Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It was Double Trouble at 7th and Montana this morning as the Local Nuisance known as "The Dribbler" -- famous for loudly bouncing his basketball up and down 7th Street in the early morning hours -- found a way to become twice as annoying. How? By bouncing two basketballs instead of one. The noise sounded like the Harlem Globetrotters in an echo chamber as it ricocheted off homes from 7th to Alta. Now that's what I call a Double Dribble ...!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


A moment of truth arrived at 7th and Montana last week, courtesy of Joyce, who had something of an Epiphany over her morning latte. "I've got it," she cried, "I've finally figured out what's going on with that woman!" She was referring, of course, to the Mysterious Woman-in Black (pictured above) who parades up and down 7th Street every morning all dressed in black, with white pancake makeup, short-cropped black hair and severe schoolmarm spectacles. Frankly, I've always just assumed her motto was "have cauldron, will travel," but apparently Joyce was onto something new. "With all the fuss about that new Coco Chanel movie, she's just trying to be like Coco!," Joyce exclaimed. "If that's her goal," I said, "She's slightly off ... she's more like Cuckoo Chanel!" 'Coco Before Chanel' stars Audrey Tautou and is now playing in selected theaters nationwide. The Cuckoo channeling Coco appears daily at Our Favorite Starbucks ...!

Monday, September 28, 2009


The Creative Juices were flowing at 7th and Montana this morning as Rigolatte -- the man known for locking himself in the restroom at Our Favorite Starbucks and belting out Opera Tunes at the top of his lungs -- performed an impromptu medley of Tom Jones' hits for oncoming traffic. Ironically, the louder he sang "It's not Unusual," the more unusual he seemed. Speaking of Creative Juices, kudos to the Screenwriter Brothers for selling another TV series. This one is based on the real-life story of a pair of brothers -- one more cerebral and religious the other more aggressive and an atheist -- who reunite after years of estrangement to fight crime as FBI agents. There's a lot more to the story ... but you'll have to tune-in next year to get the details.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


They say that to Ear is human ... but if you want a second opinion, just ask Barista Anthony. He took it upon himself recently to numb, then pierce his ears with a sewing needle and has been sporting a pair of green, plastic Ear Studs resembling golf tees ever since. Anthony's newfound fashion statement prompted Bobby Shriver, Our Favorite City Councilman, to give him a new nickname: "Lobes." "At first I was calling him Lobe," Shriver said, "but on second thought -- since he's pierced both of his ears -- Lobes seems more appropriate." "You betcha," I said, "Now all we have to do is spread the word." "Why don't you host a Press Conference?," said Anthony, eagerly, "Let's really get the word out!" "Forget the Press Conference," I replied, pointing my Spycam in his direction, "By the time I'm through with you, they'll be calling you Lobes from coast-to-coast ...!"

Saturday, September 26, 2009


It was a Moment of Truth for Actor Tim Roth today as he made a rare appearance at the Apple Store on the Promenade to help promote Season Two of his popular Fox TV series, "Lie to Me." In the show, Roth plays the world's leading Deception Expert, a man who fights crime by detecting lies in a criminal's slightest movements. In real life, he's a nice guy with a great sense of humor. I attended his "meet and greet" at the suggestion of Beth, who sent me an e-mail all the way from Nutwood Junction in Indiana. "Don't know if you're into the show or not, or if you like Tim Roth, but I thought of you when I saw this on Facebook," she wrote, "Might be a good opportunity for the Spycam!" Truth be told, I'm not into the show but I could hardly resist an opportunity to break out the Spycam. Roth has had a fascinating career, working with some of the top Directors in the business including Tim Burton ("he's very creative, we laughed a lot"), Woody Allen ("he gives actors a lot of flexibility") and Quentin Tarentino ("yes, he's weird ... but brilliant"). The most fun he's had in his career was working on the Hulk movie ("I got to walk around yelling 'Arrrrrgh' all day") and, believe it or not, he suffers from stage fright. As for his current role as a Deception Expert, we could have used him this morning at 7th and Montana. A crew of Animal Rights Activists arrived on the scene carrying signs complaining about the treatment of farm animals in America. They claimed they were just passing through ... but something tells me they heard about Neighbor Richard and his growing collection of Freeze Dried Lamb Lungs ...!

