Monday, November 06, 2006

Welcome to the Blog

Hi Everyone! Thanks for checking out this new little blog. I'll start by explaining my title, which is actually more wishful thinking than a grand reflection of my cosmopolitan life in quaint old Europe. I haven't found any good bagels in Berlin, just circular bread. And the romantic notion of dining riverside in a charming capital is way too quaint for this city, which the last century has stamped with an array of ugliness.

But I really liked the idea of eating bagels by the Spree and notions of how the city could be are a pleasing complement to how it is. This kind of dreaming is popular among Berlin residents, at least the ones who are not born in the city but rather end up here, including thinkers like Moses Mendelssohn, Rosa Luxembourg and Christopher Isherwood, as well as every expatriate who laments how the supermarket closes at 20:00 sharp.
(Isherwood's writings inspired Cabaret; while some might argue that he didn't want to change Berlin but rather gloried in its decadent excess, I would say that his vision of the bed-hopping and boozing included a sense of hope that things could somehow stay this way; they couldn't, and therein lies the dreaming.)

And now for the second part of the title: "A New Yorker in Berlin." This is very different from "An American in Germany" principally because there are many Americans who would argue that New York doesn't represent the rest of America--and many New Yorkers who would heartily second this claim--and many Germans who would similarly reject Berlin. Like New York, it is full of foreigners and weirdos, ultraliberal, noisy and messy and unappealing to the uninitiated. The northeastern city's residents are reputed to be ruder and wittier than those from southern or simply more rural zones. It is also a cultural center, a scene of artistic production, and a place where you can party all night. So for the rest of the year I'll be posting thoughts from this spiritually similar city--hope you enjoy.

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