Saturday, August 22, 2009

European Tour 2009 part 12: homeward bound


Day 16
9 August 2009
Bad Berka - Thüringen - Germany

It's about a three-hour ride to Dresden, so I've got some time to kill, vainly hoping that things will dry out a little and I won't have to put my tent away wet. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case.

758. Not my favorite conditions to pack in, but it makes a pretty landscape.

759. Towards town, over the fest, into the fog.

Fewer people in the breakfast tent just means more riots; no pics, as this is truly a "had to be there" moment. Go yourself and drink lager in the morning -- just be careful of dudes bearing kegs.....

760. It's like a modern art piece.

Weimar - Thüringen - Germany

761. Kulturbahnhof Weimar. A nice mix of metalheads and normal people waiting for the Düsseldorf train.

I moved, as it turned out, all the stickers (except Autumn Above and Return To The Pit), promo cards, and CDs that I came with. The buttons did not go; it's hard to give people gear from a band that they don't listen to yet. Thus, this merch thing was a (qualified) success; if I do this again, I'll be sure to give notice in time to do a CD-comp and stick random band stickers in each.

Ahead is Dresden, and home, or, "home, and real home"; going to München might be easier from a fly-out perspective, but I want to see how things have changed in my old hood in the last four years; see if the Dresden I remember still exists. I don't live there any more, but still feel that it's a place to come back to rather than to go to. We'll see.

Dresden - Sachsen - Germany

It's nearly six o'clock, and my feet are automatically turning through the net of streets in the back end of Striesen. The view from the S-bahn was the same as ever, and it's almost like going back in time as I do what I did dozens of times before, going back the same old way from a Sunday out, ready to put some DSF on, throw a pizza in the oven, get back to work on whatever video I'd left off on, and rest up for the start of the work week. But I can't do that. I'm an outsider now, and what I can do is stop on the sidewalk opposite, eventually, take a picture, and move on. You really can't go home again.

Of course, the extent to which this ever was home is debatable. I lived here for ten months, and where I come from, we regularly deny "from here" status to people who've lived in town for ten years, often more. And yet I use these ten months as a get-out-of-jail-free card exhaustively in Germany, proof that I'm something other than a standard-issue Sau-ami. The myth has lasted and will last longer than the association; they always do. But the truth remains: even to the extent that I ever was a Dresdner, I don't live here any more. And I am not home yet, no matter what this Ostalgie feels like, not for another day, not for another 4000 miles.


762. New iron and glass work at the Dresden Hbf. They were renovating while I was last there; now I scarcely recognize the place - Berlin scaled down.

763. Remnants of the old station.

764. New-hotness front facing on Wienerplatz.

765. Old factory converted to an office/industrial park, up by the Heeresbäckerei. This has also been extensively renovated.

When people from my old workplace started coming to Dresden in the mid-1990s, there were still piles of rubble lying around that the DDR never had the cash or initiative to finish cleaning up. In the intervening fifteen years, though, Dresden has caught up, then forged ahead, even since I left. I'd have to check in Friedrichstadt and Johannstadt to be sure, but to all appearances Dresden as a whole is still headed up, an odd trajectory these days for a town driven by tourism, several chipmakers, and a luxury car plant.

766. The best kebab shop in Germany, unfortunately closed because it's Sunday and nothing's open on Sunday. Gas-station Ketchup-Würstchen for dinner again!

I defy you to find better kebab than Kebabp-Haus Weixdorf within the boundaries of the BRD. Seriously; let me know, and I will hit them up the next time I'm over, to demonstrate that you're wrong.

767. The beergarden is gone, but the view from my old neighborhood is the same.

768. The Auld Place.

769. There's normal electoral advertising - there's both state and national elections in Saxony this September - and then there's this guy. When your party is a "Coalition" and is running a total of one candidate for a total of two seats, you've got to know that the mock is incoming. German-speakers will stare long and hard at this, then presently laugh themselves into incoherence.

770. "Targeted" advertising. This kebab shop is doing a lot better than the once that was in this location when I was living here, and there were other signs up and down the block (and in other areas of Dresden that I hadn't seen the NPD advertising in in fall '05, which is in itself troubling), but it works to explain both the continuing appeal of the NPD as a protest vote, especially in tough times, and why the great majority of the German people aren't having any of their bullshit.

