I was amazed at how different it is now! Before, it was grey, deserted, ugly, today there are new shopping areas, restaurants (and curry wurst!) and filled with trees and other greenery. It was also mobbed with people!
So different, just like the rest of the city. Tomorrow we will visit checkpoint charlie museum and we will try to make it to the turkish markt before it closes. That is a lot to do in one day, but I think we'll be able to do it.
On a side note, This keyboard is very different also,.. The letters are arranged differently than keyboards in the states and now I understand why I can never find an umlaut when in the US,.. So, with that I will leave you.
Wed, Sep 26, '07 Back in NYC, home sweet home,..
I've arrived back home,. safe and sound, although I think I picked up some kind of bug on the plane,..I spent most of my day yesterday sleeping it off,..
I'm still amazed that I was in Berlin not a day ago,..
It's almost like a dream you know? A Wonderfully fantastic dream!
My last day full day in Berlin was spent with my German sister Regina and her boyfriend, Andre.
We met for lunch and then visited checkpoint charlie. Beforehand, I had the opportunity to check out a street fair in my neighborhood. It was really cool, lots of old stuff from the East German days, trinkets and beer steins, glasses and clothing,.. Also lots of local artists and artisans had their work on display and for sale. There were countless items I would've loved to take home if it weren't for the fact that I'd have to find a way to stuff them in my bag and pray nothing got ruined,. Eh? Next year,..
At least now, I know where to go! And I know to pack an extra suitcase! I also tried to get to the Turkish outdoor market, and after an hour or so on a wild goose chase to Kreutzberg based on information from a cafe owner, I finally found the place where the market is held,.. Not where she said it would be,.. And of course, i was 4 hours too late,.. However, with that chase I did get to see other parts of the city,.. It was fun! As for the market,..eh? next time,..
My last day, which was Monday, I walked around and bought lots of presents for my family back home,.. About 11 bottles of beer, chocolate, magnets, Checkpoint charlie and Berlin Wall history books,.. I actually had to buy another suitcase to fit it all,.. As it was, I got yelled at by the Lufthansa rep when I checked my bags in because my main bag was over regulation weight. Luckily, she let me go with just a warning and some unkind words said under her breath in German (she probably didn't realize I could understand her) and there you have it.
I also picked up a few items that included pieces of the berlin wall. Little shards encased in glass, or big shards glued to a magnet,.. But it's fitting isn't it? A reminder of how things can change so quickly,.. 20 years ago, no one would've dared to think that the wall would be torn down and Germany reunited. It was just a dream,..but today,.. a reality. These little shards,. There's something existential about it,.. Pieces of a wall that divided a country and it's people, now being sold shard by shard and sent all over the world,.. Could it be thought of as a reminder of what can happen when we're not paying attention? Perhaps a reminder that we can be divided just as the people of Berlin were? A reminder of the ridiculousness of the whole situation? I've always said that writing songs is a way for me to rid myself of the things that mentally or spiritually weigh me down, or a way to express the joy in my heart,..whatever,.. I can imagine that all of these little pieces of the wall, in a way, can be considered as a means to rid the people of Berlin of a heavy weight they had to endure,. It must be comforting to know that The wall, a structure which was so intimidating and hostile, has now been conquered and destroyed,.. And the pieces, sold to tourists for a small fee,..
That's got to amount for something!
And there it is,.. Thank you to all of my new friends in Berlin for making this trip successful and happy! Popkomm was extraordinary! I, and the members of NY Music Exchange, will be going back again next year! I'm counting down the days and minutes,..