Brave New Traveler posted my article on vegan/vegetarian travel tips today. You should read it. What’s good for Google is good for everyone.
“Oh my god do you think they’re closing?”
We were standing in front of our favorite Konsum, pretending to be on a late-night stroll while waiting for the S-Bahn to haul away the twenty people standing across the street. We both looked at the boarded up windows and missing sign with furrowed brows.
“No look!” Markus said. “The shopping carts are still there. They’re probably just renovating.”
I sighed. “I fucking hope so.” That dumpster is the yogurt and expensive cheese dumpster, and my personal favorite. And if the Konsum here closes, there won’t be any more Friday night bike rides ending with bags full of Brie and mozzarella-tomato kabobs and chocolate covered bananas and crème pudding.
I slid under the fence and started filling my bag. “Do you like Jell-o?” I asked. Markus was leaning casually against the other side of the fence, keeping watch. People always see us; there’s a S-bahn station across the street and a popular brewery next store. But besides the well-dressed couples whose steps quicken when they see a pair of legs hanging out of a trash can, no one ever seems to care.
“Na I hate Jell-o. Are there any more of those fruit juices though? They were really good with vodka.”
A tandem bicycle is the ultimate dumpstering vehicle. Or it would be, if we had a working trailer. Even without it we can fill two backpacks, strap a box to the luggage rack, and then bike home, with the person in back balancing another box in their arms.
At our other regular stops, a Konsum and a Netto across the river, we fill our bags with vegetables that I can use for the vokü—eight cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, and broccoli. I balance a box of oranges in my arms, and we pedal home.
It is usually our last stop, but the adrenaline had us back out on the street after unpacking the booty. Before leaving, I looked at the ceiling and dictated a short letter. “Dear Dumpster gods. I need some more vegetables for cooking tomorrow, and stuff for the salad. Thanks.”
It’s almost joke. Almost. It’s more like a budding diy folk religion. I’ve never asked the dumpster gods for something and not found it in the next days or weeks. Starts to make you feel like the universe is watching out for you. Starts to make you forget about being afraid: afraid there won’t be enough food or a roof over your head, and remember about living, passionately and unapologetically. And all because of a bunch of trash.
This time we rode to an Edeka whose containers are always full of pinapple rinds and that smell like fruit and garlic. Every container we opened got better and better. First some of the usual suspects: a few yellow bell peppers, apples, and enough broccoli to fill out my soup at the vokü the next day. In the next container we found mushrooms and a bag full of hot chilis that we strung and hang in the kitchen. And then—buried treasure!—an entire garbage bag filled with bread. We took the entire thing out and drug it around the corner. It was too heavy to just be bread, and at the bottom of the bag we find ten packages of asparagus, and ten more of children’s salad. “Vegetables for cooking tomorrow and stuff for the salad.”
Dear Dumpster Gods, You are fucking fantastic. Love, Nikki.
The Chemiefabrik (Chemical Factory) is where Dresden punk shows run off to when the noise complaints from AZ Conni’s neighbors start to become a problem. Every Thursday they have Jugendtanz (Youth Dance) there as well. But don’t bother with that. The music is terrible, and on the days when it’s a little less terrible, it’s still not worth the entrance fee. Even if you can sometimes buy your way in with dumpstered honey.
I don’t know if the Chemiefabrik was ever really a chemical factory. There are other industrial buildings in the area, and one story is as likely as the next. There are no bathrooms, just a few places to crouch between trees and graffiti covered walls around back. Sometimes there’s a big bonfire outside, and the inside is covered with posters of bands who’ve played there.
There is a long bar where a Sterni costs EUR 1.30. Highway fucking robbery if you consider that a Sterni costs exactly 34 cents at the grocery store. It’s easy to rob poor planners, and by the time you get there and remember that you should have bought your own Sternis at the grocery store, all of the grocery stores are closed. All the same, it’s still cheaper than you’d pay at a regular bar.
On Wednesday I got off my lazy, broke ass, and shelled out 5 euros to see Contempt. A friend had organized the show, and well, it’s not like I have to wake up early mornings.
Dallas Denver opened—a local band. They don’t look like anything special or play like anything special, but they’re not unpleasant either, mostly because of the row of high school-age groupies who were standing up front with homemade, red glitter Dallas Denver shirts and an “I heart Conrad” sign sprayed in blue on an old piece of cardboard. The crowd bobed a little, a nod of appreciation for the attempt but not much more, and the teenie fans insisted on an encore. It was adorable actually.
The usual punk crowd was there. The girls with rows of peircings, Mohawks, and layers of ripped stockings. The boys in leather jackets, covered in spikes and pins and dirt. The rocknroll cats in tight tapered black pants, ripped black Converse or striped Vans slip ons. Black t-shirts screen printed in white. Patched pants. You’re probably familiar with the cast, set, and costumes already anyway.
Contempt came on around the second or third beer. And they have it—that charisma and energy that’s hard to describe and impossible to fake, but that has the crowd dancing by the first song. The drummer sat back in the shadows. One faded green Mohawk down the center of his head, wearing a black Contempt T-shirt screen printed in white. The guitarist—that’s right, another black T-shirt screen printed in white. The bassist was one of the punk rock chicks. Three layers of Mohawk, a chain connecting one of the peircings in her ears with one of the peircings in her nose. She’s filling in for someone named Trog, the singer told us from behind long brown dreadlocks.
There was a miniature pit and the rest of the crowd remained in the shadows, one hand holding a beer and the other in a pocket, back heels tapping to the beat.
It’s not earthshattering, but it’s a reason to thrash out two weeks of pent up aggression, and I went home sweaty and exhausted. The sound the speakers leave in my ears to fall asleep to sounds like a flock of restless seagulls.
Once upon a time in a faraway land where democracy existed and communism wasn’t boring, there lived a girl who saw a demonstration and thought Look! Something happening! People accomplishing things. Change! Hope! Momentum! And she joined the demonstration, and she felt inspired.
Eventually though, she grew weary of the demonstrations. Of the aggressive police trolls. Of wasting time and energy expressing her discontent through pre-approved sanitized-for-your-protection child-proof pasteurized plastic-wrapped tactics. And she saw demonstrations for what they had become. Yet another opiate on the long list of opiates for the people. A state-approved channel for discontents to make themselves feel vital. A place where you could yell and drum and stomp yourself a little less angry.
And she became a cynical old man at the age of 25 and received her standard issue porch, rocking chair, and cane to shake at passersby.