Berlin Related Books
In my blog I often poke fun at my current host city, which I would also do if I were still back in London, but, to Berliner’s misfortune, I started my public whining career in the Prussian capital. If you’ve occasionally laughed or curled your toes with embarrassing self-awareness at my gripes and complaints, I recommend you the book “Ich werde ein Berliner” by Wash Echte, the anonymous author behind the eponymous blog. With his characteristic sharp wit, Wash Echte cuts straight through Berlin’s hype and lays bare its new bohemia and their rites of passages. Often reading like an acerbic anthropology manual, nothing escapes the author’s unimpressed gaze: from club veterans, complicated relationships, counter-culture, creativity, to the omnipresent techno. Isn’t it just another book satirising hipsters? Well not really. First of all, the word “hipster” is avoided as a label. This is because hipsters are just the latest incarnation of the flâneur, the urban figure Walter Benjamin was already raving about at the turn of the last century. Benjamin grew up in an upper-middle-class family in Berlin and had a lifelong phobia of meaningful employment (he only considered joining the workforce as a secondhand book dealer funded by a loan from his father. His idea, not his father’s). Instead he spent much time in cafés refining his sauntering and lounging techniques after developing an admiration for substance-abusing tortured Parisian poets, all whilst griping about the shallowness and mediocrity of the bourgeoisie. Sounds familiar? Then go to your nearest bookshop and pick up a copy of “Ich werde ein Berliner”.
Containing Gentrification Banksy Style
So, apparently this anti-gentrification movement called Hedonism International is sending its members to view flats in Berlin’s most sought-after areas posing as would-be tenants. Once there, they strip off and prance around with only a Mickey Mouse mask to cover their identities, and with slogans such as “too expensive” or “rip off” painted on their birthday suits. Their stunt is often uploaded on Youtube the following morning.
Gentrification is a bit of a touchy issue in Berlin, to put it mildly, so I’m carefully going to side-step round it. But let me stress that I fully sympathise, nobody likes high property prices. I should know, I lived a decade in London. I’m however a tad semiotically confused…I mean what does Mickey Mouse has to do with high rents? Is there something else we don’t know about him (apart from a tendency to walk around in only pants?) Has he - unbeknownst to us - been dabbling in hedge fund management too? And more importantly, where are Donald Duck’s pants? Oooooh, it’s something to do with Capitalism, right? I always associate pant- wearing mice with unrealistic property prices. We should all thank Hedonism International for bringing so much nuance and insight to the gentrification debate. Such helpful tips! They have clearly taken a page out of Banksy’s book of guerilla protest. In case you didn’t know, Banksy smuggled a life-size replica of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner into Disney World. Hardcore! Not being a curator of hardcore myself and lacking Banksy’s tenous grasp of semiotics, I completely failed to see the link between Mickey Mouse and waterboarding. First torture, and now real estate speculation? Holy cheese what an evil rodent!
The Rant about “los Progres”
[…]It is Spain’s idiosyncrasies which make it such a fascinating place, both to study and visit. Much the same could be said of Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Each, thankfully, has its own identity. And what the Spanish, in their enthusiasm for ‘Europe’, perhaps overlook is that to be true to themselves they may need to be different from others. For me at least, the new Spain will have reached maturity, not on the day it ceases to be different from the rest of Europe, but on the day it acknowledges it is.
Churchill once said, “When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticise or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I get home”. This might apply to a brief jaunt abroad, but an expat should be exempt from this rule, particularly if you, like me, happen to share two nationalities. Should the Danish government not give me a reason to jump on my soapbox I rest easy, knowing its Spanish equivalent soon will. Furthermore, my move to Berlin from London has also provided me with ample opportunities to view the to-ings and fro-ings of UK politics from an outsider’s viewpoint. I’d like to think of it as a detached meta-perspective, although my boyfriend would argue otherwise. Yet today’s tuppence berates people who criticise their own country, obviously not including myself, since I got on the soapbox first. Specifically it’s about Spaniards’ harsh views on their own country and their glaring inferiority complex towards the rest of Europe. You don’t need to be in the Iberian peninsula to come across it, in fact this mindset is well and alive in Berlin where apparently 60% of Spain’s twenty- and thirty-somethings live. The other 40% are to be found in London’s Camden Market, so in retrospect it was probably wise for you not travel all the way down to Spain. You wouldn’t have found any.
The target of today wrath are the so-called progres, which is short for progresista, i.e. “progressive”. Once upon a time being a progresista was a very progressive stance to take. Spain has a proud tradition of forward-thinking minds who, amongst other things, were responsible for drafting the first constitution in Europe in 1812*, hot on the heels of the American one (it was sadly never enacted, as the returning Ferdinand VII, known as “the wanted one”, turned out to be a completely autocratic bastard, a constitution being the last thing he wanted, swiftly arresting its authors). The country might have had a turbulent history, and has at times not been the most liberal place to live, but this has not deterred many Spaniards in the long run.
Spain also has a surprising number of radical laws, radical at least for a country that has historically been regarded as one of Catholicism’s strongholds. Here same-sex couples are allowed to marry, instead of settling for a civil partnership as in other seemingly enlightened countries such as Great Britain. And they have the right to adopt, unlike in Germany. But if you mention this to a progre, they will rebuke you by claiming that it might not be on paper, but northern European countries just have a more liberal mentality. Progres, it seems, have an almost unnatural ability to read public opinion on “liberal issues”, particularly in countries they have never set foot into, but gleamed knowledge of through the marihuana haze. Progres smoke a lot, perhaps believing that the smoke will not ward off only mosquitoes, but also cold facts and figures. Their natural habitat is the flea market, hence their high numbers in Berlin. To a progre a flea market is the zenith of civilisation, what Flemming was really looking for when he accidentally discovered penicillin. Here they can sit and smoke dope all day surrounded by Bob Marley records, tribal jewellery and other Spanish people. They might be dedicated smokers but they are not enthusiastic linguists. So blissful they look that you almost don’t have the heart to tell them that the Palestinian scarves they’re proudly sporting are most definitely Chinese in origin. Almost.
Asked for the reasons behind their move to Berlin, they will all give you the same answer “Oh, in Berlin nobody judges you, you can dress however you like”. Apparently their brave sartorial choices are frowned upon back in their motherland, not only in the poky little city they grew up in, you understand, but IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY. I’m sure people from, say, Barcelona will agree. Don’t blame the poor progre, they are only able to spout sweeping generalisations picked up from other progres, forming a sort of incestuous bermuda triangle of vapid antiestablishment ideology, crumbs and leftovers from the 60s.
But the insouciance characteristic of youth becomes hollow if carried onto your 30s and 40s. You become one of those burnout hippies that got high on the counter-revolution and is still searching for that elusive time in which everything was black and white, as bland and simple as a John Lennon ballad. Perhaps Spain herself should be blamed for spawning such a generation. Living under the tight grip of Franco’s dictatorship for 40 years whilst Northern Europe experimented with different socialist models, it is no surprise that many Spaniards still embrace outmoded forms of counterculture. Perhaps they’re making up for lost time and still feel the clandestine thrill of indulging in now innocent activities that carried a price tag during the Generalísimo’s time. It has now been more than 30 years since Spain was able to embrace democracy once again, 30 years in which it has frantically tried to catch up with its other European neighbours. Recessions will come and go and so will housing bubbles, although politicians’ inability to keep their fingers from the cookie jar will sadly stay. And yet Spain should pat herself on the shoulder. Spain is different, but so is every other country. Most importantly, Spain can pride itself on being pleasantly bland. This might come as a disappointment to those thrill seekers who, like Hemingway, flocked to Spain attracted by its fiery and indomitable spirit. On the other hand, Spain is unlikely to start another civli war, and most importantly, won’t have to put up with American authors that eschew wussy adjectives in favour of manly verbs.
And this is why, dear progres, I get so angry with you. I’m simply disappointed because I’m convinced you could do so much better. You know the the term has been emptied of all meaning when it is used as an insult, and with progre that happened years ago. When my parents married, Spain wasn’t part of the European Union, and the Danish immigration authorities grilled my mother, demanding to know if her motives were genuine. Although Franco was already dead, there was still currency circulating with his loathsome effigy. Nowadays it is Spaniards that get to be rude to immigrants (how fleeting is historic memory!) and get to spend their Euros in the many countless countries they can visit. And this is something that should be celebrated, apart from the growing xenophobia of course. That really sucks, although it is also, perversely, a sign that Spain is now a country wealthy enough that racist morons have the money and leisure to spend it infecting the internet with their imbecilic venom.
Anyway, I digress. I was talking about progress, right? Well done Spain! Now if only the current government could pass some much needed labour reforms…
* Note to history sticklers: The people responsible for drafting the 1812 Constitution were actually knows as liberales, it would be their political descendants who became known as progresistas. Liberales were arguably pretty progressive too though.