Friday, September 25, 2009


Cheers erupted at 7th and Montana this morning as Barista Veronica returned from the Maui Marathon renewed, refreshed and ready for duty at Our Favorite Starbucks. She ran the grueling 27-mile course -- taking her across hillsides, passed the famed Mt. Haleakala and beyond -- in just 5 hours, 54 minutes and 53 seconds. That's more than 2 hours faster than Aileen Llamas of Monterey Park, who came in last, but who's counting? I think just crossing the finish line is a big accomplishment. Congratulations, Veronica, and Welcome Back ...!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Ubiquitous Guitarist, a French Musician who strums his way up and down Palisades Park every night, playing his guitar for anyone who will listen. Whenever he plays anything fast-paced, his eyes bulge, his tongue lolls from side-to-side and his French accent thickens. Toddlers love his "zany" style and follow him around as if he were the Pied Piper on Acid. Parents are a bit more restrained. I think we should team him up with Flora the Flutist, the Rogue Trombonist and Cool Hand Uke to form a Neighborhood Quartet ...!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Hang on to your hats, folks, something's brewing at 7th and Montana but it isn't the coffee. A "teaser" sign at Our Favorite Starbucks this morning announced that VIA™ -- a mysterious, new product -- will arrive in just six days. "What's VIA?," I asked an inside source who requested anonymity in order to speak freely. "VIA," he said, "Is our take on Folger's Crystals ... it's instant coffee." I paused momentarily, stiffling what Folger's might consider a Mountain Groan. "You mean to tell me you'll be selling packets of instant coffee, a kind of Sanka for the new Millennium?," I asked. "Not at all," said my informant, "It'll be absolutely delicious. Let me rephrase that, VIA is more than scrumptous. It's scrump-de-lee-icious!" According to the Starbucks website, VIA is "not instant coffee as you know it ... it's rich, flavorful, Starbucks coffee in an instant." Hmmmmmm ... It's not Instant Coffee. It's Coffee in an Instant. I'll bet it took the folks on Madison Avenue just an instant to come up with that one ...!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Intrigue filled the air at 7th and Montana this morning as the Screenwriter Brothers tipped me off that they were expecting their "informant," a Genuine Secret Agent who has been advising them on a Top Secret Script, to join them for a cup of coffee. "Really?!?," I said, "There's an agent in our midst?!? ... This I have to see!" I spent the next ten minutes playing an unsuccessful game of Guess the Gumshoe. "Is it him?," I asked, quietly pointing to a middle aged man with gray hair, a crew-cut and dark glasses. "Get real," said Rob, "We're talking about a real killer here. That guy has man-boobs." "O.K., your right," I said, "He looks more like a retired airline pilot, anyway. What about her?" I gestured at an elderly woman with a distinct limp and a purple tinge in her hair. And so it went, until I had worked my way through just about everyone around us. "I give up," I said, getting up to leave. Just then, Mark got a text message. "Ahh," he said, "That's him ... he's running a little late." Only in Hollywood would a Secret Agent send a text message to a Screenwriter when he gets stuck in traffic. I'll bet, like all the other agents in town, he also works on Ten Percent Commission ...!

Monday, September 21, 2009


It was anything but "Happy Days" for Actor-Director Ron Howard this weekend as he made the scene at Our Favorite Starbucks, took one look at the long line of customers waiting to order their coffee and continued on his merry way. Perhaps he went to "Arnold's." Other Hollywood types had better luck. Actor Scott Foley of the now-defunct CBS-TV series "The Unit" made several coffee runs over the weekend and Actress Laura Dern made the scene this morning. Insiders say this was Laura's first trip to 7th and Montana, but I missed her by ten-minutes. Dern it ...!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Don Ho Ho, a newcomer at 7th and Montana whose sense of style packs a real Hawaiian Punch. He made the scene this morning wearing a bright red Hawaiian shirt, buttoned all the way to the top, and a pair of clashing plaid Bermuda shorts. It was an ensemble fit for a king ... King Kameha-mayhem, that is. His dog, a Yappy Chihuahua named Billy, sat outside yelping, howling and screeching while Don remained inside, listening to music on his headphones. Every so often, Don would emerge, sit on top of the pesky pooch long enough to stifle its groans, then cradle it in his arms and coo at it like a newborn baby. How did he know when to let the dog come up for air? I suppose he waited for Tiny Bubbles to emerge from its mouth ...!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


It was a rousing chorus of "Au revoir, lezard!" -- which means "Goodbye, Lizard" in French -- this morning at 7th and Montana as Susan announced that she and her beloved Australian Bearded Dragon, Sophia, have parted ways. Susan, who moves to Paris in a few weeks, is putting all of her belongings in storage today. "I'll be sofa surfing for a while," she laughed, "Camping out on various couches from Burbank to Culver City until I move to Paris." As for Sophia, whose day-to-day exploits at Our Favorite Starbucks have captivated so many, she is now in the custody of "a guy named Josh who has a thing for reptiles." Indeed, Sophia seems to have found True Love. Another reptile in Justin's collection has taken quite a fancy to her and the two can be found canoodling each night under the glare of a heat lamp. Susan was kind enough to provide me with the illustration below. All I can say is, Leapin' Lizards ...!

Friday, September 18, 2009


Don't tell Hanna, but there's a new Pajama Girl in town and this one has a pair of Pajama Bottoms that makes Hanna's Flannels look like Designer Duds. Meet Mona Monkeypants, a perky teen who made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning wearing a pair of Bright Blue Monkey Pajamas and pushing a baby stroller. While various monkeys chased cartoon bananas up and down her pant legs, the monkey in her stroller gurgled happily, content with a bottle of milk. As for me, I just about went ape. There I was, minding my own business -- innocently pointing my Spycam in her direction -- when Mona Monkeypants rolled her stroller over my foot ...!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It was Lights, Camera, Action at 7th and Montana this morning as Barista Tyler (above right) regaled the crowd with more tales from the Hollywood trenches. It seems that Neighbor Russ (above left), a producer for the BBC World News, gave Tyler a small role in a special news report airing tonight on how Hollywood is handling the recession. The half-hour special will include interviews with the likes of Sumner Redstone, the feisty, 86-year-0ld billionaire in charge of Viacom, and Actor Johnny Depp. Tyler can be seen pointing at an Anonymous Starlet and crying, "You'll win an Oscar!" Not everyone was impressed. "Did you hear that Tyler is going to be on the BBC World News tonight?," I asked Screenwriter Mark. "Really?," he replied, "I guess that means he's still a suspect ...!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I came, I sawed, I conquered! That was the motto of a crew of Pesky Tree Trimmers who blocked off access this morning to Our Favorite Starbucks by closing off traffic in all directions of 7th Street. But not to worry ... I snuck around these would-be Paul Bunyans, making use of the alleyway behind 7th Street, and arrived at Starbucks just in time for a Big Surprise: It was Barista Amanda's birthday. She tried to keep it low-key, but the silver Happy Birthday sash across her upper torso was a dead giveaway. Happy Birthday, Amanda!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana this morning as Neighbor Max made a startling revelation. "How have you been?," I asked, innocently. "Oh ... same old, same old," he replied, "I've been relaxing, running errands, got married, grabbed some coffee ... you know, all the usual stuff ...!" Somehow, it seems, Max and his longtime girlfriend, Marianna, found time to get married last week in between trips to Our Favorite Starbucks. What prompted the sudden nuptials? Evidently, Flash the Wonder Dog gave the match her blessing. "I've always given my girlfriends the Flash Test," said Max, "And Marianna passed with flying colors." Congratulations to the Happy Couple! Now the real question is whether or not Flash -- famous for walking around town without a leash -- will also get hitched ...!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Crockpot the Crackpot, a local eccentric whose idea of a good time is to parade up and down Third Street balancing an impressive array of cookware on his head. I ran into Crockpot yesterday at the Promenade and wasn't quite sure what was more bizarre: His bright orange ensemble or the stack of pots and pans he wore like a hat. Rumor has it he can bake a bundt cake based on his brain power, alone, but I say that's just a Crock ...!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Magic was in the air this morning at 7th and Montana as a young boy made the scene carrying a Fluffy Bunny. "What do we have here?," I asked, quietly searching the ground for Telltale Brown Pellets. "His name is S'more," chirped the youngster, "He's a Fluffy, White Bunny!" I couldn't help wondering what would possess the boy to name his rabbit after a roasted marshmallow and chocolate treat, much less why his parents would allow him to bring the varmint into Starbucks. But the boy and his rabbit disappeared before I could get any answers. Moments later, as if on cue, a Mysterious Lummox in a Tuxedo made the scene, handing out business cards. "I suppose you think I'm a trifle overdressed," he laughed, "but in reality, I'm a Magician." According to his business card, his name is Howard Jay and he's known as "the Hollywood Magician to the stars," performing for the likes of everyone from Jack Nicholson to Pee Wee Herman. I'll admit, his credentials are impressive, but let's face it, he's not the only one who can make a S'more disappear ...!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Keep your fingers crossed, folks: Famed Musician Curtis Stigers made the scene at 7th and Montana today and he's up for a Creative Primetime Emmy Award this afternoon for his work on the theme song of the Fox TV series, Sons of Anarchy. I couldn't help noticing how he seemed to be keeping the nomination in perspective, almost downplaying his chances of winning. "Come on, of course you've got a good chance," I said, "Who are you up against?" "John Williams," he replied. "Oh," I said after a brief, pregnant pause. "Well, he's just overexposed if you ask me." So, here's hoping Curtis kicks John Williams' ass. Speaking of Pissing Contests, there was a doozy this morning between Einstein, the loveable Bichon Frise, and his "best friend," an Anonymous Pug with a surprisingly large bladder. The two spent at least five minutes taking turns marking the Eucalyptus tree in front of Our Favorite Starbucks. First Einstein would mark the tree, then the Pug would follow suit. "This could go on forever," said Robb. "We should be so lucky," I replied, "Maybe I'll go get them some water." Too bad they don't give Emmys for urination ...!

Friday, September 11, 2009


It was Many Happy Returns at 7th and Montana this morning as "Barnacle Bess" -- the woman known for her overall stick-to-it-iveness -- took her usual perch between the flower bed and the dumpster behind Our Favorite Starbucks. "Bring me a chair and be snappy about it," she barked to Barista Tyler, who complied, albeit in slow motion. "What's wrong with you?!?," she cried, "Step to it, man, pretend you're in the Marines!" "I'm coming, I'm coming," said Tyler, slowly shuffling in her direction, "But don't forget, there's no smoking around here." Bess' Deep Baritone Rasp left little doubt as to her intentions. "Just shut up and bring me the chair!," she croaked. Screenwriter Rob -- who yesterday sold a TV series to NBC -- couldn't resist chiming-in: "Would you believe she's only 26-years-old?," he asked. That, of course, would make her younger than Brandon, who seemed pretty dejected this morning at the thought of turning 30 tomorrow. "Wow," I said, "How scary! If it's any consolation, today is my birthday!" I didn't mention my age, lest it send Poor Brandon into shock ...!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I'm here in Atlanta for some meetings at the CEDIA Expo, the ultimate trade show for home entertainment gadgets and gizmos. I don't get to Atlanta very often, but I'm staying at the CNN Center complex which brings back fond memories. It's right next door to the Philips Arena. About ten years ago, I was involved in the announcement of this Arena, together with some folks from Turner Broadcasting. As part of the overall hoopla, we presented Ted Turner with one of the world's first flat screen televisions. Turner, sometimes known as "the mouth of the south," took one look at it, turned to all the reporters and cameramen in the room and said, "Man, this sucker sure is Flat!" Now, TVs are getting flatter than ever ... but the picture is in full 3-D.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the "Wet Blanket," an Angry, German Tourist who stomped right up to the front desk at the Berlin Marriott yesterday -- wrapped in a towel -- and began barking orders at the receptionist. Evidently, he was upset about the lack of hot water in his room. "Now I've seen everything," I whispered to the Bellman, "Couldn't he do us all a favor and just use the phone?!?" Speaking of which, it was high time for me to throw in the towel, myself, and return to the States. I took the Red Eye to Atlanta last night for another series of industry meetings where, I suspect, there will be plenty of Hot Water to go around ...!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


It was Nefertiti or Bust this morning as I squeezed-in a 10-minute visit to the Altes Museum in Berlin to catch a quick glimpse of the world-famous bust of Egypt's most mysterious queen. The bust, carved out of limestone more than 3,300 years ago, was discovered in 1912 by German Archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt while excavating the workshop of the Ancient Egyptian sculptor, Thutmose. It has been a lightning rod of controversy ever since. Egyptian officials say that Borchardt smuggled the piece out of Egypt and, indeed, no paperwork exists to prove Germany's claim to it. The controversy seems somehow appropriate for a woman whose life was steeped in turmoil. Nefertiti reined during troubled times in ancient Egypt. Her husband, the Pharoah Akhenaten, single-handedly overthrew the priests of Karnak, ushering-in a short-lived period of religious, political and artistic reform. Nefertiti was considered a great beauty in her day. Her name, literally translated, means "the beautiful one has arrived." However, recent CT scans suggest that Thutmose performed a little ancient Nip and Tuck on his queen. The bust itself consists of a limestone core, covered by carefully crafted, painted stucco. By scanning the underlying sculpture, scientists have found creases around the corners of her mouth and cheeks, less prominent cheekbones, and a slight bump on her nose. Still, most would agree that she was far more attractive by today's standards than Cleopatra. Curators at the Altes Museum -- as if to stage an eternal face-off between the two, have positioned a bust of Cleopatra (pictured below) directly opposite Nefertiti. At first, I thought it was Augustus (Gloop, that is). Maybe that's why contemporary reports emphasize Cleopatra's "nice personality" ...

