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A Twen Stroll through Berlin (1960)

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You now have to ponder whether you feel like raucous music, a piano concert by Tchaikovsky, a vibration massage, or a shoe shine. If you have opted for one of these four choices, you’ll head to the “Eden Saloon.” For you’ll find all of those there – and more. Rolf Eden has a total of nineteen machines in his place, and a rule that you will only be served if you order something. Which serves you well at the Eden, even if you don’t want to be served. Rolf Eden is one of those rare restaurateurs who give you the impression that they consider their profession a hobby and are not all that intent on making money. But by not fleecing his guests, he makes the most money. This is how, within three years, he went from worn shoes to a white Porsche, Kai Fischer, and considerable local fame. Kai Fischer he lost again, but when I went to the hospital to visit Rolf Eden, who was suffering from jaundice, the white Porsche stood there in front of it. A strange combination of colors, his girlfriends thought, and they called every hour to ask how the nuances were developing. That’s worth doing with Rolf Eden, with whom something new happens every hour. At any rate, he has what it takes to be a millionaire: you see, he’s worked as a dishwasher once. It was in Paris. An American couple hired him as a guide. They abandoned him in Berlin. To figure out his situation, he sat himself down at a nearby bar with his last ten mark bill and thought. He did it in French and out loud. A gentleman on the bar stool next to him also had problems to ponder, so the two fell into a conversation. That gentleman was sick of his restaurant – Rolf was looking for an opportunity. Voilà, the opportunity was sitting next to him. Rolf painted the place with Parisian motifs and waited for customers. Today, the customers wait for him, and when he is not in his saloon, a dark melancholy settles on their spirits, and Mozart’s concerto in C Minor from the juke box sounds even more minor than usual.

Twice a week there are rock ’n’ roll championships; twice every fifteen minutes a projector casts classical works from Gauguin onto the screen for Rolf Eden to see. Other sights to recommend include a hand-operated ventilator once owned by Napoleon, a frying pan for children from the cannibals, a cable railway that transports drinks, and the bar hostess Evi. Prices: beer, 70 Pfennigs, brandy, 80 Pfennigs, whiskey, two Marks. For ten Pfennigs you can draw hot water from the appropriate machine and shave. For we are now heading into a refined establishment: the “Badewanne” [bath tub]. Yes, it has now become posh. The only thing that still reminds one of the old days is Johannes Rediske, who plays music here just as he has done since the day it opened. But he, too, is now wearing fine custom-made suits. Everything is very clean, very bright, and very restaurantish. If you are out with strict parents, they will not conceal their delight at the many sweet little children there. The atmosphere that used to live at the Badewanne has fled to the Eden Saloon. At the same time, much of the casual Dixieland happiness has transplanted itself to the “Eierschale.” To be sure, the “Eierschale” was hatched a little far off the beaten track, in Dahlem. But Berlin is not so jealous that it offers all of its attractions bunched together in the center, as is the case in smaller cities. There is always a dense crowd in the “Eierschale,” the Spree City Stompers really heat things up, and those who don’t have their glasses steamed up by this can enjoy the collection of signs and sayings on the wall. And since we are on the jazz street: the “New Orleans” is fairly new and the darkest of all Berlin jazz bars. But that doesn’t matter. The cool jazz that is fabricated here contrary to the label is only for the ear, in any case. If you have an ear for it. If you have no ear for it, you can – while your friends are being cool – do a few rounds on horseback at the hippodrome next door. There, the four-legged animals trot through a sawdust arena. However, the diversion does not seem much appreciated. The horses are mostly without riders. And so they have plenty of leisure to eyeball the two-legged creatures that have to pass by their ring on their way to the sanitary installations that belong to the New Orleans.

You might feel the need for some quiet now. Quiet without boredom is something you’ll find in the “Volle Pulle.” This is an establishment that looks like a gigantic wine barrel in the front, and like the interior of a beehive on the inside, that is how many honeycombs it has. I forgot to ask whether the people once got into a fistfight over their checked coats and regretfully did not have enough weapons for hand-to-hand fighting. Now, at any rate, there would be no complaints about a lack of arms: instead of a cloakroom ticket you get a cooking spoon.

When you enter the “Paris Bar,” there are two things you should not take offense at: that “Paris Bar” neither is a bar nor has one, and that the maître of this very Parisian spot is called Müller. It was established by his uncle, and he was a genuine Frenchman. The style of the “Paris Bar” should be located somewhere between the Parisian Boul’ Mich’ and St. Germaine des Près. The illusion is perfect, except for a sign to keep an eye on one’s belongings. The leather-covered benches along the wall, the mirrored wall above the back rest, the open fireplace, and, finally, the very French menu with onion soup and red wine to go with the beefsteak – this could be exactly between “Deux Magots” and “Café de Flore.” Incidentally: the prix fixe menu costs around three Marks.

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