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REBECCAH DEAN Posts

Laurie Anderson Live In Berlin

Last night I saw Laurie Anderson live at Haus der Kulturen der Welt  in Berlin. Her show ‘The Language of the Future’ was the closing act for Transmediale – festival for art and digital culture Berlin, an event which has taken place annually since 1988. I was a huge Laurie Anderson fan back in college. I still remember buying used copies of her CDs at Amoeba Music on Telegraph Avenue, all stashed away under the section Arists A. I bought everything of Laurie’s I could get my hands on, but my two favorites albums were Bright Red and The Ugly…

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Mentors

My eight-year-old daughter Lilly is sometimes an impatient, self-doubting perfectionist. She picks up a pen and draws a picture of a monkey (the girl really has a thing for monkeys) only to sigh a minute later. “Mama, I can’t draw.” The same goes for reading clocks, swimming, doing timetables. “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” after only five minutes of trying. “Practice makes perfect,” I tell her, dipping into the golden store of parental cliches. But I don’t tell her how hard it sometimes is for me to follow the same advice. I’ve gotten better about this with writing. Somewhere along the…

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Winter, Du Nervst!

As the great German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Oh, winter in Berlin, the cruelest of all seasons! If I were but a bear, nestled in my darkest cave, slumbering from November until the very Ides of April.” Ok, so Goethe didn’t really say that. But if he had, he’d be so right. One winter in Berlin is enough to transform even the most cheerful Pollyanna into a Ms. Gloomy Wednesday for a good five months. SAD is a real thing, my friends. Oh yes, indeed, it is. But before you roll your eyes and blame my Berlin…

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A Dark Day

January 20, 2017, the day Washington fell into the hands of billionaire bigots, zealots and neoliberal goons, with a twittering, tantrum-prone ten-year-old at the helm, immature for his age. Part of me still can’t believe it happened, like maybe I’ll wake up soon, white knuckling a pillow, and tell my husband, “Oh my god, I just had the most terrible dream.” Never have I been happier to be an expat. But no matter how long I live abroad, I am and always will be an American. Here in Berlin, 5,654 miles away from where I grew up, I’m still heartbroken;…

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Schnauze, Berliner Schnauze!

If you’ve ever spent time in Berlin, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve experienced Berliner Schnauze. Berliner Schnauze (Berlin big mouth) is what locals call the direct, unfriendly attitude of native Berliners which often involves yelling at perfectly nice, well meaning strangers such as yourself who happen to be breaking zeh rulez. In the video below, I explain a little about why this happens (if such a thing can be explained), how to deal with it and what you can do to avoid it. Viel Spaß! Here’s the German phrases I mention in the video: Entschuldigung, ich wusste nicht, dass…

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Bowie And The Last Of The High School Virgins

January 10, 2016 I’m in the middle of a big translation project for a tourism company here in Berlin and the project is due at the end of the week, but fuck: how can I translate a text about Hitler’s Bunker when the Thin White Duke is dead? I take a break I can’t afford to record a song in Bowie’s honor. Bowie: 1. Hitler: 0. In high school, Bowie was my musical god, right up there with the Violent Femmes and the Ramones. I had a light gray cassette of his greatest hits which I listened to while showering…

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Pretty Voice

When I was in my early teens, I started taking piano lessons. My teacher also taught classical voice and, at some point, my sister started taking singing lesson with her.  One day my sister couldn’t come to the lesson and the teacher—she probably just didn’t want to loose the money—suggested I take her place. We went through some of the Italian art songs every beginning classical singer learns. It’s such a shame these songs around mostly sung (i.e., slaughtered) by novice singers, because many of them are extremely beautiful. Here’s Cecilia Bartoli doing one of the most widely sung Italian…

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What Do You Want From Us?

In 1998, about six months before I moved to Berlin, I got a full-time job at a call center in the Embarcadero for a company called Aegis. The company offered a mortgage acceleration program; they took people’s mortgage payments out of their bank accounts with a certain amount consistently added on top of the principle, so their mortgage was paid off at a faster rate. The program was on the pricey side and stupid really, since in theory anyone could do this by themselves. But I didn’t really mind it because we were allowed to be honest. When people called…

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Poor Old Me

What am I anyway? A hair on the left hindleg of a microscopic mite, a single speck of plankton in an ocean upwelling fifteen miles long. No one, niemand, nada, nichts. Yes folks, welcome to my own private pity party, a regular nobody-likes-me-I-guess-I’ll-go-eat worms affair. Ach Rebeccah, why so glum? Dunno. Maybe it’s the birthday blues 71 days too early. Maybe it’s the eve of a Berlin winter, when it’s already dusk at 4:30 in the afternoon, when sleet and ice and snow are a daily affair, when the sun disappears behind an unmoving blanket of gray and won’t come back…

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