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Archive for January 29th, 2006

Ballhaus! Ballhaus! Ballhaus!

I never go to clubs. I hate clubbing, and dressing up, and staying out late, and listening to music I don’t like, surrounded by people I don’t like. So it was with some trepidation last night that I accepted an invitation to a club in Mitte, a very popular neighborhood in Berlin. But since I spend most of my time by myself in the editing room I figured I should maybe talk to some people.

I got to Ballhaus promptly at 9pm, because the buses tend to run on time here. I expected to get there later. So I figured I’d be on my own for a while. I followed some 60 year old women into the place, which made me wonder what I was getting into. Have you ever seen a 60 year old woman in a club in Manhattan? I walked past the coat check room and went right in to the main room, which looks like the place in Fireman’s Ball but with colored lighting and a disco ball. I found this picture on the Ballhaus website.


The black and white part is the “before” picture.

I tried to ask the host (an old man in a tuxedo) if there were any idiot Americans like me there yet. Of course he didn’t speak English but he pointed to my coat (a big puffy LL Bean one) and indicated that I needed to go back and check it.

Fine, checking coats. I can handle that. I’ve managed that in the U.S. without talking to anyone, I can do that in Berlin too. I gave my coat to the even older gentleman behind the counter, collected my ticket, and gave him a generous 50 cent tip. I walked away having successfully faced another challenge in a foreign land. But just as I reached the door I heard the man calling me. Shit. It took a lot of gesturing on his part and a lot of blank looks on my part before some of those elderly ladies pointed to the sign above the counter that said 1 euro. I settled the issue with a 2 euro coin (despite being worth $2.43 at the current exchange rate those 2 euro coins don’t really seem like money) and made my way back in.

The host found someone who spoke English and he said they were expecting some British people, but no Americans. He directed me to the bar, where I ordered a Corona and didn’t understand when the waiter asked me if I wanted a lime. And I accidentally gave him a 2 Euro tip for a 3 Euro beer. Eventually the well-known American actress who is starring in the movie I’m working on showed up. I hadn’t met her before so I introduced myself and we talked for a while about character arcs and stuff. Eventually everyone else showed up. Half of the group were actors in the movie and it was strange to see them after spending all week watching them on my computer. A table near the dance floor was procured, and we headed down there. OLD PEOPLE WERE DANCING!!!! And there were young people too. But nobody was wearing tight black pants. I almost felt hip.

The dance floor was packed pretty much all night. I danced a little, but I’m old and out of shape. I can’t go all night like I used to. There was an 50ish bearded man who danced by himself most of the night. He kept approaching women trying to get them to dance and finally the above-mentioned actress danced with him. I don’t think he had any idea who she was, but he definitely enjoyed himself.

We’re definitely going back next week.

January 29th, 2006

Checkpoint Charlie

So I haven’t been able to talk to Penny on our webcams because she’s never home, but for now I thought I’d do some old fashioned blogging.

Since I have nothing to do on the weekends and I start to go a little crazy if I just stay home watching The Daily Show (thank you Internet!) I decided to do some sightseeing. The only place I knew in Berlin was Checkpoint Charlie.

For those of you who a) are too young to remember the Wall and b) haven’t seen Ross McElwee and Marilyn Levine’s movie Something to Do with the Wall then Checkpoint Charlie probably means nothing to you. Well, I was 9 when the Wall came down but I remember Peter Jennings telling me it was important.

Part of the Wall

It looked like they were having a good time taking it down anyway. But I did see Something to Do with the Wall and I think I remember that Checkpoint Charlie was kind of the geographic center of the movie. Anyway, I heard that it was still there, so it seemed like something to see.

Checkpoint Charlie Far

I think Checkpoint Charlie was named after an American soldier named Charlie who was killed trying to cross over from the East. There’s big picture of him in a touching memorial.


I don’t know what he was doing in the East. Probably busting some Commie ass. I didn’t take that picture. It’s from a postcard.


I took a picture of this thing thinking I was photographing history, but I found out later on the Internet that it was rebuilt in 2000 so they could sucker people like me into taking 2 subway trains halfway across the city

Subway map

to see some fake checkpoint that doesn’t even mean anything to me.

Next time I’m staying home to watch CNN International.

I liked this sign though.

Leaving The American Sector

I thought I did that weeks ago.

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