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hamburg: this city owns!

a few years ago, there was a jack daniels ad that was pitched at the rock crowd and it was all about silverlake, ca - a rockin' place to be indeed. but, having come to hamburg, i actually think it's the rockingest town in the universe and jack should live here instead (although, to be fair, astra is hamburg).

this place fucking owns! in real terms: i like it a lot. i've been out every night!
monday night to a club called Hafenklang (Harbour Bell?), which had a couple of OK bands playing, but the hightlight was easily the Punkerstammtisch (Ping Pong Punk, as my friendly sweet Du told me) - it was mental - about 30 punks/rockers playing round robin table tennis - it was the punkest thing I've ever seen! (spewing in public is not counted as punk rock, neither is dying of liver failure - just for the record). They played the coolest tunes ever and I wish I could have stayed until way, way later, but i was getting sleepy (at 3am).

then tuesday night i went to a Gorilla Biscuits gig. 'The Biscuits' are an NYHC [NewYorkHardCore] band and hugely influencial on the Thrash/HC scene from the 80s. They broke up a while ago, probably reformed a while ago too and Hamburg was the first night of the tour - it bloody rocked i tell you! I could hardly see, thank to having a BFG in front of me, but the vibe was excellent! And I saw the strangest thing ever (not anything to do with the Reeperbahn red-light district either) - the bar chick was absolutely wasted! I think she was smacked off her head and yet she was still serving everyone (slowly)! I'm not sure if that's exactly normal around these parts, but it was an amazing sight.

As well as those cool gigs, i'm staying in the rock'n'roll hotel, where the bar closes at 4am and breakfast is only served between 10am and 3pm, checkout at 2pm (none of this up before 10 business to catch a breakfast - ha!).

And, the coolest 'small world' thing in the world (better than the cute barista at flatwhite being friends with a good friend of mine from Brisbane) - I ran into Buggirl (band from Wollongong NSW who I know!) and Michelle from Tourettes, by chance in the Kombüse, burrito bar next door to my absolutley rockin' hotel! Talk about a mind-fuck - it was great! Hamburg totally supports its music and these guys can live here for months on end, working and survive as musicians (not something really possible in Australia).

And while I've been indulging in aural overload at night, during the day I've been checkin' out the visual miasma that is Hamburg. The city itself is a mad gallery - with great street art, sticker art and galleries galore (although I timed it incredibly badly with about 6 of the major spaces either closed during the early days of the week, or in the middle of installing, opening after I've left) and yesterday I wandered around town, getting supplies for an artwork and some mischief I got up to on the streets of this city – trying to find red stockings (rot Stümpfhosen) isn’t easy, even in the red light district of hamburg! but it was a good opportunity to see a little bit more of the city. I went to the city centre, where all the high street shops are, which was good to see – near the townhall, and I wandered around Jungfriedstadt station – which is where a tributary of the river cuts through the city – it’s like a northern Venice.

I made it to the Kunsthalle, and saw Seestücke (Sea Stories), which was a great exhibition about artists’ relationship to the sea. My favourite works were the Anselm Kiefer works and the video of the Vienna sewer trip (giving a heavy nod’n’wink to The Third Man) by Hans Schabus, and the intense film of an atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll, called Crossroads by Bruce Connor

A surprising highlight was a painting of a young man in a Weimar street lighting a cigarette -a German pastime- by Hans Speckter (Gang in alten Anatomie in Weimar, 1882). It was such a simple composition, but was painted so beautifully. I could have looked at it for days. Another highlight was Jenny Holzer’s Ceiling Snake, a site-specific installation of LED words, winding their way up the ceilings of the gallery hallways in both German and English. I love Jenny Holzer’s word-works, so it wasn’t that hard to like. I didn’t like so much not being able to see the permanent collection for free, but hey, I dealt with it.

Then I went looking for a place I’d heard about in Altona and didn’t find it – wandered around there for a bit, then walked back to the hotel from there. Nothing like wondering around for nothing to make you feel at home.. ha! I spent some of the evening making some artworks and also caught up with Tim Keil, a planner from Hamburg via Munich and back to Hamburg again – It was great to do another planner/blogger catch up over beer and rockin’ toons!

After Tim headed home, I went out and make my würstgeschaft work overlooking the harbour. I wish I had time to photograph it during the day, but I had to jump on a train to Berlin this morning. I already missed 2 trains and just had to head there. As I write this on the train to Prague, I realised that I just could’ve caught the train straight from Hamburg and given myself a bit of extra time to photo-document the work. Oh well.

My original plan, actually, was to see a little bit of Berlin before heading to Prague, but it didn’t work out that way. The train took an extra hour and by the time I got to Berlin Hptbhf, there was hardly any time, I went off in search of something to check out in the city, but all I got was beige Bundestag city buildings that left me feeling a bit Canberra. I took the opportunity to lie on the grass instead and then went back to catch the train (which I almost missed, thanks to both automatic baggage machines being betrieb (ja, beide!), but on the plus side, me and another girl in a similar position hit paydirt when one of the said busted machines gave us the jackpot in 1&2 euro coins! ha!

So, now, I’m in the Czech Republic only for a night before heading to Linz and Ars Electronica. I’ll probably post about Prague tomorrow. Thank you to Germany and her people, all have been most gracious hosts and I promise I’ll be back sometime soon.

As usual, there are more pics on flickr



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