Exposure № 029: Tacheles

Tacheles, Berlin. This is the scene behind the former department store-turned squat cum artist’s co-op. This is far from a new story, but it bears telling anyway. After the Wall came down, artists and punks and all kinds of loveable vagrants fled – not away from the former East, but toward it, sniffing out deserted real estate and setting up utopian enclaves organized around loosely defined principles of freedom and independence and anti-establishment glee.  Tacheles isn’t unique in that respect. It is unique for the concentration of artists who set up workshops and actually produced art (as well as living in an almost performance-art style, not wholly private, not wholly public), but also for the nearly legitimate businesses that inhabited the space alongside the decidedly illegal residents – a cinema and a couple of cafes conducted business in the building that previously housed the department store.

Sadly Tacheles has lost its uniqueness as a squat that had survived gentrification. It was one of the last really well known squats standing until a few months ago when the owner of the real estate began making moves to uproot the inhabitants. This has been happening all over Berlin for years, but Tacheles seemed, to some, untouchable. Finally, the cafes and cinema up and left and eventually the city stepped in to help the owner of the property root out the artists and – with a touch of tragic irony – build a wall to keep them out.

This photo dates from January 2011, when Tacheles was still inhabited, though very quiet. Shot on 35mm Fuji Velvia 100 and cross-processed, which accounts for the rosy hue. Fitting, I thought.

Irish Balderdash: Moss-Side (Co. Antrim)


girl from the village that was named in her memory wanted to help feed her family. She often accidentally killed garden plants and disliked killing animals, so was at a loss. She asked a neighbor for help and was told to hunt mushrooms. The woman warned of poison mushrooms that like sunshine and said to search the shady side of the trees. The girl frowned, confused. The crone explained, “The Moss-Side, silly girl!”

The girl found five lonely toadstools and thought they needed tasting before serving. Clutching her throat, she gasped “but they were on the Moss-Side!” and died.

by Emily E. Jones

100 Words: Arenicola marina


he was feeling broody again. She walked further out than usual, still parallel to the coast, but not on the beach, as such. At low tide, she saw clumps of purple laver and bladderwrack, words she had recently learned. She thought, What are these piles of sandy spaghetti? Later she read that these were left by lugworms digging burrows in the sand. Lugworms are self-sufficient. They’re not picky, eating what’s handy. They can reproduce without help. That would simplify things. They have a long lifespan. For a worm. There are worse things to be than a lugworm, she thought.

by Emily E. Jones

An Aphorism: on snakebite


lways carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and, furthermore, always carry a small snake.

W.C. Fields

An Aphorism: on getting older

ne has undeniably left childhood, adolescence, and even college-age behind when one begins to say “in 2003” instead of “eight years ago.”  There weren’t always enough years past that it was necessary to refer to them by name.

Near misses

e told me one day about their first kiss.

Six years ago they had been walking along the water and the sun had been winking every few minutes from behind the swiftly passing clouds. Suddenly, a cloud paused, then decided to stay put. Wind, a sheer drop in temperature, rain. They ran to the shelter of a very large, very leafy willow tree and stood very close together on the bridge beneath. She cuddled against him and after an anxious pause, he turned her face toward his and kissed her, softly.

*     *     *

Once we went out for falafel and sat on a rickety bench outside the cafe. While we ate and talked and laughed, the sky clouded over and it started to rain. The lip of the roof covered our heads and we were protected until the hail came. Then it ricocheted off passing cars, off of the table in front of us, off of us. We ran inside to finish eating and the proprietor of the cafe gave us free tea for our trouble.

*     *     *

A few weeks later, we were walking along the water and came to that familiar willow tree. “One year ago, today,” he said. One year ago, what? I wondered, but he didn’t elaborate. Then we went to sit on the dock. While we ate our ice cream and talked and laughed, the sky clouded over and threatened rain, but held off while he told me about their last kiss.

They had been out dancing and she had driven him home. They talked quietly for a few minutes, holding hands, and watching the sky. He kissed her and started to leave, but she held on to his hand as the first drops spattered the windshield. “We have to talk,” she had said, her voice very soft and still. The rain fell harder and streaked down the windows as she calmly explained why she would never kiss him again, never see him again. He slammed the door behind him and walked the last blocks through the rain. That was one year ago.

*     *     *

Weeks later, we had just finished dinner. It had been raining since we sat down at the table. As we finished and washed the dishes, it stopped and the purple of a late sunset crept across receding clouds. When it was dark, we went to stand on the balcony and watch the sky.

“What star is that?” he asked.

“Venus, I think.”

“And there’s der grosse Wagen. What do you call it?”

“Big Dipper. Or the Drinking Gourd. There’s a song about it… Follow the Drinking Gourd. Slaves apparently sang it on their way north. Follow the north star.”

I paused and felt the weight of five-years of failed meteorologically-determined romance hanging in the damp air, making the space between us somehow denser, more impassable.

“Random thought, sorry.”

“I thought it fit very well, just now,” he said.

For a moment I was sad it had stopped raining. We stood in silence, watching the sky. We stood very close together, almost touching. But I did not cuddle against him. He did not kiss me.

An Aphorism: on adulthood

Brother-in-law: I just had myself convinced I was more mature than I am.

Me: I think that’s the definition of adulthood.

Exposure № 001: Blaue Hortensie

Rilke wrote a beautiful poem about a blue hydrangea, fading from summer’s bright blue to fall’s brown brittleness.  He hints at sadness and death and decay and destruction. What this poem puts me in mind of, however, is that right now we need its reverse to start happening – the dead and decayed should come back to life and the brown brittleness should start to suck energy and color back out of the soil.  In short, it should be spring soon.

Dr. Hurley’s Tonic № 002

A warming tonic for cold Winter nights spent in with your feet propped up.

  • 1 ounce ruby port
  • 1.5 ounces bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Stir together maple syrup and orange bitters, add a large ice cube (as large as possible), pour port and bourbon over the ice.

Dr. Hurley’s Tonic № 001

For the alleviation of stress and induction of jollity at the end of a stressful day:

  • one ounce bourbon whiskey
  • four ounces ginger ale

Stir together with ice, crushed or cubed, according to your pleasure.