All Empires Must Fall...
Goff and Rosenthal Berlin
January 11 - February 15, 2008
The past now stands before thee like an incarnation of the to-come...
Hellas, William Percy Shelley, 1821.
You wanted me to write all of this down, to record every facet of my experience in Berlin so that you could see it through my eyes. But as I became engrossed in the work, boxes lost, art broken, and lighting in jeopardy, It became impossible record anything because I was living it so intensely.
I do remember climbing the rickety construction scaffolding to the roof with Mike and Sven in a desperate attempt to video the sunset. The roofs in Berlin have the tallest chimneys. Better than Mary Poppins or Peter Pan, it wasn't about a cloudless sunset with postcard perfect reds, oranges, and yellows. We wanted to capture that silvery dull grayish blue. And we wanted it to dim imperceptibly slow, as long as we could stand the cold and vertigo.
I realized that the show was about the experience of trying to express an idea. We were glowing up there above Berlin, because we were thousands of miles from home, and alive, and brothers in that moment.
Trying to explain to Doreen, or the lighting guy, that I didn't want the ambient light to be "Las Vegas" but "the feeling you get when you are reading and the sun is veiled by plodding clouds" was so incredibly frustrating, but I loved every minute of it. Embarrassed at my lack of German, I didn't have the words, but I had the fervent desire for them to share my idea, to simply TRY to communicate my ineffable dream.
In 1986 music was my armor. If you read the song titles on the armor you'll know how hard that year was for me: "Hell comes to your house", "Too much to young", "Who can you believe in", "Stolen youth", "Many rivers to cross." As traumatic as my adolescence was, through music it was also ecstatic. Going to shows, dressing Mod or SKA, playing with The Reply, I felt like I belonged to something so much bigger than myself. We drove all night home after our three am set at CBGB's victorious, jubilant, and so alive.
I marvel that the year was one of my blackest and most despairing, but looking back on it it was also strangely beautiful. The sorrow and confusion I felt has somehow transformed into some of the qualities I like most about myself. This is why I think I went to Berlin, because I want to communicate the mysterious beauty of this transformation and in the process somehow understand it better myself.