Saturday, October 11, 2008

Just a Nice Saturday Afternoon in Ole' Berlin

Question: What do the Germans do on a pretty day?
Answer: Go for a walk.

And that's what I did today...go for a walk...with a couple thousand other people.

For the last few weeks I've seen posters that say "freedom instead of fear" and then something about a march on the 11 of Oktober, and I loved that idea, so as i was sucking down my coffee this morning, I said to myself that I should go, because--WARNING, THINGS ARE GOING TO GET KINDA POLITICAL--

my generation has lived the last 7 years under controls and fear, and I'm sick of it. I wish my generation as a whole would stand up and say "I'm tired of being afraid, I'm tired of the terror system always being orange. I want to live peacefully again, and it IS possible! I will NOT be a pliable part of this system of militarization, surveillance, and fear!"

Ok, so that's over, and I decided to go. I did not have a camera, but the good folks at flickr (it's a photo website) have several picts from today, so here they are with a little commentary.

First we were at Alexanderplatz where we stood around and chatted for an hour in the warm sun (a light cardigan was all I needed, and I actually got a bit tanned!!!), drinking beer, eating brats, and going from one party to another. One party was the "Pirate Party" (not affiliated with the Ninja Alliance!) for...well...piracy, but they were a bunch of computer geeks (adorable though), a bunch of Ron Paulers (Seriously, people?!?! GERMANS CAN'T VOTE FOR HIM!), tons of Green Party people, Leftists, and then a surprising number of libertarians (I don't get them...not even here...they confuse me, they get on really well the conservatives in government, but they are in principle liberal...huh). Then there were some speeches about government surveillance (know what the Stasi is? There were a lot of rather apt parallels drawn there), and then we went on the move.

Doesn't it look like a pretty day for a protest? No
joke, it was amazing. I even think I got a little sun!

Just your average Saturday afternoon!

At first all the riot police were really scary, I mean, there were TONS standing on the other side of the street from us, but after a while it was clear that we were not there to fight, and we didn't have any trouble makers in our ranks, so they were rather relaxed, though they still had their helmets and whatever, but they kept petting their dogs (seriously, like 100 German shepherds were there). This made sense, like, if you didn't have a dog and you were a cop, you were smoking and chatting up your cop friends; if you had a dog you had something more to pass the time with, and so one was scratching the dog's tummy, another was rubbing his face against the dog's, truly undignified police with the least threatening German shepherds I've ever seen (except for TUCKER!)

Isn't Tuckey A-DOOR-BELL?!

This was about as intense as it got, tourists on Unter
den Linden and cops leaning against police vans. I feel
bad they had to wear their jackets for so long, it was a
really GORGEOUS day

we walked for an hour and a half to the victory column, and then went BACK to the Brandenburg Gate for some speeches. I was walking with the green party, since I generally like their people, and they had some active politicians marching, and their mascot is a hedgehog, so CUTE. I chatted up some nice people, mostly from out of town, and since we were together for so long we got to really chat, about the issues, ourselves, stuff like that. There was Mathias, Kathy, and Joanna, and they were from Leipzig, physics students, and they were really sweet. It's not a real contact, since we didn't exchange numbers, but it's a step and it was friendly, and they might still find me on facebook, who knows. Additionally, I love it when people my age get politically gives me hope for the future, like we won't all be mindless drones who accept everything.

One of the leaders of the march speaking
at the Brandenburg Gate

Anyway, my feet were ACHING (the revolution needs to remind me to wear good walking shoes!), so we sat down in the park to listen to the speeches, where one leader yelped "We'll have no standing politicians speaking today unless it's the Interior Minister coming here to take back this surveillance bill!" Laughs and hoots all around. And like good Germans, we all were done in time to come home for the evening news.

ZOMG! I was right behind these guys!!
Go little Green Party Hedgehogs!

Some cool signs at the protest with approximate translations:

"Hey! Don't turn on my computer! Against surveillance,
State, and Windows XP" I guess they are Mac people.

"Hear all! See all! Say all?"

These are pictures of first the leader of the Ministry for
State Security (that's not translated right I don't think)
in the GDR, and then this Interior Minister of Today,
and the implication is "what comes next?"

"Do you now feel safer from terror?"

Demokratie = Democracy...I was like 3 signs in front of these guys

One last funny story, there was a group of doctors who made a float that was like about getting tested for AIDs (they were for testing and for it being anonymous), and they kept playing "gay friendly" music, so you'd hear political chants "WIR SIND HIER! WIR SIND LAUT! WEIL SIE UNSERN' DATEN KLAUT" (we are here, we are loud, because they steal our information) and then disco beats and "It's rainin' men!" So..well...certainly peppy protest music!

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