There was a Winter Pow Wow held by the Mohak Club in Neuen Hohendorf, on the northern edge of Berlin, on Feb 14, 2015. Here are my reflections, pictures, and videos from it.
General Differences between German Pow Wows and ‘Real’ Ones
In the states, pow wows are funded by the tribe. There is no entry fee, the meal is free, and there’s usually coffee, water and juice that are free for all throughout the day. The one thing I noticed missing from this pow wow was the singing competitions; there’s usually a competition for solo singers accompanying themselves on a hand drum. (Check out this YouTube video if you’re curious.)
There were many similarities though: the drum circles, the dancing competitions, the announcer telling of events, the vendors selling goods and even a stand for petitions to free a Native who was unjustly jailed. To a casual observer, the pow wow might have made the grade; but for someone who’s seen the real thing, it was just an elaborate re-enactment.
Why I Told No One I’m Ojibwe
I didn’t tell anyone at the German pow wow that I’m part Ojibwe; I usually don’t disclose that to many friends, colleagues or acquaintances anyways. My friends who were coming to join me later knew about this fact (or shall I say ‘shameful secret’), but for the most part there were a few main reasons why I didn’t choose to openly state my blood line: Continue reading →
This abandoned brewery stoically holds a bit of heartbroken nostalgia, mixed with creepiness and danger. In the spirit of Friday the 13th, a little bit of suspense and darkness and walls smeared with bl– red paint.
History of the Bärenquelle Brewery
It was founded in 1882 and expanded considerably in 1898 when it was purchased by the Schultheiss Corporation (they have a well-known and well-liked line of beers to this day in Germany). On April 1, 1994 beer production came to a hault. There have been a few rumours of the plot being turned into a business park of sorts, but it still stands empty – housing the odd rave party, troupe of homeless, or unrestelss spirits.
I’m happy in my new flat that’s on the edge of Berlin – but helping a friend move in Friedrichshain on the weekend did give my heart a little pang … the avant garde culture, the street art everywhere, the independant anarchists, the junkies scratching themselves and staring with empty eyes into another dimension…. ah, the environment is unforgettable!
Anyways – here’s one thing I do miss about Friedrichshain: the art everywhere!
in sanskrit, this means something like ‘conquer your mind, conquer the world‘. it’s been my mantra for over a decade, my guiding principle and my one gentle, comforting reminder. stress? harrassment? unkindness? there is no such thing – just one’s perception of an action or a deed. and of course, the memories of the event that one carries throughout time. i must remember that everything – everyone – is a gift. it must be accepted (or can also be rejected peacefully)… but gifts keep going. they are alive, as the land and the water is. a gift must keep moving, for its nature is just that – life. it moves, and it gathers the thoughts and touch and character of the one whose hands hold it for a time.
my time on this earth is very precious. and lately i’ve been using it for transformation. getting a new flat tomorrow (or “atelier/artist’s studio” as i think of it), transforming observations into music/teachings/poetry, and transforming pain into understanding, then understanding into medicine. turning a stranger into a friend. turning visciousness into respect. i am more of a wolf than an eagle in this regard, i guess. Continue reading →
So I’ve been having a really hard time keeping my mouth shut lately. Like my dear friend E. in England, I open my mouth when I see something that ain’t right. Or like the ‘coloured youth who make hip-hop‘ (I personally think that words defy boundaries of space and time, they bridge the divide between race and rhyme)… And yeah, this is exactly what I did that night. There wasn’t a scene or a squabble or a fight…. this was just me, you know, speaking my mind.
[It was after an Atmosphere concert in Berlin 2014… there’s certainly more to that story involving weapons, drugs and deceit…. but for now, this blog will stay clean. Keep your eyes peeled for the memoir I keep talking about writing! Hahaha. Anyways, this girl was complaining loudly and swearing and spreading her negativity… I didn’t think that was cool after so much love and goodness! Everyone in the foyer noticed it, and so I stood up to speak my mind. Like a scene from a film, this is what I just started to do, everyone’s eyes on the two of us and her face drops in shock and she recoiled in disgust…]
hey – i said hey,
do you think it can wait?
this ain’t the place
to be spewing your hate
tonight as you know
was a hell of a show
and i think you and your
negativity should go.
One promise I’m making to myself and others is to sort out my life so I have time to write. Time to right wrongs / time to record songs / It’s time to start doing / what I should’ve been all along.
