When you’re confused by the world and need a place to turn, you don’t go to some flashy bar full of young advertising executives. You go to your local Kneipe (bar), where the neighborhood’s stories are made, told and cherished.
Last night, a friend and I visited one such place, just around the corner from where I live. It’s tiny, there’s no music, the decor strictly plastic, fibreboard and linoleum. The walls were pink and green, and decorated with posters of Marilyn Monroe and crooked-hanging fantasy landscapes that looked like Yes album covers. When we decided to play some pool, the owner had to find a cue-ball for us. But he did.
A 1 by 1.5 meter model building perched on top of the cigarette machine caught our eye. It was made entirely out of matchsticks. As I know from experience, only people with a lot of time on their hands — such as prison inmates — build complex objects from matchsticks. And this one had a lot of time on his hands. The building was least five stories, with arched entryways, working doors and windows, and various balconies.
The owner of the Kneipe, a friendly Albanian approximately named Dan, noticed our curiosity. We had been getting plenty of attention from him. We were his only customers. My suspicions were confirmed: a fellow from "Yugoslavia" made the building, starting during a prison stint and continuing through a long period of unemployment. Happily, the aimless young man finally found a calling in the service industry. He runs two bordellos (also called Freudenhaus — "House of Joy").
Dan then told us his life story. Came to Germany in 1960, worked 35 years in a machine-tool factory before being laid off. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, he opened up a fruit-juice store, "because I know a lot about juice." The rent got too expensive, though, and he had to shut the store down. So he became part-owner of the Kneipe just a few doors down. There will always be a bigger profit margin in alcohol than in fruit juice.
Dan enjoys his clientele. Recently a well-educated Iranian visited him. This Iranian could speak 13 languages. He was a geschulter Mensch, according to Dan. According to the Iranian, most of his fellow Iranians can’s stand the Mullahs and their radical new President. Secretly, they’d love it if the U.S. knocked him off, too. And, in fact, that’s just what the U.S. is going to do, said the Iranian. On March 23th.
You heard it here first, folks: On March 23rd, things are gonna start cracklin’. And I and my friend know this, because we avoided the trendy nightspots and went to where the people who really know life can be found. And where the beer costs only 1 Euro 50.