Being in a city like Berlin, so covered in and receptive to graffiti, and not participating in some way is a special kind of mental anguish for Max. Luckily, a portion of the former Berlin Wall has been designated as an area where it is A-OK to spray, any time of day. The legal wall is in Mauer Park, which, coincidentally, translates to 'wall park'.
The Park is situated around a hill with a remnant of the Berlin wall on top. In darker times, the area on the eastern side of this wall was a “Death Strip”; a 160 yard wide buffer of terrain covered in combed sand (so footprints could be tracked), guard dog runs, razor wire, anti-vehicle trenches, floodlights and trip-wire machine guns — all of this under the watchful gaze of guards with 'shoot-to-kill' orders for anyone trying to cross. Basically, the “Death Strip” that ran along the barrier’s 27 mile entirety was the real wall, and the reason over 100 people died trying to cross into West Berlin to be reunited with family or other aspects of their previous life. It is easy to forget that the first iteration of the Berlin Wall went up practically overnight. People on either side were all-of-a-sudden cut off from their jobs, friends and loved ones with no perception of how long the divide might last. Turns out, it lasted almost 30 years.
Now, there is a sports stadium where the death strip once existed, and artists gather every day to paint colorful letters and characters on what was once the most infamous symbol of the ideological divide that defined the second half of the the 20th century. Pictured here is an interpretation of body, mind and self that Max visualized during our meditation retreat in Thailand some weeks ago.
The beautiful day wound down as the sun set over a canal in Kreuzberg, our neighborhood during our time in Berlin. Once a poor, isolated part of West Berlin, the area became an epicenter for counter culture when the city was reunified and artistic types congregated in the gritty affordable neighborhoods. It's dubbed as home to Berlin's revolutionary punk-rock movement, and was frequented by the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and Lou Reed. The omnipotent hand of gentrification has recently, and unsurprisingly, plied Kreuzberg into one of the most desirable areas for young people to live and work.
‘Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.’ — David Bowie