Monday, February 28, 2011


"Der Revolutionär sagt: Herr wo habt Ihr Euren Rock her? Der Reiche antwortet: Arbeit, Arbeit! Der Revolutionär fragt, Herr, warum habt Ihr gearbeitet? Der Reiche antwortet: Idiot, um diesen Rock zu haben. Der Revoltionär sagt: Ihr habt Euch gequält, um einen Genuss zu haben; denn so ein Rock is ein Genuss, aber er verändert nicht die Welt. Ich bin bekleidet mit Lumpen, aber meine Gedanken sind Goldmünzen, mit denen ich den Wandel hervorbringe . . ."

-St. Just

"The Revolutionary says: Sir, where did you get your nice clothes? The Rich Man answers: work, work! The Revolutionary asks: Sir, why did you work? The Rich Man answers: idiot, in order to have these clothes. The Revolutionary says: you went to all that trouble for an indulgence; because those clothes are an indulgence, but they don't change the world. I'm clothed in rags, but my thoughts are worth solid gold and with them I bring change . . ."

Welcome to the big time! We've arrived in the big house, the main stage, the epicentre of Staatstheater Stuttgart! But of course, not before bidding adieu to our beloved Probebühne. We had our last full rehearsal there on Wednesday, and for once, we didn't have to clean up the mess after the barricades were stormed. It was a great feeling.

Our first day in the new space started leisurely, with another film shoot. We turned the black box theater into a studio again, and shot a short segment with Robespierre.

(Blue screen awesomeness)

Nuran wanted to shoot it twice, once with wigs, once without. See the wigs had been added two weeks ago, on top of the very modern dress costumes, to give the piece a bit of 1789 revolutionary flare. But the design team had not brought the wigs with us from the rehearsal space, because they didn't think we would need them first thing. But what the director wants, the director gets. So I was sent to fetch the wigs. But Janek said it would take far too long if I used the public transit . . . so he sent me to the gatekeeper at the front of the building, where they keep a couple of motor bikes for just such an occasion. They are basically bicycles that have a built in motor, like a moped. The motor engages when you start pedaling. Its like cycling, but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay faster. And with the extra power, I barely noticed the hills. So awesome. And such a smart idea to keep a few bikes around in case errands need to be run.

Ladies & Gentlemen, the Wig Express:

So we got the wigs in no time and rocked out the film shoot. Afterward Nuran invited us all for coffee. This is a recent pleasure for us, since there was no canteen at the rehearsal space. The foyer of the main theatre is a giant open room between the different theaters, with a full bar and food service. Its incredible what a difference this atmosphere makes during rehearsals. We get to sit an enjoy a cappucino or lunch or whatever on breaks instead of being at the mercy of the drink machine.

Rehearsals are rolling right along, and we got our first glimpse of the set as well as the army of technicians that are putting everything together

Unbeknownst to me, there is an enormous real-life painting of the Stuttgart palace as a backdrop for our show. Its really breathtaking, not to mention the extra flatscreen tvs and projectors. We're taking this game to a whole new level.

The highlight of the week though, by far was getting to go to the Stuttgarter premiere of Wim Wenders' new film "Pina" about Pina Bausch, the world-famous choreographer and Tanztheater pioneer who unexpectedly died in 2009. But the coolest part, is that Wenders himself came to the opening to introduce the film!!!!! Ever since seeing Der Himmel Über Berlin years ago, I've been an enormous fan of his work. So I made sure to secure a ticket and bring my camera along:

Wenders was a longtime friend of Bausch and had been wanting to create this film with her for many years. He told us how it became sort of an inside joke between the two of them, that they wanted to do this project but he did not know how to film her dancers in a way that would begin to do them justice. Then after seeing the U2 3D shortfilm at Cannes in 2007 he immediately called Pina and said he had found the right way to portray her work. They began working on a concept for the film, and planned the four pieces of hers that she wanted to show for the fall 2009 season. That way they would be freshly rehearsed and in the repertoire so Wenders could film them.

