once upon a time, there were two birthdays in berlin….
….i only have a few minutes to write this blog on the plane from berlin to cologne.
i have a neil gaiman sleeping on my shoulder.
i used to live in cologne, when i was 21. i won’t have time to take everybody to the falafel shop where i used to eat every meal, nor to the street where i used to live in the flat with no shower or hot water, nor to the beautiful plaza in front of the cologne catherdal where i was was helping out a street-chalf artist and was offered 50 marks by a nice-looking man if he could take me behind a building and shoot footage of my pretty bare feet for an “art project” he was working on (yeah right). did i do it? hells yeah. was it the easiest 50 marks i ever made in my life? bet yo ass.
instead we’ll be heading straight to the club (everyone else drove from berlin in the van, neil and i flew) and doing the show and heading straight to antwerp tomorrow morning.
april 30th was my birthday. may 2nd was sxip’s birthday.
this is the story of two birthdays in berlin.
the day we got to berlin, we all had a big family dinner and then i went out and got hammered.
it started out very innocently, at my cousin charlie and silke’s house in berlin…with happy german children running around and family and cake:
one of the nicest things about the epic berlin birthday dinner was that my three families collided.
neil and his daughter holly were there, my cousins, and so was my sister and her boyfriend gareth (who’s also a brit, it seems we have a taste for them) and my touring family….jason, sxip and eric. (evelyn evelyn stayed in the van. they hate birthdays, since they have very bad associations with them). our friends elyas (from nervous cabaret) and his wife melissa stopped by. everyone brought wine.
everybody ate and drank and it was very beautiful.
i hadn’t seen my cousin charlie in a while, he’s british. he married a german, silke. they’re wonderful and they have a wee bairn, named freddy. they made amazing cake. we ate it.
my sister came all the way from holland. i love her. it was such a happy time.
then my friend mat devine from the band kill hannah stopped by, since his band was playing in berlin that night, and he invited me to go over to the gig with him and sing a cure song.
to which i said HELL YES.
neil had driven all through the wee hours of the morning and hit a stag on the way, which crushed the front of his rental car, then he’d flown to gatwick, taken a bus to heathrow, and flew to berlin to meet me. he was shaken and very tired.
he passed on the rock party and we went back to our hotel for a minute to catch a breather and while we were there, he played me the birthday song he’d written me on a brand-new beautiful ukulele (with a pick-up!) that he bought me in scotland for my birthday.
it is, i think, probably the best song ever written, and i think i am the luckiest girl alive on the earth to have found a man who wakes up at 1:30 in the morning to get to me on my birthday and also brings with him a song that makes me cry. i love him so much. i should have stayed in the hotel and gone to bed with him. but instead, he slept; i raged.
we started out at white trash (berlin’s punky chinese-banquet hall cum irish pub ex-pat meeting point), where i did indeed sing “just like heaven” with kill hannah (hopefully it’ll show up on youtube at some point), and began my slow descent to the bottom of an endless barrel of weissbier, my vice.
this is holly gaiman and mat devine from kill hannah at white trash, communing with the fish:
then kill hannah drove away to amsterdan to make their next night’s gig and me, holly, sxip, jason and melissa hit THE BANG BANG CLUB….
(here’s holly, vogueing)….
where sue denim, my new london friend from robots in disguise was DJing…..
and we danced and danced and danced and i got closer to the bottom of my weissbier barrel….and twittered this picture of my hand in the men’s bathroom:
this is about the last thing i remember.
i shouldn’t say too much more except that i never did find my shirt or my coat.
may day (may 1st) was spent in bed, sometimes i got up to visit the toilet (read into that what you will, but for the sake of my mother, i will not tell you what i was doing there).
i also managed to play the best gig of the tour. funny how that works.
the berlin audience was absolutely astounding.
here’s tour manager eric (fixing something, of course), myself, sxip, and jason…
photo by nicole richwald
there was a running joke throughout the gig involving a large blue bucket being placed at the side of the keyboard.
our wonderful in-house evelyn evelyn german translator gave me a wonderful book of german-translated amanda palmer & dresden dolls & evelyn evelyn songs, and i gave “elephant elephant” a crack in german, which…sort of worked!
it was also sxip’s birthday on the 2nd so we celebrated early with cake, which i was not allowed to eat, because that would have been a waste.
then i slept again for a long, long time.
when i woke up neil and i hit the beautiful wreckage of day-after-may-day in berlin.
he had a stand-off with a mannequin.
they checked out each other’s hair:
i twittered this photo and someone informed me that these were costumes for turkish boys to wear on the day of their circumcisions.
german flea-markets are amazing. we don’t have anything like them in the states. i miss them.
i bought a new coat for 3 euros.
it is gold.
we searched the whole flea market looking for several items, including a coat (found, obviously), a hat for jason webley (we couldn’t find one), and most important….a birthday present for sxip.
sxip shirey makes odd music out of odd objects.
we assumed that if we looked long and hard enough we would find a good noise-making object at the flea market.
so we picked 5, and we went on a hunt for something to attach them to, so we could make an instrument.
we tried lots of different plumbing parts but wound up settling on a candlestick that was the perfect width and height.
we bought an extra piece of copper piping for the bell that would go on the top.
then we went to find a workshop in which to assemble our gift.
kreuzberg is beautiful. berlin is beautiful.
nearby there were people drinking beer and coffee on the canal. you cannot hear the techno from this picture, but it was loud:
….and then it was DONE.
we were very proud of our creation. i believe it is a kind of homage to yellow submarine, what with it’s periscopic qualities and cheerful colorings.
i love this picture:
we called it …..
…and joined all of our friends. jason webley showed up a few minutes later with HIS gift….a giant platter of WÜRSTCHEN (those famous german “wee” sausages)
that spelled out sxip’s name atop a platter of MEAT:
neil and sxip tried the sausages.
jason laughed at them.
ha ha ha ha ha.
i did not try the sausages.
then we presented sxip with his fine new instrument:
would he like it? we waited to see.
yes! he loved it very much.
many drinks were drank.
the cheese pile grew thin.
and then he and jason webley wrote a song together…for guitar and SXIPENSPEIL.
in the middle here is the beautiful lesley dean, my old american friend who’s lived in berlin for a long time:
she used to brigade a lot for the dresden dolls. she sat in the middle of a jason and amanda songwriting fervor as we finally wrote the “evelyn evelyn” birthday song that will go out to the 100+ people who ordered it in the BIG bundle o’ stuff. the song is very awesome. i think the twins will love recording it so very many times for so many expectant people.
and then the sun went down
….and we all lived happily ever after.