Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Breaking The Dance: B-Girls & B-Boys at Central Park"

NYC is famous for a certain kind of street dance style. It evolved as part of the hip hop movement in the South Bronx during the early 1970s. Nowadays, it is still a highly energetic dance, but also a fashion, a community, a defining aspect of identity: Breaking.

In these days, b-boys and b-girls are touring the parks of The City, trying to make some money out of their crazy performances. Tranzformerz did a very good job at the southern corner of the Central Park today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Approaching Homezone"

Almost every day I walk down Christopher Street to get back home. By now, I got pretty much used to the sight of all the colorful showcases, I am no longer touched by the pride that comes with the flaunting rainbow flags. Those symbols got a new connotation for me now.
The first weeks ( - after having realized that this is THE Christopher Street - ), whilst walking down West Village, those symbold made me think about the colorful and flashy parades in Berlin and Köln ( - I REFUSE to call it Cologne ... - ), about our gay mayor back in the °bigbadciddy° and the way his sexual preferences were discussed in public shortly after his official media coming-out, and about the "Siegessäule" - Berlin's gay citymag. It also made me think about some rather non-pc comments and jokes of my mates in England 05, young heterosexual males' general homophobia and things like that.
Christopher Street was at the center of New York's gay rights movement in the 1970s. It is in fact the site of the Stonewall Inn, the bar whose patrons started the 1969 Stonewall Riots that are now widely seen as the birth of the gay liberation movement. The Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee formed to commemorate the first anniversary of that event. The CSD was born.

Now, when I walk down the street towards the Hudson River, I have different thought's. When I see leather G-Strings, I meditate over having pasta/pesto or rice/ketchup for dinner, when I see male dummies in black fishnet catsuits, I worry about whether I have enough coffee for the next morning or not. Coming to the latter solution whilst passing another rainbow flag, I toss a coin to decide whether I spend my money on the brown gold in the Christopher Deli or in the "evil supermarket" in 666 Greenwhich Street. A new meaning is inherent in the symbols of gay pride. I wonder whether I will automatically worry about my caffeine supplies now all the time when I walk past a sexshop in Berlin. Classical conditioning?

P. S.: According to a 21st century news source that is frequently used in America as well as in Europe, Theodor W. Adorno used to live here as well. If you feel like thanking him or punishing him for his "Dialectic of Enlightenment", just put some blooming flowers or pungent cacti outside 45 Christopher Street. I am sure someone will know ...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Yankees Game 09/24"

New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays
1 : 4

Bright sunlight. Nine players each. Approximately three hours. Bat-and-ball game. A pitcher throws a hard, fist-sized, leather-covered ball toward a batter on the opposing team. The batter attempts to hit the ball with a tapered cylindrical bat, made of wood. A team scores runs only when batting, by advancing its players - primarily via hits, walks, and the opposition team's fielding errors - counterclockwise past a series of three markers called bases and touching home plate arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square. The game is structured around nine segments called innings. In each inning, both teams are given the opportunity to bat and score runs; a team's half-inning ends when three outs are recorded against that team. Baseball on the professional, amateur, and youth levels is popular in the Americas, parts of the Carribbean and East Asia. NOT in Europe. And there is reason for that: it is probably as boring as watching chimney fire or snooker on TV after coming home late at night. The audience has to be forced to clap by huge screens and audiotape applause. Nothing in comparison to a soccer game! But hey - at least they sell warm beer, hot pretzels and blue cotton candy in the stadium ...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Impacts of Technology (1)"

Today, I was fed with two interesting thoughts I want to share with you.
General context: During my technology class, we were discussing the politics of certain artifacts (yes, artifacts indeed do HAVE politics).
We were searching for some recent examples of how people deal with a certain new kind of technology and the problems that arise with this. Apart from a couple of other very interesting thoughts (I am not gonna dwell on now), these two got stuck in my 'oh-so-European' mind for quite a while:

I LEARNED: that once the possibility of genetically manipulated food, a whole lot of American citizen were indeed suspicious and worrying about unpredictable consequences, like us. They also opposed, like many Europeans did and still do. They were pretty much against it, same as in Europe. But other than in Europe, in the US, this led to a MASSIVE campaign run by those companies who tried to establish this new technology, dwelling on the notion that there are in fact no consequences. In the end, this campaign was successful, people finally got round to believe it and "Frankenfood" is permitted in the US up to now. That's market forces. That's the impact of late 20th century lobbyism at one of its best. Enjoy your meal!

I LEARNED: that there were some severe problems with a certain power plant in Upper Manhattan and that people complained about a great deal of air-pollution, a strong awkward smell and clouds of smoke hanging over their blocks. A great deal of protest went on, a citizens' initiative was founded. But the power plant stayed. Some chemists managed to alter the smell so that it is not recognized any longer. People also calmed down after a while, especially after the people in charge of it got round to built a huge recreation-park with many sports and gaming facilities. It is crowded out most of the time, it was exactly what the community in that area needed. Whenever people get there now, they think "Oh, there was this nasty power plant problem, but hey, at least they did something good for the community now and there are those nice pool tables and the soccer ground and hey, how about having a little game now that we are here?" Humans, always easy to appease with lollipops ...

What do we make of this? Always carry a couple of genetically altered lollipops and a flickering pocket-billboard around with you and whatever you did - you'll get away with it for sure!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Montauk Beach"

The Ocean.

"Montauk, Long Island"

Recently spent my day there with Vel. A beautiful and calm place at the top of Long Island ...

Beach scene: The ocean, sand, waves, seagulls, cheapish surf-style clothing- and souvenir-shops, some restaurants, and some small hotels and holiday homes. Everything slowing down. People are relaxing, enjoying their day off from the city, as much as I do. Go swimming, then quickly back onto the towel to dry your skin, being happy being lazy.
Pancakes for lunch at an Irish-American pancake restaurant. Again it strikes me, how many Irish immigrants started a new life in the New World.
Inside, there are a lot of memories stuck on the wall. Next to the essential shamrock and the even more essential family photos, TIME magazine found its place - Heidi Klum inside an expensive red ragtop, presumably on her way from a shooting in The City to this beach to spend her day as laid-back as we do.

Later, on our way back to the station, the cab driver tells us a short version of his story, how he just came here two weeks ago to spend his holidays and then simply decided to stay. He also has his CV printed out, hands it out to me soon after admitting his affection as we are leaving for the train.

Yet another story for the seagulls.

All made-up? All true? It's again up to mine own interpretation, like so much in this country ...

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Everyday life: NYU Library - on reading, talking, and printing ..."

"NYU Library"
Ursprünglich hochgeladen von berlin.follies

Spent the last days trying to get my first assignments done. Studying in the US seems to be more like being back in school in Germany. You have small classes and weekly assignments, or - in my case - if the classes are twice a week, you get assignments from one class to the next. The only difference from German schools is that it is more and heavier stuff to read, of course.

New media solutions are also taken to their best, you have to write responses on blackboard for every single reading. Almost the whole class communication takes place on that platform. Also the schedule can be changed spontaneously, so that there is a new reading for the following day on you of course don't get when you don't check your account at least twice a day. One of the well appreciated side-effects of this new way of communication: professors actually answer their emails! Something a "Magisterstudent" who got to know the "Old Skool" within Old History or some other Humanities departments in her early days of studying has to get used to ;o) ...

Another appreciated side-effect is the ability to discuss things in class that go beyond the regular reading everyone did at home. A couple of days after the 9/11 memorial day, carefully spoken concerns about the current government are being uttered again, in my cultural theory and media criticism class this lead to a rather hesitant political discussion. Nonetheless, there is still room for general debates in university classes - which is a good sign.

In general new media seem to dominate most of the student's life - you never meet anyone who is not "addicted to facebook", or checking their emails three to four times a day. Mobile phones rule the streets of The City in these early years of the 21st century and you never see a person walking alone without headphones inside their ears. One of the first questions you are being asked upon arrival on campus is whether you are a Mac- or a Dell-person ... even before your majors are brought into the little chat on the sidewalk. Well, better get used to that - I chose the Dell-free printing room from that day on, and so far I am pretty content with that choice.

Runs in the family, I guess ... ;o)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Welcome To Harlem"


Walking down towards the Apollo Theater, chattering, noise of the street in my ear, Ginsberg on my mind, two companions by my side, sun shining on their faces as bright as on mine. Walking further down the long road towards Barbados ...



Been on "Top of the Rock". Recently. Saw The City from another perspective. A bird's perspective. Distances shrinking. Time standing still for a while. Taking one step - well actually it was 72 floors, but it felt like just one big step in this fast pacing tiny little elevator full of anxious tourists - out of the world. Gazing into the future, gazing into the past whilst being closer to the sun than a couple of minutes ago. A moment of reflexivity. A "panoramic" moment.

And if you put your finger on the Empire State in the middle and go one step to the right, closer to the Hudson river that flows between New Jersey and The City, you can spot where I am sitting right now. In the village, inside my dorm, in front of one of my favourite toys. Take a telescope, maybe you can see me *waving* ...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Seagulls Revisited"


There ain't no better things to do on a Labor Day weekend than visiting a familiar face in an unfamiliar place!

This weekend it was about time to get out of Manhattan for a while, time to get on the LIRR train to Port Jefferson Station. Time to enjoy the beauty of Long Island, time for a long walk and a good talk. Time for collecting shells and stones - as always when I get to the beach. Belle Terre, the mirror world, the wonderland, the land that makes you wonder about the stories it tells.

Back in The City it continues to tell its stories to me. I listen carefully tonight, I promise.

And who knows? Maybe, one day, someone else is walking the shiny happy streets of this enclave, and the cry of the seagulls is telling him yet another story - my story ...