Unity and Uniformity Reunified

This originally appeared at my place in 2007 on the eve of the anniversary of German Reunification. The title “zur Einheit” means both “To Unity” and “To Uniformity”. It was a commentary on the development of the area along the river Spree, particularly a stretch in my neighborhood that got dubbed “Mediaspree” because of the nature of some of the businesses set to move in.

I re-entered it as “zu unverbindlichen Bürgerentscheiden” (To Non-Binding Referenda) on Sunday, 13 July 2008, which was the day of a referendum on a choice of alternatives to the plans put in place. It basically involved the desire to delimit construction: first, that a 50 meter strip of publicly available space remain between any construction and the river and, second, that no structure exceed the height limit that had been standard prior to the massive sell-off that occurred with reunification. (There are stories, lots and lots of stories (pun intended)).
Our Green Party mayor at that time had forged a compromise question (labeled B to the initiators A). The turnout met the threshold* and the result was not just an overwhelming “Ja” of 87% to Question A, but an equally round “Nein” to the compromise.

*The threshold was a joke no matter how you saw it. Opponents of the referendum certainly found 15% voter participation to be laughably low, but the bottom line was that it was non-binding. Sure, there was talk of “taking it under advisement” after the surprising result, but investors’ threats to sue did that in. A similar phenomenon is going on right now as there was a referendum on keeping Tegel Airport open on last week’s ballot. Berlin is fond of referenda on deals already done. It’s an extension of our pretend democracy.

For the occasion, I’ll re-deem this…

ZUR EINHEIT
The river flows slowly
the mountain range more so
but the latter ‘ll one day
dwarf that long held division
which ran along
the banks of the former, here
in old Fritz’s Grove.

To scrape the prize from
the face of the sky
one story upon the other
into the heavens
over this once cleft city
one unit beside the other
rising to form a concrete tribute
to flights of fancy wings of desire
and reign triumphant, cementing
the division fore the banks
for when these chains flow steady
the spoils go to the victorious one-
wait…

Do my shackles come with a key?

My film maker friend Schmacke was keen to adapt my poem for a stop motion project to enter into a contest meant to come up with adverts for something else along the river. It’s a bit odd, but the capitalist gets dragged away at the end. We call it Einheit oder Vielfalt (Uniformity or Diversity). Schmacke does the reading (to give it that Werner Herzog docu-feel).

18 responses to “Unity and Uniformity Reunified

  1. I read, but I do not understand. Sorry, it becomes more and more difficult, being phone-tied.

    Did understand that Jason is I’ll- best wishes, Jason.

    So sorry you didn’t get PR comments, wendy e. My knowledge capacity is running on empty, can’t imagine anything helpful.

    Good to pray, though not everyone’s idea of being useful, just it’s what I do. But it doesn’t really make a good comment.

    My prayers to you ,Jason – I wish you well, and all who come here to read as I do.

    It must feel lonely at times, wendy e, but you are not alone.

    • I thought of this bit- think – yes -it is a reading in Matthew:

      “What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘S on, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered,’I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, the tax collectors and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. . .”

      I like to stop right there – he’s speaking to the chief priests and elders in the temple, by the way. Well it’s about repenting I guess, but that just means re-thinking.

      Which is where I came in. God bless.

    • thank you Juliania. it’s just dragging. mostly just tired, but mending.

  2. wunderbare, davidly and schmacke! now as for ‘the mountain range more so (slowly) refer to the mountains of concrete that will be built? and poking about for old fritz’s grove: the once and former king of prussia?

    the patience the video must have taken, oh, my, and the peeps and animals and soldiers and stuffies…then the capitalist in a black mesh bag (or was that his evil snidely-whiplashery extrusions? it was all brilliant. now i reckoned i might be able to find images of the mediaspree; this one was in the query queue, but may not be right. it’s too large to embed, but i think i might be able to edit it in. it sure fits w/ your poetic description.

    boy howdy, did i need the chortle that came w/ this: “Berlin is fond of referenda on deals already done. It’s an extension of our pretend democracy.” well done, all of it. and i did have to look up the original date of the offishull unification: oct. 3, 1990. whooosh.

    • Thanks. Right on the concrete range and the Freddy the Prussian. That pic is quite a bit up river, though.

      The shoot wasn’t too bad. By then Schmacke had gone digital w/ software. His work on the set was most of the tedium, which I was spared. I helped years earlier on his Berlin history film; that was an analog camera where he would move the figures and I’d squeeze the trigger three times and make the corresponding marks in a notebook to keep track of the number of photographs in each scene. As per.. we got really stoned that day and one of the shots I squeezed the thing I don’t know how many times before I realized it, grimaced and apologized profusely for spacing out on the job.
      In the following, blue in recently finished and red is planned. Mercifully, I guess, they move quite slowly here.

      • well, doin’ the shoot while high sounds like a lotta fun, at any rate. the photos was great to see, but slow-mo may be better, eh?

        i forgot how cool the barbie doll looked as the one asking ‘do my shackles come with a key?’ there used to be a website, twit account, something…i used to borrow from. they featured barbies galore, all by way of pimping amerikan ‘culture’. dayum, i wish i could remember…

        but aha! part of the mystery is solved. juliania had wondered on another thread if her son’s phone formatted the place incorrectly, etc., but as it turned out, i’d never noticed you hadn’t stuck in a /more’ break. (i did)

  3. hard to believe it’s been 27 years. but I didn’t have a &$^#& clue what was going on in 1990, so…Iron Curtain & Stalin bad, the West good.

