TQE | That Queer Expatriate

Expatriate, not ex-patriot: I'm a progressive liberal and queer American in Berlin, Germany. My roots in include 18 years in Denver, 6 in Laramie, Wyoming, 6 in Bloomington, Indiana, and 6 in Weimar, Germany. Sense a pattern? Don't want to leave a comment on this blog? Email scintillatingme at gmail.com, username "elmadaeu"

Baby… #Berlin is Porn That Way; #glbt porn that is…

So Saturday I found myself looking at a gigantic picture of what was undeniably a man. With a pussy.

Yes, it was a naked Buck Angel, and as I’ve heard him described himself, while listening to the Savage Love podcast, he’s a man with a pussy. Never having seen him naked before (not my thing), it was something seeing him in all his glory as he welcomed me to the Porn That Way exhibition at the Schwules Museum*, Berlin.

The Schwules Museum* (Gay Museum*) is a Berlin institution dedicated to… uh… as they put it:

With its highly regarded exhibitions, archival holdings, numerous contributions to research and more than thirty-five (mostly volunteer) staff, the Schwules Museum* has, since its founding in 1985, grown into one of the world’s largest and most significant institutions for archiving, researching and communicating the history and culture of LGBTIQ communities. Changing exhibitions and events take diverse approaches to lesbian, gay, trans*, bisexual and queer biographies, themes and concepts in history, art and culture.

Currently the majority of its exhibition space is dedicated to Porn That Way – at least through the end of March 2015.

I popped in, with one of my colleagues to have a gander at the diversity that is GLBT porn – and I have to say that – at least among the gay porn, I recognized a lot, including (near the start) images that I had previously seen on the Antique Erotic tumblr. There were also numerous images from things that have crossed my radar – Brent Corrigan (a man whose first films featured an underage Brent Corrigan), Cazzo Films porn from Berlin (including a snap of two men fucking on one of the old railroad bridges that cross Yorckstrasse), and Jake Cruise (so. not. my. thing.).

But of course there were things that I wasn’t so familiar with: lesbian porn and trans* porn. Of course, as the exhibit points out, much of the early lesbian porn wasn’t actually made to titillate women, but was rather designed to excite heterosexual men – with lesbians accidentally enjoying some of it. (It’s my understanding from my lesbian friends that they find “lesbian porn” that’s for straight men to be somewhat unrealistic – especially with the long fingernails.)

There were also examples of comic book porn – something I’ve only seen occasionally and never quite understood (this is actually true for graphic novels/comic books in general: they don’t work for me). That said, there was one featured that I must acquire: Al-Qaeda’s Super Secret Weapon. Check out this review:

My favorite (and that of my colleague), was a series of photographs, hung in a row, of men, holding their legs up in the air, showing off their asses. As a collection, it would be awesome to have all hung in a neat row in my apartment.

The Schwules Museum* has three other exhibitions right now: Leonard Fink’s Photographs of Gay Liberation and the New York Waterfront, New in the Collection, and an homage to “13 Years of Klaus Wowereit As Mayor Of Berlin.” In this order: meh, vaguely interesting, and – at least for me – I don’t care if Klaus Wowereit is gay – he was a terrible mayor (see Berlin Brandenburg International Airport).

For a mere 7,50€, my Saturday afternoon with porn was enjoyable. It is worth the effort to find the Schwules Museum in its slightly obscure (and new, if you’re not aware that it moved) location — Lützowstraße 73, 10785 Berlin.

Although it’s surrounded by public transport, it’s not close to any single stop and the streets are a bit confusing –it is easier and clearer to walk from “Potsdamerstraße/Lützowstraße” (M48/M85) or Lützowplatz (100, 106, 187, M29), than to navigate from Nollendorfplatz and its myriad of transport options. If you’re not familiar with the neighborhood, do note that Kurfürstenstraße, west of Potsdamer Straße, is filled with working women – who try to attach themselves to single men.

On my media choices: putting my money into quality journalism

I’ll admit it: I am a huge freeloader when it comes to news on the Internet: if it’s free, I’ll read it. If it’s not free… well, then it depends.

I’ve had a long-standing list of media that I would be happy to pay for: The Economist, The New York Times, and The Guardian.

And in reality, I pay for The Economist – it’s my serious news source – the one that I read from cover to cover every week, savoring nearly every page.

As for The New York Times – I get my digital access through a relative’s paper subscription. I guess that makes me a bit of a freeloader – but if I weren’t using my relative’s digital access, it wouldn’t be used at all.

