Essays

GEMA en français: French Coverage of the Anti-GEMA Protests


Screenshot from the front page of SACEM, the French equivalent of GEMA

Beyond Germany’s borders, the debates over GEMA and its new tarif system rarely get much coverage, only spawning the occasional under-researched, “Will Berlin’s Nightclubs Perish?” sort of articles in the foreign press. But Berlin is an increasingly international city full of expatriates—many of them “creative” workers that have personal and professional links into the local music scenes here—and some of them have been blogging about this issue in their own language, explaining the issue to readers in their countries of origin while also informing their fellow expatriates in Berlin. I’ve been up to a bit of that myself in English, writing on recent anti-GEMA protests and translating pieces of Germanlanguage news items. But I can also translate from French and Spanish (among others).

So today, I thought I’d move laterally and (more…)

Touristen Fisten: Themes and Images in Berliner Anti-Tourism / Anti-Gentrification Discourses


Somewhere near Erkstrasse and Sonnenallee in Neukölln.

My Berlin research files are organized under a number of folders, including one for “Tourism Debates” and another one for “Gentrification Debates.” These days, I’m thinking I need to merge these two folders, since the debates have become increasingly intertwined (and often hopelessly confused). In a recent opinion article in Die Zeit online, entitled, “Burn the Tourists” (“Touristen anzünden”), David Hugendick complains that left-political anti-gentrification discourse has taken an ironically xenophobic turn by harnessing anti-tourist (and, more broadly, anti-foreigner) sentiment. Of course, this article is almost interchangeable with a wide range of opinion pieces that have been appearing in mainstream German-language newspapers in the last while, part of a larger (and older) pattern in Berlin of countering critical voices from the left by associating them with violent tactics and contrarian positions.

In any case, although it is debatable whether (more…)

Fuzzy Intimacies: Cats and Gestures of Intimacy


Not the cat in question. My sister’s cat, Petrarch. He makes a good stand-in.

Just yesterday, I was waiting to meet an academic colleague for an afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake, something of a German ritual). I was out in Dahlem—a southern suburb of Berlin and the home of the Freie Universität—sitting on the outdoor patio of a café at corner of Garystraße and Ihnestraße. Aux Délices Normands, it was called; pretty solid French pastries and cakes, lackluster coffee, pleasant seating.

When I first came to sit down, there was a small, grey-and-white cat sitting on the bench opposite me at the table. It was (more…)

Another Post-Bar25 Update


The crowd at the “open door” day for the launch of the Holzmarkt/Mörchenpark project.

Recently, there’s been some more news on the Holzmarkt/Mörchenpark project. The city has changed its plans for the property that’s up for sale, and this might benefit the bid and development proposal put forward by the Holzmart/Mörchenpark team. In a recent article in the Berliner Zeitung (from which I’m getting most of my information for this update), the author Karin Schmidl summarizes the changes thusly: “No high-rises, no office-building monolith, no hotel blocks.” Whose development proposal was already free of all these things? That’s right: Holzmarkt.

As you might recall  (more…)

MusicBoard Berlin: Government Interventions in Berlin’s Music Scenes


Some tile-work inside the Abgeordnetenhaus, where the city’s senate meets and does business.

Musicboard is a cultural policy and funding initiative created by Berlin’s municipal government, with the stated goals of supporting the city’s music industry, presumably in a way similar to Berlin’s Medienboard for film and media industries. According to its official website, the project is supposed to “make Berlin more attractive as a site for popular music.”  Starting in 2013, the city of Berlin will make 1 Million Euros available towards supporting these goals, but the debates have already started about how this money will be distributed, what the role of Musicboard should be, who should be running it, and even whether the project will improve or worsen the conditions of music-making in Berlin. (more…)

Mörchenpark Update


A stencil advertising the Mörchenpark open-house day. Taken (with thanks) from the Mörchenpark Facebook page.

Mörchenpark (including the Holzmarkt project) continues to develop. Already there’s a Facebook page, which seems to date from before the actual open-house event last week, based on the posts and the photos. Thanks to the wonders of tagging, you can actually find a lot of images of the event by looking through “Photos of Mörchenpark” on the Photos page. But also, this morning the Kater Holzig mailing list got this Sondermitteilung (Special Announcement):

(more…)

Mörchenpark and Holzmarkt: In the Ruins of Bar25


The junk-mountain with a carrousel in the foreground.

Back in the fall of 2010, Bar25—that infamous den of excess, escape, hipsterdom, confetti, and exclusiveness—finally closed its doors. The space lay fallow through 2011 as the city (through the public sanitation company, Berliner Stadtreinigung or BSR) prepared sell off the property. Now, the premises are going on the auction block, and the former management team of Bar25 is raising money to buy it back.

But they won’t be rebuilding Bar25 anytime soon. (more…)