Summer just ainâ€™t the same.Â Thirty years ago, the space between Memorial Day and Labor Day was all hanging out, sleeping in and figuring out how to get to the movies, who was swimming where and an obligatory family vacation that was seemingly planned with the purpose of me being entertained for a week and my parents happily opening their wallet every time I opened my mouth.Â It seemed so easy and effortless.Â Now, I am a single parent to three kids that I am trying to keep track of and entertain while school is out.Â It doesnâ€™t seem so organic anymore.Â I have clients with deadlines, businessy stuff, and staying current with my art and up to date with the art world at large.Â Then thereâ€™s the other stuff like sulking on the treadmill, paying bills, car maintenance, dental appointments, trying to drink 8 glasses of water a dayâ€¦Well, you know.Â Itâ€™s enough to have me frothing at the mouth for the first day of school!Â Gaaah!!!Â Who am I anymore?
If you are reading this blog, chances are you noticed my current obsession that is all over my website: money.Â Yes, I do love it in a Montgomery Burns way, but I also love it for what it is: a simple carta, meticulously collaged with the symbols and words that make up the history of a place or event.Â As we get further immersed in blurring the lines that divide cash, credit, country, and citizenship, physical money is changing and actually dwindling. Â Europe has unified their money with the Euro.Â Plenty of Americans would like to see the American penny discontinuedâ€¦they call it useless.Â Â Itâ€™s not even made out of copper anymore.Â Iâ€™m not going to go all three-alarm here, but itâ€™s not THAT far fetched that one day most of our transactions will be made with our cell phone, pin numbers or a sliver of plastic.Â Itâ€™s convenient, but not nearly as sexy as the jingle of coins or the feel of a roll of bills.
Well, you know that â€œWhat I Did This Summerâ€ essay due during the first week of school?Â Mine is going to be about how I wrapped up a July get-away and work-related research into one.Â In a few days I am off my beloved Berlin, Germany.Â Itâ€™s not my first time visiting, of course, but it might be my first time going when I have an intellectual agenda.Â Germany is kind of a weird place, socially.Â â€œGermanâ€ is the punch line to a joke.Â When I think of Germany I think of that Saturday Night Live character skit from the Mike Myers era, â€œSprocketsâ€. Â To refresh, it was about a German talk show host, Dieter, who was a minimalist.Â He was cold and affected by disinterest.Â But that was thirty years ago, when I was chasing fireflies and stilted Germans just couldnâ€™t bring themselves to talk about the juiciest bits of their modern history.
Everything that I know about World War II and what happened in Germany in particular, has been from teacher lectures, text books, Holocaust documentaries, the History Channel and watching Schindlerâ€™s List a gillion times on cable.Â What you donâ€™t hear much about is what was going on in the minds of â€œregularâ€ Germans.Â And what happened after the fall and the big reveal?Â Did they really not know what was happening under their noses?Â Were they terrified by or turned on by Adolf Hitler?Â In years past when I felt comfortable enough to play â€œask a Germanâ€ about their feelings, they would brush off the question as silly and suggest a slice of apfelstrudel to throw me off of the trail.
Do you know what is plastered all over Berlin right now?Â Posters that say â€œNever Forgetâ€.Â And there are songs and art installations, too.Â This August will mark 50 years since the Berlin Wall was constructed.Â The Germans are fired up about it and I am ready to hear them as they start talking about life before, during and after occupation.Â I am also looking forward to right a wrong.Â Years ago, I was given some amazing German antiquities: military pins, political ribbons, government-issue billfolds, Nazi coins, Reichsmark and the like.Â During a teenage fit of boredom one summer, I hot glued it all on a mirror that I later tossed.Â Despite having converted to the Euro in 2002, old German Deutche Mark, Reich mark and Notgeld can still be found for collecting.Â I intend on getting my hands some of their â€œold moneyâ€ and bringing it home, where I can blow it up and really study everything in it.Â Iâ€™m going to make it rain D-Marks!!!
German Bills have some of the most detailed artwork and diverse subject matter.Â Itâ€™s a shame that the Mark is now obsolete and useless for circulation.Â Iâ€™m not knocking the Euro, but itâ€™s one of those things where youâ€™re serving a very broad audience.Â Iâ€™m not saying it isnâ€™t specialâ€¦Itâ€™s just not AS special.Â During times of physical shortages of currency, German Burroughs were legally allowed to create, print and trade their own bills.Â The depictions on them are unique and localized to that area.
Can you imagine what a dollar designed by a palm reader in Cassadega, Florida would look like? Â Or how about something designed by Snookie and The Situation for the garden state of New Jersey? Â It would be bulky and orange, for sure. Â As my interest and exposure to currency art deepens and expands, and as the summers get longer, I have actually found myself glazing over thinking about the Republic of Steve. Â Itâ€™s a place where I rule (duh!), no one complains out loud, pesters me for a puppy, makes unreasonable demands and everyone intuitively just knows how to behave. Â The R.O.S. would need a currency. Â I could hog the exclusive design rights, or make it a free form community effort. Thereâ€™d definitely be a lot of colors. Â Would it feature swoops and swirls, or repeating geometrics? Or maybe Iâ€™d have days of the week money, like days of the week panties. Â It would also have to have a cool slang name. Â Unfortunately, â€œbuckâ€ (my nickname given to me by my father) is already taken. Â Foiled again. Â Maybe I should call them â€œRogersâ€.