The man I now understand to be named Wolfgang comes in and he sets out his little tools on the table meticulously (this ancient table is made in a workshop, I note, the silver cars outside in the sun through the doorway are made in factories, and this, I decide, is the way it has always and should always be for western civilization). Wolfgang begins making more of his 'musical instruments' from bits of wire and bottle tops as I sit with the slow beer. This is very German I think, and quite precious in a way. He's wearing a beige safari suit, because of the heat. There is a good deal of silence, punctuated by the occasional lament of a lovelorn German girl from the ancient jukebox.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
It's HOT. Activity must be limited, so I sit in the old fellas bar round the corner once more biding time around lunch; time spent successfully standing still, or even going backwards. Inside it's dark, and there's nobody else but me and the owner. I could sit there for hours, staring at people walking past.
Monday, 24 August 2009
Visited the Berlinische Galerie today- very swanky, quite a nice bar too, appropriately run by surly types enjoying some kind of seriousness in just being there. I enjoyed their total lack of interest in us, and really enjoyed the stuff in the gallery (DADA - and Constructivism of the kind I would hardly normally like- but hell) until it was time to retreat to the bar and watch art people once more, and there are plenty of them, and there are horses, yes horses, in the city farm in the distance (goats too!) and the real german art people wear wonderfully strange clothes- black leather boots mated with flip flops was an elegant (?) first for me, and trousers which appear as wrap around skirts and in grey all over (same girl) and big sunglasses circa Fane Fonda in 'Klute'. Like most people in galleries I spend most of my time in galleries looking at the other people in galleries, they should really kick me out if they knew the thoughts in my head. Weirdly, I think I'm not alone in this.
Saturday, 22 August 2009
Chucked away the theory book. The more the academic waxes lyrical about the poverty and the pain of Baudelaire, it seems the less convincing he becomes. I have known several Baudelaire's in my time, there's Floppy Tom for instance. Floppy Tom got bared from most of Soho, and you could never work out how the guy who knew so much (about writing) got the time to read it all- what with his dedication to being pissed out of his mind. I have 'flaneured' and I have 'derived' with the best of them, and the academics book slowly began to STINK as I remembered this.
So it's back to the basic activity of holidays- the searching out of new objects. The street markets of Berlin are perfect for this, and we graze them happily, looking for objects. It's probably why our home is so full of crap- but it is all crap that means something to us. It is a delicate operation and involves much disappointment, but I think I've found something Zaha would REALLY HATE just up the road. It is a figurine. Might use it to start my course at the AA. Unfortunately it is horribly expensive and this reminds me of those holidays one had as a child- where there was only so much pocket money. Luckily, on holiday, you don't think of money in quite the same was as you do at home, so I may well still find myself with the figure of an adolescent girl splayed on her arse stroking an erect cat. Let's see.
Friday, 21 August 2009
A hairy Norwegian has just collapsed on the television. He has collapsed from walking to excess, in a most peculiar manner, not unlike a speedy chicken, the streets of Berlin. And he has collapsed in to the arms of a giant teddy bear mascot and he appears to be in agonizing pain and I'm bewildered as to why anybody would decide to walk faster than anybody else in the name of sport, to somehow stop yourself from breaking in to a useful long distance trot as the very essence of the activity. Other than sado-masochism what is the point of that? They must be a very strange bunch, the walkers. Some sports are better than others. I can see the point of the pole vault, soaring up high to challenge gravity itself, also the high jump, but I don't get the long jump at all, they are still doing it now when all else is called off in todays lovely Berlin rain.
