Lvrgrl’s Weblog

Berlin Bound
April 17, 2009, 5:08 pm
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Anyone else? I’ll be there from April 26th to May 23rd!


Shopping Kills Loneliness
November 3, 2008, 3:05 pm
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As soon as I arrived in Berlin I realized something quickly and acutely; I was alone. Reports containing my normal ramblings and goings on, which typically would entertain friends and family, now had no audience.

After a day or two of wandering the streets practicing both sides of conversational German, I hatched a plan. When I tired of listening to the voice in my head, I’d stop into a shop for a quick chat. Mind you I wouldn’t keep people for long – just one or two questions about an item they had in the window or, how about this one: were they not shocked, as I was, to learn that after leaving my bike outside my apartment for just a few hours, it had been stolen? Wec gegangen! In Berlin! The place where people leave their bikes outside of bars locked to themselves, vulnerable to any old truck that might be driving around.

Berlin’s burgeoning Friedrichshain is covered in classy clothing boutiques, snack shops and pieces of bashed of wine bottles sprinkled all over the streets from last night’s party. Just over Warschauer Brücke, you’ve got Kreutzberg with its fill of falafel, high fashion brunches and second hand stores. Even in the increasingly pricey Prenzlauer Berg, cloth cutters have studios on the street level so you can easily pop in to explore their craft. All over this great city there are hip young thangs eager to waste the day away with you talking about die leben.

And so it was with patience and grace that Sabina listened to my story about the stolen fahrad and understood that I needed a jacke that was for schwischen the seasons that must also be good for traveling. Together we decided that a pair of leather cowboy boots were a great deal, even though they’d have to be filled with extra socks to keep the feet from slipping around inside. Transitional jackets would have to be found elsewhere, though the wool commando capes at the front of the rack would make any onlooker drool with envy.

Around the corner, Teddy suggested the first line of attack when one loses something could be to steal another one of the same. His personal prank is to drape his lock over his bike so it looks secured but is really loose and ready to ride. Amidst laminated plastic beads in the shape of diamonds, cassette tapes and dollar signs, he agreed that that in NY it makes sense to make money in one part of town and spend it in another. I agreed that the change of outfit from hoodie to suit was somewhat of a necessary compromise.

Marco had first rate second hand bikes lined up on the tree studded street outside his shop, and understood my fear that the borrowed and wayward bike might have significant meaning to its owner. Hand on my shoulder, he heard my plight: “Yes, it’s important to talk about it because you just have to get it out.” After purchasing a meager replacement from a guy on a bridge, a flat tire lead me to Dani, who fixed my shit bike (“it drives, right?”) even though he saw I would need a new one later on.

And finally at the Fredrichsein flea market, my girls Katerina und Claire knew that a pair of silver spurs for just one Euro would make my day. A quick stop at the Yack Fou shop revealed graphic teeth printed tees, perfect for my six month old nephew whose pearly whites are just passing through tender gums. These only came in adult sizes in the end, so I changed designs and picked up a three shirts lovingly made at home by the shopkeeper’s talented boyfriend. Upon check out I explained that one was for my brother, one for his lady, and the last was a gift for ein von my freunden. She nodded approvingly.

*edited by Carolyn Murnick

Late night Wedding
October 20, 2008, 2:36 pm
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With my nose almost pressed up against the map, trying yet again to figure out how I got so lost, I squint and move in even closer, like my face’s proximity to the map would make my destination easier to find if I wanted to go back into the night for another look. Then, a weight lifts from my right side. Nothing else. No sound, no other feeling, no brush of a hand – nothing. Just this sudden absence, so simply physical that it takes me a second to absorb the feeling. Before even my hand hits my side, I know that something has been lifted from inside my pocket.

I swirl around, see the get-away-guy and scream DROP IT! Ha, he’s surprised I’m not trembling with fright, panties around my ankles. I’ve actually scared him. He pauses; legs split, sneakers frozen to the concrete, face aghast. Head whipping back and forth, he looks for a quick exist and then sensing my fear (I am not actually throwing punches as my initial reaction threatened) he menaces quickly at me and calls my bluff. My apartment keys and wallet are in my shoulder bag and without those I’d really be screwed. Then, in my moments hesitation, he’s gone. Fuck pockets, fuck purses, fuck Wedding.

This is not the sort of submission I had hoped for. My destination had been Schwelle7, performance space dedicated to dance, yoga, body, movement, art and bondage. A tip from dancer / choreographer Rachel Brooker had led me here on this month’s full moon. Seems that the wrong sort of wolves were out.

