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Monday, July 16, 2012

ROMA


I heard these two in the far distance... and the sound got louder and louder so I ran out from my apartment and chased after them. They played for me, and then we tried to chat, but they couldn't speak English, and I speak timid German.


This happened just a few days after arriving to Berlin, and then today I ran into them again. I was kind of grumpy when I ran into them, as I had my accordion in it's soft gig bag on my back - and was on my way to the U-Bahn station to take my Guerrini in for a repair - AGAIN.

I had a big issue with my bass switch, it wasn't clicking over to the deeper tone and instead was permanently a tenor. Not good. It was playable, but not ideal at all. It definitely happened during the flight from Canada to Germany, and I know I did everything possible to secure my accordion for travel, so I have a feeling this part was already loose and the movement through the flight and such finalized the problem.

Last week I took it into the Akkordeon Centrum Brusch shop, located in Stieglitz - Berlin. They did a great job, under a short amount of time, but it cost me 200 Euros. OUCH.

To my disappointment, through the repair a certain mechanical part on the bass side was making a C note play while I played other chords. Something was off inside, as it would play this note even as I pushed the bellows in and out. Sighhh...

So, I was walking down the street and saw these two fellows, and they were happy to see me again and I then cheered up as they played a song for me and after trying to explain what I was doing, where I was going... I simply pulled out my accordion and played a little bit for them. I perform Romanian/Serbian/Gypsy songs within my sets, and LOVE this style of music and these guys were pretty amazed that I was playing this style for them. They shouted the song names, and played along.

They could hear the problem with my accordion, and we half English/Romanian/German agreed it would all work out.

We said our 'goodbyes', and I went to the accordion shop and they were able to remedy my issue right away. Viele danke!!!


I've seen numerous accordion players, with other buskers (guitars, tambourines) since I've arrived. They roam around the cafes, and the energy in the air shifts as they approach the tables. They seem to become a nuisance. This is what I'm observing anyways. Their sound is projecting into intimate conversations and people cannot hear each other anymore, and the public lean into each other a little closer, trying to avoid the sound.

After the buskers finish playing they come right up to you with their hands out, or with paper cups held in front of you. They've generally all been very young boys.



I'm fascinated with these buskers for the obvious reason that I am a musician/performer and accordionist. The funniest busker moment for me was when a 4-piece band was running from train car to train car, between subway stops, and playing a song that would last the length of one stop. Watching a man run with a stand-up bass is impressive!

All of these musicians performed more of a Swinging Jazz type of music. VERY upbeat, which is reminiscent of the Balkan beats I'm accustomed to, but I think they play jazz standards in a swing style to be more contemporary or familiar to the public. For example, songs like "Autumn Leaves" and "All of Me".

Now, these guys here were pretty outstanding...



The clarinetist and I spoke broken German-English-French-and some other languages in there too to each other. He gave me their CD, I gave them my mini moo card. We became fast friends. It's definitely a thrill to have been playing Romanian music, and to now meet actual Romanian musicians doing their thing.

With our German-English-French conversation we determined they were Roma, and that I was Canadian and played accordion. They then played this song for me :)


.... now that's a face-melting clarinet solo!


Monday, July 9, 2012

WELCOME TO BERLIN!


Welcome to Berlin! Wie gehts, bitches!




I met a fellow from London the other day, who was telling me about how his friend described Berlin to be "Poor and sexy". I'd have to agree. It is cheap (poor) and totally sexy (stylish, creative, forward, saucy, fresh, unique).



In Berlin you can meet Robots. This Robot was very stern, awesome and oh so intimidating. He didn't speak a word, for he had enough attitude and gestures to let you know, "I am a Robot made of plastic bottles. Don't even THINK about taking my picture without paying 2 Euros".

Then he shook my hand, which was kind of uncomfortable and awkward to shake.


LET ME IN



My friend Peter and I drank Rotkäppchen sparkling wine by the river because we COULD.

Public drinking is not illegal here. We politely drank some nice bubbly, and waved at the tourist boats that cruised by.

In true fashion, I shot the cork into the river.



British Consulate

Now, for some strange reason the British Consulate always has this area blocked off from traffic, but I didn't notice anything blocked off for the Russian Consulate. Someone explain this to me!

Russian Consulate

Inside an U-Bahn station

The culture here has kind of restored my faith in myself. I haven't always felt right in North America. From my perspective, there seems to be very little room for b.s. here, there is not a lot of patience for it. This is HUGE to me.

I was raised with things just making sense, having things work well, keeping things in good order. There are some things here that I feel separate from too - but that's probably because I have been raised in Canada, but I dig the differences.

I really liked how friendly America was while I lived there, and I got used to that neighborly feeling that exists there. Canada seemed so uptight, unfriendly and miserable when I returned from Florida. Here, the German culture isn't overly friendly, but not unfriendly either. It's just neutral. They just take a bit of warming up, and once they have you're good buddies. Seems logical to me, and that's how I've often felt growing up.


The efficiency is outstanding. Things make sense. The times I've been in a car, traffic rolls by quickly. Taking your time doesn't happen. As a avid horn user, I love hearing them used here. Get out of the way, keep moving forward, there is fuel being burnt up, life is passing us by, let's get on with it! The train, bus, and subway transit system is pretty brilliant - although I'm still getting my head around it.

I usually have about 9 tabs open on my browser, using a translator regularly. Every day I am confused, by the streets, the language, the transit system, the food, but by the end of each day I feel great and pooped. More importantly, even with a travel adapter you cannot plug a North American flat-iron into the sockets here. Don't be blowing a fuse up in Kaspar's place, yo!!

GLASHAUS
BADESHIFF


Sheiße
There are dogs running off-leash everywhere. The cutest dogs I've ever seen at that. They probably should be on leash, and some are, but for the most part these dogs are smart and know how to follow their owner. They also poop everywhere, and their owners probably should pick that up too, but there's too much going on in Berlin to care! The police are not interested in policing how you handle your dog.


The Eiffel Tower, err I mean The Fernsehturm
Located in Alexanderplatz, which is this insane area where there are trams, the S-bahn, U-bahn, buskers, Amnesty international students, tourists, big box stores, and at least 5000 people.


Turkish food, yum!

Baklava and some almond blob of joy

Turkish coffee - probably the best coffee I've ever had

Dan Tobias pointing out where his Grandmother once lived as a child

Moritzplatz U-Bahn Station. Nothing significant here, except for SYMMETRY PEOPLE!

Kaffee und Karotte Kuchen

Outdoor storybook-esque forest cafe

We're on a boat, with umbrellas!


Berlin Wall

Oberbaumbrüke

The oldest part of Berlin


I lost my breath, this site was so gorgeous!


The general area where David Bowie & Iggy Pop once lived


WANT!

9 feet tall

Molly Ringwald

Lady Gaga turned Nina Hagen

Natalie Wood, no?





German kitsch is my favourite kind of kitsch :)



More Rotkäppchen, candied fruit, pineapple puree, vegan ice cream, "Freddy Kreuger's Revenge", frog purses and a night at the Kit Kat Club. For those who do not know, it's a good place to get... umm... your boots licked ;-)


Tschuss!

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