Monday, February 15, 2010

Michael O'Sullivan's comments on Valentine's Day movies (some of his choices include "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "An Affair to Remember" and "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing", "The Proposal"; found at reminded me that the only time i was ever in Berlin, it was for the Berlin Film Festival, i was with Larry, and on Valentine's Day, we went to the press screening of "Shakespeare in Love" (which we had not seen in New York City) and it was a good movie for that particular day.

But i also remember that i never wanted to ever return to Berlin. The reason: one afternoon, we were at an Ubahn station, Larry was walking behind me (he's always slow and walking behind and i get impatient and race on ahead) and as i got to the top of the stairs, a group of about five boys (all with buzzcuts) raced in my direction and tried to knock me down the stairs. Larry actually ran up to catch me, but the boys had already run out of the station. This was a period when the news reports talked of a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment in Berlin, and increases in racially-motivated violence. And i experienced it.

And i NEVER wanted to return to Berlin, EVER. And now i'm here, because of a fellowship, which sounded good on paper, but you would think that a city which had a reputation which was (shall we say) not the best in terms of its sensitivity to "otherness" would make an effort to try to be polite to people. But not in Berlin.

There are pockets. That's why Claudia, Brian and i like Potsdamer Platz: not because it's such an architectural marvel (it's pretty hideous, and it's badly designed to boot, with these horrid metal plates stuck in the sidewalk areas, which, in the freezing weather, become lethal), but because it's a tourist trap area where people try to understand you if you don't speak German, and don't get all snotty on you. And it's the place where American and British movies are shown in the "o.v." (original version) with no subtitles. And the Kino Arsenal shows great classic movies.

I think my hatred of the Berlinale stems from the fact that i've had a horrible experience of being stuck in Berlin, and i was looking forward to the festival for some relief. I thought i'd see a few movies, run into friends, have a nice time.

Intead: my accreditation was messed up, there's this absolutely asinine system (oh, you can get tickets for the next day if you come at 8 in the morning... 8? it takes me almost an hour to get there, so if i take a shower, etc. i have to wake up every day at 6 to get tickets for the next day? what kind of stupidity is this?), and the people i encountered on the first day were hideously rude and snotty and snippy to me, no one more so than Frauke Greiner. Who did NOT apologize for her mistake but told me, oh, but i do not know you, and you are a nobody! Who the hell is she to tell me i'm a nobody?

I'm a nobody? She's the biggest pinchfaced loser i've ever met. And Reid Rosefelt told me she was nice (because she used to work for him). Well, that was back in the day (and we were all younger then) and sorry to report, she's become a horror.

But because i don't have many friends in Berlin, i did make the effort to go to the panel discussion on curating that Marc Siegel was on... also Stuart Comer (who had given a lecture on William E. Jones's work on Friday; he works at the Tate Modern, but he sounds American to me) and Henriette Huldisch (evidently some sort of assistant to Chrissy Isles at the Whitney, but Chrissy Isles is British, so i guess it's a fair exchange) and Heinz Emigholz. Stefanie Schulte Strathaus was the moderator, and it was enjoyable. But i went because of Marc, but then James Benning told me he was doing something at 5:30... so i went and asked if there were tickets, but i was told it was all sold out, yada yada yada. So, sorry, i just walked out and went home.

I'm probably going to see nothing, because i refuse to be part of the herd and do as i am told. That's not to why i came to Berlin: to be a sheep being led to the slaughter. (And yes, i mean that metaphor in the most literal and unpleasant way possible.)

These people are ridiculous: what if they really had to deal with Jack Smith? Or Harry Smith for that matter?

I never thought i'd be as crazy as Jack Smith, but Berlin has driven me to it!


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