Have you heard of that thing “Mercury in Retrograde”? Until about a day ago I thought it was something the internet created. In a way it is. Apparently it’s some sort of Astrological event that happens a few times a year, and jacks everyone and everything up for a couple weeks. This week was feeling a bit…retrograde-y.
There’ve been mix-ups, phone issues, anxieties about the future, however, as I look back at the week…I’ve been complaining about a whole lot of nothing.
It started off well with dumplings at Aroma, a Chinese restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for about 5 billion years.
In an effort to get my body on track, I picked up a delicious juice at Funk You in Bikini Berlin, and watched the monkeys play in the zoo.
I still have no clue if those are real or not.
Had a nice little brunch with the main squeeze, who squints his eyes when a camera comes out, but still looks handsome. We also received welcome news about the health and safety of a few family and friends who’ve been on our minds.
Last week, I took a short photography workshop, and since then, I’ve been on the hunt for inspiration and education. In that pursuit, I stopped into C|O Berlin to look at their new photography exhibits.
C|O moved from mitte to its new home in the West last year. Built in the post-WWII/Cold War world, the Amerika Haus became a symbol of America’s support for democracy, and prominent meeting point for political leaders, and ordinary Berliners alike. However, in recent decades, it was a target for anti-American demonstrations, and post 9-11 fears led to the building being, for all intents and purposes, closed.
Luckily, it’s been given new life and purpose! I joined up with a German guided tour, and tried to keep up. I was particularly fascinated by Blow Up, an exhibition on Michaelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film of the same. The film, and the images offer a reflection upon photography during the glamorous and permissive swingin’ sixties.
In a likely feeble if not futile attempt to improve my photographic eye, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to my surroundings. Throughout Berlin, you can find little plaques on the cobblestones called Stolpersteine or “Stumbling Blocks”. They lie outside the former homes, workplaces and even schools of victims of National Socialism. Our neighborhood is no exception.
Just two buildings down from ours, is a larger sign dedicated to Kläre Bloch. Berlin’s first female taxi driver, she hid and protected individuals who otherwise would have received the same fate as those unfortunate people whose names appear on the Stolpersteine.
Stolpersteine now appear all over Germany and Europe. Munich banned the stolpersteine in 2004 after prominent Jewish community leaders argued that placing victim names on the ground to be stepped on and desecrated was an unacceptable commemoration. However, with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Tuesday January 27th, the city looks set to overturn the 2004 ban.
If the memory of Auschwitz isn’t enough to drive all ridiculous notions of mercurial movements away, I don’t know what is.
Midwinter blues or Mercury, I don’t have much to complain about.