John Burgan hat für uns ein paar Bilder des Mazdas herausgekramt – und kann sogar erzählen welche Rolle das Auto beim Wahlsieg von Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger gespielt hat.
von John Burgan
Roxy Music’s 1972 Remake / Remodel is punctuated at regular intervals by the obscure chant “CPL593H” – apparently a reference to the registration number of Bryan Ferry’s old Mini Clubman. So why not a panegyric to “2HGB128”, our battered old blue Mazda? Baujahr: 1988; purchased early October 2003 from Herr Lutz Seiler for the sum of $800; 225,000 miles on the clock. Sold on to Herr Norbert Kron at the end of December, mileage unknown.
First Mazda memory: October 7th, cruising through Venice and Santa Monica to take in the heady political atmosphere on the streets the night Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor – sorry, Governator of California. Although Arnie had already sold his stake by then, we purposely drove by Schatzi on Main and yes, there they were, the Arnie fans bearing placards. A honk – a cheer – and for a brief moment, it felt that 2HGB128 had played a very tiny part in the great democratic process.
Few fragments remain of the journeys taken during those three months at Villa Aurora. Over a decade later, the video I recorded remains unedited – time for an archival revival, perhaps? – and all I can find on my hard drives are three random photographs of 2HGB128 taken at various locations across California in Autumn 2003.
The first image is in the Mojave Desert, close to Joshua Tree. In the passenger seat, my wife Hassina appears to be holding up a tennis ball, thereby quite possibly increasing the value of the car. The streaked texture of the bonnet bears the blemishes and scars of fifteen years on the road. The radio worked, but was there a cassette player? Air-conditioning – nada!
The next image is at the Cholada in Malibu, barely six minutes drive from Paseo Miramar along Highway One. There she is, tucked away on the right. These days this hasty snap would no doubt illustrate a Tripadvisor review, however I remember that on that particular day I had tagged along with Claudia, Zaia and the Villa Aurora team who had planned a working lunch, but found a pesky Fellow in tow – and tolerated him with their usual good grace.
Alas, the Mazda did not always receive such friendly reactions. Unlike the good humoured response of the Arnie fans on Main Street back in October, the valet parker at the Beverly Hilton in November had clearly never seen such an abomination – and did not try to hide his expression when he took the keys, all but holding his nose. Sheesh, buddy, the car can be a bit ripe on a hot day, but it ain’t that bad… well, clearly the 1988 Mazda was hardly the automobile of choice of his regular Beverly Hills clientele. An evening at the Hilton’s hourly parking rate could have almost financed a full service – but hey, this is L.A. Let’s be honest, if you ever saw a 1988 Mazda parked on the streets of Pacific Palisades, you would automatically assume it belonged to one of the brigade of leaf-blowing Mexicans (mandatory start 6 in the morning) – not a resident.
The third and final photo is a subjective “point of view” taken through the windscreen of 2HGB128 on an unidentified L.A. freeway by night, the red streetlights glimmering on the bonnet. Unlike the other images, I have no memory of this moment. Downtown, perhaps? We’ll never know. It’s not even a memory, just a discarded fragment on a hard drive, 229Kb of colours, traces of lights, travelling through a dystopian nightscape. A memory, if nothing else, of movement.
It’s been surprisingly valuable to have a reason to revisit these inconsequential moments some twelve years later – thank you, Zaia. My memory-journey in that battered blue Mazda between October and December 2003 has taken me through Los Angeles, all the way up Highway One to San Francisco, all the way down to San Diego – meeting cousins I had never met before, but that’s another story – and the trek has now expanded to include my original move from London to Berlin back in 1992. The city became home for the next fourteen years: the completion of my film Memory of Berlin in 1998, marriage to Hassina at Standesamt Charlottenburg in 2000, Villa Aurora in 2003, moving to Denmark in 2006, back to the UK in 2008; and now coming full circle, returning once again to live in Berlin in summer 2015.
Postscript: unfortunately I can’t locate it right now, but I did actually receive something from the Governator in the end, months after I had left the Villa: a cheque for $6.00 personally signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger — a rebate for the excessive car tax I had paid on 2HGB128 during those three months.
And I didn’t even vote for him. That’s democracy.
John Burgan, geb. 1962 in London, Filmemacher, von Okt.- Dez. 2003 in der Villa