Monday, June 22, 2009

The Curse of Berlin

My cowboy-hatted compadre was making chit-chit with the cab driver. "Looks like the curse of Berlin!" she chirped, apropos of the rain pounding away at the cab's roof.

"Ach...there's no curse of Berlin!" clucked the driver in a reflexive PR maneouvre. "This is a great city! But every year it rains on Fete de la Musique. Every year!" he repeated.

It's true, the resilience of the party people in the face of scheisse Wetter is phenomenal. We sped through the suburban blankness of Koepenick to an undisclosed location. When we'd instructed the driver "Reichenzentrum" no address had been necessary -- the place had always seemed mysterious and elusive, not least because of the flying saucer, according to urban legend, harbored on its grounds. I felt as if we were bound for Berlin's very own Roswell.

We emerged to buckets of water accompanied by much Donner und Blitzen, taking refuge under a tent with some revelers, most of whom seemed cool except for some Oompa Loompa-skinned teenyboppers, presumably Lichtenburgers.

Finally, rattled by all the thunder,lightning and errant electrical gear, underdressed and shivering like the Dickens, we escaped our makeshift purgatory and made a B-Line for Reichenzentrum, through the brush a beckoning beacon of red and green flashing lights. Sadly, we were told access to the UFO wouldn't be possible for two more weeks. It's testament to the German sense of logic that on the day of a huge deluge, you couldn't actually go inside anywhere to warm up.

Between tents, cool-as-a-Teutonic-cucumber (or is that Guerke?) German boys lurched about on the wet beach. The Spree chugged along in the background, flanked by enough greenery to make me miss Seattle, and the ghosts of an old abandoned amusement park loomed, including a huge Riesenrad, or ferris wheel. An Orange sky speared by dingy smokestacks completed the picture.

There were "chillout areas" (the German verb is "chillen", a Dinglish word similar in conception to "uploaden") near the dock, i.e. soaked mattresses plunked here and there, and soggy paper lanterns dangling like sorry odes to Blanche du Bois. Mirrored disco balls, halved and quartered, were set in relief into the trees like toadstools.

Soaked to the skin, I hadn't been this wetly miserable since a belligerent queen lobbed several drinks at me at a Pet Shop Boys concert in Chicago. At least that venue had been heated.

Finally I decided to make Zitronensaft out of life's lemons, ordering a lime Jever, and warmed up the only way I knew how: trudging through the wet sand and joining the others in the zombie shuffle.

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