Saturday, June 01, 2019

No Sleep

I wish I could say I had a good night’s sleep, but I would be lying.

I had hoped that if I closed my windows, I wouldn’t hear any noise from the courtyard in front of the hostel where everyone smokes.  The good news is that I heard no noise from there; the bad news is that the real problem was in the hallway.

As far as I can tell, the hostel invested absolutely nothing in sound proofing their rooms. It wasn’t just that I could hear the people yelling in the hallway or even talking in the hallway; I could hear them walking in the hallway.  With my ear plugs in.  I didn’t even think it was possible, but the hallway seems to have been constructed out of a material that amplifies, not muffles, sound. 

In the end, I took half an Ambien, not so much to fall asleep, but as not to get so anxious or upset when I was repeatedly woken up after midnight by all the noise from the hall.

There was some good news this morning, however: no one charged me six euros for the breakfast of Kaiser rolls, cereal, juice, and lukewarm tea.

At the Staatsbibliothek, I asked if I needed a new library card, showing the clerk the one I had from 2015.  She laughed and sent me to registration.  There, they too seemed amazed to see a card that old.  “We phased them out years ago,” she told me. “We even got rid of any photos or identifying information from the computer system under the new privacy law.”  When I mentioned that the archives remembered that I had been there 21 years ago, she laughed and said, “yes, but they’re archives.”  They issued me a new short-term card that allowed me to call up books from the stacks, which is all I needed.

When my article was rejected a few months ago, one of the readers suggested that I look at some research done by Alexander Zinn, though he added that he couldn’t fault me for not having looked at it earlier since the book was only published while my article was under review.  The Staatsbibliothek didn’t have that book, but his earlier one, so I called it up.

“How long will it take?” I asked at information.  “2-3 hours,” she replied.  It was 11:30, so I decided to take care of other business in the meantime.  That meant buying the metro cards for all the students, getting lunch, and finding out if there were any tickets still available at the Komische Oper for a revival of Paul Abrahams’ “Roxy und ihr Wunderteam.”

Not familiar with it?  I’m not surprised, neither was I.  A soccer-operetta in three acts, it premiered in Budapest in December 1936, before moving on to Vienna in March 1937.  It’s been described as a “sexually charged sports farce of 11 football players who meet 11 gymnastic women while all of them are at a training camp.  It was actually filmed, and it had the misfortune to premier in March 1938, just before the Anschluß (the Nazi merger of Austria and Germany). Only one print of the film survived.

Abraham had been a successful composer of operettas in Germany, but the rise of the Nazis forced him to emigrate, first to Budapest and then Vienna.  After the Anschluß, he moved first to Paris, then Cuba, and finally the United States, where he suffered a mental breakdown.

According to the website, all the tickets for tonight’s show were sold out, but at the box office, they told me there were three left. I’m going to the 19:30 show tonight.

Back at the Staatsbibliothek, I picked up the book I ordered and looked through it.  The author had befriended a gay male survivor of Buchenwald, and this basically told his story.  Not too much relevant to my research, but I found online that a copy of the new dissertation was at the Topographie of Terror library.  Sure enough, they had a copy and I looked through.  It became clear pretty fast that this was really an updating and expansion of his earlier book.  I noted the areas that would be relevant for my research, and headed out for some afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen.

This time I went to the Café Einstein on Unter den Linden.  I wavered over what to get, but in the end I went with the café au lait (since that’s basically three cups to drink), and the German Käsekuchen, or cheesecake.  European cheesecake is different from American cheesecake as it’s not based on cream cheese but farmer’s cheese.  This gives it a milder, lighter, and slightly grittier taste and texture. American cream cheese tends to be both more lemony and creamier. 

Nothing relaxes me more than sitting in a café for an hour so with something warm to drink, sweet to eat, and good to read.

Now I need to change for the theater and then head off to the Komische Oper.  Even as I write this, my students are boarding planes at LAX to fly here to meet me tomorrow. 

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