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July 11, 2005

Lutz Kinkel

Translated from the German by Ronja Grimm

King Ebert in the world of chocolate bar-marketing

There was a reason to leave Hamburg: The metro station »Königstraße«. Each Morning I had to leave the civilisation and descend to the station. In a neon-cold tunnel, in whose center a platform extended which bordered on two rails. The right one was the way to Altona, the left one was not. Behind the rails the tiles ran to the ceiling, chosen by architects on acid, in brown and orange. Some of the tiles had already comitted suicide and had thrown themselves on the rails. Nobody inhumed them, they were just grinded to dust by screeching interurban trains. What remained was the untiled plaster, which oscillated blurrily in tones of brown. This station was the alimentary system of the town. Nobody could ever feel different about this.

On the platform stood a lonely, tiled box for the conductors who used to work there in former times, until they were pegged out by the plague. Parts of this box were clothed in steelplate, the same material you use for guttersnipes. And to drunk tube travellers it didn't make a difference if they stood at a guttersnipe or at a conductor's box. If only it was steelplate.

A few metres in front of the box, at a brown tile-pillar, there was an automat with candy. It offered little cardboard boxes with tiny chocolate bars for 50 cents – a kind of wrapping which you wouldn't find anywhere else. The machine was already dented, some flag windows, which announced the particular brand just like cigarette machines, were already splintered. Nevertheless, hope inhered this machine. Because it was something special, a unicum of the chocolate bar-marketing in a standardised world of chocolate bar-marketing. He reminded me of the Fifties, back then, when the money was so hard up, that nobody could afford a whole »Mars«. And when there were no gene-altered machines with interior lighting, which were able to deal with complicated rotary-mechanisms and to show the prices on digital displays. So I fed my nostalgic friend with money. Two or three times. But nothing ever fell out. They had simply forgotten to dismantle it.

Someone who had caught a bad day because there hadn't been cigarettes for breakfast left, or some scumbag stole the newspaper again, had to fear the station »Königstraße«. Because the dreariness was inciting to follow the tiles and just turn to dust. And someone who had caught a good day because there were enough cigarettes for breakfast and the sun blinked over the Aldi next door, had to be afraid just the same. Because once you stepped on the stairs of the monitored tunnels, every smile died away at once.

Now I don't know if anyone has ever been standing at the station »Ebertplatz« in Cologne. I was there the first days after my removal, because I had to go from the »Agnes-Viertel« into the city. The Ebertplatz Station had not been built by architects on acid. God created it to punish architects on acid. He just reached into a bucket of concrete, twisted the mass around his finger and angrily threw channel by channel down to the earth. The force was so strong, that the channels sagged into the ground and formed a channel system there in the shape of an Ed Wood memorial octopus.

On one of these very days, as I stood in the octopus and Hamburg's alimentary system suddenly gained a mouldy charm in my memory, I wanted to buy a monthly ticket. So I went to one of these cells that are embedded in the wall and asked the servant for a monthly ticket. Smiling he asked back if I already had a peezelweasel. I wanted to know what a peezelweasel was and he repeated the weird word with a little different accentuation. I asked a second time and was peezelweaseled again. So I finally answered: »No«. That seemed to be right, because he now gave me the monthly ticket without hesitation.

Then I went over the escalator into the octopus and sneaked onto the platform. Video cameras eyed me, I eyed back and looked for a lonely, dented automat of the 17th century, that wanted to hand me semolina in wooden bowls. But I couldn't find one.

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Lutz Kinkel

Jahrgang 66, plante im Zwergenalter, in Oxford zu studieren und Showmaster zu werden – weil er Wim Thoelke ungeheuer beeindruckend fand. Aus diesen hochfliegenden Plänen wurde nichts. [..]

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