Friday, June 25, 2010
After the street parade 2 weeks ago in Motzstrasse and the CSD last week-end (worlcup oblige, Brandenburger Tor is already booked for tomorrow), this week-end we are on the move again : Saturday, don't miss the Transgeniale. The pendant of the CSD, but no politics, no advertising, only a strong movement for the "fight for your rights", will start this year from Rathaus Neukölln und will end as usual Oranienstrasse, where I will have, with a few friends, drinks at the Roses bar and meet some other ones. Please come, we expect a lot of people this year as CSD was last week. You will meet people at this demonstration who really need your support in a friendly attitude. The party will carry on at SO36 but don't go back home too early in the morning (though the sun will shine from 4:00 a.m. because the next day, Sunday, before going for a nap at the lake, you will need to go to Neukölln (again) at 48 Stunden Neukölln. Once a year Neukölln really proves its quality as an upcoming neighborhood and turns into a giant gallery with exhibits in the old Postal Office, lots of open houses and a stage at Richard Platz. And no, it is not dangerous. I would like to point out one exhibition in particular. Kunstraum T 27 shows a memorable exhibitions with works about the human memory with works by Anke Göhring, Jens Hanke, Mirjam Dröge and Anja Sonnenburg. I know Mirjam, she's making photos at this very moment in South Africa during the world cup for the TV channel ARD and her work is amazing (plus she is a lovely person). Then, to recover, you may go to the lake, whichever around the city to rest and finally enjoy the last hours of your week-end !
Saturday, June 19, 2010
How to discover the city by avoiding clichés, bad addresses and already out-of-date spots. Berlin was already fashionable for some time, but the craze reached its peak with the twenty years' fall of the wall celebration. Between massive tourists' landing who come to party and the germanophil aesthetes regretting past Berlin, the image of the city eventually blurred that you don't recognise it anymore. Is it really the Mecca of festivities, freedom, techno music, the temple of "Currywurst" (the sausage in the curry sauce Compared with Paris or London, Berlin looks like a Promised Land. For 800 € a month, we can find a 3 rooms' flat of 100 m2 in the center. The Berliners pay a little more than 5 € m2 for the rent against 20 € in Paris and 35 € in London. In other words, a student or an unemployed person (numerous over there) can find decent accommodation without having to appeal to a thankless casual job or living in a hole with rats. Other local particularity: the apartments of ex-GDR where lived at the same time several families and which serve now as huge co-rents. As Alexander, age 20, law student in Humboldt Universität, who lives with his five roommates, "in 300 m2 and in a rather festive atmosphere. My parents lived there before, but as it was too big, they preferred to rent it and to settle down in a smaller apartment". The number of these impossible squats tends to reduce, but there are still paradises for young corents. Despite of these happy news, the city is not saved from rent's increase : since the end of the 90s, the price of real estate increases 2,5 % every year. The change concerns especially the east central districts (Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg) who were very cheap. Verdict : the tendency is at the increase, but it is indeed always easy to find cheap accommodation in Berlin. Cultural, cheap and charming Berlin is former East Berlin. Whereas the West does not distinguish itself much of another German city, the East is a Babel's tower towards which hurl themselves count of foreigners, to begin with the French people, who are approximately 20 000 to live in the city. So, I am fast submerged by my fellow countrymen, until being upset when I meet my office colleagues under the dome of the Bundestag. Except the cultural visits, i would suggest to avoid Mitte, the central district where are national buildings and very beautiful museums, as well as Prenzlauer Berg, where French is the official language. The ghettoïsation of these districts urges Berliner with less money or trendier to migrate to the off-centered districts, formerly only inhabited by poor families or by immigrants. In the North, Wedding and its big family apartments begins to be invaded by young people seeking for a job or of an artistic recognition. Other fashionable district, Neukölln, where no more than 20 % of the population has the German nationality, having until recently a reputation of marginal zone, became a privileged place of the Berlin night-life. Verdict: do not miss the tourist districts by fear of the French Diaspora. But no need to carry on there. Berlin, as any big capital, has its renowned clubs (among others, the Weekend, Golden Gate, Berghain) where the electro and techno musical program is attractive, but where the man at the entrance is hardly different from those we know in France. Outside these, another way of partying develops itself: the Berliners take over permanently new places that you might discover if you know the right person. A web site gives every evening a list of about fifteen events - more sixty by weekend-, vernissage, private viewings, before, evenings, even very hidden squats. Again, you will not get too much information on these evenings which have to remain secret. Come here and we'll see what we can do for you. "Last time, we squatted in a cash dispenser, connected a refrigerator filled with beers, put the platins, and DJ took turns until security guards dislodge us. As a result, we went some blocks farther to another bank." Other possibility : to pay a small fee to be allow to cross a fence by a breach where is improvised a party (with alcohol) in the middle of an old factory. You only need to find someone who can help you to find the “door” and let you in, maybe someone like a trendy Berliner. Verdict : you need to have the right acquaintances. But never mind : famous clubs will do. Berlin is seen to be the most tolerant city of Europe if you respect the local laws. Drink in public transport to warm up: no problem. On weekends, the passengers without beer in the hand are seen as eccentric minority (I'm part of it !). Since July 2008, an antismoking law punishes the Berlin social places : in theory, no cigarettes in bars and restaurants. But these always have the right to have a separate place reserved for smokers. In a lot of cafés, the hut for smokers is actually the whole room, and the antismoking activists can only go anywhere else. Despite of what we