Lifestyle

The Great Dane Was Their Excuse

The Great Dane Was Their Excuse

What is reality and what is imagination? What is the so called real world and what is our individual perception of it? Some feel trapped in their lives, others feel they don’t have a life at all, while still others have difficulties navigating between their own imagination and the reality that surrounds them. The Great Dane doesn’t worry so much about what is what, he just acts on what comes to him, hoping it might somehow enrich himself or somebody else. You could say that the Great Dane is the flesh of the world, that he just tries to learn what’s going on, or fails to do so, and then tries to do it better the next time. What is most important is that he is alive and in an ongoing becoming with the world.

Back in Berlin, the harsh reality soon caught up with the Great Dane. Most people he knew didn’t have time to entertain him because they were busy with their own everyday doings in the world: working, studying, shopping, sleeping, eating, cleaning, washing clothes, cutting toe nails, coloring eyebrows, working out, dieting, having babies, selecting new curtains, fighting bedbugs, watering flowers, watching TV-series, flashing their lives on social media, feeling sorry for themselves, searching for themselves, getting lost in themselves, blowing their noses in public. The Great Dane’s friend, the ex-vegan bicycle builder, whom he had come to help, especially disappointed him. He spent all his time worrying about life, shopping for things for the coming baby, or working hard to earn extra money at the sperm bank, where he was responsible for updating a porn database. Returning to the city that he had fled only a few days ago had perhaps not been such a good idea after all. Fortunately, he was a Great Dane, born in the north with superior talents for surviving in all kinds of rough human environments. His great intuition told him that he should put on his perfect party face, activate his superb drinking skills and go hunting for good company at the city’s clubs, bars and joints until something extraordinary illuminated his life.

And so it happened. On an adventurous trip through the hedonistic Disneyland of Berlin’s nightlife he found his way to the Great Church of Clubbing, where he stumbled upon a nicely dressed young woman and two geeky looking guys, sitting doped and alone in the corner of a dark room. They presented themselves as Windy, Pinky and Schabe. Obviously names they had made up to cover their true identity. But although their names were meant to be funny, they themselves weren’t up to any kind of fun at all. The guy called Schabe was the serious type, constantly searching around in the dark for stuff he could examine closely: bottles, glasses, straws, shoes, pieces of clothes, used condoms, crumpled toilet paper. When he found something that seemed interesting, he would put it in a little brown shoulder bag as a souvenir. Windy, a woman for details, carefully listened to the sounds of people’s lust, watching their bodies, their movements, and how they kissed, touched, sweated and had sex while she made notes in a black notebook for professional and personal use. Meanwhile, the last one, Pinky, was the beer drinking type of guy with a big mouth full of too many words. He would sneak around in the room and interrupt people to ask them questions concerning their body, sexual preferences and experiences, how they felt when having sex and how bad you should be to get slapped in the ass.

It seemed they had come to the dark room looking for something special. However, when the Great Dane asked them what they were doing, they at once started to sob all over him, complaining about some boring magazine of theirs and a life without meaning, a superficial self image which the magazine had created around them. It seemed as if they always ended up publishing the same tiresome stories written by the same self-righteous people for the same politically correct readers. And now they couldn’t distinguish between what the readers expected of them and what they wanted for themselves. This made them feel entrapped in a painful imaginary life, where the only possible escape was to hide in the dark rooms in Berlin’s clubs. Their greatest desire was to change the image of the magazine radically, to shake up their readers with exciting stories from the real world. But as always with ordinary people, editors as well as readers, they lacked the will to go the whole way. In fact they needed a good excuse to choose another path. They needed somebody who dared to show them the way forward.

The Great Dane felt pity for them, which made him feel especially good about himself, because it meant that he had a chance to help somebody in need, thereby showing the world how great a person he truly was. Not only was he born with superior courage, intellect and imagination, but he had been running around in the great wilderness of nature his entire childhood, and was therefore immune to all the pitfalls of urban culture. Who other than himself could lead them towards a new and more meaningful life? He could already hear the wind of change blowing through the streets of Berlin. Yes, he would be honoured to be their excuse. Telling their readers about his great person and adventurous life. Showing them how the world actually should be. And hopefully getting them to follow the inscrutable ways of the Great Dane.

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustrations © Sally Wilde
Published in Urbanist Magazine


Ich Bin Ein Berliner, Du Bist Ein Knödel

Ich Bin Ein Berliner, Du Bist Ein Knödel

Around the world local cuisine is said to both reflect and shape the people. Many countries are famous for their culinary specialties. Some dishes even become powerful symbols, a self-image for a whole culture and a way to include or exclude others. But who decides what is hot and what is not? And why go bananas when the apple of your eye asks you not to spill the beans? Such significant issues will be properly dealt with as the Great Dane takes a look at Berlin’s great food culture.

The Great Dane felt a great hunger coming. And that meant he soon would become weak and a pain in the ass to everyone. For like most of the world’s outstanding men and women, eating was an important part of what made the Great Dane so exceptionally great. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Which implied that the Great Dane had to eat great food. Lots of great food, or else he would begin to shrink and become a Lesser Great Dane, and such Danes were often not so nice – for they knew that they were far from as great as they wanted to be. The Lesser Great Danes could be recognized as those who: Disliked sharing with people different from themselves, hid in gated communities or behind high fences, would prefer their own kind to be the only kind, always complained about others good fortune, believed that everything could be measured in time and money, placed tracking devices on their children, believed that strength came from the humiliation of others, thought that global warming was a sign of human supremacy, believed that more was good and less was bad, and always took the last piece of cake.

The Great Dane obviously didn’t want to end up like that, but he didn’t know where to get great food in Berlin. So he hurried out to find somebody who could help him before it was too late. He visited all of his friends, who usually were proud to serve him food. But it seemed that today was a day with a general lack of great food, love and understanding towards the Great Dane. By late afternoon he had become so hungry that he began to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable with his own great self. He knew this was the first sign of degradation into a Lesser Great Dane.

In the middle of his despair, he suddenly heard the ring of a bell, and a bicycle rickshaw stopped next to him. He recognised the driver as the Mysterious Jew Boy whom he sometimes met in the early morning hours running around on Tempelhofer Freiheit stripped to the waist and singing old forgotten folk songs while carrying a spade. In the back of the rickshaw was the sexy and intellectual Street Fighter Girl. She had grown up on the streets of Berlin and now lived a double life, hunting bad street artists by night while studying at an elite art school by day. She used knives, kicked the guys in the balls, or talked peoples’ head off with deconstructionism, depending on her often capricious mood. They had heard a slick backyard bird make a beat about the Great Dane’s need and had now come to help him get some great Berlin food to eat.

The Great Berlin Currywurst
With the breath of God the Jew Boy drove the rickshaw through the streets like he wanted to reach the synagogue before Sabbath. In the meantime it was essential to keep up the Great Dane’s spirits, so on their way they drank some bottles of fine champagne that the Street Fighter Girl had won in a romantic balls-kicking-lovers-fight. First they introduced the Great Dane to the famous Berlin currywurst. He was told by the Street Fighter Girl that it was her great street protector Herta Heuwer who had invented it back in 1959, and that today 800 million currywurst were eaten every year in Germany, 70 million in Berlin alone, since the Berliners liked to eat currywurst all day long and also used it to keep warm. This was the reason why Berliners had such remarkable health and were so warm hearted. The Great Dane was obviously very excited to taste this popular dish, loved so strongly by the people.

But there was so much more to this icon of German culture than the great taste. The whole ritual of preparing and serving the currywurst fascinated him. A specially developed wurst-machine was used to slice the sausage into equal sized pieces, after which it was served with the legendary curry sauce and a stroke of curry powder on a nice white paper plate with a little coloured plastic fork. When he asked nicely, he was even allowed to choose the colour of the fork himself. He preferred blue, as it reminded him of the clear blue sky of his childhood which ceded at the end of the day to the most beautiful curry-coloured sunset.

They also made the obligatory visit to the Deutsches Currywurst Museum and followed here the curry sauce trail through the great history of the currywurst. And for five extra Euro at a currywurst stall overlooking the Reichstag, the Great Dane got served some interesting insider information about the currywurst’s influence on German politics: For example, that every currywurst eaten in public by a politician provided at least 100 votes, and that the Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was nicknamed the Currywurst Chancellor when he let himself be photographed together with ordinary people in front of a currywurst stall: Look, I’m a currywurst like you. Vote for me! But the Great Dane was warned not to venture too deep into the matter of currywurst and politics, for as Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of Germany once said: The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep at night.
On their currywurst journey they visited eleven currywurst stalls where the Great Dane ate seventy two portions of currywurst and an unknown number of side dishes. Then it was time to change the menu and move on to: The döner kebab sandwich.

