Thursday, June 08, 2006

I am a Doughnut: Hello from Berlin

From James

"I am a Berliner" -- Kennedy's famous speech from 1963 -- literally translates to "I am a Doughnut." To anyone not from Berlin, a Berliner is a doughnut. One of the many fascinating bits of trivia I'v learned on my trip to Berlin.

I'm here to speak to the Direct Group/Bertelsman conference today about my book "Lying with Strangers." I'm on in about 2 hours, my chin is bleeding profusely from a shaving cut, I'm still jag lagged and it feels like 4:30 a.m. to me, and I have no idea what I'm going to say because the monitor likes "spontaneity" and doesn't want to give me the topic or the questions in advance. If I were Cornelia, I'd be hurling big time right about now. So this will be quick!

Berlin has been great. I was here in 1983 before the wall fell, and it is fascinating to see the changes. I did go to East Berlin back then, and it was a gray, dead city. Last night we were at a sidewalk cafe in a place that was in the old "border" zone, and it was a lively and vibrant as you can imagine. It made me feel very happy for Berliners (the people, not the doughnuts) to see such change.

Tuesday was an interesting day. I went to the Berlin Cathedral, which of course has been totally rebuilt, as it was part of the 60% of Berlin that was totally destroyed by WW II. But they've done an amazing job of rebuilding it. And it is quintessential Berlin in every sense of the word. I arrived when a wedding had just completed. The bride and groom were standing on the front steps for photographs. It was definitely one of those "Why didn't I bring my camera" moments. The groom had long black hair down to the middle of his back. He was wearing all black, except for a silver jacket. The bride was dressed completely in a black gown. The sides of her head were shaved, and there was just one long strip of black hair down the center of her head that trailed down to her waist. This seemed odd to me, but them I realized the date: 6/6/06.

I come from a place where we often see strange things and simply say "Only in Miami." Maybe Berlin is one of those places too. I'll let you know when I get back next week. Right now, I need a doughnut.

James Grippando


  1. I'm sure you'll do GREAT, James, but I'm happy to lend you my bucket should the need arise!

  2. Posting from Berlin? Wow! You are one dedicated NakedAuthor! I worked in a bakery while I was in college but don't remember Berliners. Our German baker did make Bismarcks, though.

  3. Apparently, btw, "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" really CAN also mean I am a Berliner. I've read up on this believe it or not because I think it's SO funny but apparently it was acceptable German to say "Ich Bin (Ein) Berliner" though "Ich Bin Berliner" is better, or something. But I would so rather have a presdent who was a doughnut. Not just ANY doughnut mind you but a JELLY doughnut. Alas, though it's really urban legend that he goofed.
    Now, if he had been a cruller, now THAT works for me.

  4. This is why I miss Bill and Hillary Rodham Cruller so much. They were sweet.

  5. So, if Bill Clinton had been President in June 1963, would he have said: "Ich bin ein Krispy Kremer"?

  6. And what about old Cruller De Ville?