Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The Saga of Max Panties and My Stolen Bag

Some days - like today - I've got nothing to tell, and I should really get crackin on my work, so I just tell stories that happened a long time ago... copy and paste from my yellowed diaries, for your entertainment.
This one is quite weird - but I swear none of it is made up. I just love meeting strange people.


In 2000, the night before the Love Parade in Berlin, I went to my pub. You gotta know, the night before the Love Parade there are street parties everywhere. There are thousands of tourists with tons of money in their bags for drugs and booze. And of course, for that reason there are crooks everywhere, too.
One of the places to go for those street parties happens to be right around the corner of my pub, namely at Oranienburger Strasse in central Berlin. After a couple of pints I went outside with two Irish guys and we danced and partied with hundreds of other people that were crammed in the street. And that was where I was robbed.
My bag had my money (not much), my near $350 camera (which I just had forgotten to take out of my bag when I grabbed it and ran off to the pub, how annoying is that?) and my diary.
I went all over the place, trying to find it, assuming that the guy had cleared and dropped it somewhere. I knew my camera would be gone, and my money. And I really didn’t care that much, cos it’s stuff you can buy. But I was really mourning for my diary. You know how it is… you sit down and put your heart’s blood in it, and you can never write the thoughts down just as you did then. I never found it, though, and went home, quite depressed.

Two days later I got a call that someone had found my bag. (I had left my ID in the bag and so I could be contacted. Thank God I wasn't stupid enough to leave my housekey in there, as well. And a note, saying, "Dear Robber. This is where I live. Help yourself to anything you like. Sincerely, Stupid") I went to pick it up. And the guy who happened to have found it was called Max Panties. Max Panties was the owner of a junk theatre in which he and his buddy acted out bizarre plays. And it was just in the backyard of my Irish pub.
I walked around the theatre, trying to find the office the guy in the Tacheles (which I like calling Chucky's Dollhouse) had pointed me to. There were shreds of old weird clothes, dolls' heads nailed to frames and stuff that I cannot recollect because my brain refuses to store anything that it can't make sense of. You get the idea, though.
Finally I found the office. It was a white freight container you had to walk up to on metal stairs that made horrible clanging sounds, which probably worked better than any door bell. I knocked, and someone called me in. I found Max Panties (Mex Schlüpfer!) with his assistant, smoking pot. The air in the room was thick with the incense smell of it. Max Panties looked like his name... bizarre. He looked like a guy I would never want to meet in the dark, but he just rocked. (I just now surfed around a bit and it turns out Mex is quite a popular figure in Berlin. There goes my ignorance.) Slightly crazy, but genuinely friendly and fun and talkative.
The way he had found my bag was when he staggered out to a corner of the backyard, drunk, at early dawn. And he almost pissed on it, he said.
I told him the story, and he showed genuine compassion, offering me his joint. I declined politely. "Damn", he said. "Your diary? That hurts. What an asshole!" I checked the bag, and to my huge relief I found the diary still in there. The rest was gone, of course, but at that point I didn't care. Well, I did. In the camera was a film that had the pictures of a friend's leaving party, right before he returned to the states... and I haven't seen him since.

Anyways, we had a nice long chat, fuelled by the bottle of whisky I had bought him as a thank you gift. Max was thrilled about that. He said, last time he had found a wallet and gone through a lot of trouble to retrieve the owner, that guy - one of those wanna-be big shot business men in a bloody designer suit, driving a Beamer - treated him like utter scum. He offered Max money as a reward, but Max just wanted a ride back, which was on the guy's way anyway, but that bloke wasn't too happy with that. Max said he could tell the guy was glad to have him out of his car. "What an arrogant bastard", Max said. Damn right.
Then he told me the story of his days of wanting to be a poet. He went to Prague and got himself a nice suit the way poets wear them, and thought it would be wicked awesome to sit in a cafe in that suit, writing poetry. "I always wanted to do that!" Max said. "But guess what happened!"
His car got broken into in Prague, and everything got stolen. "Including my suit", Max complained. "I had never even worn it."
The funny thing was, Max spotted the thief in town a bit later - who unabashedly sported his suit.
"My poet suit!", Max complained. "Can you believe that?"
So Max went over to the guy, pointing out to him that that was his suit, and the guy ran.

Anyways, Max invited me to his junk theatre (RVolksbühne), and was just generally such a nice guy. And a true artist. Taught me a big lesson in the falseness of first impressions.
The world needs more Mex Schlüpfers... it would be such a fun place.

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