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This is our last dance. (Remembering David Bowie.)

24 Jan

Bowie, 87

David Bowie’s music was the first I listened to in my childhood days – next to Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Michael Jackson and Wham. In the poppish 80’s, it took me a couple of years to fully explore his classic earlier work – but once I got to the Berlin trilogy of LowHeroes and Lodger and the Soul Train era of Young Americans I was never the same.

A big fan in my childhood / early teen days, I so badly wanted to visit Bowie’s Hamburg concert of the ‚Glass Spider Tour‘ promoting the Never let me down album (which I’m apparently one of the few to like until this day) in 1987, but my mother thought I was too young to join the masses. So I stood with my parents in Hamburg’s central park, yelling my heart out, while I couldn’t attend my first concert ever.

Nine years later, I finally got to watch Bowie in 1996 for his Outside tour. It wasn’t his best performance, but the Bowie magic was around every second. I’m glad I had that one concert. I’m not too fond of his experimental phase in the late 90’s (except for Trip Hop-ish Little Wonder), but I loved the two comeback albums in early 2000’s, Heathen and Reality.

If it hadn’t been for the stroke in 2004, this could have been his „September of my Years“-like decade. When Bowie released his reminiscent Berlin album The Next Day nine years later, I already felt this could be some kind of a closing statement, a retrospective of places and stages in his career. Turns out, the long goodbye started there. While going all over Bowie’s records over the past 5 decades, these are my eternal #25.

25. Modern Love. 

The opening track from Let’s Dance. Still modern after 33 years.

24. A better Future

Love the hymnic nature of this track from the Heathen album: ‚I demand a better future‘, repeated three times.

23. Golden Years

The most soulful Bowie ever, performing my favorite track from the incredible Station to Station album at Soultrain. Bonus: Superstrange interview at the start.

22. Where are we now

The beginning of the end – the great retrospective of the Berlin years:
„Had to get the train / From Potsdamer Platz / You never knew that / That I could do that / Just walking the dead / Sitting in the Dschungel / On Nürnberger Straße / A man lost in time / Near KaDeWe / Just walking the dead“

21. Blackstar

What to say. It’s almost unreal and very painful to watch (Lazarus is unbearable) – an 10 minute epic that will never be judged on its own but as a post mortem.  It’s a classical Bowie track that rises to epic proportions  between minute 4:20 and 6:30.  This is how resurrections must sound like.

20.  Zeroes

No one ever remembers this persiflage of Heroes for the Never let me down album – but ‚til this day I can’t help liking it as much as Glass Spider (Mummy come back ‚cos the water’s all gone). One the best first lines: „You’ve arrived in the land of a thousand different names…“

19. The Wedding Song

The happiest Bowie I can ever recall – intro and outro on Black Tie, White Noise. I always thought I want to have this track for my weeding – and then I forgot about this one. But not about Bowie! Let’s dance had its special place at our wedding…

18. The Man who sold the world

Rediscovered this gem like so many of us through the Nirvana cover. Original still a class of its own…

17. Something in the Air

Highly underrated cut form the ‚hours‘ album that sounded like an instant classic back 1999.

16. Thursday’s Child

Epic video and best track of the surprisingly smooth structured ‚hours‘ album foreshadowing the one big theme of his last works: aging.

15. Everyone says ‚Hi‘

Another hidden gem from the Heathen album: Love the sentimental, slightly frustrated tone of this one – „Hope the weather’s good / And it’s not too hot / For you /  Everyone says ‚Hi'“

14. Never let me down 

Everyone hates the album, but I don’t agree. At least half of Never let me down offers some of Bowie’s best pop efforts even though this ’87 release had not been nearly als successful as predecessors Tonight and even Let’s dance. Or maybe it’s nostalgia talking: It was the first Bowie album that I impatiently awaited in my teenage days…

13. Sound & Vision

My second missed chance to see Bowie perform in Hamburg: In 1990, Bowie retired his 60’s/70’s back catalogue with this ‚Greatest Hits‘ tour. Tickets sold out in a couple of minutes, though. What stuck on my mind was this hymnic title track of the Sound & Vision tour – „Blue, Blue, Electric Blue…“

12. Wild is the Wind

Dramatic cover of the 50’s smash by Johnny Mathis and a couple of years later Nina Simone from the fabulous Station to Station album, which contains am extended six minute version – such a beautiful arrangement.

