so it's basically the same routine here as it was in san francisco... ie, work work work, eat and sleep. doesn't seem right, does it? in this of all cities...
still, a little culture absorption is going on. my german has improved a great deal just be swimming in the atmosphere... or if not improved, then my level of self-criticism has certainly dropped. not to the point that i was moved to strike up a conversation with the 10:00am, beer-popping, stuffed aardvark-clutching tattooed neerdowell slouching across from me on the S-bahn this morning, but hell, i speak the language better than the bazillion turks here, second largest turkish city on the planet - or so i've been told.
could be... i eat "turkish" food several times a week, but by that i mean "döner", which is as turkish as a mission burrito is mexican, just as delicious, and just as food-coma inducing. sat on the edge of the spree rived today, watching the sun set over the train tracks and munching away, sipping my beer and contemplating the civility of a country that doesn't mind if you have a beer or two walking around it's streets, riding it's trains, or sitting in a park. on the other hand, full of nazis! well, not really. not really "full", i mean, and truth be told, the nazis in question are just another gang... in the northern and eastern parts of the city it's punks vs. nazis much like sureno vs. norteno or sharks vs. jets... violent social clubs which mark a certain phase of life, and then fade away... mostly. still a scary right-wing presence here, but very small, and truth be told, widely despised. as it oughtta be.
anyway, i've been here often enough that i've pretty much seen the sights worth seeing, and am sort of itching to do something other than work... snuck away yesterday to my favourite museum, the "alte national galerie", full of 19th century romantic paintings, including a whole floor devoted to my old misanthropic friend caspar david friedrich. the occasional coffee with friends, a dinner or two... i did get to go to a shabbat service at the neue synagoge in oranienburgerstrasse... a gorgeously enormous golden onion-domed building in mitte. google it - it's a knockout, and you can see the domes from all over berlin. not many berliners actually know what it is, as it turns out. havi tells me that this synagogue attracts the sort of misfits of berlin... lots of converts, people who can't stand the orthodox crowd, general oddballs... the hard part was just getting into the place, heavily guarded at all times, and the interrogator whom we had to make it past was a russian guy whose hebrew was so bad he couldn't even tell that h. was israeli, to her extreme irritation! the place is a shell, as it turns out, with the interior completely burned away... kristallnacht or the allies, i'm not quite sure... anyway, interesting to have been inside, if nothing else.
what i'm really wondering, though, is what the hell is wrong with the beer in berlin? in a well-regarded beer guide, there's a chapter on berlin (by their own admission) which is only there because it's the capital city... there's not much here worth drinking! which is to say, i'm drinking a "berliner" lager right now. :) it isn't bad, but if you've been to almost any other city, not to say village, the local brew is enough to make one weep! what they have here is "berliner", "schultheiss", and "kindl", each lamer than the last... cool, golden, and dull as dishwater. what happened to berlin? perhaps it's the proximity to poland. i mean, didn't prussians drink beer like proverbial fish? please explain.
and that's probaby enough of a ramble for this infrequently updated blog... off i go.