The Great Berlin Döner Kebab sandwich
In order to clear the taste of currywurst from their throats, on their way they drank some bottles of excellent cognac that the Street Fighter Girl had won in an  I-either-love-you-or-hate-you-lovers-fight. She presented him with some historical facts: The döner kebab had been around since the 18th century and was one of Turkey’s national dishes. It was introduced to Berlin in the 1970s by Turkish immigrants, and had since become one of the most popular fast food products in Germany. With more than thirteen hundred döner stalls, Berlin was the döner capital of the world. Berliners liked to eat a döner kebab every time they went for a walk or just before taking a nap in the park. This was also the reason why Berliners were so courageous and strong – so the Great Dane was obviously very excited to taste this dish. But he had to wait just a little longer to do so, because the Street Fighter Girl wasn’t finished with her history lesson. According to legend, the popular döner kebab sandwich was invented in Berlin around 1971 by her great street mentor Mehmet Aygün, but others pointed out that before the döner kebab sandwich’s breakthrough Aygün had been a dishwasher at a kebab stall owned by Kadir Nurman, arguing that it was him who made the first döner kebab sandwich. Or maybe it had been someone else entirely. The fact was, there was an ongoing debate about who had really invented the döner kebab sandwich. Once in a while it even came to döner-kebab-street-fights between different factions of döner fanatics. It didn’t matter to the Great Dane who made the first döner kebab sandwich, where döner kebab originally came from or who washed whose dishes. He just wanted to satisfy his great hunger so he didn’t became a Lesser Great Dane, and after the Street Fighter Girl’s long history lesson he felt that he could eat a whole wagonload of döner kebab’s.

The Great Dane was also introduced to the most thrilling card game, the Döner Berlin Quartett, where you play with döner kebab stall categories such as price, founding year, opening hours, number of seats, distance to Istanbul, number of Turkish brothers who ran the place. He thought it was such great fun that he decided to buy one thousand and one games so he could give one to each of his friends and also have one for himself.
The Great Dane visited ten döner stalls and ate sixty-six döner kebab sandwiches and also tasted other variants such as the running döner kebab. Then the Jew Boy hurried them on because he had to return the rickshaw before Sabbath began at sunset.

The Great Knödel Miracle
The Great Dane could feel that his great hunger was on the retreat, even though he still would like to squeeze down a dish or two more just to be sure that there was no room left for the Lesser Great Dane. It turned out, however, that the Street Fight Girl had no ideas about what else they could eat, since she couldn’t imagine any Berlin food better than currywurst and döner kebab. They soon passed a small humble restaurant with a sign that said “The Knödel Miracle”. And without any notice, the Great Dane took the Street Fighter Girl and the Jew Boy by their noses and dragged them into the restaurant where they served Knödels and Miracles.

The owner of the restaurant welcomed them and explained that the place once had been his humble home where he had gotten his start serving knödel for his friends once in a while in his living room. His knödels had however become such a success that he had expanded into his bedroom, which was why he now lived in another apartment. He told them about the mysterious ways of the knödel, also known as dumplings. Some people believed that the knödel dated from thousand of years ago, when it was dried and used on longer journeys. Today there were many variations of knödel. They could be sweet or savoury, filled with meat, herbs, or vegetables, or unfilled, but all knödels were balls of dough boiled in water. In Central European countries knödel had for many centuries been a common part of the cuisine. In the south of Germany, especially in Bavaria, the knödel had a special place in people’s hearts. It was even said that the secret behind Bavaria’s great wealth and success was that all people there ate knödel. For knödel was a dish for everyone. And now the knödel had come to Berlin.The official knödel border began south of Berlin, so that historically knödels have had to be smuggled into Berlin’s food culture. But people in Berlin were slowly beginning to get used to the presence of knödel.

The Great Dane was obviously very excited to taste this old exotic dish that was a part of the south German people’s hearts and had helped them to succeed. He hoped that the Berliners would be as open hearted as he and welcome this great ancient dish. But just as the first knödels were put on the table, the Street Fighter Girl jumped up from her chair with a knödel in her hand, yelling that she was a true born Berlin street girl and would never become a primitive Bavarian peasant girl with her head stuffed with knödel. At first the Great Dane thought that she had become over-excited knowing she was going to taste knödel for the first time. He looked her into the eyes to calm her down and told her not to spoil the surprise. But this only made her condition worse. She held the knödel towards the owner of the restaurant, saying: Ich Bin Ein Berliner, Du Bist Ein Knödel! and then threw the knödel right in the owner’s face. In a moment the whole restaurant was transformed into one great knödel fight. From the kitchen people ran back and forth carrying buckets filled with knödel, throwing them at each other. People took cover behind tables, one side yelling: Ich Bin Ein Berliner! and the other: Ich Bin Ein Knödel! The Great Dane thought it was the end of the civilized world whereby all Great Danes would perish. Then a great miracle happened: the owner of the restaurant ended the fight by bringing forth thirteen bottles of good strong German schnaps, which everybody shared with great joy while they ate every one of the knödels from the fight. The Street Fighter Girl ate so many that her eyes in the end looked like two small sparkling knödels. The Great Dane also took part in the feast. He ate three and a half buckets of knödel, and a single sweet knödel with cinnamon for dessert. The remaining half bucket of knödel he saved for his breakfast the next day.

It had been a long and exciting journey through Berlin’s great food culture. The Great Dane felt really great, and not lesser great at all, only a little tired. When they again sat in the rickshaw, the Street Fighting Girl put a blanket over him and gently stroked his hair, while the Jew Boy sang an old German folk song about the enjoyment of life, friendship and great food. Soon the Great Dane fell asleep. He dreamt of a blue sky with clouds of knödel and döner kebabs flying into a beautiful curry-coloured sunset. The Great Dane smiled in his sleep. It had been such a great day.

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustrations © Sally Wilde
Published in Urbanist Magazine


Advice on Parenthood

Advice on Parenthood

Some people make their imprint on the world by constructing ideological or scientific systems, developing global business empires or making groundbreaking discoveries, while others create extraordinary objects of art, music and literature. The Great Dane, on the other hand, has chosen to follow the course of nature by giving his fertile semen to all women in need. In doing so, he bestows on the world many future generations of Great Danes. But whatever the means, whatever the goal, the difficult part is to follow through on one’s deeds.

It was an early morning like so many other early mornings. The Great Dane woke up with one single cloudy thought in his head, so he drank what there was to drink in the flat, and soon the sun was rising, shining bright and clear. He gave the girl slumbering naked in the corner a quick straight-up-bye-bye, remembered on his way out to wish her good luck and advise her not to eat smoked salami or fish or too many sweets while pregnant. Then he went down to his car and drove with great haste to Teufelberg, the former cold-war listening post at the outskirts of Berlin, to visit his friend the ex-vegan bicycle builder at his workshop. Since the Great Dane’s return to Berlin, there had been so much going on that they not yet had managed to fall into deep conversation about his friend’s forthcoming parenthood. So today was going to be the first day of redemption. The Great Dane already had thousands of happy children dancing, laughing, and singing in the world’s great wilderness, so who else could enlighten his friend about parenthood on behalf of all humanity – or at least all the novice readers – whom we are pleased to inform that the Great Dane plans to write a book about just that topic, sharing his divine wisdom about parenthood and telling fabulous stories about all his magnificent children with their great beauty, strength, health, courage and intellect. Yes true it is, and totally free of charge, he has decided to give the first universal advice concerning parenthood. So read carefully, here it comes:

Raising a strong and healthy child in a rough urban environment is not an easy task. But don’t despair! Even with the limited imagination which most of the world’s average parents possess, the task can be overcome. Follow the guidelines given by the Great Dane, and everything will be just fine.

1. It is expensive to feed a child, so remember to give it less and cheaper food than what you eat.
2. Too many children are weak and whining and have snotty noses. Therefore let your child stay out all day, the whole year in the fresh air. (This advice is not based on the experience of the Great Dane himself. He has only brought it up-to-date. Already in ancient Greece it was common knowledge that plenty of fresh air builds good character, spirit and stamina. And who other than the ancient Greeks would know?!?)
3. Adults may lie to survive, children may not!
4. Your child knows from birth that it’s not a finished product. It has to grow and evolve before it becomes fully human. That’s why every child wants to grow up fast. It can’t just wait and put up with being small, stupid and fragile. It wants to have more all the time. But time is money, and money doesn’t grow on trees like in the good old days of King Solomon. This is the harsh reality of nowadays, and something your child has to learn on its own. So the best thing would be to let it walk barefoot summer, autumn, winter and spring. This will also save you the cost of new shoes.
5. Inform your child of the many possibilities when playing with a wooden stick.
6. And most importantly: Save up to buy The Great Book Of Parenthood. Something that will help the Great Dane feed his many little Great Danes, who one day will inherit the world.

