Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Neukölln, Re-visited"

Once upon a time in a far away past ...

people were moving to a part of the citty no one wanted to move to. And so did I. It was cheap, kinda central, kinda not stressfully-fancy, and one could get out of it with the trains rather quickly.
Getting to know people and talking about where you live was always a bit of a challenge. In the beginning you were admitting to do some kind of long-term social-studies project there, that's why.
Then some friends lived there, too, probably in the same house - so why bother moving?
Then you've been away for a year. Coming back, and actually being quite happy to be in your place again - so why bother moving?
Then you realize that some things changed while you were gone. Someone was killed in the park you went jogging in, and on the other side of the street, a new café had opened its doors, where they are reading literature. And they did something to the park, something with fresh, new flowers, and there is this nice little art gallery, and there is more blood on the floor in front of the trainstation, right next to the phone booth. Also, some new neighbours moved in. And there is this tiny little man on your shoulder that says - why bother moving? There are few places in this country that feel more "real" than this one.

Even if a coin has a harsh and ugly side, too, it still keeps its value somehow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Carboniferous Charlie and the Blackleg Miner"

Charlie: "Creeping to work now, right?"
Miner: "Fook off."
Charlie: "Got them buddies freezing outside the factory gate, and you? What's that?!"
Miner: "Man, got me money to earn. Got me wife to feed. Got a litte lad dis summa."
Charlie: "Got a little one next summer, too, right? Others got mouths to feed, too, right?"
Miner (blushes): "Fook off."
Charlie: "This is not only about you anymore, this is about justice!"
Miner: "Fook justice. Justice never fed me belly."
Charlie: "And she never will if you leave them now."
Miner (irritated): "Aw, man, stick to your own business."
Charlie: "If you leave now, nothing will ever change!"
Miner: "Man, change never paid me rent so far, why would it now?"
Charlie (irritated): "But you gotta show them that they cannot do this to you. I mean, they can't, can they?"
Miner: "Wake up, mate, they can!"
Charlie (blushes): "But - "

Exit Miner, leaving Charlie quarrelling with dismay.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"One-O-One Things You Really Don't Want To Hear"


"And what are we supposed to do with these screws?"

(the furniture guy kneeling above my new Swedish roommate who looks like completely finished)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Roots, Bloody Roots"

Anyone up for growing roots on a cliff?

It is THE thing to do these days, as my observing and trend-spotting eye already witnessed a couple of years ago on that island in the Baltic Sea. I assume it will become even more fashionable during the next decades.

Growing roots on cliffs has quite a few advantages:

It can get a little tough in the beginning, but once you got stuck, you can breathe calmly, even in the roughest of coastal-storms.
It can get a little prickly at some parts, but then again the others are washed out smoothly from all the wind and water.

Every once in a while you can do a treesome with the beech trees next door.
You get the best of the early mornings sunrise and a lovely sunset on the beach day in day out.
It is the place to have the best of fire-dances during a hot summer's night.
You can dream away some hours and no one blames you for that.
And last but not least, you can be a safe haven for quite a lot of birds, a very inspiring, responsible and rewarding job on this planet.

Alright, folks, keep me posted on applications!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Once upon no time in Berlin ...

Waterfall, waterfall
Running down the hill
Waterfall, waterfall
Running down the hill
Running down from soul
Following my will
Running down from soul
Following my will
Mindmachine, mindmachine...
Riverside, riverside
under an orange sky
Riverside, riverside
under an orange sky
Fading to black and white
Passing passing by
Mindmachine, mindmachine...
Ocean wide, ocean wide
calming down at last
Ocean wide, ocean wide
calming down at last
Listening to the changing tides
Drawn to the past
I feel drawn to distant places
Drawn to the past
Mindmachine, mindmachine...

"Another Imperial Day"

Achilles: Black or white?
Tortoise: White.
Achilles: Your turn!
Tortoise: D2 D4.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Random Thoughts On Public Transport"

Berlin is a city of distances. Distances you get used to very quickly, because the public transport system is kind of AWESOME over here!

So, let's start this one again.

Berlin is a city of public transport. Trains and subways become the second living room for almost everyone (apart from those insane fellows who are actually driving cars inside the city center).

On a train people have breakfirst, lunch, dinner, read books, magazines, newspapers, listen to music, dream away staring out of the windows, write diary, do homework, prepare presentations, teach their dogs and kids things about the dos and don'ts of modern life, cuddle up with their partners on a four-seat, start arguments, sometimes fights, and embrace life to the maximum when the extraordinary polite and friendly driver shouts out loud "With your bike NOT into the first wagon!" ...

On special occasions, like New Year's Eve, you also have people doing a picnic whilst driving the circle line around the city center. Oh, and did I mention all the musicians, poets and homeless-newspaper-sellers, beggars and hobos that are part of this movement? No? Well, here they are.

You can also entertain your friends by having a little quiz-thing going, as you can guess easily which district you are passing through by the people who are getting on and off at the stations. It's like getting to know all the faces of the city in one go.

Just coming from the station tonight, after transiting some southern districts to get home from friends in the far Southwest, I realize that these trains are more than mere means of transportation. They are the veins of the city, some of them are going straight through the heart, others keep the blood flowing and the system moving elsewhere. They most certainly keep the city alive, 24/7.


There are still certain hours during the week where no train is operating. This city sleeps, but no longer than a nice extended nap of about three or four hours, just enough sleep for people who are into extreme yoga or whatsoever. And of course, there is the night-bus-system during that period of time, which is also kind of comfy, but just not quite the same, I must admit.

However, in Berlin, it is perfectly normal to travel great distances to places you wanna go, and to meet people for a coffee at a place about 30 minutes away from home is regarded as close-by. The city is wide, and people get used to spend quite some train-time during the day after they live here for a while. In fact, you kind of miss it once you are staying elsewhere. Oftentimes, you can spot something new from the train, and you can still get to know new parts of the city after some six or so years in town. Things are moving, the cityscape is changing again and again, slow but steadily.

Being on a train can be better than any meditation - IF you travel off-peak, that is. It gets you in a certain train-mood, especially if you are going during the night. A steady flow of images passing your eyes makes it easy to get lost in thoughts and dreams, somewhere between drawing the balance of the present day and making plans for the next one to come tomorrow. It is time that became quite precious to me over the years.

Even if shorter distances would equal more sleep in general, I wouldn't wanna miss floating down these wires ...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

" --- This Is, What It Feels Like --- "

Puppet Theater Berlin,
@ Winterfeldplatz

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Faux-Pas 2007: On The Shallows Of Lingua Germana"

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
(John 1:1)

It is a common cultural habit in Germany to choose a "faux-pas word of the year" by public vote at the end of each of these time-periods. This is always quite a good laugh for those of us who like their early morning coffee with the smell of recycled paper and ink.

Today, I'm gonna provide you with my collection of the last ten years of "non-words". Any cultural analysis is welcome, though you have to take it with a grain of salt, as these words are taken from public discourse which is semantically dominated by the German media, and as Little Luke already knows, media lingo isn't always representing citizen lingo.

Here we go!

2007: "Herdprämie", variations: "Gluckengehalt", "Aufzuchtprämie"
(translates "Stove Premium" or "Clucking Hen Salary" or "Breeding Premium" and denotes money you get from the state for staying at home to raise your children instead of having a career)

2006: "Freiwillige Ausreise"
(translates "Voluntary Departure", denotes departure under the threat of deportation)

2005: "Entlassungsproduktivität"
(translates "Productivity of Discharge", denotes higher productivity in a factory after employees were kicked out)

2004: "Humankapital"
(translates "Human Capital", denotes the stock of productive skills and knowledge embodied in labour)

2003: "Tätervolk"
(translates "Delinquent Folk", denunciates a whole collective of people to be responsible for the deeds of some, in Germany referring to the national socialist crimes of the early and mid 20th century)

