Remember when cabbies used to know their city better than anyone? They could take you to the best steakhouse and knew every shortcut to the airport. They could even get you hookers and blow, or so i have been told. After walking 10 thousand miles yesterday I didn’t want to walk 10 thousand more so i asked the front desk “Callenze taxi?” I can’t remember the vocabulary from my German tapes, but i got a sense of the rhythm. And they humored me.
The cab driver was angry because i didn’t have the exact address to the East Side Gallery, aka the Berlin Wall. Dude, it’s only the most famous goddamned site in the entire city. When I finally brought up The Berlin Wall on my phone and showed him, he said accusingly, “You said gallery!” I also said Berlin Wall but whatever. As he drove angrily through the streets, I thought, “Oh, road rage! I remember this from back home.”
The interwebs tell you not to be disappointed because not much of the wall is there. But it’s a good 2 or 3 city blocks of amazing murals, which is plenty for me. People were taking turns posing in front of “My God, Help Me Survive this Deadly Love,” Dmitri Vrubel’s famous mural of Breshnev kissing Hoeneker on the mouth. It’s from a real photo. The “Triple Breshnev,” as his “fraternal kiss” was known, frequently raised eyebrows.
It’s so cheesy, but I even took a selfie there too. There are just so many things you gotta do, even though they are a cliche, like buying Mickey Mouse ears at Dismeyland or ordering a hurricane at Pat o’ Brien’s. They became a thing because they are rad.
As I wandered along the wall, I started wondering what was on the other side? There was a break in the wall at one point and here it is…raw, non-mural graffiti.
Then I noticed the small section of the second wall. I guess they left it there to show the kill zone between the walls. I realized I was in the kill zone, and immediately started weeping. It’s especially poignant right now with what is happening in America. They are building a similar wall between the US and Mexico. I considered buying a chunk of the wall and sending it to our dictator in chief. And I kind of wished everyone would do that.
Across the bridge i found the Ramones Museum. The owner was really cool and was playing the Dead Milkman. He declined having his picture taken for this blog though. Whereas Dutch people posed for my camera, German people are not into it. Maybe it comes from a culture steeped in memories of surveillance. The Ramones Museum had a little cafe where they sold coffee drinks, beer and vegan treats. It had a really comfortable sitting area.
There was a lot of cool stuff there, including set lists, lyrics, some clothes and musical equipment. I bought a T shirt there because laundry is so expensive at the hotel, and I had packed light. But everyone wears Ramones shirts now. It’s become so cheeseball. What does a rebel do when everyone gets into their thing? I didn’t notice until later it was actually a museum T-shirt made in the style of the Ramones T-shirts, which once again made it supercool.
Across the street under the railroad tracks is Burgermeister. They are famous for being housed in a former public toilet. When I mentioned it to Jonathan Gold, he scrunched up his nose and said, “Charming.” For some reason, that made me want to go there even more. It was indeed a public toilet, but a damn fine public toilet, with wrought iron embellishments.
It also turned out to be an excellent burger, with a charred patty, crispy bacon, and enough cracked black pepper to be noticeable, but not enough to ruin it. It was like that was their signature taste– something that regulars would miss if they stayed away too long.
Often when I try to plan an outing using google maps, I misjudge the distance between things. But this trio of delights was all within a few blocks of each other. Or less. I highly recommend a day out combining a leisurely stroll along the Eastside Gallery, a coffee or beer (or three) at the Ramones Museum, and a killer lunch at Burgermeister. Depending on how long you linger, it’s a three to four-hour jaunt.