The Great Book Of Parenthood will among other things give advice on: Heavy Drinking and Sleeping Peacefully Through the Night; Various Cures for the Burning Pain of Migraine; There Is Never Such a Thing as No Sex; To Be or Not to Be Wife Battering; One Hundred and Seventy-Five Strategies Concerning Quarrels; The Enjoyment of Being Alone for More than a Second; It’s Like Peeing in Your Pants; Peeing on Command; The Philosophy of Laxatives; What Could There Be in the Little Potty; How Much Can You Squeeze a Pet; The Hot Cooker Effect; The Amusement of Inventing Household Traps; Cunning Places to Hide the Biscuit Tin; Farting for Novices; Farting by Heart; Farting in the Name of the Father; Advanced Notes in Classical Farting; Various Ways of Leaving Your Child; Lying About Lying; Why There Are No Monsters in the Closet; The Use of Rusty Nails in Pillow Fights; The Excitement of Playing Ball Next to a Street; Why Children Should Always Drive Without Bicycle Helmets; How to Avoid Paying Pocket Money; When the Hands are Under the Duvet; In Every Dark Corner of the School Yard; Teaching Teachers to Like Your Child; Why Your Child is Very Special, and the Children of Others Are Not; The True Meaning of the Bees and the Flowers; Hair All over and in Certain Places; What Period?; How to Get Rid of Her New Boyfriend; Drinking for Good Health and Fortune with Your Son; Wine, Weed and Growing Whiskers; Eighteen and Over (the book will unfortunately only contain a superior passage about this topic, commonly known as the Afterlife of Parenthood, due to its doubtful existence. The Great Dane is instead considering writing a book about an almost similar topic: Life Without Children).

(The Great Book of Parenthood can now be pre-ordered through this site. Postage will be added.)

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustrations © Sally Wilde
Published in Urbanist Magazine


The Great Berlin Citizenship Test

The Great Berlin Citizenship Test

There are readers who have contacted the Urbanist Magazine and questioned the accuracy of the Great Dane’s writings about Berlin. Some have even called it bad fiction and a disgrace to Berlin, suggesting that he should “move his great Danish ass back home to the welfare womb where he was born.” Obviously, the Great Dane doesn’t appreciate such unfriendly attitudes. He wondered whether his critics even know what it means to be a real Berliner. What better way, it occurred to him, to distinguish the real Berliners from the fake Berliners, than to have a citizenship test?

The Great Berlin Citizenship Test
Are you smart enough to be a real Berliner?

(Some questions have more than one answer. But if you are a real Berliner, you already know this!)

What is essential for a real Berliner when going for a walk?
1. A pair of shoes
2. A cheap beer
3. A car

Who said: “Berlin ist arm, aber sexy”?
1. Someone incredibly wealthy
2. David Bowie
3. Berlin’s former mayor David Bowie

Who sets the price for a döner kebab in Berlin?
1. The mother of the brothers running the döner kebab stand
2. Supply and demand
3. It depends who is the current president of Turkey

What does a real Berliner say when leaving a Späti?
1. Ciao
2. Auf Wiedersehen
3. Tschüssi

Where in Berlin is it allowed to drink in public?
1. In your car
2. Everywhere: Drinking in public is a national heritage
3. On public transportation

What is the Berlin Wall?
1. An expression for the low Berlin minimum wage
2. A place to pee when you really have to
3. A wall that divided East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989

What is the dress code for a real Berliner?
1. Black
2. Nothing too light
3. There is no dress code

What is the average number of dogs per person in Berlin?
1. Two: one large and one small
2. Unlimited
3. Too many

Which of the following is one of the largest sources of income for the city state of Berlin(?)
1. Creative industries
2. Tourism
3. Bavaria

Where does a real Berliner drive his bicycle?
1. On the sidewalk
2. On the bicycle path
3. In the middle of the road

How many bridges are there in Berlin?
1. Around 1.700
2. Around 1.100
3. Fewer than the number of lovers I have crossed

What is a “Kampfradler”?
1. A peace activist
2. An aggressive cyclist
3. A special division within the German transport police

Who was the governing mayor of Berlin in 2015?
1. Angela Merkel
2. Horst Seehofer
3. Michael Müller

What is a real Berliner’s attitude towards contemporary art?
1. A better question would be: What is art?
2. It’s bloody brilliant, that’s what it is
3. I want my money back

What can you find at Kantstrasse 101?
1. The monument of Herta Heuwer – the inventor of currywurst
2. The original copy of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
3. Reality

What is a Great Dane?
1. A large German breed of domestic dog
2. Something almost impossible
3. A figure from your dreams

What is the number one Berlin tourist attraction?
1. A club
2. A bar
3. A Späti

What is a real Berliner’s greatest weapon when facing bureaucracy?
1. Patience
2. Anger
3. Black magic

How do you get an appointment at the Bürgeramt?
1. Pure luck
2. On the black market
3. Show up and waste your time

What is a real Berliner’s relationship to German schlager?
1. It’s flirt guarantee!
2. I love Hansi Hinterseer!
3. Have you seen my mommy?

What is Berlin’s greatest contribution to the world’s food culture?
1. The Döner Kebab sandwich
2. The Currywurst
3. The Berliner

Who is the greatest Berliner of all time?
1. Bushido
2. John F. Kennedy
3. Marlene Dietrich

What is the Third Reich?
1. A period of dictatorship in Germany from 1933 to 1945
2. The place where real Berliners go when they die
3. A precursor to the European Union

What is the official slogan for Sternburg Beer?
1. Merke dir – Sternburg Bier
2. Sternburg Bier – Trinke Eins, pisse Vier
3. Sternburg Bier – Gönne Dir

How does a real Berliner get into the club Berghain?
1. By being really drunk
2. By being very quiet
3. Real Berliners don’t go there

What does “Haste mal ne Kippe” mean?
1. Did you get a haircut?
2. Do you have a cigarette?
3. Please pass me the salt!

Where is the best place for a real Berliner?
1. In the stomach
2. In the cemetery
3. In front

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustrations © Sally Wilde
Published in Urbanist Magazine


The Great Crying Monkey

The Great Crying Monkey

What is happening to the world? Is there no way to get rid of all the sad, dreadful things that corrupt our everyday life, turning friends against friends, neighbours against neighbours, lovers against spouses, dog against dog? Will there not come someone one day that is pure and mighty enough to bring about justice for us all – if not for all of God’s wondrous creations, then at least for the innocent and naive followers of the Great Dane? Hear me, dear readers: I say, there will!

The Great Dane cried today. Turned his face into that of a crying monkey. Flushed out all the salty water in his mighty body, so that it flowed over the streets of Berlin. Never had the city been so clean and shiny before. Not even after the last economic crisis and the subsequent public thunder and righteous political rain had the sewers of Berlin been flooded so heavily with rubbish, stinky bollocks, itchy bitchy feelings, lice catching dogs with wet ears, nagging women, poor lonely devils, ever changing winds from government bottoms, Swedish furniture, aching feet, morning pimples, phantom backaches, selfish dog owners, reckless cyclists, angry drivers, spoiled children, stale beer, cheap cigarettes, substitutes for fat and sugar, old news, public repression, political scandals, tiresome commercials, thieves, thugs, rapists, bankers, insurance brokers, landlords, real estate developers, professional beggars, wannabe-artists, babbling bloggers, lying Catholics, radical Muslims, narrow–minded Jews, depressive Protestants and their work ethic, and sellers of too small shoes.

And it happened to the stunned surprise of all Berliners. The reliable and holy weathermen had an especially tough day, having blessed the poor but sexy people of Berlin with the promise of punctual German sunny weather and no sight of teasing clouds. Hiding under the same umbrella on the day of the flood, they formed a shrill choir, calling the phenomenon Every Prediction Goes Down The Drain, advising every fertile soul to find a suitable partner and spend this Day of Judgement in bed. Meanwhile the business channels, seeing the possibilities with a calculating eye, advised their viewers to invest in producers of boats, pumps, umbrellas, buckets, rain­wear, diving equipment, life­rafts, life jackets, hair dryers, triple layer toilet paper, cleaning services, rescue services, salvage services, and tour operators specializing in destinations with long dry seasons.

Also, the never ending soap opera, the New Berlin Airport, was eventually flooded. All those behind the stage saw now their chance to soap up for a good old coming-together washing of hands before they crawled to safety in their sink-proof bureaucratic limousine boats. Later, sailing cheerfully in champagne-soaked circles around Brandenburger Tor, they triumphally announced the forthcoming opening of the New Berlin Public Welfare-Bath with special blinking underwater-lighting, stewardess bikini water shows, plenty of tax-free shops, and exclusive diving trips to some forgotten utopia airport ruin – of course with a reasonable reduction in price for all good taxpayers. It rained so much that the hospitals reported instances of the rare Chinese Sponge-Effect – normally only experienced in the Year of the Jellyfish by Chinese men working in the rice-fields – in which testicles exposed to water for long periods of time swelled up to unbearable sizes, causing terrible pain and giving a new meaning to the expression He Got Balls. There were even rumours about an abnormal rise in birthrates of fishes, frogs, lobsters and snails born out of virgin wombs, attracting legions of hungry Catholic tourists in private water planes.

But the headline that made the day, and almost brought forth a smiling sun, was when Chancellor Angela Merkel showed up to her briefing with The World Press in a wonderful new deep-brown bathing suit, declaring: Welch schönes Wetter! and answering all questions concerning the political consequences of the flood with: Nur ruhig! Ich bin eine sehr gute Schwimmerin!

And then there was the question, that everyone tried to find an answer for: Why did the Great Dane cry? Had he been fatally hurt? Was he still boxing with bad love? Was it because of global warming and the insecure future of all beach owners, the threat to the Pacific Ocean atolls, the smell of sweaty Eskimos, the fate of all the innocent baby seals? Or was it something even more terrible and devastating? The truth is that the Great Dane did not know himself. It just felt good to cry, and for him, that was reason enough.

