Posts Tagged ‘David Bowie


Deutschland 83 – Deutschland 17


Tonight on the menu, the first episode of Deutschland 83. Treatgreat series…we’ve lived those Ronald Reagan years, and the soundtrack of the series brings back the whole Zeitgeist in a powerful way…


Waiting in the sky


There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile


The lights were low

P1210394Goodbye love
Didn’t know what time it was the lights were low oh oh
I leaned back on my radio oh oh


Frederic and David. Heroes


This weekend the Rai3 Radio programme “File Urbani” focuses on Warsaw…the first episode unexpectedly does not start with Frederic Chopin, but with David Bowie alighting from the train bound to Moscow and his inspiration for “Warszawa”. The second episode catches up and beautifully stages Chopin’s Etude op. 10 n. 12 “Revolutionaire”.

It is the piece which marked a real epiphany for me. It reminds me of a warm Summer evening, in Trieste. My friend A. and me had met at her home, next to the Military Hospital, to review for our Statistics exam, the first Summer exam in our first university year. She did play piano and had a beautiful collection of records, and with all our Stats books spread on the table we decide it is time for a break, and she puts this record on. The beauty and tragedy of the music made all the Statistics look pointless. The warm evening was building up a storm on the Adriatic. This was a storm of notes, so close to our Mitteleuropean sense of living in a land twisted and bent so hard by history, like Poland.

Bowie and Chopin. They may have looked so different back then. One so contemporary, the other so tragically romantic, in the Novalis sense of the word. Now both live in posterity and both are our Heroes.


Glass rooms, modern love

Sense of Place. It has been a while since I last wrote something on this subject. “The glass room” is the perfect novel for this tag.

The novel is set in 1928 Brno, Czechoslovakia. It’s the story of a couple (actually, three couples) and of a family. But also the story of a house, which still exists: Mies van der Rohe‘s modernist masterpiece, Villa Tugendhat.

The novel is a truly immersive experience: architectural adventure, hectic Zeitgeist, intertwined passions, technologically advanced Czechoslovakia, a country in between the German and the West Slavic cultures. And of top of this, Simon Mawer plays with the delights of the German and Czech languages…how Mitteleuropean.

Turning the page 40 years later, California: “A single man”. I haven’t read the novel yet, by one of my absolute favorite authors, Christopher Isherwood. But I’ve seen Tom Ford’s movie. Mawer’s novel set in 1930s Brno and Ford’s movie set in 1960s California have two things in common: they are both set in magnificent glass houses and dive into intense, difficult – and modern, for their time – love stories. Modern love.


just for one day

Wednesday I was in Berlin, just for one day.

The yellow glorious linden foliage now left the stage. Grey Berlin, grey and wet and soggy. Metal grey in the air, lead slab in the sky. No time for indulging in nothing. No Kiez discovery, no good kebab, no cosy exhibition to flee the rain. Just a few bureaucratic chores and yes, yes a nice tea with a dear friend.

But in the long hours in the ICE I stocked up on local press. And immersed myself in some remote-control Kiez discovery by reading this week’s Zitty feature, about a new book on David Bowie’s years in Schoeneberg.

I did know that Bowie lived in Berlin in the 70s and got from the city the inspiration that became the Berlin Trilogy, but only when I started to investigate the mystique of Schoeneberg I realized that he used to live in Hauptstrasse.

Bowie: “At that time, with the [Berlin] Wall still up, there was a feeling of terrific tension throughout the city. It was either very young or very old people. There were no family units in Berlin. It was a city of extremes. It vacillated between the absurd — the whole drag, transvestite night-club type of thing — and real radical, Marxist political thought. And it seemed like this really was the focus of the new Europe. It was right here. For the first time, the tension was outside of me rather than within me. And it was a real interesting process, writing for me under those conditions.”

The first time I could associate a poetic image to Berlin was when, as a young girl, I saw on TV a video on our black-and-white TV set. This handsome young man, terribly thin and clad in black, hopelessly sad, was singing in front of a brick wall, his hands covered by grey woollen mitaines. I associated for years that image with the idea of sadness and loneliness.

That was David Bowie, and that was Berlin. And from that moment, for me Berlin was for a city with damp brick walls and sad, harrowing situations and desperately lonely blond anglo boys. I was 10 years old, it was the seventies, and Bowie was the lonely prince.

In Heroes “that” Bowie comes out in all his magnetic and melancholic power, and in his androgynous sexiness. An ambiguous city, an ambiguous man. But terribly sexy and lonely. Maybe Berlin was like that as well.


check out this article from The Local…

Continue reading ‘just for one day’

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