Last night, I’ve finally went to my first Patti Smith concert, and definitely my best concert in 2007!

What a voice — so much power and anger: the strong and rough rock ‘n’ roll instrument, as well the dark, shaman like chanting Patti. Great cover versions from her new album, and her own thirty year old punk music. Not a bit embarrassing, ’cause you see that Patti Smith still feels what she sings. And how she does that: like a true teenage rock ‘n’ roll nigger! Fucking awesome… The band around Lenny “Ich bin ein Garage Rocker” Kaye was in great shape, Patti had a lot of fun, never lost contact to the audience (she’s just such a nice sixty year old girl), played a long set, blended her stories into songs like only The Boss can (had to mention him here), she probably even was responsible for the beautiful rainbow… Oh, it’s such a perfect day…

P.S. Had to be great evening, since already Anna Ternheim was a beautiful opener. I missed her twice in Berlin, so I was really happy to see her. And what a sight! And again, what a voice — totally different from Patti’s, if Patti Smith is a dark angel, Anna Ternheim is pure light. But then, her voice also sounds so sad, it really hurts…

Bob Dylan, Berlin, May 3, 2007. My sixth Dylan show in Berlin, and the first that
was disappointing… With each year he seemed to get better: great voice, focused vocals, tight band, new live arrangements. Well, his voice was there, and new arrangements en masse, but the much praised band was a bunch of individuals, lost in the deconstruction of songs. They never really found a way to play together that night (more against each other), noise and redundancy all night long. Bob’s county fair organ was as annoying as most of Denny’s guitar licks, Donny and Stu were merely staffage, Tony and George tried to keep the thing together in vain… A scatterbrain show.

I appreciate new ideas, as on “Desolation Row” (by the way, a good setlist at least) or “Watchtower”, but this time it just didn’t work out. And where there was no new arrangement tested (the whole concert seemed to be a test show and not one of the last in Europe), they failed to bring across the atmosphere from “Modern Times”.

Well, one bad out of six, that’s still pretty good for Dylan live shows…

So say goodbye it’s Independence Day
Papa now I know the things you wanted that you could not say
But won’t you just say goodbye it’s Independence Day
I swear I never meant to take those things away

Bruce Springsteen


Garden StateLast weekend, I’ve watched one of my favorite movies again: Garden State by Zach Braff. Hadn’t seen it in a year, and now for the first time in English (way better than the German dubbed version). An amazing movie, even more if you know it’s Braff’s debut as writer and director! Besides, it has a great Grammy awarded soundtrack (New Jersey and no Bruce on it!).

Garden State is a coming-of-age story: Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff — yeah, actor as well) is returning from LA to New Jersey fro the funeral of his mother. As the plot unfolds, we learn that he hadn’t been home for nine years and was on anti-depressive medication almost all of his life. But I don’t want to tell the story here… In short: ‘Large’ is getting off the drugs and comes to life and falls in love. How could he not: back home he meets the sweetest girl in the world — Sam (Natalie Portman is just great here — she really follows Braff’s stage direction: “She’s so cute!”). She really helps him as he is thinking about his life and what he expects from it, as he trys to figure out who he is and who he wants to be.

The biggest problem of Large is his broken family, and ‘family’ really is the main topic of this movie (at least for me). I think an essential part of growing up is dealing with your former life in your family, and finding a way to exist as an independent person, live your own life. This can be really difficult for everone involved. Zach Braff put that beautifully in Large’s realization:

“You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in… isn’t really your home anymore. All of a sudden, even though you have some place where you put your shit… that idea of home is gone. Just sorta happens one day, and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know? You won’t ever have that feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself. You know, for… For your kids. For the family you start. It’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know. But I miss the idea of it, you know? Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.” *

Yesterday, we’ve been to the exhibition 2005 World Press Photo in Berlin. Amazing pictures, very moving — sometimes you rather want to look away, sometimes you seem petrified by the eyes of a portrait staring at you…

Surprisingly, I and also a friend of mine were most deeply touched by photos of the bereaved of U.S. soldiers who had died in Iraq. There were many other pictures showing more cruel scenes, actually a lot of blood and tortured bodies, or ‘third world’ victims of earthquakes, wars, and hunger — I was wondering, whether even a press photo doesn’t have to show ‘it all’ to be most effective, or if we Europeans are just emotionally closer to the U.S. than to African or Asian countries.

World Press Photo of the Year 2005A postcript to the exhibition: It was shown in a shopping mall at Potsdamer Platz — weird , but also a good place to reach as many people as possible. These pictures really made you stop for a minute, watch them, and made you feel bad about going shopping… well, if that’s not something!

Die Selbstmord-SchwesternThis weekend I finished reading “The Virgin Suicides” (Die Selbstmord-Schwestern) by Jeffrey Eugenides. A strange and fascinating book! It’s not so much the story that is intriguing (we know from the very first page that the five sisters are going to commit suicide within one year), but the atmosphere that the author creates. The narrator — a man in his forties — remembers the year of the suicides, back in the seventies when he was just a teenager. Written in a report-like prose, full of dark humour and strange details, the novel pulls the reader right into a time when a world was falling apart not only for the young adolescents. I was fascinated by how Eugenides builds a scene of suburban America that is loosing its innocence as the boys are losing theirs while growing up. The suicides and the boys’ investigation of its reasons subsequently become a metaphor for more general changes and loss. Big politics are almost not mentioned, of course, the teenage boys are only interested (well, I’d say addicted to) in the girls of the Lisbon family. But after the first death, their neat Christian order is crumbling apart, like a domino once the first piece has fallen. The Lisbons are an exaggeration (they even seem to live in the fifties still), of course, but through the constant focus of the neighborhood’s boys they appear like focused in a lens. Though the language in the book is very rational, what sticks to my mind is this feeling of change: from childhood to adolescence (eventually the boys have become men), a stable world is breaking, most visible in the neighborhood and the Lisbon family, but affecting everyone’s lives. Glimpses on the boys twenty years later reveal what they have lost: their childhood, their friends and community, their dreams, their loves, their innocence — they are no ‘virgins’ anymore.

P.S. : It’s only revealed late in the book, the setting is a very American suburb of Detroit, actually Grosse Pointe, if that sounds familiar to anybody… And, by the way, the author has been living in Berlin since 1999.

Martin BuchholzGestern endlich mal wieder den Kabarettisten (nein, kein ‘Comedian’) Martin Buchholz live erlebt: Wir waren in den Wühlmäusen, Manjas Geburtstagsgeschenk einlösen. Ich hatte ihn in den letzten Jahren etwas aus den Augen verloren (mein letztes Buchholz-Programm/Buch ist nun auch schon über 10 Jahre alt). Aber der Mann ist immer noch unglaublich wortgewandt und gerade auf der Bühne ein Muss! Sein aktuelles Programm heisst “Freiheit für Angela” — doch das 2005er Wahldebakel dient nur als Sprungbrett fuer Buchholz’ Wortakrobatik und Gedankensprünge und wird offenbar ständig aktualisiert. Im zweiten Teil gab’s ein “Reader’s Digest” oder “Worst of” bisheriger Programme. Alles in allem: sehr empfehlenswert!

… is a project by famous photographer Annie Leibovitz, resulting in a great book and exhibition. Now 68 of these incredible portraits of American musicians are shown at c|o Berlin gallery.

Annie Leibovitz: American Music Last Sunday I’ve been visiting the exhibition and was blown away! I’ve seen many of Annie Leibovitz’ great pictures before (some are shown here again) and admired here book project Women a few years before. American Music, of course is exactly ‘my business’… a journey from its roots of (Delta Blues, New Orleans Jazz, Bluegrass, and Country Music) over Rock music to Hip Hop.

While standing in front of these photographies, you really can hear the music — and this is not a cliche (would have been nice if the gallerist provided some sound samples, though) — since Leibovitz was trying to capture the artists music and personality in this one picture. Some of them may touch stereotypes, but these artist are ‘types’ and icons themselves, right. When I see Tom Waits among his odd instruments or Lyle Lovett in black and white on a front porch, that’s exactly how I’ve imagined them.

The best idea of this exhibition was to provide comments of Annie Leibovitz to the pictures: you get a litte mp3 player and you can hear her explain the story behind every picture! (I also like this best about DVDs: watching the movie with the director’s comments.) This adds so much to the experience, since you get a glimpse into the artists method and idea of photography. Although some pictures appear like (great) snaphots and are very natural, the setting is deliberately chosen in advance. She is trying to make the musicians comfortable (not a sterile studio) and also to capture an essential part of their selves, she’s taking Dr. John fishing or or takes a picture of Johnny Cash with his family on Maybelle Carter’s front porch.

The exhibition is shown in Berlin until April 2nd, and might come to your town too…

Here’s a very nice preview of 27 photographs from Andrews Smith’s Gallery.

X-mas time is movie time, right? I’ve watched a big one, “Out of Africa” by Sydney Pollack. Used to bore me, these kind of movies, but everything has its time…

Out of AfricaSo, the whole drama is about love and freedom, if and how they fit together in a relationship. Redford’s character stands for freedom above all things, and that’s why Meryl Streep loves him. He says, “I’m with you because I choose to be with you. I don’t want to live someone else’s idea of how to live.” But that’s not enough for two people to stay together, she feels lonely and neglected at times: “Why is your freedom more important than mine?” she asks. “It isn’t. And I’ve never interfered with your freedom.” “No. I’m not allowed to need you. Or rely on you, or expect anything from you. I’m free to leave.”

While they are trying to keep the real world outside, apart from their love, the magic gets lost along the way. Redford’s idea of freedom and “the best kind” of love, “the kind we wouldn’t have to prove,” is not working for her and them on a long term. And he? Must admit that she’s right in the end; with his ‘unique’ declaration of love: “You’ve ruined it for me, you know.” “Ruined what?” “Being alone.”

(sorry, that’s in German, it’s on a book I’ve read)

Wie es leuchtetEndlich wieder zum Lesen gekommen und “Wie es leuchtet” von Thomas Brussig beendet. Na ja, waren ja auch 600 Seiten….

Fazit? Durchwachsen. Halt ein Brussig, d.h. man sollte nicht DEN Wenderoman erwarten, sondern eine Satire. Die startet ganz gut durch, mit ungewohnt ernsthaften Ueberlegungen und Beobachtungen des Autors zur Wende ’89. Liest sich auch ganz flott. Etwa ab der Haelfte des Romans tritt Brussig aber auf der Stelle, faellt in bekannte pubertaer-sexuelle ‘Abschweifungen’ zurueck, von denen man gehofft hatte, er haette sie hintersichgelassen.

Gegen Ende des Buches kriegt er nochmal die Kurve und wird deutlich praegnanter; die Ernuechterung aller, schon wenige Monate nach dem November ’89, wird sehr gut getroffen.

Dennoch, “Wie es leuchtet” wird wohl kein Klassiker werden… Vielleicht schafft das ja Ingo Schulze mit “Neue Leben” – schon jemand gelesen?

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