Yesterday, I was listening to an old episode of This American Life. It was the podcast episode that popped into my iTunes a few weeks ago. It was a re-broadcast of episode 402 that was on the radio (and I assume, on the podcast) in March 2010. Yes, Craig? So what? Sat in my rented room in Mexico City, sat here in t-shirt and shorts with the balcony door open because it’s hot, as soon as the story began, I was back in Berlin. Music, I kinda understand taking you back to a different time. I really can’t listen to certain records without thinking of certain places, certain people. I am, obviously, not alone in this.* But I’m surprised that I can remember very specifically what I was doing when I listened to that episode last year in Berlin. I was walking around, specifically looking for things I could take photographs of for a collage I was planning to put in the book. (I did use photos from that day, and you can see the result in “Flip Flop Fly Ball,” published July 5th, available for pre-order from the usual places.) It was weird to hear sentences spoken by the various story-telling people, that I really really associated strongly with specific bits of streets that I walked that day. Maybe I should’ve marked out the route on Google Maps or something, but I didn’t really want to double-up the remembrances. So here’s a few of the photos I took that day, walking around cold, grey, Berlin last April (yep, it’s a March episode, but I listened to it in April, because I tend to go through phases with This American Life: I’ll let about five or six build up, then demolish them all within a few days).
And a complete coincidences: it’s a year today since I left Berlin. That second brief stint in Berlin was a strange period. But, really, no point in examining that now, cos the roots of that tree spread under many, many paving slabs of my life that I don’t fully understand myself.
* I recently downloaded the Mighty Lemon Drops album, World Without End. I’ve not listened to that album for over twenty years. I saw their name somewhere on the Internet, remembered the record, wondered if it sounded as good as I remember it, tap tap tap, downloaded. And, I still like it. It sounds of its time, but damn, eighties indie music was fucking good.** But, more than anything, it reminded me of something I’d forgotten about: that I’d borrowed it from a girl I briefly saw back them. I’d borrowed her cassette. And by remembering that, I remembered lots of other things I’d not thought about for a very long time. Meeting that girl in Ritzy night club in Lincoln. Dancing to Erasure. This was back during the ridiculous Acid House panic that meant smiley t-shirts were banned in Ritzy. And, really, we never called it Ritzy; it was always Ritzy’s. Just like the night club where I later DJ-ed for two years was actually called Vienna, but we all called it Vienna’s.
** I imagine my elders may feel the same about other eras, and my youngers will, in time, feel the same about their eras, but it really, really annoys me when the eighties are dismissed as a shit music decade. People point and giggle at over-produced pop music, at slick comeback albums by older Live Aid artists, and with a flick of the ironic-username dismiss a whole decade. Well, fuck you. That was my decade. I grew up in the eighties, that’s where music became special for me, and a lot of it was fucking awesome. Just look at this list. It’s from Pitchfork, a site I’m not a massive fan of in particular, but it’s a pretty good reason why my eighties can’t be dismissed so quickly. This is what they chose as the top ten albums of the eighties: Closer, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Rain Dogs, Surfer Rosa, The Queen is Dead, Murmur, Doolittle, Paul’s Boutique, Remain in Light, Daydream Nation. There really is nothing you can fault in that list. Would exactly be my top ten, but everything on there is pretty magic. Here’s the link to their top hundred.
Anyway, blah blah blah, here’s some Mighty Lemon Drops to clunkily finish up this post, rather than thinking of some sort of conclusion.