Archive for February 2010

Sunday, February 28 2010, 10:17 a.m.

February 28, 2010

Having significantly raised her game when it came to uncorking a bottle of wine, she now turned her focus to the art of slicing bread. To the outside world she was merely a perfectionist, but in her own mind she was well along in her studies at the School For Diplomats’ Wives!

Thursday, February 25 2010, 10:42 a.m.

February 25, 2010

It occurs to me that–in the face of petty bureaucratic types, and mired in a swamp of vague regulations and personal whims–one must cling to civility. The use of an exquisite tea cup; savouring the vivifying effects of potted plant; well-applied make-up. Let these be the rungs of the ladder that will take you out from, and above the cretins!

Bile and the Maiden

February 21, 2010

I wouldn’t mind, but I can’t help but think that if I were a teenage boy then I’d have some kind of bemoniker’d hoodie to initiate the discussion re. my angst.
As it is, I’m an adult female (confession: I HATE the word ‘Woman’. It makes me think of Jello and wigs) and I want a slightly more complicated relationship with my identifying objects than that which is attainable with a Slayer hoodie. So it is that I really only have the books of my so-called racist/misogynist/miser author–the erstwhile enfant terrible of british writing–Martin Amis.

Martin Amis gets it. He gets it. When I read his books it brings all the validation of having your worldview confirmed–the full spectrum of insecurities and imperfections intact–without the tedium of reading back issues of your own diary.

I feel a little sorry for Anna Ford; she says that Martin Amis lacks empathy. But for me, to read his books is to feel so intensely aware of the generosity and great consideration necessary to document the greasy little corners of the heart as faithfully as he does. I can’t help but feel that there must be some kind of meaningful self-extension going on in his process of investigation and exposure. If he’s as callous and antisocial a person as she claims him to be, then that’s a shame for those people who know him personally. I don’t see why she would consider such personal anecdotes to be relevant information to people who know him only as a writer. There is certainly no historical preference for good people making good art, and I don’t read him because of how he spends his Sunday afternoons.

So, yes; too bad for Anna Ford and Anna Ford’s daughter, but where does that leave the rest of us? Those of us sitting here with chest pains and noone to whom we might address an angry open letter in a newspaper?
We, then, must sit tight holding our books close and keeping the world from nibbling too closely at our heels. Maybe, too, we can make a little wish that Anna Ford will find an author to whom she could imagine writing a private letter instead.

Salty Tears

February 15, 2010

While ‘Tuna’ remains a frontrunner name, I was thinking a bit today about ‘Doc’.
‘Doc Dog’.

Then I went onto the Tierheim Berlin website to check out the little dogs and I almost cried my face off.

All these little adorable dogs who just want to be loved and they look so happy, smiling for the camera but they don’t have their very own person and they really need to have their very own person, and a house of their own rather than an animal shelter. And some of them look like they’re wagging their tails and they just want to be nice to you and run fast for you and sit in your lap.

Ach! I am not made for the real world….

It’s Not That Bad

February 14, 2010

Living in Germany has made me take a deeper look at my relationship to Canada–it’s forced me to take a position, as it were ( and I appear to have chosen a position 6489 km away, ahem).
Being out of the country compels me to talk about Canada in an interpretive way, inasmuch as the conversations I have that touch on Canada often take place with people who have only a vague sense of the country. Then there are times when something encountered in Germany brings out a reaction in me that feels more rooted in my nationality than in my personality.

An example of the latter has often been on my mind of late–winter.

The undeniable winteriness of this winter is a frequent topic of conversation in Berlin, and I, too, have been known to stoke the odd conversation on the topic, in the spirit of full disclosure. The thing about this winter though, is that it’s not that bad.
It’s snowy, and has been for a couple of months now, and it’s probably been a bit colder than normal. And I understand too, that this is apparently an unusual winter. Certainly the two previous winters I was here saw no more than 5 days where it snowed, let alone snow that stayed on the ground. And I know it can be frustrating, and it can be uncomfortable……but really–it’s not that bad.

I keep finding myself in discussions about the weather with people wherein I realize that I’m trying to get them to admit to me that they know that it’s not that bad, and I can see too, how they’re probably trying to get me to admit that it’s pretty bad. But with the same fervour that they bring to their explanations of ‘chill siberian winds having always created a special zone around Berlin where the air was simply too cold to snow’ (buddy, tell that one to Montreal–please) I will discuss with equal fervour what it’s like to be unable to open your front door because the snow has piled so high in front of it that you can’t get out. Or what it’s like to walk the streets of Montreal looking for a job when it’s -40°C.
Trust me; it’s not that bad.

But above all–even if it was that bad–there are things that can be done. The survival of any season anywhere in the world comes down to a simple process of ‘getting the hang of it’–usually a humdrum mixture of practical tips and creative thinking.

