Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bottle Rockets and Molotov Cocktails

Sat in the wohnzimmer of Mary and Carlos' flat, peering out the formidable windows of their old Mietkaserne in Neukolln, we felt like creatures in a terrarium watching Armageddon unfolding in front of us. We had just toasted in the New Year with some bubbly, and when the conflagration began, everyone pulled out their respective cameras and began shooting each other with the warm, oddly comforting red glow in the Hintergrund. "Don't forget to tag me on Facebook." Where were you during the Blitzkrieg?

Now couch-bound and sipping Campari and Soda, Carlos voiced the thing everyone feared -- getting beaned with one of the goddamn things, resulting in loss of limb or worse. "We should get a taxi. You said they were exploding those things on the UBahn, right?" Indeed I had. Earlier I'd met a friend for dinner in Kreuzberg, and returning home, I'd seen several examples of this collective pyromania gripping the city. You never saw who exactly was doing it, but I had a few suspects in mind. All the rational minded people would start when the sonic boom ripped through the underground. Some people would laugh it off. Mary theorized in her explanation for this collective madness that all rational volk, frustrated by this nerve wracking habit perpetrated by "civilized hooligans", would eventually give in and start exploding things themselves. It just came across as a misguided patriotism.

Walking home in the wee hours from an evening of Bacchanalia, a hushed silence had taken over the city. The only sounds were distant churchbells, a Berlin trademark, muffled by frost and fog. The Teutonic architecture surrounding me seemed stately and grand, only slightly menacing. The little green pill I'd taken earlier had imparted a sense of peace and acceptance. Suddenly I stepped on a live cap, which exploded underfoot, and did a little goosestep. I felt a puerile sense of glee, and for a second joined the ranks of the collectively mad.

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