The more research I did on Francis Bacon, the more enthralled I became. Always on the lookout for troubled musicians whose drunken rhymes I could live by, I’d never been that passionate about any visual artist. But I have to admit – that guy was just like a rock star. Putting one of the most unnerving projections of suffering and alienation on an exhibition just two months after the end of the Second World War stood in major contradiction with any attempts of promoting optimism or tranquil nostalgia in the British society of that period. It also marked the beginning of his mature artwork, which featured references to T.S. Eliot’s poems, reenacting the circumstances of a former lover’s suicide, and general distortion of every human feature you could think of.
Clearly, I thought, with this kind of artistic sensibility, he must have been to Berlin.
And I was right. What’s interesting, though, and why I decided to write this article, is that Bacon’s Berlin experience was not limited to the times he might have been to our beloved Hauptstadt already as an acclaimed painter. First time his wild imagination was undeniably stimulated by this promiscuous city took place in 1927, back in the days of the Weimar Republic, just seven years after the Greater Berlin Act, which we should be forever thankful for, as it let Berlin incorporate some new territories, and among them a town called Neukölln. Hadn’t that happened, we’d be denied those abundances of Döners nowadays and some of the most beautiful tattoos ever done there.
illustrations: Sophia Halamoda
Show me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are. Basked in a plethora of choice, Berlin inhabitants’ hardest seems to be where to eat. Trying to arrange Sunday brunch with a vegan, a meat lover and a person that claims to be allergic to almost anything between is more normal than everyone involved would like it to be. With a rough estimate of two hundred guides to hyped food spots being published (in Berlin alone) every day the proof must be in the pudding. So if you’re looking for your very own flavor of love, by all means, dig in:
photo: Harald Hauswald
We all know the stigma: True Berliners are grumpy people. People who directly speak their mind, could not care less about unnecessary chit-chat and definitely have a strong problem with, well, for simplicity reasons, let’s call it hipster culture. Despite stereotypes being generally untrue, it doesn’t really take you long to see that person right in front of you, does it? But is there a reason for all the grouch? Has anyone ever dared to ask when you saw one of these rare True Berliners? It feels like in Berlin there is this ongoing, unspoken, not clearly defined tension pressing under the surface of the city; an unverbalized conflict between these who came and those who were already here. The “Neuberliner“ vs. the “Urberliner“.
In search of an answer for all this bad mood, we, the “Neuberliner“, need to go back in time. As finding the cause for these temper issues is just not that simple. This text is one approach, but of course there could be one hundred other reasons for grumpy Berlin people being grumpy. But let’s try…
photo: Alejandro Arretureta
I never thought I’d move to Germany after finishing high school. But somehow (let’s pull down the merciful curtain of silence as to how exactly) I ended up doing just that. I turned up here, quite uninvited, and disheartened by every confused “wie bitte?” I kept hearing. I had my naive and uninformed vision of Berlin as a place where Nick Cave wrote a book and Wim Wenders made a movie, and that was what constituted my expat starter pack. As it turned out, that and the curiosity to recognize different Berlin lifestyles was all I needed.
At first I felt quite overwhelmed by the variety of people I’d met. Being Polish, and with the super comforting awareness that my mum’s just four hours away, I really felt the least adventurous and exotic among all the fantastic people coming from overseas. I loved this cultural diversity and soon didn’t feel surprised anymore that most of my new friends spoke English, but kein Deutsch.
photo: Rowena Waack / CC
I’ve written about the digital debris broken relationships leave behind. In this day and age, it seems that something always lingers, even when you do the leaving. Of course, in most cases, ditching people for good ultimately turns out to be the better choice. A recently published study suggests that only narcissists and/or psychopaths (and Berlin has enough of both) like to stay friends with their former partners. That may or may not be true. In my experience one of the dominant reasons we still pine for people that we got rid of is nostalgia, rather than the fact that your ex was such a good friend or even partner.
