Freitag, 31. Oktober 2008

Watch out for Coalfinger!

Dienstag, 28. Oktober 2008

Ani in Amsterdam - the best yet!

It sometimes feels like ani difranco and I have grown up together. We are about the same age and she (well, ok, her songs) have been part of my life since I was 18. Since then, there has been a continuing, if somewhat one-sided ..., conversation with chunks of Ani´s lyrics being associated with chunks of my personal history. Somehow our lives seemed to (more or less) run in parallel, personally and politically. She sang about the break up of her marriage just as I was going through a big and painful break up myself. And now that I am preparing to be a daddy, she sings about being and becoming a mum. Beautiful lyrics such as these, I would love to sing (if I could ...) to our little rebel while she is still disguising herself as a large and growing tummy: "you're gonna love this world/ if it's the last thing i do/ the whole extravagant joke/ topped in bitter sweet chocolate goo/ for someone who ain't even here yet/ look how much the world loves you." Ani can still rant and did so beautifully at the Paradiso in Amsterdam last night (dedicating the ranting to the late Utah Phillips). She dedicated one of my all time favourite poems - Coming Up - to everyone working on Barack Obama´s campaign. Read it and you may see why:

our father who art in a penthouse
sits in his 37th floor suite
and swivels to gaze down
at the city he made me in
he allows me to stand and
solicit graffiti until
he needs the land i stand on
in my darkened threshold
am pawing through my pockets
the receipts, the bus schedules
the matchbook phone numbers
the urgent napkin poems
all of which laundering has rendered
pulpy and strange
loose change and a key
ask me
go ahead, ask me if i care
i got the answer here
i wrote it down somewhere
i just gotta find it
i just gotta find it

somebody and their spray paint got too close
somebody came on too heavy
now look at me made ugly
by the drooling letters
i was better off alone
ain't that the way it is
they don't know the first thing
but you don't know that
until they take the first swing
my fingers are red and swollen from the cold
i'm getting bold in my old age
so go ahead, try the door
it doesn't matter anymore
i know the weak hearted are strong willed
and we are being kept alive
until we're killed
he's up there the ice
is clinking in his glass
he sends me little pieces of paper
i don't ask
i just empty my pockets and wait
it's not fate
it's just circumstance
i don't fool myself with romance
i just live
phone number to phone number
dusting them against my thighs
in the warmth of my pockets
which whisper history incessantly
asking me
where were you

i lower my eyes
wishing i could cry more
and care less,
yes it's true,
i was trying to love someone again,
i was caught caring,
bearing weight

but i love this city, this state
this country is too large
and whoever's in charge up there
had better take the elevator down
and put more than change in our cup
or else we
are coming

Aside from her powerful lyrics, what I love about Ani is that she is a true musician. She is constantly experimenting, enjoying the act of creating (she sang three songs I had never heard before last night .... Given that I have all her albums, that is saying something ...). She is capable of filling a room with her voice and guitar (and amazing picking technique!). But at the same time, she loves playing with ever changing band set ups. So, for the record, the concert last night was the best one I have heard (and I have heard at least 8). Here is one of the encores ... a beautiful tale of love entitled ´both hands´ (the video is from last night!). Enjoy:

Freitag, 24. Oktober 2008

Eine Welt. Eine Schule. UWC auf RTL!

Ich schaue nicht oft RTL. Aber gestern war ich begeistert. 1 Stunde lang berichtete RTL über das United World College in Amerika. Du kannst - und solltest - das Dir hier anschauen. Tina Ziemer (16), die noch bis 2010 das Glück hat eines der 12 United World Colleges weltweit zu besuchen, wurde eindrucksvoll portraitiert. Ihre Erzählungen versetzten mich zurück in eine andere Welt, Anfang der 90er Jahre, als ich selber Schüler am Pearson College in Kanada war. United World Colleges haben mich und mein Leben geprägt. Sie sind ein einzigartiger Ort wo Jugendliche aus aller Welt gemeinsam lernen. Sie sind ganzheitliche Schulen, an denen man eine prima Schulausbildung bekommt - gleichzeitig aber auch Sozialdienste macht und sich für die Gemeinschaft einsetzen muss. Das Leben an einem United World College ist unglaublich intensiv. Heute frage ich mich oft, wie das eigentlich sein konnte, dass ich an einem Tag, neben der Schule, auch noch den Müll unseres 200 Seelen Dorfes UWC recyclen konnte, auf dem Meer kayaken durfte und abends noch einen Vortrag über den Irak hören konnte. Und gleichzeitig, ganz nebenbei, noch ganz viel über mich und die Welt durch den Austausch mit Jugendlichen aus aller Welt lernte. United World Colleges prägen Leben. Gerade der Alltag mit so vielen verschiedenen Menschen prägt; das ständige Auseinandersetzen mit der Tatsache, dass wir Menschen doch ziemlich verschieden ticken. UWCs, wie wir sie abkürzen, sind aber noch viel zu wenig bekannt - gerade auch in Deutschland. Auch deswegen war der RTL Film so wunderbar. Mindestens drei Mal wurden die United World Colleges aktiv im Text erwähnt. Der Beitrag zeigt das UWC-Leben positiv als eine Mischung von Abenteuer und toller Schule. UWC, das zeigt der Film, steht für den Austausch zwischen Kulturen, für Sozialdienst, aber eben auch für viel, viel Spass und Lachen. Ich hätte gerne noch einmal die Chance ein UWC zu besuchen. Das wird nicht gehen. Dafür hoffe ich, dass sich dieses Jahr ganz viele Jugendliche unter 18 bewerben. Reich muss man dafür nicht sein. Alle Schüler werden ausgewählt und wenn nötig werden alle Kosten übernommen. Also: Weitersagen! Wer Jugendliche unter 18. kennt die an ein UWC gehören - Bewerbungsunterlagen gibt es hier!

