...THIS IS HEAVEN available for pre-order on Amazon, here...

Sep 30, 2010

The Rolling Stones in the Waldbühne in Berlin


Rohleder's new home in Berlin
Die Neue Zürcher Zeitung has a feature about Alexandra Rohleder. You've heard of her? You didn't? But it's the usual story. She can't trust here eyes. My God, the place is cheap. Isn't a digit missing? And it's in Berlin, Germany. Near the Olympic Stadium, where Hitler opened the Olympic Games of 1936 (we mention this, because it plays an important role in Carl Sagan's novel Contact---the opening is the first TV broadcast in the planet's history, aliens pick up on it, and contact is made).

The usual story. You can get the property for a song. But...if you want to rebuild, there should be grass on the roof, and timber on the walls, since it's also close to one of Le Corbusier's signature buildings. And the existing structure, sorry, we'll have to destroy it. But we can get this young architect. It's the habitual interplay between "we have no money" and "no money spared," that we know so well from our own attempts at home improvement.

Olympic stadium in Berlin

Now, located next to these structures (Olympic Stadium, Corbusier building, Rohleder's dwelling), we have the Berliner Waldbühne, also built by Hitler. It was a wooden structure, an amphitheater built into the woods. Very pretty, with room for an audience of 25,000 people. Good acoustics.

Come 1965. Come the Rolling Stones, and their first concert in Berlin. They are scheduled for the Waldbühne, the largest venue short of the Olympia Stadium itself, where the acoustics would be impossible. 

Now, you need to understand Berlin during the age of The Wall. Berlin was split into an western section (a geographical western island in a communist sea), and the eastern section (separated from us by the wall, but united with the rest of communist Eastern Germany). The wall had been built 4 years before, and there were still all sorts of communal arrangements for the city, including the fast transit system, possibly the first fast transit system in the world, built during the late 19th century. It's called S-Bahn ("S" for "schnell" = fast), and in those days, it was owned and operated by the East (the communists).

Berlin's S-Bahn
Now, you also need to understand that in 1965, 20 years after the war, Germany was still relatively poor, and adolescents typically would not own cars, perhaps not even scooters. Also, Berlin is one of the largest cities in the world geographically, and your scooter would simply not get you to the Waldbühne in time. So you use the S-Bahn.

It's 1965, the concert will start in 2 hours, and you climb onto the communist S-Bahn. And you are not the only one. In fact, there are 25,000 more of you.

So, we get on the S-Bahn, and we are in a good mood. Very good mood. Somehow, people have already started to probe the sturdiness of the S-Bahn accommodations. The seats are wooden, and very solid. And yet, it's amazing what 25,000 adolescents can do when the animal spirits rise.

The planks on the seats come loose. More planks come loose (we're on the way to the Waldbühne now). Other items that had defined the interior of the S-Bahn for 70 years also come loose, all this while we are practicing our understanding of Rolling Stones' songs ("I can't get no satisfaction"---notice the double negation). Upon arrival at the station (the Waldbühne has its own S-Bahn station), not much is left of the interior of our car, or any other car in service.

We enter the Waldbühne, and Mick Jagger comes on the stage. He is in a good mood, his band is in a good mood, and we are in a good mood. The Waldbühne, remember, was a wooden structure, and we had just practiced on such structures. The spirits rise, and while the Stones get going, we get going as well. 

The Rolling Stones at the Waldbühne

Two hours later, nothing is left of the Waldbühne. Nothing. It was rebuilt 30 years later, after the re-unification, in concrete.

I am not making this up.

The Waldbühne rebuilt after reunification

PS: here's a brief period clip from the local TV news:

Sep 27, 2010

The Obama identity

Vanity Fair has a preview of a new satirical novel with political content by Edward Klein and John LeBoutillier involving, among other things, Obama's birth certificate.




And while we are at it, here's an excerpt from one of the hopeless scripts of the washed-up scriptwriter who disappeared in the Bay of Cannes together with the Giant Wave:



INT. FISHER LABORATORIES - LAB ROOM - DAY

Lab environment, gear, computers, desks, etc.
ALBERRT behind his desk, in front of a computer screen.