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustrations © Sally Wilde
Published in Urbanist Magazine


Unter den Wunder-Bäumen

Mobility forms our lives and affects our environment. It is a fundamental human need and longing to be on the move and to experience the world. One of the technologies that has made the most distinct impact on our mobility is the car. For better or for worse the car has given us a strong feeling of individual freedom, it has transformed our conception of time and experience of place, our everyday lives, the way we consume and plan our cities. It also comes with a wide range of negative consequences such as pollution, accidents, social and urban segregation, and, more than any other technology, the car has a huge appetite for space. So maybe it’s time to rethink the way we understand mobility and go beyond a society that is primarily organized around the car. But who dares to challenge the individual freedom and change the way we are ‘on the move’?

After the editorial team of the Urbanist Magazine had returned from a conference in Japan arranged by the Asian Spiritual Bicycle Association (ASBA) the magazine’s headquarter in Neukölln was buzzing with ideas of how to make a better world. One of the most interesting aspects was the Holy Grail of Mobility. According to the ASBA’s Scripture of Ultimate Movement the grail possessed powers which could control the stream of mobility worldwide. Since the invention of the wheel the stream of mobility had filled the world with technologies that served the best of humanity – whereas the invention of the internal combustion engine and the car turned out to be a giant step towards total human degradation.

Therefore it was of the utmost importance that the grail was found and its powers were used to get humanity back on the right track. To do so it required a hero who was pure of heart and who possessed the courage and strength to defeat the terrifying road monster which evil forces had put into the world to guard the grail. The question was, where could one find such a great hero? The editorial team of the Urbanist Magazine had no doubt! There were only one who was great enough to fulfil this dangerous task.

The Great Dane was sleeping as calmly as a child when the editorial team dragged him out of bed early in the morning. After a short briefing on the situation, they armed him with a copy of the Scriptures of Ultimate Movement, put him on an old bicycle and send him out on the dangerous quest to hunt down the terrifying road monster and conquer the grail. For about an hour he cycled around the streets of Berlin without having the slightest idea of what to do or what to look for. Then he decided to have a bicycle-beer-break at a Späti and look in the Scriptures of Ultimate Movement. He was at once thrilled by its great knowledge and historical accuracy. It stated:
The precise time and place for the first appearance of the Holy Grail of Mobility is unknown, but through history the grail has appeared and disappeared in relation to man’s growing desire to control his own destiny. Several significant appearances of the grail occurred in the Great Migration Period from 300 to 800 AD – also refereed to as the Völkerwanderung – where its powers was used by Germanic and other barbaric tribes to invade Roman territory and reclaim the Roman Empire’s efficient network of more than 80,000 kilometres of paved highway stretching from Scotland to East Europe to North Africa and present-day Iraq.

He finished another row of beers and then cycled on while thinking about the brave barbaric tribes outmanoeuvring the superior Romans and thereby changing the future of the world. He imagined himself as a fearful warrior holding the grail high in the air, paralysing legion after legion of Roman soldiers so his fellow warriors could liberate the people with ease and give them back their land. Afterwards he was celebrated as a great hero and songs and tales were made about him.

The Individual Solution
He began to feel exhausted, and stopped to rest his legs. While eating enough döner kebab to recover his strength he thought about how the powers of the grail best could be used. There seemed to be as many right solutions as there were people in the world. And no solution would fulfil the need for everybody. Some had to put up with what was best for the common good. The difficult question however, was not who should have the advantage and who should not – the challenge was who should be entrusted the power to make the decision?

One of the brothers who ran the kebab establishment opened the window and greeted loudly a young man and a elderly woman coming out of a car near the pavement where the Great Dane was resting. When the woman passed the Great Dane she first looked at his old bicycle and then at him, saying: Young man, don’t worry so much. Instead, you should do like I told my sons … Get yourself a decent job so you can afford yourself a decent car. It will give you both a good wife and make your mother happy. An old bicycle won’t get you far in life.

Still feeling exhausted and also confused about his quest to find the grail, the Great Dane could only agree. To have one’s own car wasn’t such a bad idea. It not only gave you a clear advantage concerning women and a variety of other purposes such as transportation of goods, protection from bad weather, cruising around with friends, going to the countryside, but it was also great when you was tired or just everyday lazy. On the other hand, cars were expensive. You had to work even more to afford paying of the loan, insurance, fuel, repairs, taxes, parking fees etc. That way the car reduced the individual freedom as it ate up time and money that otherwise could have been used to do other things. For many people it would instead be more efficient to bicycle, use public transportation, or even walk.

The Great Dane felt himself trapped in a great paradox. For how could it then be, that the car had become the most popular means of transportation? In search for an answer, he looked through the Scriptures of Ultimate Movement. It said:
Another important appearance of the grail happened over thousand years later in 1888 at the Black Forest – also known as Schwarzwald, the home of the famous cuckoo clocks – near the town of Pforzheim in south Germany. It was in the exact same area and year where Karl Friedrich Benz made the world’s first long distance automotive journey powered by an internal combustion engine. The true nature of the grail was however overseen and it was put on ordinary display at a local museum until it in 1932 was rediscovered by an amateur archaeologist and automotive enthusiast following the historical route of Karl Friedrich Benz. Later that year, a conspiracy was formed among the world’s major car manufactures and political interests in Europe and the United States to cover up the existences of the grail and abuse its powers to their own advantage. But although many resources were invested in transferring the powers of the grail to mass automotive production, the attempt failed. Instead the grail was remelted and disguised as an ordinary hubcab which was send around the world mounted on a special build car in order to make cars the dominant means of transportation. However, in the chaos of World War II the track of the grail – now referred to as the Holy Hubcap – was lost and since then there has been no official recordings of its whereabouts.

This was indeed not good news for the Great Dane. The so called Holy Hubcap could now be everywhere, it could even be lost. The situation demanded help from somebody who had a higher insight in alternative mobility.

The Political Solution
He found his friend the ex-vegan bicycle builder in a Do-It-Yourself shop where he was busy finding enough building material and tools so he could be ready to receive his coming baby. Beside building cargo bikes the size of small houses his friend considered himself a traffic activist using his cargo bikes as an instrument to discuss traffic, transportation and air pollution in the city. To the Great Dane’s question if he thought that the Holy Hubcap should be used to free the world of all cars, he answered: I’m not into absolute solutions. In the real world there will always be more stuff which needs to come around than even the biggest cargo bike can carry. Cars should be part of the solution, so should a well planned public transport system, and separate car and bicycle traffic. So I believe it is a political question to find the right solution. Only by putting aside individual needs and longings will we be able to make a cleaner and better …

The Great Dane was very excited. He couldn’t wait to help drag the baby out of the womb. He was already on his way out to saddle up his bicycle, when his friend kindly brought to his attention that this was not his task. It was of much greater importance not just for his baby but for all babies in the world that he fulfilled his quest for the Holy Hubcab and got humanity back on the right track. To encourage him, his friend promised that he would tell everything about the birth as soon as they met again – which could even be in the next Great Dane episode. Then they loaded all the tools and building material into a large van and off he went as fast as the engine could go.

Once again the Great Dane was on his own, and he didn’t seem to have come any closer finding the Holy Hubcab or what its powers should be used for. He cycled on through the city feeling discouraged and just wanted to go home. When he passed Brandenburger Tor he looked up at the goddess Victoria sitting all mighty and powerful in her four horse-drawn chariot on top of the gate.

What would she have done? For her it was not a matter of who had the right solution, it was about who had the courage and strength to be victorious. No one should be entrusted the power beforehand and have the exclusive privilege to choose what was right and what what wrong. In her perspective everybody was equal until they had proven otherwise.

The Great Dane stopped his bicycle and bowed with respect for her wisdom. He felt somehow connected to her through a long life of hard struggles to show the world how great and righteous he truly was as a person. She seemed to approve of this, for he felt that she looked back at him, and just as she had inspired the heroes in ancient times she filled the Great Dane with hope and insight into all the marvellous things there would happen if he succeeded in his hunt for the Holy Hubcab. With her blessing he once again opened the Scripture of Ultimate Movement, and read:

Following the global financial downturn in 2007-2008 and the automotive industry crisis in 2008–2010 a significant change in the balance of mobility came to its wakening on a world wide scale. Since, there had been reported an increasing numbers of cases in which hypersensitive cyclists around Europe had become spiritualized by some kind of unknown force. Extensive field studies conducted by high ranking members of ASBA suggest that these encounters most likely happened due to the nearby presence of the Holy Hubcap. Furthermore, when the different encounters were laid out correctly out on the Spiritual Map of Mobility it revealed that the Holy Hubcap for some years had been on its way up through Europe towards Germany, and that it probably soon would reach Berlin.

It seemed that the Great Dane after all was closing in on the grail so his long journey soon would become fruitful. To celebrate his forthcoming triumph he began cycling back and forth through the Brandenburger Tor while he for each round joyfully greeted the goddess Victoria who was still watching him closely from the top of the gate.