observe in clubs, Berlin is not Amsterdam and no drug is allowed. Unmistakably, some seem to make the use of it and the law sends the dealers to prison for five years. Most of the clubs close only at dawn. The number of after-parties exceeds the ones at night. In Paris, night people start to create a network structured enough to assure a safe return the home after the last train. The Berliners made simpler: since a long time, the local public transport network drives all night during weekends and before bank holidays. Ultimate refinement, most of the stations have an opened industrial bakery where you can purchase "Schinkenkäsecroissant", croissant with cheese and ham or a "döner". Verdict : you can party until dawn at a lower cost, walk with beers in the hand and smoke like a chimney. It is normal. The German gastronomy is not certainly the most considered, and the French people often have a sensitive tongue. We shall not thus make the praises of the German typical dishes, because it is true that "Schinkenkäsecroissant" and "Currywurst", and other "Frikassee", the Berliner way, do not spread treasures of subtlety in your mouth. But the Berliners are not stupid, and it is the reason why it is so easy to eat well. The Thai, American, Italian, Chinese, Japanese restaurants are almost everywhere in the city and proposes a fine, cheap and big cooking. In Berlin, for 10 €, we can make a good dinner. The local best remains the brunch where, for about 10 euros, it is possible to spend the day eating, filing your plate with "Brötchen", salad or tiramisu. Verdict : it is easy to eat well for not much in Berlin. To drink well also. And to put on weight while being at it.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
The construction site of the castle of Berlin will not begin before 2014. Tageszeitung reports, following the decision of the chancellor Angela Merkel to delay the works which had to begin at the beginning of 2011. The first effects of the rigor thus are to be seen on the culture programs. The chancellor justifies this decision, confirming that the country simply can't afford it. The project of reconstruction of the facade would cost up to 552 million euro, so is a very consequent budget. Impossible to reconcile this expense with budget cuts, according to the government. Indeed, Berlin announced on Monday to want to save 80 billion euro by 2014. The main savings will not be realized in the cultural domain, but in the social domain: the social budget will be amputated by 30 billion euro. The German chancellor announced cuttings in the social-security benefits, new taxes and job losses in the public service. But It's not the first polemic for Berlin's castle, far from there. Alternately symbol of former Prussia, and GDR, the ancient Palace of the Republic was closed following a contamination in the asbestos in 1990. After several years of procrastination on the future of the building, it had been decided to reconstruct the facade on the baroque model. For some people, it is the choice which privileges the Prussian inheritance to the East German inheritance. For the mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, member of the opposition, this decision to postpone the works is unacceptable: "It is the symbol of the poverty of this cultural policy". In the left of the left, on the other hand we are delighted of the news. An ex-assistant in the Cultural affairs of Berlin, member of the Left-wing party (Die Linke), says it is a precious time gained to think to alternative architectural projects. And ironically, there is indeed a castle on the place but only in picture. The information pavillon presenting the project of the Humboldt's forum which must be sheltered behind the litigious facade was made on time.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The ads show more and more boys with unlikely body. Skinny fashion, ultra slim belly, will men suffer the same anxieties than women so far ? It is a fact: aside of the women with improbable thin bodies, advertising proposes more and more very slim male models. Is this trend going to lead the boys to share the complexes from which the women suffer since generations? Will men also make everything they can to make their body look if they were 17 years old until they retire ? Rootstein, a manufacturer of models based in London, announced the release of his new model "the new man". To be distinguish : fine face lines and a 27 of the waist. A perfect model to present skinny jeans. But newspapers report Beat's anxieties, a charity association which helps those who suffer from eating disorders. The anorexia and the bulimia are in strong progress in men population, and according to Beat, the arrival of these models is not going to arrange the situation. Look at the evolution of the sizes of the models taken out from Roostein since 1967, when they wore 33, then 31 in 1983, and 28 in 1994. The same for the chest measurement, from 42 to 35 over the years. A study shows that 10 % of the Americans suffering from food disorders in 1990 were men, when they are 25 %. You will soon hear about Manorexia and this "manorexia" settles down itself as another kind of disorder in the men's appearance, as well as the well known "bigorexia" which consists in wanting to be always more muscled developed. The emergence of the "metrosexual" man could explain this movement. A doctor interviewed explains that "ten years ago, the women and the gays had the same risks of having problems connected to their image. The heterosexual men said "if we have a belly, it is because we drink beer, because we are men, and we don't care. "But it changed radically." Relieved by the metrosexual marketing, a new image of the thin and muscular man is henceforth widely shown at all the corners of the streets, at television, in front windows of the shops, at the cinema. That makes the gay population even more exposed. "There is now so much pressure on men as on women to have a certain shape of body, notices a representative of Beat. These images which present a purpose to be reached, the skinny styles, the more and more thin sizes, it is dangerous." From his part, the model's brand forbids itself to incite to anorexia. "It is a collection dictated by the current fashion, the skinny jeans and the very narrow cuts, as we see it everywhere at Gucci or in trendy magazines says the designer. But I am sure that muscular boys will soon make their return." But to go from very skinny bodies to muscular ones, is It really this that will resolve the problems of self respect ? nothing is less sure. I am so happy to have love handles and hairs, to smoke, drink and eat what I want.
