A central part of travel is romanticizing the places we went and the things we experienced. We want, maybe need, places to be shorn of their ugliness, their annoyances, the disappointment, to go back to our lives when we return home. But our latest selection for Just Booked, Anders Peterson: Café Lehmitz, captures better than anything we’ve seen of late just how enthralling a place can be when its highs, lows, and the middling parts are all shown.
The Café Lehmitz was a gathering place for the vagabonds of Hamburg’s red light district, the Reeperbahn. There were sex workers (young and old), criminals, laborers, and from the late 1960s through the 1970s, the Swedish photographer Anders Peterson. The book, which was originally published in 1978, is being reprinted by Prestel with a new foreword from Tom Waits, who used one of the images on his album Rain Dogs. “They are revealing something,” Waits writes about the photographs, “something tragically and comically human.”
Today, the Reeperbahn has little of the grit and danger that made it famous. It’s more a tourist trap than anything. But flipping through Anders Peterson: Café Lehmitz, you’re allowed to travel to a time and place that no longer exists. You might even imagine, if only for one night, that you’re the kind of person who could let loose in a joint like this.