Sunday, June 21, 2009

We're here! Hamburg

So of course we've arrived safe and sound. I spent the whole plane ride pretending like our bikes were already missing from the plane, just so I wouldn't be disappointed when they were. Actually I spent the whole plane ride watching Harry Potter Movies, eating Jimmy Bean sandwiches, and talking to the very interesting and very wealthy German-American filmmaker who sat next to us. We tumbled off the plane and were handed two huge bicycle boxes by fittingly strapping young german men. The rigs were safe and sound.

The trip has been a blast so far, the pace insane. We didn't sleep for 35 hours right off the bat, drinking and partying until 3-4 am on Hamburg's teeming Reeperbahn. Our bikes work great. Our hosts are cool. A 6 pack of good beer costs as much as a single regular beer in the states.

TO skip TO TOday, We dropped smack in the middle of a evironmental transportation festival, which meant LOTS of bikes. Everyone in Hamburg rides bikes, so we don't really stand out, except that our bikes are way racy in comparison. Everyone rides 40-year-old cruisers every day, everywhere:



It's really great, except everyone rides on the sidewalk in these crazy omnipresent bike paths, which are really slow if your used to getting around at a car's pace on a bike. But the cars go crazy fast on narrow streets, because they're german and used to bikes on the sidewalk, but I digress. We ran around with Cate, our first Couchsurfing host, who is totally cool, and rides a bike from the 40's which is so flexible the frame wobbles with every pedal stroke, an astonishing characteristic for steel that appears to be mostly cast iron (again, digression). We went through a fantastic tunnel under the Elbe designed in the 1890's with elevators for horses and now for cars and bikes, running into a crazy one-man-bike-collective guy on the other side.

Actually, I don't know the point of this story. The whole reason I started writing this post was to tell you about Cate's friend Tomas, who is a crazy Artist/Poet/Philosopher and totally amazing. He paints pictures with names like "I Fucked the Machine and Lived to Tell About It" and "Biomechanical Woman:'but I shall never again be able to kiss you!' Dr. She-Va-Go:'...'" and so on. They look more or less like this:



Plus this:



Anyways, the real point is Tomas told me about Zizek, a groovy philosopher with more accents on his name (and speech) than I know what to do with. Here's a rad taste:



He is also central to a film called "A Pervert's guide to Cinema" that seems pretty clever.

Aside from that I've mostly been having the time of my life. We went to a complete catalouge of Herbert Tobias' work, a gay 'straight' portraiture photographer (that's a convoluted art joke, fyi) who worked from the end of WWII until the fall of the berlin wall. He's famous for images like this:



But the show was primarily in this vibe:


Damaged, glowering, rugged young men flirting with the camera in a way that is brutally both strong and traumatized. VERY German. I spent a lot of time thinking about layers of history and the way they are read over entire lifetimes as well as physically in the space of a city or culture. Hamburg is one of the best melds I have seen between old and new, huge brick and stone structures mated with commercial glass and girders. All of Europe is built upon the ancients, but Hamburg really owns it. I want to do a photo study when we slow down for a second. Brick buildings with 1850's ornamentation will end suddenly in a sheer window wall, and be encompassed by a conference center pavillion. Whole stained glass banks in stone arches replaed with mirrored tempered panels:



David also found this really cool building, The Chilehaus, massive and made of brick:



In our neck of the woods little tremors would bring this puppy down. Very cool to see.

The trip has been great so far for these and a thousand other reasons, and we haven't even ridden our bikes yet! I'm looking forward to that first day of riding, hopefully out of the rain, which has been pretty relentless and challeging even with places to stay, who knows what'll happen on the open road (w/o fenders, or a rain jacket in david's case Ö).

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fenders are one thing, but a rain jacket? come on, that is essential to almost any trip, whether it be a cover for rain, or just something to keep you warm when the wind blows.


-Rawr!

Der Blaue Reiter said...

haha I know, there are lots of headslapping moments with this kid. He doesn't have socks either, and his pants are falling apart. I'm like "Are you sure you came here for a bike trip??"

kidding David, I love you :)

_austin said...

Das Blog ist kaput! Deutcheland no habben dien interweb?

_austin said...

excuse me. Imst Deutchland no habbst deine interwobben?

Bye