    “modern man looks at a river & sees nothing but a source of power-” Heidegger, the problem of technology. and rents. the ol’ Nazi left out rents. I told Wendy this, but, on the awful Greyhound bus going across country out west, when we hit Big Sky country, for my 1st time ever, the Taco Bells & Exxons everywhere, just the crassest assault on one’s aesthetic of nature possible. who the hell looks at Yosemite & thinks that it needs a goddam Papa John’s? the blind, that’s who.

    thanks for sharing. looks like that was fun to make.

  4. sorry your diary caught the racist porn purveyors, davidly. i’d spent at least an hour and a half w/ the wordpress ‘happiness team’ (srsly) last week again to ask how in the hell to stop it. i’d blockaded lists of phrases, email suffixes, etc. in the discussion settings. i was advised that the only sure cures were requiring registration (boo) or manually approving ever comment (double boo).

    after my many objections, the team conferenced, and said that only one word per line is permitted in the blockade. for instance: ‘black’, not ‘black hairy __’. yeah, that ain’t gonna fly here. anyhoo, i’m now trying to figure out which single words might take care of the porn spam. why isn’t askimet blocking them? do they want more money for a plug-in upgrade? ‘well, they only block (whatever it was), and that’s only for wordpress.org, off site sites.

    anyhoo, what a drag.

    • I’m sorry for your hassle. At least it was only two this time so far. Maybe the happiness team only allow two porn spam bigot bots per day per entry;-/

      • lol. and here’s a bit moar cold comfort: at least these purveyors of racial porn don’t embed the trailers for the films!

        but srly, why here at this wee boutique site? speculation is useless, if not dangerous, of course. ;-) but upon further musing, i typed in a couple words that might help to stem the tide. it is a hassle, esp. given needing to switch gears from this dreck to trying to formulate new posts. my decreasing mind (?) agility and all that rot. ;-)

        heh. how about a new post on the mass killings v. gun control in las vegas? (just kidding, ish.)

  5. I’m sorry for barging in on your well-written piece, davidly – it was coming in on my son’s phone which I have trouble navigating in the best of times, and with a different format had no author attribution (still doesnt) so I was up the creek without a paddle, using hands and feet very clumsily indeed. I had thought internet wires had crossed somehow – now have read, understood, and enjoyed your insights and corrections on the historical record of reunification.

    Can t help observing similar processes happening in the New Mexico region – similar but different – of the historic re-entry of the,Spanish conquistadors celebrated in Santa Fe just recently. There’s an article today at counterpunch.org that sheds light on many aspects of that history, though to my mind errs a bit on some details – but that’s another story.

    Thanks very much for your contribution here.

    • Thank you so much, juliana. Your initial comment was not an intrusion to me in the least. Had I formatted it correctly, I think, you wouldn’t have had an issue. Live and learn, I guess. Thanks for the tip re. the article in counterpunch.

  6. Since we are coping with retrofitting a post-development 1961-2012 landscape with wetlands running right through its center (why the Research Triangle Park office park land was so cheap in 1961), I do understand your mild nostalgia for the wilderness of the old border. I also heard recently that there are some really fine office digs in Bonn for a discount. (Was that one of your reports?)

    The animation pretty much sums up the feeling of being in the way of “progress”. The office and shopping center extruders followed by the house hen and terraforming everything to follow the Biblical dictum of Isaiah 40:5:
    Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
    …and a Wendy’s, McDonalds, and Hardee’s shall light the way for them to the next Sheetz.

    • Thanks for chiming in, THD. To be fair, while my affinity for the undeveloped open space and unobstructed sky is my preference, the mis en scene in the vid is all Schmacke. He’d been building that same river design over & over for his previous project (this one being a little more hasty & cheap… irony?). The Berlin I fell in love with was & still is relatively an odd little provincially minded working class nature preserve.

      I didn’t mention Bonn that I recall. But I am aware of the dramatic turnaround cost-wise at Potsdamer Platz, and much of the history prior to & upon development and shortly thereafter because of work I did on a paper with a prof at Humboldt. When I arrived in ’02 the ground seemed from my vantage point barely broken even though several of the prestige projects were largely complete (and certainly near me on the river it was still a glorious stretch casually taken in by the locals & diy’d communally). Down at Potsdamer Platz for half-a-dozen years or so the office space being offered only had a 15 to 30 percent occupancy. Now, the only thing mentioned in local politics is the need to develop everywhere lest the rents become unbearable. It’s a thinly veiled threat of a mantra. Of course you know that that means the development will continue apace (if only a Berliner pace) aaaand the rents will not so much follow suit as lead the way.

      H’ving blah’d all that… in my nascency as an oh-so exceptional non-exceptional anti-auto, dedicated bicycling ex-patriot n’er do well-much-to-stimulate th’conomy, I’d get worked up about the slightest thing, such as, the first Starbucks I saw inserted into one of my first fave spots. “The beginning of the end!” I’d think speedily coasting down a tram-lined street — tracks on my left, parked cars on my right — stressed, fantasizing that every windshield should have “Für den Krieg!!!” stickered across it. Quite specifically this was the case one day when suddenly a taxi driver opened his door such that I could only skid into him with some force. Almost completely beside myself as I saw his quite genuinely & sheepishly apologetic expression, I snapped out of it and as best I could muster returned a look of understanding as I went about my way with an important lesson learned.

      I’m not a believer as such but am sure I made that shit happen that day. And I should not allow myself to forget that I used to eat at Taco Bell and Wendy’s. Rather enthusiastically as I recall. I cannot expect everyone to share my conversions,

      try as I might
      t’ bring’em t’ light.
      Hallelujah!

      I love the colo(u)r purple… the deeper, the better. But here’s the only version of Deep Purple I ever liked. Deep Purple O’Turner:

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