2002: "Ich-AG"
(translates "Me Corporation", denotes money jobless people got to start freelance work)

2001: "Gotteskrieger"
(translates "Holy Warrior", euphemism for religiously motivated terrorist)

2000: "National Befreite Zone"
(translates "National Liberated Zone", euphemism for a fascist dominated no-go area)

1999: "Kollateralschaden"
(translates "Collateral Damage", describes unintentional damage occuring as a result of military actions directed against target enemies or facilities)

1998: "sozialverträgliches Frühableben"
(translates "socially acceptable early death", refers to the problematic German welfare-state that cannot afford to pay retired people social welfare money anymore if they don't die rather early after they stopped working)

1997: "Wohlstandsmüll"
(translates "Prosperity Trash", refers to young and healthy people who are too lazy to work and prefer to abuse the German social welfare system)

I have to admit that I quite like some of them, despite their rather misanthropic tone. No offense, but I do think that there have been traces of truth in late 20th century German cynicism.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Neukölln celebrates KNUT"

It is just about the time of the year when Christmas Trees are:

1. being dismantled and put back into the plastic bag and carton for the following years to come (american version).

2. being thrown onto the sidewalk for the city cleaning to take them on their big final ride to purgatory (euro-version, made popular by a swedish furniture label).

It's quite a sight in the streets of Berlin now.

They are hanging out there for about a week or two and I am just beginning to wonder whether the cleaning lads are still on holidays, or whether that furniture label paid the city council to play along for promotional purpose.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Transition Accomplished"

Did you see that video I posted when I had to leave New York? The "subsequent operation" is following right here, right NOW.

Mesdames et messieurs, je suis arrivé again! Completely.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Solitary Confinement DeLuxe"

This is where I'll spend most of the time of this spring...

and summer...

and probably fall as well...

not speaking about the winter yet, I don't want to utter anything too presumptive here.

However, this indeed very nice and comforting place is where I already spent some hours today for a start. On my way home I didn't take this photo. I couldn't be bothered. And I thought this one is much nicer, as it is taken during the summer in Berlin, and as it is already part of the wiki commons. Neat.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"Witten Impressions - Valleys of the Green and the Grey"

I didn't want to leave you for your journey through 2008 without sending a few impressions from one of the home bases:
Witten, close to the Ruhr river in Western Germany, THE place to be a born-and-bred ex-citizen of! The river was a little grey that day I walked over familiar bridges. But hey, there's usually a lot of green and blue around. Late December might not have been the best time of the year to take environmental pictures. Depending on what sight you prefer, of course. I was all up for 'Green and Grey' - as ever.

And I was pleased to see that not much changed in that area.

Well, apart from the pedestrian sign in the town centre of the suburb Herbede, a place where I spent much of my youth:

... If I catch those kids who dare to put a "Wattenscheid" sticker on OUR traffic signs ... %!{=\§§!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"You know you are back in Germany for the New Year when ..."

... you had snow on new year's day.
... you went for a traditional new year's walk in the park with a good friend.
... you included potatoes, veggies and pork in your new year's eve's dinner.
... you went out partying to a goth-club afterwards, and it felt normal.
... you had a kebab at a ridiculous time of the night, and you are part of the masses doing it.
... you went to a supermarket at a train station and bought bread - REAL bread.
... you had a "Spieleabend" the day before - full of magicians and priests and dwarves and elves.
... you saw people walking down the streets with bottles of champaign or sparkling wine or beer - without hiding them in brown paper bags and without trying to hide from the police.
... you saw many green real Christmas trees, instead of pink fake ones.
... you are proud of surviving a day and a night and another day full of explosives without hurting yourself at burning trash cans or mailboxes.
... you slipped on the "Kopfsteinpflaster" of the sidewalk at least twice.
... you already messed up one or two of your new year's resolutions at five past midnight.

Well - maybe the last one is international ;).

"Happy New Year 2008"