Unfortunately Pina died five days after being diagnosed with cancer in June of 2009. The entire company was completely devastated as was Wenders who decided not to make the film. But after a few months, the dancers in Pina's company at Tanztheater Wuppertal convinced him they should make the film in her honor.

And so they commenced to create what is one of the most extraordinary pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen. The dancers are so incredibly powerful, and the images they create are lyrical, majestic, hectic, personal, evocative, transcendant. Add on top of that the incredible depth of the 3-D cameras (Wenders also mentioned he didn't want any 'theatrical' 3-D special effects, nothing jumping out at you. Just the depth and immersion in the work of the dancers), as well as the incredible locations in and around Wuppertal that were used as a backdrop for the dance pieces. It is a mind-blowing, inspiring, overwhelming two hours.

Throughout the film, members of the ensemble recall their relationships with Pina and their work over the years. Wenders also intersperses old rehearsal footage and performance clips of Pina herself as well as voice overs of her giving direction in rehearsals. The result is an ode to this woman, her mastery of the art form, and the strength of her spirit. I cannot recommend this film highly enough.

(The Tanztheater Wuppertal-Pina Bausch Ensemble)



"Tanzt, tanzt, sonst sind wir verloren." (Dance, dance, otherwise we're lost.)

-Pina Bausch

Sunday, February 20, 2011


"Man hat mir von einer Krankheit erzählt, die einem das Gedächtnis verlieren macht. Der Tod soll etwas davon haben. Mir gibt das Grab sicherheit, es schafft mir wenigstens Vergessen. Es tötet mein Gedächtnis. Ich kokettiere mit dem Tod . . . "


"I was told once of a disease that makes one lose their memory. Death must be something like that. The grave gives me certainty, it makes me forget. It kills my memory. I'm flirting with death . . . "

Ladies and Gentelmen we are officially in FULL SWING. The last week of rehearsals have been nothing if not intensive, and often explosive. We've made our way through the entire play now and are in that glorious phase of breaking open each individual moment and pushing to find all the different nuances and levels and depths and emotions that can be squeezed out of it. Now that we've got some basic stage pictures in place for each scene, the actors and the directing team have been pulling out all the stops.

Oh, also, what I took for arguments at the beginning of the rehearsal process--that was nothing. This week it game to an actual screaming match. Three or four times. As well as a scene where I'm in a fitting room with a camera while an actor destroys said room with a baseball bat. Literally destroys everything. Or the big confrontation scene at the end of the play where this week one of the actors spontaneously threw off his clothes in a fit of anger and crawled around the conference table like a dog (naked) hiking his leg and pretending to pee on the other actors.

But my favorite moment of all so far, is what I"m calling the Bruce Banner special: in a fit of rage one of the actors (all of whom are wearing black suits) started squirming around in his jacket, then wrenching his shoulders side to side, and eventually bursting through the seams of the garment while growling and clawing his way free. The jacket, thus torn asunder, lay in ribbons at his feet.

What was the result? Well the image was so strong that Nuran decided to keep it. So now the costume department has to figure out a way to let him go HULK on a suit jacket every night without actually destroying one during each performance. Because even the German state theater can't afford to dispose of a half dozen suit coats every week. The line must be drawn somewhere.

The rehearsals have been extremely exciting, but by the end of the week we were all relieved when Nuran decided not to rehearse over the weekend. I used the free time to visit my friends Julian & Sigrun in Tübingen. And after taking a break from our work with the French revolution, I got to check out more of the revolution going on here in Stuttgart on my way to the train station Saturday. The entire city center was closed again, but this time for a Großdemo, a huge protest. In comparison to the Monday demonstrations, the one that took place on Saturday was enormous. And the protest signs were pretty wide-ranging. There were people dancing on the roof of the train station, punks and their dogs being harassed by the Polizei, and trumpets, whistles and drums abounded.

