This is how you should travel: on the bus down Müllerstrasse towards the Hauptbahnhof through a golden Berlin almost-spring morning, with the TV tower glistening through the haze of the early day. At the station you will get on the grey-red train from Austria and soon roll past the fields and woods and moors and lakes of Brandenburg and Saxonia and grey depressing towns named Heideblick and Elsterwalde. You will drive through the hills of the Elbe valley dotted with castles and dilapidated shacks and pensioners walking their sausage dogs. At one point there will be a deer running parallel with your train window for a while, and you will curse nature for being so pathetic and corny.
February 25th, 2014 · webstuff
If you happen to be in Dublin next weekend, I can highly recommend the exhibition of a friend of mine: Lydia Banks. Lydia’s sensual visual art combines the themes of sex and death and the occasional superhero (which all good art should, in my opinion).
The launch event for the upcoming exhibition on Sunday 2nd of March will be hosted by La Dolce Vita wine bar in Temple Bar. Lydia’s artworks will be on display and for sale (for sale!), Latin Jazz trio Coleco will be providing the soundtrack, and there will be free Italian aperitivos courtesy of La Dolce Vita, because Italian food goes well with sex. And death.
RSVP here, and for more information or to contact Lydia Banks visit: www.facebook.com/lydiabanksart.
January 29th, 2014 · Fiction
I’ve decided to publish a few more fiction pieces on here this year. Here’s the first one, inspired by this photo by Robert Capa:
Robert Capa: Collaborator woman who had a German soldier’s child, Chartres, 18 August 1944 © International Center of Photography
And then they had pulled the woman from her apartment. He had tried to bring some order to the crowd on Place St. Marguerite, but he was just one lone policeman, and neither the fighters of the Resistance with their steel helmets and half-empty wine bottles nor the American soldiers on their halftrack on the side of the square and their empty wine bottles had been willing to help.
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Today, I walked past the haggling and munching tourists at the flea market in Mauerpark along the former death strip of the Berlin Wall to a quiet and green war grave for German soldiers in a former forest that is now a park, with dogs playing in the meadow opposite and a group of Medieval re-enactors in chain mail and armour rehearsing rattling sword play nearby. There also was a large Soviet war memorial on the other side of the road, a large cenotaph remembering the 13,200 Red Army soldiers laid to rest here who died in the Battle of Berlin with red marble and shiny bronze tablets and quotes by Josef Stalin, and coming from the war I stopped in a small cafe for tea where you can buy every single piece of the furniture and even the crockery you’re eating from if you like it.
I had planned to write a lengthy post about the bloodstained heathen origins of Christmas as a proper sendoff for this year’s last post. But then I decided to just write a short post about my favourite Icelandic Christmas monster, inspired by this image by Icelandic artist Thrandur:
This is Grýla. She is one of the female trolls who live in the Icelandic highlands. For Christmas she makes a trip down to the towns and cities, searching for naughty children. She returns to her cave with a bag stuffed full of crying kids, whom she boils alive and then devours whole. She has 13 sons, the Yule Lads (Iceland’s 13 Santas – yes, they have 13, not just the one), who also do their bit to harass Icelandic families in the 13 days up to Christmas – they are a little better behaved than their mother, and leave gifts in shoes. Grýla is in a perpetual bad mood, mainly because she is always hungry. And it’s not only children who attract her- her first two husbands bored her so much she ate them too. The ogress is accompanied by the massive Yule Cat, which also has a taste for children—those who don’t get any new pieces of clothing before Christmas fall prey to it.
There you have it. Christmas is mostly about eating children, I guess. But to make up for those of you who prefer a single Santa without troll mother, here’s a short video based on Neil Gaimain’s poem ‘Nicholas was’. Happy holidays. I’m off to eat something now.
Tags:Christmas·Gryla·Iceland·Neil Gaiman·Yule Cat·Yule Lads
now, if you were teaching creative
writing, he asked, what would you
I’d tell them to have an unhappy love
affair, hemorrhoids, bad teeth
and to drink cheap wine,
to keep switching the head of their
bed from wall to wall
and then I’d tell them to have
another unhappy love affair
and never to use a silk typewriter
avoid family picnics
or being photographed in a rose
read Hemingway only once,
stare at photos of Gertrude Stein
and read Sherwood Anderson in bed
while eating Ritz crackers,
realize that people who keep
talking about sexual liberation
are more frightened than you are.
listen to E. Power Biggs work the
organ on your radio while you’re
rolling Bull Durham in the dark
in a strange town
with one day left on the rent
after having given up
friends, relatives and jobs.
never consider yourself superior and /
and never try to be.
have another unhappy love affair.
watch a fly on a summer curtain.
never try to succeed.
don’t shoot pool.
be righteously angry when you
find your car has a flat tire.
take vitamins but don’t lift weights or jog.
then after all this
reverse the procedure.
have a good love affair.
and the thing
you might learn
is that nobody knows anything–
not the State, nor the mice
the garden hose or the North Star.
and if you ever catch me
teaching a creative writing class
and you read this back to me
I’ll give you a straight A
right up the pickle
- Charles Bukowski, If I Were to Teach Creative Writing
At the main train station of the German capital, the only open shops are the 24 hour pharmacy and the souvenir shop. Hungry travellers cross the square in front of the station with its yellow queue of taxis and the four-laned street to get to the greasy kebab stand at the bus stop opposite. It’s shortly before 11 pm on a Thursday.
From the tower at the Berlin-Spandau ship canal, where an old man holds vigil for his long-dead brother, you can no longer make out the old shacks and remnants of the Berlin wall on the other side at night. The pulsing yellow eyesore that is the faux circus tent of the Flic-Flac travelling circus for well-off Berliners is just too bright.
Sign of the times, surely.
The German tourists on the bus laugh as the pack of feral dogs crosses the street at the airport roundabout. And why should they not? There are three dirty Jack Russell terrier and one lanky greyish-brown greyhound, an odd-looking combination for a modern day pack of hounds. The tourists do not know that the dogs hunt hares in the bushes and undergrowth around the business parks in Dublin 15, tearing them to pieces. The dogs leave shreds of paws and ears and bits of bone lying around the car parks for unsuspecting call center workers.