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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Wonder Ham (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

enriqueenriquez
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This is part of George Grosz autobiography (“George Grosz: an autobiography” translated by Nora Hodges). Grosz was one of the most important (and vitriolic) expresionist painters in Germany.

This episode took place in Berlin, right after the World War II.

The performance he describes seems pretty much like Punx’s, but is probably just a coincidence. that's why it got my attention at first, but the entire story is great, so I decided to share it here (I edited it a little bit due to the lenght).

Enjoy!

“Before continuing my narrative, I must add that the time were medieval because we also had magician, real, black magicians in possesion of knowledge closed to the rest of us. Not only did they rule matter to the degree that they could move objects from one place to another; they could make things that we remembered only by name appear and disappear gain with equal speed; things like condensed milk, chocolate or sugar. And they had the classic magician’s power of making both themselves and those lovely, seductive things invisible...

... One night, juts at the clock was striking twelve, I happened to meet one of those magicians...

... The only thing we talked about those days was food...

... As all magicians, he spoked in poetic simbols. He said that since I was an artist and he liked me, I could be helped. The trouble was my unappeased imagination. Real ham and saudages were simply not the same as painted ones (I had told him of my attempts in that direction) as they did not really satisfy. I still hear the devilish laughter of that magician whom I took to be a cook. ‘Ha ha, dear man, what is all your art worth if you cannot cut a juicy slice of that ham in red wine that you painted so beautifully?’ We had another double brandy. ‘Look, I’m going to take you to a place where not only ham grows,’ I was struck by the word ‘grows’; medieval, I thought. ‘I’m going to show you -we’ll take a taxi- i’ll show you a real utopia. Not painted, either,’ He said with a wink.

It was raining. It was past two o’clock....

I wakened as we stopped at one of those faceless houses in the west of Berlin. No lights -probably one of the usual strikes in the electric or gas works. No a soul in sight. It was pouring now, but all the brandy that I had consumed kept me warm inside. I had the impression of a completely inhabited house. Max, my new friend, pulled a huge, old fashioned key out of his back pocket. A cat with phosphorecent eyes mewed, came closer, suddendly bristled, hissed at us, and disappeared yowling into the dark.

‘Damned beast! Here, light one of these matches.’ He handed me a box of wax matches susch as I had not seen for a long time. The flickering light outlined his silouette as he tried to open the squeaky lock. ‘Should be oiled,’ he said.

My God, I thought with mixed feelings, this is getting to be like The Tales of Hoffman...

The magician has opened the door. ‘Walk quietly,’ he said ‘nobody must hear us going upstairs; watch those steps, the carpets have been removed. No, no light. We can see well enough.’... ...I felt like climbing an enchanted mountain. Nice, very nice. If this is how magicians live... ...There was a large, elaborately carved door with opalescent glass. ‘Now you can give us some light,’ said the magician, ‘nobody can see us here.’

...As soon as the light was on (despite the strike) I saw where I was... ...cases to the right, cases to the left, piles of jam, huge jars of tomatoes, cucumbers and pickles, blue cans of caviar with russian labels piled to the ceiling, if a ceiling could be seen. Like fruits of stalactites, sausages were suspended, sausage after sausage of every variety, by the hundreds. And not only sausages. Here was a row of beef tongues. Then, bacon sides, lean, fat, the black, smoked bacon from Swabia. And hams of every variet including the over-sized cottage-smoke Westphalian. Truly, I could not take my eyes off these treasures, ans I quickly touched my nose, wich was pleasantly prickling from the smell of smoked ham to find out whether I was not dreamig about all this.

I was not dreaming. I saw several uncut wheels of Swiss chesse standding ina corner...

...he disappeared for a moment and returned with an unusually large, brand new knife, shining in the reflected light of the bulb. Then he said: ‘whoever comes here has to tate my wonder ham. You are not exception. And once you have tasted it, you will not rest until you possess a whole one -and then several- and finally’ his face became weirdly transfigured, ‘weel, well, possibly all the hams in the world!’ he looked at me throught narrowed eyes and cut off a huge slice.

‘That is the penalty for a mouthful. That’s the curse. Pass me that bottle over there -no, more to the right, next to the condensed milk- that’s it. This, you see, is the spirit that belongs to the ham: clear, unadultered juniper gin...’

... ‘Cheers -he said- long live the land of milk and honey!’

I saw my friend quite often thereafter, but we would never talk about that night... ...He made me promise faithfully never to tell anybody, not even my wife, of that night on the land of milk and honey.

I kept my promise. This is the first time the story has been told. ...thirty years have passed, and the hunger fantasies of Berlin have become dim history.”
Bill Palmer
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That is really strange. I'll have to ask Ted Lesley if he has any idea who this man was. It was definitely not Punx. Your conclusion that you mentioned to me in that e-mail was right. I don't think Punx spent much time in Berlin until much later. But Ted might know.

He is on a cruise until later this week.
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enriqueenriquez
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Thanks Bill!

It would be great if Ted Lesley could give any clue about this character.

In another part of the story Grosz said that all these “goodies” in the secret room where part of the magician’s contract.

He had to be very good to get that kind of privileges in those times.
Bill Palmer
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Either that, or he had some heavy black market connections. Post war Germany was very similar to Hell. In fact, in Germany, they refer to 1945 as "Jahre Null" -- "Year Zero."
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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