I should be sad to state that Dresden has managed to survive the socialist era without many regards. There is still someone who remembers the good time when the state provided a nineteen square meter room to any subject, with the addition of extra places for married couples with children. Who moreover received some extra money on the day of the marriage and at the birth of each child. Others prefer to enjoy the new buildings, partially renovated, with a good view of the Elbe and the old town. I do not know whether it is my wish to admire socialist aesthetics, but the brutalist residential buildings along the river, the few ones to have survived decades of scarce maintenance, look to me more harmonious and livable than their western counterparts. I close my eyes and think at the boys and girls dressed with the white and blue, well ordered uniform of the Pioneers and the FDJ. They ran around the alleys where few old bronze monuments remind that eighty years ago a flourishing city center, made of old and elegant structures, was in the area. I open my eyes and observe the contemporary decadent society. Teenagers are showing the oddest tastes, they are loud and scarcely know how to behave. Some are overweight, others too skinny. Young adults look even worse, partially covered with tattoos and piercings as natives of the jungle. The Soviet Union, and the Americans as well, followed for years a strong anticolonial campaign. Some westerners misunderstood the goal of such activism and began to admire the most archaic behavior of exotic and underdeveloped tribes. The common population should have further misunderstood the ethnologists, thus forgetting the decency of the appearance. Luckily, my Chinese comrades have not forgotten and I am so proud to admire their discipline and attire.
The art dealer
It is funny that, by taking an excursion on a steamboat, I sealed a good deal with an Italian artist. Who is not so well renowned to be represented by the big names, but, given the proper investment of time and energy, his work can provide a good return. Meanwhile I have not collected any other success in Dresden. Gerhard Richter is too successful to agree to sell me anything at all. His only available work is a limited edition book, not signed, available at the bookshop of the Albertinum. It is still available by Gagosian at more than half the price. Moreover, it is not one of the most successful editions, but collects just a few sketches that require a lot of attention to be really appreciated. There is no color, just shades of gray. That is sometimes, nowadays, far less appreciated than the brilliant tone of pop art. In Cologne I can find much better, but I need to be patient. My boss assigned me to Dresden and I need to stay in the town. I was tempted to jump to Leipzig. Perhaps Neo Rauch, who is moreover younger, can appreciate my interest and concede some good bargains for my imaginary collection. Actually I have got a collection, but it is nothing that can be easily put on the market. A series of paintings, inspired by the murals of the IRA and the ideology of the Red Hand. They were produced on a wooden surface, made out of old furniture that nobody wanted anymore. Now even the staunchest supporters of the Red Hand are officially regretting their ideals. Really few, who remained loyal to the Crown of England, would keep such images at home. I do, proud of what my father did. The only principles, among those that I follow, that can be depicted as romantic. For everything else, my life is driven by money.
I thought I would have scarcely enjoyed the atmosphere of Eastern Germany, but I am noticing there are much more cultural options in Dresden than in many other Western towns and cities. Beside hotels and restaurants, that in comparison with Zurich prices are outrageously cheap, entertainment is however not so affordable. Theater tickets are slightly higher than in Frankfurt and opera tickets definitely more expensive than in Zurich. At least if you sit down with the gods. However, the office hours are not so demanding here and it is easier to find time to go out in the evening. A deck of six or seven slides per day is acceptable here, while back in Switzerland I was expected to produce the double in the same amount of time. Even considering the challenge to communicate with colleagues who hardly speak German and prefer to rely on their local dialect. Another advantage is that not-locals receive much higher estimation here than in Switzerland. The only form of ethnic competition is with Russians or those coming from former Soviet countries. They support each other quite effectively and it is difficult to handle their arrogance. I have already met a few in the past and they are quite unbearable. Much worse than ambitious Indians and Chinese, who at least have got a distinguished cultural background. If the latter want to play you a trick, they can be so careful not to truly hurt you that whatever happens gets slightly perceived. I will however learn to work with them as well. Hopefully I will not find myself checking on a daily basis the Russian death toll in Ukraine and rejoicing for the soldiers who fell.