Rejecting the idea of “the one” seems like the best place to start. Even if you’ve left everyone you’ve ever been with, you’ll have realized that it doesn’t mean the whole thing will be painless. The aim is of course to get through the suffering.
illustrations: Johanna Dumet
It all started one fateful Tuesday morning as I stood in my bathroom. The previous night I’d submitted the manuscript of How to be German 2 to my publisher and I considered my German Integration project finished. I was integrated. Standing in the bathroom, I looked below the mirror to a shelf where I saw the toothpaste tubes Elmex and Aronal. They knew, that I knew, that it is wrong to use the same toothpaste for both morning and night. This is not the German way, for it is obvious that your teeth have different cleaning needs depending on the time of day. Logisch. Right? You wouldn’t use the same shampoo when showering at night, as when showering in the morning, would you? Exactly.
TH!NK? Festival, photo: Arvid Wünsch
For Free: One brown vintage v-neck sweater and one oversized striped H&M tank top!
Why am I giving them away? Well, let me explain…
It all began a few weeks ago when I made the two hour bus ride to Leipzig to attend the TH!NK? festival, an annual one-day techno festival located next to a beautiful lake. When I boarded my bus in my blue marbled stretchy spandex shorts and striped crop top tank, I knew I was going to have an amazing day. I had no idea, however, that life as I know it would be forever changed. Furthermore, I had no idea that as a result, I would return to Berlin a much happier, more romantic version of myself.
Every year, slowly but steadily, summer finds its way to Berlin. And with it the festivals pop up, seemingly endless. Your Facebook feed is basically exploding and they all appear like your wildest summer dream come to life. But where to start, which to choose, and who should join the perfect festival squad? …Struggles, so in the end you surrender and end up at Volkspark-Friedrichshain, having a barbecue. At least that’s how it feels like to me.
So, when Somersby – the fruity Scandinavian Cider – invited us to the Helene Beach Festival, of course, we went – Far to the east, actually, as east as it gets if you weren’t planning a spontaneous trip to Poland. The thought of half naked bodies, sun screen and apple cider, convinced us to pack our things and leave Berlin for the weekend. A summer beach festival located directly at a beautiful lake, with a wide variety of artists was waiting for us. Summer – music – chill – Let’s do this!
photos: Chris Phillips for Pornceptual
Pornceptual – “That’s a party? With that kinda name? In Berlin? – Oh Gosh!” – I know plenty of people who would already pass just knowing these banal facts; driven by an opinion, formed by nothing more but hearsay. Fetish, leather, sex, queers, techno, darkness; the associations are clear. I, on the other hand, seem to be constantly driven by an insatiable fascination for everything that’s outrageous. So, I went, more spontaneous, than elaborately planned. Well, I got everything mentioned above – yet still, my first Pornceptual was far from what I expected. One night in between naked skin, electronic beats and sexual liberation made me philosophize about what’s queer, what’s compliant and that weird thing called “normal”.
“And what piece of clothing are you gonna take off today?”, the skinny bouncer asked, a crooked smile on his face. His outfit consisted of an old Soviet uniform – without anything down below, of course, just tight leather hot pants. I looked around; the line behind me appeared like a collection of bizarre characters. I already felt very entertained by this; Berlin, just like you’d imagine it. Admittedly, at first I had to realize that I was not truly a newbie to this world. I am queer, I have been to many queer parties – but a party that is this kinky and sex oriented was still on the to-do-list. The facial expression of one of my friends reminded me of how deeply this Berlin party scene has already influenced me. While I was showing a broad smile, her face said something like: “What the fuck am I getting myself into?”
photos: Eylül Aslan
Oral sex is a sticky topic across all genders. Putting your mouth on/around/into someone else’s genitals is somehow a battleground of opinions.
What I find curious is that’s (almost) a non-issue between homosexual pairings. In the meantime, douchey guys running around proudly proclaiming how they “don’t eat pussy” are combated by another species of men: the guy that loves to munch on fur burgers. And even the latter is usually only mediocre to tolerable at it. (Although I’ve met one or two exceptions in my time. Sadly they’re both dead. To me anyway.)