My favorite poster of all however was this one:

which lists off the last two Arabian dictators to fall and the third name is that of Stefan Mappus the Ministerpräsident of Baden-Württemberg. Mappus is the guy in charge here, basically like the governor. These protests will probably have no effect on Stuttgart 21, which has been in process for quite a while and is too expensive/work-intensive to stop now. But, Mappus is up for election again in March, and the protests have taken on the new goal of making sure he does not get voted back in. Which for the reserved citizens of Stuttgart would be quite a revolution indeed.

So with a revolutionary twinkle in my eye, I climbed aboard the train to Tübingen. I had also bought the new Radiohead album, King of Limbs, that morning and loaded it on my ipod. As the train zoomed away the first beats and melodies of Thom and the boys underscored the trip. Reminded me of being on the road almost four years ago as their last album came out while I was on tour. We popped it in and listened to it for the first time while zipping through the mountains of Virginia. As Twain put it, history does not repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes.

Forty-five minutes later and almost exactly as the album ended, I arrived in Tübingen and was picked up at the train station by Julian. We grabbed a coffee and then headed to his house a few kilometers outside of town. There we picked up his lovely wife Sigrun and went to dinner in the next village over to try out some authentic Swabian delicacies:

Afterward we headed back to their place, sipped wine and told stories long into the night. The next morning, after a proper breakfast, we suited up and headed on a day trip through the very foggy German countryside to the town of Frommern. This was the reason for my visit, to come watch the Karneval parade. There are of course huge celebrations in Cologne as well as parades almost every weekend in different towns and villages, but Julian said we should check this one out because its more authentic, folky and the traditions go back hundreds of years.

Friends, what I experienced today was one of the coolest, craziest events I've ever seen:

Karneval is an ancient tradition of banishing the winter that was eventually assumed by the catholic church as a prelude to Ash Wednesday (see Mardi Gras). So each country has their own traditions of how they celebrate excess before fasting. In the Swabian-Allemanian region of Germany where I was participating, the tradition is for men to dress up like witches, and parade around town terrorizing anyone they see. Over the years this has developed into a parade where onlookers come to see the costumes and masks. The masks are all made out of wood and are EXTRAORDINARY:

Every little tiny village (Germ: Dorf) has their own organization, either called a Narrenzunft (a Fool's Guild) or a Hexenverein (Witches Club) that meet regularly and all share the same costume/mask design. This year was the 20th anniversary of the town of Frommern's official parade, and so they had 88 different groups from the area and as far away as Switzerland marching. Each one characterized by extremely elaborate costumes and masks:

Other exciting traditions are that the Hexen (men dressed up as witches) are also allowed to 'steal' young girls from the crowd. This means that the Hexe approaches a young girl and either throws a handful of confetti in her face, screams/tries to scare her, or simply puts her arm around his waist and makes her accompany him in the parade. The girl is not really allowed to say no. This was, of course, hilarious. Other groups had huge carts full of straw that they pushed in front of them, and would grab young girls out of the crowd and dump them in the hay while screaming maniacally:

Or they would spontaneously leap from the street into the crowd to mess up someone's hair or to hand candy to a child, try to spook a child, try to steal your shoelaces (happened to me), put shoe polish on your face, rubber stamp you in the face while pretending to give you candy (happened to me), or otherwise harass the onlookers. It was traditional in medieval times for the Hexen to carry a stick with a pig's bladder on the end, with which they would beat the onlookers. Why a pig's bladder? I have no idea. These days they are not allowed to brutalize anyone with pig parts . . . but they still carry them:
And on and on it went. The masks were so incredible and there were so many of them! Each group had anywhere between 8 and 30 members and each group had their own schtick. Wave after wave of witches and demons and some normal German peasant masks as well flooded past us, harassed us, gave us candy and food and Glühwein straight out of a witch's cauldron. Unbelievable.

