Joking about the statue having her own action figure on social media, I got plenty of questions about exactly where she was.
At the entrance to the western side of the Ludwigsbrücke that goes over the Isar River in Munich there are several pylons, each of which has its own statue. There are two pylons on the other side of the street, and this one’s twin was destroyed in 1944.
Early Saturday morning before the city had awakened, I was walking in the silence. Upon looking up, I saw her poised with her legs crossed. Wondering to myself what her story was, I did the most cursory of internet searches and found this:
Elmar Dietz sculpted the Allegory of Art, which was completed in 1979.
Really? I was a bit surprised she hadn’t been sitting pretty facing away from the river for much longer. This spot must have seemed somehow empty without her.
Scrolling through Feckbook earlier this evening, I saw various people allude obliquely a murder that happened thirty-four years ago tonight. No-one bothered mentioning who’d been killed on the eighth of December in 1980. There was no need.
I wasn’t going to bother writing about it, because what more can be said about the all of it? Plenty of quiet thoughts about a world without him, and here we go through this once more every year.
So I was already off to bed, having already resolved not to say anything, and then I saw my friend Jeff Ely had posted this:
‘Vin Scelsa passed the news to the world on WNEW 34 years ago tonight, and then played “Jungleland”. I was on my houseboat in Cos Cob and immediately got in the car and drove to The Dakota.
“Outside the street’s on fire in a real death waltz Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy And the poets down here don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of a knife, they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland”‘
Well at that point, I had to fire the laptop back up and scrawl out a quick couple of thoughts here. The Bruce Springsteen quote is rather poignant in light of what happened that night, which was the disc jockey’s intention. If you don’t know that tune or haven’t heard it in a while, here’s an above-average performance of Jungleland:
Well, as long as I’m passing on Jeff’s memory of that night, I should interject where I was/what I was doing. Oh, did I mention being green with envy that he was able to hop in his car with the end of a bottle of bourbon and make his way to Central Park West in something like an hour and a half? Well, there’s that.
Although I remember being upset the night that we heard the news, it was the next day in school that it really began to sink in. I was standing in the schoolyard a bit disgruntled that my fellow classmates didn’t seem remotely phased by what had happened the previous evening in Manhattan.
At the risk of sounding like the closing soliloquy of a Wonder Years episode, it really was one of the first times I remember being confronted with mortality. I’d certainly lost at least one grandparent and likely a few family pets had already met their untimely deaths for whatever reason. Yet, here was someone I didn’t personally know who was not only gone, but his absence shook me and alerted me deeply to how precious this whole damned thing truly is.
I know it sounds so cliche, but I’m going to write it anyway:
Hold your people close. Tell them how much they mean to you. Do it.
Be clear about it. It doesn’t hurt you, and it might even make everyone involved strive just a bit harder.
Lately, there’s been plenty for me write about, and I just haven’t been doing it. The last several posts were photos that I certainly liked, but there wasn’t much text. The whole point of this blog is to show off my writing, so these filler posts without much content go against what I originally set out to do. There might be times when a curious photo and a few lines of texts is all I’ve got time or energy for, but I’d prefer that to be the exception rather than the rule.
My favourite week in Munich tends to be when we have our Filmfest, which starts this weekend, so I already had something up my sleeve in which I’d planned to ramp up this blog again. Then I was out and about with Ella and Louis, the sister and brother Hungarian Vizslas that have featured prominently in this blog, and found myself walking across the John F. Kennedy Bridge.
Why not at least a mention of what happened today, 26 June, exactly 50 years ago? If you’re like I am, you check out ‘this day in history’-type entries in the paper or online, so you already know that this is the day in 1963 that Kennedy gave his famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘ speech in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg in West Berlin.
Whatever you think of his politics, and I’m most certainly not going to get into that here, it was the height of the Cold War, and a significant gesture of solidarity to the citizens living in the divided once and future capital of Postwar Germany.
The Berlin Wall went up, and the Americans response was to send planes in filled with supplies, so that the city could continue to survive while surrounded by Soviet-supported East Germany. Not an easy time here in my adopted home country, and at that moment in history it was incredibly unclear what was going to happen next.
The gratitude that West Germany felt for Kennedy’s show of support – both symbolic, as well as practical – was what led to major German cities naming things like bridges after him. The one here in Munich is the northern part of the Middle Ring Road that goes over the River Isar. It’s not particularly beautiful, and I doubt many locals under a certain age even realise that the bridge even has a name.
The Kennedy Bridge in Hamburg (pictured above) is what divides the Binnenalster and Außenalster, which are the beautiful lakes right in the heart of the Hansestadt that is Hamburg. Whether you’re on the S-Bahn or ICE Train between the Main Train Station and the Dammtor, in which case you’re riding along the JFK Bridge, or walking along the Alster, there’s a memorial to Kennedy staring back at you.
Fifty years. Not such a terribly long time, I suppose. Wonder if they’d still name any of this stuff after him today.
This was an exciting day for me. My friend Nick was in Berlin when The Wall came down, and I’ve always been envious of that experience. I’ve been near historical events, but I’m not sure I want to be anywhere near the tanks or the stress that seem to be involved in real historical moments.
However, today was the twenty-second anniversary of that event. The Reunification of Germany. One of the most momentous things that’s happened in our lifetime. I don’t care how old you are.
Each year, the celebration for the event goes to a different capital of a German federal state and this year? Horst Seehofer, the Minister President of Bavaria, is the head of the Bundesrat, which is one house of the federal government, and his state’s capital is my adopted hometown.
Munich – that’s right.
So, I got up early. Walked my dogs to the event and spent nearly the whole day there. With a few healthy breaks, I might add. Here’s my walk toward the festivities with a bit about said festivities.
Then I turned the corner into Nymphenburger Straße, which is the old King’s Road that the royals took to their summer castle. What might that castle be called? Nymphenburger Schloß, of course.
Ella and Louis love every day equally, but I like to kid myself that they were sensitive to my excitement.
Something I didn’t see nearly as often here as I do today – the German flag. Thanks to football and some sort of national healing, the co-perpetrators of the Second World War can finally say they’re proud of their country without being accused of being Fascists.
Please don’t ask me what this building was originally used for, but now it’s part of the Technische Üniversität.
Love ivy on a wall, and while these green and then later red leaves aren’t actually ivy, they crawl up the wall in the same way. It’s one of my favourite sights in autumn.
Now, we’ve finally arrived at the party. Here’s the Theatinerkirche on the Odeonsplatz:
Every party in Bavaria demands at least one Dachshund. This one had two.
There’s so much more to tell you about this day, but it’s late. It’ll have to wait for another day.
Next year’s festivities? Up the road in Stuttgart.
An offer on twitter of a free ticket to see a Hitchcock film that I was sure I’d already seen. Little did I know – it was one of the middle period Hitchcock movies, and I was in for a treat. I had not only not seen it, but it has one of my all-time favourite actors in it.
Cotten. This guy’s a dream.
Apparently, he was in three world class directors best-known masterpieces. This one was dear Alfred‘s, The Third Man was Carol Reed‘s, and Citizen Kane was Orson Welles’. Not too shabby, eh?
Actually, lemme let Wikipedia explain what this film is:
The day had started with a visit to The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment and then a trip with one of my closest friends and his 9 year-old to The British Museum, which we sailed through in record time. Not that I’m proud of that. The whole point was to spend time with them. What we did was irrelevant. The British Museum was as nice a place as any for us to go, and she’d never been.
To imagine seeing all of those things through her eyes, I walked through the exhibits covering the ancient world. Saw the Rosetta Stone and the dude from Easter Island. What must it be like to be nine and wander through those rooms.
To try seeing all this – this life I’m knee-deep in – from a nine year-old’s perspective. Certainly can’t hurt.
Saw this at one of the universities in Munich last week, I thought it was too funny not to capture.
Munich or the GermanMünchen means something like ‘of the monks‘ and the symbol of the city is actually a small child dressed as a monk. It’s the MünchnerKindl and when I see him after being out of the city for a few weeks, he always makes me smile.
Here’s a photo of the MünchnerKindl on the side of a bridge here in town.