Thursday, July 31, 2008

Germany Pictures Wrap-Up

Here are a few more pictures from my trip to Germany. They're a mix between pictures I liked for the photo itself and those that are just a reminder of a special time and not necessarily a good photo. Of course, there were many more wonderful events than there are pictures here. I had to make some random choices to slim down the selection. Also I avoided to post pictures of those friends and family members that are not already in the public eye.

It was wonderful seeing all of you, the family and the old friends as well as all the new ones. And I can't wait to be back - or see all of you in Brooklyn.

Day 7: As the light turns green the double-decker bus is off to Berlin (I highly recommend the front seats on the top level)

Day 9: A wonderful tradition I partook in several times while in Berlin - Fruehstueck at a cafe. And so good that I didn't get around to take a picture until we were pretty much done.

Day 9: Driving and walking around Berlin with Thimo and Marc - looking at record stores, book stores and having a drink at Kakao. And taking pictures of some of the finer achievements of German urban culture.

Night 9: After seeing the band Von Luft Und Liebe at Sage, Elke and I wandered around Berlin Mitte and stopped by her store Soma.

Day 10: Back in Hamburg, Amir and I indulged in the luxury of relaxing for a few hours at Anna's bar Wildwechsel. A week later I sat with other friends outside at night and witnessed why the bar is called "game path": sometime in the later evening hours crowds walk by the bar on their way from the bars in the Schanzenviertel to the bars in the red light district (Kiez) just like deer running to a different greener pasture.

Day 12: A few days at my parents' house where I continue to digitize more of my dad's art work - and catch yet another double rainbow.

Night 14: Who ever imagined it could be so difficult for a bunch of thirty-somethings to buy cigarettes. But I witnessed this scene several times with different friends. Here Stevie (visiting from London) and Amir fight one of the new cigarette vending machine with age requirement, which has to be proven through a debit card with chip or the European drivers license. Many laughs later the bartender finally gave them a ziggi card that finally made the purchase possible.

Day 15: Giddy (also visiting from London) and the Sushi Factory display at the Altona train station. Spending time with Giddy and Stevie, who have lived in England as long as I've been in the US, was one of the absolute highlights.

Day 15: And suddenly it was summer. My mom and I enjoyed a gorgeous display of flowers at The Baumpark Arboretum.

Day 15: That's Heimat: die Elbe, der Deich, die Schafe.

Day 16: Shopping in the Karoviertel. Hamburg's TV tower and two guys and their sun umbrella looking like an homage to the TV tower. Hamburg balcony culture.

Day 15: Molotow, the legendary club where we used to spend our Saturday nights (after Kir and Kaiserkeller had gotten old). Although most of the time we waited around outside until they wouldn't charge admission anymore (maybe around 4am?). This picture is complete with a homeless guy sleeping and Erik checking out the calendar. Later that night, while doing a little club hopping, a group of us actually returned briefly to check out the V80 party (only people born before 1980 allowed). Unfortunately the club is soon shutting down for good. Click on the photo to read the list above the door of all the bands that have played in this tiny basement dive.

Day 15: As we continued our "Spaziergang" through the borough of St. Pauli I came across this FC St. Pauli sticker on the window of a laundromat. Fittingly enough I had just purchased several bags and T-Shirts sporting the local soccer team's logo and symbol: skull and bones. (And shortly after I took this picture I drank quite a few Astra, too).

Night 15: As part of our tour through St. Pauli bars and clubs I finally made it into the club "Uebel und Gefaehrlich" and thus on top of the bunker. This is the view down the stairs.

Day 16: A perfect weekend at the Westphal house in the country with the entire family, including some photo ops with the Maehdrescher (harvester).

Night 17: As the Wattstock Festival in Brunsbuettel draws to a close, the boys from Radiopilot give autographs. The evening of music, which also included my old friend Justin Balk, and the drive through the country with my brother playing our favorite new music for each other, was a wonderful close to a great vacation/work trip (I actually did work all those days without pictures).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Radiopilot: Monster TV

Radiopilot, a band my brother, entertainment lawyer and manager Asterix Westphal, works with, recently launched a funny 5-part online series about the band and a monster - all in honor of the August 1st release of their single "Monster".

The first two episodes are below.
The third will go up on YouTube in a few days.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Wallstrip Music Video

In time for the launch of their new website, the online show Wallstrip made another music video - this time it's all about Papa John's, which apparently now enables you to order pizza online. Only about 12 years too late - since that's when I went online for the first time on my first computer and desperately tried to figure out what exactly could be done on this world wide web ... to my great disappointment I had to realize after a chaotic search (this is pre-yahoo even) that ordering pizza was just not one of the things possible on the Internet. What a changed world we live in now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back in Germany again

I've been back in Germany for a few days.

I'm here to work with my dad on two different projects, also do some filming for a little personal side-project and maybe even get some editing in - besides spending time with family and friends. Not much time left for relaxing, but hey, I can do that when I go on vacation sometime...

The first few days have already been wonderful with lots of fun experiences, much needed reunions and a few new acquaintances.

Here are a few pictures...