With respect to the Guardian, I always noted that while I would be happy to pay for it, they had no mechanism to actually give them money. I actually made this comment to a friend last week – lamenting the fact that I couldn’t give them money, but internally smug since it was money I wasn’t shelling out for incredible journalism.

And then Guardian Membership (beta) popped onto my radar – and I actually had to eat my words – faced with a menu of being a friend, a partner, or a patron. Free, £135, or £540 per year.

It was clear to me that I have a moral responsibility to join, to pay, and to support a newspaper whose work is incredibly important. So I bellied up to the bar and have become a partner – giving The Guardian roughly what I pay The Economist for an annual subscription, and roughly what The New York Times costs digitally (if I weren’t using my relative’s subscription).

I will probably never use any of the benefits that come with being a Guardian Partner: 20% off live events are great, but the vast majority of live events are in the UK. While I might, I suppose, watch a live stream or show people my Guardian membership card, I suspect that the main benefit of being a Guarding Partner for me will be the warm fuzzy feeling I get every time I read an article and realize that I’m helping fund and support the journalists who are bringing it to me.

And that’s enough for me.

Airports and Airlines XVI

My travels for 2014 are likely over — and I was surprised to realize that I had not updated this in almost two years — so I had to do a lot of thinking and examining of my calendar to remember all the new airlines, airports, and airplanes that I had used, visited, and flown.  There’s a tiny chance that I will fly somewhere for Christmas, but, if I do, it would be  on an airline I’ve used before, to some place I’ve been before, and on a type of equipment that I’ve flown before.

The highlights of the last two years? Asia, it’s airlines, airports — getting there on the 787.  HND, NRT, HIJ, FUK, ICN, and HKG — plus, depending upon how you count it, GUM — with ANA, Asiana, and, not that it is new, United.  Throw in northern bits of the UK, and my non-US count shot up dramatically.

Within the 50 United States, I’ve added only one mainline carrier: Hawaiian — one of two airlines named after a state — and it’s 717, a plane that is difficult to find and fly.

The first couple months of 2015 promise to be exciting (at least for me) with two new airlines and five new airports — and, I believe, one new type of aircraft, the Dornier 328 – 110.

I might note that at least one of the US airports that I have flown to will be losing commercial service in 2015 — and it would not surprise me if a second airport also lost commercial service: CLD for sure, LAR likely.

Airports I have flown in or out of:
US: ABE; ALB; ATL, AUS; BDL; CLD; CLE; CVG; DCA; DEN1; DEN2; DFW; DRO; DTW; EWR; EVVFAR; GSO; GUM; HNL; IAD; IAH; IND; JFK; KOA; LFT; LAR; LAS; LAX; LGA; MCI; MCO; MEM; MKE; MOB; MSP; MSY; ORD; ORF; PDX; PHX; PIT; PVD; RDU; SAN; SDF; SFO; SHV; SLC; STL (50)

Non-US: AMS; AOC; AYTBHX; BRS; BRU; BTS; BUD; CDG; CGN; CPH; CPT; DUB; EDI; EIV; ERF; EVN; FDH; FRA; FUK; GDL; GLA; HIJ; HHN; HKG; HND; ICN; INV; IST; JNB; KBP; KOI; LCY; LEJ; LIS; LGW; LHR; LSI; LUT; MAD; NRT; NUEPMI; PRG; STN; STR; SVO; SXF; SZG; THF; TLL; TXL; VIE; YUL; YVR; YXU; YYR; YYZ; ZRH (59)

Airports visited but not traveled through: CID; COA; COS; MDW; PUB;

Airlines I have flown on:
US Based Carriers: America West; American; American / American Eagle; Aspen; Cape Air; Continental; Continental / ExpressJet; Delta; Delta / Atlantic Coast; Delta / Comair; Delta / ExpressJet; Frontier (new one); Frontier (the original); Hawaiian Airlines; Midway; Midwest Express; Midwest Express / Skyway Airlines; Northwest; Northwest/ Mesaba Airlines; Northwest / Pinnacle Airlines; TWA; United; United Express / Atlantic Coast; United Express / Chautauqua; United Express/ Express Jet; United Express / SkyWest; US Airways

Non-US Airlines: 1Time; Аэрофлот; Air Berlin; Air Berlin / TUIfly; Air France; Air France / Régional; Air Service Berlin; ANA; Asiana; Austrian (Tyrolean); brussels airlines; easyJet; germanwings; KLM; KLM Cityhopper; LanChile; Lufthansa; Lufthansa / CityLine; Lufthansa / Eurowings; RyanAir; RyanAir / Buzz; SAS;  Sky Airlines; SkyEurope (Hungary); SkyEurope (Slovak Republic); Singapore; SWISS; TAP Portugal; Transavia;Turkish Airlines; Tyrolean Airlines; Міжнародні Авіалінії України; VLM Airlines.

Star Alliance Hubs Used (as hub): Brussels, Chicago/ORD, Cleveland, Denver, Frankfurt, Houston, LAX, Munich, Newark (as Continental & United), Tokyo (HND), Tokyo (NRT), Washington/Dulles, Zurich (Hubs as O&D: Copenhagen, Denver, Frankfurt, Guam, Istanbul, Seoul (ICN), Vienna)

SkyTeam Hubs Used (as hub): Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, MSP, Memphis, Moscow (SVO), New York/JFK, Newark (as Continental), Paris, Salt Lake City (Hubs as O&D: Amsterdam, Prague)

Airplanes flown on: 717, 727, 737 (-200, -300, -400, -500, -700, -800, -900), 747 (-300, -400), 757 (-200), 767 (-200, -300ER, -400ER), 777 (-200), 787 (-8), A318, A319, A320, A321, A300-600, A330 (-200 -300), A340-300, Avro RJ85, BAE146, Cessna 402, Corvair, CRJ, CRJ-900, DC 9s (-30, -40, -50), DC 10 (-30), EMB-120, MD 11, MD 80, MD 90, ERJ-145, -190, -195, F50, F70, F100, IL-86, Saab 340, TU-154M.

Places I’ve Entered the USA: Air: Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Cincinnati (CVG), Denver (DEN), Detroit (DTW), Guam (GUM); Houston (IAH); Memphis (MEM), Montreal (YUL); New York (JFK), New York (EWR), Salt Lake City (SLC), Vancouver BC (YVR), Washington (IAH) (14). Land: Detroit, El Paso, Niagara Falls, New York Northway (4)

Places I’ve Entered Britain: BHX, BRS, EDI, GLA, LCY, LHR, LGW, STN (8)

Places I’ve Entered Schengen: Air: AMS, AOC, BRU, CDG, EIV, ERF, FRA, MAD, MUC, SXF, TXL, ZRH (11) Land: Dresden (train from Czech Republic), Görlitz (Foot from Poland), Konstanz (Road from Switzerland), Vienna (train from Bratislava) Sea: Helsinki (Ferry from Estonia) Note: Some of these crossings are no longer Schengen border crossings, but they were when I made them.

Notes:

DEN1 = Stapleton International Airport; no longer exists

25 Years Later: I have no idea where I was when the Berlin Wall fell.

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling.

It’s interesting – for the first time, that I can recall, I was asked what I was doing when I heard that the wall had opened – and it occurred to me that I really have no memory of the event, when it happened.

Lichtgrenze & Berlin Mauer

Lichtgrenze & Berlin Mauer — together in one of the few places where the original Berlin Wall still stands, next to Niederkirchnerstraße.

The days that are crystal clear to me are Space Shuttle Challenger exploding, the day that news about Matthew Shepard broke, and September 11th.

But not November 9, 1989.

It is, however, clear for my older German friends – not so much for the younger ones. And in retrospect, it’s hard to underestimate how important that day was in history – and how much the East German experience says about the capacity of man to act inhumanly toward his fellow man.

Lichtgrenze

The Lichtgrenze made for challenging photography — I didn’t want to cause any accidents, so I didn’t bring my tripod. I wish other photographers had been more respectful.

To mark the 25th anniversary, a “Lichtgrenze” was put up through Berlin – marking the core path through the city center where the Berlin Wall once stood.

other 004

Lichtgrenze at night.

It was an interesting concept – large balloons were put on top of polls along the path, and then messages were attached, with string, to each balloon. Lit by a lamp, the balloons stood along the path of the Berlin Wall throughout the weekend, culminating in their release Sunday evening starting at about 7pm – roughly when the wall was breached back in 1989.

Lichtgrenze - Liftoff

Lift off of the balloons along the Lichtgrenze — speeding off into the night sky.

I spent a couple hours Sunday evening wandering the Lichtgrenze with Snooker in Berlin – about a kilometer of it – making note of how it looked. For me, it worked – the brightly lit, white balloons slowly bobbing in the wind – the excitement of people wandering along the lights – waiting for the runner to come along and tell the man guarding each poll that it was time to release the balloon.

Balloon -- Caught

Some of the balloons only travel a few meters before becoming captured. There’s a metaphor there, but I’m not going to touch it..

And then it was over – a few balloons made it no further than the tree above and a few had to be tugged loose from their polls – but ultimately the Lichtgrenze “slipped the surly bonds of earth” – vanishing more quickly than the actual Berlin Wall, which can still be found in a Las Vegas men’s room.

Berlin Wall: Repurposed

The Berlin Wall is everywhere, including this Las Vegas casino bathroom!

49 States… plus DC and Guam

Me at the Southern Most Point

Me at the Southern Most Point of the 50 United States.

One of my long-term goals is to visit all 50 United States.

Surfing Weather...

Such a stereotypical photo of Hawaii, eh?

My 49th State was Hawaii – time zone speaking 12 (now 11) hours different from Germany. Honolulu was supposed to be a non-stop flight away from Denver, but due to a malfunctioning APU, there was an unexpected 3-hour stop in LAX.

Surfing!

Riding the wave… in the morning sun.

Thus, missing our scheduled connection meant a late arrival into Kona and no idea what was awaiting us at our vacation condo rental – although we knew it was next to the ocean and the sound of the waves crashing ashore was obvious.

Steam Venting

Steam Venting at Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. Looks a lot like battlefield photos, but it’s not, I promise.

I would return to Kona – although the heat and humidity is not for me. My sister and I had a nice time, doing strange things: we visited the southern most point of the 50 United States, stopped by Volcanoes National Park, drove Saddle Road, toured an artists village, toured a coffee plantation, saw a sea turtle, bought Kona Coffee, and visited the astronomy center.

Coffee on the Tree

Coffee on the tree…

Sea Turtle

Sea Turtle in the ocean.

We spent two nights in Honolulu – doing three interesting things: Pearl Harbor, the State Capitol, and the Bishop Museum. The rest of what we did in Honolulu was enough to discourage me from ever returning to the city: sit in traffic.

Honestly, I cannot remember having ever sat in so much traffic before. We spent 30 minutes to go less than a half a mile at one point. Remember that scene in LA Stories where some old man using a walker passed the traffic without breaking a sweat? Yeah – Honolulu is that bad. The Dole Plantation was, after one ate the obligatory Dole Whip, dull. The two-mile Pineapple Express Train Ride was forgettable.

USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona, poking above the water.

USS Arizona -- Leaking Oil

Oil continues to leak from the USS Arizona.

But, as I said, Honolulu’s salvation (so to speak) came in the form of three good things – although the “goodness” of Pearl Harbor is debatable. The memorial is very well done – I found it impressive, rising to the occasion. The exhibits were relatively well balanced, including explanations of what drove Japan to attack, and highlighting their goals.

Hawaiian State Capitol

Hawaiian State Capitol

The State Capitol was also quite impressive, although we were unable to visit the chambers because they were being used to help coordinate next week’s election. We stopped by the governor’s office, which is most impressive, even seeing a portrait of Governor Quinn, Hawaii’s last territorial governor, and first state governor. This was especially neat as I had watched Governor Quinn stump the panelists of a 1958 episode of What’s My Line.

The last redeeming feature of Honolulu was the Bishop Museum, which has an amazing collection of artifacts representing not just historic Hawaiian life, but also covering the peoples of the Pacific. I learned a great deal at this museum and saw some amazing artifacts.

Hawaiian Hall, Bishop Museum

This is the Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum.

One of the coolest things that I learned was that a man from Micronesia knew how to navigate using just the stars – and that he came to Hawaii in the 1970s and taught Hawaiians how to travel – a skill that they had lost over time. The skill was put to good use when a team sailed from Hawaii to Tahiti without the aid of any modern navigation equipment in 1976. There is now a team of two boats going around the world without any modern navigation equipment – a three-year journey.

As for my goal regarding all 50 US States? My goal line shifted last April when I accomplished my goal of having visited all hubs for United Airlines – by flying to both Tokyo/Narita and Guam. Guam is a US Territory and it made me realize that I should include all five inhabited (and easy to visit) US territories. I’ll be off to Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. And Alaska.

Care to join me?

I am the king of bad timing – No falling back for me.

This year I have managed to spring forward twice, but I am never falling back.

Back in March I was in Chicago (well, Evansville, Indiana) for the spring forward that marks Daylight savings – lost an hour of sleep there. Then I returned to Berlin and experienced the spring forward there as well.

In other words, twice I lost an hour of sleep.

Now that fall is here, it’s time to fall back – Berlin fell back last weekend. I was in Hawaii – no extra hour of sleep for me. The United States falls back Saturday night – I’ll be landing in Berlin as time shifts on the American east coast – thus meaning that I will not get that extra hour of sleep.

How’s that for travel planning: twice losing an hour of sleep, twice missing an extra hour of sleep.

I’ve cheated myself.

Hawaiian Sunset

Hawaii Sunset

I’m a Mile High… and feeling it.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Visiting Denver is a challenge – it’s 5,280 feet above elevation – 1600 meters for those in metric.

I spent much of my first day in downtown Denver, which rests just below this elevation, visiting with a friend. It took only 4 hours before I was winded – breathing heavily, feeling miserable.

The elevation was getting me.

Since then my I’ve acclimated to the elevation – I’m not energetic, but I can do things like walk without feeling exhausted just because I’m moving.

Until today: I popped up to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in order to admire its beauty. It’s a natural amphitheater in a stunningly beautiful setting. Driving up there I didn’t expect to be alone, but I expected, at most, a handful of people admiring its inherent awesomeness.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

I was not alone.

It turns out Red Rocks is an exercise mecca for people in the area – and it’s set at 6,400 feet above sea level—so nearly 2000 meters.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

As I sat, catching my breath, I watched people run back and forth along the seating area, I watched people run up and down, and I watched people do all kinds of uncomfortable looking maneuvers.

It was enough to exhaust me just watching.

This altitude sickness has affected me before – and I fully understand my Mom’s complaint about what it is like to come up to Denver – and how long it takes to adjust. I imagine that if I were hanging out in Denver full time, the extra 1200 feet it takes to go from downtown to Red Rocks wouldn’t kill me. That said, less than a week is not long enough for me to do it comfortably.

Fall = Pumpkin Spice MADNESS in the USA!

Snaps, Pasta Sauce, Popcorn

I love the Pumpkin Snaps, I can leave the Pumpkin Spice Popcorn. I’ll try the pasta sauce tonight

Pumpkin Ice Cream

If I weren’t lactose intolerant.

Yesterday I popped into a Spouts Market – an American Organic Supermarket chain that is challenging Whole Foods by being affordable.

What immediately caught my eye is the appearance of Pumpkin Spice – and other “pumpkin” – flavored goods.

Now I’m aware of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte – something I partake of about three times each fall (omg! What a sugar rush!) before deciding I don’t need it again for a long time.

In Germany I also partake of Pumpkin Ravioli – fresh made and sold at one of my nearby street markets. The end of Pumpkin Ravioli season is always a tremendous disappointment in my book.

Pumpkin Spice Sweets

I did not buy these.

America, though, has taken it to a whole new level – with a seriousness that caught me completely off guard: pumpkin snaps, pumpkin spice popcorn, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin spice chips, pumpkin – well, if you can imagine it, Sprouts probably has it in pumpkin flavor.

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Nor did I buy this.

Pumpkin Tortilla Chips

I bet these are disappointing.

Sparkling Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider

With this, your entire dinner could be pumpkin.

Matthew Wayne Shepard, † October 12, 1998

Cowboy Pride FlagWow, another year has rolled around.

This doesn’t feel as raw as it did the first time, but I still go back through the memories of everything I felt that week, when I was in Bloomington, Indiana, and all the attention was on Laramie, Wyoming.

With distance – both in terms of time (16 years now!) and distance (5,019 miles/ 8077 km) – come inherent dampening. Younger people – gay or not – don’t viscerally know who Matthew Shepard is and the (unfortunate) role that he plays in Queer History. Germans my age might not know as much about him – although his impact was global, certainly the majority of the impact was within the boundaries of the United States.

But remembering him and his pointless, untimely, death is something that I do.

Even as same sex marriage is (finally) being made available to Americans (albeit slowly), I still get the privilege of seeing facebook “friends” of friends tell us that the federal government shouldn’t be telling local governments that have banned same sex marriage that the ban is unconstitutional – and that the right to same sex marriage is just like gun control laws. (There’s a certain lack of intelligence, logic, and empathy….)

I shouldn’t let this get under my skin – I should be magnanimous toward the less well educated. (How on earth did they never take a class on US Government? Or if they did, how could such a class omit the concept of “Judicial Review,” as well as the checks and balances built into the three-branch set-up of American government? It boggles the imagination.)

Sorry, I digress.

Today I’ll be wallowing a bit in things Wyoming and things about Matthew Shepard. Re-reading October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard (a set of poetry), re-watching the HBO production of The Laramie Project, and – early in the morning – listening to a little bit of Cowboy football (the team is playing at Hawaii, and although the game is Saturday for them, for me, it is first thing Sunday morning.) There will be some brown and gold in my life, as well as some Jason Collins (Number 98!).

For historical reference, see 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, or any of the many times he’s been mentioned on my blog via a search for Matthew Shepard.