Monthly archives: February 2008

planet germany

“Turkey is nice. It’s just like chicken, only drier and with less flavor.”
So quips the sardonic Birgit of Cathy Dobson’s new book, Planet Germany. When Cathy contacted me to request I review her book on clickclackgorilla, I almost peed myself. I mean, I would consider selling my soul in order to get free books from people who actually wanted me to, after reading them, express my opinion—in all it’s mean-spirited glory—in print. Then I read Cathy’s book, did a lot of thinking about where ex-pat writing is and isn’t these days, wrote the first chapter of my then still-patchwork novel, [...]

travel advisory warning

Dimensional portals that have not been brought up to code are reported to have started opening and closing unexpectedly in Dresden, Germany. Several late-night train lines are connecting to stops listed only on maps in The History of Tlön and, if not regarded with extreme caution, may leave passengers hanging from the spire of the Church of Our Lady or in the frozen wastelands of the planet Radon.
Dimensionally unstable trains can be identified by their numbers—fractions instead of whole numbers—and their passengers—suspected to include disgruntled giants, phosphorescent old women, rabid giraffes, and mutant dough-faced twins.
A clear explanation for this [...]

cow fin

The first time I showed up in Dresden, I packed light. I hadn’t even bothered looking at a map. I figured there would be city maps at the S-Bahn stations, like in Frankfurt, and anyway there would certainly be a newsstand at the train station selling them.
My train pulled into Neustadt just past eleven pm. All of the stores in the station were closed. I ambled out of the building and toward a line of waiting taxis. Taxi drivers always know where everything is.
“Excuse me, could you tell me where Tiekstraße is,” I asked a [...]


“What are those kids doing?” I ask. It’s raining and two girls are standing in the middle of the street below the apartment, wearing aprons and carrying rolling pins. Every time a car comes along, they stretch a colorful rope across the street in an attempt to stop them. Most of the cars avoid the girls completely, slipping quickly around them. Some stop and give the girls candy and money.
“Ah, Faschingszoll. Carnival toll. Begging for candy basically.”
I’d been watching people in costumes stroll past the window all weekend. Witches and cows. Cowboys and [...]

immigrant punk

(from the Gogol Bordello show, December 19, 2005, Bucovina Club, Frankfurt am Main)
They showed up in town with no warning. Even the woman at the ticket counter wasn’t sure who was playing. Inside, they stirred the crowd into a frenzy with the bow of a fiddle, and then they were gone, the ashes of a bonfire, a broken bottle of moonshine, and a few crumpled, rustling set lists the only evidence that they had been there at all.
Gogol Bordello and their gypsy punk revolution and their Nordic-ly tall bass drummer and their old gray-haired fiddler showed up in [...]