Sunday, 31. May 2020
Berlin cinemas + 1 thought (this month on Twitter growing up) + 1 remembrance

The lockdown continues, though loosened in Germany. I still miss going to cinemas a lot, so this blog series tides me over a little. I hope you, too!

ASTOR

The most luxurious public cinema in Berlin, the Astor on Ku'damm
This independent cinema is i.a. run by at least one great fan of the glitz of old cinemas - it's probably the most luxurious of Berlin cinemas, next to perhaps one other. It has a long glass-walled foyer with ticket booth, champagne or wine refreshment at small tables, then an interfacing section for tickets to be checked, after which you arrive in a 2nd larger foyer with a proper bar incl. offers of drinks and snacks, and a place to leave your coat etc.. The cinema itself is a wonder of retro design with a large, curtained screen. The seats are perhaps the most luxurious you'll ever experience in a cinema, leather, each with its own arm rests, and a small "night table" every two seats, incl. a light, where you can deposit drinks/snacks. There's even a way to order replenishments during the movie (although few people do that) - the bar is open all through the movie. In addition, the management offers old movies once a month, shown on old reel projectors - as advertised in the photo in the right glass case (the poster with Elisabeth Taylor on it). Heaven!

Twitter, somewhat better

First off: I do partake of this social medium - much more rarely than in the first few years after my registration, because I came to hate its becoming mostly a platform for facile public ridiculing and denigration. Which is of course exactly how the Great Orange Pretender in the U.S. has been using it. Mostly.

But a few days ago, Twitter actually grew a bit more of a spine, and replaced a threatening tweet by that GOP guy by a message box usually reserverd for "lesser" subscribers when they advocate physical hate. Not much earlier, it also added fact-checking links below 2 of his tweets on his most newly "discovered" conspiracy: Mailed-in votes.

Twitter et al benefit from a special law making them - as opposed to, say, newspapers - legally inculpable for things their tweeters etc. post. Of course Mr. GOP & his cronies immediately now threaten to revoke this law - which he has profited mightily from for many years!

I wonder what made Twitter cross this Rubicon? (And whether they'll stay on the fair side for long.) Perhaps it was the impassioned open letter they received earlier, of the widower of the campaign aide of ex-Congress-Rep. Joe Scarborough, who died after fainting & falling badly in one of Scarborough's remote offices years ago?

For the benefit of his don't-believe-what-you-can't-see fandom, the tweeter in the O. Office of course a.s.a.p. removed all tweets that had been post-processed by Twitter. (I checked an hour ago.)

R.I.P., Rolf Hochhuth

This famous German playwright died near mid-May, at age 89. He was well-known for his impassioned assertions on certain ignored or purposely hidden historical facts, which he occasionally made the subject of one or other stage production.

The most well-known of these is probably The Deputy, on the role of Catholic Pope Pius XII on hushing up - and not condemning outright! - what was happening in Nazi concentration camps. In which some Catholic priests were also interned, and later industrially murdered. So Hochhuth was a working minder & reminder of things people tend to forget.

But his range of possible targets was wide. The play that brought him to my attention initially, was Turing - and all the stuff it disclosed (at least to little-informed me!) about how the European part of the World War was to an amazing degree won by the great technical efforts made in Bletchley Park in England, led on the code-breaking side by Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, who i.a. on the side predicted the feasibilty of the virtualisation surge the i.t. world is experiencing for the last decade or so!

I greatly admired the angry old man for that play, and because of that got round to reading a few of his others.

[Go in peace, rest in courage...]

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Friday, 15. May 2020
Berlin cinemas + 2 thoughts (last month on killer clowns & now TGIF Kreuzberg style)

(This is the belated April entry - too much going on in that month this year. Old German rhyme: "April, April - soon does as it wills!") While the leaders of the loudest NATO "allies" do rhetorical somersaults while their citizens are being decimated, daily, Germany has done a little better - so far...

ODEON

The great Berlin cinema "Odeon" - also closed due to Corona till June
Another Yorck cinema, this one is one of about 3 of the most traditional ones in that group. Not much to look at from outside - except for the 2 glass viewing cases in the front yard - inside it is a thing of beauty: A proper small wood-and-glass ticket booth near the left & right entrances, after which you pass through into a small foyer with bar-and-ticket-cashier, with a wall of the month's celebrity birthdays on the right. Inside a classic single-level cinema hall with tall curtains and beautiful decorative lights on left & right walls! A hidden gem!

Killer Clowns

I'm not saying that the nominal leaders of the U.S. & the U.K. are solely to blame for all the CoVID deaths this year in their respective countries. In fact, the British magazine THE ECONOMIST argues at least partly otherwise for the U.S..

