Keys to past and present appear like guardian angels in surprising forms.
My most recent hieroglyph appeared in the final scenes of “Angels of Desire,” a German movie by filmmaker Wim Wenders that I saw at this year’s Traverse City Film Festival. I like to go to German films at the festival to see how much I have to read the subtitles to understand the film. Often, though, I come out of the theater with another piece of life’s puzzle floating to awareness.
The surprising image was this: A sole apartment building sitting like a seed in the middle of a once bombed-out section of Berlin now cleared for redevelopment. The beginnings of an abstract mural is painted on its outside walls.
“Angels of Desire,” was filmed in 1987 in Berlin, my mother’s hometown and one of my favorite cities since the year I lived there in the early 1970s while on a newspaper internship.
Every day I had to walk about a mile from my grandmother’s apartment building down the Stresemannstrasse past the remaining wall of the old Anhalter Bahnhof rail station, Friedrichstrasse and Checkpoint Charlie to the tall newspaper office building built next to the Berlin Wall.
To this day, the smell of diesel exhaust stirs memories of that walk and images of the first time I saw Berlin in 1957 at age 8. Then, a post-war mountain range of raked-up bricks filled several city blocks near my grandmother’s apartment. My brother, 6, and I were not supposed to play in them because they were close to the American/Russian sector border.
When my six-month college internship was over in 1970, I got a menial backstage job at the Schaubuehne am Halleschen Ufer, a half block from my grandmother’s apartment. That’s how I — in a fly-on-the-wall sense — met Bruno Ganz, a well-known Swiss actor then and now. Festival-goers may remember him in his role as Hitler in the German movie, “Downfall,” a few years ago.
Ganz played the guardian angel who became human in Wender’s black-and-white film, which examined philosophical, psychological and spiritual questions at play in post-World War II Germany.
As I watched, I realized that parts of the movie were filmed in my grandmother’s section of the city. I remembered my mother’s belief in a personal guardian angel that saved her in that war.
I recognized that lone building with the unfinished mural from pictures I have taken of it over the last decade. Today, the whole structure is swaddled in murals and greenery in a vibrant section of the city where my brother and I weren’t supposed to play.
I finally understood why I walk through that area whenever I return to Berlin to visit family. It gives me hope.
Keys to past and present appear like guardian angels in surprising forms.
'Perry Hannah's Gifts: Then and Now'
“Perry Hannah’s Gifts: Then and Now,” is expected to arrive in town this week, fresh from the printing press and just in time for the holidays.Continued ...
Owen Walters is one of the lucky ones. “It was hard for me to do things,” he said, as his mom, Terra, reached over to squeeze his hand. “It’s really hard still.”Continued ...
Marta Hepler Drahos: Crafty Christmas helps mend broken heart
For years I’ve been on the receiving end of gifts lovingly made by hand — gifts like a picture frame decorated with beach stones I helped its creator collect, caramel and chocolate sauces for a favorite baked pear recipe, quilted wall hangings depicting my wedding and my beloved pets.Continued ...
Ed Hungness: Scooping the ashes
This fall we have been using our fireplace more than in years past. The season made its appearance and the first snow arrived before a final leaf raking.Continued ...
Books in Brief: 12/08/2013
Illustrator visit; Author discussion.Continued ...
Best Sellers: 12/08/2013
Best-selling books in northern Michigan and across the country:Continued ...
- Friday, December 6, 2013
Contribute: Best Christmas light displays
We’re searching for the area’s best neighborhood Christmas light displays for an upcoming Northern Living story.Continued ...
- Sunday, December 1, 2013
Santa's new digs
Marty Rhein takes his three children to downtown Traverse City every year to see the Christmas tree lighted and to visit Santa’s House.Continued ...
TC native makes music on world stage
Dan Trahey’s first foray into instrumental music wasn’t anything spectacular, but it led to a career in music that never would have been possible without the opportunity.Continued ...
On Poetry: Holidays time for children's poems
Holiday time. Time for a poem for the kids. What’s to say about this one except that it makes me smile?Continued ...
Best Sellers: 12/01/2013
Northwest Michigan Hardcover fiction 1. "First Phone Call from Heaven" by Mitch Albom, Harper, $24.95 2. "Chickadee Spirit" by Bill Smith, Sleepytime Press, $18.95 3. "Brown Dog" by Jim Harrison, Grove Press, $27 Paperback fiction 1. "The Whole GoldeContinued ...
Loraine Anderson: Long road to civil rights not over
I am grateful to PBS-TV for its documentaries looking back at American historical events from early in my lifetime and before. For most of this year I have been trying to write an essay that explores how slavery, the Nazi Holocaust, the Civil War andContinued ...
Books in Brief: 12/01/2013
Author expo; Author signings.Continued ...
- Friday, November 29, 2013
MOVIE CAPSULES not updated please duplicate
New this week Black Nativity: A street-wise teen from Baltimore who has been raised by a single mother travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives, where he embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey. RContinued ...
- Sunday, November 24, 2013
Reunion of a lifetime
The last time Darryl Nelson saw Sterling Sokolski he wasn’t sure she would live, he wasn’t sure he had done the right thing.Continued ...
App offers autistic children a way to learn language
It wasn’t too long ago that speech and language pathologist Matthew Guggemos would ask his autistic students “Whose shirt are you wearing?” and almost always get the same response: “Whose shirt are you wearing?"Continued ...
Nathan Payne: Maybe we're generation lost to 'selfie'
I’ve never been known for choosing my words particularly wisely.Continued ...
Ed Hungness: Turkey isn't thankful, but rest of us are
Once in awhile, a President of the United States makes a proclamation that everyone is happy with.Continued ...
Books in Brief: 11/24/2013
Writer’s series; Author signings; Evening with author.Continued ...
Best Sellers: 11/24/2013
Best-selling books in northwest Michigan and across the country:Continued ...
BESTSELLERS not updated - use Horizon Book list
Northwest Michigan Hardcover fiction 1. "First Phone Call from Heaven" by Mitch Albom, Harper, $24.95 2. "Chickadee Spirit" by Bill Smith, Sleepytime Press, $18.95 3. "Aimless Love" by Billy Collins, Random House, $26.00 Paperback fiction 1. " Good AContinued ...
- Sunday, November 17, 2013
Local captain nominated for maritime award
Capt. Rorke Miller grew up in a little different world from the one where many of his summertime sailing students hale.Continued ...
Faberges inspired area artist Helen Witt
Art is where you find and make it. And Helen Witt discovered and created art within the confines of egg shells that she painted, decorated and filled with intricate scenes that included miniature people, animals, trees and even ladybugs made and carefully painted before setting them into the shells, often with toothpicks.Continued ...
Garret Leiva: Deer camp for this rhinestone cowboy
I know it sounds weird, but Glen Campbell is stalking me. The country crooner follows my every move. He is in the car, at work, and even in the bathroom while I brush my teeth.Continued ...
Best Sellers: 11/17/2013
Northwest Michigan Hardcover fiction 1. "Chasing Utopia" by Nikki Giovanni, William Morrow, $19.99 2. "Critical Mass" by Sara Paretsky, Putnam Adult, $26.95 3. "Longbourn" by Jo Baker, Knopf Publishing Group, $25.95 Paperback fiction 1. " Dead DancinContinued ...
- 'Perry Hannah's Gifts: Then and Now'