Today it was nearly 80 degrees . . . and for those of you in a more civilized part of the world, that’s about 26.5 C. I went strutting through my neighborhood around 5 and got groceries on account of it being a public holiday tomorrow, so all the stores will be closed. I stocked up on fruit and oat milk and church candles. I go through a lot of that stuff.

Anyway, no matter how grim I may grow about the mouth from time to time, I always feel all right again, at least for a little while, when I step out from my high tower and mix with the animals. Not since Austin have I truly had an honest-to-god neighborhood like this, one where I can walk to Stuff, and have my own Places, and so on. I have my own coffeeshop and bar and corner store (called “Lucky Beetle” in English), and three grocery stories, one of which being a 24-hour one, an essential asset for a hopeless nightcrawler freak like me. I even have four whole train lines which will take me to the city center and the farthest reaches on the Berlin Ring within 15-20 minutes. Wow!

And I know a fair amount of my neighbors, and recognize all the people who live and work within a five-block radius of my building. It is though they operate on a sort of track . . . they have daily Truman Show routines. I find this comforting. And unlike, say, Kreuzberg or Neukölln or Friedrichshain, and I have lived in all three, there are practically no tourists to be found, and there isn’t chaos everywhere. I’ve never even witnessed a crime here, which I came to be absolutely numbed to in Oakland, what with my bearing witness to at least one every time I left the god damn house.

There are TREES and ANIMALS all around, including foxes (!), which I often see at night by the cathedral in the square across the street—the square where, every weekend, there’s a huge market full of stalls selling flowers and chocolate and fresh honey and any kind of food you can think of. God help me, we also have PARKS, and they’re all really good. I gotta have a good park nearby, somewhere to get stoned and go strolling through at night, or else I’ll bust.

What I’m trying to say is Schöneberg feels like a town from EarthBound. To wit:

Nice, huh???

The other day, brother McCune inquired thusly:

. . . to which I replied: “Come on in, brother, the water is fine.”

Later on, back at home and once the sun had gone down, I was sitting at my desk working on who even knows, and I had my windows popped open at the top, and smelled a bonfire and heard people talking down below. I went out onto my balcony, which overlooks tall trees where little red squirrels live, and saw a group of people encircling a fire beneath a thicket in the neighboring yard. Everyone was just hanging out and feeling good. It looked nice as hell. I took a picture with a long exposure, which ended up looking like an impressionist painting:

They do this sometimes . . . you can count on it in the evening of any warm night here, and most holidays. I love it when my apartment smells like a bonfire, so I let it in. Sometimes I get a strange notion to join them, but I don’t know if that would be imposing or not.

Once, nearly ten years ago now, when I was on a bust assignment in Los Angeles with my cousin Jack, we parked our decommissioned police car, our Halloween costume of a car, on Ocean Boulevard in Santa Monica. We downed some mushrooms and walked down to Santa Monica Beach, and passed through the gloom beneath the pier with the lighted ferris wheel to get to Venice Beach. The stuff had kicked in by then, and we lay on the warm sand at midnight and looked up at the undulating pink sky and listened to the ocean for a while. Eventually we started to get thirsty, so we made our way up the beach to get back onto Ocean Boulevard to find a corner store. And I remember there was a group of people sitting quietly around a little beach fire. I was of course on a different planet inside my head just then, and feeling more affable than usual on account of that, I approached them to say hello. I remember them being so kind to me, and not treating me like some weird freak who had come to bother them. After a minute or so I told them to have a good night, and they said the same, and then Jack and I ambled back onto the main throughway to chug a liter of water each before moving on to a nearby park.

Though yeah: It would probably be all right if I went over there, but it wouldn’t be like I was passing through or anything . . . I’d have to go behind their building to get there. And maybe they would feel the pressure to switch to English to accommodate me. Often Germans will speak to each other in English when I am around, even when they aren’t talking to me directly, so that I don’t feel alienated. My friends in Turkey did this as well when I visited Ankara. I always appreciate this. But no matter: I let the Bonfire People be. It is nice enough to be in proximity to it, to hear them down there and to have that smell in my apartment for a few hours. Some days my life is a complete disaster, and I suppose that it’s over, that I have been cursed and cursed again, and then other days the hex seems to be temporarily lifted or else paused, and I remember the bad neighborhoods where I have lived and despaired, and feel lucky as hell that I have exchanged them for this one, hopefully once and for all. I’ll take sun or fire through the leaves any day. You know?

Good-night~ ☆彡