Freitag, 21. Januar 2011

Jonathan Safran Foer was in Berlin

At the end of every year, I set up some objectives and events - conferences, festivals, concerts - I would like to attend. My chance is that I have many new years in a 12 months span, so I can optimistically look after good results in relatively short periods of time. And it works admirably good. 
One of my priorities for the next months is to focus on quality writing and to finish the project of two books, not novels or connected with literature, but at a certain extent a proof of my commitment to writing.
As in any kind of intellectual plan, you need an approach and the creative ambiance. 
(My writing by now sounds disgustingly stereotypical).
This need is translated into the systematic search for such creative occasions and Berlin is for the moment, for me the right place to live. A similar impression was shared by Jonathan Safran Foer yesterday evening, at the very beginning of the literary evening at Fritz Club, in Ostbahnhof. He was together with Karen Duve, author of a book about not eating animals. I forgot to mention: JSF lectured and talked about his book "Eating Animals", in a city and a country where this issue is more than a personal choice, but a philosophy of life and political message. 
At the entrance, people dressed in cows were distributing to the long queue leaflets about veganism. I've heard that a big pro-animals gathering will take place on Sunday, but as I will be out of town, didn't check in detail the information. 
From all the books of JSF, Eating Animals is on the last place of preferences. On the first place: the newly Tree of Codes which will offer me food for thought and write for a long time. (I got an autograph from JSF on this book). But, obviously, here, the high attendance was motivated by the subject, as many of those present were overtly nodding every time it was issued a sentence in favor of veganism.
The discussion was smart, but mediated by a not an impressive moderator and I was expecting a direct discussion between Foer and Duve, followed by a discussion with the public. I am not good in number, but probably there were more than 350 persons, in two rooms - one with direct access to the discussion, one in a smaller room nearby, with people only watching a screen. 
But, at the end of the three hours, it was an inspiring evening and got a lot of good thoughts for what I want to do. Thanks to Berlin, too...

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Montag, 17. Januar 2011

On weather, again

I don't want to focus too much on weather, although, if watching the frequency of this issues addressed on my blog you will discover that, in fact, I do focus on weather a lot. Maybe because I am lazy enough to not pursue my systematic documentation on facts, places and people from Berlin?
Anyway, not too much time for soliloquia, just a short note: The last three-four days from this mid-January, were a-ma-zing in terms of weather. This is the perfect mild springy time I can't have enough of. If remember correctly, it rained too, but mostly during the night, but I saw the sun and spent late mornings starring aimless out of the window.
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Renaissance Theater, the art-deco corner

Berlin, Germany: Renaissancetheater (built by ...Image via Wikipedia//The Theater in a sunny day

I've been first at the Renaissance-Theater for attending a conference on human rights. I didn't have tickets, there were no more places but my luck smiled at me and found somebody nice enough to offer me one for free. And I went so excited that I didn't pay too much attention to the arhitecture. Recently, I've been there too, for another conference, but in a more relaxed German way, as I had bought the ticket two weeks in advance and entered the hall less than five minutes before it started.

But I had enough time to look around and wanted to read more about this presence very close to the Ernst Reuter (former mayor of the West Berlin between 1948-1953) Platz and Deutsche Oper. I had a look at their usual program and I am not yet tempted by any Kabarett or Comedie shows, but maybe waiting for another conference to feel more the atmosphere of the place.

The Renaissance-Theater is considered the only art-deco theater in Europe and the only still keeping the flavor of the artistic life of the city from the 1920s. The smallest among the big theatres from Berlin, it offers to the eyes of the visitor a pleasant combination between local style and art-deco pattern, by its colourful foyer and the woodintarsias of the auditorium. 

It was founded in 1922, by Theodor Tagger, a young writer originary from Vienna, considered one of the most important playwrights of the Weimarian Republic. At the beginning, the repertoire included many plays by Strindberg. The building was redesigned and rearranged in 1926-1927, by the famous architect Oskar Kaufmann, who put his architectural signature, among others, on the Hebbel Theater in Berlin, Neue Stadttheater in Vienna and Habima Theater in Tel Aviv. 

Closed during the war, it was reopened at the end of 1946, with two plays by two different playwrighters: Strindberg and Courteline. After the reunification, the theater needed to redefine its own role on the musical stage of the city and focused more on the social approaches to contemporary developments and human stories. 

At the end of writing this story, I am thinking that maybe I will buy a ticket for a play, tough.

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Donnerstag, 6. Januar 2011

State of emergency in the city

I prepared so many posts for this blog about the city and its life and history, but inevitably sooner or later I am back again writing I was woken up - a bit late, as I was writing something - by the itchy snow against the window. Not a bad sound for my ears, anyway. A couple of minutes later, when I opened my computer, the latest news on social media where about...the ice and the snow and the dangers of going out. An hour before, it was declared state of emergency and there were many delays for the flights and the S-Bahn. 
But the weather evolved pleasantly, I might say, and late in the evening, when I went out for some shopping, it was mild, not too much snow - and ice - but lot of water. Anyway, it was not like in NYC one week ago, when everything was blocked for one day and a half - and in some parts, even more. 
I will go to my dear gym, and will continue my ground research about the efficiency of the Berlin local administration. 

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Dienstag, 4. Januar 2011

Japan Festival in Berlin

Shizumi Sharing the Culture of Japan-10Image by Barrett Web Coordinator via Flickr
Are you ready for two days of exclusive Japanese culture in Berlin?
You still have time to think about seriously and to decide about going to An der Urania, between 15 and 16 of January, for getting the best of Japan in one of Berlin's hearts. From sports to music and manga and fashion and...everything in between.
See you there!
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Sonntag, 2. Januar 2011

Memories of the last summer

This picture helped me, for a couple of minutes, to forget about winter, cold and the bad weather.
Neukölln, 2010

Samstag, 1. Januar 2011

My New Year in Berlin

I am not a big fan of New Year's Eve celebrations, but I like the idea of beginnings of any kind. I like to make plans, to follow them, to enjoy myself when I am reaching my goals and reconsider my plans when the time is working against me. 
I rarely enjoy celebrating NYE in the city when I am living and when this is happening, I prefer small gatherings or going out, as on any other special occasions when I don't work the next day and I can meet friends and relatives. 
But, as yesterday me and my family we were all home, in our Berlin home, but not keen to have a special loud celebration, we decided that it will be a usual happy Friday evening, gathering all of us together, far away of computers, cellphones and any other attractions. We had a long dinner, with a glass of red good wine. We visited shortly our neighbours, ready for partying in various corners of the city and gave them as a present, a bottle of wine, that we hope we will taste together very soon this week. The weather was not so cold - I don't remember the degrees, but not too many double digits minus. Around 14.00, we remembered that we need to shop some small things, and we had some thoughts about how socially clumsy we are after 20 minutes walk and all shops closed - at the end, we hurried up in the first Lidl and the emergency was solved.
After the meal, we read a book and played a kiddy game. The fireworks started around 16.00 and didn't stop than after 2 AM - or at least then we, the adults, fell asleep, as the kid continued to watched mesmerized the colourful and peaceful explosions. And, under the sound pressure, we decided that we need to take a short walk, at least for one hour, to see how the world looks like on Ku'damm. Around 21.00, we started our short trip, crossing young groups with fireworks and trying to avoid the snow falling from the roofs. We did it successfully, without being hurt by both. Ku'damm was full of tourists, the fancy restaurants were full of people, a party was ongoing at Kempinsky and we took a look at the glamorous outfits of both men and women. We laugh thinking that we were, all of us, like the Little Match Seller, but it is fine sometimes to be yourself and have a look on the other sides of the social world. We were happy as we are and we didn't have any wish of grandeur. And, with happy smiles and careful steps for not sliding on ice we returned home after two hours, a bit trembling and with the wet shoes. It was a good funny night and we had another glass of red wine before falling asleep for more than our usual five-hour sleep.
Wish everybody a peaceful and funny 2011!

Berlin in Books: Stefan Zweig - Confused Feelings

Stefan ZweigImage via Wikipedia//Stefan Zweig

A special section I would like to dedicate on this blog will be called "Berlin in Books". In other words, I will try to share with you the images of the city through the eyes of writers all over the world and historical periods. I will start with the mentions from Stefan Zweig's Verwirrung der Gefüle - which I read in the French version La confusion des sentiments. Written as a confession, the book is the evocation of a  professor of philology through the  eyes of a former pupil and admirer. Berlin is mentioned a couple of times - 
 maximum five, as a stop in the university career of the author of the story, but also a placen of sexual obscurity and human degradation. A kind of double of Zweig's Vienna.
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