It was good to get the paintings on the wall. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve panicked that I’d not done enough, but seeing them on the walls of the gallery, with space around them, it’s almost a perfect amount. Kinda looking forward to the tomorrow night’s opening now. And it was fun to put them up, too. Headphones on, listening to Band of Horses, Miniature Tigers, and Michael Jackson, banging nails in the wall… And any time I get to use a spirit level, I feel more of a man. It only took a couple of hours, so I had an afternoon free to explore the town. I could see a big tower, and I’d been told the river was that way, so I walked towards it. It’s a very cool tower.
It’s called the Rheinturm (Rhine Tower), it is (in my head) where Kraftwerk live. It’s where they sleep, where they have breakfast, where they play with their robots, and where they make their music. It stands on the bank of the Rhine which is fucking massive. A really wide river, and at the moment, the water is quite high. And it flows quick, too.
I stood on the thin walkway underneath a bridge, took a couple of photos, and then walked towards the town. As I left the walkway, I found myself right in front of an old man who was pissing against the bridge. I apologised, but, y’know, really, he should’ve apologised for public urination, and exposing his old man cock to me. It was stinky. Either he’d been drinking sewage smoothies, or it was a popular place to piss.
The centre of the town is kinda pretty, but kinda generically West German. Some nice buildings, but a lot of that post-war town planning, with pedestrianised areas full of McDonald’s and H&M-type; stores. I went into Starbucks to get a coffee, and found myself behind that worst possible collection of people in a Starbucks queue: four teenage girls spending their pocket money on venti-iced-tiramisu-accinos-with-three-pumps-of-cherry-syrup.
(I like how on this stone carving of Jesus on the cross, he looks more like a member of a 1970s German rock band than our Lord and Saviour.)
In hindsight, I’m kinda surprised that anyone was working today in Düsseldorf because – flappy hands – Depeche Mode are playing LIVE! HERE! TONITE! OMG! It’s a vast generalisation, but EVERY PERSON IN GERMANY LOVES DEPECHE MODE MORE THAN THEIR OWN MOTHER. If Rapunzel was set in modern day Germany, the wicked enchantress would be staying at home tonight, and you’d be going to the show and giving up your blond-haired daughter in a few months. Lots of black-haired folks milling around the centre of town, and a few Brits in Depeche Mode sweatshirts – sweatshirts! – getting their beer on. The Depeche Mode sweatshirt: for those times when you wanna show you love for the Peche, but it’s a bit nippy out. I say all this, of course, in the knowledge that I spent my whole time wandering around Düsseldorf listening to Kraftwerk. And I do kinda like Depeche Mode, and if I had a ticket for the show, I’d like to go.
Düsseldorf smells weird. Like wet dogs.
Even though I’ve been here before, and made the pilgrimage last time, I couldn’t come here without walking down Mintropstrasse to see the place where Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang studio is (was).
Last time, the big metal shutters were closed, but this time not, so I walked into the courtyard and, well, I don’t know where exactly their studio was, but I like to think it was next to the awesome grey Mercedes. Of course, I spent the whole time imagining people in the building looking out, thinking, Oh Jeez, another nerdy bloke taking bloody photos of nothing in particular because “Autobahn” was made here.
As I left the courtyard, I bumped into this older guy. “Hey!,” I said, “you’re Ralf Hütter, leader of Kraftwerk and keen cyclist!”
“Ja, I am,” said Ralf.
“Awesome! Listen to this!” I took off my headphones and thrust them onto his head. He pulled away like I was invading his personal space, but I was tenacious and managed to get them on his ears.
“Das ist Daft Punk,” said Ralf.
“Oh,” I said, “Well, I was listening to Kraftwerk a moment ago.”
“Yes, very good. Thank you. I must go now.”
“No, no, no, hold on a second.” I said, my knuckles whitening as I gripped his arms. “Listen, do you know who I am? I’m Craig Robinson.”
“Oh yes, I am looking very much forward to seeing Hot Tub Time Machine. And I like you in The Office. You use a lot of make-up in the movies, right?”
“No, I’m not that Craig Robinson. I’m the one who does Minipops and I did an animated thing about a duck called Ralf named after you.”
“Oh, I see. You are him. Well, I don’t like you.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Ralf. I like you very much. I think your music is fantastic, and quite frankly, I was disappointed when I saw that “The Catalogue” box set had pixiliated artwork and you never asked me to do it. It, and I’m not over-exaggerating here, would’ve been my dream job.”
“Well, as I said, Other Craig Robinson, I think your work is shit, so I could not give a – how you say – toss what you think. Good day to you, please let go of my ankles.”