The Wheels Keep on Turning
When he took an extra large turn outside the gate a fashionable looking car drove straight in front of him so he fell off his bicycle. There was a slight buzz and the back window of the car rolled down. A middle-aged man in a dark suite stared at him sternly and presented himself as the rightful owner of the great capital of Germany, truly elected by all its common people. He continued: “I can now see it is good that we did not make the mistake of a bicycle-friendly city after the failure of the car-friendly city.”

The Great Dane was still in shock so he didn’t know what to answer. The politician raised his voice and said a little more moderately, but the Great Dane thought that the message remained the same in essence: “My dear fellow citizen, as you know it is important that we stick together. And we can only achieve that if we get going.”

With a wildly ecstatic smile he made a sign to his chauffeur and the car roared as if it wanted to swallow the Great Dane alive. An ominous rumbling went through the Great Danes chest. Could this be the road monster that guarded the grail? And did he really have the strength and courage to defeat it?

The car made a threatening move towards him, then it backed away quickly and send out a cloud of evil-smelling smoke while it drove off. In that same moment he felt the presence of a powerful spiritual force. With great speed he began to cycle down Unter den Linden knowing that the Holy Hubcap at last was within his grasp. The air around him was filled with the dreadful smoke and noise from the road monster accompanied by legions of other cars on the road. It made his lungs hurt, his eye began to water and he felt as the whole world was yelling into his ears. But nothing could distract him. Second by second he closed in on the road monster. He felt like a great hunter going straight for his prey, having only one thing on his mind: To hunt down the road monster and get the Holy Hubcap so he could change the destiny of the world.

He heard an explosion and his bicycle stopped with a flat tire. In the distance he saw the road monster disappearing, and with it, also the spiritual force that shortly had filled him with clarity. Now only the smell and noise from all the other cars filled his head. With his last strength he dragged his damaged bicycle over to the side of the road and sat down under one of the elm trees.

For a while he starred disillusioned at the cars that tirelessly sped past him in a world that kept on turning as usual. Then one of the cars stopped in front of him. It was the Intellectual Street Fighter Girl and the Mysterious Jew Boy. They had heard a used car dealer make a sales speak about the Great Dane’s grief and had now come to take him home.

It was quiet inside the car and a sweet smell came from the Wunder-Baum hanging in the wind shield. It made him feel safe and calm as it kept the chaotic world on a safe distance. He leaned back and began to dream of a future where people would use their individual freedom to choose the best solution for everybody to be on the move and experience the world. But even so, it was tough for him to admit that he failed in his hunt for the grail and getting humanity back on the right track. Too late had he learned that there is a fine line between the hunter and the hunted.

Nevertheless, this should not withhold the more sensible readers to saddle up their bicycles and continue the hunt for the terrifying road monster – one might even be successful in finding the Holy Hubcap of Mobility.

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustrations © Sally Wilde
Published in Urbanist Magazine


New Year Special – For All People in Need

For All People in Need

This year the sun will shine just a little more and the birds will sing as they have never sung before for the Great Dane is in his generous mood.

THE GREAT DANE SAYS
– TAKE WHAT YOU NEED

Myself
My youth
My money back
My dignity
Your forgiveness
That you come back
Help to survive
Bollocks
The world
More bass
Perfect breasts
An extra inch
Longer joints
Reality
Imagination
Time travel
Grown up kids
Laxative
Psychoanalysis
The Great Dane
A hundred and ten percent
A lover
A friend
A new partner
Better sex
A real orgasm
A lobster
A life
A job
A toilet, now!!!
A less complex world
A kick in the ass
A large drink

There is more to take at:
www.thegreatdane.nu

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustrations © Sally Wilde


The Birth of a Real Berliner

The Birth of a Real Berlinner

Life is a miracle. From the beginning of time life have had all odds against it. Birth in itself is a bare struggle between our specie’s ability to survive, each of its individuals’ will to be, their lust for life and the endless coincidences of the universe which are beyond our control. We as human beings are small and fragile. We often feel helpless, lost and alone, why it is in our nature to seek out companionship whereby we can find comfort and meaning in our lives, and perhaps even get a chance to create new life that will enrich the world. But then, everything considered, it is not always enough to feel appreciated and loved, to be part of something greater than yourself, sometimes you need to know when to let go and find the path in life that is just the right for you.

It was a day of great temptation in the great city of Berlin. The Great Dane was on a series of dates trying to overcome his failed quest for the Holy Hubcap of Mobility. In the middle of the main course: A pair of smooth legs, some damn hot breasts and a tight ass his phone began to ring like an ecstatic church bell. He knew a once that it was his friend the former church boy and now ex-vegan bicycle builder – so the penetrating sound from the phone could only mean one thing: The baby had at last been delivered to them from the fancy looking Virgin Mary’s womb.
Without hesitation he pushed aside the damn hot breasts, climbed on top of the tight ass, and slid down the pair of smooth legs to grab his phone beside the bed.
He heared the excited voice of his good friend accompanied by the loud sound of a human siren in the background announcing a new epoch in life: Parenthood.
Then the crying stopped. His friend whispered anxiously: You must come at once … and then hung up.

The Virgin Mary’s Sweet Milk
The Great Dane entered his friend’s place in a haste – ready to help, ready to assist, ready to fulfil the newborn’s every wish. He found, however, the newborn sleeping calmly and satisfied next to the fancy looking Virgin Mary. They both seemed so blissful, so relieved of all life’s burdens. Everything around them was a mess. The entire flat resembled a human disaster. Randomly spread all over the place was dirty clothes, smelly diapers, stinky dishes, old tainted food, piles of empty beer bottles and pizza trays, mounds of chocolate and bonbon wrappers, heaps of unread mail and newspapers, stacks of torn up cardboard boxes and half-used building material, a countless number of misplaced tools, and a layer of sawdust covered every surface.
His friend sat in the middle of the chaos, hanging onto an armchair while sipping to a beer. When he saw the Great Dane he smiled, exhausted. Since the birth he had been very busy building up their new home, and at the same time trying to satisfy the endless needs of the newborn and its mother. So he was really glad to see the Great Dane for there were such important things for them to do. As a start, he wanted the Great Dane to help clean up the place before his Virgin Mary woke up and invoked her wrath on him.
A feeling of bottomless despair seized the Great Dane and tried to turn his attention toward a quick exit through the front door. The only reason he had returned to Berlin in the first place was to help his friend find the difficult way through parenthood. But cleaning was the last thing he had imagined – although somewhere in his great clouded mind he sensed some similar situations with all the women he had lived with just before he left them, or was thrown out.
His friend saw the disappointment in his face, and said, to cheer him up that if he was a good boy and helped, perhaps the Virgin Mary might be so grateful that she would let him taste some of her sweet milk.
That indeed seemed to be a great deal for the Great Dane. He knew from a long life of experience with young pregnant women that the milk following a virgin birth could raise your courage, strength and sexual potency considerably, and in rare cases it even turned your skin as soft as a baby’s bottom. So with the Great Dane’s newly found enthusiasm the cleaning went more swiftly than a holy miracle.

Just as they had finished the Virgin Mary woke up from her beauty sleep and came into the living room. They both stared expectantly at her, the Great Dane on her swelling breasts and his friend at her tired face waiting for her immediate reaction. She looked suspiciously back and forth between them, and said: What are you two boys up to? Hopefully you’re not up to any trouble. It is enough with one baby that sucks everything out of me.
Her husband kissed her quickly, and assured her that everything was as it should be. If she wanted he could even give her a nice foot massage and perhaps the Great Dane could tell them about his latest great adventure – as long as she was happy, he was happy.
The Great Dane thought that this was an excellent idea while waiting for the Virgin Mary to get filled up again so he could have some of her sweet milk.
But before he managed to begin his story, the doorbell rang.

The Guests Brought Presents
It was the intellectual and sexy Street Fighter Girl and the Mysterious Jew Boy. They had heard a crazy preacher speak about the birth of a new real Berliner, and would now like to sneak a peek and give the child their blessings. As a recognition they brought presents.
The Street Fighter Girl had with her a packet of very salty crackers which she had won in a till-death-do-us-part-street-fighter-match. The last words from her opponent before he lifelessly hit the pavement was: They are extra salty. So promise me to share them wisely.
Also the Mysterious Jew Boy brought a present. He handed over a long brown packet with a nice red ribbon. It contained his favourite shovel, with which he made his first attempt to dig up the greater meaning of life.
And did you ever find it? said the Street Fighter Girl with a gloating face.
Not yet. The meaning of life seems to be hidden under tons of rubbish, and layer by layer of deception and illusions.
Not to forget your own delusions, added the Street Fighter Girl.
That’s why I need the newborn’s help. It has just come out of Virgin Mary’s sacred womb and has not yet been contaminated by the world’s filth, decay and betrayal. It is as pure as the water taken straight from the fountain of life. Together we will one glorious day dig up the great meaning of …
The Street Fighter Girl jerked hard in his big Jewish nose and told him to stop talking rubbish.
The newborn should not be degraded to a simple hole digger. It should be trained in the martial arts and specialize in the most lethal weapons, so it, together with her, could clean out the streets of Berlin of all its injustice, corruption and dirty bollocks.
They began to argue loudly, but were interrupted by the newborn’s parents who thanked them for the presents and said that they had to wait to see the baby, as it still slept.
The Great Dane now saw his chance to tell them about his latest great adventure, which he hoped would please the Virgin Mary so much that she would let him taste some of her sweet milk.
But just as he got their attention, the doorbell rang.

It was the three editors of the Urbanist Magazine. They had heard an anonymous source speak about the birth of a new real Berliner, and would now like to meet the sensation and spread the news. As a recognition they brought presents.
The guy called Schabe had collected various kinds of used baby accessories such as well chewed pacifiers, a broken rattle with dark red stains, a heavily filled diaper, the crooked wheel from a baby carriage, the one eyed head of a toy rabbit, a baby shoe filled with mud, the faded photography of a baby and its proud mother, and the crown of the collection: A device with a real crying baby inside.
He proudly handed it to Virgin Mary and asked her if she could try to comfort the unhappy baby. She pushed a button on the device and the baby immediately stopped crying. Schabe was impressed.
Windy, which always had an eye on every detail, had filled out one of her black notebooks with observations of babies such as their often random body movements, their shape and resting positions, their smell and the consistency of their droppings, which clothes they wore, the colour, fabric, brands, and a long detailed list of various baby expressions and their parents’ counter-reactions, which she one day hoped could form the foundation for a baby-parents dictionary.
And the last member of the editorial team, Pinky, the always jolly and half-full-glass-type of guy, had brought a pack of beer, which they of course all should share, since the newborn was not ready to enjoy the more fun side of life yet.
The newborn’s parents thanked them for the presents and said they had to wait to see the baby, as it still slept.
Once again the Great Dane saw his chance to relate his latest great adventure, so he hopefully soon could get a mouthful of the Virgin Mary’s sweet and delicious milk.
But just as he got started the others wanted to hear about the newborn’s birth.
That is a great idea, said the newborn’s parents, and they began to tell at once.

The Birth of a Real Berliner
It was a beautiful morning with a feeling of life and happiness floating in the air. The ex-vegan bicycle builder was relaxing in bed with another round of coffee and his favourite chocolate croissant while watching his beloved Virgin Mary making her pregnancy yoga exercises on the floor.
Next door their old-guy neighbour threw one of his wild 24-hours-life-affirming-still-being-young-flashback-marathon-drinking-parties for the usual crowd of come-a-long-drunken-friends, where he often in the early morning hours had gotten so much booze through his system that he either fell asleep on the floor or his diaper leaked and filled his apartment with an acrid smell, so his guests left in a hurry taking all his booze with them.
But such was life: You were born to wear a diaper and ended up dying wearing one. In between you only had a few precious moments to have the best going in and the best going out of yourself. This had become clear to their neighbour on his old days and it would also become clear to the ex-vegan bicycle builder and his Virgin Mary this extraordinary lovely day.
For as the Virgin Mary slowly slid into the so called yoga-turtle position, the labour pain began, causing her to shout loudly at her husband. He thought that his wife was dissatisfied with him as usual, and jumped out of bed, grabbed his drilling machine and proceeded with his rebuilding of the apartment, so it soon could serve as their new decent and proper home.
The Virgin Mary, however, seemed not to be satisfied at all, but yelled at him again – this time much louder. So he threw his tools away and tried to calm her often unpredictable mood by lighting a couple of candles, play a piece of romantic music and start cooking one of her favourite dishes. But for some unknown reason this only made her dissatisfaction worse. With great difficulty she got on her feet, and groaning like an insane woman she came into the kitchen, where she took a hard hold of her husband’s arm and shouted that he should call the hospital at once: For the baby was kicking really hard to get out.
If it had been me, the Street Fighter Girl interrupted, I’d have kicked back so the little troublemaker had come straight out of the Virgin Mary’s butt.
Nobody wanted to comment on that, so the parents continued their story.

While they waited for the ambulance to arrive, the ex-vegan bicycle builder ensured that they had all the necessary things for the hospital and tried the best he could to make his wife comfortable.
Then the party music at their old-guy neighbour stopped, and the doorbell rang.
It was one of the drunken party guests asking if they could keep an eye on the old fellow. His diaper had leaked onto the floor while he was dancing, and unfortunately he slipped in the pee, hit his head and passed out. The party now moved on to another place since nobody wanted to dance with pee on the floor, but they should thank him for the booze when he woke up, or maybe, the drunken guest suggested they should take him to the hospital, because he hit his head really bad.
Then he left with the rest of the party, and when the ambulance arrived a few minutes later after the Virgin Mary, she decided to step aside so their old neighbour could come to the hospital.

The Ballad of the Fire Brigade
Another ambulance was at once called for. And in the meantime, the ex-vegan bicycle builder helped his Virgin Mary do some relaxing and pain reducing yoga exercises.
In the middle of the difficult transition from the crocodile position to bunny position, heavy boots came stomping up the stairs, and before they could answer the doorbell the fire brigade had broken down their door and crashed into their living room.
They had been called by someone who said that an old fellow lay helplessly on the floor in a puddle of pee. It was as they could understand, the chief of the fire brigade explained, a very critical situation that demanded their fully cooperativeness. So, if they could immediately show them the way to the person in question.
The ex-vegan bicycle builder explained that the person in the puddle of pee was their old neighbour, but they were too late, he had already been taken to the hospital by an ambulance. The firefighters had however no such notification in their system, only that an ambulance had taken a pregnant women to the hospital from this address. And since an old fellow’s life was at stake, there were no time to discuss the details of circumstances.
In order to avoid harming the old helpless fellow when breaking down his door, they needed right away to have unreserved access to their balcony, so they could use it to climb over to the person in question’s balcony and enter his apartment safely from here.
Without waiting for permission, the whole fire brigade stomped out on the balcony. Within minutes they had all climbed from one balcony onto the other and entered the old fellow’s place, which they to their great surprise found empty: The old fellow was, as they had been told, gone.
It made the firefighters quite annoyed, and they broke out through the old neighbour’s front door, surrounded the ex-vegan bicycle builder, and warned him not to waste public servants’ valuable time, when there was a whole world out there that desperately needed their assistance.
So when the new ambulance arrived to take the Virgin Mary to the hospital, the firefighters simply ignored all objections and send the ambulance away since the old man was not at home and they had been notified that the pregnant women already was on her way to the hospital.
And furthermore, to teach the ex-vegan bicycle builder that they meant it seriously, he was ordered to clean up the old man’s apartment, saying they would come back later to see if it was done properly. Then they left, leaving the neighbour’s door open and broken, so the whole staircase stank like someone’s sour bottom.
If it had been me, the Street Fighter Girl interrupted, I’d have kicked the whole fire brigade down the stairs and then taken their fire truck.
The others agreed on that, and the parents continued.

The Virgin Mary now really needed to get going. Her labour pain was increasing strongly, and the baby did not care about old-guy neighbours, firefighters, ambulances or hospitals: It just wanted to get out and seize life.
However, when they called for a third ambulance their request was refused, since there already had been sent two ambulances and a fire truck to the address. It was also not possible to get a taxi in time, so what should they do?
Eventually, the Virgin Mary crawled up on one of her husband’s large cargo bikes and he then himself drove her to the hospital. Later that day she delivered a healthy new real Berliner which all the doctors and nurses said looked like the most lovely little angel they had ever seen.
The story was over, the Virgin Mary kissed her husband, and he took her hand and kissed her back.
She was very proud of all the courage and strength he had shown that day, saving her and the baby.
All the guests felt their love and warmth, and smiled happily.
If it had been me, said the Street Fighter Girl, I’d have done exactly the same.

In the Bottom
After the parent’s story they had some refreshments in the living room and at last the Great Dane got everyone’s attention. So while they enjoyed some beers and salty crackers he told them about his latest great adventure, until a harsh smell began to spread from the new real Berliner’s bottom.
Everyone hurried over to see what was wrong, and were relieved when the parents showed them that the smell came from the content of the diaper. The guests looked with great interest while the parents washed the new real Berliner so its baby-bottom got its natural colour and fragrance back.
Soon they all forgot the presence of the Great Dane and he realised it was time for his exit. The new real Berliner had changed the balance of the world and for years to come it would attract all the attention – something that it was impossible for the Great Dane to compete against.
He left the living room in silence and put on his shoes and coat. Maybe one of his dates still had time for him. It would be nice having someone to lean on, to share life with, like his friend and his Virgin Mary, like a family. He suddenly felt fragile like a lonely child. Maybe he should stay? Maybe they still needed his help, maybe he could even live together with them?
He turned around in the hallway, sneaked back and looked into the living room: They were all naked as mother nature once had created them. Happily dancing around they handed the baby from arm to arm between them while there was a beautiful sound of bouncing bottoms.
The Great Dane nodded his head in recognition. The new real Berliner was in good hands.

