urban studies

New Berliner Stereotypes in Translation


Graffiti at the Schönleinstrasse stop on the U8 line.

A 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 and since 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.

The Neukölln Hipster (more…)

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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…)

Techno and Teargas: My Very First First of May in Berlin


Kottbusser Tor

OK, so I originally thought this blog post would be a short little summary of my very first May Day in Berlin, but when I sat down and wrote out my notes the next day, I produced pages and pages of text. So, this is my attempt to reduce everything down to a brief narrative with some pretty pictures. But I won’t keep you in suspense: I wasn’t teargassed or pepper-sprayed or tasered. Most of my day was actually spent wandering around the MyFest street-fair, dancing at a few open-air events, and hanging out with friends. Even the infamous “18Uhr Demo” was mostly peaceful—at least until the end. (Slideshow of 51 images at the end of this article.) (more…)

Better Know A District: Graffiti, Defacement, and the French Presidential Elections in the 20th Arrondissement of Paris


Translation of sticker over Sarkozy's eyes: “What banker ever complained about universal suffrage?” Sticker by Diktacratie*, an organization that is skeptical of claims to democracy, claiming that the current system doesn't really represent everyone.

It just so happens that my stay in Paris coincides with the final week running up to the first round of the French presidential elections. As you might imagine, the news in Paris is flooded with coverage and speculation. There are very tight laws in France about giving equal media coverage to all election candidates, so mentioning any aspect of the election necessitates also mentioning all the other aspects in equal measure. This makes for daily newspapers that look like textbooks. For example, one small commuter newspaper that I picked up while waiting for a friend offered a “comparative table” of the campaign platforms of all ten candidates. This involved a ten-row table, with so many columns, that it ran over three pages (some sample columns: Immigration, EU Debt Crisis, Environment, Work and Labor, Housing, Crime and the Legal System)—all of it in tiny, tiny print.

As I was passing by the métro station of Lamarck-Caulaincourt (more…)