Monthly archives: August 2009

the marauder’s guide to frankfurt am main

Frankfurt. She’s a classy lady, at first glance. She’s the kind of lady who wears little black dresses and high heels and rhinestone necklaces and stays out all night drinking expensive cocktails with bankers in five-star restaurants, one of the neuveua rich. With her twin blue-and-yellow plastic euro monuments (the first fronting the state theater, the second between the airport and the autobahn), with her banks and her guidebook nickname (“Mainhatten”) she’d have to be a woman obsessed with money, designer clothing, expensive jewelry. Wouldn’t she? Wouldn’t she?
But she leads a double life, and she’s [...]

how to build a tall bike

Riding a tallbike does something fascinating to the people around you. Where you once met unfriendly glares or downcast eyes, you suddenly find a city full of laughter, smiles, and quickly snapped photographs. People cheer and clap, children stare and point, and the same question is on everyone’s lips: “How the hell did you get up there, and how are you going to get down?”
Building one yourself takes a good chunk of time–five or six hours at least–but is a lot less complicated than it might look. This is how I do it, but the beauty of [...]

tallbike workshop, köln

No experts, no masters. Despite my heartfelt belief that experts are over-rated and diy deserves endless high fives, I was nervous as fuck about giving the tallbike building workshop at the wagenplatz birthday festival in Köln. But, turns out, haha, I actually do know how to build a tallbike, and with someone who knows lots about getting the annoying bits off of bike frames and someone else who knows how to weld around to help, the day resulted in six mostly finished frankenstein bikes that even Mad Max could love.
CONTAINER BIKE/SHOPPING CART BAKFIETS

THE STORK

APOCALYPSE TANDEM

THE PEGASUS (kids frame [...]

evil and a heathen

Heidenfahrt. The name of the rest stop where our brave heroes’ journey begins. “Heathen’s Journey,” it would be called in English.* An appropriate place to hitch a ride if you’re a bunch of godless sinners hoping to fly north on the A61.
I like to think that Heidenfahrt is on my side, a kind place that gently delivers me onto the autobahn time after time. That I’ve been hassled by police (Oh daemons of Satan, return to the firey pits from whence you came!) several times there is only further proof of the name’s sincerity…
He was a [...]

köln kann besser*

The Kölner Dom hangs heavy on the skyline. No matter where you go, there it is behind you, looking over your shoulder, its towers watchful. The browning stone spires are a smirking visual reminder of the heavy-handed status quo–once dealt down by the church and now by capital–that rules the city, our big stone brother.
The first time I visited Köln I was 17. Our exchange group came to look at the Dom and eat lunch. We snapped a few photographs and were on our way. I recall being impressed by the Dom, its imposing stature [...]

trash house

“Nikki, you’re not going to be able to fix up the whole wagon without any money.” The words of a non-believer. “You’re going to need materials, tools.”
“I can borrow all of the tools. And maybe in the end I will have to buy a few things, it’s looking like stain and paint right now, but so far I’ve found everything I had on my “to buy” list when I started. It’s turning out to be a damn good thing I didn’t have any money then. The longer I wait, the more I’m finding.”
He shook his [...]

chocolate cake

My mom used to make a version of this cake when I was a little kid. The internet tells me this kind of cake was popular in the depression, when people didn’t always have eggs and milk around. Wa-la, awesome vegan/poor man’s cake. If you want to make people oo and aah, bake them this cake. If it’s somebody’s birthday, bake them this cake. If you have to bake lots of cake for a Sunday matinee concert to raise money to repair a moldy concert room, bake this cake—it makes 20-25 pieces. If you [...]

the curse of the little blue book

It’s that happy time of year again. A time for anxiety! A time for paperwork! A time for visiting the disgruntled employees at the Ausländerbehörde—a term the online German dictionary so ominously translates as “aliens department”! OH BOY.
Oh wait hold on a second, it says here that my passport expired in May. Oops. I can just imagine the disgruntled look on their office-gray faces over at the visa-renewal office when I roll in with an expired passport! Or no passport at all! Does the fun ever stop? Did it ever start?!???
Step [...]

oh wasp queen, send me your minions

The trash gods are on summer vacation. Either that or they are patiently waiting for me to finish with all the things they filled my wagon with last month before starting the next avalanche. Either way the trash across the street smells horrible, and the trash bags are full of aggressive wasps instead of building supplies and kitchen appliances and shoes. I try to force myself to do at least one thing on the wagon every single day. Slowly, slowly, slowly, I inch forward.
At the beginning of the week Rabbit helped me rip the boards off [...]