A toy helicopter crosses the room, remotely controlled by SKINHEAD JOE. The copter buzzes around Alberrt’s head, then lands on his desk. Alberrt ignores it.

SKINHEAD JOE
Alberrt, you busy?

ALBERRT
I’m into the computer of the State of Hawaii Department of Health. With System’s Administrator privileges.

CUT TO:
Skinheads POV.

On Alberrt’s screen we perceive Obama’s birth certificate; a popup window asks “Delete Permanently” with alternatives YES, NO, CANCEL, the cursor hovering over the YES.

ALBERRT (CONT’D) (speaking in cadences, when possible)
In 2001, the State of Hawaii Health Department went paperless. Paper documents were discarded. The official record of Obama’s birth is now an offical electronic record, as Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Health Department, informs us via the Honolulu Star Bulletin, the leading newspaper of the archipelago. I am holding this document---the only official proof of Obama’s American citizenship---in my hands … under my mouse, actually, the able mouse of a fringe hacker imposing as system’s administrator, and if its cursor clicks YES, the document is gone, and Obama has lost his citizenship.

SKINHEAD JOE
He can’t stay president without it. Go for it man. Just do it, do it, do it (to the gestures of a winning tennis champion)

Alberrt does not react. An angel walks through the room; the moment passes.

SKINHEAD JOE (CONT’D)
What holds you back?

Alberrt clicks NO.

ALBERRT
I think I need a raise. And there is too much corroborative evidence. A copy of the birth certificate resides in the vault of Obama’s Chicago office.

Alberrt’s screen changes to the image of an Obama official displaying the certificate.

ALBERRT (CONT’D)
The copy has no legal value independent of the health records, but provides a straw to which Obama could cling. Next …

Alberrts’s screen image changes to a clip from the Honolulu Advertizer.

ALBERRT (CONT’D)
..the birth was announced on Sunday, August 13, 1961, in the Honolulu Advertizer.
CUT TO:
Skinheads face, Skinhead clearly clueless

ALBERRT (O.S.)(CONT’D)
Sunday, August 13, 1961, was, as you may recall, the birthday of the Berlin Wall---and we don’t believe in coincidence, or do we…

Now the Skinhead understands.
CUT TO:
Alberrt

Alberrts’s screen image changes to a clip from the Honolulu Birth Star Bulletin.

ALBERRT (CONT’D)
And finally there is the entry in the Honolulu Birth Start Bulletin. Through…(points to his head)…through my brain, I have acquired system administrator privileges to all these sites, but there are backups, there is physical stuff, tapes, disks, in vaults, which I cannot access myself. And the Honolulu advertizer still keeps a physical record. Now, this …

Alberrts’s screen image changes to a mugshot of some guy.

ALBERRT (CONT’D)
… is the system administrator of the Honolulu Advertizer. He got recently divorced, and has several violations for drunk-and-driving.

Alberrts’s screen image changes to a mugshot of KHALID SHAIKH MOHAMMED

ALBERRT (CONT’D)
And this (beat) is the system administrator of the Hawaii Health Department. He never got married, for obvious reasons, but is behind on his mortgage payments, apparently spending too much time in the Waikiki Bananas…

Alberrts’s screen image changes to a picture of the WAIKIKI BANANAS

ALBERRT (CONT’D)
… an infamous beach venue for exotic surfers…

Sep 26, 2010

Sunday sex alert

According to Peter Doig, the British painter, the angels in Caravaggio's Seven acts of mercy of 1606 are having sex, and enjoying it.


Seven acts of mercyWhite canoe, detail (P. Doig)

Sep 20, 2010

Destination: Kazakhstan

We've posted his censorship alert 6 hours ago, but nobody cares. Visits from Le Monde or any other of the elite French newspapers...forget it. Nobody is interested. Nothing but the usual, lechery visits of our site for our naked girls from...(don't ask).

