Showing posts from May, 2015

Preview: Karneval der SubKulturen

What's alternative about the Carnival of Cultures?  Everything and nothing.  Every culture that you'll see there - on a float, at a stall or onstage - will be some kind of an alternative to Berlin's indigenous culture.   The jerk chicken and samba bands will seem exotic to some of us for sure.  But then again, there are also parts of India and Africa where eating currywurst and drinking beer with fake raspberry syrup in it may seem exotic. It's all a matter of perspective.

The Karneval der Kulturen (May 22-25) was founded in Berlin in 1996 to combat the growing tide of nationalistic racism in the former East German capital.  Some would say that it also afforded the local prols (chavs) an excellent opportunity to work on their fake tans and get dressed up in pastel colours and bling-bling.  (Many seem to have taken that idea and run with it).

Some of the true minority cultures that are visible on the streets of Berlin (African, Jamaican, Turkish) will feature largel…

Opinion: A Spree on the Spree

Here in Berlin, Spree is the name of the river that runs through the city. But in English, the word spree is used in one of two senses: 1) to describe a mindless spending binge (as in 'shopping spree') or 2) to describe a bloodbath (as in 'killing spree'). With the Mediaspree development project, Berlin’s city council seems to have done the impossible: it's found a way to combine all three meanings.

City councillors may appear to accept Berlin's underground arts scene; indeed, some of them claim to support it. Nevertheless, that scene is being threatened by the commercial developments that the council has initiated.

Until recently, the city of Berlin existed within a bubble of commercial neglect. Politically and economically unstable, it was deemed too risky for commercial investors to work with. Berlin has managed to turn its risky reputation into a virtue though, attracting tens of thousands of D.I.Y. artistic refugees from societi…

Train Strikes: Getting On Board with the GDL

Germany’s train strike has been happening on and off for 10 months now and yet somehow, it feels like it’s been happening for about 10 years.  Perhaps that’s because the details that we hear about it never seem to change.  Every new strike comes with the same, tired preamble, stating that no progress has been made between the parties hammering out an agreement (about what?  No one really seems to know).  They tell us that the negotiations have been broken off yet again, also for reasons unknown.  Like me, you might be wondering, what's even going on here? 

After reading near-identical reports about the strikes on the Telegraph, BBC, Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Welle, I realized that the world's news outlets aren't doing much to answer that question. Their coverage all follows the same formula: half the article is spent complaining about the disrupted train services, the other half is spent quoting someone from Deutsche Bahn who is either a) criticizing the strikers or b) p…