Oh yeah, the love parade

On Saturday, the Love Parade. Half a million people or so in the Tiergarten, dancing to 39 heavily adverstising-laden floats circling the main boulevard and blasting various stripes of rave music. It was fun, not as annoying as it could have been, nor as entrancing as a small rave can be.

Aimee described it best: Like the energy of gay pride and Castro Halloween, but with neither the full flamboyance or freakiness of either. Which isn’t to say it was bad, just far straighter.

A few pics on my flicker account here: The apocoyptic raver

Three more months!

It’s hot today, wiltingly warm, and so naturally we put on our presentable clothes and got on our bikes and rode down to the Auslanderbeh√ɬ∂rde, where we needed to get our long-term visa.

We’d been warned about their coolness. Frigidity. Anything that represents unfriendliness and unhelpfulness. Our language hero Till told us a story of visiting another similar office, knocking on the door when it was time for his appointment, standing in the hall for a while waiting for them to open the door, and ultimately being dismissed for not being there on time when he opened the door again later.

Maybe the heat helped melt their reserve. More likely, Till was gracious and charming. We spent about an hour and half shuffling various pieces of paper in a classically depressing formica-tiled office, surrounded by appointmentless people who never budged from the waiting room. Both of us are having work contracts sent to various other offices, and were told to come back in three months, when all the i’s should be dotted and t’s crossed. But the woman was very helpful, not at all what we had been led to expect.

So now: Three more months. Today we get on a plane for France, later to italy, and then it’s back to Berlin to finally start learning this language officially.

Papergirl delivers. Don’t ask for a subscription.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of artists and writers rode up and down Prenzlauer Berg with boxes on their bikes, tossing unsolicited wrapped “newspapers” into doorways, American paperboy style. We met one of them, a woman who just graduated from LSE, but is living temporarily here, at a party on the Spree last night.

Inside the wrapper was an assortment of art, beautiful unique silk screens, memories and manifestos, none of it particularly connected but all of it thought- or emotion-provoking. One hundred copies only; if you weren’t lucky enough to an issue of Papergirl thrown at you, or have one unwrapped for you at a party later that day, odds are that you’ll never see one.

I want to subscribe, I told the writer. She laughed, and said I can’t. Just be at the right place at the right time for Papergirl #2.

Someone on Flickr has a picture of one of the “artgifts” in preparation.

US decides torture is bad. No, really.

So, better late than never? Now that the world has been exposed for several years to our humane, no, let’s say genuinely vacation-like resorts at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and is currently being treated to the spectacle of an alleged brutal rape and murder by GIs in Iraq, policymakers have decided that the Geneva Conventions may actually apply to the prisoners of the War on Terror.

I’m impressed, because it takes true courage to admit you were wrong. Oh but wait, they weren’t wrong before? No, says White House and Fox News spokesman Tony Snow. Humane treatment has always been the standard, this is more like, well, not a reversal of policy but more, well, a going-in-the-same-direction-but-totally-differently. It sounds better in the original German.

US applies Geneva Convention to military detainees – Yahoo! News

Cup and community, the morning after

My first start-to-finish World Cup now just 10 hours and a fitful sleep past, and I am already melancholy, conscious of its absence. But its final moment’s mystery remains: Why did Zidane, one of the world’s best players, in what was probably the final international match of his life, at a critical moment, give way to bewildering rage and blatantly headbutt an Italian player.

The moment dominates all discussions of the game. What did the Italian say? A crack about ZZ’s mother? Sebas suggests: “At least Camus was a good writer, a better goalie and didn’t sell out to the French like you,” or compliments to the Algerian Pied-Noirs.

This Cup was memorable not just for the sport, but for the community: watching with Kenji and Till, discussing it endlessly with Anders and Anna, Grigo and Keena and Sebas online. I thought I knew something about the game, but was wrong; they knew the players and the rhythms, the history and the personalities and endlessly enriched these last few weeks for me. I will miss that.

Moments and images: Waiting in a Berlin tent for the very first game to start, realizing that the efficient Germans had neglected to find a projector that worked, and migrating en masse. Kicking a ball with Grigo and Anders all the way home from Mitte in the middle of the night, Anders passing it off the side of a moving tram. Watching Ronaldinho in Dortmund pass more gracefully than any human ought. German keeper Lehmann’s last penalty save: He stands up, cool and disbelieving, and walks away with a beautifuly mild gesture of shock and triumph. Zidane’s headbutt.

And of course being here throughout. Fireworks and flags, beer gardens full of people and screens everywhere, an obsession that has taken over and transformed the country. The black-red-and-gold is still hanging on some of the balconies here, but it’s already coming down on others. Seeing what happens next will be almost as interesting.

Some of my random Flickrpics here.