Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Pair

I will repeat myself. Perhaps endlessly. You may read a string of words I have put here for you only to find that that string of words adds up to the same thing in the end.

I believe that truth can only be expressed through paradox. The paradox of my 'truth' is that that statement is not a paradox. It isn't, so it is, so it isn't, so it is.

This morning, while reading, I found this quote:

"The only way to keep it is to give it away."

Which is so incredibly true to me that it shakes my bones. And then some.


List of things to do today:


give it away


A link to the article I was reading in Atlantic Magazine this morning about the Harvard Study of Adult Development which follows 268 male Harvard students from 1937 to the present.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Laughter and Tears in Berlin

Yesterday I had a short tour of Berlin on the back of a motorcycle, it was a lot of fun and very interesting. We went by the most touristic places and I got a history of Berlin from someone who has lived here for 15 years.

The Berlin Wall:

The Reichstag (site of the infamous Reichstag fire which propelled the Nazi party into majority and signaled the decline of the country into the insanity that followed.)

Then, without warning, we were at the "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe" (actual title.)

The memorial is very powerful. There is the impression of single graves, as each stone if the size of a single person, and also a hints of mausoleums, barracks, skyscrapers and mass graves.

Because of it's natural maze like quality children use it to play hide and seek and you can hear them laughing in the distance as they run back and forth. My guide told me there are guards that tell people not to play here because it is a memorial.

"But I think it's good that they play. It's more...." Then he turned away from me, saying softly, "It was so stupid." When he turned back his eyes were full of tears and he couldn't speak. We stood quietly in the middles of the "graves" and I let the feelings wash over me, feelings I'd been holding back without realizing.

I cried for my grandparents, for family I never met because they died in camps, for six million murdered jews, gypsies and unwanted people, for a Germany that has to live with the guilt of this terrible crime, for pogroms against people all over the world that are part of all our shared history, because these things are still happening, and because the guilt of the holocaust is used by the Isreali government to perpetrate it's own crimes against it's own "unwanted" people.

We were there for awhile.

And children played and laughed and lovers kissed and people posed and took pictures and life continued as it does, inside and outside of the memorial.


My grandparents are from the Netherlands, both were born there, as was my father. During the war my grandfather was in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp in Germany. He has always told us stories of his time in the war, both in and out of the camp. Though quite awful there have been no stories of death, he never spoke of anyone being shot, or gassed, or directly killed. The worst thing he said was that it was his job to pick up the pieces of bodies (heads and arms mostly) which had fallen off the corpses on their way to the mass graves.

A British reporter who was there while the camp was liberated said of the experience, "This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life."


My grandfather has been back to Belsen, where he donated some very small watercolor paintings he did while in the camp. He told the museum that they could reprint his paintings and sell them as postcards if the proceeds went to orphans of Palestinian children killed by the Isreali government.


We laugh, we cry, we live. We play.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 1st in Berlin

Yesterday I got up at 3pm to start my day, went for a soy chai (no milk for me while I have this damn cold) and a lasagna (cheese is still on the list of things I shouldn't eat but will anyway.) Then I went out into the streets of Berlin where tens of thousands of people were out. It was like a festival, with vendors, and music, and people everywhere. We were trying to meet up with a group but all got confused and tired out by the masses and had to go off into quieter places in smaller pairs or trios. I did see a large group of anarchists with black face cloths march past gathering empty bottles (presumably for molotov cocktails.)

Police vans lined the streets and police men and women stood at the ready to defend all the corporate chains lest they should have their windows smashed out. 

I went to dinner with a new friend and had a hard time finding a restaurant that would serve food. We were walking back through the crowd when I suddenly realized that we were in a square where everyone was waiting: protesters sat in the street, police lined the blocks with full riot gear, photographers and news crews hovered on perches above the crowd, and everyone just....waited. We were already in the thick of it by the time we caught on and just hoped that we would make it through before the first rock was thrown. 

Police were blocking all the exits - insanely, there was no way out. We were trying to leave this intense square and at each blockade they would point to the next and tell us to go that way - literally back and forth. Finally, we talked our way through a blockade.

I had a nice non-camera-photography moment when I saw a man lean over to tenderly kiss the top of a woman's head in the middle of the madness. (CLICK) went the brain camera.

We finally found a very lovely cafe where a man a la Tom Waits played some nice acoustic songs and we got food.

At 2am we walked home, it was quiet - mobile jails rolled by full of sullen faces, the streets were covered in a gravel of broken glass.


This idea of one day a year where police and protesters get in fights is very interesting. One day a year we will throw flaming bottles and break bank windows.

I was interested to see what all this fuss was about but in the end felt disinclined to participate - even as a spectator. This is not the circus for me today.


Just now I was interrupted while watching skateboarding videos on youtube by the sound of the front door buzzer:

"Hello," said the man in English with a German accent, "We are looking for English speakers to do an interview of what the future holds, or the meaning of life."

Oh is that all?......?

"Everyone is sleeping here." I told him, which was not strictly true (obv) but I'm still in what passes for pajamas this morning and not in the mood for company. I do feel as though I have missed out a little.

But I still have my chances to be interviewed since I was also asked to be in a documentary about Freedom/Work regarding my thoughts on music piracy.

If you would like to download high quality versions of all my music for FREE you can do so here:


Sunset in Berlin: this bridge was once walled off as it marked the boundary between East and West Berlin