I informed Sacha about this unfortunate turn of events (is it a "turn," actually?), and he decided to let it go, and leave the country, leave France, leave the old, tired continent, and look for uncensored pastures elsewhere. And there he is, on his way to Kazakhstan---the only transcontinental destination available at this late hour by train (8:36pm, the train is late, of course), pictured above. Fortunately, it's a non-stop ride that will take only 6 days and 6 minutes.

Bye bye, Sacha, we will miss you!

Keep your powder dry, especially in Kazakhstan! And send us a picture of the rotating golden statue of President Breftzerk. And quit smoking at an appropriate moment in the future---especially cigarettes that look suspiciously like something more.


-"Uncensored pastures, that sounds like a flip from the washed-up scriptwriter."
-"Come to think of it, we haven't heard from him in a long time."
-"Well, he was supposed to have disappeared in the Mediterranean, off Cannes."
-"Perhaps he is in Kazakhstan now, and works as a poet for President Breftzerk."

Sep 14, 2010

Communist swimwear

communist swim wear from Eastern GermanyIt was 1985, before the Berlin Wall had come down, and I was visiting at the Rockefeller College of the State University of New York at Albany. They had arranged for an apartment for me, owned by a physics professor from Union College, Schenectady, who would go to CERN for a sabbatical (yes, click it, and click here, as well). What I did in Schenectady? I learned how to pronounce "Schenectady!"

There was a TV in my apartment, and on the TV, one fine evening, a commercial appears. It's a fashion show with a female man-eater (are all man-eaters female?) who pronounces the words "day wear" with a heavy Russian accent, while a mousy model comes on stage in a shapeless gray garment, and disappears again. The light dims, the man-eater flashes a torch-light, pronounces "night wear," and the mousy model re-appears in the very same outfit. The light comes up again, the man eater pronounces "swim wear," and the mousy model makes her last appearance, this time with a swim belt wrapped around her hopeless dress. CUT. A male person, with an unaccented voice, proclaims:"Wendy is better; Wendy offers choice."

Two days later, Wendy, a fast food chain, pulled the commercial, "because it had raised controversy." I never understood. I thought it was very funny, and very true. Especially the accent was very funny, Zwim-Weaarh,  Zwim-Weaarh. By the way, I forgot to tell, with each appearance of the model, the Stalinist man eater (obviously a member of the Tea Party) would raise her hands and clap enthusiastically while gazing triumphantly at the audience, that would then chime in, reluctantly.

But now I do understand why Wendy pulled the commercial. Because, you know, the swim wear under communism was much better that I (we?) thought---as the newly discovered picture from the former, communist Eastern Germany, published in Der Spiegel, exemplifies.

-"If only the Tea Party would know, it would change their outlook completely."
-"It could mean the end of the culture wars."
-"Communism is OK, really."
-"Moderates, independents, centrists, whoever is out there, draw your Tea Party friends to this post and see the world change."

Sep 2, 2010

William Hague "not gay"


Earlier today we thought about putting up a post about William Hague (ex-leader of the British Conservative Party, now foreign secretary), who has officially declared this morning that he is not gay.

Now, it's a beginner's thing in epistemology (or whatever) that negative statements cannot be disproved conclusively in infinite referent frames (no observer has infinite observational prowess, unobserved cases might always provide the elusive counterexample).

William Hague and Christopher Myers

So, William Hague did not have sex with his advisor Christopher Myers, because, because you were there, right? But you weren't; only Hague and Myers were, since they were traveling together, sharing a hotel room, campaigning, whatever, while the bright young thing is only 25 years old (Hague looks much older than he is).

And then we decided that we should not put up a post about Hague, because it would be politically correct in a sense.

And then the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced his "100% support of William Hague in this matter."

And then we decided to get (back) into the game.

100% support. For what? For not being gay? For denying being gay? For not coming out of the closet? For coming out of the non-closet? For not coming out of the non-closet? How does he know?

-"And, by the way, David, I'm not gay!"
-"Absolutely, William, done deal, politicians never lie, especially about their sexuality. Gay sex, bah!"

And so on and so forth. Thank You.