But I do find it extremely heartless & non-exemplary to say the least that they are using the crisis to further their own political agendas, which for both i.a. means "opening up" again - a probably foolish push into more unnecessary deaths, while their reinfection coefficient R0 is above 1. (I'm no mathematician, but I seem to remember reading that by about 1,3 the rise starts becoming exponential again!)

And all this while smiling blithely into cameras. If I were living in the U.S. or the U.K., being "at risk" in terms of my age and recent health history, my motto would Remain: #StayAtHome!

TGIF, another May Day

This Friday, restaurants and caf├ęs reopened in Berlin. Man, had I hoped for that! Of course, realising how incredibly lucky I am to live in a country, where government and provincial leaders reacted quickly to the Corona threat (only two-and-a-half months ago!) by locking us down within about 2-3 weeks; German virologists, specialised for SARS cases (again, man, is the world lucky that this is not the 1st SARS epidemic the world had experienced to some extent), were drawn upon by health ministry and Kanzleramt (ministry of the office of the chancellor). One of these virologists, Dr. Drosten, has taken time to do long informative podcasts, so that many, many Germans were better informed than people in other countries. On how the virus spreads, and how to behave accordingly.

Anyway, I visited an almost totally empty McD's with outside tables, and after a few curly fries felt like a normal person again. Some very hungry sparrows loudly claimed their tiny parts of my meal, as well.

Later in the day, I passed a group of young women, standing near a building (not really "socially distancing"), and one of them instructed the others loudly: "You sleep in the same bed with a guy for months, and then suddenly you can't, week for week... That's just not on!" I, pony-haired old man, managed not to prance or grin while directly passing them, but half a dozen steps later...

At 10 p.m. a somewhat surprised moi was sitting on a bench on a traffic island in Gneisenau Str., holding a piece of pizza in one hand, while the other was demasking. Surprised due to having forgotten the "loosening" order, that allowed opening of eating places today, also directs them all to close by that time every evening. For the moment.

A strange day!

[Keep well. Keep your distance, too, even while possibly "reopening" your life.]

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Tuesday, 31. March 2020
Berlin cinemas + 1 thought (this month on... guess what, but no beer)

So the new year wasn't quite so happy so far - although I'm medically fitter than in end-of-year months - and so, also, not so regular in terms of this new series. But another cinema is included, and even integrated, into the one thing that occupies all our thoughts, now...

YORCK

Entrance of Berlin-Kreuzberg's famous Yorck cinema
One of Berlin's best-known cinemas, the Yorck (named after the street it's located in), was so successful over the years, that at some point it expanded to a 2nd viewing hall called the "New Yorck". This double cinema then triggered a whole series of theatres in the city, bundled in the Yorck group of independent cinemas. This amalgam now regularly presents some mainstream stuff, and many indie movies, including quite a few in original language; it has actually opened a new small cinema complex near the old main train station, near the Zoo.

O, Corona

Yes, even here this matter rules! As the above photo shows, drastic consequences have been taken - "first closing since 1977" - almost as if we're preparing for a major war-time effort...

The thing is, people like you or me can't say much about this, the 2nd SARS virus. As one astute Tweeter pointed out, at the beginning of any comment on Corona there should be a sincere disclaimer that the writer is NOT a CoVid-19 expert!

About mid-March, the one thing I was missing, was - how long does the virus actually remain "live" on surfaces? I found this useful New England Journal of Medicine article, which helped me appreciate how plastic compares to i.a. paper, and how important the viral dose is, that droplets (aerosol or bigger/heavier) contain.

As for the politicians who brag and babble and call out "important" stuff about the new virus, my gut tells me that the ones who are loudest or most demagogic are the ones who had behaved badly at some point, e.g. by not paying too much attention to the coming pandemic weeks ago. Cuomo of NY state is great now, but probably wasn't at the beginning, which could be why the starting gradient of the NYC curve is so steep; the Great Presidential Pretender - now with mass destruction option, for his own citizens this time - isn't great now, having become a signal argument for why the US need to reform their political hierarchy* - so many lives of innocents shouldn't be in the much too small hands of one man!

Perhaps, in this time of crisis, we need to not always follow the recommendations of big mouths and show hosts, beating the drum of every new scandalous tweet or meme, but keep a sharper eye/ear on the less loud points of appropriate governance, e.g. the governor of California, and even Germany's own Merkel (whose near-eternal restraint is a boon right now, for once).

As for self-quarantining: I always thought I was hermitically inclined, but this is too much even for me. I am so glad book shops & video rentals are still open in Berlin! Other than that I try to aim my info focus at places close to home or family, consume the terrible consequences when the virus causes intensive damage to people's health in some sort of quanta, and divert small donations there (as well as to one or other local shop and/or cinema)...

[Go - and stay! - well...]

(* to say nothing of the election system beyond the primaries!!)

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