Berlin Really Is Addicting

I know some of you are waiting for me to talk about CocaCola and denounce them for their human rights violations in various countries, not to mention their questionable economic practices. But to be quite honest, I´m too busy enjoying the city and learning all I can from the good people I know here. Do me a favor and don´t load up the comments with links because at that point you should just blog it, plus, there is a means to an ends my white friend… a means to an ends. So be patient.
Meanwhile my friend Tim continued the mission today, based around the one question he asked when I arrived–what do you want to see? And of course, I asked for Leftover East Berlin Shit, and sure enough… I’ve seen lots of wonderful bullet-hole riddled buildings as well as eclectic squat-looking apartments that would make Amsterdam blush.

When I walked into the CCCB on Sunday, I asked the wonderful hackers who were hanging out, “Isnt Berlin experiencing gentrification just like all the popular cities of the world. Aren’t squats going to be evicted to make room for fancy condos?” Their collective answer was — NO. Because: Berlin has lots of room. There is enough space for expensive fancy houses and eclectic affordable housing.

I was surprised at the time, perhaps because in Amsterdam and even back in New York City, I have long heard and seen the tales of former artist communities and cheap improvised housing being bought up for the higher income brackets to buy their own ticket to coolness. But walking around over the past few days, and only having seen the tip of the iceberg of the former East Berlin neighborhoods, I understand more about their answer. Moreover, in many ways, this city could outdo some of the things I love about Amsterdam.

Shocking. There may be better cities out there. I may need to learn German.

THIS JUST IN: Look for me in the crowd of the Angola-Iran game in Leipzig… Ill be sporting black and red.

Got Any Flags

I have indeed arrived safe and sound though constantly hungry… here in Berlin. (watch this video for proof) The famous Tim is sitting to my right and most of the blog house has gone to sleep. I’ve no clue where I’m sleeping, so I’ll wait for everyone else to go to bed. Cept that some people are drinking like it’s 1999 and some teenagers just showed up at the door… so who knows when that will be.

Nevermind the shallow details, this blog is still about issues, regardless of how good the US plays or how awesome Ghana is.

I just pointed to an article in the Spiegel, about there being a run on German flags at all the shops. There have been quite a few podcasts recently covering the issue of the world cup and german nationalism. Interesting listening, for example, at Radio Open Source. Tim says this sort of thing was unheard of before this year. Normally someone running around with a German flag attached to their car would be socially cut-off… or scowled at.. or some sort of ostracizing.

A few berliner guests at the party tonight talked about this subject. They said it is pretty strange. Lots of mixed feelings about this new trend of being proud. I’ve heard Americans say its fine and good. But Americans are the last nationality I want to listen to about how much national pride is acceptable.

Naked Fussball

I digress. I’m in berlin for the first time in my life. Some of my favorite vloggers made the trip with me from Amsterdam and that makes it extra nice. Meanwhile, outside.. people drive around with flags attached to their cars. Beep beep beep.

bmtv10 Twas the Night Before Berlin

Click on the Photo below to be directed to my vlog about the journey that is about to begin. (this one is not in my feed for all those who hate video in my regular rss feed.)

More when I arrive in Berlin at some point tomorrow. Yeehaw.

I Speak a Different Kind of Football

I may or may not have mentioned that I’m involved in the We All Speak Football initiative that brings together a boatload of bloggers/vloggers/podcasters to produce content about the tournament and spend a few days partying in Berlin at some hipster penthouse apartment. Myself I leave for Berlin this weekend.

But contrary to the neverending amount of writing about the games and the players and the stadiums, I will be doing no such thing. While I like watching the matches; I suffer watching Portugal, I root for the Australians, I love the Côte D’Ivoireans, there are many aspects surrounding the games that I do not like.

First and foremost is the nationalism. The rabid, “we” beat “you”, rally around the flag, life will improve if we win, type spirit that surrounds so many games is not only alarming to me, it is sad. Sad because the world is a shadow of what it could be if governments and citizens had as much interest and invested as much money in infrastructure, education, science, etc, as they do in sporting events and of course – the other nationalistic passtime: making war.

I digress. Over the next few weeks, especially in my podcast and vlogs, I will be focusing on the theme of the social circumstances outside the games. Themes that address immigration and immigrant populations and their focus on the game. Economics, especially in the context of Berlin and Germany, and who benefits and who is left out in the cold during and after the tournament. And of course, the media, as the business of news reduces their attention on the real injustices and issues the effect people everywhere, and focus instead on people wearing funny makeup at the stadium in Leipzig.

All this and hopefully more, coming this month, so stay tuned, and better yet — subscribe to the feed. The first podcast of this series will be ready tonight later this week… unless I burst into flames during this Northern European heatwave.

Back Like Old Times

“So who’s still around?” Brooke asked me, fresh off the plane from Berlin. Who is still around. Tricky question in most beloved European cities these days. I tried to name names, stumbling when I’d realize she never knew this person or that person. Sometimes I’d name someone I knew from 4 years ago, other times I’d mention someone I’d only met in the last year… in both cases it reminded me of how tricky time is, resulting in this pseudo-expat-amsterdamer-alzheimers. Where you forget the year, mix up the name, or just go blank.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet.comStill having one of the allstars of my Amsterdam past back in town after a year in Berlin is a great thing. She looks at the city with great excitement, with a certain giddyness that in the daily routine, I sometimes forget. It is, as they say, a breath of fresh air.

Funny thing, as I look up at my first two paragraphs, I think I’ve said similar before when someone returns. It is the way, after all, around these parts. People come and go. They often come back, though it’s not the same. Sometimes they fall right back into things, sometimes they cherish the little things more than the last time. However you go about it, it is a tradition.

Oh.. and as a bonus today, a captivating video of my first mate and I navigating the ruthless sea.