Saturday, April 08, 2006

04.06.06 Germany: Neubrandenburg

Neubrandenburg was about as different from Berlin as you could get in one country. Only two hours drive from the urban, educated, sophisticated West German cultural mecca of Berlin was the tiny, rural, largely unemployed East German village of Neubrandenburg. I was amazed at the snobbery that still exists toward East Germany among West Germans. One guy at the Berlin screening asked, "Why would you GO to such a place?", and went so far as comparing a Berliner visiting Neubrandenburg to an Israeli visiting the West Bank. When I explained to another "Westerner" that the Neubrandenburg show was the only place so far where J had to do German translation for me, they snidely remarked, "Well is IS East Germany." Of course, all of this talk made me determined to have an excellent screening there.

The show was in another one of those alternative youth centers, this one in such a remote wooded location that I didn't think the "road" leading to it was actually meant for cars. I must admit that I--who created this movie in part to break stereotypes about punks--was filled with hesitation when we walked in and saw a group of spiked, studded, leather-clad guys hanging around. Oh, great. They're just here for the beer and they aren't going to give a shit about the movie. Funny thing was, the whole gang was actually a band from Portland, Oregon called Dog Soldier who are also touring Germany and were booked to play right after the movie!

The screening itself was nice but uneventful--about 30 peeps--but I had some interesting conversations about the local economic situation and political issues with the show's organizers Frank and Ulli.

We stayed at Frank's parents' place which was even more remote than the youth center--so much so that our navigation system basically said, "Fuck off!" and went to sleep. We've had a few unusual sleeping situations so far, but this was probably the topper. Frank's folks had reently joined a spiritual cult in India and dramatically altered their lifestyle. I slept in a basicaly empty room containing only a bowl of water in the corner, a bookshelf holding myriad esoteric objects and a sign that read something to the effect of, "Please do not touch any of the objects on this shelf. I am using them to heal people's bad diseases, and if you touch them the bad diseases may transfer to you."

Apparently, his parents make a pilgrimmage to their guru in India once or twice a year, each time returning with new household rules imposed by their spritual leader. Since their last trip, use of the first floor bathroom and sliding door to the garden are forbidden. Frank was a ovely guy and it was hard to imagine what it must have been like for him when his "normal" parents got involved in such business only three years ago.

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