Heartache For Meredith
Yesterday I ran into an old colleague and we decided to have a beer in my favorite Kneipe in Berlin. It was still around 6 in the afternoon but early drinking is allowed in a city were the sun, that bright thing behind the dark clouds, sets at 4:30. I had to google berlin sunset to know this information. The moment we’ve walked in, “Garlands” by Cocteau Twins was playing, which is not a strange thing to hear in a city were the sun…. etch. It was followed, or mixed to be correct, by Section 25 and their song “Haunted”. It took me almost two more songs to realize that it was actually one of my own mixes, “Headache For Beth” to be precise. A throwback mix that took me around 2-3 hours to compile and the total time of the set to get it mixed. One of the most relaxed sets I’ve ever done. Gather a bunch of your favorite bands and pick a few of their favorite songs, choose a cool intro, so that people think you’re actually fucked up in the head and go. Minimum effort, minimum beatmaching. Easy peasy.
So, I asked Robert, the owner of the bar, where did he found out about this account on mixcloud.
-“She has the same name and the same taste in music with the love of my life, my other half.”
But Meredith Hunter was….
-“Yes I know, that young, black guy that was butchered by these fascist rednecks at that Stones concert.”
-Altamond. And yeah..erm Hells Angels.
-“Yes, that one, during Sympathy for…”
-It was actually “Under My Thump”, a song so sexist that a hells angel actually turned into a werewolf…and that was a bad joke, I continued, trying to save something that was doomed to fail from scratch.
-“Her name was Meredith, he replied, lightly stretching his voice, as to signal that he got the joke and he didn’t like it. Her name was Meredith and she was the daughter of an American father and a German mother, born and brought up in “incoherent city name pronounced with a heavy Berlin accent”.
-“I met her after she’ve moved in Berlin, around 1981. We met at a party in a flat somewhere around Kreuzberg. We were together for 12 whole years.” His oral cavity created the perfect definition of how to pronounce the word “whole” and mean it. That’s not gonna end good, I silently thought, while “Something Good” by South Of No North was playing in the background. Nice touch, asshole me.
-“This girl mixed a bunch of Meredith’s favorite songs and it’s fucking überwältigend (overwhelming, yes I actually noted these words), it’s like she’s actually here present with us. All these memories, living in Kreuzberg during the 80’s, squatting in Friedrichshain after the wall came down, the Mainzer Strasse riots and all this fucking chaos that drove us apart. Everything exists in these bands and songs and concerts and… Scheisse” (shit, I knew that)
-Did she move back to Hamburg?
-“No, she actually moved in London, in a fancy apartment, doing a fancy job that she hated and loathed but it was the only way for her to deal with her Traumen.”
And I’m just standing there, ready to take the full German shower of brutal honesty and detailed information hurricane.”
*Halber Mensch by Einstürzende Neubauten plays in the background*
“Damn, She loved Blixa so much…”
-“She was frequently raped by her father since the age of 8. Her father, a natural born macho-fucked up army officer. He was always nostalgic about the war and killing nazis. I was born in Berlin and the only people who were nostalgic about the war were always the neo-nazis. Though they were never really there. Funny widerspruch (contradiction, and of course I had to google all that) Her mother was a tiny-little religious shadow, a quiet and consent shadow, leaving in a small, quiet town. You know that sometimes silence can be louder than war?
-Nice start with Blixa I thought and then…bring on the crying horses.
-“Meredith was broken and fucked up, a highly lethal combination to cope with, while living in Berlin during these years. Heroin fucked more people than the ones who created something important under the influence, and if you don’t have a record label to pay your bills and your rehab, like Bowie and Cave, things can only go bad. I don’t think that she will ever return to “incoherent city name pronounced with a heavy Berlin accent”. She hates that place and she also got sucked up in Berlin’s black hole. London was the live or die quest that waked her up and I knew that there was nothing I could say that could convince her otherwise. Our friends and comrades were dying like flies due to o.d; the riot police would show up every day outside the squats. Hundreds of them armed like Panzers and ordered to take no prisoners. She got fed up from all the violence, death and beatings. Our relationship was falling apart and she had to go.
-But you were…
-“The last three years we were just junkies. Having breakdowns and always on the run. Radicalism is not in a addict’s habit and that was a failure that ignited panic attacks and bad memories and bad feelings…long pause…revolting was her pain killer to treat the demons of her past and a chance for vergeltung (retaliation), when she lost that…”
-She joined the dark side. I said not thinking too much.
And he actually laughed and cheered my beer with a loud german voice “something- something my friend and may the forze be wiz you and by the way thanks for this mix, it’s like a time machine that takes you back in time” *Germans are really-really descriptive.
-How did you know?
-“Since I commented about her choice to include “Psychotic Tanks” in the mix and you added that it’s a Conny Plank production, come the fuck on man. You also asked me “how did I know this mixcloud account”, which seemed kinda fishy from from start”.
-Yes I was owned, big time and I hated it cause I would much rather not say anything and leave this thought intact in his mind, that Meredith is somewhere in London and remembers her past in Berlin, the first 11 years at least, mixing her favorite music and getting ready to return back and have a grosses bier in my favorite kneipe.
-Have you ever felt like visiting her in London?
-“I was almost on time for her funeral. She took her life three days before I went there. It was five years ago but I still remember that rainy day, standing by her grave with only a few friends from her work, her girlfriend at that time and their dog. It still hurts you know, the timing and the irony of all.”
*Marilyn Moore by Sonic Youth is being played in the background, the last song of the mixtape, and the howling voice of the intro sends shivers down my spine, while I’m really trying hard to hold back the tears.*
He smiled a bitter smile and waved his beer in front of my lifeless face.
-“I hope I didn’t ruin your evening”.
-Why? Because I channeled the spirit of a dead girl in my mixtapes?
-“You’re using the name of a dead guy either way”, he said.” The past is only a ghost if you’re treating it as a ghost and now I’m really curious about this “Ghosts Of Berlin” mixtape of yours.
-Well, I hope you enjoy it but I have to go and buy presents for my girlfriend, squeeze her tight and tell her how much I love her. (The aforementioned mixtape begins with a sound clip from the “Wings Of Desire” film, the suicide scene to be precise, nice touch, asshole me)
-“You do that”, he said, laughing happily for the first time.”Geteilte Freude ist doppelte Freude, geteilter Schmerz ist halber Schmerz” (Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is halved sorrow.)
And yes of course he had to write down this old German saying for me.
Sound asleep till right until day
Frustrated desire turns you away
And turns you insane
Over and over
You get to a point
To make it disappear
And you’re always believing
And believing in fear
Over and over
And over and over
And over and over
It’s always a headache the size of a tour truck
She’s full of disorders, depends what you’re used to
She’s talking of tranches of truncheons in battle
Of bruises from bottles that never get better
Bad baby bitching she screams at the door
Hammer in hand & her head to the floor