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Cantina Margarita

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Reply with quote  #1 

Hi guys,

this week I'm going to offer you something special. It won't be a “tribute to absent friends“ week like Bonnie's, massively spoiled by violent perverts at the host's home, changing the whole theme. Hopefully, local aspects will be able to play a different role this time. But tomorrow never knows ...

I thought we could perhaps deal with some local music from here. What I'd like to do is not: proudly present songs that say Teutonian Oom-Ta-Ta is the best. What I have in mind is: invite fans of good music from all over the world to give their opinions on some local songs and artists that grew out of a particular everyday setting many families here once had, such as mine.

I'm talking about pop music from behind the iron curtain, from the “empire of the evil“, as some say. Apart from providing some bright light in a dark period for young people, those bands really had something that still shines. The Politbureau promoted and supported young talents “out of the working class“, giving them stipendia for musical studies, and allowing them a professional band career, of course not without demanding a certain propagandic and “practical“ (cough!) cooperation from them. Some musicians thankfully took the great opportunity and paid the price, and some took the first and only pretended to give the second. The first ones have been forgotten. Those latter ones are subject to my week. 

It's very hard to find a BW or BB song fitting the subject. But gladly we have those gifted Suomen guys with their special hairdressing and boots, who took a deep dive into that setting. Authentic ? Clearly not. Hilarious ? I'm not so sure ...

Leningrad Cowboys feat. Alexandrov Red Army Choir (1993) / California Girls



Here we have an example what serious musical education can do. Apart, we have Tamara Danz, one of the most idolized female musicians of the entire country. A street in Eastern Berlin is named after her, more than a few people want her to be a member of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. She wouldn't have wanted both. Died in 1994, RIP. And we have one of the most typical “wind of change“ hits.

Silly (1989) / Verlorene Kinder



Here's one that feels like a worldwide #1 hit for me, which isn't possible of course. Also, it didn't appear in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 most beautiful pop ballads. Some things grow outside the world's attention. A pity. Lyrics somewhere between IJWMFTT and Til I Die.

Karat (1978) / Ueber 7 Bruecken musst du gehen



This one makes us suspect that they must have had different copyright laws. That changed in 1990, as we know, but the Gibb brothers were bright enough not to claim for anything. Thanks to this, we have this super-authentic piece of GDR music today. Back in the day, not much more than a song from a successful youth movie. Nowadays, looked at as cryptic and prophetic political poetry. If so, pretty heroic. Sorry for the national flag video ... that’s not my style, nor is it the band’s ... blame it on Eastalgian fans.

Puhdys (1973) / Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt



Lyrics is an issue (except for the funny Finns). I'll try to help with translation during the week because the words are significant for the other three songs.

I hope you like my local songs game, and I'm looking forward to your opinions and 1-4 ratings.

COPY & PASTE SECTION

Leningrad Cowboys - California Girls
Silly - Verlorene Kinder
Karat - 7 Bruecken
Puhdys - Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt

I’m really curious about your reception of these songs. All four are easily in the very first row here, on a national base.

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bonnie bella

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Cantina. Thanks for a very interesting set of songs this week. This is one time I really will have to listen all week to make a decision. New music is always a pleasure.  I'd love to know the full lyrics of Silly in English. Verlorene Kinder has a very powerful and beautiful voice.


Over here, we are not going to let the darkness or any more semi-automatic guns in. It's all we can do.

Image result for nz prime minister hijab







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John B

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Reply with quote  #3 
these songs make me want to visit Germany but not Russia.  ...

without knowing the lyrics, except the 1st one,  I would vote the songs mentioned last to first:

1. Puhdys, Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt  

very 'Smile' and 'Pepper'.  Really good!

2. Karat 7 Bruecken Musst du gehn

is radio in Germany this good?   again, never been, would love to go.  Besides German food being so good, it's one of the best citizen countries portrayed in that Michael Moore film, 'Where Do We Invade Next'.  My HS best friend was fluent in German.  I got as close as Zurich, once.  It's on my bucket list.  