11. Buddha of Suburbia

Highly underrated soundtrack song in the summer I graduated. Never watched the movie, but always remember the killer line ‚Can’t tell the bullshit form the lies‘. Lenny Kravitz playing the guitar on this one, btw…

10. Absolute Beginners

One of those first five Bowie songs I listened to when I was a kid. I remember listing to this nonstop on a Hitachi tape recorder while being in hospital. By the time I got out, I was know by the doctors and nurses as ‚the Bowie Kid‘

9. Ashes to Ashes

I was too young for this, but MTV made me catch up quickly – and love this track instantly. Plus: It made more curious about that Junkie Major Tom…

8. Young Americans

My favorite from Bowie’s Soultrain era in New York around the time I was born. This track features two historic performances. One with Cher…

…and the other featuring a background singer, that should turn into of the biggest voices of R&B: That’s right, the first guy in the right corner is no one else but Luther Vandross…

7. Little Wonders

The most modern track in the Top Ten – Bowie discovered Trip Hop and Dub in the mid 90’s. I always thought this one should have been in Trainspotting.

6.  Underground

One of my childhood anthems and first vinyl records.  I was 11 or 12 when it came out along with the Labyrinth movie – which even at that time I found a little weird set-up. (Thanks for reminding, BuzzFeed.)

5.  Heroes 

One of the big epics. I still remember watching „Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo“ in biology class as a preventing example for drug abuse – and defending Bowie to the teacher after confronting the class with Bowie’s own history of drug abuse.  The things you do for your childhood heroes.

4. This is not America

The very first Bowie track to I remember. I  tried to figure out the title and singer for a year or so when being 10 or 11.

3. Let’s Dance

The epic of all epics. This was my favorite track for years and the one big reason I became such a Bowie fan in the 80’s – for all the wrong reasons die-hards of the 70’s might argue. But what gives: I discovered the Golden Years later.

2.  Space Oddity

Like the ultimate Bowie anthem, which I really enjoyed rather late. But the more I do by know. One of the best records of all times. Timeless and pure.

1.  Under Pressure

Still, this one beats everything – even though I was at no time a fan of Queen nor Freddie Mercury. Next to Let’s dance this is the quintessential pop record as Slate pointed out – with the best finish in pop history ever:
This is our last dance.
This is ourselves.

RIP, Starman.

A Short Story about my Bike.

15 Aug

Foto 2
This is my Bike. It’s a Raleigh, a mountain bike. It’s the oldest item in my life that I still use on a regular basis, it’s older than my oldest Mac – and I bought 6 Macs over the last 20 years. I got my Raleigh in 1995 for approximately 1500 DM. There’s still a sticker on the Bike: Zweiradhaus Ehrig. It dates back to the days of double digit postal codes: 2000 Hamburg 67.

I rode 10,000s of kilometers all over Germany and it still makes me tremendously happy to feel the warm breeze through my hair when riding on rare, real summer days like these lately. I feel alive. Precisely, there are few things in life that bring me so much joy. It’s a pure kind of joy you know from your childhood days.

I tend to forget about the joy that riding my Bike brings, though, in the cold winters and autumn season, but once the real summer takes over there’s almost nothing like taking a 50+ km kilometer ride along Elbe River or through the countless green valleys, incredible nature parks, forests and creeks that make Hamburg such a special city.

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I ride. And I still love the sound of a clicking pedal as if it was the first time.  A great ride is like a great trip. Holidays for a day. It’s the best travelling ever. You see so many things passing you by. It clears your mind. Quite often, I get new ideas on the Bike.  After a 4-5 hours of riding, you feel like you have achieved something.

We have come a long way together. My Bike has seen the good times, when you felt you never wanted to touch the handlebars again, the happy times, it has seen the bad times as well, the ugly times when I kept going for hours in the rain, just kept riding without a goal, without a route, just to get away. Moving is living, you know.

It has always been that way: I kept on floating, exploring, not knowing where things will lead me – quite often like in life itself. My happinest rides where in pre-iPhone age. You start, you follow your guts, you don’t know where it takes you, there was no Google Maps on your mobile before 2007, just your inner-GPS – and that didn’t even fail in the darkest forests of Bavaria.

