So the evening before flying to New York, I stopped by the small record store on Reichenberger Straße on my way home to buy Pierre a present. The store was crammed with vinyls from top to bottom. The guys in the shop were middle-aged old-timer Kreuzbergers, rolling cigarettes and chatting and joking away. I sniffed around a bit and what I found in one of the boxes was an original 1974 pressing of Kraftwerk’s fourth album „Autobahn“. The 12’’ vinyl was in a mint state and I paid a very fair price for it and left the store. Walking down the road with the vinyl in my hands I felt deeply satisfied. I was going to fly to New York City in the morning with one of Kraftwerk’s finest in my luggage as a gift for a friend. What more can you hope for?
I enjoy taking the subway in places I don’t know. The tube is an integral part of a city’s nervous system and you get to see a lot of what makes a city by riding its underground monsters. On the subway, I discretely look at the folks going from A to B following their everyday routines. On the M subway travelling from JFK airport to the West Village in Manhattan, I tried to imagine what my fellow passengers’ lives might be like. Where they came from and where they were going to. I wish I could draw them with a pencil now to illustrate how I saw them. Well, I can’t really. And nothing happened anyway.
I met up with Pierre in the West Village and we went straight to a bar. His neighbourhood is a rich one; apparently Sarah Jessica Parker lives right across the street. Pierre pointed to a rather small and narrow redbrick three-story house and asked me how much I thought it would cost if one were to buy it. I said „a million?“ He said „18.5 m.“
In the bar, there was a jazz singer from Texas on that night and Pierre and I sat down and downed a couple of Brooklyn (me) and Boston (Pierre) draft beers enjoying the gig. It was great. The girl had an awsome voice and a fine straightforward sense of humour. The band (guitar / bass / drums) was cool, laid-back and very good. After a couple of songs, the singer announced a song she had written once after having watched Michael Haneke’s film “Amour”. She asked us listeners if anyone had seen the film. I briefly spoke to her partner/friend who sat next to me and we agreed that “Amour” was a great movie indeed. He said: “Beautiful, right?” Right.
The next day, I wandered around Manhattan by myself. This was my first time in New York. I was tired, I was weary and I could have slept for a thousand years. But I also was in a nice reflective take-it-as-it-comes sort of state of mind. So I walked from 4th street to Washington Square and then downtown on Broadway. I went up Brooklyn Bridge, which I had seen a hundred times in the movies and read about in many books. Let’s say it was simply different.
I walked down Wall Street. I had seen the 1987 film with Michael Douglas and Charly Sheen again on the plane flying over. I also thought about Occupy Wall Street. I would have loved to see the movement in action. Be there with them. Then I went down to Ground Zero. The place still is a massive building site and there were too many tourists buzzing around, so I left after only a few minutes feeling slightly irritated.
That afternoon, Catherine and Maxime flew in from Chicago. I was glad to see them, as I had spent a rather miserable week alone in Berlin without them. These days, I don’t feel too comfortable being on my own. Maxime is my little monster and I need him and his mum close.
The next morning, Maxime woke up early so I put him in the baby carrier and we went for a walk along Hudson River. I like walking around with the baby in the carrier. We’re close and he falls asleep and then I’m just a happy dad. Down by the river we found ourselves among an army of very serious and stealthy looking joggers and their dogs. In fact, Maxime and I were the only people/animals around not running. It was the beginning of a sunny day. We walked onto Pier 45 and I could make out the Statue of Liberty in the far distance. Then I just stood there in the sun. I closed my eyes. Maxime was sleeping peacefully against my chest. And I took a deep breath.