Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Sun Also Berlin

Here's the view outside of the Kreuzberg apartment I'm staying in during my research trip to Berlin.

The vista is hardly remarkable except for one detail: it features sunshine casting SHADOWS.

After nearly a solid week in Berlin, this is the first time I have seen anything resembling daylight or shadows outside of the Moholy-Nagy exhibit at the Gropius.

Bathed in sunshine, Berlin looks radically different. Though I had only a handful of hours of sleep last night, I am instantly awake.

The abundant sunshine is big news for those who live here, especially the young American expats who talk of the onerous experience of the Berlin winter. Just as the Hungarian-born Laszlo Moholy-Nagy came to Berlin as a young man in the 1920's, they are drawn to this city with its world-weary cosmopolitanism, its edgy culture, its demimonde, its scent of gritty sophistication, its clustering of the creative class. There are somewhere between 10,000 and 14,000 thousand Americans living in Berlin now. Whether they are casting any shadow on the life of the city remains to be seen.

The Kreuzberg apartment I am staying in belongs to Big Babe, who left today for Vienna to interview John Malkovich. In the absence of my son's stewardship, I'm on my own for the next couple of days, hoping to get lost in a creative way to discover some aspects of Berlin I hadn't seen in my previous five visits.

I am hoping to stumble upon young Americans during daylight hours because, thus far, I have only had luck meeting them after clubs and bars and house parties. When I pressed Big Babe yesterday to recommend some cafes where the American expats hang out, he shrugged and said he didn't think they were awake during the day.

Though I was skeptical of that claim, I note that the Berlin winter produces a feeling of daytime hibernation...or at least of sleepwalking through a dreary landscape.

In about one minute I will tear myself away from my laptop to shower and seize the day myself, possibly walking to my appointment instead of taking the U-Bahn.

When the sun shines in Berlin during winter, you got to capture it, bottle it, drink it in.


No comments: