Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lux Exterior: Man's Search for Meaning

Last Thursday was the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and as usual, the day was pregnant with meaning for me. To wit, Lufthansa had contacted my booking agency and notified them that my flights to Portugal (via Frankfurt) would be operating on schedule. This meant I would make my gig at Lux and finally realize my longtime dream of fleecing (in my own, small way) that pretentious bastard, John Malkovich.

To be sure, this marked a departure from my usual Earth Day reflections (hint: Thursday was also the 23rd anniversary of the termination of a bewildering high-school dalliance between a smoking-hot, popular cheerleader and an angst-ridden, Skinny Puppy T-shirt-wearing outcast who shall remain nameless - and, nowadays, hairless). Nonetheless, I realized it was antithetical to Earth Day to be celebrating the return of fuel-guzzling jumbo jets to the sky, and it was with a conflicted heart that I boarded my Lufthansa flight at Tegel the next morning.

In some strange way, my conflicted state felt right; after all, Berlin is itself a city of great internal conflict, what with the lingering estrangement between inhabitants of the former East and West. However, evidence of this conflict often manifests in more obscure arenas. Take restaurant names, for instance.

My Berlin guide Matt pointed out this unfortunately-named restaurant on a tour of the city earlier this month:

While the meaning of "creative eating" may be vague, naming your restaurant after the protestations of a victim of parental incest is clearly a bad business idea. That circumflex above the "o" just makes it worse, somehow, and I figured most Anglophone Germans (to say nothing of the 24,500 English-speaking expatriates in Berlin) would share in in my distaste. Imagine my surprise, then, when I spotted this Freudian eatery from the window of the M2 tram on the way to the airport:

"Oedipal" sounds a bit like "edible," I suppose. Regardless, the coexistence of two Berlin restaurants named "Mama Yes" and "Papa No" demonstrated serious conflict in Berlin's gastronomischer Verstandzustand ("gastronomic mind-state") regarding Kindbelästiger (translate that one yourself). As for my own opinion on the matter, I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's nothing appetizing about child molestation. But I digress.

My flights to Lisbon were uneventful, and before long I was dining at a posh restaurant near Lux with Tiago, the resident DJ. I had been sleeping badly the week before the trip, and it was with some trepidation that I asked my set time through a mouthful of bacalao. "I think if it's OK with you, maybe you will start at four" answered Tiago. Resigned to my fate, I agreed, but only after securing a ride back to the hotel for a pre-gig "disco nap." Unfortunately, I was too nervous to sleep, and by the time my pickup arrived at 3:30 a.m., I felt like what the art on my hotel room's wall kinda looked like:

Thankfully, the gig itself went off without incident, aside from my repeated, fatigue-induced attempts to play CDs on the turntables:

"Esse idiota está tentando jogar um CD na plataforma giratória!"

I concluded my set around 6:30 a.m. with a "throwing down" of Pepe Braddock's "Deep Burnt." During the dramatic string break, I strode away triumphantly from the "decks" - only to whack my head into the concrete wall above the booth's low exit door in full view of the crowd. The resultant stars were the only ones I saw, however, when I finally exited the club a few minutes later:

The view took my breath away, and for a brief and magical moment, I could almost feel my long-lost cheerleader in my arms again, her warm, firm pom-poms pushing softly against my Skinny Puppy T-shirt-clad chest, our hearts beating together as one.

"Damn you, Malkovich" I exhaled, once recovered. "You sure know how to pick 'em."

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