Berlin, Germany- February 2009.
It had been a hectic day already, and Ike and I needed a break- a smoke break that is. We're not proud of it, but we both seem to have a weakness for cigarettes whenever we are in Germany. The band was in town to play a showcase at the Berlin Country Music Messe and both of us needed a break from the completely weird scene. The Messe (Festival), is unlike anything you can imagine. Don't get me wrong, Germans LOVE their country music! And, for the most part, they've got their image right too- with gigantic Stetson hats, expensive (previously) cold-blooded reptile boots, and huge rodeo belt buckles in spades.
But something gets a little warped in the translation. Its like Americana in overdrive and tipped just slightly off center. Along with the sea of cowboys, there are mothers and teenage girls wearing matching Little House on the Prairie dresses. There are the omnipresent rock-a-billy cats in full leathers.
Then there are the mountain men in buckskins, and, strangest of all, the indians. Maybe I'm just oversensitive, but seeing white people dressed up in loin clothes and war paint speaking German totally freaks me out. Anyway, we'd both had enough of it, and pushed outside into the chilly Berlin air to roll up a couple of fine tobacco cigarettes.
There were still a lot of people milling around outside, so I said, "Hey, let's go over and have a smoke by the Wall." I pointed to a stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing as a monument to the cold war 100 yards from the entrance to the Messe. Ike said, "Why the hell not? Yeah let's go." We strolled out the gate over to the remains of the wall.
Looking at it up close, we were both surprised to see how thin it was...