I never liked spring. All that flimsy sunshine, blooming trees and girls in short dresses licking ice cream just lull you in a false sense of security, as if there will be no rain and storm and hail and bitter tears for the next six months.
I’m not really sure why I’m so grumpy, really. I’m currently working on a book about my grandmother with 20,000 words already down and high hopes to have it finished by July, when I’m organsing a series of readings at the Irish Writer’s Centre for the 10 Days in Dublin festival in (ta-daa!) Dublin. And I’m also still working on the concept album of German metal band In Arcane together with the very talented graphic artist Jörn Zimmermann; plus I’m flying to London in June for a talk of my favourite author, Neil Gaiman. So no shortage of good stuff in my life currently. But still.
I never thought I’d say this, but it seems like I miss winter.
Tags:In Arcane·In The Dark Night·Neil Gaiman·spring·winter
The Trouble with Geraniums
The trouble with geraniums
is that they’re much too red!
The trouble with my toast is that
it’s far too full of bread.
The trouble with a diamond
is that it’s much too bright.
The same applies to fish and stars
and the electric light.
The troubles with the stars I see
lies in the way they fly.
The trouble with myself is all
self-centred in the eye.
The trouble with my looking-glass
is that it shows me, me;
there’s trouble in all sorts of things
where it should never be.
- Mervyn Peake
‘It is a dull day, as it always is in this district, and for a moment, the entire vista seems nothing more than a photograph from an illustrated newspaper, so flat and grey are the houses, the people and the carriages. That reality is paper-thin, and it betrays its imitativeness in every chink. At times, one has the impression that is only upon the tiny patch before one’s eyes that everything arranges itself properly into that pointillist image of big city boulevards, whereas to the sides, that improvised masquerade has come undone and is unraveling. Unable to preserve in its role, it is falling to pieces above us into plaster and oakum, the lumber room of some enormous, empty theatre. Tense poses shudder on that outer skin, the artificial seriousness of masks and ironic pathos. But far be it from us to want to unmask the spectacle. Despite our better judgement, we, too, are drawn to the tawdry charm of this district.’
- Bruno Schulz, The Cinnamon Shops
So I’ve recently returned from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, and I brought something nice back. A shiny little buke that contains many a picture of unspecified things that look like the Emerald Isle, compiled and edited by the good people at our favourite Irish news aggregator, broadsheet.ie; and all proceeds are given to Aware, who fight depression and suicide. So all in all a nice thing to have. Yours truly even contributed a thing that looks like Ireland (a Cologne hairdresser sign on page 133, to be more precise).
And now I’m giving three copies away. What you have to do? That’s easy – just like my very own Facebook-page (I know, I’m a sucker for publicity) or leave a nice comment here if you have done so already. I’ll draw the winners from new Facebook fans and commentators on Thursday, 28.03.2013 and ship it to where you live, anywhere in the world. So what are you waiting for?
…is Polish for ‘Attention Attention’. Not that I have anything urgent going on that I need to share with the world, I just like the sound of the word. I also suffer usual guilty conscience because I haven’t blogged in a while. Life got in the way, as usual. I’ve started a creative writing workshop with an amazing bunch of writers organised by The Reader Berlin at Berlin’s best English-language bookshop Another Country (which you should both try, in case you’re into writing and books) and spent an amazing week with people from all over the world at the ITB and related events in Berlin. And next week I’m flying to my preferred dirty old town for some shenanigans involving catholic saints, green face paint and craft beer. Erin go bragh.
I also had a few articles published in the meantime in case you care for a read: a piece on Slow Travel Berlin about a former GDR watchtower turned memorial, and another covering Berlin waterways for Europe Cities, just in time for spring. Which will be here any time now. I’m sure.
In addition, I’ve started working on turning In The Dark Night into a book. I’m scared.
I came across this little video about Dublin by filmmaker Matthew Johnston yesterday. Matthew, like me, lived in Dublin for a long while and now moved away, and has turned his feelings about leaving the city into this great little film, of which every second reverberates in my chest. I really do miss the dirty old town every single day.
Dublin from Matthew Johnston on Vimeo.
The music is by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, the words are from Dublin by Louis MacNeice, which is one of the best poems about the town and I’ve added the words below. I really miss my city.
Grey brick upon brick,
On sombre pedestals -
O’Connell, Grattan, Moore -
And the brewery tugs and the swans
On the balustraded stream
And the bare bones of a fanlight
Over a hungry door
And the air soft on the cheek
And porter running from the taps
With a head of yellow cream
And Nelson on his pillar
Watching his world collapse.
This never was my town,
I was not born or bred
Nor schooled here and she will not
Have me alive or dead
But yet she holds my mind
With her seedy elegance,
With her gentle veils of rain
And all her ghosts that walk
And all that hide behind
Her Georgian facades -
The catcalls and the pain,
The glamour of her squalor,
The bravado of her talk.
The lights jig in the river
With a concertina movement
And the sun comes up in the morning
Like barley-sugar on the water
And the mist on the Wicklow hills
Is close, as close
As the peasantry were to the landlord,
As the Irish to the Anglo-Irish,
As the killer is close one moment
To the man he kills,
Or as the moment itself
Is close to the next moment.
She is not an Irish town
And she is not English,
Historic with guns and vermin
And the cold renown
Of a fragment of Church latin,
Of an oratorical phrase.
But oh the days are soft,
Soft enough to forget
The lesson better learnt,
The bullet on the wet
Streets, the crooked deal,
The steel behind the laugh,
The Four Courts burnt.
Fort of the Dane,
Garrison of the Saxon,
Of a Gaelic nation,
The alien brought,
You give me time for thought
And by a juggler’s trick
You poise the toppling hour -
O greyness run to flower,
Grey stone, grey water,
And brick upon grey brick.
In case you like to discover new things and experiences with the help of the interwebs, there are worse places to start exploring than Gidsy; a platform that lets you find things to do, organized by real people all over the world, and for every budget. May that be a cooking class with a home chef, a DIY workshop with a pro, or a walking tour with expert Berlin locals like Slow Travel Berlin.
And I’m delighted to announce that Gidsy is since yesterday also available in German, especially as yours truly helped with the translation of the platform. So German speaking urban explorers can now easily book & organize activities all over the world auf Deutsch.
So, what are you waiting for? Ja ja, genau.
Helsinki is many things. It is cold. It is dark. It is full of unfriendly Finns who never say hi when you meet them. It is expensive. It does look like in the final episode of Night on Earth; filled with snow, grumpy bearded taxi drivers and sad stories.
[Read more →]
Tags:Anathema·Anneke van Giersbergen·Finland·Helsinki·metal
Last weekend, the Analog Girl and I went to Brussels. We spent a night in a run-down hotel from the 80s with cold bacon and slushy eggs for breakfast, and went to see some art and walked shivering around the Grand Place and had chips with mayo and Sambal Oelek-sauce and drank beer made by monks and took an elevator up to a large building built on a place were people were hanged in the Middle Ages.
Brussels is like the dirty little sister of Paris: she wears no high heels but old boots, and she drinks beer and burbs and demolishes a cone of frites after a night out, but it’s great fun every time you go out with her. And she’s only two hours away from Cologne.
And just because I cannot get enough of walking around shivering in cities in winter, tomorrow I’ll be going to Helsinki, thanks to the kind invitation of a few nice people, including Visit Helsinki. It’s not Reykjavik, and I’m afraid I won’t see any Northern Lights, but hey, they’ve got metal on the radio all day, every house has a sauna and they do good beers. I think I will like it.