Thursday, February 14, 2013

Berlin 6: The world as it is becoming and already is

The East berlin TV  Tower; Icon of Socialist porgress


A circle of friends at a baptism. Late twenties to early thirties. They are from Germany. Poland. Serbia. Croatia. Scotland. England. India. Vietnam. Israel. Musicians. Teachers. A doctor. Filmmakers. Artists. Construction work. Berliners. The world that is becoming and already is.  

                            * * * *

I’ve known Jana for seven or eight years now.   For three straight years she brought to West-Park groups of young people from  the Fellowship of Reconciliation to explore multicultural living, activism of peace and justice, work with the homeless. Action and reflection. I would always do an urban dynamics walk around  the block tour.  She studied sociology in  University. Compared Los Angeles and New York.
Helped host my first visit to Berlin with neighborhood clergy friends including Pastor K from SPSA and Pastor Jim from Advent. The first year we were closed, she brought her group to SPSA.
She was back to be part of our first worship service on the steps in August 2010. And back again for Woodshed’s the Tenant. Part of the West-Park family in Berlin. 
She’s working a the Berlinale, heading a staff at the Palast. She walks me around Potsdamer Platz, once an empty checkpoint near the wall, now a glistening entertainment and business center.  The Berlinale and movie posters are everywhere, black shuttle cars and vans endlessly circling. 
Tourists at the Wall
Later I meet Zeljko at the Martin Gropius Center where his booth is. We will tour Alexanderplatz, once the center of East Berlin. Today, a large cold empty urban space. The iconic ’60’s era East Berlin Television Tower looms over the Platz. Locking down another allee, stretches of Soviet era social housing. Utilitarian, functional. Not like the optimisitc modernist Weimar houses nor  those of the Stalinst neo-classical monumentalist lining Karl Marx Allee. 
L’Oreal ha installed a space age make up center. Across the street a young man in an East German uniform stands at the old Checkpoint Charlie. For  fee he’ll stamp your passport with a DDR stamp. Behind him tourists stand in front of a section of the wall laughing and taking pictures. 

Soviet style housing
The public housing projects north of West-Park on Amsterdam and further north are often referred to as Soviet style. Pretty accurate description.

Supposed to be in New York. Things on knife’s edge there. Days of cancelled flights back in New York leave me stranded here in Berlin. Frustrating.
Only upside: I get to see Zeljko’s screening at the Euro Film Mart. It feels good having held the American first advance screening  at West-Park and having hosted so Serbian embassy officials and diaspora people, the Serbian flag hanging from the  church balcony.
Today we’re in a screen groom at the Marriott. Good  to see the film again recalling the friendship that grew between American stealth fighter pilot Dale Zelko and the Serbian gunner, Zoltan Dani, who had shot him down. And the Colonel’s visit with us. And once again how they both testify to the pointlessness of war. 
It ends with Dale’s grandfather reciting a quote from 1969 how we have learned to fly to the moon but still haven’t figured out how to live together.
Afterwards, he’s got a steady stream of potential distributors and an extended interview with a reporter from the Serbian diaspora newspaper. There also seem to be potential producers/fenders for the Dream project  movie we began at West-Park.

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