We All Bleed Crimson (original lyrics, to be sung a capella)
dead man walkin’ down the road, i say
ain’t no place he can go, i see
there be twelve men fixin’
to cover up them white-man sins
they be all believin’
justice only goes … deep as skin
preacher man walkin’ down the street
ain’t no soul he gonn’ meet, i say
ain’t no-body prayin’
when there ain’t no soul worth savin’
can’t no-body tell him
justice only goes … deep as skin
children be lyin’ at our feets
stench of death be fillin’ the streets
they say there ain’t no way to win
somethin’ ’bout original sin
that’s the reason why they been
keepin’ all our justice … deep as skin
though we all bleed crimson
I haven’t had time to blog about travels – or even type up my scribblings and rhyming posits about observations I made in London – but I just had to share this quickly.
“Es gibt keine Zufälle (there are no coincidences),” the older gentleman confided to me before I hugged him farewell. There was a knowing, almost intense gleam in his eye. He had heard me half-singing, half-muttering to myself beside the water, keeping the song in time to the rhythm of my heels clicking against the cobblestone pedestrian path. He had said in passing, casually over his shoulder and in a respectfully soft tone, “I could hear what you’re singing better if you would sing louder.” (He said this in his soft northern German accent, of course. I love when people on the street or on bicycles tell me to sing louder!)
I responded that I wasn’t yet sure of what to sing; he indicated my scribblings on the paper clutched tightly in one fist against the cold and asked if I was writing a song. I replied yes, that I was terribly upset about the racism and injustice of the Ferguson trial and that’s one of the largest reasons why I’ve been living in Germany the past seven years. Getting cancer in Germany isn’t a death sentence and it isn’t expensive; getting a degree of higher education is only challenging because one has to literally write exams for 6+ hours continuously (thankfully my hands are strong from playing piano, and my mind sharp from meditation); to me it seems that the institutions in Germany are much less racist than in that beloved country referred to almost with a breathless awe in the voice as “America“. America? Land of the brave? Home to the…. never mind. I won’t start on that rant.
Basically, this gentleman told me why the world looks to America as an example – for peace, for protest, for where to draw the line in the sand when it comes to politics and peace and prisoners of war. He told me – Peter Reichert his name – how he was born in Berlin in 1940. He fled with his mother four years later to a part of Prussia that is now defined as Poland. Later they were relocated to Bavaria. And how were they received? How were they welcomed by the ‘Germans’ in Bavaria? They were forced to beg on the street for money, food and shelter; forced to put up with slanderous insults full of hatred. They turned to the Catholic and Protestant churches for food — and that’s when he learned what a “Carepaket” was. A care package from America.
He spoke with a fragileness and gratitude in his voice that betrayed his nationality. He was not German, he was a refugee from what was then the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or maybe he was simply a refugee from the closed-off paradigms of a group of people filled with hatred and fueled by fear. Herr Reichert was no longer a grown adult male standing before me with the strength our society normally associate him with. Those memories were so painful that they were still present, still very real. Still very painful. I saw, through the deep lines etched in his face over the years, the child that had gone hungry in the arms of his neighbors. In the arms of those called ‘Germans’ in Bavaria.
Arrested for singing – I have such respect for this man who DID NOT STOP singing this song of protest. Even if there is nothing we can do, our votes are not counted nor cast — we can still open our mouths to speak (or sing). Never remain silent.
i’m tired of being strong. i’ve grown weary of being tough.
or, from a different perspective: i’ve had enough of putting others’ demands before mine.
i want rest, and time for reiki, and to use my hands to play instruments. they have written much in london, and the music is spinning in my head… and i can scarecly use my right hand. (sigh) i don’t mind writing with my left hand, or deciphering my backwards script (i have much more respect for leonardo davinci now!)….. but i really want to play piano again. i’m just…. trying to focus on patience. i must heal myself before i can give myself to others (in a friendship, relationship, healing aspect, anything) and i must heal the past before i can be in the present (meaning actually do what i want to).
it’s not easy. but i can’t play piano until this is sorted. well, i can play with my left hand but certainly no scales or arpeggios with my right hand. it’s ironic how crippling this pain is… more than laser surgery without topical anesthetic, more than piercings in private areas, more than that time a bit of molten iron fell into my boot while i was welding, sinking further into my ankle as it burned through my flesh. this kind of pain? i definitely know where it comes from. emotional trauma that has been suffocated for over a decade doesn’t just dissapear with a few yoga sessions. good lord…
anyways. enough personal information. pictures and lyrics from the london trip shall be posted in due time. work has been stressful and organising my move dec 2nd has been time consuming as well. these are all just some of the reasons why i’m not keeping in contact with many people. thanks for reading, and blessed be!