We had a grey day ourselves; a few drinks in an undistinguished bar with a view of grey housing, and an adventure, misplaced, to buy a discounted frying pan in a department store. Grey days can be good, especially after last night encounter with ARTIST and artist studio. All too too perfect for me and a bit of a shock. It was lovely, but awash with all the signifiers of success, the palacial flat and another for the art, and well, ART THING. It demanded grey today, because at the end of it, at the middle of it, and at the beginning of it, I couldn't feel anything but those bloody signifiers and felt as much of a buffoon as anybody else.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
OK, so I've recovered enough now to ask some basic questions regarding civility, such as 'why can't architects furnish their apartments with comfortable chairs?' This is our second architects home, in Berlin, and believe me I'm bloody grateful, the place is FANTASTIC, it displays SUBLIME TASTE, apart from four flights of stairs. But can I sit in a comfortable chair -NO WAY. I have to fucking climb out of them. I worry the condition is symptomatic of a deeper neurosis- I know for instance that all German architecture students were forced to build Reitveld chairs for generations, and I cannot see the point of the Reitveld chair AT ALL. I'll give it to Eames he did nice chair, but nobody can afford them, and if you get a nice copy, you are still not with 'original'. Actually come to think of it I can't get out of an Eames chairs either. Seamus has a lovely cream Eames lounge chair, which reminds me of a cream leather jacket I had when I was 25 and thought was terribly cool - BUT, buttfucks- IT WASN'T! or maybe a cream Cadillac. Luckily he's pretty cool and laughs because he got his for next to nothing anyway from a car boot sale or something jut like he would ALWAYS DO. Some arsehole on Grand Designs put an Eames chair on his stair landing (just for show) IDIOT.
Anyway, round here it is NICE. The bar (www. wilhelm-hoeeck.de) round the corner still has the same old men in it. One of whom presented us with his homemade musical instruments today-bottle tops mounted on skewers. I think he was serious. What do you expect, he says, 'This is Berlin!'
I don't want to make out that Berlin is full of jolly eccentrics, but I do like places where jolly eccentrics are tolerated and the food is better than in Bethnal Green.
Trying to read very serious books in preparation for next academic year. This is an amusing pursuit, as long as it is accompanied by sufficient alcohol and something by Ed McBane.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Knew you'd miss me. We've been away up a mountain near Cork- rather uncharacteristic- for a whole week with limited supplies. Wrote a couple of unwrought poems. This one describes an attempted escape.
Walking Down a Hill To A Place We Can't Pronounce
When I was younger
I would walk days and days
To places I didn't know
Just to do it
Now I am older
I prefer to pause
And watch cows in a field
Doing cow things
But we set out to walk down to the village we could not pronounce
For wine, bread and beer
There was a pub
An hour she said- confident
We past occasional bungalows like temples high up
Stripped and plain and workmanlike
We plodded down woodland track
Noting bits of rubbish for guidance
We passed abandoned houses full of bees and barking dogs
Others just seemed unfinished
They'd lost interest, with wiring hanging out
And unfinished porches
Then we turned to the speed of the road
Tiring watchful of something unknown called traffic
Here men stood on porches
And made big porticos and lawns
Our end was a crossroads and a pub
And shops which were shut on account of eccentricity
Our limbs were stiff as we sampled our wallets
For meagre funds
We had two and a little more
The barman told us of the civilization here
back before the temples, back to mounds
Of recent history he was less sure, for all is change and no buttery anymore.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
Just read a fantastic piece by Dave Hickey. I'd send you the link if I knew how. He's writing about the London Frieze Art Fair 2008- for Vanity Fair. I got it by clicking some photo that came up when I Googled him - of him with his mouth open- putting his foot in it - in Shoreditch House (down the road) of all places (he lives in Las Vegas) . The piece itself is perfect on the Art World. Include the Architecture World if you like. Julie's up in Birmingham today encountering the Art World in a horrible room, or whole series of horrible rooms of various sizes, in Aston University, which sounds bad before you even get there. She is participating, and I'm left here willing her on, but knowing it's all a lot of crap at the same time because I read Dave Hickey and I love it.
There is a melancholy in great writing, and Hickey always manages to hold it together, even when he's falling apart. I think that may be the definition of cool.
Two in the morning or something. Been having a fine time with the Stones (Get Yer Ya Ya's Out) and ACDC (Live) Keef really knows how to drive a band, I find it mesmerizing, mesmerizing my friends. As for ACDC, well is it all about the brothers? Both records, to me, are incredible ART.
Went to a crap art show in Hackney last night- really horribly bad art- (apart from DR of course- excuse yourself on grounds of 'what the fuck am I doing here?') . Hackney is awash with crap artists and coke. It all felt very seedy, and when I listen to those bands above, I hear determination with drugs, not just drug shit. I think if your working and you need some drugs, then use 'em- but not working and doing drugs is bad shit. Perhaps you need to be talented to use drugs properly.
Keef is exceptional.