ast week, I organized a two-day conference here in Berlin, which took the affective dimensions of urban soundscapes as its central theme. Running November 7th–8th at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, the conference featured a mix of scholarly presentations and discussion panels that included professionals out of Berlin’s local music scene, as well as music/sound-related evening events (see the conference program at the end of this post). I’m still recovering from the whole thing (as well as from an opportunistic flu that jumped into my body as soon as the conference came to a close), but I wanted to post some of my impressions of the conference, while they are still vivid in my memory. Considering the vanishingly small operating budget and a similarly tight planning period, I’m somewhat amazed I was able to pull it off at all.
Plans for this conference first arose last July, (more…)
a Mission has been a big part of my life here in Berlin since last summer, but strangely enough it’s taken me nearly a year to get around to writing about it on this blog. Maybe I wanted to wait until the first round of multimedia craziness emerged from this performance art collective / music label / magazine, before I started crowing about it. Maybe I was too shy about discussing my own creative work. No, wait…I remember why: I was on the academic job market last fall, which meant that I got nothing else done.
La Mission is a lot of things, including a satirical doomsday cult, a music label, a magazine, an art collective, and a group of dance-music-lovers with a very dirty sense of humor. La Mission’s identity is perhaps best summed up by cult-leader El Jefe’s manifesto/sermon, “The Sermon for the Steps of the Ziggurat in our Hearts,” published in our first La Mission magazine: (more…)
Front cover of Musical Performance and the Changing City (2013), edited by Carsten Wergin and Fabian Holt.
ikes! It’s been embarrassingly long since I last posted something on here. If you’re still reading, thanks for not abandoning this blog out of boredom. As you might have guessed, things have been very, very, very busy over the last few months. The last major post I had put on here had been about all of my troubles getting a !@#$ing residency permit for Germany, and I’m happy to state that this has been more or less resolved—although not precisely in the manner I had intended.
In any case, I have a great deal of updates for this blog, far more than I can fit into even a week of daily blog posts. It’ll take me a while to get through the backlog, but I should post the two most important pieces of news first: 1) I have another publication fresh off the presses, and (more…)
Screenshot from the front page of SACEM, the French equivalent of GEMA
eyond 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 German–languagenewsitems. But I can also translate from French and Spanish (among others).
So today, I thought I’d move laterally and (more…)
Somewhere near Erkstrasse and Sonnenallee in Neukölln.
y 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…)
The view from somewhere near the stage, back over Boxhagener Platz
esterday, there was yet another anti-GEMA demonstration held at Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, just in front of the bar/club Stereo 33. There have been an ongoing series of these demonstrations in Berlin since at least late spring, but this event was interesting for how it mixed music and talk, as well as themes of culture and money.
For those of you who haven’t been living in Germany over the past year and haven’t been bombarded with (more…)
Graffiti at the Schönleinstrasse stop on the U8 line.
couple of months ago, the magazine Zitty Berlin posted an online article entitled, “Berlin, deine Feindbilder.”Feindbild literally means something like “villan-image,” but the meaning here is more like “bogeyman” or “negative stereotype.” And so, Zitty, which is a supplementary magazine to the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, offered a surprisingly long list of stereotypes of Berlin’s denizens. While not as funny as caricatures, these Feindbilder capture something essential about the debates and tensions that are alive in Berlin right now. None of these images are entirely true or false, but they represent the way Berliners imagine each other when they’re fighting about something.
Naturally, the original article was in German. But, since there are a lot of English-speaking ex-pats in Berlin andsince there are a lot of people outside of Berlin who would be interested in learning more about these stereotypes, I’ve translated a handful of them here. Out of respect for the authors of the original article, I’ve only translated 5 of the 24 profiles. I also haven’t re-used the cute caricature drawings that accompanied each profile in the original article.