I guess we all played this game. But who asked himself who was the creator of it ? Chris Haney, the onetime Montreal Gazette photo editor who parlayed an idea sketched out on barroom napkins into one of the most successful board games in history – Trivial Pursuit -- has died in Toronto at the age of 59 after a long illness. In Dec., 1979, Christopher Haney, a Welland, Ont. native, and his Canadian Press colleague, sportswriter Scott Abbott, drafted the rough concept of a trivia-based board game over beer, during a lunch-hour game of Scrabble. They later rounded up some 32 small investors, who paid as little as $1,000, and used the proceeds to create a test-market version of the game. All of those early investors subsequently grew rich on the annual royalties. The first 1,100 copies of Trivial Pursuit were released commercially in November, 1981, at $15 each. Initially, it was a money-losing proposition for investors, since the cost of manufacturing was $75 a piece.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I wish you had a look the other Saturday at the Eurovision song contest. Of course, if you don’t live in Europe, you can’t understand. This is the one time of the year that all countries and people are supporting their chosen singer to win the competition. Mean people say It is very gay, maybe because we like to dress up just for fun. Frankly said, I agree with the fact that since 1974’s ABBA winner, the costumes almost stay the same, sometimes worse for our time. But nevertheless we like to meet all of us at a bar (luckily this year was fabulous) and we could stay at the full packed terrasse where they put 2 big screens so we could follow live. What an amazing night. First, we need to listen the 39 songs of the finalists. So it lasts a while and of course you prepared yourself weeks before with your own view of the winner. Then you hear and read critics to make your update on the tendency. Once you listened and loudly participate to the show with tenth of people doing exactly the same, comes the so awaited moment : the scores. I remember the time when all countries where asked to give their points from 0 to 12 (so if you say the name of a country and then “12 points”, I know you’re a fan) for each participant and It lasts and lasts and lasts that you almost fall asleep before reaching the winner. They made it shorter and all countries still have to communicate their points but starting at 8 and still finishing at 12 points. Youcan't help yourself thinking at the same time that the votes sometimes are political choices. Cyprus gave maximim points to Greece and Turkey when the same countries gave the same to each other and strangely Greece gace nothing to germany ! (if you followed the economical context, you know why). And every country of ex Soviet Union block gave also maximum points to each other. And I can’t explain you the riot after the show when It was clear this year that Germany will win. Actually, I am so happy that next year, it will take place, hopefully, in Berlin.
Monday, June 7, 2010
We hopefully wish that (finally!) a nice weather stays in Berlin. This week-end, everyone in the city had a look at the meteo and all knew that we would be happy : 2 sunny warm days in a raw. Don’t hesitate, plan to not sleep. We started very gently with a apéritif thursday evening at the sunny terrase of Bariton’s and Friday with a dinner at a friend’s house. Saturday, after a little recovery time, sun was calling me and decided to go at the very accessible-in-the-middle-of-the-city Weissensee. There you can spend the day staring at the sun, swimming in the lake (don’t be afraid of seaweed or carp) or sailing small boats. Once you reached the fountain, get yourself a water massage. Of course you can pay the fee to go to the beach club. There you have sand, full sunny place (no trees around), a bar, showers, a lot of noise because of the children and people you don’t absolutely want to meet on your towel. There is another solution. The lake is big enough so that people find themselves a nice place under the trees where you still can enjoy the sun. Then you go swimming in the lake without being disturbed. I only would recommend to buy yourself cheap shoes to go in the water. It’s a lake, not the sea and It is not as quite convenient as stones or sand, meaning if you can’t stand the feeling of mud under your feet or seaweed on your belly, forget the whole thing. I would nevertheless say It’s worth a try. The quality of the water is good and I like the feeling of not being obliged to reach the shower to take away the salt. Then, what is of course very convenient, is that you are in the city and the next ice-cream shop is not far and you’re back home in 30 minutes. After a hot Saturday night, Sunday was the perfect day to recover of being dizzy. Take the tram number 5 until the end of the way and you will be at Malchow where you can have a nice walk around the lake. But the most interesting thing of the day was taking back the tram 4 and stoped at Orankensee which is fabulous. I did not expect such a beach in the city. Of course, It is all newly made but It is big enough to let your children play all day. If you prefer like me to have a nap under the trees, take the way in the forest, cross the street and go to Obersee. Have a look at the houses and you will feel like "this is the place I want to live". Just for us the time to come back home and It is already Monday.