Geschichten aus Kalifornien

Ein Dichter, der mir im Café ein Gedicht vorliest. Eine Schülerin, die mir erzählt, wie sie mit acht Jahren von Schleusern in Mexiko festgehalten wurde. Palmwedel, die nach dem Wintersturm unsere Straßen blockieren. Eine nächtliche Fahrt mit dem Bus durch Los Angeles.

Von Begegnungen und Beobachtungen wie diesen kann ich in meiner journalistischen Arbeit selten erzählen. Das finde ich schade. Deshalb habe ich dieses Tagebuch angefangen.

Changing Perspectives - A Skid Row Cop

 

"We are changing. Put down your computers and talk with a cop.
You will find: we don't hate you."

Deon Joseph is an LAPD officer on Skid Row. In his early years he was known as 'Robocop' for his muscles and because he was arresting lots of people seemingly without a heart for the community. When the officer realized things did not change a lot, he "figuratively put down badge and gun" and started to talk more with the men and women he was there to serve and protect. I met him first at a vigil for 'Africa', an unarmed black man who had ben shot on Skid Row. My perspective was: this man's life could have been saved. Mingling at ease with homeless, church leaders and demonstraters, officer Joseph seemed to have an interesting point of view, but I never had the chance to talk with him. I went back to ask about police brutality and

Diversity - The Richness of Life

"Lately everybody is talking about a black and a white America. Everytime racism raises its ugly head we have to stand up.
It's such bullshit. ... Diversity is the richness of life"  

Seamus Conlen, photographer #WeAreOneVoice in an interview with soundslikerstin September 2016. Conlen started his 25 city-project of showing America's diversity in Venice Beach California. That's where I met him hard at work in his pop up outdoor photo studio.

Arriving in Los Angeles

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"Just twenty hours ago I was standing with my fake fur jacket in the slush of the smoking area at the airport of Berlin-Tegel.
The world should stop right now. The country-girl from Germany has made it to Los Angeles.
I would like to let go of a Tarzan-worthy scream."

13 years ago I arrived in Los Angeles for my new assignment as West coast correspondent for German public radio. A dream had come true. It hit me with the force of a baseball bat when I stepped off the plane:

The Most Amazing Thing

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"Flying the space ship was the absolut highlight of my life. I had never seen a black sky in the middle of the day. Here I was, just a little old guy, born and raised in South Africa, didn't even go to university.
And I'm an astronaut now."

Mike Melvill talking to soundslikerstin about his flight into space 2004.

Mike Melvill has taken the little plane, he built with his wife Sally on a flight around the world. They still use it to fly cross country to visit family and friends or just to go on a little adventure. Mike was a test pilot for many years, risking his life flying the newest designs of unconventional aircrafts created by the team of Burt Rutan's Scaled Composits.

When I visited Mike I found him to be one of the most humble, kind and friendly people I ever interviewed. There were still sparkles in his eyes when he remembered his historic flight with Space Ship One, June 21, 2004.

Let People Know That Jews Have Fought

"It is important that people know that Jews have fought,
That Jews have not just been captured and put in camps and killed in camps.
Many Jews have fought in the resistance. Even more important: Jewish women!
That's what my mission is." 

 

I met Marthe Cohn at the house of the German Consul General in Los Angeles. The 96 year old tiny Jewish woman was telling an almost unbeleivable story of crossing the border at the end of WW II to spy for the French army. I knew I had to meet her again to find out more about her life. So I sat down a few days later with Marthe for more than four hours and still am so grateful she took the time to talk with me.

Just imagine: