One of the coolest things I did in Berlin was go for a run along the Berlin Wall. Kirsten lives in East Berlin, so I ran west along Pariser Kommune Allee until I came to Muhlenstrasse, and there it was! The Berlin Wall! How cool is that! To go for a run and come upon the Berlin Wall!
A segment of the wall has been retained as a memorial, and many artists have created idealistic artwork to commerate the opening of the wall, creating a living piece of artwork called the East Side Gallery. As usual, it was already dark out when I set out on my run. Yet there were quite a few people strolling along looking at the artwork, and some were taking group and individual photos of each other against the wall. It was very moving, to see this 10-foot high edifice that had broken hearts and families. It seemed so strange to imagine it. What is the point!? Some people on one side of the wall, some people on the other side. It is only 10 feet high so it’s possible to see over the wall in many areas. They could wave at each other.
One side must have been grey and bleak, and the other side full of colour and shiny bright commercial baubles. But frankly, in light of the environmental devastation caused by the western consumer culture, I found myself favouring the Communist idealism, as I ran along beside the wall, looking at the graffiti-covered artwork. Then I remembered that Communist Russia also has created a huge amount of pollution, especially with nuclear waste from their abandoned atomic submarines. Communist or Capitalist, we all bear responsibility for the shape the earth is in today.
I ran for quite a while, following the wall, dodging around the photo-takers, looking at the art both old and new, hoping to see the famous image of fellow communists Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev kissing each other on the mouth, when suddenly there was a break in the wall, showing the no-man’s land between the wall and the Spree River. And what do you think I saw there? A gigantic flat-screen TV billboard displaying a picture of Lionel Ritchie! What a shock! Across the road I saw a gigantic bubble-shaped building, called O2 World. I learned it is an entertainment complex, and Lionel will be playing there in April. This is the fruits of the wall coming down. East Berlin gets to see Lionel Ritchie. And, in June, the Eagles! May all Berliners experience a peaceful, easy feeling. Ich bin ein Berliner, ja!