Bowie, it always seemed to me, was more important to Berlin than Berlin to Bowie. But that’s what happens when you create greatness: It takes on a meaning independent of its creator. Like how a Hasselhoff song brought down the Wall. Or how someday, someone will finally open the Berlin airport.
But Bowie’s importance to Berlin should be honored in some way more than by just replaying his records (and replaying them and replaying them). Shortly after his death, everyone suggested renaming Hauptstrasse where he lived in Schöneberg to David Bowie Strasse. RadioEins (Radio1) even had a street sign made.
I’m against it. Hauptstrasse (and its extension Potsdamer) play a big role in my Berlin and they should keep their original names. I lived in Germany so long I’m afraid of change too.
And, anyway, the killjoys over at the Rote Rathaus (town hall) broke up that party: Streets can only be named after people who’ve been dead for half a decade. David’s only got a week. And since the city’s trying to give women their due, even if we could get a street named after him, he wouldn’t be high on the list.
But I have a different idea. Let’s honor David Bowie the way the city has honored tons of other Berlin promis: Let’s build a David Bowie statue. It could be at Hauptstr. 155 but it could also be north on Hauptstrasse at Kleistpark or next to the Schöneberg swimming pool in the adjacent park with a name I’m too lazy to look up.
Several years ago I was jogging around the Siegesäule (victory column) with a Danish friend and she asked me who all the statues represented.
“Dead generals,” I said. She was flabbergasted that Germany still celebrated the generals, partly because of Germany’s – you know – history and partly because the country had plenty of other people to celebrate.
Like David Bowie.
I muttered something about history and truth and Berlin’s history and truth and then wished she’d jog a little slower.
But it’s something that could be done without waiting five years, could be done through crowdfunding (I don’t need to hear another Berlin politician talk about finanzen) and would give all Stardustians (Bowenators? David Devouts?) a place to gather.
Anybody can get a street named after them in Berlin: Marlene Dietrich. Ben Gurion. Some guy named 17. Juni. But only generals seem to get statues. And hopefully David Bowie.