Monday, September 7, 2009


Where does an American in Berlin go to get a nice, quiet American-style dinner? That's the question I posed to my hotel concierge tonight and his answer, the Exxpressobar Bistro Crèperie, left me scratching my head. I knew this place wasn't for me as soon as I saw the "mascot" standing out front, a six-foot Hot Dog draped in an American Flag, pouring copious amounts of ketchup on his head. Their motto -- "Let's have a party!!!" -- might be a bit more appealing if the restaurant wasn't facing the Holocaust Memorial, a grim reminder of six million lives lost, right near the location where the ruins of Hitler's bunker is buried (pictured below).

I hurried past, ate a quick dinner at a nearby Asian restaurant, and continued on my way.

My walk took me past the Reichstag, an 18th Century architectural masterpiece that housed the first Parliament of the German Empire, and to the new government buildings beyond, just north of the Tiergarten (pictured below).

I continued along the banks of the Spree River until I came upon a familiar site.

A Camera Crew was setting up a photo shoot near the river's edge. Their attention was focused on a man wearing what looked like a Marionette Theater on his head. An opening just above his shoulders allowed his face to show through, as if on stage. "He's a famous musician," said the Photographer's Assistant, proudly, "Do you recognize him?" "Of course!," I lied. Perhaps it was Kukla, at long last leaving Fran and Ollie to pursue a Solo Career ...!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Dan Rathernot, the Would-be Anchorman of Berlin. Dan made the scene this morning at the IFA trade show and asked if I could help him clear some space for a TV interview. Having spent the past few days doing TV interviews that are destined to air in such far-flung locations as India and Okinawa, I assumed at first that he was just doing some advance legwork for another camera crew. "No problem," I said, "Let me show you where we've been doing the TV interviews and I'll get an area cordoned-off for you." Moment's later, with much fanfare, he whipped out his mobile phone, held it aloft, and launched into a stand-up: "Here I am at the IFA show in Berlin," he began, "Where tomorrow's technology meets today's consumer ..." He looked ridiculous and sounded worse but, let's face it, there's no way to tell whether he has an audience of one or one million. That's when I decided "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." I whipped out my Spycam and pointed it in his direction. And that, as the late Walter Cronkite would say, is the way it is ...!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I returned to my hotel this evening intent on visiting one of my favorite landmarks in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate, the historic gateway to Berlin and a symbol of German unity ever since that fateful day on June 12, 1987, when President Reagan stood on the West side and called to Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" Had Reagan seen what I saw tonight on the East side, he would have asked the local Burgermeister (pictured in my entry yesterday wearing 3D glasses) to lock the door and throw away the key, instead.

I knew something was terribly wrong as soon as I saw a Giant Trojan Horse parked at the entry to what used to be East Berlin. I asked a colleague to get a picture of me standing under the horse's ass. "What are you doing?," she asked, as I opened my umbrella. "Protecting myself," I said, "This thing must shit splinters the size of Rhode Island!" I was determined to find out what was going on.

"Excuse me," I said to a passing pedestrian, "Could you tell me what's going on around here? Something seems ... amiss." The pedestrian, a young man in his early twenties, was wearing what appeared to be a Homemade Elephant Costume. "What do you mean?," he answered. "Never mind," I said, "What are you supposed to be, anyway?" "I'm Bavarian," he replied, adding, "And I'm disguised as a Nuclear Power Plant." I backed away quickly, watching on either side of me for signs of either Rod Serling or Alan Funt.

By now a crowd seemed to be forming. I turned around and came face-to-face with a Fetching Young Woman wearing Pancake Make-Up, a Bulbous Red Nose and a Bright Pink Fright Wig. "Good God!," I exclaimed, "What's going on around here?!?" "I'm in the Clown Army," she said, "We must stop the Nukes!" Things were slowly starting to make sense in an off-the-wall, behind-the-looking glass kind of way. And now I knew where I could get my answers. An Authoritative-Looking Man wearing a Hazmat Suit was standing beside me.

