Erich Mühsam and the Berlin Idea Factory

By Michael Lederer

Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) was a German-Jewish antimilitarist anarchist essayist, poet, and playwright. I can check most of those boxes. I tried anarchy in my 20s; it didn’t fit. And while my maternal grandparents were German, I started life in New Jersey.

Since 2003, I have maintained my writing office, research library, and a small performance space in the same building in Berlin where Mühsam worked and lived with his wife Zenzl. Alt-Lietzow 12. There is a plaque dedicated to Mühsam beneath my window. His spirit is everywhere here. He sat where I sit. Climbed the steps I climb. Feared what I fear.

The author Michael Lederer looking out of Erich Mühsam’s old window photo credit: Katarina Lederer

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When the News Was True: The Post

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Newspapers always make good movies: the dare-devil reporter, the overachieving assistant, and the crusty editor up against the power of a dishonest government. There is wonderful symbolism in the heavy lead type spelling out a scandal and the broad sheets of newsprint rolling off the presses to cover the nation. The audience is assured that the truth will come out.

The publication of the Pentagon Papers is a perfect crusading newspaper story. It starts with the intellectual, once hawkish, Marine veteran stealing and photocopying secret papers and giving them to The New York Times for publication, revealing 30 years of the government misleading the populace about the Vietnam War. The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg, begins in Chapter 2, with editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) frustrated and embarrassed by having been scooped, once again, by The Times. When the government gets an injunction, barring The Times from further publication, The Post, in the words of Bradlee, is “in the game.”

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An Earth-Day-and-World-Book-Day Bloem

By Maryann Henck

Nature doesn’t really care whether there are human beings or not.
I’m sorry to break this to you.
– Margaret Atwood

Wood
photo credit : Lawrence Murray

I’m not sure what I need to comment on first – the bloem or that wry, newsflashy quote. Let’s start off with the easy things first – the quote. Canadian environmental activist and contemporary Scheherazade, Margaret Atwood, really knows how to drive her point home and reverse perspectives. Isn’t it utterly refreshing to hear Nature’s point-of-view? Although She may not care about our existence, we should definitely be concerned about Hers – especially on Her special day – April 22 – a.k.a. Earth Day!

Books
Source : Only Lovers Left Alive

Now you might be wondering what a bloem is or maybe you’ve already guessed by now that it’s a portmanteau or a blend – a word formed by clipping two words and then merging them: blog + poem = bloem. If you ask me, it’s quite a simple equation and an appropriate tribute to World Book Day, which happens to be on April 23. If you’re interested in words, literature, the future of books, and their connection to the environment – for there is one – then you are cordially invited to sample my bloem, “The Future of the Library: The Future Library,” which serves as an appetizer for the main course, an interview with Margaret Atwood about this fascinating literary and environmental project.

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“Who’s Afraid of a Shower Curtain?” How Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Changed the Movie Industry and our Bathroom Habits

By Pia Buchty

“Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they

have when they wake up from a nightmare.”

Alfred Hitchcock

                         

 

A beautiful blonde woman takes a relaxing shower, somebody enters the room, positions himself behind the shower curtain, then there’s a knife and shrieking violins. Does that ring a bell?

To this day, Alfred Hitchcock is considered one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, and his masterpiece, Psycho (1960), has become part of our collective memory. Especially the shower scene is often described as the most powerful and haunting scene in film history. Since the release of Psycho, not a single year has gone by in which the movie – and especially its one-of-a-kind three-minute shower sequence – has not been referenced, imitated, or parodied in popular culture. What is it about that scene that causes people to look three ways before taking a shower? Well, for one the bathroom – normally associated with privacy and safety – turns into an anxiety-inducing place where danger lurks behind the shower curtain. Anything could happen here – and apparently sometimes does.

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Cozy Horror – Stranger Things

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Image credit: Netflix

The title font, reminiscent of 1980s horror-thriller novels, buzzes over the flat screen TV or laptop monitor to the eerily pulsating beat of electronic music. We could pause and quickly answer a WhatsApp message before the episode starts. After all, this is 2018, and we’re streaming via Netflix. But wait, is it really 2018? I’m not so sure anymore. Put your smartphone away, it might as well be…

1983 in a normal American small town called Hawkins. On the way home from a nicely nerdy night of playing Dungeons and Dragons in a cozy basement with his three best friends, twelve-year-old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) encounters a strange thing and disappears without a trace. Will’s worried single mother Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) turns to local Police Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) – a guy whose morning grooming ritual includes beer and cigarettes and who at first doesn’t take the case seriously. But Will’s friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) take matters like these seriously and into their own young hands. While searching for their missing friend, they encounter Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), a mysterious girl with a shaved head and the number 11 tattooed on her arm. The trio will soon find out that these features are not the strangest things about the girl. This American small town with a secretive research lab nearby may not be so normal after all, and even a reluctant Chief Hopper comes to realizes that stranger things of a paranormal nature are afoot in Hawkins. Read more »

If You’re a Star…

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Photo credit: caccamo “Walk of Fame – Hollywood 2”

 “If you’re a star, they’ll let you do it,” Donald Trump explained in his boastful account of casual assault on women. This rant, known as the Access Hollywood tape, was released years after he said it, during his presidential campaign. It did not, however, keep him from becoming President. He was right about the privilege of stardom. We are a country that protects power, whether it’s the star, the producer, the tycoon, or the supervisor in the department store in Topeka, Kansas. Women learn early: disrespect power at your own risk.

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