Day 1: switching plains in Zurich
so charming after leaving from JFK

Day 2: Hamburg Stadtpark Open Air - my friend Thimo Sander playing guitar for Ich & Ich (supported by Radiopilot) - kind of a cruddy photo, but I like the moment and the view through the umbrellas

Night 2: This is becoming a regular "last stop of the night" when out in Hamburg - when the entire city seems asleep you open the door of BP 1 and find it packed full of cheery people with a DJ playing until the early morning - Thimo is here on the right, the rest of the band, who were all super nice and fun, must have fallen out of the picture already (could've been the vodka?)

Night 2: while walking with Amir, one of my oldest friends, another typical Hamburg-at-night impression

Day 3: and something I would consider to be more artistic wall deco - this artist apparently has been working all over downtown Hamburg - everything is cut out of paper in separate pieces and glued to the wall

Day 3: my dad, Günter Westphal, showing me around his Münzviertel, where a plant grows right in front of a poster he created for a neighborhood meeting which shows that very plant (or the other way around)

Day 3: back at Hamburg Stadtpark for another show of Radiopilot and Ich & Ich - and another rather blurry photo, which still I like again for the moment it captured: support band Radiopilot (which my brother Asterix Westphal works with) giving it all

Night 3: After Radiopilot has taken off for Tübingen, Ich & Ich for Austria, my brother for Berlin and my friend Erik is setting up the stage for the next day's show, I took a quiet moment in the now empty backstage area to reminisce about the day 16 years ago when I met Nick Cave and Blixa Bargeld at that very spot - I remember Nick Cave giving my teenage self the advice to just pursue my dreams, to just do it - that's how he was able to be a singer, a writer, an actor... and here I am 16 years later, still trying... feels good to know I am

Day 4: Stopping by the Hamburg harbor on my way to my parents' house - oh those cranes... Red Hook just can't quite live up to this

Day 5: Obviously not one of mine - this is one of my dad's (Günter Westphal) fabulous flower photos that is part of one of his projects involving photographs, sketches, texts, meetings, interactions and center around social and aesthetic improvements (I'm currently trying to help him capture some of his work digitally)

Day 6: during a wonderful day in the city with my mom - the Hamburg main train station and former main post office (now library): Hühnerposten

Day 6: tonight at 9:50pm the sun is finally setting - view from my parents' front yard

And now I'm done for the day. Tomorrow I'm off to Berlin for a few days.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Patron Saint of the Wedding Ring

Katie Ainslie and Scott Frederick during the EURO 2008 at Robin de Bois, June 29

On June 29th at Robin De Bois, in Carroll Gardens, I watched the Soccer EURO 2008 finals with some interruptions due to the rain in Brooklyn causing the satellite to go out a few times. To top off the somewhat unnerving experience, Spain beat Germany and the last few moments I had to watch at the Irish bar next door which was filled with singing Spain fans.

Yet before I had to ride my bike home in the rain, fate started to turn... most magically: During the last few minutes of the match I met Scott Frederick through my friend Katie. Somehow he mentioned the bar Buttermilk and I told him that five years ago my wedding ring had suddenly
flown off my finger, bounced on the floor and rolled into a crack and disappeared into the sub floor. After some creepy explorations of one of the basement's rooms (cavernous, dark and empty besides a white bucket, an empty pack of Marlboro Lights and a hatchet), digging around with a grabby car mechanics tool in the crack of the floor and a few attempts to track down the owner of the bar, we gave up the search and made peace with the fact that at least I knew where my ring would rest and that after all it was a cool bar. Then Scott Frederick tells me that he is one of the owners of Buttermilk (and also my all-time favorite Great Lakes) and that I should come by in the following days to see what could be done. Oh, did I mention that the next day was our 12 1/2 year wedding anniversary? Or how about the fact that I hadn't been to Buttermilk in a year or two since I had moved, yet two different unrelated plans came up that brought me to the bar a few days before.

So a few days later I meet Scott Frederick at his bar and show him where the ring went down five years prior (possibly to the day, I'll have to check that sometime). I told him if they'd ever renovate and tear up the floor to get in touch with me. After all I don't see how else we could get to it. He makes an attempt to saw a hole into the floor - but the battery dies. He says he'll be back in touch.

I take off. Have a wonderful time at the Murakami exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art with John J. and Jessica G. followed by drinks in the garden of Soda. An almost perfect day... until I get the call. Scott Frederick has sawed open the floor of his bar and after 5 years of laying amongst playing cards and poker chips my wedding has been unearthed by the man who I'd like to call from now on the Patron Saint of The Wedding Ring. He even delivered it.

To be honest it would have been great to get the ring back right away after it was lost. It would have been a happy ending to a sad story. But having it returned after 5 years and right in time for our anniversary feels like a miracle and makes it even more special.

I'm not sure yet how I can thank enough the man that already gave me one of my favorite bars with the best jukebox in NYC (Great Lakes, that is) but now also gave me back my wedding ring!!! But I hope one day I'll figure something out.

Thank you so much, Scott!

The wedding (and engagement ring) back where it belongs after 5 years hiding in the sub floor of the bar Buttermilk in Brooklyn, July 2

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Governors Island and Figment Festival

Scott and I finally took the ferry over to Governors Island - and during the Figment Festival even. It's totally worth it and I definitely recommend it. Right now you can even see all four of the waterfalls by Olafur Eliasson from there.

Unfortunately I don't know the artist's name, but this was one of my favorite piece during the three-day sculpture, performance and music festival: