I'm typing this as I sit in the dining car of a high-speed train from Frankfurt to Berlin. I'm not online as I type this, but I thought it would be nice to jot down some thoughts while I'm having them. Or re-jot, as I 've already been jotting in my journal. [I'm editing this, slightly, by the way, as I sit in my friend's apartment in East Berlin 2 days later].
This is train is fast clean and efficient. Germany seems like a very efficient, clean, but wet place, at least today. Germans seems very quiet, proper, well-mannered, and concious of others personal space and boundaries. Maybe I'm just projecting that after hearing the story my friend Jose told me yesterday about his experience years ago in Germany, getting scolded by a train conductor for having his walkman turned up to high. Jose told that story to me over lunch in LA, which I took with him because I had a 7 hour layover on my way to Germany. The experience ended up being extravagantly expensive, mainly because I had to take a shuttle from LAX to Beverly Hills and then a taxi back to LAX. But it was a good prelude to extravagantly expensive Germany ( I just spent about $1.40 to go to the bathroom at the Frankfurt train station, for example).
I'm definitely jetlagged. I'm on hour 26 or so of a 28 hour total transit time from Tucson to Berlin. But I don't feel much worse than if I'd stayed up too late and drunk too much.
Air India was an interesting experience and made me wish I was taking the plane all the way to New Delhi rather than getting off in Frankfurt. There was Indianesque food served for dinner last night, probably the most flavorful airplane food I've had, and cheesy (though with high-production values) Hindi movies playing on the screens, which also frequently reminded the viewer that the map of the plane's route that it displayed showed "physical features only. no political borders depicted."
Ah, it looks like we're pulling into Hannover. Another nice city surrounded by green.
I'm feeling frustrated....
... frustrated to not know anything more of German (the language they speak in Germany) than how to say thank you and hello. Even "excuse me" is too hard to remember, so far. ["Enschuldigen Sie Bitte," I think] … And as usual, my brain defaults to thinking in Spanish at times like these, as if my "foreign language lobe" just automatically comes on and starts saying "perdon" and "disculpa, no entiendo"…
I sort of wish I was in Spain instead, and I definitely wish the woman I'm in love with was travelling with me, and I wish the G8 wasn't happening in Germany this year. Just to be clear, I would never travel thousands or even hundreds of miles just to go to a G8 protest or probably any other big activist "megamobilization." I have such mixed feelings about them, which I will go into later. But no, the timing of my ticket purchase was such that both my current romantic relationship and my awareness of the G8 this year had not yet kicked in.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I'm here, and I'm excited to be travelling again and having an adventure. But all I originally wanted to do is visit my brother and his wife in southern Germany, and my friends the Tape-beatles in Prague, and some other friends in Berlin. But now I'm on my way to what might be the biggest activist wad-shoot in years. [Will it make a difference in the big picture? Will any folk singers even be inspired enough to write something half as enduring as Against Me's popular anthem, "I'm an Anarchist, Baby" (a song which I detest)?]
I'm careening toward another cliff (it always feels like that) of long-duration international travel - a month in Germany and the Czech Republic. I'll be leaving Monday morning for Berlin and I've been scrambling to wrap up obligations, tidy my house (literally and figuratively), and gather together everthing I'll need.
Today I'm finshing up the last of about a half-dozen video projects I had to have done this week before I go, a rough edit of a piece Pan Left is doing for Wingspan.
More news as it happens or soon after. I think i'll be relatively wired, and I'll be "covering" the G8 protests, along with probably hundreds of other citizen journalists and media activists that will be there in northern germany June 2 thru 9 or so. so look for audio, video, fotos or text from me soon, full of exciting riot porn, i'm sure.
I'll also be showing some video work, including new stuff, and excerpts of my Juarez doc, at a gallery in Prague on June 18. More details on that when I get them.
In other news, the bike I've been building at BICAS is finally done and it rocks. too bad i just have this half-week to use it before i leave town.
classic Ze Frank video about how to hire a web developer. LOL.
A hilarious political protest campaign is going on in Belgium, making fun of the system in a really effective way and encouraging people to vote for empty seats in the Belgian parliament.
