Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the talking bench

when I was in the 3rd grade I published a book, an oeuvre precursor to mapquest called: "how to get to the king kullen supermarket from my house"; the king kullen supermarket being a pinnacle location in my 7 year old mind (I wanted to be a cashier in the marine/seafaring themed foodstore up until I was 15). the book featured all the landmarks you see on your way, from the general store where i would buy treats (and benson & hedges cigarettes for my mom), the broken tree to the crazy cat lady's house.

on my bike to work everyday in berlin i have formulated the same series of little events.
1. you start with the spatkauf that is inevitably closed, the "open 24hours" sign blinking behind the metal shades,
2. you go by the gypsy people living in their army vehicles near the big church,
3. then the bombed out church
4. then the supermarket with my favorite vietnamese fruit guy.

i learn all my german from immigrants, btw. vietnamese fruit guy taught me all my obst and krauter, when i point to something, he says it back slowly, and then makes a sentence like, "you want some peaches? these peaches are as sweet as your eyes." i also learned "have no fear" when i freaked out at all the bees on the raspberries one day. he pulled them off the fruit with his fingers and flicked them away "keine angst! keine angst!"

anyway before the museum insel and the berliner dome is a peculiar mess of construction. my original google map instructions led me down a street which has been blocked ever since january. so i take a shortcut through this park near the humboldt box.

5. that's where you have the boardwalk with the talking bench.

boardwalk right, luv field left.
biking on the boardwalk is strictly verboten but whatevs, everybody does it. on one side is the archeological site that progresses more and more each week, on the other side there are people playing on a nice grass field with their dogs, the occasional karaoke machine on a bicycle, and right in the middle, homeless guys sleeping on this long wooden bench the morning sun warming their faces, totally oblivious to the fact that the bench is talking.
washington DC installed armrests on every public bench so as the prevent loitering and sleeping (kinda like those assholes who designed the duesseldorf airport where sleeping is strictly impossible). berlin has nothing like this, but it has the weird talking bench. i'm not sure what the point or artistic value of the talking bench is but it's an older woman's voice talking in harsh (probably typical) german phrases,, it's a story or something. i'm wondering if movement triggers it. i never catch the sentences at the same moment so it's saying something different every day, and i'm never there long enough to hear more than a few words (don't want the polizei catching me biking on the boardwalk).

anyway, today i heard "(something something) angeschluss." something about closing? i can't find any information about the talking bench, but if anyone knows what i'm talking about, i would love to know more.