Thursday, March 02, 2006

The last hoorah

Ben Wettervogel, the slightly geeky yet adorable morning weatherman says that metrological spring has arrived. Mother Nature, however, has another idea. Although the crocus are starting to bloom outside my front door, it has snowed for the last two days! Yesterday afternoon the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining but the snow was coming straight down like a rainstorm. For the most part though, giant snowflakes have gently danced from the sky, floating through the air like the feather in Forrest Gump. I tried to take a picture, but it really didn’t do a justice.

Most of the flakes have melted as they reached the ground, but the trees in my courtyard look like a frosted fairyland. I cannot wait to experience spring in Berlin, but this unexpected last burst of winter reminds me to savor every moment, as my one and only winter in Berlin is quickly coming to an end.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Poor Michigan

It is necessary to add one more thing to my list of cultural imports that Germany does not need from America: the movie, 8 Mile. This has nothing to do with cultural snobbery and everything to do with painting a bad picture of my beloved Michigan and confusing people. I think most Americans who even cared to see the movie, saw it as a realistic fiction about a rapper from Detroit who is odd. Whatever, there are lots of strange Americans; that what makes the country work, move on!

I bring this up because most unfortunately the movie was shown on German television last night. FABULOUS... sit down with the kids on Sunday night and watch a movie about violence and an idiotic little white guy from Detroit. Today at work someone mentioned that she watched the movie, which then led my colleagues actually analyzed the story. "Erin, how dangerous is 8 Mile Road? Does everyone know Eminem in the US? Did he really grow up in a trailer park?"

"He hates his mother," said one colleague. "Really, his anger comes from the fact that he hates himself," said the head of the department. Of all the news I have heard about Marshall Mathers, a psycho-analysis has not been a topic!

In some strange way, the fact that someone who had a rough beginning, made it big, and now lives in a giant house in one of the country's wealthiest counties, is an American success story. Furthermore, as an American, he has the right to make whatever kind of movie he wants. But hearing my colleagues reaction to the movie really makes me aware of how American pop culture influences how people perceive the country.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Watch Out Sir Simon

I was expecting a quite Saturday... grocery shopping, cleaning and writing my article. I was doing a pretty good job checking things off my list when Matthias called. A friend from college was in town for the weekend and Matthias had planned an full itinerary of activities, including a tour of the Berlin Philharmonic. I should join them for the tour, he said, "it will clear your mind and allow you to work on your article later." How could I refuse!? So off to the Philharmonic I went.

To me, the building is somewhat of a yellow monstrosity from the outside. But the tour guide explained how the architect created a very organic looking building that was inspired by seeing ships come in and out of the harbor near his childhood home. Though still not my personal style, I am now able to appreciate the building a LOT more knowing the stories behind the building's details.

The tour took us inside the main performance hall, and that... is where it happened! After another very interesting lecture, this time about the quality of sound the hall produces, we were encouraged to walk around the hall and see the stage from many different angles because the stage is in the center. I enjoyed looking around, but where was Matthias, I wondered? He's not ahead of me, he's not coming up the stairs... Oh no, Herr Schlecker was on the stage, standing where Sir Simon Rattle normally conducts the world-famous Berlin Philharmonic. And Matthias was not standing there just to see the stage up-close... he was pretending to conduct the orchestra! Most fortunately, Matthias' friend Patrick took a picture. Really, my story can end here, because the picture is worth a 1000 words!

We had not been told that such things were not allowed, its just that most people wouldn't have even thought to do such a thing. Only Matthias:-)