And yes, the pictures are from Teufelsberg. No connection, I just need some visual breaks.
A Break from Berlin
As much as I have come to like my current host city, I need a break. Dr Johnson once famously - and a tad optimistically - claimed that if a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life. I’m tired of graffiti, which means I must be tired of Berlin. Actually I’m tired of people taking pictures of graffiti as if they were spontaneous acts of anarchy, and not a compulsory element of the urban landscape. I was going to take a picture of somebody taking a picture of graffiti, like a möbius image of counterculture, perpetuating ad infinitum outside the confines of mainstream. Except that graffiti is mainstream in Berlin.
So, where does a woman go when she needs a breather from Berlin? To Budapest, of course, an architectural gem in the heart of Europe, or so my guide tells me, and most importantly, the only destination that did not cost €400 a flight. I would like to think it is a sign, although so far it’s only a sign that a) I don’t book in advance b) everybody else is heading south.
One week to go! (Yeah, that’s how much I plan in advance)
The fight for freedom is always easier than the practice of freedom
- Matjia Beckovic
A couple of days ago I was sitting in one of the city’s countless alternative cafes trying to cool myself down with copious amounts of chilled alcohol. The establishment, opposite a sushi bar and an overpriced organic supermarket, was run as a collective and prided itself on its left-leaning credentials. Stuck to its walls were countless posters, as well as the requisite graffiti, that reminded everyone that Capitalism sucked harder than a hoover on amphetamines. Or something along those lines. Which is all really well although “preaching to the converted” did spring to mind, but mostly I was very hot. My attention was instead directed towards the menu, in the hope that this would provide me with a much needed icy margarita. The drinking list was disappointingly short though, with much space devoted instead to views the establishment found offensive (how about a lack of margaritas?). I was gently reminded, among other things, that sexist, homophobic or racist comments would not be tolerated, you know, because they’re positively embraced in the rest of Berlin. But not here. Here would-be offenders had been given a written warning.
“Whoa, you know, the other day this guy came in wearing a KKK robe made from old copies of Playboy and DEAD KITTENS and asked me if I had Feuer to burn a picture of Harvey Milk, and I was like, you haven’t read our menu, that is SO totally not on”
“Whaaaaaaat? And it was written down and everything. Man, that’s outrageous! I’m SO unbelievably outraged that I’m going to start a FB group. Thank God for people like you though, shining beacons of civil rights.”
“Who does he think we are? Starbucks?”
Having read the eager manifesto and being on the left side of the political spectrum myself, I thought I could escape the evening without treading on anybody’s toes, but the list was so comprehensive that following it was akin to dancing the tango with a millipede. So if any of the friendly waiters happened to have overheard me, I’m really sorry, guys. My comments were taken out of context. As a white middle class woman myself, I think that Naomi Klein is an awesome author and clearly in touch with the less privileged in society. Her magnum opus No Logo, which I have had the pleasure of reading, is an brilliant, inspiring and above all nuanced reflection on the role played by corporations in today’s society. Before Ms Klein and her Promethean Feuer,
mankind humanity lived surrounded by unicorns and rainbows, blissfully ignorant of the inherent deviousness and EVIL espoused by corporations. I especially like how she, instead of highlighting potentially useful activities like pushing for new legislation, instead encourages readers to attend another yet amorphous demonstration against “globalisation”. It leaves would-be leftists like me with more time to enjoy wine and, you know, get properly outraged.
Sundays in Berlin
And on the seventh day Berliners woke up hungover; and they partook of Frühstück, for much Aqua vitae had been consumed and their bodies were much fatigued by the songs of DJ David. And lo behold, the gates of Mauerpark flea market were flung back; and the people rejoiced, for the market was filled with many cheap things. And they saw that it was good.
Berliners are not known for their religious fervour and are, like most capital people, fairly tolerant of other people’s beliefs. It was, after all, Friedrich the Great who said “everyone should be saved according to their own fashion”. He incidentally also famously exclaimed “A German singer! I should as soon expect to get pleasure from the neighing of my horse!”, yet Germans apparently still think he’s great. They are a very forgiving people, those Teutons. Maybe this is why they prefer progressive house. Devout they are not though, and yet they keep their Frühstück appointment with pious punctuality. This is partly because Sunday is a day of rest, as most shops are closed, and partly, I suspect, because a ton of toasty Brotchen drenched in enough butter helps soothe the previous night’s excesses.