I like this honest placard, though. It stands up for Work, Family, and Home, all good values.

And it doesn't take a genius to "translate" it into what it's supposed to evoke:

Lol ROT1. It's a continuing problem for those in the NPD (if any) that want their party to be just hard-right, not Nazis, that all of their electoral slogans can be yelled in a thick Austrian/Bavarian accent and sound like they're from 80 years ago. Germany tried that once, and the result at least locally was that Dresden got set on fire and fucked up so badly as to become Exhibit A in the "pro" case for the use of strategic nuclear weapons. You'd think that people would avoid a political party that ended up wrecking their city so bad that reasonable people could argue that getting hit with a Nagasaki weapon would be preferable, and even in Saxony, you'd be 85-90% right.

I still find it hilarious that the NPD are using the "Wir Sind Das Volk" slogan here in the NBL. Sachsen threw that one out for "Wir sind EIN Volk" back in '89 in Leipzig, guys.

771. And if you want to protest, but don't like fascists, you can always vote for the Animal Rights Party. I can't tell whether this is supposed to be a joke or not. If not, wtf, Germany? If so, though, the fact that they got more state funding for posters than the "Coalition For Peace" guy above is incredibly hilarious.

Addendum: a brief fact check reveals that they are serious and not a joke, to the extent that an organization advocating veganism as a political principle can be accurately described as "not a joke". However, their existence and serious status means that we can now mock vegans who wear silk, as the MUT is also looking out for the silkworms, and anyone who is not just isn't hardcore enough.


Day 17
10 August 2009
Dresden - Sachsen - Germany

I'm on my third pen and second notebook at this point, with field replacements of both beyond what I brought over; if I had been less purple on Malmö or took fewer pics of Swashbuckle, maybe both'd've lasted, but in many ways, this is a sign of a successful trip. I hit all my objectives (see back on day 0), had a hell of a time, and also have just less than 800 pictures to sort through and document from this voyage. Onto DUS and then LHR, and then it's time to get some shuteye over the long leg back to BOS.

Düsseldorf - Nordrhein-Westfalen - Germany

A good deal of the misadventures on this stop are my own fault, but the lingering impression remains that Düsseldorf has one of the worst-laid-out and most poorly documented airports that I can recall. As noted, this is partly my fault for using three carriers and not knowing where to start the counterdance, but seriously, a "connecting flights" sign shouldn't point at only one of three gate areas. Even if it had been the one that I needed, it was still crappy design.

However, the upside of this is that I now have a revoked EU exit stamp in my passport:

It's not as cool as a revoked entry, but it's still required for International Badass status. (Obviously, not there yet; among other things, I still need an arrest record in Singapore, at least one mismatched entry-exit set from countries between the Caucasus and the Himalayas, and an obviously-bribed-for diplomatic VIP cert from somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.)

Plane for England's late....good thing I've got time before Boston, and hopefully there won't be a similar Kakerlak as this at Heathrow.

Hillingdon - Greater London - England

If you get the chance, it's worth it to fly in to Heathrow from the east. You come in over London, low enough that the clouds don't get much in the way, and it's a hell of a view. Heathrow itself, though, is large and a bit awkward to get around; in addition to the normal metal-detecting and x-raying, my flight was treated to an encore performance of the Security Theater while actually going in to the gate area, and I was quite glad to have an extended amount of time to make the change. This is why I'd rather have gone direct from Germany, but that would have pushed "stupid-expensive" right over into "ridiculous" or "absurd". Home in 8 hours! It seems too good to be true....and thus probably is.

Regardless, the rest of the trip went without a hitch; we got in to Boston on time, Customs paid more attention to my duty-free bag than to my largely-clean boots, and I managed to make it back in one piece to my hometown. Unfortunately, this meant bagging the Disfigured show, which hurt, but I did have to work in the morning, and jetlag started biting as soon as I got out of the terminal. It has taken nearly two weeks, but at this writing, the whole thing is together, finished, and concluded.

No comments: