THE DAINTY HAMMERS
Petra Kronos of The Dainty Hammers stopped mid-block, near Rosenthalerplatz, across the street (on a diagonal) from Mein Haus Am See to enjoy the sudden sun. The sudden sun soaked slowly through her old silk blouse like a spreading stain or wound of light. Eyes closed Petra tilted her face to mirror the distant Northern sun. In the North the sun is self-evidently a star. Petra always thought my mother laid this out on the bed to wear it the morning she died before putting on the blouse with a melancholy sense of ceremony. Her adoptive mother. Petra smelled pastries. Petra was standing in front of what appeared to be a Health Food Store so maybe the heavenly pastry smell was coming from within it. But there was also a mainstream bakery selling toxins on the corner to Petra’s left. Petra’s left was dominant. Maybe the smell Petra felt was heavenly was coming from there, the mainstream bakery hawking slow death on the corner. Petra was hypoglycemically starving.
The bassist for The Dainty Hammers’ opening act (The First Time Ever You Heard To Sir With Love), emerging from Mein Haus Am See, having settled the shockingly inexpensive bill, spotted Petra across the street, spot-lighted by the sun, given the star treatment, hugging herself, smushing her hot-water-bottle-tits together, that brand new royal blue silk blouse so perfect with her hair. The bassist still couldn’t believe he had fucked Petra of The Dainty Hammers. What was she thinking with her eyeless face tilted to mirror the feeble star? Why had she hurried so far ahead of him? Crazy as it sounds he knew exactly what had occasioned the unforeseeable epiphany of his life’s high-point to date.
If the Queen hadn’t died, what would he be doing now? Just waking up, probably. Staring at the waterstained corner of the ceiling, beating off bureaucratically like yet another hotel of self-hate-fuck morning. Had the Queen died a day earlier or a day later or had the news come across at any other minute of the tour I wouldn’t be grinning and waving and crossing the street right now.
I am actually a guitarist playing bass in this gender-critical band (The First Time Ever You Heard To Sir With Love) because Foxxe Stapleton quit onstage in Stockholm. Julian Bream was my hero as a half-caste runt in Skokie. Then I shot up.
I loved the flowers in my white grandmother’s garden but I feared and hated naming them. I’d stick my fingers in my ears and pledge allegiance to the flag if my white grandmother attempted to inform me of the official names of the plants and flowers in her carefully-chicken-wire-fenced garden. The rich red velvety petals. I faithfully resisted instruction and now I am here.
How can so many billions of things be accidentally so beautiful?
-Not to overstate the obvious but isn’t it rather… obvious … that something is nigglingly amiss when academics are pouring all of their research skill, experience and intelligence into digging up and examining infinitesimally-relevant minutiae, regarding obscure figures from two, three or four centuries ago… while crucial mysteries threaten the health, happiness, liberty and literal mortal lives of billions of humans now? Not interesting enough, academics? The possible childhood trauma of Hegel or Schopenhauer’s OCD more important than who orchestrated the hit on JFK, who funded 9/11, or which think-tank designed the Covid coup? Ha ha! I’m just fucking with you, academics. We know your lives and livelihoods depend on you committing to harmless, time-wasting projects. You are the eccentric old cat-collecting aunties haunting the stacks. You are de-fanged padding, eternally diverted.
-You have a very loud whisper. Maybe you just go on ahead and I’ll meet you at home. Should I bring something?
“Yes, I’m afraid White Privilege still exists but in most cases its advantages are so trivial that they can only be detected, or properly measured, against Black anti-privilege.”
camp is a defensively brutal, pre-emptive send-up of whatever it is the camp-performer holds dear, in the manner, perhaps, of a village woman killing her children before the invading yankees can kill them. it is the killed-by-love, that is better than being killed-by-hate (or for sport, or by grim indifference), that justifies the pre-emptive act. so very camp queers and very niggerish blacks and outlandishly obese, blue-haired, gender-inconclusive twitter activists perform themselves, defensively and defiantly, against the tacit accusation/assumption of the Normal that these examples of the talentedly outlandish are merely examples of the defective-Other-ordinary. the performer-of-camp pretends to be self-involvedly oblivious to the Normal’s gaze that, essentially, calls the camp into existence. calamares en su tinta (squid cooked in its own ink… the ink being one of the squid’s natural defenses) comes to mind, to replace the initial “vietnam” metaphor with a culinary one. camp is also the sometimes gentle, often envious, mocking, of innocent solemnities, from a standpoint too sophisticated to enjoy, without the self-protection of irony, the solemnity. the homosexual blow job is (or perhaps was, at this point) the knowing counterfeit of the “real” kind: a woman rewarding her masculine hero with worshipful seed-destroying, disguised as pleasure-giving, her stomach the acidic anti-womb, a tableau like an oppressively-white porcelain figurine from the locked cabinet of an aristocrat: heterosexuality’s esoteric kitsch. which is all to say that i am scarcely ready or equipped to face the inexorable conscription, into camp’s last army, camp’s most vast and least-mighty army, of debilitated Age. as i send myself up with piss-reek boxers. i have made a fetish of wearing my late jewish husband’s color-barrier-crossing, piss-reek, boxers, preserved in individual ziplocks, in campy tribute to our loving racism.
then i found you.
mama always told me i’m a very fine pebble falling through the holes in a sifting device, holes in the bottom-floors of one layer after another, each layer representing the space occupied by a progressively smaller minority, a process i assumed had ended in my youth, my young adulthood, my middle age. to stop the process of falling through smaller and smaller minority-spaces, all i have to do is increase my diameter by acquiring beliefs and behaviors that aren’t my own, the opinions doled out by authority figures and the habits of the herd i naturally find repulsive. the larger my acquired diameter, the more likely it is that my descent, through the layers, will stop and i will come to rest among those whom i could pretend to resemble. no, i won’t do it: i will remain as i am, fine as i am, liable to fall through each successive floor of sifting holes, in The Sifter, The Grader, as i am. i will continue to fall through ever- diminishing groupings of souls, through ever-smaller holes, until i come to rest, i am praying, beside you or a memory equivalent to your dimensions.
5 thoughts on “3COUPLES”
Not all too long ago that corner had a self-schlepp, pre-fab bread, and the things that make the bread soggy, dispensary, maybe a camp version of the German’s cherished breakfast undertaking.
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It’s weird: as slowly as some zones of Berlin change, while others are continually being scraped at, I find it hard to keep track of what used to be where. All I remember, with any vividness of detail, was when Potsdamer Platz was a huge construction crater… also I remember going to some party on a New Years Eve and having to change at a very primordial-looking, hugely atmospheric, under-construction S-Bhf Friedrichstrasse. But most of the Olde Mitte Shit has been erased from my memory because I stuck mainly to The West, from ’90-’99, as an Expat of Color, for fear of Skinheads (although the most solid memory I have of The Actual Skinhead Threat was when some Skinhead Parade marched right through the vicinty of Ernst Reuther Platz).
I have a ghostly after-image of that bready place to which you refer; I met Wife in 2004, and her flat (which we have retained as a sub-letting proposition) was on Auguststrasse, right around the corner, but, fuck… wasn’t that hip cafe (Sankt Oberholz), on one of the opposite corners, a two-level Burger King, before? It’s all so vague! I wasn’t paying attention! I was focused on the weird/preposterous interpersonal dynamics I went through (and now write about) but I still retain little more, of the topology, than the names of the streets I once lived on (I forgot the one in Spandau, though… shiver)…!
Worse: I took, like, ONE picture of Berlin 1990-1996, before returning to live in 2000, and that was of The Cafe Anal, in Xberg, with a chemical camera, the b&w print now long-lost…
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That BK was gone by the time I got here, but Eimer was still just around the corner from where it had been, the location of which I only knew because it was on the first map I’d bought from Galleria at Alex. Also, Potsdamer Pit was still there.
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I remember meeting my Persian GF on a construction-site walkway, on the periphery of Potsdamer Pit, for lunch, wondering where I would be, in the world, when the work (which I assumed would look somehow larger when finished) was finished. A clear recollection of future nostalgia, which was really a clear vision of the fact that I wouldn’t be with Persian GF! laugh. But, speaking of the “smallness” of Potsdamer Platz: you can’t really build an Insta-Downtown, can you? Shit has to accrue/ aggregate/ congeal over many generations. Potsdamer Platz is fine as a theme-park of some kind, but… I’m still treating Zoo Station as “downtown”. And I really miss all the Nudity! The Olde Days were resplendant with Public Nudity until the Green Lesbian Merkel-oids banished it. And, again: I didn’t even bother to buy a camera until the last Boobs were being banned!
Wait, what is my message, here…?
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(One thing I wanted to add, not really for *your* edification, D, because you’re an old hand at puzzle-solving, but for any reader not used to untangling clues: the last voice, in the last short story, I saw as a tall, bony, James-Baldwin-look-a-like of a certain age; possibly an academic (that voice was too snobbish, in an Hegemonic, former-denizen-of-Warhol-circles-way to be fat AND Black) who had a stage name when he was young and a then-trailblazing “marriage” (before they could go legal)… and now, somehow, has fallen in love again.. or sashayed completely into the outer rim of the boggy precincts of dementia! A tale of hope…!)