"Howdy," I said, "You guys are protesting against something, aren't you?" "Of course," he replied, "We're all against Nuclear Energy. It must be stopped. We've been marching for days, all of us. We've covered more than 200 kilometers!" For the record, 200 kilometers is less than 125 miles. I was reminded of the scene from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery when Dr. Evil threatened to hijack a nuclear warhead and ransom the world for the astronomical sum of ONE MILLION DOLLARS. "How impressive," I said, "And it seems completely appropriate that you would end your march right here!" We were standing in the shadow of the Hotel Adlon, where nearly seven years ago Michael Jackson stunned the world by dangling his six-month old son, "Blanket," out a fifth-story window.

For the record, the protest was called the Anti Atom Trek 2009 and it evidently included a combination of "50,000 people" and "350 Tractors." Don't bother trying to figure out why they would need the tractors. That would only detract from an otherwise coherent message ...!

Friday, September 4, 2009


It was Lights, Camera, Action this morning in Berlin as the Internationale Funkausstellung -- or IFA as it's more commonly called -- one of the world's largest consumer electronics shows, officially opened its doors to the public. My role here is to talk about future home entertainment technologies and, let me tell you, things were hopping all day. Moments after the show opened, I heard that a Local Political Bigwig -- the Burgermeister of Berlin (pictured above) -- was on his way over. "Hmmm," I thought, "Maybe he'll present me with the keys to the city." Nothing, as it turned out, could be further from the truth. No sooner did he arrive, then a swarm of Pesky Paparazzi swooped in out of nowhere and elbowed me aside. It was hard to tell whether they were more attracted by the Burgermeister or his Tour Guide, "Miss IFA," the Ubiquitous Red-Headed Spokesmodel, famous for posing suggestively with all kinds of consumer electronics products. The Happy Couple spent a few minutes checking out our demonstrations, then continued along their merry way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


If you ever wondered what it was like to be in Berlin after World War II, take a peek at the half-ruined Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Breitscheidplatz in the Western part of the city. Built in 1895 as a gift to the German people from Kaiser Wilhem II, the church was forever changed in 1945 when Allied Bombers gave the German people a gift of their own. The City decided to leave the bombed-out tower in place as a testament to the "futility of war." But, if you ask me, World War II wasn't an exercise in "futility." It was a battle against Evil. The Church stands as a monument to all the lives that were ruined in Germany and elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I've always thought the Starbucks near Potsdammer Platz in Berlin was for the birds -- afterall, I end up arguing with the Baristas here almost every year -- but something happened today that made it all official. A sparrow flew right through the door and landed at my table. "I don't want to ruffle any feathers here," I said loudly, "But either Tweety goes, or I go!" The woman at the next table gave me a look that left no doubt as to who she preferred. I flew the coop. In related news, a Little Birdie invited me to a business dinner tonight at one of my favorite restaurants in Berlin: Guy on Jagerstrasse. Their menu was especially "creative" tonight in honor of their "Jubilee" or ten year anniversary. It started with a peculiar appetizer which the waiter couldn't quite describe.

Me: What is this?!? It looks like crab cakes but tastes like carpaccio.

Waiter: It's Weird.

Me: Yes, I know it's Weird, but what is it ... some kind of meat?

Waiter: Yes, it's Weird.

Me: That's obvious but can you be more specific?

Waiter (exasperated): IT'S WEIRD ...!!!

I later learned that the waiter was trying to tell me that it was veal. The next course (pictured below) was a Tiramisu of Smoked Eel and Pumpernickel with Spicy, Stewed Plums. "How nice," I said as I took my first bite, "We've gone from the Weird to the Bizarre!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It was 'back to the future' this morning as I arrived Berlin and made a bee-line for some of my old haunts ... only to find that they've become haunted by the spectre of "tourism." Take the Berlin Wall (pictured above). For years, segments of the wall have been on display at Potsdamer Platz on what used to be the "East" side of Berlin. Now, a phony East German official stands guard over the area, selling Visas to East Berlin. For a few Euros, he'll stamp your passport and hand you an officer's cap so you can pose for photos in front of the wall. "Come, get a souvenir photo," he said. "No thanks, I'm holding out for the Brooklyn Bridge!," I replied. It was the same story a few blocks away, where a group of Fake Officers (pictured below) barricaded themselves at Checkpoint Charlie. "Come," they cried, "Get a photo!" I ignored them and promptly marched right up to my own, personal Checkpoint: The Starbucks on Friedrichstrasse.