economy, 'technology', public space, San Francisco past and present, class, books

Nowtopian RSS Feed

Berlin (not beyond… yet)

Arrived in Berlin last night around 9:30 to a searing magenta sunset on one side of the plane and a glorious nearly full moon rise on the other. Then walked across the tarmac, which always makes me imagine I’m deplaning in 1961 or something. Ryanair charged me $66 for 6 kilos overweight (they only allow 15 kilos in the checked bag and 10 kilos in the carryon), which brought the London-Berlin flight to about $90, after a .01 ticket price, then taxes and airport fees, with the whopping luggage charge the secret way they recoup their cheap tickets (actually they get huge subsidies from the EU, who seems bent on expanding air travel inside Europe, even while huge campaigns are going on to reduce “carbon footprints”… typical cross-purposes, I suppose)…

Tina met me and we went on a hilarious series of S-bahn and U-bahn and bus and cab rides to the Tegel airport (I came in at Schonefeld) to meet Rob. All was well, as we finally found him, and after a late night of catching up we woke today to a beautiful early summer Berlin day. Tina’s apartment is in the old East Berlin, and it’s not atypical of the places here now. The apartment is huge and beautiful. The building looks big and boring from the outside, but like so many east bloc apartment houses, they are getting redone now in ways that take advantage of the big spaces… We headed over to the Kreuzberg neighborhood where the three Convergence Centers are for the anti-G8 protests about to start north of here in Rostock and Bad Heilingendam… Just adjacent to the first Convergence Center we visited (the Bethanienhaus CC) we came upon this funny statue/fountain:

We picked up a bunch of information packets and a collection of posters there before walking a few blocks to another Convergence Center, this one in a huge squatted building called Kopi. This reminded me of what it was like 17 years ago when I visited Berlin with my pals in the “Anti-Economy League of San Francisco” to warn them that the free market was anything but free. Whole blocks of East Berlin were squatted at the time, and the wall wasn’t yet down and East Germany hadn’t yet dissolved, but it was relatively easy to cross over during the day. We went through Checkpoint Charlie then, and tomorrow I’ll go and see what the area around there looks like now. But here are some photos from the courtyard of Kopi:

More »

UK vacationing III

Starting two mornings ago in Aberystwyth, we took the “Cliff Railroad” up the nearby hill, kind of a Victorian funicular actually, and got these amazing views on a crystal clear morning:

This is looking at the town, southward.

This is the view north towards Snowdonia and the rugged northwest of Wales.

We drove across Wales and southward to Hay-on-Wye where King Richard Booth has an independent city-state and its known now as the “Town of Books”… there’s a big literary festival going on there, and we plunged into the midst of the smsll town’s annual frenzy. Dozens of used book dealers occupy Hay now, and we all had visions of finding various treasures… but no luck. I did meet a woman who had a poster from the recent SF Anarchist bookfair hanging on her bookshelf, so we had a chat about U.S. politics, the book business etc. She made me sign the poster (Hugh!)…

Here’s a couple of shots of Hay-on-Wye:

More »

UK vacationing II

Sitting in an elegant, slightly faded old hotel in Aberystwyth, Wales, writing this entry via their wifi in the lobby. I first heard of this beautifully named burg from some folks who joined a bicycling history tour I gave a few months ago–they were regulars on the Aberystwyth Critical Mass! Here’s the view out of the window here at 9:30 pm:

Here’s an image of the ubiquitous “carbon footprint” marketing going on over here:

We left York yesterday morning and drove first up to the Fountain Abbey, an old monastery destroyed by Henry XIII’s soldiers back in the 1500s… as they are charging about $20 per person to go in, we decided to forgo entering the grounds. But I have to admit, the thought of a destroyed Catholic ruin warms my heart, whether I actually see it in person or not! A nice drive along a scenic route finally dropped us in Manchester where I was set on visiting the People’s History Museum, given my ongoing work with Shaping San Francisco, and the developing relationship with the new SF History Museum at the Old Mint. It wasn’t quite as stimulating as I’d hoped, but we did enjoy some of the old banners and many of the political posters. They had a great collection of full-sized Walter Crane images which I sorely coveted, but they had no posters or books available there. Here are a few images we grabbed:

More »