Mittwoch, 22. Oktober 2008

Remembering Phil Clapp

Creating soundbites is a special skill. Talking about complex political matters in a manner that journalists understand; well, to be honest, it´s been one of my lifelong ambitions. One of the best people to learn this from was Phil Clapp. Yes, sadly, was. Phil died recently in Amsterdam. Too early; way to early. It´s difficult to believe that at the next big political meeting, he will not be there. Will not be calmly smiling into TV cameras as well as explaining to civil society colleagues how best to interpret the political results at hand. Phil and I didn´t always agree, for sure. But the thought of him not being there to bounce ideas off of is deeply saddening. The thought of him not being around when the United States finally reengages in the global climate negotiations in 2009 is more than that. It is troubling, as we would have really needed his calm, but determined, voice. Watch some of Phil´s soundbites - a fitting memorial to one of the best spokespeople the environment ever had - here:

Freitag, 17. Oktober 2008

Beim Klimawandel geht es ums Überleben, Frau Merkel!

Es ist schon pervers. Seit Jahrzehnten ist kein Geld da für das was wirklich wichtig ist. Die Entwicklungshilfe ist weit vom 0,7% Ziel entfernt; zum Schutz der biologischen Vielfalt fehlt das Geld obwohl ihre Zerstörung uns teuer zu stehen kommt; das Geld für eine Energierevolution fehlt - oder fliesst auch heute noch in fossile Energien. Geld aber ist da, wenn sich Banker verzocken und die Vorhersagen derer von uns, denen bei der zunehmenden Liberalisierung der Finanzmärkte in den letzten zwei Jahrzehnten zunehmend schwindlig wurde, wahr werden. Sicher, ein staatliches Eingreifen jetzt war nötig. Aber dies ist es auch für den Klimaschutz. Der Emissionshandel darf nicht aufgeweicht werden. Die EU muss bis 2020 ihre Emissionen zu Hause um 30% im Vergleich zu 1990 senken. Ohne wenn und aber. Und wenn sich die Industrieländer in Kopenhagen 2009 hinstellen und sagen, sie hätten kein Geld um erneuerbare Energien und Energieeffizienz in Entwicklungsländer zu fördern, dann wissen spätestens jetzt alle - sie lügen! Danke, deshalb, an die Klima Allianz und ein breites Bündnis von Gruppen für die Anzeige im Handelsblatt oben (durch draufklicken wird sie groß und lesbar!). Beim Klimawandel geht es ums überleben! Hier und hier könnt ihr aktiv werden - für ein EU Energie- und Klimapaket, das diesen Namen verdient.

Mittwoch, 15. Oktober 2008

Drill, baby, drill!

Dienstag, 14. Oktober 2008

Bruce does it again ...

The polls are looking better just now. But, man, I just wish I was where it matters. I wish, I was where I was 4 years ago - walking around endlessly in the streets of a marginal state, like Ohio. I wish I was doing the - still tough, as this New Yorker story shows- job of ´selling´ Obama to white working class Americans, like some of my best friends. Instead, I sit here, increasingly nervous, reduced to wearing an Obama button around Berlin. I only watch on youtube, what I experienced first hand in 2004. But, truth be told, that can be fun. In 2004, Bruce Springsteen gave the most moving speech I heard on the election trail. He was so obviously the better speaker than Kerry, that it was almost a little embarassing ... The Boss will not compete with Obama on eloquence (nor would he want to, I imagine). But he is once again speaking freely and beautifully as he travels the country to get out the vote. Watch it!

Noble Prize Blogger ...

This is the first time someone I read regularly gets the Noble Prize for Economics. So, if you don´t yet follow Krugman´s columns for the New York Times, now is a good time to start!

Sonntag, 12. Oktober 2008

Organic beer, Dutch and Swedish style ...

Call me an old fashioned Greenie. But I have to confess, I couldn´t believe my eyes when I searched for organic beers in a Coop store in Malmoe, Sweden, and the only beer I could find was in a can! I was appalled. Not just because beers just don´t taste right after being stored in a can. But also because it seemed just too ironic: an organic brew in environmentally most dubious packaging. But, of course, I was still curious to try (and there was no other store anywhere near the European Social Forum, that had brought me to Malmoe). I was also curious to find out whether Abro, the brewer, would justify the choice of their packaging on their website. They don´t.. I guess they don´t feel they have to, being Sweden´s oldest and largest brewing giant. Should I complain - or just be happy that such a mainstream firm has an organic beer in their range, I wonder!? - Abro describes their organic ´oel´ as ´discreet´; they somehow detect a flavour of citrus in their brew. Their ´discrete´, to be honest, struck me as simply bland. If you think Carlsberg is a decent lager, you might just like this beer. If you are a fan of boring - and slightly sweet - lagers, go for it. But if your taste is for real Pilsner, do not touch it (and not just because it comes in a can!) - Real Pilsner is also not something the Dutch are famous for (sorry). But the Brouwereij ´t IJ does make a fine one! It´s flavoursome, strong, and slightly bitter. It´s how a Pilsner should be. Their wheat beer is also special. It´s strong (7%) and, for a wheat beer, surprisingly somber and hoppy. Not just because of it´s high alcohol content, it´s not a beer I can imagine having a few of on a hot summer day. But it is a true beer experience, and a special, unique taste. It´s a treat; and just right for a dark autumn night in need of some spice. - Luckily, I have four more ´t IJ beers to try over the next few weeks. I got a box of six from my wonderful Greenpeace colleagues as a farewell present. Thanks, Nathalie. Cheers to the Hotel California!