photo: Linka A. Odom
I first visited Berlin in the spring of 2008 when I stayed with a friend in Kreuzberg. As we roamed the city, we bumped into people he knew at every turn, even though he had only been living there a few months. A vegan poet cooked us dinner, we rode the U-Bahn without paying, we went to a party in an abandoned warehouse where one of the musicians was, by coincidence, someone I had met the day before in a bookshop. I found all of this unbelievably cool. In Berlin, I felt unbelievably cool. Yes, it was grey and gritty, but there was space, it was cheap, the cafés were filled with unemployed creatives from around the world and a glass of wine was only 1.50 euros.
I fell in love with Berlin in one weekend and its allure lingers with me. Most recently I’ve had the pleasure of returning to it through the eyes of an eclectic and talented group of Berlin writers who are contributors to a series of essays, Letters from Berlin released by The Pigeonhole. More about it after the jump.
From cheap, awesome gays bars such as Möbel Olfe to highly sexual institutions like Lab.Oratory, it is no secret that Berlin’s queer scene has been under the spotlight for a long time now. Considering the fact that parties like Homopatik are causing insanely long queues in front of ://about blank every month, one might be tempted to argue that what was long meant as safe haven for the queer community has slowly become a refuge for straight people wanting to have their cake and eat it too…
Iggy Pop, 1978, Berlin, photo: Esther Friedman
When I moved to Berlin in 2009, I was struck by two things. One was the strong feeling I had, a feeling that is hard to describe. It was a kind of peace that washed over my restlessness. At the same time, I noticed that Berlin was a meeting place, that people from all over were flooding into an open city. Berlin was a city of strangers and between them I sensed a beautiful solidarity. As a writer who has lived in several cities and had travelled much, I wanted to understand these things about Berlin. I soon realized that a certain kind of free spirit had been drawn to Berlin for a long time, and often for similar reasons. I wanted to know why. So in 2011 I began to write a book, City of Exiles: Berlin from the outside in, which was published in May by Noctua Press. After the jump you can read an excerpt from the second chapter of the book. Enjoy!
photo: Michele Ursino
We’ve all seen them, out in the streets of Berlin, in our offices, they’re in the clubs, in all the cafes. They’ve penetrated our circle of friends, maybe we are even becoming one of them ourselves? I’m talking about one of the ugly results of the Social Media Age: Smartphone Zombies. They walk in the streets without checking the traffic, they sit silently across from each other in restaurants, whole hordes of them in the subway, and all of them constantly gazing into the screen of their smartphones as if they were staring through a magical looking glass into another dimension, one that seems to be significantly more exciting than the world that surrounds them.
How often do you use your smartphone? Is it the first thing you grad when you wake up, and the last thing you see before you fall asleep? How often do you check your new likes, your incoming Whatsapp messages or eMails? How often do you upload new photos on Facebook and Instagram? Maybe you are becoming a Smartphone Zombie yourself and you haven’t even realized it yet? Maybe no-one tells you because all your friends are already infected and this behavior has become a state of normalcy for all of you?
If you think the symptoms are recognizable than maybe it’s time you take action before it’s too late. We’ve compiled a list of 7 steps that will help you to avoid becoming a Smartphone Zombie. You can work your way through our list of steps and depending how early you begin to fail our recommendations the more serious your infection seems to be. But don’t worry, the final step has a remedy that will surely help you as it entails a chance to win a dream vacation on Ibiza in the Vila Mare by Gin Mare. But first things first, here are our 7 steps on how to avoid becoming a Smartphone Zombie…
Our fellow blogger Federico is a funny guy. Not only does he share his quirky and witty thoughts on his blog, he has also started a new project that has the Italian Berliner invent a new German word every day for 100 days in a row. Obviously the guy has a fascination with the German language and the fact that our grammar allows us to combine several nouns to one word (which requires a whole sentence to express in English) seems to have been a great inspiration for his new word inventions. Let me tell you one thing up front: They are not actually correct German words and therefore should not be understood as value German lessons such as the words from Days of Deutsch, but they do make so much sense, so maybe the guys from the Duden should consider some of them for inclusion into our vocabulary. Words like Kotzerleichterung (the feeling of relieve after you threw up), Finanzangst (the fear of dealing with the tax officials) and Lieberechenbarkeit (the predictability of someone you love) are so relatable to me and I don’t understand why no-one ever came up with them before. After the jump we have a couple of our favorites of Federico’s new German words. And if you want to hear more of his wit you should tune into tonight’s episode of Off the Record on Flux FM at 22h where he will be a guest of the show.
I think it’s pretty obvious that you have to speak German when you want to live in Germany. But Berlin is not Germany. Berlin is a state of mind. And in this state of mind of total freedom people often think that they don’t need to speak German when they start living and working here. I know quite some people who are annoyed by the English speaking expats, but for me as a German I find it actually pretty great that I can practice my English with a lot of native speakers without even leaving my neighborhood. But for the new people who arrive in Berlin and who try learning German it’s really difficult to practice because everybody automatically switches to English as soon they hear a foreign accent.
I know for a fact that without a certain knowledge of German (and an understanding of the culture and mentality of the Germans) some doors (business and private ones) will never open for the new Berliners who plan to make a life here. That sounds a bit dramatic, but I just wish that new Berliners have less fear of the German language and maybe a bit more enthusiasm for learning it.
While I just typed the word “enthusiasm” I had to imagine the shocked faces of several of my non-German speaking friends. And probably quite a lot of my non-German speaking readers think that I have gone insane right now. But honestly: German is a beautiful and precise language with a lot of creative freedom and abundance of neologism that makes the language alive. I don’t want to bother you much more with my love for the German. That’s why I would like to let this photography project convince you to at least try to spark your enthusiasm. The amazing photo tumblr Days of Deutsch that I discovered a couple of days ago, helps you to learn German with photographs of Berlin. More about this beautiful project after the jump.
Berlin has always been a place for new beginnings. Many people come here to start a new life. Berlin becomes their personal clean slate.
“Neuanfang” is a photo project that wants to show the everyday life of four “Wahlberliner” (Berliners by choice). With my camera I follow them to their favorite places, in particular the places where they can “breathe” their new beginning in the German capital. It’s all about “change” – change as a new way of life that is completely different from the lives in their respective hometowns.
Trying to catch their thoughts is an inspiring process for me because this topic touches me deeply. I am a Wahlberliner, too. I share their feelings and even if I think that we are all very different, this magical feeling of a new beginning simply connects us.
For the longest time of my life in Berlin the appearance of street musicians made me want to change the car of the subway or the side of the street. For some reason only the least talented people on the planet seemed to be the ones who decided to play live in public here. But in the past few years this has changed. A lot. Now all of a sudden I find myself amazed by the quality of the music that we get to hear now in the U-Bahn stations. I guess the influx of people coming to Berlin in recent time also brought some talent.
The Busker Diaries is a new video series dedicated to the most talented street musicians. The term Busker itself is pretty new to me, I guess it’s a a shorter and more sexy way to describe that you play music in the streets and make a living from the donations of the people and self-produced CD sales. Of the three episodes that have been released so far we like the first one the most with the blue-haired Katie O’Connor who makes really good folk music. Enjoy the film after the jump!
For the upcoming Berlin Festival and the Re:Publica conference the makers of the Busker Diaries are hosting open stages that still have some available slots for musicians. If you are interested you can contact them through their Facebook page.
Lately we have dedicated a lot of time and effort writing about restaurants and cafes in our various themed guides about different styles of kitchens or districts of Berlin. And why is that? Because we love food! With all the different creative worlds from fashion, art, music and theater, it’s the one thing that we and our readers can always come back to and agree on: Berlin has some amazing food to offer.
To bring our love for food one step further we have teamed up with the international restaurant reservation service Quandoo to create a blogger challenge that let’s us cherish the food we love the most. For the challenge we are looking for the best stories and most beautiful photos of your favorite ingredient. What’s in it for you? We have one sparkling new KitchenAid Artisan for the lucky winner, the most elegant and popular kitchen device and a must-have for every food lover. Find out more about this delicious competition after the jump.
There you are again you bastard of a Valentine’s Day! Like every year you put us poor singles of Berlin in trouble with your high expectations. No, we did not find the Love of our Life yet to spend some money on presents, flowers, or a nice dinner. To be correct we did not even find the Love of our Moment or the One-Night-Stand for the weekend or anything that resembles somehow a date. And if we found somebody to have some dates with, the dating dilemma transforms us into nerve wrecks.
But who is to blame? You want to point your finger on Berlin, Tinder or the neo-liberal capitalistic society we all live in. But it can’t be quite as easy, right? Let’s follow my wild speculations after the jump and maybe we find some tips for our next flirting-moves.