Of course Wedding is not the only time I’ve been caught off guard. I’m reminded of running topless on a Miami beach after a man with a disposable camera, just minutes after I stripped down and started to relax. That time I got away with the camera, in exchange for throwing his wallet back into the sand at him after it fell out of his pocket on his way off up the dunes. For days after my trip to Wedding I revisited this feeling of the weight lifted from my person with a slight tinge of victim complex in my heart. And then, my older male friend tells me about getting his bag swiped from under a table by a fake beggar with an aimful cane tapping around each table and I remember: these things happen. God didn’t punish me because I tried to go to a sex party, I wasn’t targeted because my dress was too bright or my hair was out of it’s ponytail and it wasn’t because I didn’t look as tough as I think I do when I’m in New York. I just had some bad luck.

edited and published on CAKE

Lunch with Rachel
October 17, 2008, 3:20 pm
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In casual conversation over cheap and tasty Sudanese food in Berlin’s burgeoning Friedrichschein, dancer / choreographer Rachel Brooker confirmed that the fabulous freaks are here, alive and well, just as you may have hoped. This past spring, her performance piece,”Invitation,” came alive at Dock 11, quietly questioning our personal rules with touch. With dancers strew about a block box space, separated into a mock house complete with living room, bedroom, and TV room, Brooker invited audience members to meander around and touch the poised participants wherever their skin was visible to the naked eye. A middle-aged woman sprawled over a couch, face hidden in the pillows, had exposed arms and accepted a warm daughterly embrace held long enough to experience feelings of maternal acceptance. A young couple from the audience tentatively touched a coquettish woman revealing only the nape of her neck with her head turned to the side, chin slightly lifted before parting the lace of her glove from her delicate wrist.

While her piece asked audience members to consider intimacy and touch, it wasn’t intended to be sexual. “It’s about being cozy,” Rachel lamented. Now this is a theoretical challenge for any uptight American to which all dealings of the flesh speak to sex. Leave it to a open and loving ex-pat to expose a wild spectrum of sexuality between the body in orgasm and one making it’s way through every day life. What’s not a direct turn on may well surround your pleasure center, cushioning it from impacts too great to be immediately absorbed. The subtle power dynamic of who can touch, when and where, gives a distance from the actual sex, a space perfectly comfortable for those prone to over-thinking each vibration that comes our way.

Just minutes into our conversation, Rachel arrives at the topic of SM and the tight-knit but straight female friendly community catering to each others needs here in Berlin. Like in San Francisco, it’s common practice for folks to go over to each other’s homes to try out new techniques and explore together. But this play doesn’t just happen behind closed doors. At Schelle7, a performance space dedicated to dance, yoga, body, movement, art and bondage, these practices can be public matters. Catering to both insiders and new comers, a scheduled of workshops, performances and inner circle parties take place within a huge warehouse space. It may be in Wedding – not the most friendly and welcoming areas of Berlin (disclosure, I got lost looking for the party and got pick pocketed on the Subway) but it’s here, non-the-less.

edited and posted on CAKE

Audacity of Pleasure
October 13, 2008, 1:53 pm
Filed under: literature, travel | Tags:

EAT PRAY LOVE, a review:

Don’t listen to Oprah or the millions of ladies nodding their heads to the tune of spiritual renewal. The reason this book resonated for millions of American women is because it’s actually about sex. Alternate title: No Sex, No Sex, Sex – a tale of eight months of pain and four months of pleasure. It tells us what every woman wants to hear: good sex is at most, one year and a million miles within your reach.

The real story here is one of a woman who hadn’t been properly laid in a long time and so when someone gives her (and yes, you can GIVE an orgasm) four orgasms in a day and doesn’t care if she doesn’t shave her legs in exchange, she falls in head over heels, even if he is a 51 year old man with an ex wife and three kids who lives oceans away from her home. Then again, maybe it was all her intense yoga that made her open to love.

As the first few pages of this memoir reveal, Gilbert leaves her husband and shortly after decides to travel through Rome, Bali and India seeking nourishment for the soul and the battered ego. After confiding that she’s not going to dish about the fallout of her marriage, aside from admitting that a big suburban house and a kid might just not fulfill her after all, she goes on with a few ragged details about a bad relationship gone worse held close due to glimmers of intimacy through a view otherwise blocked by the sheen of tears. And then, with a fat advance from her publisher, she’s off.

The first section, on Rome, is highly skimmable. Gilbert turns down all opportunities to do “it” when she’s there – choosing to remain platonic with her dark and stormy Italian language partner. India fares a bit better, with entertaining bits starring a reformed Texan cowboy who talks a little like Sawyer from Lost and uses nicknames like “groceries” and otherwise tells it like it is. Unfortunately, this man is only a spiritual partner; an easy American there to guide her through the ways of the Ashram.

Things finally pick up when Gilbert gets to Bali. (Flip to the back and you’ll find the word “he” sprinkled throughout, and not a with a capital “H.”) The he is of course another dark but calm before the storm sort of man who is totally happy to give her the world and expect nothing in return. What a let down. This woman has in fact become so self fulfilled that just when she needs nothing she gets it all. Well, goody for her. Elizabeth Gilbert may swear by her travel guide to transcendence but you’d have a better chance of inspiring self-actualization from tackling Obama’s ‘The Audacity of Hope.’

*edited by Carolyn Murnick