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"I cannot find Potsdamer Platz. Here? This can't be it.

Potsdamer Platz, that's where Cafe Josti used to be. In the afternoons I went there to chat and to drink a coffee and to watch the crowd. Before that I smoked my cigar at Loese and Wolf, the renowned tobacconist. Just across from here.

This can't be it. And no-one you can ask.

It was a lively place. Tramways, horse-drawn carriages and two cars: mine and that of the chocolate shop. The Wertheim store was here, too."
'Wings of Desire', (Wim Wenders, 1987)

To get the best available view of Potsdamer Platz you have to walk away from it for about five or ten minutes, towards Schöneberg, then into the Neue Nationalgalerie on the right, down the stairs. And there it is:

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 'Potsdamer Platz', 1914

I'd seen the Kirchner rendition before, a few years ago, at the RA. Of course I knew by now it would be nothing like that, but even for the dedicated pessimist there's room for disappointment. It hasn't helped, having bits knocked out of it, then a fortified land border in the vicinity, but still... Perhaps there's never a good time to rebuild. Right now certainly isn't looking favourable.

The gaudy mediocrity running down to Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Park isn't surprising, but the vertical banality on the platz itself, the treatment of the space as if it had been previously blank, perhaps agricultural, or some post-industrial, certainly not predominantly human space, is dispiriting. Such life as can be found is hidden away in the self-contained annex of the Sony Center. Deutsche Bahn have helped themselves to gigantic bahnhof entrances, presumably because there was just so much pavement going begging, leading down to a handful of trains to some obscure bits of Brandenberg.

The rest is work in progress, sort of. Possibly the worst of it being the gigantic hoardings concealing the vacant land fronting onto the platz. A twenty foot Penny Cruz is bad enough, but a billboard masquerading as an office block? More than one of them? Then around the back, the great temples and forests of scaffolding necessary to support all this two-dimensionalism. I was going to reach for my Debord for a quote, but he's buried, as most people's Society of the Spectacles are (Quick, think, where's yours? You see?). 

I've run out of things to say about Potsdamer Platz. The remainder is pictures.
- 8 -  )
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So everyone's sending this link around, we're all having a right grinning session, but has anyone given a thought to what it's like for the poor little sod? As the article suggests, the sex life of the king penguin is pretty vanilla, so imagine how it feels after all that. Now, I know that scientists and wildlife photographers are bound by ethical codes which require them never to intervene, so as not to upset the natural order of things. Normally, fair dos. But fuxake. I'd have been off across the rocks and giving that big bastard what for with the plug end of an extension lead or whatever until he desisted.

No, I'm not going to leave it there. I'm sorry, forty-five minutes, someone's got to step in and sort it out. It's a bit more than a misunderstanding on a bad date. And all the excuses they're making "...frustrated, sexually inexperienced..." "...the incident may have arisen because the seal was "play-mating"." Oh, that's all right then. "It was most certainly a once-off..." Won't happen again, your honour. No, it's wrong.

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Time was when the first of May wasn't just for elections. Helicopters, W1 one continuous jam sandwich ribbon of personnel carriers, Bond Street a solid curtain of chipboard. Ah, thems were the days.

You could say the Public Order Act did for Mayday, in the powers it provides to the police to impose conditions on public processions and assemblies. By enabling a mechanistic tactic it arguably did. But I think what really killed Mayday was love.

Here was the dilemma: centrally, the police had become adept at strategy, using the 'Gold Control' model of central co-ordination, with some degree of autonomy for commanding officers in the field. But this amount of operational flexibility was nothing compared to that available to the protesters. The police communication chain still has a great deal of latency, often leaving significant numbers of officers deployed in locations that have gone cold, or worse for the individual cops concerned, unable to leave a situation of physical danger for want of an order to retreat. The protesters in theory could do just about anything, running in all directions, dispersing on foot and cycle or such public transport as still running, 'like so many infernals'. Being mostly anarchists they should have done. But they failed to, um, sorry, capitalise on this advantage.

Instead, almost as if in sympathy with the cumbersome organisation of their opponents, they grouped together, soldified, hung around for just about however long it took to get a cordon in place. And they did this time and time again.

Known as the kettle' or 'the bubble', the containment approach could only be achieved with large numbers of officers, though once in place it did not necessarily need as many guards as detainees. Having identified the gathering, officers with short shields, several rows deep and often with vans behind them would encircle from all sides and form a cage for the entire group. It was also remarkably 'safe' in that though it led to a frustrated crowd, it was a practically impotent one. The trick then was to hold the crowd until it became exhausted and dispirited. Then, late in the day, the contents would be allowed out one by one, making it likelier that the individuals and small groups would go home rather than simply reform elsewhere.

You could see it forming from outside, you could see it coming from inside. A person would have to have been deeply unobservant not to see the impending penning action. For many within the cordon there has to have been some collusion, some voluntary aspect.

There's something in child psychology that identifies acting up behaviour and testing of boundaries as a means of extracting actions and proof of parental love. The kid's objective is not the misdeed, but the punishment itself, and the reassurance that provides.

So obvious, the connotations of an authority figure, arbiter of right and wrong, and enabled (by legislation) to administer a kind of punishment on the spot in the form of restriction and act in loco parentis. The human consistency of the cordon. It encloses rather than disperses. It is like a big hug. Like children seeking a demonstration of parental caring, the protesters sought out and provoked that stricture, writhing within the embrace the better to feel its comforting strength.

Tomorrow I will explain why the Transport for London headquarters at St James's Park is essentially phallic and represents the father, and how New Scotland Yard just opposite is a maternal structure, and how fare-dodging is therefore an act of such intensely Freudian import that I wouldn't sit down on a bendy-bus even if I could find a seat.

- Done words, can I post a picture now? / Freiburg -  )
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How will it cope with my 9' ceilings? What if it gets bored? Can I help it go to sleep by reading to it? What will I feed it on? I suppose there's always the Westminster Council hanging baskets...

- four, tall -  )
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-  )


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