After a few hours and over fifty different groups of fools and witches, we decided to head in out of the snow (the weather was less than ideal) and warm up. So it was back to Tübingen for a coffee and then I took my leave of my generous hosts:

Radiohead one more time and back to Stuttgart. I've also discovered a coffee house in my neighborhood that gets everything right. Julius Meinl eat your heart out:

Decadently Yours,


"I am at this moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip."

- John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

Monday, February 14, 2011


Robespierre: "Das Laster muss bestraft werden."

Danton: "Du mit deiner Tugend, Robespierre! Ich weiß - du has kein Geld genommen, du hast keine Schulden gemacht, du hast bei keinem Weibe geschlafen und dich nie betrunken . . . ist denn nichts in dir, was dir nicht manchmal ganz leise, heimlich sagte: du lügst, du lügst?

Robespierre: "Vice must be punished."

Danton: "You with your virtue, Robespierre! I get it - you've never taken money, you have no debts, you've never slept with a woman and you've never been drunk . . . is there not something in you that sometimes, quietly, softly, whispers: you lie, you lie?

*WARNING! This blog contains elaborate descriptions of various European culinary delicacies. Do not read if hungry!

The quality of the silence in Stuttgart is so completely different from that of Chicago there should be a different word for it. Or maybe its just the fact that there is no such thing as silence in the Windy City. It probably also has to do with the cleanliness of Stuttgart, but whatever the reason, I can tell you that at night this city is completely tranquil.

The electric buses and trams whisper along the streets, and you can hear snatches of a conversation two blocks down because there is so little ambient noise. The twilight in Stuttgart is also a different beast altogether. Being used to the sudden dramatic shift of the Midwest skyline and the stark contrast of skyscrapers against it, the twilight here constantly takes me by surprise. The city, with its plazas and parks and many-terraced hills becomes awash with elegantly accented facades. And topping it all from the height of the main train station is the revolving Mercedes logo, keeping its Batman-like vigil over the city.

Another way in which Stuttgart significantly differs from Chicago is the topography: namely that from the city center there are hills in every direction. I live in the eastern part of the city, and after my first night out a few weekends ago I became intimately acquainted with the hills in my part of town. I had gone out drinking with my friend Andreas (this will become a theme throughout the blog) and found out upon my semi-sober arrival at the train station that the bus line I normally take home only runs until 12:30 am. So it was either wait 45 minutes on the night bus, or walk the four stations home to my apartment. The weather was mild so i figured I'd walk it.

Cut to a scene of Brian barely clearing the second hill (of five) before slumping down on a bench and cursing the silent landscape. It only took about twenty minutes to walk home, but the walk was straight up, and my muscles were not pleased with my decision. Well lesson learned, thought I; next time I'll figure out a smarter way home. Or take a taxi.

The week went quite well, with two long days of rehearsing on Monday and Tuesday. Its been a struggle so far to get all eight of the actors in the same room on the same day, since so many of them are performing elsewhere in the repertoire, or because of tv and radio appointments or because half of them were sick on and off for the first two weeks. So Nuran wanted to plow through acts 4 and 5 at the beginning of the week to make sure we made it through the entire play once as a cast.

Food Aside #1: Part of my coping strategy for our long rehearsal days has been to indulge in the Stuttgarter specialty of fresh-baked pretzels. There are pretzel stands EVERYWHERE in this city, and as in all German cities a bakery on every corner. Literally, every corner. The bread here is unbeatable, and the fresh-baked soft pretzels for .40 cents each are a daily ritual for me. So. Delicious.

And having accomplished that, Tuesday evening was our company's Bergfest. This tradition was new to me, and I fully intend to implement it from now on wherever I go:

Berg- Mountain, Fest- Party; the idea being that you've reached the top of the mountain (the halfway point of the production) and so you should celebrate.

I mean, why not right?

