Monday, May 09, 2011

Welcome To Grade 9, Track 7

“The Zoo,” Scorpions

I'm not much of a cross-country skier, but I do own a pair — bought from the local thrift store. The last time I strapped them on (two winters back) I noticed they were, “Made In West Germany.”

Wild, but true: the world I grew up in had two Germanys, West and East, and Berlin, their former capital, was similarly divided — by a formidable wall and countless stories of desperate people who tried and mostly failed to cross it. The place was lousy with troops and nukes from the US and USSR, waiting to flame the place like yesterday's newspaper. My grade 9 classmates were convinced World War III would start right there.

I'd read John LeCarre novels in my bedroom, trying to imagine this place I'd never seen. And I'd groove to this song by the West German band Scorpions, which described (I thought) a strip of decadent nightclubs somewhere in West Berlin. Today I discover it's really about a strip of decadent nightclubs in New York City — proving yet again that we each have our uniquely foreign muses.


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