Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ich Bin ein Berliner!

You may remember that Le Palais Royal gardens are currently being redone (well it's actually the Buren columns that are being fixed) but they still have exhibits there. The current one is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall fall. It's a fantastic exhibit with captivating pieces of art (see my little Animoto here). I was fortunate enough to find myself in Berlin in November 89 when they torn down the wall and it's one of my best memories.


  1. Black and white was the perfect choice for this picture. I love the reflection in the glass and the fact that the subject is off center.

  2. My brother was in the service then and was allowed to bring a piece of it home to my mother. Her parents were German immigrants. She treasures that piece of cement that had divided the cousins!
    Great B&W, Eric.


  3. A bit of a grim photo but it makes us appreciate the “end” of those times the more.

    The end of the cold war 20 years ago obviously terrified the leaders of the military-industrial complex who promptly engaged in localized but hot wars. It’s all about profits, is it not?

    I have fond memories of the Buren Columns, having initiated a friendship with someone sitting atop one.

  4. Cool Pic Eric. I watched the "Home" film tonight,puts a whole new outlook on turning the key in the car or switching on the T.V or Computer. The soundtrack was very haunting and the photography awesome.Yann is very talented and you are very inspiring. You obviously touch the lives of many around the world and you have inspired me.Thank -you

  5. Yes very grim but I guess fitting. Black & white is perfect for it. Colour would have been so wrong somehow.
    So, tell us what it was like, Eric, being there. I've often wondered. The atmosphere, was it emotional? Happy? What? Did you get a piece of wall? I know, I always have too many questions.
    It's difficult for me, you see, I was only little when it all happened... uh? WHAT? :) Pah! Who am I kidding. You and I Eric, same age.

  6. I wish they would just take these things down! Most everywhere else in Paris, the modern blends beautifully with the ancien, but I can't say that I've ever warmed up to these odd looking black and white things.

  7. Incidentally regarding Obama, I think if there are any clever political types in Paris someone should ask him where the $12 trillion in bailouts have gone to. The answer of course is they've gone to his banker friends primarily. The change from Bush to Obama really shows that le plus qu'il se change, le plus que c'est la meme chose.

  8. I remember watching on TV in 1989: the party atmosphere around the wall, the excitement as it came down. Eric, tell us a little about what it was like, will you? It must have been thrilling.

  9. Eric,
    I was a counselor for an international exchange program at the time. That night, my house was full of young people from France, Belgium, the UK, Africa, Japan, and yes, Germany. I will never forget that experience--thank you for the reminder.
    Angela Bell

  10. Cue the music i.e., Cat Stevens' "Peace Train". Indeed stellar memories for you Eric. Like Petrea I'd love to hear more. As for the Buren columns, they do certainly stand out like old prisoner uniforms on Enron execs, but count me in the crowd that actually doesn't mind them so much. They're in Paris and that's good enough pour moi. :-)

  11. Er.. by the way, by black & white things, I meant the colonnes de Buren.

  12. Oh, fantastic. And you have stirred up some interesting comments here. Petrea is right; it would be wonderful to have more of your memories of that historic time.

  13. A friend of mine, when hearing the very beginning of the news, jumped on his bike, drove straight to Berlin,(no cellphone at that time so no news from him).
    And he arrived, as he said, right when the "party" was at its best, exhausted, tired, hungry and dirty but SOOOOO happy to be part of history !!

  14. What a fantastic experience. You are so lucky.

  15. OK quick, I'll tell you a little more for I have to go voting.

    I woke up early on November 9th and saw on TV that they had open the border between East and West Berlin.
    Having been to Berlin several times before as a student I had this particular connection about this city and its inhabitants and, to me, this news was really hard to believe - and extremely moving too.

    Anyway, I woke up my wife (ex now) and told her the news. I said "why don't we go?". She said "why not?" (You also have to know txhat in France November 11 is a holiday, so it would make it easier to go).

    All day I looked for a plane ticket but there was absolutely no way I could find one. I managed to book a hotel near the Gedächtniskirche, though.

    We decided to take the car although Berlin is pretty far away from Paris (a little less than a 1 000 miles). We slept @ Heidelberg and arrived in Berlin on the 11th in the morning, which, was a Saturday.

    I will never forget the huge - I'm talking huge!" lines of cars (East German cars, the famous Trabant) before reaching the Berlin border.

    Once in the city it was absolutely amazing. People were so happy, partying, drinking... I even remember a guy playing the saxo ON the wall. Something totally unthinkable a few years earlier of course.

    The most amazing for me also was to be able to cross the border between the eastern part and the western party pretty easily (there were still checks, but nothing comparable to what it used to be). Before, crossing the border was a really frightening experience.

    The one thing I regret is not to have taken a piece of the wall. Several people did it, but you could also hear a lot of Germans arguing about the people who did it.

    I thought to myself that it was not my country, therefore I had no right "stealing" something that belongs to them! (Yeah, blame it on my education!!)

    Anyway. It was a fascinating experience, I will remember it all my life.

    I do have photos, but this one is the only one I managed to dig out. I'm sure I will find more one day...

    I have several photos, but so Far I have

  16. Yeah those days were fantastic and very special - thank you Eric for sharing your story, it's a fantastic one !

    I love the animoto and the music is SO well chosen - this is one of those extra special PDP days ;-)

  17. Wow that's really special Eric to hear it first hand from you and to see the great photo - was a marvellous background and of course handsome you has not changed a bit.

    Shame you haven't got 'the wall' in your home, but you did the honourable thing, which is even better :)

    Please share more stories on occasions, Eric, where appropriate - I love them.

  18. By the way a husband who wakes up and says "Hey shall we fly to Germany/elsewhere?" on a whim is a CATCH!

  19. Oh, Eric, of Course you were there!! : ) What a fascinating glimpse of that time -- and of you at the wall. It must have been wild. Thanks so much for giving us that story. Today's photo is wonderful also. History is so important to our understanding of ourselves.

  20. PHX - have a kir for me - I must let down my half of the channeling today and fly away home. : ( But you'll hold up your end for both of us, I'm sure! Have a lovely time. And, same to Cali and Monica (are you still in Paris?) and any other PDPers in the city of light.

  21. Carrie: I will have to follow in your footsteps and have a Paris day in NYC.

    Eric: you made the falling of the Berlin wall more real for me. Even better to get a picture of you and graffiti in the same picture!My fav's.

    Did another Paris-walk: Montparness area then Luxembourg gardens. Went to the musee Zadkine,even tho Mr. Phx went kicking and screaming as he thought it was an exhibition of Paper(he didn't see that it was works ON paper)and accused me of wanting to go to a museum of forks and spoons if there was one. He walked out charmed by the art works(bronze wood AND paper) and the setting. A little jewel of a place.

    PDPers The longer I'm here, the more I come to realize how our Eric has his finger on the pulse of this city.

  22. I was going to get sentimental about our super day with Guillemette at the Buren Columns, Eric and the totally excellent photos that Michael took of us which I posted Tuesday, 14 October 2008.

    But having read your astounding piece of history I can only agree with Lynn. What an incredible act of spontaneity to rush over to Berlin and to be a part of history.
    Those memories will linger in your soul forever and the saxophonist on The Wall will simply haunt you for a long long time.

    Seems like, - 'tout le monde est d'accord avec toi'.

  23. PS: It is Mother's Day here in France, and if your mother is like mine, she doesn't mind being feted on as many occasions as possible. So, happy Mother's day to all the mothers out there in PDPland.

  24. By the way a husband who wakes up and says "Hey shall we fly to Germany/elsewhere?" on a whim is a CATCH!

    Lynn, I totally agree with you!

  25. lol Anonyme... Where IS he? I'm still looking...

    Thanks Phx I'll take that! :D

  26. Beautiful story and words, Eric. Thank you for sharing it.
    I am sure you could tell so many of what you witnessed till now in your life and this one is just an extraordinary piece.
    I really love the context in which you learnt the news and then shared them with your wife. I so wish I could have shared the same thing but nope. Nobody woke me up like that... :)
    I can imagine the excitement you felt before arriving there, the pleasure to be in Berlin at this precise time and the memories you now keep for ever. Good initiative you had.
    BTW, great photo of you in front of the wall, 20 years younger and as nice as now :)

    I recently talked with people who went back from Berlin for business and enjoyed very much the city.
    I thought to myself that Berlin was certainly not the most touristic city in Europe but I'd be very interested in a little visit there one day.
    I have so much to discover and how late I am...

  27. Eric, what a fantastic story. It must have been a thrill to be there! Maybe I saw you on TV. I sure remember seeing that party on the wall. I watched it through happy tears.

  28. By the way a husband who wakes up and says "Hey shall we fly to Germany/elsewhere?" on a whim is a CATCH!

    Lynn, I totally agree with you!

    Lynn a dit...

    lol Anonyme... Where IS he? I'm still looking...

    Anonyme ~ V a dit...

    Lynn, does he even exist? I often wonder. Of course there is proof. There is Eric, far away in Paris.

  29. Thank you so much for sharing your story and photo of that historic day, Eric! Very moving.

  30. Lol Anonyme ~ V. I did have a Swiss boyfriend who would send air tickets over to me as a surprise, to visit him. That was great and my first husband would surprise me with beautiful things.
    The one who would wake us up and suggest hopping on a plane somewhere that day, though, well he has to be something rare - but then we knew that didn't we ;)

  31. "BTW, great photo of you in front of the wall, 20 years younger and as nice as now :) "

    Er... Look at my hair. It was brown at that time LOL

  32. Ausgezeichnet foto! I visited friends in Ost-Berlin and went thru Checkpoint Charlie a few times . . .
    Must have been a cool exhibit! Bonjour d'EAGAN daily photo