“Frühstück”, literally “early piece”, is what Germans call breakfast, although at weekends - and reflecting the capital’s nocturnal inclinations - it can be anything from brunch to an early dinner. On Fridays and Saturdays, Berliners’ habits come to resemble those of a vampire, not coming out until Cinderella and other pumpkins are safely tucked in, and consequently most establishments serve breakfast until late afternoon. And for those committed clubers that no longer inhabit our time zone, the Schwarzes Café, a former anarchist haunt, serves breakfast 24 hours a day.
A “Frühstück” is traditionally a spread consisting of cold cuts, cheese, jam and other additions worthy of a Wind in the Willows picnic extravaganza. Often they carry national themes, so that a French one will contain croissant and some Camembert and an Italian will feature mozzarella and tomato salad, and perhaps some proscuitto or mortadella. Entweder Oder, a favourite establishment, reflects more faithfully Italian customs by offering instead an espresso, a glass of water and a cigarette. This variation is also known as the “Existentialist Breakfast” in other cafés.
You will have plenty of opportunities to dabble in ontological arguments and indulge in some dominical ennui, as the average Frühstück lasts around 3 hours. Add two hours if it is somewhere popular ( i.e. anywhere in Berlin). And another two if it’s outside, just to remind you that yes, it is the temperate climate, not the tropical. After you have finally managed to harpoon the waiter in the sea of fellow brunchers - setting yourself on fire does not always work - you can then proceed to the second stage of the Berlin ritual - the flea market.
The Flohmarket or flea market’s place in the Berliner psyche deserves a blog on its own. That the burghers of this fair city like flea markets is a bit of an understatement, like claiming that Gollum was quite fond of jewellery or that Tiger Woods has a soft spot for cocktail waitresses. Berliners, perennial part-time hippies that they are, never really bought into Capitalism, but are more than happy to grasp the invisible hand as long as it has been through a couple of hands already. Boy do Berliners like second-hand. And on Sundays, when all first hand shops are closed, they will flock to the seemingly unending array of Flohmärkte that sprout round the city. They spring up everywhere there is flat bit of concrete for stalls. In my previous flat I came back one day to discover that the tenement’s square had been taken over by one of these enterprises. Next it will be my balcony. I will open it one day only to discover that it’s now covered in GDR relics and kitsch copies of David Hasselhoff singles. Germans have yet to discover that the Hoff is immune to irony.
It would not surprise me, as I happen to live next door to one of the biggest and busiest flea markets in Berlin. Flohmarkt am Mauerpark offers everything from pirated CDs to the omnipresent Hoff, from raffish paraphernalia to boxes of nails. Boxes of rusty nails. Although no hammers, presumably so as to not give potential buyers any ideas. There is even a permanent stand that houses trifles of all sorts, a mausoleum for discarded trinkets and also, it seems, a final resting place for discarded mementoes. Cheap photo albums are on offer if you don’t feel uncomfortable at being confronted with the images of its previous owners. In my case it is enough to make me want to order the Existential breakfast.
May Day in Berlin: Krawall* and Neo-nazis
Last Saturday I finally managed to meet up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in ages. Granted, this is not a particularly noteworthy event, but she happens to live up the road from Kotbusser Tor, and this was May Day, so according to most predictions, we should have been on fire, in the shade, the Sun blotted out by riot police. But more on that later. Over a much needed caffeine injection, my friend related how an acquaintance had crossed a deserted road without waiting for Mr Green Man, only to be admonished by a youth in an anarchist hoodie. Only in Germany would you have the heir of Bakunin acting as a lollipop lady. But don’t tell Berliners this, they work hard at being free-spirited non-comformist yet committed urbanites - one could say with Teutonic zeal - and do not like being reminded that they share an international dialling code with Munich. Do this at your peril, but be prepared for countless mildly worded and polite rebuffs.
I find these idiosyncrasies sometimes endearing, other times puzzling, and always fascinating. As an Auslander you can’t help but become an amateur anthropologist, and after a decade of observing the English - and Heaven knows that they have idiosyncrasies - it’s refreshing to watch another tribe at play. Which brings me to May Day in Berlin, a peculiar occurrence that combines the characteristic German tendency for Ordnung with Berlin’s penchant for pandemonium. Combine the two and you get ritualised anarchy, an annual set piece full of sound and fury signifying Gott knows what and with enough riot police to defeat Macduff and all the trees in Scotland. And it takes place in Kreuzberg, near Kotbusser Tor at 6pm every May Day.
