Color in a Plattenbau world part II

 Give an Ossi paint….and watch out, boy.  Geez.

I have a theory…and let me say first, the theory is pretty offensive, really–it belittles the struggle of hundreds of thousands oppressed by secret police and living behind a barbed-wire and machinegun-rife wall finally saying, enough is enough, and standing up to fight for their human rights and taking the chance to tell the government to go fuck itself to the point of toppling said corrupt government, and that nearly bloodlessly–but hey, what theory doesn’t piss someone off, right? 

My theory is that if the commies had just remembered to produce enough household paint…specifically bright colors, neons: fire-engine red, lime green, canary yellow, for instance…in order that the people might have painted the rather drab and generally crappily designed houses, as so obviously is dear to them…well, the wall might not ever have fallen. Light industry, people!

For those of you not up on your German Democratic Republic history…it’s a long story.

The theory stands, in any case, because most people put up with a whole hell of a lot of bullshit before they get off their lazy asses and do what it takes to change an entire system. Fighting for rights is a pain in the ass, and as long as a government can keep up appearances, Joe Plumber is usually good. A little paint goes a long way.

Just ask the Tunisians and Egyptians. They are working their asses off right now. But for years, for decades they let the bullshit slide. The scraps beneight the table were enough to sustain them. And what happened?

The truth stripped the paint off the walls of the palace and the people saw how ugly the building really was. And now there is no turning back. All of it, mind you, nothing they didn’t already know or suspect, but seeing it in black and white, reading the documents proving their worse fears drove them off the cliff into the Valley of Burn This Fucker Down.

Obviously the truth still has some power. That’s good to see.

But they’ll be disappointed soon enough. The Tunisians are already finding that one out. A leader an hour gives it a go until the people riot again and shout, “Next!”

“So we got Ben Ali’s attention…what now?”

“Now we gotta organize an alternative? In this fucking country?”


A bucket of paint would have curtailed that whole problem…All of Egypt and Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, London, (apparently tonight the squatters in Friedrichshain the police are forcing to move ), and all the other countries rioting right now could be at home painting their houses, painting their neighborhoods, painting the sidewalks, the statues, the trees, putting their anger into graffiti…too busy repainting to bother with revolution.

Just ask the Ossis. They got their fancy revolution, they got all the bananas, fresh coffee, Marlboro cigarettes and blue jeans they could consume, they got freedom to travel, they got to shut down the Stazi, tear down the wall, and quit the charade of an economy, but now what do they got?

Within years of the Berlin Wall falling the east lost most of its jobs, the entire economy stopped one day…and very few businesses made the transition. The west flooded in, bought up or were given the keys to set up a new economy, and Ossis are now stuck working their asses off earning lower than average wages for some chain store. The east is basically a big German Ghetto along with and on par with the neighborhoods and areas in Germany where immigrant populations are economically isolated.  The East is like a Indian Reservation for Germany’s unemployed, badly dressed, alcoholic, Soljanka and banana eating ethnics.

The irony is that despite them now having the freedom to leave, few can afford to go anywhere but the local IKEA, and call it an outing. A good many Ossis have maybe crossed the former border a few times…perhaps a trip to Mallorca if they are lucky enough to work…but few have traveled abroad. They rarely leave their neighborhoods, like any other good hard-scrabble poor folk, god bless their souls. (Pause to ash my cigar and laugh)

Most anyone you talk to is disgruntled by the current politics of Germany, loathes the corrupt and burocratic system, despises the war in Afghanistan (rings a bell) and feel they are still treated differently for being from the East (not to mention they are paid on average 80 percent of Western levels). Any complaining banana maniacs are immediately dubbed ‘Ostalgic,’ a hash of the words for East and nostalgic. Obviously they want Stalin and Honecker back.

No, they actually do have a few legitimate complaints. Nevermind that the problems are nothing to compare to the dysfunctional and criminal GDR, the fact is that East Germany today isn’t all…wait for it…”smiles and sunshine.” Decent jobs would be a good start. A wage that kept up with the rising prices…maybe something crazy like that. But I think the East is revolutioned out for a while…and anyway, at least they have it better than the immigrant kids.

And at least now they have paint!

Ok, it is a terrible theory. Here’s a slide show.

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About Andrew Flohr-Spence

Something about the sound and the word. Was a singer/bassist for five years, a German major for five, an English teacher in Germany for another five, then a journalism major in Denver for 5 more, and now I'm back in Berlin (for a while, I intend).
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One Response to Color in a Plattenbau world part II

  1. i buy it.

    the power of the mind’s eye is a terrible thing when it isn’t appeased.

    this would require an even more bird-shot approach, but i think plastic surgery, fashion, architecture and travel brochures all work on the same sort of prinicipals…

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