Shadow of the Day: A Tribute to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

sunset

Where have all the rockers gone? Our idols whom we’ve followed faithfully and shown our support for them and their songs sincer our days in high school are no longer with us. Those who had plenty of years of life left in them decided to cut it short. Drug abuse, family problems, taxes and the law, the paparrazi and the media chased them from the mike (microphone), erased their abilities to create and export their songs, causing them to disappear without a trace.

But with one question: why?

After losing Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), and Chris Cornell (Soundgarten) among many gift musicians, we’ve lost another singer in Chester Bennington from Linkin Park.

And he was only 41 when he hung himself.

A father of six children, Chester and other members founded Linkin Park in 1996 and gave alternative rock a new face with a mixture of rap, electronic rock, metal and lyrics that looked at the domestic issues that he and others faced in life. Being a member of Generation X, this generation served as the bridge between the Baby-boomer generation- which grew up on platinum records, Vietnam, sex-drugs-and rock and roll, as well as Billy Joel- and the younger generations of today, who are self-absorbed but self conscience, want to experience everything but are “Holly-go-lightlies” eating breakfast at Tiffany’s, and are well-informed but digital natives spending time buried in their Smartphones. It was also the same generation that has suffered from tumultuous times, having survived two major financial crises, 9/11/2001, and rapid changes to our own environment, while being sandwiched between the two generations, not having a chance to live the dreams we wanted to, working to make ends meet and not even thinking about retirement.  All of these aspects, which resulted in the fight to find one’s identity and deal with all the personal issues in life were the themes of the songs he and Linkin Park produced in the almost 20 years the band has been together.

One More Night was the last album released by the band before Bennington’s death, having been in stores since May of this year. However, if there is one song that best describes his legacy, it is this one, Shadow of the Day, which was released in 2007 from the album Minutes to Midnight.  Produced with keyboards and guitars, the song reflects on a person’s life and the need to move on. It’s walking into the sunset honoring a person and his work. Yet at the same time, it also means the rise of the next sun and the start of a new day with a new sheet of paper to draw or write about.  This song definitely reflects on Chester’s life, leaving us with questions of why it had to end the way it did, when he left a legacy as one of the best singers in his time. It does leave a question of what happens next, and who will be able to fill in his shoes, just like we have to with our other heroes who had followed before that.

Especially when the sun rises again…….

 

 

Our condolences to members of Linkin Park and the family of Chester Bennington on this unexpected loss of a great singer, who left us with songs we will listen to for years to come, and a legacy that will be difficult to outdo. God bless you……

 

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Genre of the Week: Bornholmer Strasse- A Tribute to Günter Schabowski

Günter Schabowski speaking at Alexanderplatz in Berlin on 4 November, 1989, five days before the opening of the Berlin Wall, which he authorized. Photo courtesy of the German Bundesarchiv, public domain: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1989-1104-041,_Berlin,_Demonstration,_Rede_G%C3%BCnter_Schabowski.jpg

The next Genre of the Week is also a tribute to a man whose life as well as the lives of East and West Germans alike and those of Europe forever. Günter Schabowski was a long-time journalist, who was the chief editor the East German newspaper Neues Deutschland (New Germany) and later co-founder of the weekly newspaper, Heimat Nachrichten, based in Rotenberg/Fulda. Schabowski, who died on 1 November, 2015 after a long illness in a nursing home in Berlin, was a member of the Socialist Party SED from 1952 until its dissolution as part of the German Reunification process in 1990, of which he was member of the Volkskammer from 1981 until its end, and he was the governmental spokesperson for the East German Politbüro after the removal of SED leader and dictator, Erich Honecker in October, 1989. Once feared by many, by the likes of Christa Wolf (who was a writer and critic), Schabowski’s rounded character was revealed when he and members of the Politbüro executed the putsch to remove Honecker and replace him with Egon Krenz. However, his peak of fame came with this press conference on the eve of the Fall of the Wall in 1989:

The announcement of the opening of the Berlin Wall and the borders separating East and West Germany led to many East Germans to flock to the borders and many West Germans to embrace them.

And the rest was history.

But how about looking at it from the point of view of the border guards who had patrolled the Wall and the borders prior to November 9th, 1989? Maybe a bit of satire to go along with that?

This is where this film comes in: Bornholmer Strasse, a German film produced last year in commemoration of the event that is going on 26 years. The plot of the story is the border patrolmen guarding the border crossing at Bornholmer Strasse, at the site of the Bösebrücke, separating East and West Berlin, whose lives had been anything but spectacular until the events culminating to November 9th, where thousands of people stormed the crossings after hearing of Schabowski’s announcement of the opening of the borders. After much resistance because of misunderstandings between them, the media, and the SED, the patrolmen gave the green light, thus marking the beginning of the end of their lives, which was depicted at the beginning of the film, and whose display can be found at the GDR Museum in Berlin on Karl-Liebknecht Strasse 1.  Here’s a trailer to the film:

The one caveat in this film was the fact that it was filmed at the Swinemünde Bridge near the train station Berlin Gesundbrunnen instead of at the actual site, but part of that has to do with the memorials that had been in place and the increase in traffic since the border’s opening. For more on the crossings, check out the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ guide to the crossings along the former Berlin Wall, here.

The producers of the film did a great job of keeping to the realities of the events, for the film depicts the confusion that not only the members of the SED had, but also the border guards and the people lining up just to see the other side of Berlin. It showed that once Honecker had been removed, it was a matter of time before the calls for democracy and the Wall to come down were heeded.

It is unknown whether Schabowski’s announcement to the media that the borders were going to open was accidental or intentional. But given his later renouncement of the SED and admittance of guilt of his involvement in the prevention of people from fleeing to the West (the latter resulted in a lighter sentence of only a year in prison), it seemed that he too realized that the changes were going to come eventually, either peacefully or by force. Already Mikhail Gorbachev allowed the countries in the eastern block to go their own way and announced that the Soviets were not going to be involved. Poland and Hungary had removed their dictators and opened their borders to the West. Realizing that Honecker was becoming an obstructionist who lived in his shell outside reality, Schabowski and others removed him from power peacefully. He eventually left Germany for Chile, where he died in 1994. The pressure was growing on Schabowski to open the gates. It was just a matter of time before he pulled the trigger- and this willfully.

Despite him being one of the worst politicians of the SED, he made good on his promise to unite East and West, even if the announcement was misunderstood as many scholars have mentioned. Sometimes when there is nothing left, the only solution is make the move and go on with life, leaving the past behind for a greener future. Because of him, we have a united Germany, and a united Europe. And looking at it from an East German’s perspective, we say Thanks! Looking at it from an author’s point of view, being an outsider from rural Minnesota, we say this: normally, bad guys should not be getting tributes like this, unless their merits warranted it. Schindler and Schabowski  right now are probably sharing their experiences and embracing each other for their actions in saving lives of thousands in the face of repressive regimes even as this tribute and genre is being posted. And here I say, Vielen Dank und Gott segnet Sie. 🙂

five years flfi