So Beate, (the dramaturg) and Sebastian (Robespierre) hosted a lovely dinner party at their house. We had gnocchi and salad and cucumber soup and all sorts of antipasti. Everyone was supposed to bring something, so Andreas and I teamed up to bake home-made focaccia.

Andreas you see is Swiss. He's the only other foreigner involved in the production, and since we are both part of the directing team (he's the assistant set designer) we've been getting along like two peas in a pod. His mother is also originally from Genoa, so he knows a thing or two about focaccia.

Food Aside #2: Evidently focaccia in Genoa is as common as pretzels in Stuttgart. So we bought some ingredients and took them back to my place to make focaccia. I asked Andreas if we needed a recipe, he chuckled and said: "No, no, I've done this a million times. Its just flour, oil and yeast." An hour and a half later we had two pans full of some of the best-tasting bread I had ever had. Minus the half a loaf that disappeared between Andreas and I while cooking. La dolce vita!

So we showed up a little late to the party, but with focaccia in tow which was a big hit. Thankfully Beate & Sebastian's apartment is just around the corner from mine, so no hill hike at the end of the evening.

The next morning was a slow start, and even though rehearsal was not slated until 11:00 am, people came trickling slowly in. That I suppose it what happens when you have a huge dinner party in the middle of the week. Nuran however was not pleased, and after the fourth actor came in late (and presumably hung over) he gave a general note about punctuality and how displeased he was with the lack of rehearsal time that they had left. Then, after looking at the rehearsal schedule he realized that after the next three weeks of rehearsal we would still have twenty-three rehearsals on stage before previews.


At that, Nuran's fears were assuaged and we continued as normal. Don't get me wrong, we'll need all of those with the diverse tech elements we are incorporating. But still, I'm not over the fact that time is really not an issue here. Incredible.

(post rehearsal drinks in the foyer bar at the rehearsal hall; Svenja, Janek, & Andreas)

I found out from Andreas that his favorite American dining peculiarity is beer in pitchers. I also happened to find a beer hall here in Stuttgart that serves pitchers and American hamburgers on Friday nights. So after rehearsal Friday, we headed to Sophie's Brauhaus to try out the American fare. The beer was cold and the burgers were served with a 'Berg' of fries==which made for two very happy foreigners in Germany.

Since we were already downtown we went ahead and made a night of it, hitting all the watering holes we had discovered previously. And of course, we rounded our pub crawl off with my most favorite of European treats: a Döner.

Food Aside #3: Ahh yes, a Döner. Turkish speciality kebab. Start with flatbread, pile on the lamb/beef, add red & white cabbage (its Germany after all), cucumbers, tomatoes and chili flakes, with tzadiki sauce all over the top. Its a mountain of food, incredibly delicious and at 3.5 Euros apiece, the best deal in town. When I was in Berlin I practically lived on the things, and somehow no other kebab even comes close. One thing though I know for sure: Döner + Beer = HAPPY BRIAN!!!

But what does not make a happy Brian is staying out too late, missing my bus and having to walk home up the mountain. Again!

But at least the nights are mild, pleasant, and quiet as a half-remembered dream.

Sleep well, and wake . . .


Sunday, February 6, 2011


Danton: "Ich werde, du wirst, er wird. Wenn wir bis dahin noch leben, sagen die alten Weiber. Wer wird alle die schönen Dinge ins Werk setzen?

Philipeau: Wir und die ehrlichen Leute.

Danton: Das 'und' dazwischen ist ein langes Wort . . ."

"D: I will, you will, he will. If we all live that long, goes the old saying. Who is going to do all these lovely things you speak of?

P: We and the honest people will.

D: That 'and' in between is a long word . . ."

("Inner-city bus lines disabled because of a large demonstration . . .")

Many of you I'm sure have heard me rave about how amazing the theatre system here in Germany is. I've talked ad nauseum about it with friends, and written monologues, told stories, and written about the state theatre system for most of my adult life. So you'd think that I would be pretty much used to it by now.

