Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow Country - In A Berlin Minute (Week 35)

The Christmas holidays I spent with my family in the country north-west of Hamburg: the Haseldorfer Marsch. On the 25th we all went for a walk and I captured these images of the countryside covered in snow for you.

I wish everyone who is watching a very happy, healthy and creative 2011.

Snow Country - Haseldorfer Marsch

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Market - In A Berlin Minute (Week 34)

The Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) around Alexanderplatz offer all the usual gifts, foods and atmosphere... and a few more surprising thrills...

Happy Holidays, Everyone!
- Luci

The music featured are two different versions of "Jingle Bells" written by James Lord Pierpont. They were produced and performed by Kevin MacLeod, who is making tracks available for free through Creative Commons License! Thanks, Kevin!

Santa Claus at the Christmast Market
Der Weihnachtsmann auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt
(Alexanderplatz, Berlin)

Monday, December 20, 2010

MusicMonday: Poly Styrene - "Black Christmas"

Just heard this very dark and quite catchy Christmas song and had to recommend it to you immediately: "Black Christmas" by Poly Styrene (singer of the legendary X-Ray Spex).

A heads-up to those who don't want to have a dark song stuck in their heads through the holidays or to those who are easily offended by juxtaposing images of Jesus, Santa Claus and violence - you may want to skip this one.

Here's the thought-provoking video directed by Dick Jewell and Beezer for "Black Christmas" by Poly Styrene.

By the way, me personally, I'm quite excited about the actual Christmas holiday this year. The country is covered in snow to make it all feel cozy and romantic, Scott will be arriving from New York on Wednesday (uh, if there's no annoying snow keeping the plane from landing in time) and the whole Westphal family will be together in Germany this year. I appreciate how lucky I am.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Caitlin revisits Bremen - In A Berlin Minute (Week 33)

Caitlin revisits Bremen - In A Berlin Minute (Week 33) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

This week my friend Caitlin Cassaro from Brooklyn visited me in Berlin. We met about 7 years ago on a film set and I quickly learned that she had not only traveled Europe extensively, but that a long time ago she had lived in Germany for a while - in Bremen to be more precise.

How would you end up in Bremen out of all places in Germany? Her response: how did you end up in Gainesville, FL out of all places in the US? Uh... I guess you just meet the right people at the right time that embrace and inspire you.

I remember us fantasizing about visiting Bremen together one day. A very far-fetched idea since we both lived in Brooklyn. Except, of course, now I live in Germany so I can reconnect. And now Caitlin actually came to visit - and let me tag along on her trip back to Bremen, where we visited the Christmas Market (to have some delicious Glühwein), checked out the Bremer Stadtmusikanten and had a wonderful evening with her dear friend Daniel and her other awesome friends (who apparently are part of the Bremen-Oakland-Bath / B.O.B. punk family).

Don't you love it when things actually work out?

Bremer Stadtmusikanten

Monday, December 13, 2010

MusicMonday: jj - "Let Them" and "Let Go"

The new single by Swedish band jj (Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander) "Let Them" doesn't have a video yet, but you can download it for free from the website of their label Sincerely Yours - and I really like it. Lyrics NSFW.

And while we're at it, I'd also like to recommend an earlier song of similar name: "Let Go", which does have a video and which amazingly enough you can also download legally for free via the awesome website RCRDLBL.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Snowfall - In A Berlin Minute (Week 32)

The first snowfall of the season!

Well, okay, actually it did already snow last week. But I was in NYC during that time. So this is the first snowfall I saw and captured. And by now, about 32 hours after I went out to record these images for you, it's still snowing.

If I had a TV and if I was in NY, I bet there'd be a cool 3D graphic flying at me with someone yelling: BLIZZARD 2010!!!

Bode Museum and TV Tower in the snow
Bode Museum und Fernsehturm im Schnee

Monday, December 6, 2010

MusicMonday: A.A. Bondy

Made it back to Germany just in time for my dad's birthday. A present I brought him back from New York was the first solo CD by A. A. Bondy: American Hearts

Under the name Scott Bondy, he used to be the singer for Verbena. But I first heard of him when my dad introduced me to his second solo album When The Devil's Loose, which he in turn knew about through some connections to The Felice Brothers.

Admittedly it helps for something to always be the first album and song when I open iTunes - but I think it's safe to say I fell in love with that album and its first song on its own merit.

Here it is in a live version with harmonica:
"Mighties Of Guns" by AA Bondy

And another favorite from When The Devil's Loose:
"Oh The Vampyre" by A.A. Bondy

By the way, now of course American Hearts will be at the top of the iTunes player.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving In Brooklyn - In A Berlin Minute (Week 31)

Thanksgiving in Brooklyn - In A Berlin Minute (Week 31) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

For the second year in a row we had the most amazing Thanksgiving at Alex' and David's apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Thanksgiving was never all that special to me because I didn't grow up with it and therefore didn't have any personal attachment or nostalgic feelings about it. Being a vegetarian might also have had a little to do with a lack of excitement. But I've always enjoyed spending time with Scott's family in Florida and, over the last few years more and more, with friends in Brooklyn, like the vegetarian Thanksgiving at Bo and Amanda's, a few we've hosted ourselves and the recent ones at the house of Alex (wine expert, DJ) and David (chef, DJ).