3. Verlorene Kinder Silly Live. 

this is the kind of German music you hear in the U.S. without knowing the lyrics, I think not bad, but I rank it third here

4. Leningrad Cowboys 

California Girls  

not very good...  (my HS best friend, was a Russian grad school major).
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Larry Franz

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Reply with quote  #4 
I thought it would be hard to vote but they sorted themselves pretty quickly:

Gold -- Silly -- This is easily my favorite. I like her singing and the band's skills.

Silver -- Puhdys -- Catchy.

Bronze -- Leningrad Cowboys -- It's fun. I want to hear their "Ulan Bator Girls" but it doesn't seem to be available in the US.

Tin -- Karat -- It has an Easy Listening sound that put me off.


Another take on California girls by the Magnetic Fields.
youtube.com/watch?v=nTGFrSkmT6c

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Cantina Margarita

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Reply with quote  #5 

Silly - Verlorene Kinder - Lyrics

She sings in high language, but pronounciation and wording is almost childish. My grandma talked the same way, intending to express much more than the sense of words, and you have no chance to get everything if you aren't used to it. This way of talking is typical for Berlin's lower class kids (“Berlin brats“). I'm trying to translate, transporting the hidden sense.


Der Wohnblock liegt am Abend
Wie ein boeses Tier
the block of flats is lying asleep
like a nasty, ugly beast

Wo sie zu Hause sind
where they're at home (choir)

Der Sprechfunk ruft nach ihnen
Doch sie bleiben hier
the police broadcast is calling them
but they don't feel disturbed

Wo sie zu Hause sind
where they're at home (choir)

Sie ruecken aneinander
Auf der Spielplatzbank
they jiggle close to each other
sitting on the sandbox cushion

Wo sie zu Hause sind
where they're at home (choir)

Der Recorder macht fuer sie
Die Daemmerung lang
the cassette recorder extends the sunset for them (could be a hint at alcohol abuse)

Wo sie zu Hause sind
Wo sie zu Hause sind
where they're at home

In die warmen Laender wuerden sie so gerne fliehn
they wish so much to escape to warm southern countries
Die verlornen Kinder in den Strassen von Berlin (verlorn = eastern accent for “verloren“)
the lost kids in the streets of Berlin

Der Wohnblock spuckt sie in
Den kalten Wind
the block of flats spits them
into the cold wind

Wo sie zu Hause sind
where they're at home (choir)

Ab und zu nur sieht noch
Einer frierend hin
only one of them looks back to it now and then, freezing

Wo sie zu Hause sind
where they're at home (choir)

Wo die Fenster locken
Mit so gelbem Licht
where the windows are luring
with a certain yellow light
(ironic, hinting at the ugly standard neon bulbs)

Wo sie zu Hause sind
where they're at home (choir)

Doch sie wissen diese
Zimmer waermen nicht
but they are sure that
these rooms won't keep them warm

Wo sie zu Hause sind
Wo sie zu Hause sind
where they're at home

In die warmen Laender wuerden sie so gerne fliehn
they wish so much to escape to warm southern countries
Die verlornen Kinder in den Strassen von Berlin
the lost kids in the streets of Berlin

Zu den alten Linden die nur in der Ferne bluehn
to the old limes that only bloom far away
Die sie nicht mehr finden in den Strassen von Berlin
which can't be found anymore in the streets of Berlin
(biting irony here - eastern Berlin's downtown boulevard is called “Unter den Linden“ = below the lime trees)


It's likely that the censoring authorities did not get the real meaning of it, sounding so cute and innocent. That’s what those bands had in common: very creative in fooling the censors.

The song was charting twice and enormously: in GDR in 1988, and two years later in Western Germany.

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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #6 

Cantina, it’s a well thought out week. Ausgehtzeichnet. 

Gold - California Girls (live) (Leningrad Cowboys & The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble - 1993)
Finally! A version of 'California Girls' that makes perfect sense - performed by a Finnish comedy rock band teaming up with the Red Army Choir. Cantina, as you know, when you presented these songs to us for checking, the studio recording of this didn’t play in the US and Canada. This live version doesn’t lose much – it’s almost identical. And just as funny. Sounds like a riotous time was had by all. Here is the album cover of the studio recording for our friends in the US and Canada. You get the idea…. And, yes, that’s his hair!

Image result for leningrad cowboys happy together 

Oh, and here they are performing a Turtles classic…

(Sheesh, I just read about the plane crash on Xmas Day, 2016, with no survivors from the Ensemble. There are some sad stories behind three of these acts. That’s the worst.) 

Silver - Verlorene Kinder (live) (Silly - 1989)
Now that is ‘80s hair! I can honestly say that this is a silly song. The 20 or so people at the concert - the majority of which look like teenage boys checking out Tamara - seemed to appreciate it, but I prefer the clean studio recording.  

Bronze - Wenn ein Mensch lebt (Puhdys - 1973)
Yeah, granted, it owes a lot to ‘Spicks and Specks’ and ‘Pachelbel’s Canon’, but internet sources state it was meant to. Cantina, can you clear this up for me? Living in the GDR, I presume the makers of the film were not allowed to use Western recordings for political reasons. So why didn’t the Puhdys just record straight covers of western classics straight instead of making up their own versions? Did the ban stretch to even covers? Or could the film makers simply not secure the rights (from the Bee Gees or anyone else)? Anyway, it doesn’t help that I don’t like the Bee Gees nor the lead singer’s bad Lennon-affected vocal. 

Participant - Über sieben Brücken mußt du geh'n (Karat - 1978)
Lead singer also died of cancer, aged 62, in 2004. Sounds like some Central European bands that had hits in the ‘80s in western society, such as the Scorpions, but this preceded them. 


My Gold reminds me of the famous Beatles song ‘Back in the USSR’ which was, of course, written when Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney took a vacation in Moscow, which accounts for the strong Beach Boys influence in the song. 

However, a famous outtake from the Wilson-McCartney songwriting sessions, ‘Moscow Girls’ displayed far more of the Beach Boys style than ‘USSR’ did. (John B, you’d be familiar with this.)

Alas, it only ever appeared on bootlegs, the best of which is the now-very-rare Shake Your Bootleg, which also includes a very early rendition of the George Harrison song which later became ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. Here it was known as ‘While My Guitar Frets Over Nothing’. 


Well, Far East girls are hip
They really dig to meditate
And the Nordic girls are so beautiful
That blonde hair sure is great
The Chinese girls are groovy
I really dig those eyes that slant
And African girls are really super hot
They do things that the others can’t

I wish they all could be sexy Moscow girls

In Moscow they’ve got sunshine
Almost twenty days a year
I dig Dostoevsky on a summer day
When I’m drinkin’ Russian beer
I've been all around this great big world 
And I’ve seen all kind of girls
Yeah, but I chose instead
To get back to the Reds, 
They’re just the cutest girls in the world

I wish they all could be sexy Moscow girls

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Cantina Margarita

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Reply with quote  #7 

Karat - UEBER SIEBEN BRUECKEN MUSST DU GEHN - 1980
YOU HAVE TO CROSS SEVEN BRIDGES

Manchmal geh ich meine Strasse ohne Blick,
Sometimes I follow my road without looking / without expression

manchmal wuensch ich mir mein Schaukelpferd zurueck.
sometimes I wish back my rocking horse

Manchmal bin ich ohne Rast und Ruh,
Sometimes I'm without a break or rest

manchmal schliess ich alle Tueren nach mir zu.
sometimes I lock all doors behind me

Manchmal ist mir kalt und manchmal heiss,
Sometimes I feel cold and sometimes hot

manchmal weiss ich nicht mehr was ich weiss.
Sometimed I forget what I know

Manchmal bin ich schon am Morgen mued,
Sometimes I'm tired in the morning already

und dann such ich Trost in einem Lied.
looking for consolation in a song.

Ueber sieben Bruecken musst du gehn,
You have to cross seven bridges

sieben dunkle Jahre ueberstehn,
to overcome seven dark years

siebenmal wirst du die Asche sein,
seven times you'll be the ashes

aber einmal auch der helle Schein.
but one day the bright flare as well.

Manchmal scheint die Uhr des Lebens still zu stehn,
Sometimes the clock of life seems to be standing still

manchmal scheint man immer nur im Kreis zu gehn.
sometimes you seem to do nothing but move in a circle

Manchmal ist man wie von Fernweh krank,
Sometimes you're like sick from wanderlust

manchmal sitzt man still auf einer Bank.
Sometimes you're sitting quietly on a bench

Manchmal greift man nach der ganzen Welt,
Sometimes you're grasping for the whole world

manchmal meint man, dass der Gluecksstern faellt.
Sometimes you're estimating the lucky star is falling

Manchmal nimmt man, wo man lieber gibt,
Sometimes you're taking although you're preferring to give

manchmal hasst man das, was man doch liebt.
sometimes you're hating what you actually love.

Ueber sieben Bruecken musst du gehn,
You have to cross seven bridges

sieben dunkle Jahre ueberstehn,
to overcome seven dark years

siebenmal wirst du die Asche sein,
seven times you'll be the ashes

aber einmal auch der helle Schein.
but one day the bright flare as well.


My interpretation is that it's about problems with growing up and adolescence. Could as well be taken as stirring up the political system, calling for a change. Nowadays, people prefer the second option. Clever trick again.

There's a different version which was much more successful in a commercial way, by Peter Maffay, produced on western standards a few years later, which “Wessies“ usually prefer.



It's quite a cross to deal with the "Umlauts" on an international computer codepage. I'm trying to replace ä by ae, ü by ue, ß bei ss. I wonder what happens if I forget to do so.

What does "Äußerungen über öffentliche Ämter" read on your screens ?
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John B

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Reply with quote  #8 
hey, thanks for the lyrics (and political stories)!   I especially like the lyrics for the Karat song, and now I know 'Silly' is not silly at all!.  Reminds me of that line that Chen Kai Ge got through the Chinese censors, in "Farewell, My Concubine" where post-cultural revolution, the (long brutalized) Chinese opera stars perform for their leaders, in a huge dark smoky room, and answer their leading question, appropriately, but in emotionless monotone: "yes...things are better now."   The censors in that case, felt so burned later, that they banned (Peter Chan's) 'Tian Mi Mi/Comrades Almost a Love Story' for years and years and years because they just knew ...there must be something subversive/unpatriotic in there somewhere...

Just read to answer my curiosity, that the crazy psycho racist murderer from Australia chose NZ instead of AUS, because AUS has very strict gun laws.  Interpret that as you will.

Darren's history lesson will amuse some, confuse more...
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Cantina Margarita

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Reply with quote  #9 

Puhdys - WENN EIN MENSCH LEBT (1973)
IF A MAN IS ALIVE

Wenn ein Mensch kurze Zeit lebt
If a man lives a short life

Sagt die Welt, dass er zu früh geht.
the world will say he's leaving too soon

Wenn ein Mensch lange Zeit lebt
If a man lives a long life

Sagt die Welt, es ist Zeit.
the world will say it's time

Meine Freundin ist schön.
My girlfriend looks pretty

Als ich aufstand, ist sie gegangen.
When I stood up, she's been leaving

Weckt sie nicht, bis sie sich regt.
Don't wake her up before she moves

Ich hab' mich in ihren Schatten gelegt.
I lay myself down in her shadow.

Jegliches hat seine Zeit,
Anything has its time

Steine sammeln, Steine zerstreu'n,
collecting stones, shedding stones,

Bäume pflanzen, Bäume abhau'n,
planting trees, knocking down trees

Leben und sterben und Streit.
to live and to die and to struggle

Wenn ein Mensch kurze Zeit lebt
If a man lives a short life

Sagt die Welt, dass er zu früh geht.
the world will say he's leaving too soon

Wenn ein Mensch lange Zeit lebt
If a man lives a long life

Sagt die Welt, es ist Zeit, daß er geht.
the world will say it's time for him to go.

Jegliches hat seine Zeit,
Anything has its time

Steine sammeln, Steine zerstreu'n,
collecting stones, shedding stones,

Bäume pflanzen, Bäume abhau'n
planting trees, knocking down trees

Leben und sterben und Frieden und Streit.
to live and to die and peace and struggle

(slower, sounding important)
Weckt sie nicht, bis sie selber sich regt.
Don't wake her up before she moves by herself
Ich habe mich in ihren Schatten gelegt.
I lay myself down in her shadow.

Wenn ein Mensch kurze Zeit lebt,
If a man lives a short life

Sagt die Welt, dass er zu früh geht.
the world will say he's leaving too soon

Weckt sie nicht, bis sie sich regt.
Don't wake her up before she moves

Ich hab' mich in ihren Schatten gelegt.
I lay myself down in her shadow.

Meine Freundin ist schön,
My girlfriend looks pretty

als ich aufstand ist sie gegangen.
When I stood up, she's been leaving

Weckt sie nicht, bis sie sich regt.
Don't wake her up before she moves

Ich habe mich in ihren Schatten gelegt.
I lay myself down in her shadow.


Being something like the Eastern Rolling Stones, having a remarkable 40yr career in national stardom, they could have written enviromental or romantic songs which wouldn't have been forbidden, and which they did as well on other occasions. But this one was their first and greatest hit, if not one of the greatest German language rock songs in general. I admit that its lyrics are completely mysterious to me. There is a mainstream interpretation, arguing that “the girlfriend“ means the socialist government, being untouchable, likely to “move (and dissolve) by herself“, with no sense in waking her up. The advice is “to lay down in her shadow“ (opportunistically) and just wait for the right moment to make a change. Anything has its time, collecting and shedding, peace and struggle ...
The slow interlude stresses the main statement, like “hey you nuts, i'll say it slowly, in order to make even the last one understand“.
The band, however, kept saying that the song is for singing along and for dancing maybe, not less nor more, with no protest at all. A third kind of disguise.

So far my lyrics assistance. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren J. Ray
I don’t like the Bee Gees nor the lead singer’s bad Lennon-affected vocal.

Dieter "the Machine" Birr's voice is rough and loud, not as talented as Karat's Herbert Dreilich by far. The others ("Quaster", "Hung In") aren't better. Maybe rather Jagger-affected than Lennon. Pure prolets. [cool]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren J. Ray
So why didn’t the Puhdys just record straight covers of western classics straight instead of making up their own versions? Did the ban stretch to even covers?

Yes, it did. And singing in the class enemy's tongue was even worse. I don't really know, but I don't think anybody seriously cared about copyright infringement in charge of western artists.

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John B

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Reply with quote  #10 
So...how did Germany (and Norway) get a 'green new deal' before us?  How did the country slingshot from backwards to ahead of us, so fast? 

thanks for great lyrics, Cantina!   very interesting.

just saw a MSN (I know, I'm not young), homepage list of the safest cities in world.  That use to be the U.S. identity and pride.  now, we have no cities on the list to stand with...Melbourne and Wellington and Frankfurt and Amsterdam, and Dublin, and Hong Kong, Casablanca, Dubai, Tokyo.  they even made a point of saying Toronto is MUCH safer than the cities in the U.S.  that hurts...
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Al Forsyth

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Reply with quote  #11 
Cantina,  VERY difficult to vote - listening a few times now.  I think that I have my Gold. 

I have written here many times that I did live not that far from the Berlin Wall in the fall of 82 and it still bothers me to this day. When I think of walls it still has an affect.  It shook my humanity to experience what people can do.  We were detained and interrogated on a concert the entire wall was East German after all (didn't know that I was doing my Who's Next to die mauer).  We saw/heard Mozart's Requiem and then went to the wall after. 