But no, friends, the resources and community support of the performing arts in this country continue to rob me of my senses and leave me slack-jawed and stammering, wide-eyed in amazement.

I've already written about the cushy rehearsal spaces and the five theaters. But lets get down to the nitty gritty of what that actually means. That means that at any given time, there are five performance spaces available. Plus the cabaret and the salon. An ensemble of forty actors employed full time, 10 months out of the year, with five weeks paid vacation in summer. Six full-time dramaturgs. Five full-time assistant directors. Hundreds of other technicians, secretaries and under-secretaries, assistants and interns and so forth. Which means that Hasko Weber the Intendant (Artistic Director), plans a ten month season with all of these resources at his disposal. The result is over twenty-three original productions this year.

Let me just repeat that: 23 original productions in one year.

Can you think of ANY theater in America (or anywhere else) that can handle twenty-three original productions in a season, and think that that is normal?

But the best part is: they sell out. A lot. That means people come and support this work, and really enjoy it. And don't forget that most of the money that supports this work comes from the taxpayers.

Today kids, our German vocab word is: Theaterparadies.

I'll let you translate that one on your own. :)

(Janek & Lisa recreate the Titanic moment on the barricades)

So needless to say, its a completely different world over here. And just when I thought the technology could not get any more high-tech, Karnik brought in a crossfader for the cameras last week, and started layering the feeds from both cameras on top of each other during rehearsal. Then, using his laptop and his Videographer magic, he also started inserting TV-backgrounds behind the actors on the screen, while they were performing. So that it could appear as if they were on a national news broadcast, or speaking with a news anchor next to them, when they were actually just standing in an empty room. Come to find out, that's just the beginning. We have a three day film shoot coming up this week, to simulate German talk-show environments, and to really get high tech with the media-collage. When we're done we should have a number of clips of our actors 'interacting' with German TV celebrities, but speaking with Büchner's text. That will all of course be layered over the cross-fading and live camera action that we've already been rehearsing. Wowzer .

Given that its a very political play to begin with, it should come as no surprise that politics (national, international, local) come up regularly in rehearsal. Since Nuran's concept is also zeroing in on politicians and how they interact with one another, he often uses analogies to the politicians of today and yesteryear. For instance, last week in rehearsal, Nuran's direction was:

Nuran: "Danton, you are Kennedy, Robespierre, you are Nixon. Sex versus Reason. Go!"

. . . which led to a scene where Christian, the actor playing Danton, worked himself up into a sweaty frenzy, screaming and yelling and jumping up and down on the table, removing his shoe and slamming it down on the table (Khrushchev anyone?) while Sebastian, playing Robespierre, simply sat silently, pensively watching him go crazy. Not sure how that came out of Nixon/Kennedy, but hey, it sure was interesting to watch.

And of course all that is going on in Egypt these past two weeks has come up often in rehearsal as well. The play is about the essential elements of government, and how politicians should govern. How liberal, how conservative should we be. What's interesting of course is the language itself, which resonates very different in German, and in Germany, than it would elsewhere. When Büchner writes:

"Das Volk ist wie ein Kind, es muss alles zerbrechen, um zu sehen, was darin steckt."

"The nation is like a child, it must break everything apart to see what's hiding inside."

Words like 'Volk' resonate in a very different way here. The idea of the nation/the people as a child that has to tear everything apart to see what works, is not a fantasy here, its history. It raises the stakes.

And its not always talk talk talk, act act act, talk talk talk. Sometimes these topics break over and get a little out of hand. Twice in the last week its come to an all-out argument between Director-Actor or Actor-Actor, no holds barred. Amazingly, after the smoke clears, everything is fine. We go from:

"You're saying that completely wrong! You're doing it Wrong! Completely WRONG!"

"I'm saying it Wrong? I'M SAYING IT WRONG?! You think I'm SAYING it WRONG?!?!

"JA! FALSE! INCORRECT! WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

(everyone holds their breath while the two combatants yell it out)

. . . to everyone being calm again, drinking coffee on a break and laughing.

How did we get from here to there? The answer lies in one of my favorite German words:


trans: setting one thing apart from another; argument; debate; discussion;

This doozy of a word permeates all of German culture. And the Germans have no problem setting one thing apart from another, sometimes calmly, sometimes heatedly, but either way everything is fine once its over. Add on top of this the fact that theatre folk have a tendency to get heated sometimes, and the Auseinandersetzungen in the rehearsal hall can get really extreme. But sure enough, afterwards, everybody is still friends and life continues as normal.

After rehearsal on Saturday the sun was shining and it was almost 50 degrees. I decided not to take the train home, and instead to wander through the Schloßgarten, the palace garden that runs through the heart of Stuttgart, and then curves north becoming Rosenstein Park, where I entered it just across from our rehearsal hall that afternoon.

And just to stick it to all my friends in Chicago who are buried under the snow, I brought my camera along:

And you know, the amazing thing about wandering around parks in Europe on a gorgeous day, is that sometimes you stumble upon remarkable 18th century palaces by accident, like this one:

which often have incredible pleasure gardens attached, perched upon scenic hilltops:

Swan-filled ponds and rolling parkland that continues for miles, all in the middle of the bustling city you call home. And for some Stuttgarters, the park itself is where they call home:

And a closer look will let one know the reason these folks have set up camp in the middle of the palace gardens: a train station that has become a political debacle here in Stuttgart. It has caused the normally passive, private, conservative Stuttgarters to take to the streets and demonstrate every week for the last year. The cause of all this unrest is STUTTGART 21. Check the link for more in depth info, basically its an underground train station that is going to cost billions of euros and possibly damage the palace gardens. Its caused quite a stir in Stuttgart, and at their highpoint the protests brought hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets.

Back in September the police broke up the biggest of these demonstrations with batons, tear gas, and water canons. It made international news, mainly because Stuttgart is known for being a hotbed of civil rest, not for mass protests. And because the police on the 30th of September used excessive force against the protesters, injuring over 100 citizens including school children, and blinding one man permanently with a water cannon.

There was a documentary film made about this affair recently, and when the politicians responsible for the police's reaction to the protests where questioned, under oath, whether they authorized the use of force, all of them seemed to have an acute memory loss as to where they were on that day and what they may or may not have said to the police. It was pretty much exactly the same as the scene in the recent Pat Tillman documentary when Rumsfeld and his cronies were asked if they remembered when they found out Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. Similarly, none of our generals or security personnel seemed to have any recollection of our most famous solider being killed. Which is of course, in both cases, a shameless lie. And just goes to show how frightfully abject those in power can be, regardless of their nationality.

But I digress. Its hard not to be political I suppose, when you spend eight hours a day watching actors go toe-to-toe with one another about these things. In an effort to join in the fun, I went to the 60th weekly protest to see what Stuttgart 21 was all about. I mean, I really had no choice since the demonstration takes place at the main train station and my bus route home was cut off because of it (see pic at top of post), but hey I was there nonetheless. And the plaza was full of hundreds of people, and a bandstand and megaphones and all kinds of soap-boxing. Certainly an interesting time to be in Stuttgart:

See My Video of the Protest Here

Today I took a break from all this excitement and made the most of the crystal-clear sky and mild weather to ascend the Stuttgarter Fernsehturm, the TV Tower which is perched atop the highest hill on the southern end of the city. Stuttgart is basically a bowl surrounded by hills, and this was the first television tower ever (there are now TV towers in most major European cities, as well as Moscow and Toronto) and they were all the rage in the mid-20th century. And the views were quite spectacular:

Ach, ja. So schön ist die Welt. The world is really beautiful. Hope this finds you enjoying the beauty in your own little corner of the world as well.

Ciao for now,