So this year, for the first time, I really longed to be celebrating Thanksgiving and was able to arrange my trip back to Brooklyn around this holiday.  

Again everyone outdid themselves with delicious food: everyone brought something but David created the majority and Katie provided the turkey (which Alex cut masterly) and Andrea made the most delicious Earl Grey ice cream! My personal favorite, of course, was Scott's green bean casserole. And as is becoming tradition, we made crack nuts, too. Yum.

The real highlight of course, was the company of old and new friends and the dancing wasn't just a blast, it also helped work off some of the food and drink.


P.S.: For everyone who attended, I'll be privately uploading a version with all of the additional footage which didn't fit into the one minute - some of which was actually maybe more fun, but then maybe also not necessary to share publicly ;-)

Thanksgiving Turkey in Brooklyn

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Between Brooklyn and Berlin

After six consecutive months in Berlin, I've been back in Brooklyn for a little over a week. On Friday I'll be back in Berlin. Saturday in Hamburg. Next weekend in Bremen. It's what I wanted, right?

After 17 non-consecutive years in the US (11 in NYC), I wanted to spend more time with my family and friends in Germany.... get out of New York for a while to travel and see more of the world... gain fresh perspective... meet new people... find different inspiration... create new work... go on an adventure with Scott. But we didn't want to give up NYC completely. I can see myself growing old here - just not quite yet. 

So in spring of this year I started our temporary move to Berlin with Scott finally following in July. It's been an amazing experience with all those desires coming true, like reconnecting with family and friends and building new friendships, which I hope will last a lifetime. 

Experiencing Germany from the perspective of someone who has lived in the US for so long is quite fascinating. A lot of my observations are in tune with my "other" ex-pat friends who say things like "Germans don't want to necessarily teach you something when you ask, but they always lecture you when you make a mistake". And my own statements regarding customer service: "People in Brooklyn seem to be so full of themselves that they just don't give a s**t about you, but people in Berlin seem to actually hate you." But don't get me wrong. I love it in Berlin and I can't deny that I'm German - if a confused one.

Starting more or less from scratch professionally has been a great boost. Directing the music video for "Just So" by Agnes Obel, finishing the edit for Status: Thriving and, of course, launching my own weekly 1-minute web series "In A Berlin Minute" have all been extremely gratifying creatively and professionally. And we are gearing up for more projects in Berlin...

"German New Yorker in Berlin" Twitter background image

Then Scott got a job offer (for a limited time) from Bright Red Pixels to produce Daybreak, a new web show for aol - and within a week he was back in our apartment in Brooklyn with our cats - while I realized I wasn't ready to just turn my back on Berlin. On the contrary, we're now fully bi-continental... and wasn't that what I wanted? Yeah, well, maybe with a little less time apart?

So now I'm also in Brooklyn - for Thanksgiving, to deliver Status: Thriving and to set up other projects - and to see Scott, the cats, my friends and my city.

Remember that Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Under The Bridge" and how Anthony Kiedis would refer to LA as "she", as his partner? It sounded a bit silly to me at the time and I don't think I got it until I was ready to leave NYC for Germany. I actually love this city [NYC] as if it was a person... um, a person that I've lately referred to as an expensive whore. But you know, she's real good, despite the heartache she may have caused over time.

The few hectic days before returning to NYC on this trip I was as giddy as if I was going on a date. 

Once back in the streets of Brooklyn it felt surreal. After six months in Europe, I looked at it from a different perspective: everything looked like the backdrop for a TV show set in New York! At the same time I knew everything by heart. This has been my street for six years. That's my neighbor Fran picking up her daughter from the Waldorf school and that's our mailman Ron - not characters on CSI NY. 

Then I saw my friends: at noisy local bars, Thanksgiving festivities, quiet dinners, mellow brunches, quick meetings over a cup of tea... and it all clicked into place... from the moment I saw Erica and Scott pull up in the van at the airport... to meeting Kyra, my oldest friend in the city, for a veggie hot dog dinner at Bark (right across the street from where Chris used to have the best parties 12 years ago)...  a calm came over me and I realized, you my friends, are all my anchor. My true home is in those moments when we can be together. And then it all doesn't feel surreal anymore, it feels wonderful!

Now I'm sad to leave here again but excited to be back in Berlin in 48 hours to see my friends there, then have a weekend with my family near Hamburg to celebrate my dad's birthday and then welcome Caitlin from Brooklyn and tag along to Bremen to meet people who are close to her heart. 

And maybe one of these days I'll get to visit Jessica in Thailand and Kevin and Elizabeth in Ireland and Steph and Gitty in London and then back to Brooklyn and... all the while I know that when I'm far away, I'm home with you.

P.S.: I actually wanted to add a few photos from 11 years in Brooklyn and 6 months in Berlin. But it turns out that all the old photos are in storage. I guess that's one of the prices you pay for "living in-between places".

P.P.S.: In case you're interested in hearing more about a city as a living organism, check out the awesome Radiolab episode "Cities".