Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Post tITLED: NON-FICTION, 2 DAYS AGO: Hitting the ground running in search of BITTE ORCA at Berlin, Alexanderplatz.
Kind of a mini example of like exactly like what is wrong with everyting on a much larger scale... (oR a sampling of my place in the universe of man?)
I went to a few of the larger media stores at Alexanderplatz a few days ago looking for the new Dirty Projectors' album BITTE ORCA. Found nothing. Not even old DP albums. All I found was a place-holder for where their cds should've been.

Two days later paperpools emails me: "Did you see this?"
link to the guardian, (which I hadn't seen yet because, unfortunately, I rarely read the guardian because I am 100% addicted to NPR) anyhow: that article informed me realized that the album came out on June 8th-

Just wanted to point out here:
in the United States, (or in Seattle in-paricular) there would've been no question about where to find it. There were always at least 2 record stores within 15 minutes of my apartment no matter where I lived in the city, but for some reason in Berlin (which I'd otherwise consider to be one of -if not THEEE- major cultural capitals of the world at the moment- it is damn near impossible to find a good little record store.)

But still: Saturn, the HUGE new Saturn at Alexanderplatz, (one of the most popular shopping hubs in the center of one of Europe's largest
cities!) is carrying a mere 4 copies of the album tucked away in its "Independent" section- behind (ok, next-to) the Star Wars bobble-heads and Metallica Death Magnetic t-shirts in plastic bags. What the heck, guys?!? It isn't anywhere on (or even NEAR) the "Neuheiten" (New Releases) wall, which is overflowing with the likes of Depeche Mode (DISCLOSURE: I like DM) and about a dozen other completely crap pop acts.

Wow, folks... wow.
This is an obvious point, a point too obvious to even blog about- but too important to igore... the fact that the Dirty Projectors,
a truly great act producing wonderful music that sometimes sounds like pop, is nearly invisible and unplayed outside the indie-rock-o-sphere.
Honestly, I wasn't really even expecting to FIND the Bitte Orca there at all -I EXPECTED to leave the store empty-handed or simply with some old Erykah Badu album on sale for 4,99 (that happens).
but since the top No.3 slot the NEUHEITEN wall was empty I plopped BITTE ORCA in there in hopes that an employee might have an epiphany or some poor lost little German soul might happen across it...

I Saw the Dirty Projectors 4 times here in late 2007/early 2008 and it left a huge impression on me. I'd never seen anything like them on stage, as I have blogged and blogged again- in terms of pop-rock, they were like sitting in the cockpit of the Sonic Millennium Falcon at unsyncapated mathematical lightspeed. Their shows made my eyes cry, like people cry at weddings just because they were so damn beautiful.
Initially I happened upon them when they opened up for Beirut, and then again at Dave Shrigley's WORRIED NOODLES show in Festsaal Kreuzberg (went alone to that because no one would come out into the cold) then WEST GERMANY (dragged half a dozen people along that time and showed up 3 hours too early: ) and then at the Maximum Black Festival.
As I bought cds at shows encountering their recorded music was interesting at first because at the time all I wanted to hear were the goosebump-inducing RISE ABOVE tracks they'd played live (but that CD wasn
't out yet) so I fell in love with New Attitude, and over time the Getty Address has become a favorite... and I am not trying to listen to Bitte Orca in moderation so I don't burn-out on it simply by over-listening.

aiaiaiai, folks, aiaiaiaiaiaiaiiiiii....

today is a schizo-weather Wednesday... so so so:

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Anonymous z said...

First of all, I'd like to apologise for again writing such a long comment, but my question is, would these "record stores within 15 minutes of my apartment" in question be anything like Saturn, or more like your small neighbourhood record shop where the geeks and freaks would hand out? (Please tell me, there still is such thing in Seattle...)

Saturn (no matter how huge the new one at Alexanderplatz is) is, let's face it, a Wal-mart for electronic goods. I guess Wal-mart (never been at one) does have a book section, too. So, if you want to buy a book about...let's say... Nietzsche, Freud or Adorno, you will probably go to a proper bookstore, not Wal-mart. People at Saturn & Media-Markt (both owned by the Metro Group which is kind of like Germany's Walmart) are not interested in music, they are interested in selling stuff. Bands like Dirty Projectors are not shipping units, they rather take away space from artists... well, more likely to ship units. Ask yourself how much percent the CD-Abteilung at Saturn is making a day compared to selling flat screen televisions, notebooks, huge coffee-machines, vacuum cleaners etc. I feel like people working at the Saturn CD-Abteilung would probably sell umbrellas with the same amount of passion.

There's got to be a nice little neighbourhoodly record store somewhere in Berlin. If you'd live in sunny southern Freiburg (> 200.000 inhabitants) or in Muenster (> 250.000) I could easily tell you where to find such nice record stores with people who care about good music (and I don't even live there).

Also, I can remember you writing a post about the glory of shopping in 24 hour open-stores in general and some former eastern-bloc-country a while ago. I wrote a reply, stating that your german girlfriend/wife is right, and why this won't work in Germany, why germans don't like to go shopping on sundays, and why I think one should not support such thing in the first place (mostly women working in german department stores/supermarkets, and we all know what a hustle it is combining family life and work already), but then didn't post it, because I didn't want to come of like some sort of wise-ass, again. I understand that, when you grow up in the US (or in an US-oriented environment) you get used to these things, because everything is so damn convenient, and then they seem perfectly normal to you, so why question them... But to me this seems like a very American thing, this whole "consumer paradise" attitude to get everything everywhere, at any time (and basically any cost). ruining smaller shops while others become bigger and bigger, working late hours, working 2-3 jobs to support a family, kids being raised by television becoming dysfunctional adults barely able to take care of themselves – it all seems so cliché, but we all know this is a reality these days and more and more becoming a reality in Germany too. I share your feeling that things are going in a wrong direction, but some things just don't go together that well, and for me I've come to the conclusion, that some music (other than Depeche Mode) is just not meant... for the masses, and not to go to Saturn to buy CDs.

And on Berlin being a cultural capital – I'm sure Berlin is a vibrant and interesting place to live, especially for artists, but also pretty much broke ("poor but sexy"). If Berlin was Europe’s cultural capital, the city major Klaus Wowereit - a lovely person and being a Berlin native probably the best ambassador the city of Berlin could hope for – would not run the town's cultural office himself, because this is a full time job on its own. Maybe they simply can't afford another person’s salary. No, just kidding. Three years ago there were long discussions about which opera house to keep and which one to shut down because of financial shortcomings, people being hired and fired, and in the end, Wowereit said, f*** it...I gonna do it myself. :)

12:50 pm  
Anonymous z said...

oh, and thanks for mentioning npr that often on your blog, i previously was not aware of all the goodies there.

12:55 pm  
Blogger "Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

no need to apologize, Z, I trslly like your comments, they are long and thourogh and very well thought-out.
TO respond in order:
Yes, Seattle still has many great small record stores full of great music from all over. I don't know if geeks hang out there but the staff are generally extremely knowledgable.
I haven't been to Wal-Mat either.
Saturn probably doesn't make too much money off their CD collection, maybe a better test would be Dussmann on Freidrichstrasse-? (Why didn't I think of that???)
Yes, 24-hour anything is definitely not cool for people who work there.
I feel like the city it is a world cultural capital not because of the official theatres and operas (I personally think Opera should be put into a museum, actually) but of the kind of creative people that Belin attracts and the sorts fo things they do while living in the city- art and music adn events and the like, things that have nothing to do with any government organization at all. As an American one grows up seeing the art and music programs in Elementary-Jr.High-High schools being the very first to get cut when money gets tight (god forbid they cut sports programmes, i.e. football) so one never expects any help or money from the government with art endeavours, at least in my experience it is every man for himself (with the exception of creative collaboration and mutual suppoert for good work) so, yea, honestly I am not to aware of what Wowi is up to besides being an adorable sort of Alec Baldwin look-alike.

dO YOU HAVE A BLOG, Z? email me:

12:14 am  

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