27 Feb Disco David, Berlin’s Fallen Angel
About two years ago a flower shop opened up just down the street from me. I was a bit skeptical about the prospects of survival for this business, positioned as it was, on the shaded side of the street and directly across from 3 other florists. Apparently, I thought to myself, the new owners had not studied much of the laws of supply and demand, nor the concepts of competition and strategic location. Perhaps they thought that by adding hand crafted jewelry to the product list, they were targeting a unique niche. In an attempt to lure the customers into the shop they employed decidedly clunky sex appeal, proudly filling their display window with a giant, white, plaster figure – a naked, moderately endowed male sporting angel wings and striking a disco pose from “Saturday Night Fever”. Half John Travolta, half Michelangelo’s David, what this statue had to do with flowers or handmade jewelry was beyond me, but there it stood with nary a fig leaf to cover its plaster privates.
For a little over a year the hybrid gift boutique survived, mysteriously, despite the stiff competition and forlorn flowers they eventually gave up trying to sell. Instead, once tuning the sidewalk into a little shaded oasis of lazy growth foliage, the owners sat on lawn chairs watching their potential customers cross the street to patronize the sunny competition. Over time the boutique seemed to devolve from a hopeful flowershop to a roadside garden for urban loiterers waiting out the lease that bound them to that spot. Eventually, as with many of the other retail experiments that have cropped up and died off on Tor Strasse, one day it was gone.
Riding my bike down Oderberger Strasse the other day I passed another new boutique with their wares proudly presented on the sidewalk in front of the store. This time, instead of selling flowers and jewelry, the concept includes selling off the furniture and other refuse left over from recently closed restaurants, bars and boutiques. Amid the sea of identical orange velour lounge seats glinting in the sunlight, stood a familiar figure. Slightly weathered and decidedly tired, the old flower shop’s Disco David statue towered over the other failed furniture – left arm pointing skyward in its fixed stance. It stood there dejectedly, one of its wings having been broken off somewhere between its time as the florist’s mascot and its new halfway house at the re-sale shop. A forlorn fallen angel, Disco David has bore witness to the common Berlin story of hopeful effort squelched by economic struggles and the impossible bureaucracy that feeds its demise. Flying with only one wing it is hard to correct for the inevitable downward spiral and the giant naked David stood as a forlorn testament to this fall, broken and battered. Yet, despite the sad history of failure he has seen, his arm still remains erect, pointing skyward with a hopeful finger suggesting a potential, Phoenix like recovery, rising from the ashes to live again.