My favorite camera repair person in Munich is a Frenchman who knows his stuff and holds down the fort at one of the last independent secondhand camera stores in town. It’s the kind of business I go out of my way to support. I brought my very first SLR there to be given some attention after I’d adopted it from a thrift store (since shut down) near Rotkreuzplatz, a part of town I pass through frequently.
Since this camera, a Minolta SR-T 303, the top of the line model of their all-mechanical hit-you-over-the-head-with-it-and-it-keeps-on-ticking series was quite similar to that one, and since his prices had remained entirely reasonable in the intervening years, I brought the old machine there without hesitation. A few weeks later, it was ready. The cleaning and adjusting had solved the camera’s squeakiness, and all shutter speeds were again what they were supposed to be. The release clicked with a decisive and satisfying thunk, and it was go time, despite the fact that my picaresque repairman had referred to the camera as a “catastrophe” on account of the problems he’d had fixing it.
After a test roll, just to be safe, I headed to Munich’s iconic Olympiapark, the landscaped expanse that had played backdrop to the ill-fated 1972 summer Olympics so many decades ago. Olympiapark, even forty-plus years on, still feels like an international sporting event is just around the corner. The facilities are all there, and with a fresh coat of paint and some new decals featuring Otl Aicher’s iconic pictograms, Olympians could try one more summer to have the peaceful, happy games that were originally promised, before terrorism shook them, and the viewing world at large, to the core.
Olympiapark was once called Oberwiesenfeld (“Upper Meadow Field” if you need a literal translation. Which might not be quite as useful as I assumed, because I do not know which meadow is referred to, why it is a field, and why it is “upper.” Was there a lower one as well?). A former military training ground during the age when Bavaria was still a kingdom and its king mad as hell, it was used by balloonists and military planes since the early twentieth century, and was converted into Munich’s first official airport in 1931. (There’s even a poem about waiting at the airport. I have waited many times at many aiports in my life, and never have I thought to write a poem. Air travel today is just, well, too prosaic.) Having lived in walking distance to Oberwiesenfeld for more than a decade, I often wondered what it would be like if, instead of spending the better part of an hour traveling to Munich’s current airport, I could have just strolled leisurely up to a wooden barracks and boarded a propeller plane to whisk me bumpily to my destination. Alas, no more. Oberwiesenfeld airport closed in 1968, and was converted into the site for the 1972 Olympic Games. It is a sprawling park, yet at the same time very functional and sober looking. In that sense, it has never strayed far from the original design.
Apart from Munich’s Olympiastadion, used today only sporadically for sporting events, but still an impressive sight, the park plays host to an aquarium, the city’s tv and radio broadcasting tower, which also houses a rock’n’roll museum (do not ask me why, I have not the faintest clue) and one of those revolving restaurants, an indoor swimming pool, and several buildings of various sizes that can be converted for sports, concerts, or other events. It’s the natural place to go for a run for many people who live close by, and there’s an artificial pond which you can paddle boats on, or just look at, because: pretty!
My catastrophe camera had worked well, except for a problem with its focusing screen, which was out of whack just enough to render images with a low depth of field out of focus. It might need another trip to the repair shop, or perhaps just another owner who can fix the issue themselves. I must admit: I have, by now, quite a few more cameras than I desperately need…