beneath the 747

report about my 36 hours trip to speyer. all names are fictional, all actions and observations exaggerated, rude, biased or simply not true.

it was after a full week of family gatherings, round birthday celebrations, the usual social christmas hell, annoyed relatives, annoying relatives and other relatively annoying days in my hometown that i decided i really needed a break from this atmosphere so i wouldn’t turn insane or into a serial killer.

egon, a friend of mine whom i had met around a year ago, filmmaker, bohemian, bon vivant, almost neighbor in kreuzberg – organises a small film festival in the lovely medieval city of speyer together with old friends every year between christmas and new years: the grande filiale.

i had been there already a year before and remembered good artsy films and amazing white wine. i also knew that egon’s flatmate neal from berlin would be in town, so i decided to pay them a visit in speyer, enjoy films and have some drinks.

after a long hot shower and a quick cold walk through the rain i sat in the train to speyer – across the imaginary palatine border of the rhine river – through a wet and starless evening.

the arrival in speyer was already strange, because it felt warmer and dryer here than home, although it’s only 27km away. i walked through the old town towards the famous medieval cathedral – all shops, restaurants and the christmas market were closed and the few people on the streets were obviously all tourists mumbling european languages and staring in awe at the old catholic romanic cathedral with its kaiser graves. a gloomy post-christmas vibe was in the air, this hesitant moment between the fest feast food mayhem and the melancholic new years anxiety.

beyond the cathedral i walked down, past the old museum, along the empty and wet motorway feeder road with its lonely traffic lights staring into the night until i saw the silhouette of the boeing 747 clinging to the cloudy nightsky frozen in timespace. the closer i got the clearer i saw that lufthansa jumbo looming over the railway bridge – chased by a vintage propeller chase rising up vertically in wintery twilight.

right below the frozen 747 – in front of the discarded metal guardian aeroplanes of the technology museum – i saw the huge advertisement billboard of the «casa dom» – desperately waiting for prospects for the countless free square meters of desolated old furniture showroom space: the venue of this year’s «grande filiale».

greeted by wildly swarming fireflies of blaze from the burning trash bin in front of «casa dom» heralding the post-apocalyptic spirit yet to come, i snapped away my cigarette stub and entered the furniture showroom.

there they were already – egon and neal – talking with gump at the entrance desk. hello, nice to see you, welcome, handshakes, hugs and grins were exchanged. egon snickered, gump gave me his typical askant glance and neal already had an ominous glassy look in his eyes.

the atmosphere in the venue was quite cozy. selfmade wooden walls all around, lit by blurry and warm slide projections, disrupted by installation made from old plastic chairs, vinyl records or christmas tree lights. across the room grandma’s couch furniture, chairs and a small platform in front of a huge german landscape painting invited to relax, pretty palatine youngsters served beer, coke and schorle at the bar – canopied by coloured baloons.

in the next moment i already had number one in my hand. the infamous palatine schorle. high class traditional white wine spritzed with a spark of fizzy water, served in a half liter tumbler glass. sounds innocent? big mistake, foreigner!

i sat down in the cinema room to watch davide manuli «la leggenda di kaspar hauser» but unfortunately the organisers had problems with the provided copy of the film, so egon switched to plan b: werner herzog’s early work «even dwarfs started small» – a disturbing parable shot in black and white about a group of dwarfs confined in a spanish finca style institution in a remote deserted volcanic southern land who start to rebel against their directors who barricade themselves in the house while the rebel dwarfs raise mayhem outside, breaking dishes, burning flowers, fight with food and start cock fights and crucify a monkey, and destroy a truck.

anxious and disturbed by the brilliant and strange flick i got myself two more schorles, smoked cigarettes outside the building, fed the burning trashbin with more rotten dry wood and listened to neal who told me about the total amnesia he had the night before and the craziness about this whole festival. i thought he was exaggerating as usual, shrooked and we went back inside where the psychedelic jazz band of another old grande filiale protagonist – the highly talented drummer and jazz dj with the funny nickname of sardine, was expected to begin.

the schorles already took their toll as the room got embraced by subliminal syncopatic beats, mad guitar sounds and whining whispers. i started to feel slightly dizzy from the audiovisual wonderland around me and the white wine in my head but found myself dancing in a reptilian slow motion way while the world around me diffused into a comforting blur.

i am not really sure how much time had passed until the dj took over the music, nor do i remember any break or transition between the flying carpet jazz of sardine and the electronic rhythms that followed, but it didn’t matter anymore at this point, because the amount of schorle intakes had already doubled and egon, neal and i were engaged in a serious dancing contest against and with each other and the shady persons around us. occasional flirty exchanges of looks with pretty females around me, even moments of wild dancing twirls with others, but overall i was already floating in my own bubble inside this psychedelic happening that the grande filiale had become long long after midnight.

i am not really able to logically recall the rest of the night since it’s just a random collection of single images: me taking very long to find my money for the next schorle … me laughing with neal trying to clearly articulate and communicate with him … me stumbling through the nearby petrol station to buy tobacco … sitting outside on a chair between rubbish in the cold for some undefined timespan, dozing away … darkness … blurs … clouds … waking up standing in the middle of the road, sweating … calling egon on the phone … sitting in a car rushing through the night … standing in a random kitchen i had never seen before heating up lentil soup … looking at a gallery of paintings … standing in a courtyard smoking … waking up on a mattrace, still wearing jacket and shoes … egon snickering while asleep … neal yelling unspeakable things while sleeping … falling back into a long dark coma surrounded by patterns of colours and lights, whirling in a neverending carousel of white wine ethanole dreams…

to be continued…

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