Charlottenstraße 4

Charlottenstraße 4

The image above and the next two come from my book, Surface Mono: Berlin, a collection of black and white photographs taken in Berlin over the course of several days this past May. The last three images were considered for the book, but not included for reasons far too trivial and dull to elaborate upon.

Berlin is a fascinating place. As you can imagine they are dealing with a lot of nasty 20th century history. The balance they are striking between acknowledging their past and dealing with their present is intriguing. For instance, before the Berlin Wall came down the physical differences between East and West Berlin were obvious. Not anymore. Until you see photos of how it was (and those exhibitions are plentiful) it is difficult to imagine a wall once where you are standing and people were shot trying to get over it. 25 years is not that long ago. Walking the streets and looking at pedestrians I constantly had the thought, “He (or she) was probably living here when the wall was up. How strange for them.” I imagine that recent scar partially explains Berlin’s subdued face. For such a large city the streets are unusually quiet and serene. Sure there are pedestrians and bicyclists and traffic. Yet, to hear a siren or car horn is physically jolting. Who would ever expect that in a city with 3.5 million residents? Like I said, a fascinating place. If you ever have the opportunity you should visit. Or if you don’t have the chance (or cannot wait to see more and more and more) a lovely photo book could be just the ticket. Just saying.

Pariser Platz

Pariser Platz

Leipziger Platz

Leipziger Platz

Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude

Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude

Siegessäule

Siegessäule

Berliner Philharmonie

Berliner Philharmonie

So if you look to the left…

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…you will notice this nifty badge displayed under the heading “Blurb Store.” See it, that large white rectangular shape with stuff inside its borders? The image looks suspiciously like a book cover, doesn’t it? Then come the words “By J.V. Brennan” which are placed a bit too far underneath it. Below those words and to the right is the Blurb logo, a blue irregular hexagon with the word “blurb” prominently etched within. Following along? I suspected as much. Well, all that is fine, quite lovely and the like. But the most important part of the badge sits on the extreme lower left, the orange letters “Book Preview” which rest there like a delicious bit of chocolate waiting to be savored.

You are savvy; you have been playing on the interwebs for a long time now. You know all about different colored words on a web page. You know what happens if you hover that screen arrow of yours over them. You know how the screen arrow turns into a hand with an index finger pointing upwards. You know when that happens something magical is suddenly within your reach – the possibility of travel to new, exciting, and unknown interweb destinations! Who doesn’t love a bit of travel, especially the mysterious kind? You are staring at that iconic hand and finger and you know you want to go to the Land of Book Preview, you must go the Land of Book Preview. Nobody is stopping you, so go. Now seems like the perfect time. Enjoy your trip and remember to keep your seatbacks and tray tables in the upright position on takeoff and landing.

P.S. – You could simply click here to experience the journey again! (More different colored words.) You’re welcome.

Frenchtown

Frenchtown hugs the Delaware River about 23 miles north of where George Washington crossed on that bitter Christmas night, 12 miles west of the courthouse where the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial was held, and a million miles away from the American pastime of tearing down a fascinating past to replace it with a graceless present. A faint musty bouquet kicks up every now and then, no doubt thanks to the omnipresent moving water and the inescapable truth most of the town is old – old sidewalks, old homes, old churches, old everything. The only “new” things are boutique shops and restaurants. They have taken root in repurposed commercial buildings in the tiny shopping district buttressing the Uhlerstown-Frenchtown Bridge. But perhaps that is all about to change. A couple of John Deere earthmovers sit silently in a vacant lot off Bridge Street. Although no real progress is apparant they promise construction of a modern townhouse community right in the heart of town. Have Frenchtown’s insular walls finally been breached? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. You see this quiet little hamlet is just far enough removed from most substantive employment opportunities to give any potential newcomer serious pause. The town’s small population has held steady over 140 years with good reason. Let the world constantly morph beyond their boundaries. The people of Frenchtown are quite content to sit back and watch the river flow like it has for many millennia before the area was ever settled. Build if you must, but that will not change.

The Frenchtown Inn

Bridge Street businesses

Borough Hall

Uhlerstown-Frenchtown Bridge

Flag Collection

Frenchtown alley