Foto 1

My Bike is a lot like me. We ride. We fail. We turn. We ride again. I’ve discovered almost everything in Hamburg through my Bike, and probably the beauty of this discovery kept me ‚til this day from taking a driver’s license. (I even wear for some very un-German reasons a jersey of Discovery Channel, but that’s a different story and the 2003 Tour de France plays a major role in it – see below.)

I guess, I must be considered a difficult Biker. I mostly like to bike alone at my own pace. I never bike for things to the next supermarket. I never bike 5 km to meet friends. I ride tours – or I don’t ride at all.  I don’t consider my bike a Fortbewegungsmittel, a vehicle – it’s rather a travel companion. Like in so many other times in life, I’m all or nothing when it comes to biking. Meaning: A full packed 40+ km km tour or nothing at all. I don’t get a kick out of cruising along the Alster at runner’s pace. In the end, a great ride is an adventure. I always felt that way.

The last summer before moving out I spent with my brandnew Raleigh at Tunneltal, which is kind of an inside thing and you will not find in a travel guide. It has its own magic if you grew up in the area of North-East Hamburg.  Of course, my Bike took me countless times all along the Elbe where I still prefer meandering through the Vier- und Marschlande at the lower part, starting at Mittlerer Landweg, than taking a ferry over at the other end and crusing through Das Alte Land.

Foto 1 Kopie
My favorite ride, though, is always the one home through the underrated North-East of Hamburg where I grew up: starting at the Ohlsdorf cementary – Europe’s biggest park cemetery actually –, rolling all along the Alsterwanderweg heading in a big circle to the Alster spring bordering to Schleswig-Holstein, ending at Volksdorf. Or even better: Taking the high road from down South up North starting from Bergedorf along the Bille through the grove ‚til Reinbek, Glinde, Stellau and Stapelfeld, returning home via Rahlstedt.

When riding through kilometer-long wheat fields accompanied by the chirping cicadas, I feel like in a Springsteen song: With a wide open Country in my Eyes. And these romantic Dreams in my Head.  In the end, nostalgia always gets me. There is no feeling like coming home.

Foto 3
For quite some time I wanted to trade my Raleigh for a hot, lean, mean Bianchi tracking bike. I was ready to order and spend some 3K on it, but it never happened. One season, my desired model wasn’t available, the other season I moved to Munich.  And then, two years later, I had the crash of my life in the Italian Alps with a rented bike those brakes were as sharp as scissors. It me hit with 40 km/h on a stony path when a dog tried to bite me – panic is always the wrongest impulse.

One stone ended up in my chin, another one in my elbow next to the bone. Until this day, I never knew these different stages pain could bring. I still have the scar on my chin, it’s quite visible until today. ‚Every winner has scars‘, an Austrian friend of mine used to quote on her Facebook. I like that quote.

Speedin'

 

While the crash didn’t kill my passion, it killed kilometers. Like crashes at the stock market, I couldn’t get this thing out of my head. A season later I failed hitting the 1000 km mark which I easily took the last five years. The other season again. The next season I stopped counting. Nowadays, I’m happy for two back-to-back 50 km rides. I get older, you see.

I always dreamed of going up Alpe d’Huez, but once I rode up by car, I knew it would be a dream forever. (It’s ok to leave some dreams for later, I told myself that day.) I never went for the light racing bikes, I was always an explorer, that’s why a mountain bike did it for me. (Hamburg and mountains, you get the idea.)

Foto 2 Kopie

That might explain why I was obsessed with mountains. I followed Le Tour, in the heyday of Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong. I cheered for Jan, of course, and ‚til this day can’t understand how he lost the Tour in 2003.  With this comeback, Armstrong got me, though: this 15th stage up to Luz Ardiden might be one of the biggest comebacks in sports history.

With Ullrich and Armstrong out, I stopped following. I frankly don’t care about Nibali, Froome, Wiggings or Contador. Four years ago, I finally made it to Champs-Elysées, watching Cadel Evans win his meilleur jaune. While I didn’t care much about Evans either, it felt good finally visiting the last meters of Le Tour that once meant so much to me.

Foto Kopie 3

But my love for biking and my Bike has never vanished. For me, to some extent, biking is living. You see: My Raleigh has never disappointed me. About whom can you say that after 20 years?

Das Junilicht.

17 Jun

Weißt du noch, wie das war, damals, als die letzten, die allerletzten Klausuren geschrieben und die mündlichen Prüfungen abgelegt und die Zeugnisse endlich verteilt waren? Der 17. Juni. Das Ende von etwas. Der letzte Tag vor dem Aufbruch ins Leben. Ein letztes Mal hat jemand eine Ansprache gehalten, die keinen interessierte, und danach haben sich alle noch gegenseitig etwas in die Jahrbücher geschrieben, das netter war als die gemeinsame Zeit, denn man hatte schon damals ein Gefühl dafür, dass etwas zu Ende ging, obwohl man noch kein Gefühl für die Zeit hatte.
Das Junilicht (4).

Du hattest auch kein Gefühl für den Augenblick, denn dann bist du, wie die Hälfte der Klasse, um 22 Uhr abgehauen, weil Deutschland gegen Bolivien spielte, die WM hatte begonnen an diesem Juniabend, als die Schule zu Ende war. Aber das war dir egal, weil du es nicht erwarten konntest, mit diesem Kapitel deines Lebens abzuschließen, weil du bereits ein Neues aufgeschlagen hattest. Einen Sommer lang warst du im Tunneltal, hast gelesen und geschrieben, hast Hemingway und Fitzgerald entdeckt, das war dir wichtiger als andere Entdeckungen damals, der Traum war so groß. Es war ein langer, warmer Sommer, einer der zwei, drei wärmsten, die du erlebt hast, 25 Grad jeden Tag von Juli bis September, was für eine Zeit.

Das Junilicht (2).

Ein Kollege hat später, viel später, mal gesagt, dass die Magie der Schulferien darin liegt, dass man danach ein Jahr älter wurde, weil man diese sechs Wochen Zeit hatte, über das Leben nachzudenken und Dinge zu tun, die man danach ein Jahr nicht tun konnte, und ein Jahr später tat man sie auch nicht mehr, weil man ganz andere Dinge tun wollte, die einen wieder ein Jahr älter werden ließen. Die Vorfreude kündigte sich bereits im Mai an, wenn die letzten Klausuren geschrieben waren und man wusste, dass die beste Zeit des Jahres bald vor einem liegen würde.

Das Junilicht (3).

Man würde mit den Eltern zwei Wochen nach Italien fahren, aber die restlichen vier Wochen hatte man für sich. Man würde mit dem Rad fahren, jeden Tag ein bisschen weiter und wieder etwas Neues entdecken, neue Pfade, neue Orte, neue Seen, die man dann seinen Freunden zeigte und irgendwann auch den Mädchen. All das lag vor einem im Juni. Der ganze Sommer, der ganze endlose Sommer mit seinen weißen Nächten, das ganze Leben.

Das Junilicht (5.)

Du glaubtest an das blaue Licht dieser Juninächte, das noch um 23 Uhr leuchtete und um drei Uhr schon wieder, das blaue Hamburger Junilicht, das nie erlosch. Du glaubtest an die strahlende Zukunft, die vor dir liegt, aber doch Jahr für Jahr vor dir zurückweicht, du glaubst noch heute daran, 20 Jahre später.

Und so blicken wir in den Rückspiegel, lassen uns den Fahrtwind durch die Haare wehen und navigieren doch stetig zurück – dem Vergangenen zu.

Die letzte Fähre.

15 Sep

Und dann sitzt du wieder am Fenster, der Fensterplatz schlägt immer den am Gang, aber es ist anderes Fenster diesmal, Germanwings, Pristina, denn wenn es nicht etwas Neues ist, ist es kein Abenteuer, nicht wahr?

Pristina Boarding

Du versucht dich zu erholen von dieser verstörend grauen Stadt aus Asphalt, Geröll und einer der traurigsten Vergangenheiten, die die Welt in den letzten Jahrzehnten gesehen hat, du versuchst das abzuschütteln wie den Abschied jetzt.

Pristina Crossroads

Du siehst auch hier beim Abflug Hügel, die zu geschwungenen Linien werden, zu braunen Wellen mit Klecksen darin, es ist nicht anders als in Tirana, es ist nicht anders als im Wagen, nur die Linien sind größer und die Schwünge dort weiter, und die warme Luft fügt alles zusammen, den ganzen Sommer in seinen Einzelteilen, Tirana, Budva, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Split, Brac, Postira, Bol, Herceq Novi, Tivat, diese Fähre durch den Fjord von Kotor, die auch mitten in der Nacht fährt, die immer fährt, und das eine Ufer mit den anderen verbindet, 30 km in 5 Minuten gespart.

Ferry Girl

Du denkst an dieses Auf-die-Fähre-Fahren als den einen Sommermoment, es gab hundert andere, aber dieses Bild kommt als erstes, wenn du jetzt an diesen Sommer denkst, an diese drei Monate, schaffen wir das noch, schnell das Ticket, 4,50 EUR für 5 Minuten, wir schaffen es immer, bis auf das eine Mal um halb drei nachts, als die Fähre abfährt, als ich das Ticket kaufe, drei mal Tuten, dann legt sie schon ab, dann wird das blaue Dreieck, das auf den Porto Montenegro hinweist, zum Fleck in der Landschaft, so wie der Kieselstrand am anderen Ufer näher rückt, du kannst den Balkon von der Fähre aussehen, auf dem die australischen Camper gesehen hast, die den Fjord umrundet haben auf dem Weg wer weiß so hin…

Summer Balcony

Wenn du in ein paar Wochen einmal wieder auf ein paar der 3000 Sommerbilder auf deinem iPhone schaust, dann tust du das schon mit einem anderen Gefühl, dann haben sich die Bilder schon verändert, dann hat die Nostalgie einen neuen Filter über die Bilder gezogen, intensiver als Instagram, abgelegt im Ordner Sommer 2013, verklärt mit dem Soundtrack des neuen Jay Z-Albums und des halbneuen von Lana del Rey, es ist wichtig, dass alles seine Zeit und Zeilen hat, das ist der Soundtrack des Sommers.

Summer.

Wir haben Holy Grail und die Paradise Edition von Born to die gehört, als uns der Sommerwind am Fjord durchwehte, Erinnerungen brauchen nicht nur Bilder, sie brauchen auch die richtigen Songs. Wenn du halb betrunken bist, singst du diese paar Zeilen mit, die du behalten hast, obwohl Singen das Letzte ist, was du kannst, das Allerletzte, und du froh bist, wenn dich niemand daran erinnert, vollkommen zusammenhangloses Zeug:  „1 Million, 2 Million, 3, Million, 20 Million – oh I’m so good at math“, johlt Jay Z, das ist genauso selbstverliebter Blödsinn wie Lanas „My Pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola“, aber das sind die Zeilen, die hängen bleiben, warum auch immer.

Summer Farewell

Was noch hängen bleibt, ist der Justin Timberlake-Hook, „And Baby, it’s amazing I’m in this stage with you…, one Day you here, one Day you’re there… “ Die richtig guten Sachen, John Mayers Battlestudies, behälst Du nicht, außer „All we ever do is say Goodbye“, das ist Programm, so wie Battlestudies Programm ist zwischen der Grenzen von Albanien und Montenegro, es ist längst eine Tradition.

The last Ferry

So ist es jedes Jahr, so ist es immer wieder, das Vergangene bekommt ein Gewicht, das es damals vielleicht nie hatte, es bekommt diesen Schleier umgelegt, das weißt du, als auf der Fähre in den Fjord schaust, in dem sich der Mond spiegelt, du weißt, das ist so ein Moment, der in Gedanken eingerahmt wird, der bleibt, du weißt das, als der Mond den Fjord trifft, aber ein Foto davon gibt es nicht, weil du es verpasst hast, eins zu schießen, in diesem Moment, der größer ist als ein iPhone-Foto.

The Autumn of Roger Federer.

4 Sep

First things first. I’m the biggest Federer fan you can imagine. Which means, if you were born like me in the 70’s, quite a lot. I grew up watching McEnroe, Connors and Lendl duelling each other even before we saw an unprecedented tennis boom in Germany with Boris Becker and Steffi Graf. And while I was never nuts about Boris since it was usually painful to watch his childish behaviour on and off court, I spent most of the 90’s cheering for Agassi. Andre was always my hero, even though Sampras beat him most of the times terribly. Then Sampras aged fast and Agassi came back from the dead just to battle in the autumn of his career with this new kid from Switzerland.

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At first, I didn’t take Federer seriously. Ok, he beat Sampras in 2001’s Wimbledon, but everyone had its lucky day. He lost the next day to Henman (Tim Henman, seriously!) and didn’t win anything the next year. But then Roger had his breakthrough in 2003 with the first Wimbledon victory. I changed my mind about Federer after the US Open Quarterfinal against Agassi in 2004. I so wanted Andre to win the Open just one more time, but this Swiss played tennis from another planet.

It was chess on court, executed with the most elegance tennis had ever seen. Another generation had taken over. Federer reminded me of Sampras just that he won the rallies from the baseline. The second half of decade was Roger’s to win. Like no other player before, he dominated the scene. It’s fair to say Federer is the best player of all times, most stats – including 17 Grand Slams Titles – will back-up this thesis.

But nothing lasts forever. First it was Nadal, then Djokovic, then even Murrary – and now Robredo at the US Open. A straight 3 set-loss in the 4th round that seemed unthinkable just a year ago when FedEx still reigned the world as #1. I’m not entirely surprised, though. When I finally watched Roger on the Centre Court of Rothenbaum at the Hamburg Masters this summer, he reminded me very much of Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe or Ivan Lendl in their final year on the tour. Federer’s strokes are still brillant to watch – if you are looking for shots from the playbook, watch Roger. Just skip every second one, which he missed like I have never seen him before.

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It was painful to watch the former  #1 struggle so badly against the German #3, Florian Mayer, #45 of the world, who in Federer’s best days had won a game or two at best. This July evening, Mayer won the 2nd set, leading 5-1 and even 5-4 in the third before Roger pulled his act together one more time like he did so often in his career, just the opponents changed. While in his best times, the only surface to beat Roger was clay,  it seems these days as if every match on clay could be Roger’s last. The next day he lost to qualifier del Bonis in two tie-breaks. I was not surprised. This would have not happened one or two years ago.

There is never such a thing as a happy ending in sports. All great athletes retire way after they had reached their peak. But some declines are faster than others. Roger’s acclereated this year faster than expected. He battled with Nadal for years for the crown. Then Djokovic came from nowhere. Now even Andy Murray surpassed him clearly. And due to the two month break in spring and the early loss in Wimbledon even David Ferrer, Berdych and Del Potro did so. It wouldn’t surprise to see Roger dropping out of the Top Ten by the end of the year.

If Federer continues to play for another 2-3 seasons like he hopes for, still hitting hard with 35, his last years on the tour could turn into one long lesson in humility. Federer has always proven to be such a player – very humble and generous. Even after his unflattering quarter final victory against Mayer, he paid tribute to the German. I’ve seen no other athlete more humble than the Swiss.

Foto 3

Still, it hurts to see FedEx in free fall these days. Federer, like no athlete in the last decades, dominated his sport. He defined modern tennis – more than Sampras, Lendl or McEnroe. Federer was the complete player. 2013 Federer transformed into something else: An aging giant whose time has come. At some point this summer an unknown feeling emerged watching the Swiss perfectionist: You started to feel sorry for Federer.

While there’s nothing terribly wrong about his game these days – he just needs way too many chances and produces one unforced error after another. He’s a different player by now than the one that won Wimbledon seven times. All these straight losses against players like Tsongas, del Potro, Robredo, players he dominated for a decade easily, and then those unexplainable defeats by no names like Benneteau, Stakhovsky, Brands – players on the tour you ain’t even heard of. Suddenly, it’s getting terribly late in the game…

While I do think, it will be tough to grab another Grand Slam title, history has proven often enough, there’s one last punch left. I still think, Roger could make it into a Grand Slam final one last time. Just like Agassi did in 2005’s US Open when he was already 35. Almost a decade later, at 32, Federer is following Agassi’s path. In the end, that might be as much as there’s left for FedEx. And yet – just how lucky we have been to witness the most amazing player ever in our time.

Why Gatsby is still so Great.

28 Mai

It’s very easy to write the new Great Gatsby adaption off as overblown. Yet, it’s a big mistake. Baz Luhrmann’s 125 minute epic is nothing short of a modern masterpiece in 3D with fitting urban HipHop beats, almost 100 years from the future. Kudos to Leonardo DiCaprio for stepping in the footsteps of Robert Redford. It’s been a tough act to follow, but it worked – which, unfortunately, cannot be said about Daisy’s cast Carey Mulligan falling terribly short of Mia Farrow’s dramatic 1974 appearance.

The Great Gatsby. © Warner Bros.

For me, Gatsby is one of the three novels that brought me to writing. I still favor the unfinished The Last Tycoon as Fitzgerald’s best work, yet Gatsby is doubtlessly his most fascinating character. What’s not to like: The very American ideal of early success, the monumental parties, the glitz and blitz of the Roaring Twenties.

Of course, as captured very well in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris two years ago, we all tend to romanticize. The past always seems more meaningful and real than the future – I’ve personally subscribed to nostalgia all my life and I certainly know it’s not too healthy.

The Great Gatsby.  © Warner Bros.

Like it isn’t for Gatsby: You can’t repeat the past, Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire’s finest role since Everything is illuminated) lectures Gatsby in the key passage of the novel and movie – to which the selfmade mogul replies astonished: Of course you can.

I like that sentimental approach, though everyone knows it’s quite often the seed of tragic endings – especially at the stock market which is the hidden framing of this 20’s boom and doom epic. One of the movie’s finest tricks actually comes in the narrative form of telling the story in retrospect after the epic Wall Street crash of 1929 (unlike in the novel).

It seems unthinkable how Gatsby would have fared after being caught on the wrong side of the trade. Yet, it’s a fascinating thought how Gatsby’s life could and would have continued if not on that one, not so fine morning everything ended in disaster, forestalling the crash on an era.

The Great Gatsby. © Warner Bros.

And how would the modern Gatsby look like?  Would it be another Jay – Jay-Z? Or a Roman Abramovich like figure? I’m sure the modern Gatsby wouldn’t reside in East Egg, rather in Moscow, Dubai or Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

In the end, we all love to believe in the green light, in the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster,  stretch out our arms farther…

Apocalypse. (Endzeit-Trilogie II.)

21 Dez

Diesmal ist es kein Aufprall aus dem Nichts. Diesmal hast du mehr Zeit. Unendlich viel Zeit. Der Countdown für den 21.12.2012 läuft so lange du ihn wahrnehmen willst. Natürlich ist das großer Kindergarten, du hast nicht mal eine Sekunde darüber nachgedacht, dass wirklich etwas passieren könnte. Es geht ja immer weiter, nicht wahr.  Jeder sagt das ja, Facebook ist voll von 12/21/2012-Weltuntergangswitzen. Allein der Mangel an einem konkreten Untergangsszenario macht dir den Untergang weniger wahrscheinlich.

Aber irgendwann wird tatsächlich der letzte Tag kommen, der letzte Tag von allen. Nichts währt für immer, das weißt du doch, nicht mal die Erde. Wie wäre das? Wie würde es enden? Mit einem großen Knall? Mit einer Überschwemmung? Würde es sein wie in Melancholia? Oder würde es sein wie bei einem monströsen Tsunami? Und was wäre dir lieber?


Würdest du es lieber live miterleben oder sollte es dich besser im Schlaf überraschen? Und was würde es ändern? Wenn du wüsstest, du hast noch zwölf, noch acht, noch vier Stunden, was würdest du dann tun? Ein letzter Anruf bei deinen Eltern, ein letzter Facebook-Post, eine letzte Aussprache mit wem auch immer? Die letzten Dinge.

Photo Credit: Original Version © Nordisk Films

Wer würde dir am meisten fehlen? Bist du bis hierin zufrieden mit deinem Leben gewesen? Was hättest du gerne noch erledigt? Was bereust du am meisten, nicht getan zu haben? Warum hast du es nicht getan? Und wenn die Welt doch nicht untergeht, wirst du es dann tun?

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