This year we were promised a massive demonstration by students, trade unionists, squatters and the Antifa (Antifascist movement) with the aim of “shutting down Capitalism”. Yet a large percent of the demonstrators will never have heard of Rosa Luxembourg or anarcho-syndicalism, and are often blasé bourgeois offspring in search of an adrenaline rush and the chance to set things on fire. On the other hand, with 500 policemen hurt last year, 7000 officers had been mobilised to the city from the surrounding area. And with regional elections looming, the Government was not in a mood to endure another tantrum from its unruly capital. It was going to be one hellluva show.
It wasn’t always like this of course. Berlin has a long history of street violence and political enthusiasm gone wrong on both sides of the political spectrum. Absolutism, Anarchy, Communism, Fascism…you name it and chances are that it will pop up in the city’s tumultuous trajectory. Berlin, it seems, likes to think BIG. The Kreuzberg riots were also once upon a time, whether for better or worse, a genuine act of defiance and frustration, as well as genuinely spontaneous.
Nowadays, the Kreuzberg Krawall feels like hollow street theatre, a Cops and Anarchists version of West Side Story. It has become a tourist attraction, the sight of a burning container often bleached out by camera flashes, and hooded bottle-hurling youths now compete with Cold War border guards in Berlin’s Cliché Olympics. Oh, and Anti-capitalist t-shirts on sale. I know this because I was, of course, also in Kreuzberg, although mostly to check out the Kreuzberg street festival, which takes place during the day, before all the faux-punks and other aspirational nihilists have bothered to get out of bed.
Getting to Kreuzberg, or rather, leaving Prenzlauer Berg, proved to be a bit of challenge that morning. This is because a bunch of Neo-nazis, and by the look of it, perennial morons, had decided to march down Schönhauser Allee. Why they would march on May Day, traditionally property of the left, is anybody’s guess. Yet May Day is the day for marching, and even fascists, it seems, like to keep it traditional. Whether you’re campaigning for the extermination of Capitalism or Jews, May Day is the day. That it also happened to be the anniversary of Hitler’s death was probably lost on many of these new followers. But then I suspect that many of the so-called Kreuzberg anarchists think that Bakunin is a limited Smirnoff edition.
Most Berliners though were positively frothing at mouth at the thought of swastikas in their neighbourhood and had organised all sorts of counter-manifestations. Meanwhile, the police had the enviable task of protecting the fascists’ constitutional right to march, arresting them for being Nazis, an illegal affiliation in Germany, and allowing the thousand of counter-demonstrators to block the Neo-nazis. In the end, the Führer’s sympathisers barely managed to parade for 500m before they were stopped in their tracks, their shouting drowned by furious locals blasting Bob Marley from their balconies.
We eventually made it down to Kreuzberg before the annual container incineration. Walking round the festival, I was much amused to discover that the street had spontaneously separated into two lanes - one for pedestrians heading north and another for those heading south. It must be an instinct, just like British people have the ability to queue encoded in their DNA. Around 5pm a fleet of police vans arrived at Kotbusser Tor. Then came the riot police, dressed to the nines in their finest Robocop gear. Chants of “Der Bulle, der Bulle, der Bulle**” start filling the streets. The show was about to begin. That’s when I decided to leave. As a general rule, I don’t like being on fire.
* Der Krawall: riot
* Der Bulle: literally a bull, although used here as a slang term meaning “cop”
Zeitgeist for beginners: A brief introduction to East Berlin
“How quickly revolutions grow old; and, worse still, respectable.” G.K. Chesterton
Yesterday I moved to the East, after spending two months in the West, in elegant Schöneberg. Sandwiched between prim Charlottenburg and perennially radical Kreuzberg, this charming Berlin neighbourhood nowadays feels like an ageing courtesan reminiscing about her glory days during the Weimar Republic, when she was the cultural heart of Europe, the cradle of political radicalism, the centre of unbridled 20s hedonism, the home of the divinely decadent Sally Bowles. It has clung on, and rightly so, to the title of Europe’s oldest gay quarter, but is otherwise like an old aunt with patrician features and a glint in her eye. The radicalism has gone.
El Dorado - Europe’s most decadent club during the flapper era. Now an organic supermarket.
If Christopher Isherwood were to return to Berlin, he would go East, provided of course that he had a fondness for minimal techno, flea markets and psychotic cyclists. Oh and the alternative scene, of course. Everybody in East Berlin is into the alternative scene.
Even good old Kaiser’s has received the alternative treatment.
Bananas are no strangers to urban alienation. Who knew graffiti was the perfect medium to express the angst of tropical fruit?