People in Montreal, for instance, have a great ability to get themselves through soul-crushing winters. I didn’t especially thrive during the winter that I lived there, but I made a few observations. For example: layer your clothing, and in addition to hats and gloves, you should probably wrap a scarf around your face.

The entire culture in Montreal celebrates winter sports–people go sledding and skating on Mount Royal, and Montreal is famously devoted to it’s hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens. Montrealers are great for house parties and potlucks–nothing keeps you warmer than someone else’s home-cooking….
And speaking of food: the food in Montreal is fantastic–they’ve got great coffee, and great breakfast places with real maple syrup (a winter product) on every table.  Not surprisingly there are tonnes of good places for french cuisine and that is a way to put on some padding in style.

In short: they make the most of what they’ve got, and they have done it so well that one can actually develop a very lovely, very Romantic image of Montreal in the winter (that said, you couldn’t pay me enough to spend another winter there–though I would visit).

Really, people in Berlin just need to get the hang of a real winter again. My guess is that half of the people around here–born elsewhere in Germany–have lots of experience of snowy, cold winters, but they’ve become accustomed to something a little less harsh. In fact, another of the various Berlin-Winter-Theory insights I’ve heard is that up until about 10 years ago, this type of winter was a lot more common.Thus even the Berliners themselves should be able to reach waaaaaay back in their memories to a time when winter brought snow, and Unicornwurst was a staple of every good german kitchen. A time not so long ago……

So get your ass down to the Baumarkt, pick up a snow shovel and for God’s sakes don’t take your snowmobile out onto the Spree just because you think it looks frozen–Mother Nature punishes all kinds of stupid, and wide-eyed ain’t no exception.

Friday, February 5 2010, 10:15 a.m.

February 5, 2010

…and I began to see that it would be hard to make anything look serious if one insisted on including a chicken’s foot.

There’s No ‘I’ In Museum

February 4, 2010

I think that museums bring out the worst in me; I really do. I tend to hate museums and I doubt that I’m as alone on this one as the pro-museum bias in the mainstream media would have me think.

Generally-speaking, a museum has to have it’s head stuck really far up it’s ass for me to like it. The Musée D’Orsay in Paris, or the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin for example are probably among my preferred locations to suck back the perfumed airs of genius. The nice thing about a real old-ass, stuffy musuem is that–besides the fact that the interiors themselves are worth examination (this being my only real issue with the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin) they usually sit on prime real estate. Thus if you’re not particularly taken with the art, you can get in some fantastic views of the city itself (I especially enjoyed this at the Louvre, which did, admittedly have some objects worth admiring on the inside).

Visiting the Hamburger Bahnhof today to see the Walton Ford exhibition I multi-tasked, and compiled a list of things that I hate about museums as they occurred to me, in situ.

1. REFLEXIVE MUSEUM STRAIN. I get a particular feeling when I walk into a museum. Against my will I absorb the vastness of the collection and exhibitions contained herein, and I begin to feel a pressure to see it all. Not only do I feel the need to see it all, I feel the need to spend quality time with those pieces that I find particularly striking. In the last few years I have implemented a strict regime for museum visits; I must preordain a focus. While this has helped, the tightness in the chest, the shortness of breath, and the stiff neck descend upon me still (to say nothing of my bitchy interior monologue).

2. PEOPLE WHO BRING THEIR BABIES/ TODDLERS WITH THEM. Screw off–the kid doesn’t get it anyway.

3. GROUP LEADERS WHO STAND IN-FRONT-OF/ BLOCK-THE-VIEW-OF A SINGLE WORK FOR AGES. While you’re disseminating your legendary wisdom, my life is frittering away. You, too, would do well to screw off.

4. THE LADIES-WHO-LUNCH SET. Especially when they’re part of a group tour.

5. HIPSTERS-IN-LOVE. You know who you are; you’re in the coat-check line, or in front of some work I want to see–but you may as well be in the bedroom. You’ve only resurfaced in public so that you can confidently assert that you haven’t subsumed your identities entirely in that of your significant other, and you think a Daniel Richter painting is best appreciated when paired with a handful of ass.

6. PEOPLE WITH BIG HONKIN’ CAMERAS TAKING PHOTOS OF THE WORK. What are you gonna do? Frame it and put it on your bedside table? Pffsssht! Get outta my way….

7. MIDDLE-AGED MEN WHO CUT IN FRONT OF ME IN LINE. Raised in a barn, you probaby lost all concept of the value of young women when they stopped wanting to screw you.

Do you see? Do you understand now?? The miser–the beast that I become when exposed to a museum. They poison my insides!

But then maybe I’m just rejecting the institution before it can reject me?
….mmm, still hate ’em.