Sunday, April 19, 2009

this post's got the Devil in it..

NHL Playoffs started earlier this week. Coincidentally, the same day they started I came across the Wikipedia page for the New Jersey Devil, from which the team derived their name. I'd never really thought much about the name the Devils and just assumed they were claiming to be 'a hell of a team to play' or some such play on words. Now that I think about it, that would be kind of strange for a team hailing from such a god-fearing place as the U.S. of A.

But so, it turns out the name stems from a local (not-so)-urban legend: a prehistoric flying creature still living deep in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

I came across this through another bizarre stroke of synchronicity. Last Sunday I had a horrid night of sleeplessness, passing out right after coming home and waking up at 4 am dehydrated (damn! those Sunday evening sponaneous park raves), then going on an early morning mission for rolling papers. I never did fall back asleep, and sometime around 8 am I suddenly got it into my head to rewatch the Blair Witch Project, which I hadn't seen since it was in theatres. No idea where the urge came from, but the movie was surprisingly as good as I remembered, making me think all the hate it received was nothing more than an ADD-inflicted mainstream backlash.

The next day, Tuesday, we went on a day-trip to Teufelsberg -German for 'Devil's Mountain'(!)-, an awe-inspiring abandoned American spy base outside of Berlin. To get there and back, one must take the S-Bahn twenty minutes, hike through some woods and over some hills, and finally sneak through one of the many holes cut into the fence. During the journey there and back, I noticed a lot of man-made weird stick statues/structures throughout the woods. Negin mentioned that Veronica made several Blair Witch references during their previous visit (was my first time). Having just watched it the day before, I came home and started reading on the making of the film. According to the wikipedia entry, the Blair Witch Project was criticized initially for it resemblance to the film The Last Broadcast, which told the story of a group of documentary makers heading into the New Jersey Pine Barrens in an attempt to film, you guessed it, the legendary New Jersey Devil.

Well, not sure if all that made sense. On a more straight-forward note, anyone interested in seeing my photography of Teufelsberg and the spy base? I must say that if there was any movie this place reminded me of, it was definitely another of the great 90's horror flicks - Session 9.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Sunday night we were over at Tom and Veronica's place on Karl Marx Str. after eating a quick dinner with Paraic and Fernelly. We figured there's not much to do on Sunday night ... but in Berlin you're nearly always proven wrong from such thoughts.

Since they live right around the corner from Karmanoia and there were rumours going 'round that they were about to be shut down by the Polizei, we blazed a quick J and headed over there. There was a small crowd out front and we learned that the Polizei had indeed shown up the night before and this was it .. the final night for the club. They were holding a private party but the word on the street (hehe, literally) was that the doors would be open to the public at midnight. The time was 11:56!...perfect for a quick spatkauf run for roadbeers. We get back and we're waiting, chatting and laughing. Oh, and outside the doors was a pile of scrap wood, possibly the first pieces of the soon-to-be-dismantled labyrinth Karmanoia was so famous for. All of a sudden the doors burst open - one guy outside was hit by a wayward piece of lumber - and a steady stream of people filter out ... there's music, interspersed with the single file line are orchestra members dressed as skeletons, a dog ... CHAOS, essentially.

What followed was an eerie silent street procession winding up through Kreuzberg and to the canal. The band played a lonely, sad tribute while the M.C. for the funeral said a few words and launched Karmanoia's front door key into a watery grave. Then ... the party started, with fireworks, firedancing, people on fire ... kinda. The walk back was much more enjoyable; everyone's mood seemed to have righted itself back to positive. Sensing this, Tom and I took a moment to duck into another spatkauf for roadbeer replenishment.

We caught up again just in time for the finale. A spontaneous dance party took place in the middle of Hermannplatz, including a hobo-ish guy (inexplicably wearing nice white pants) took an extended flute solo. Afterwards they convinced everyone to lie down there in the square, staring up while the finished with some gritty, smokey jazz tunes.

The cherry on top came right as the last composition faded out: a Polizei Paddywagon pulled up and emptied out - I really can't believe they can fit that many popo in there. There was a moment of tension as the final saxophone note drifted off, and then everyone sat up and started applauding. The Polizei didn't quite no how to react, and actually froze and started smiling bashfully. And appropriately, the crowd disintegrated, moving on to the next project.