Joerg Colberg's Top Ten

Joerg M. Colberg published the photography blog Conscientious and lives in Northampton, MA.

Jörg’s Top Ten

1. Pelikan Fountain Pen

I can’t walk by a stationary store. I’m obsessed with finding yet another nice pen, ideally extremely fine, ideally extremely nicely designed (and I’m happy to settle with one out of two usually). Unfortunately, there is no correlation between this obsession with pens and my own handwriting, which is more or less illegible for most people (sadly enough me often included). Of all the pens I own, my Pelikan fountain pens are dearest to me (I don’t like the design of Montblanc pens, so when I was offered one for free, I turned it down) - that even though in elementary school, where one was either a “Pelikan” or a “Geha” kid (depending which company’s fountain pen one would use) I was rooting for “Geha” (the folly of youth, I suppose). Those had little ink cartridges, though, unlike the fountain pens I use now.

2. The Wedding Present – Seamonsters

After this album came out (1991, I believe) I listened to it every night, for many months, and I still love the sound of it (only good when listened to extremely loud). I had forgotten about it for a while until I was exchanging some emails with Alec Soth about his book Niagara, and we ended up talking about sad love songs. Turns out we both have a weakness for those, and thinking and emailing about sad love songs brought back Seamonsters.

3. Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Art.

Frankfurt (Germany, the river Main one, not the other one) has one of the finest modern-art museums I’ve seen, and I go every time I’m there to visit my friends who live there. I just love the architecture and the way how there are constantly new views, and in between all of that there is, of course, the art work, with usually very good shows up. But even if the show isn’t great, the building itself never disappoints me with its shapes, lights, colours…

4. Francis Bacon (the painter)

The big 1996 (or so) Francis Bacon retrospective hit Munich while I was working on my Ph.D., and just because I thought that for once I should try to see some “culture” did I go to see it, on some Sunday morning or afternoon, and what I got to see I’d never forget. Bacon’s haunting imagery has always made me want to paint myself, but I’ve never even remotely succeeded in painting anything I would like – and then photography came along.

5. Photobooths

What can I say? Isn’t it obvious? Oh, and I love how Francis Bacon used photobooth strips to paint from.

6. “–“

I love the dash (“–“) or whatever it’s called, because it allows me to so nicely break up the flow of my writing – maybe for effect, or maybe because I never properly learned to write English. Back in school, I never bothered to focus too much on how English was supposed to be written – it was bad enough I had to learn if from people viz heffy accents, and I suppose I then created my own rules, which might or might not contain a fair amount of German using English vocabulary. I’m a big foe of the kind of writing where each sentence is a new paragraph, and I especially despise sentences that are only one or just a few words.

Like this one.


7. Books

I love books, not just as carriers of information, but also as physical objects. I read a lot (and very fast), and it has got to be a book or at least printed on paper (Longer articles, found on the web, I print out, to read them from the paper – I just can’t read from the screen very well). There’s something special about the tactile feeling of handling a book, and it usually smells nicely. I will never buy any of those “ebook” devices – only people who don’t read could possibly invent something like that. And I hate…

8. Telephones

I’m just not good with them. Maybe it’s genetic. My mother is impossible to talk to on the phone. She constantly claims she can’t hear anything. I’m almost as bad, except that over the years I’ve learned to wing it. I’d rather send/receive an email.

9. Lebkuchen and Stollen

“Lebkuchen (or Pfefferkuchen) is a traditional German product baked for Christmas, somewhat resembling soft gingerbread.” And “Stollen is a bread-like cake traditionally made in Germany, usually eaten during the Christmas season as Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen” If it wasn’t for Lebkuchen and Stollen I really couldn’t care less about Christmas.

10. Thomas Bernhard

Thomas Bernhard’s convoluted, seemingly angry, absurdly exaggerated, repetitive rants always make me laugh very hard. On the surface, they appear to be so bitter, but in reality they are just funny and incredibly witty and human. I can’t imagine reading them in translation, but to get an idea one might read Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint” (another writer I truly love) and then imagine things even more over the top – minus all the sex. That would be Thomas Bernhard.