So, what if Isherwood were to return to the Prussian capital and head to the West again, a place so obviously lacking in brutalist Communist architecture and kitsch GDR furniture? The fool! How will he be able to express urban alienation? Where would he hold his guerilla literary salon? How would he be able to express his individuality without the presence of state planned and mass produced orange wallpaper with floral patterns? I can sense you fear, watching the zeitgeist escape down an alley to an abandoned warehouse where Ricardo Villalobos is holding a clandestine gig.
Me pondering about the unbearable lightness of being, or how to get to my 5th floor saniert Altbau flat without a lift, after an 8 hour brunch and much Käse consumption at the local cafe.
Fear not, with this foolproof guide, you too can become an East Berliner!
1) Get knocked up: If you’re in Prenzlauer Berg, being pregnant will make you indistinguishable from a local. But only if you’re over 30. If you’re under 30 and over 15, you should consider Friedrichshain, which is edgier (read poorer) and also contains less information architects. If you’re a man, and are therefore hindered by nature, a pushchair that costs more than a Toyota Prius is an acceptable alternative. For that extra touch, bring all your sprogs into your local organic Osteria during Sunday brunch and set them loose, like a bunch of amphetamine-crazed marmosets who have just set their eyes on Del Monte’s banana warehouse.
Kollwitzstrasse: breeding ground for freelance graphic designers and gallery owners
2) Never drink at place with a name: Drinking a place with a Google map pin on it is not ALTERNATIVE. This whole business of naming things has been done for millennia. It so conventional. What is it with this penchant for labeling things? It stifles and limits the fluid and slippery postmodern identity. It fails to accurately reflect the transient ephemeral nature of human existence. Nomenclature is out, is too bourgeois. Plus it saves money on an actual sign.
There are of course two exceptions to this rule that will not result in social suicide:
stupid quirky names: You can name venues as long as it undermines one of its primary functions, i.e. to remember what the place is called, which let’s admit it, is too conventional and convenient. Convenience is an evil capitalist plot. So is logic. Your name should be as quirky and surreal as possible, and sound like something Lou Reed might have written after a four day binge in the Lower East side. Like ‘Ick koof mir Dave Lombardo wenn ick reich bin (‘When I’m rich I’ll buy Dave Lombardo’). It might have been an epiphany discerned through the marihuana haze. but now makes less sense than Mandarin video recorder instructions. Dave Lombardo is, in case you’re wondering, the drummer of trash metal band Slayer. Still no bells ringing? Good.
If you’re not an art student, and has therefore not had André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto inflicted upon you, or just can’t afford the drugs, you can always pick lyrics from hip alternative 90s underground bands like Sonic Youth (signed to Universal Records, and not Sony, like that other beacon of anti-establishment, Rage Against the Machine)
“I’m just popping down to ‘I stole my sister’s boyfriend. It was all whirlwind, heat, and flash. Within a week we killed my parents and hit the road’” (Luckily they know more about vintage clothing than nomenclature -excellent selection and very lovely people)
-’ Meta digits’ are okey: Bar 103 is, you guessed it, a bar on number 103. Street numbers are immune to the capricious and transient nature of urban topography. Number 103 is and will always be number 103, whether is a horse hospital or a bar, or preferably a horse hospital turned into a bar. Which brings me to the next rule:
3) Never drink in a a venue that was built for that purpose: Ideally it should have originally been a brothel (a horse brothel?), because nothing is as edgy as downing capirinhas in a former syphilis hotbed. Otherwise, anything else will do - a hedgehog hospital, a anarchist sanctuary, a nuclear shelter, a pickle factory. You name it -The more unusual the better. Unless it is one of those dives that has remained unchanged since the Wall came down, because as I have mentioned before, nothing screams individuality more than state planned and mass produced orange wallpaper with floral patterns.
The public baths in Prenzlauer Berg, now a funky edgy establishment for the urban disenfranchised youth. And corporate events.
The KulturBrauerei, because nothing says culture like beer
This is obviously a very brief sketch, although rest assured that I will fill in the contours as I become more familiar with my new neighbourhood. For a comprehensive and hilariously incisive take on the Teutonic equivalent of that most pretentious of London creatures, the Hoxtonite, I can’t recommend enough Ich werde ein Berliner. In fact, this post is my little homage to this brilliant blog.
Tom bowled over by the urban alternative experience. Or was it one too many Fruhstück at the Ost Fee?
Our local, The Fairy of the East. Many people in East Berlin are away with the fairies. Sometimes without chemical aid. Lovely staff, four different sorts of Chai and 5 min from my house. What more can a girl ask for?