This was shot the year that I was there - brings back some memories:
youtube.com/watch?v=WFbohm9U7lQ
I would normally stand on a perch overlooking and shout things and make some gestures it was so upsetting to see.  Author and activist Rainer Hildebrandt had just written/published Die Mauer Spricht - The Wall Speaks, but something like this was ongoing every day but it was just normal Berlin at the time. 
 
 
youtube.com/watch?v=rPWQUOpBcBU
Shut out of getting Segovia tickets that year so we settled on Mozart instead:
youtube.com/watch?v=fBEN5lyy_Xg
Watch the trailer - his BEAUTIFUL facility it was situated VERY close to the wall.  
https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/film/113
These guys are East German originally aren't they, Cantina? They have "the angst". 
youtube.com/watch?v=Xb8FRirViyE
Cantina, back to the other side of the wall - these guys were in Hamburg at the same time of the Beatles and were a Beat group and seemed to keep transforming (female singer here) and I had never heard of them before - The Rattles (kind of funny):
youtube.com/watch?v=WKd8zm-q6OM
Do you know anything about them?  

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Cantina Margarita

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Reply with quote  #12 
Here's a scientific article dealing with the Puhdys' song, the Paul and Paula movie, rock music in GDR in general, and lyrical references to the Bible and a famous Byrds song penned by Pete Seeger. Quite a hassle to translate by help of Dr. Google, but maybe your browser has different options to do that for you.
http://www.songlexikon.de/songs/wenneinmensch
And here's my private photo set of the infamous B-Wall. A 1000 m piece of it, situated right opposite the Mercedes Benz Arena, close to Tamara-Danz-Str.
http://moppi272.bplaced.net/East_Side_Gallery/
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Cantina Margarita

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Reply with quote  #13 
Here's another one by Leningrad Cowboys feat. Alexandrov RA ensemble. Only hilarious, really ?
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stkilda4ever

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Reply with quote  #14 
Gold: Silly - Verlorene Kinder
Silver: Puhdys - Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt

Bronze: Karat - 7 Bruecken
Tin: Leningrad Cowboys - California Girls


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Cantina Margarita

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Reply with quote  #15 
Thanks to all early voters ! Your votes, so far, are pretty controversial. So is my head. I'm having a clear tendency, but the problem is, tomorrow I'll have a different one. The problem is the voices inside me. My cool attitude tells me to vote for the Puhdys, my heart is Tamara's, my taste says Karat, and my humour screams Leningrad Cowboys. Let's see where this all might end.

Maybe it's due to my occupation with those dialectical lyrics. Long life, short life, red light, green light, teeter totter love goes up, then it goes down and, then up again. THESE words badly need analyzing.

Bonnie, we already have the next act of primitivity. In my neighbourhood, 200 km from here, in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Al, you already gave me my reward for hosting. I'm talking about your HQ video of prominent places in Berlin, 35 years ago. I know all those corners as a tourist. I was born and raised in the West, near Cologne, and I still live there. In 1987, at 23, I saw Berlin for the first time. I was visiting some family members in the east, and I remember them showing me Eastern Berlin, being passengers in my old VW Kaefer - 2 adults, 3 kids, and me, the student of neo liberal economies. Memories are pale. We didn't care about politics and had a lot of fun, moving around in complete freedom to do anything. Must be due to my cousin's membership in "the party". Everything was not only a bit cheesy. I remember a comment about my car: go faster, your cars are expected to be more stable than ours. I did, and it was awesome. And I remember beautiful lakes, and beer was good as well. The Goodbye Lenin movie nails it.

In 2007, I started visiting them on a regular basis. I got used to Berlin quite well, eastern and western, and I feel kind of at home there. But I've had almost no pictures in my head what it looked like in 1987. You brought it back, and this is worth a big hug. So many times I've been digging in my memory what the places might have looked like, and now it's back in HD. Thank you.

I have a nice example of "Berlin brat" language. They say "rueber machen", which is "make across" in sense of words. What they mean is, cross the iron curtain and never come back. My family branch did so in the late 1950s.
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