And parodying unrealistic campaign promises:
What looks like a really great conference on Femicide is happening at Stanford May 16-19. I wish I'd known about it sooner. All the big names in the 'movement', both activist and academic, look like they'll be there. There's even a new doc about the femicide in Guatemala that will have its US premiere there.
Over 3 years ago i went to Bolivia and started a long, frustrating attempt at technology solidarity. It turned out to be just too big a project, too difficult, too unrealistic, too crazy, and without the support of enough people at either end.
Last September the computers we'd gathered over the years were finally cleaned out of the storage space, the rent for which was sucking money down a drain. They were donated to another group, World Computer Exchange, which does simliar work. Then last month the bank account I'd set up to hold the funds, which I and a colleague in Oregon had raised over the years, was closed, and the money given to her. She and some techies from Portland Indymedia will use the money for a continuing related goal, a smaller scale project to get smaller numbers of newer computers to Bolivian media activists, hidden in luggage rather than packed into huge expensive cargo containers.
A wistful sigh, but a relieved sigh as well. Past follies and crazy dreams, dissolved into a few digital traces and memories.
Here's a a great tutorial on using GUI GPG tools with Apple's Mail client. really easy once you get it set up. yay.
In other news, I'm also really excited about the bike I'm building. The more progress I make the more excited I get. Tonite I attached some awesome cruiser-style handlebars and we did brakes. Sadly, I will finish it just a few days before I go to Europe for a month, so i won't have that much time to enjoy the thing till I get back in July.
Speaking of bikes I told some activists today how I could easily rant at them about how they all drive cars to our meetings, but that our group isn't about bicycle activism or even about global warming so I don't think it's appropriate. It's not the focus.
I'm a big fan of focus.
During the big immigration march and rally in Los Angeles yesterday the police apparently went apeshit for no reason. (via mi amiga Abi)
We were lucky enough to have well-behaved cops, for once, in Tucson yesterday. They didn't even enter the park all day and they kept the racist vigilantes away across the street.
I'm reading a borrowed copy of Julio Cortázar's "Hopscotch," and ever since I started it 5 days ago I wonder with each turn of the page whether I should keep reading. That's a bad sign. Why do I feel this way? And why do I continue? The answer to the second question is that it's an author that I "should" be interested in, according to activist friends who have said that Subcommandante Marcos, as a writer, was influenced by Cortazar's writing. It's just another example of that shelf full of "High Art" in my life, whether it be music, novels, or paintings, or whatever, that I do not find entertaining, that does not compel me (to keep turning the page, keep listening again and again, looking again and again, no), but instead is just there in my gaze because, as a discriminating, cultured culture-vulture, I should have it on my shelf.
But I think I'm growing out of this way of appreciating culture. I don't need this book. And it's not even entertaining me. I thought it would be at least as fun as Gabriel Garcia Marquez... It is said that Cortazar is one of Latin America's best authors.... the book, well, it's interesting, as a work of experimental fiction - there are 2 ways to read it, either straight through from chapter 1 to 56, or according to an algorithm, following the instruction at the end of each chapter to know which chapter to read first, 1-98-2-105-78-3, etc - interesting, but the prose itself exhudes self-indulgent narccism and ennui, telling the story of decandant Parisian 60s hipsters that I can't be bothered to care the slightest about... who gives a fuck if Horacio and La Maga sort of like each other in a limp sort of whatever way, and engage in elaborate games so that they might or might not run into each other on the street and then go have sex in a nearby hotel? Who cares if their arty friends argue about Klee versus Mondrian? I haven't read anything so boring and soul-numbing since stumbling my way through The Plague by Camus 20 years ago...
If I had nothing else to read, or if I wasn't working hard on my life, it wouldn't be a big deal. But I have much more important stuff to read, stuff about how to refashion my outlook on work and living, stuff about civilization and love and relationships and psyche... so I think I'll put 'Hopscotch' down and leapfrog over it... sorry Cortazar. Somehow, evidently, Marcos (may have) read you and become an interesting thinker and writer despite your work, not because of it.