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustrations © Sally Wilde
Published in Urbanist Magazine

The Night of the Mysterious Jew Boy

The Night of the Mysterious Jew Boy

Despite the endless possibilities we have in life based on our widely different social and cultural backgrounds our human existence is built on the same few fundamental principles. One of these principles is to have a continuous life trajectory where our decisions and actions, and our participation in different contexts can be aligned as pearls on a string with the goals and values we pursue, so we experience that there is a greater meaning with our life.
Nevertheless, when, once in a while, we experience great changes we suddenly feel very empty and fragile, and desperately begin to look after something that can give us back the feeling of meaning in our life. And even for an exceptional personality as the Great Dane this may not be an easy task.

Now that the Great Dane had ensured that the newborn was in good hands so a new generation of real Berliners could grow up and save this poor, but sexy city, his own purpose in Berlin had come to an end. Once again, he stood at a crossroads in life, and felt that he was being torn apart, as if there were not only one, but too many Great Danes inside him, all shouting, screaming and pulling in him to go in each their direction. He just wanted them to shut up, go away and leave him in peace so he could find out what he really wanted with his life.
This had been an ongoing struggle for existence as long he remembered, taking him from one place to another, from one goal to another, from one woman to another trying to live up to everyone’s expectations except his own. He was exhausted and sick of it all. It would be so nice if someone came, took his hand and showed him the way through life, insured him that everything would be all right.

The Night Walker
In the daytime, the Great Dane either slept or sat outside on his balcony near the clouds watching the city life far below him, while at night he walked around the streets from one späti to another to buy more cigarettes and cheap walk-along-beers. Now and then he passed a lonesome night walker like himself and they would exchange brief signs of understanding before they continued on each their troubled path in life.
One night when in his despair he drifted around on the Tempelhofer Feld after opening hours he heard someone sing in the distance. It sounded beautiful and strange at the same time. He looked beyond the field where the moon, high above, was shining extraordinarily bright and spotted in the moonlight a man, stripped to the waist, making gestures to the ground with a tool of some kind.
When he came closer he recognized the person as the Mysterious Jew Boy. He was digging a hole with a spade to the rhythm of some old forgotten folk song. After a while he stopped, looked cautiously down the hole, and with a smile on his face he slowly bent forward and sang in a deep voice as if to someone down there.
The Great Dane could not hold back his curiosity any longer. He stepped right up to the hole and asked what he was digging.
Mein Gott ist grüsser als Ihne, the Mysterious Jew Boy yelled frightened and hit the Great Dane with the spade so he tumbled to the ground, howling like a wounded hound.
Stop whining, the Mysterious Jew Boy sneered at ham. You’re scaring the meaning away so I can’t say if it fits me. He waved gently his hand above the hole, while singing a sweet lullaby as if trying to comfort a scared child.
This, however, made the Great Dane cry even more, sobbing all over that he could not stand it anymore, it hurt too much, his loneliness in a harsh and cruel world where no one thought about him, only themselves, and had so unrealistic expectations and demands to him. But what about his needs, his dreams and longings? He felt so confused, so helpless. His life was nothing more than a great nothingness, a failed imaginary life in someone’s sick mind. He needed to get out, get away, get his own life.
The Mysterious Jew Boy was astonished. He never expected to see the Great Dane, his great hero, this great example for mankind, so sad and fragile, so lost. It was as if something had possessed him, an evil spirit of some kind. He needed to help him, get him back on the right track before he got out of control. The consequences would be beyond comprehension, it would be devastating, not just for the Great Dane himself, but for the well-being of the whole world.
The Mysterious Jew Boy handed the Great Dane his spade and said it was time for him to stand up and dig after the greater meaning of his life.
Right now, in the dark, the Great Dane asked surprised with tears in his eyes. Can’t it wait till the sun comes up?
It must be done in the dark, away from the light and people’s lurking eyes, the Mysterious Jew Boy explained. He needed to understand, that if a freshly dug meaning too quickly was exposed to the light its stability would be disturbed and before the meaning even had begun, it would vanish like dew before the sun. And once frightened the meaning of life would go into hiding and then it would only be possible to get a small fraction of it out in the open again.

Where Could There Be a Meaning of Life?
The first step was to find a well-suited digging site. And as a start the Tempelhofer Feld would be a good practice ground. The former airport field was so enormous that the Mysterious Jew Boy trembled as he began to talk about the almost endless possibilities there were to find a meaning of life. Unfortunately, most people get anxious when they were in situations with more than just a few possibilities and the normal reaction was to attempt to narrow down the possible outcome through planning and control, or, in the worst cases, through repression.
This was by no means a practice that the Mysterious Jew Boy would recommend. The optimal condition, when searching for the meaning of life, was to let oneself be surprised and carried away. He should not think too much about what he wanted or expected, or try to force the meaning out of life, instead he should give way to it, let it come to him.
Just then a tall dark hat came tumbling in the wind.
The Great Dane looked curiously at the hat. Then he picked it up and tried it on. It was way too big for him, but maybe if he found a meaning of life that was great enough the hat would fit him. The question was, however, where he should do his first digging. There were so overwhelmingly many places he could choose from that he had no clue whatsoever. And the Mysterious Jew Boy was not to much help. The more he explained to him, the emptier he felt inside, so he could easily have been carried away with the most meaningless meaning. He just wanted to begin digging and get some meaning going with his miserable life. Not all this talking and explaining.
Therefore he simply closed his eyes and threw the hat up high in the air to let the wind decide.
That night on the Tempelhofer Feld the Great Dane went digging many different places.
First the hat landed between some trees where he dug through layer by layer of insistent roots until he got a bit tender in his back and the Mysterious Jew Boy had to correct his digging technique. Then the hat landed in the fields’ urban garden where he dug up someone’s carrots, potatoes, onions and artichoke, tasted some strawberries before he also dug these up, while he could not bear to take away the beautiful sunflower, and the Mysterious Jew Boy advised him to stop digging in other people’s meanings since it was difficult to truly adapt the meaning of others to one’s own life. Thereafter he dug in front of the ice cream booth, but it turned out that he was too late, so the meaning had melted and was long gone, and when he tried to dig under a bench he soon became restless of waiting for the meaning to show up in time, and in the bird’s nest he was too rough and crushed one of the eggs so that the meaning of life ran out between his fingers and made him cry inside over the destructive human nature, and when he tried to dig through the asphalt on the runway the spade broke, and while the Mysterious Jew Boy went to his secret tool shed to pick up another spade, the Great Dane used his fingers to dig deep into the pockets of someone sleeping it off in the bushes. Gradually the Great Dane improved his digging and began to get really into it. He even managed to find some sort of unidentified meaning behind a public toilet, but he could not get used to the smell of it, and threw it back in the hole.
Then he got bored and wanted to dig in the real life out in the city.
The Mysterious Jew Boy did not think it was such a good idea to leave his practice ground where he could go on, safe and undisturbed. In the beginning it was important to keep the meaning as far away from real life as possible until it was fully digested and had become one’s own personal meaning of life.

Following the One in Charge
A gust of wind took the hat out of the Great Dane’s hand and carried it away high up in the night air and over the fence around the field. The Great Dane burst out with a loud: Follow that hat. The last one on the other side is a scaredy-cat. And before the Mysterious Jew Boy could stop him, the Great Dane had climbed up a tree and jumped the fence.
The hat went with the wind into the nearby cemetery where it landed on someone’s grave. This made the Great Dane’s guts turn around: He was trying to find the meaning of life, not the meaning of death. Even though the one followed the other he did not feel ready yet to face the definitive meaning of life.
He quickly threw the hat out of the cemetery and back into life where it felt down on Hermannstrasse, busy even at night. But before he managed to reach the hat a suspiciously looking man in a colourful suit took it on his head, and went down in the U-Bahn. The Great Dane stood, paralysed. Every hope to find his greater meaning of life had just disappeared into the underground.
Short of breath the Mysterious Jew Boy caught up with him, and he encouraged him to follow the hat, even if someone else now had it. For sometimes, he explained, it was the path in itself that was not suited for the right meaning, and then you had to follow someone else’s path until you found one that could carry your own meaning along. These wise words seemed meaningful to the Great Dane.


The man in the colourful suit and now in charge of the hat, sat down in a U-Train and fell asleep. Each station they passed seemed as empty and meaningless as the Great Dane’s own life had been so far, going from one station in life to the other without having any clear goal to follow or knowing when to change the path. Where was he going and why go any further? the Great Dane wondered.
Every once in awhile, the man now in charge of the hat woke up and went up on the ground. Every time the Great Dane was very excited about what great meaning he would lead him to.
First he went to the Drug Heaven in Görlitzer Park. Perhaps, the Great Dane thought, it would be possible to find the greater meaning of life through drugs. He asked a guy called the Edge and his tiny friend Charlie Brown. The Edge answered: Life is either too difficult or too simple, which is that as long as the drugs keep flowing through my veins, I prefer to have no meaning at all. Whereas his friend Charlie Brown carefully considered the matter, and then passed out on the floor. The Great Dane did not want to have a meaning that was dependent on what he had in his veins, and hurried down into the underground after the man in charge of the hat.
Then they went up to eat some delicious food. The Great Dane was getting really hungry, but before he could put anything in his mouth, he had to know if eating was the greater meaning of life. The chef at the restaurant answered: Eating either keep people alive or make them believe that they are more than just alive. In other words, you become what you eat. The Great Dane looked suspiciously at the food that the chef served him. He did not want to eat anything whose meaning was that he should become something else than he wanted to be.
The next time they went up on the ground was at the fashionable shopping street Kurfürstendamm. Here the man in charge of the hat visited some exclusive shops where he tried on different clothes, and eventually chose a simple dark suit. It went well with the hat, the Great Dane thought. Much more confident than with the colourful one. Maybe the greater meaning of life was to be properly dressed. When he asked the sales clerk in the shop she answered: Fine feathers make fine birds. What is under the plumage is not that important. As long as the bird doesn’t spoil its fine feathers, but stay safe in its cage, everything will be just fine. The Great Dane did not want to be caught within the meaning of all these fine feathers, if it meant that he would not be free to fly.

The Reality of Life
The man in charge of the hat and now in a dark suit went up on the ground at the Reichstag building for the German parliament. The historical building rose up high and mighty above the sleeping city with it enormous dome glowing in the night. The Great Dane was truly impressed. It represented to him the greatest meaning of them all: The power to shape the very foundation of life. The Mysterious Jew Boy turned his face away. The meaning of the Reichstag was too harsh and penetrating to him. They should go immediately before it managed to attract their sensitive nature and began to fiddle with it.
But the Great Dane was already on the move again. He followed the man in charge with the hat inside the Reichstag and towards the very centre of the building. Here the hat suddenly felt down on the floor when the man in the dark suit disappeared up in the thin air.
High above them they could through the dome of the Reichstag see the night sky with all its infinite stars. The Great Dane leaned to his spade. The point of finding his own meaning of life seemed compared with the universe so insignificant, so trivial. He did not feel great at all. He felt very small.
No digging inside the Reichstag, ordered a public servant while he approached them with great caution. It will just disturb the political process and undermine the great German nation.
We are no such troublemakers, said the Mysterious Jew Boy.
In fact, we are the opposite, said the Great Dane proudly. We are digging to find the greater meaning of life. Like the politicians that works in here we also want to live in the best of possible worlds.
Don’t think I’m a fool, simply because I’m a public servant. I know what your real intentions are, and I’ll not fall into one of your holes and have my life’s happiness be destroyed by some naked truth of yours. As a public servant of the German people it is my task to uphold the political illusion and protect the common good from people like you that for some egoistic and self-indulgent reason want to reveal the true state of the world. We don’t want that, our lives are what’s being done with them, and as they are now makes good sense for us.
The Great Dane wanted to explain him the importance of finding one’s own greater meaning of life. There was however no meaning in continuing the discussion, because as in most places in life, someone else had already been entrusted the power to decide what gave meaning or not. And the public servant decided that the meaning in here was to show them out the way they came. That was the hard reality of life which the Great Dane had been so eager to dig in.

The Darkest Corner in the World
After being banished from the Reichstag neither of them felt that they were up for any more digging tonight. They were dirty and tired, and just wanted to get home.
Soon they dragged themselves along the pavement with their heads resting on each other’s shoulders. The way home seemed to have no end.
Suddenly the Mysterious Jew Boy stopped and faced the Great Dane.
Is it just me, or did we already once pass this place?
Not just once, but twice, groaned the Great Dane. But I’m following you and thought you had found a meaning by walking in circles.
The Mysterious Jew Boy looked confused at the Great Dane.
No, home we go, you know.
But neither of them moved an inch.
On the opposite side of the street they could see the lurking light from a bar, and a sign saying: Heimwekrank. Without any considerations, they crossed the street and went straight inside.
The place was really crowded, so they ended down in the basement at a small table in the darkest corner. Around them the atmosphere was a once heartfelt and intense with lonely souls trying to cheer each other up while drinking and listening to German schlager, song about what had been but now was gone, about good times and bad times, times at home, times alone, times holding hand with your loved one, times where your love was gone, times walking with the family in the mountains, times pruning roses in the garden, times for a better world, and just ordinary better times.
The Great Dane stared silently out in the room. He felt disappointed. Even though he had been digging many holes this long night, none of them had given him quite the right feeling of meaning in his life. On the contrary, he now felt an even greater meaninglessness that when he begun.
The Mysterious Jew Boy tried to comfort him, saying that this was normal when you left your know path and began to dig new places after the meaning of life. At some point your life would then seem much more empty and meaningless than before, and you just wanted to dig a deep hole and bury yourself. It would be so much easier.
The Great Dane only understood him too well. He felt hopelessly lost.
But he shouldn’t give up, not now, the Mysterious Jew Boy continued. It often took a long time and much hard work to find just the meaning of life that felt right for you, until one night when you at least expected it, then you would suddenly know your way. He would be surprised which strange places the meaning of life would be waiting for him. As an old digger’s saying went:

The easier a meaning it to find
The easier it is to leave behind
The harder a meaning is to get
The harder it is to keep out of your mind-set
The Illuminating Girl
The Mysterious Jew Boy went up to get them some drinks from the bar and left the Great Dane alone in this dark corner of the world. He listened to the music, but began to feel restless. For the first time since returning to Berlin he felt homesick, longing after the welfare womb in the north, relieved from all life’s burdens deep in the safe and unspoiled Scandinavian social democratic nature. At the same time the very thought scared him, it filled him with anxiety. He was too weak, too fragile to withstand the all-embracing force from the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb. He was afraid that he would disappear, lose himself and his individuality to her.
No, he had to continue outwards in the world, prove that he could manage on his own, learn what was going on, or fail to do so, and then try to do it better the next time. He just needed to find something to put his heart into so the world would seem a little simpler and sorted out.
Something slipped through his mind. It startled him, then it was gone. He looked down at his hands and discovered that his hat had fallen under the table. Everything seemed obviously to go wrong for him tonight.
He bent down to pick it up. There were a gleam of light coming from under the table, or rather from under the floor. Although he did not understand how this was possible or why there in the first place should be a light below the floor, he felt that someone was trying to get his attention, get through his thick skull, putting words inside his head, saying: Dig … you must dig … the meaning is to dig … it is the only meaning, the meaning has always been to dig … right here, right now … for the sake of your life, DIG!
He trembled, tried to withhold his desire to dig. Then he pushed the table aside, grabbed his hat, forced it on his head so it almost covered his eyes and began to hit the spade hard against the stone floor while moaning with great pleasure. The only thing that was in his mind was to dig a hole in the floor right where he had seen the light. Nothing else mattered. It was the great meaning with everything, it was the only meaning in life.
It was also hard work he had put himself up to. The hole got deeper and deeper, and only darker. And the light seemed out of sight. He felt as he had been digging for hours, when the darkness exploded in the glint of a pair of deep blue eyes and the sweetest smile, and he saw this girl dancing up towards him in a glorious spinning disco light.
At last a guy who dare to dig his own hole to rescue me, she smiled exalted. It is so boring to dance alone down there, you know. Whom may I thank? Uh, there is music, let’s dance.
That sound terrible, said the Great Dane. How do you feel?
She laughed astonished.
How do I feel? My hair is ruffled, my skin is dead pale and my feet are numb … how do I feel, you ask? I feel like dancing.
It’s not what I meant. It was how you really feel … deep down inside.
She thought some while what to answer, then she leaned forward.
Nobody has ever asked me that question before. But let me enlighten you, she whispered in his ear. Even that I don’t know you, I feel that I never have met anyone like you.
The Great Dane was as hypnotized.
Does it give any meaning to you, she smiled.
Greater meaning than you think. I feel exactly the same about you. But I also have the feeling that I somehow have meet you before. Who are you?
Who I am, you ask … I’m the Illuminating Girl. I have no real personality, but light up the way for lost people through life. So, who would you like me to be?
The Great Dane looked at her suspiciously. Behind her smile there seemed to be an great paradox: A seducing woman with a confused thirteen-year-old-soul. She resembled him of someone, or was it something. And she needed the Great Danes help.
Why don’t you try to be yourself, he suggested.
She grabbed his hat and put it on her head. It suited her perfectly.
Why don’t you try to follow me down in the hole, she said.
Then she turned around and began to walk.

Just Keep on Digging
When the Mysterious Jew Boy came back with their drinks the Great Dane was gone. He looked worried down in the hole next to the table. At first sight it seemed as a safe and easy hole to find just the meaning that suited your life, but for the experienced digger it was a very dark and unstable hole where there was a great risk of finding a meaning that only would bring you disappointment and pain in life.
Maybe he should have warned the Great Dane that some holes lacked any lasting and stable meaning, they only contained distractions which would lead you even further away from your path in life. Behind the superficial and dazzling light of such meanings there was nothing more than the emptiness of life, an endless darkness that would suck away all independent life and leave you even more helpless, lost and alone than before in the dark. Hopefully the Great Dane had not taken anything from this hole, but had gone home alone safe and sound.

The Mysterious Jew Boy sat down at the table and began to drink. It had been a good long night’s hard digging. He was sure that a huge change was coming. Whether it would be for better or worse, he did not know. But he was certain that all things in life had a meaning. If you held onto your life and kept on digging you would sooner or later find the meaning that was just the right meaning for you.

Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyper reality of life in our cities.

Story © The Great Dane
Illustration © Sally Wilde