The Berlinale has rolled up the red carpet, the botoxed dames of Tinseltown have evaporated, leaving behind the thawing, gritty refuse of late winter. But there is much more to Berlin than a 10 day film orgy. There are even people out there who’d rather just watch streamed Breaking Bad episodes at home than actually queue and pay for some one-of-a-kind world-class cinema.
And some people are just interested in completely different shit. In this spirit, a new feature of this blog: five stupid and not-so-stupid, newsy and not-so-newsy things to start off your week…
1. President of Germany?
Ever since Christian Wulff resigned last Friday, Germany has been a headless state! What does Germany need a president for anyway? Germans aren’t really sure either until one resigns in disgrace and the political parties squabble over who’s going to be the new one.
The president, who does photo-ops with the Pope and opens hospitals, is a head of state with no power, which our glorious Bundestag selects after Chancellor Merkel gives them an official nominee.
Well, Mutti Merkal has finally caved in to the FDP coalition partners biting at her heels and nominated East German human rights activist Joachim Gauck instead of another corrupt CDU man. Gauck is loved by all, except communist leftovers Die Linke, because Gauck ran the Stasi archive – and let people see the files of plenty of Die Linke members, revealing unpleasant truths about their past activities in the GDR.
But, as president, he’ll be milder. As a Lutheran pastor, he’s quite the orator, which helps as president. The speeches of former Christian Wulff were nice for snoozing through the Tagesschau though.
2. Transport strike?
BVG personnel striked on Saturday. U-Bahn trains, busses and trams were out action for 15 hours. Only the S-Bahn was running (for a change). Unions and management are negotiating wages today – but the outlook isn’t good. Time to awaken your bike from hibernation, unless you were smart enough to keep on ridin’.
3. Schokoladen lives!
While hardly on par with the current crise d’etat afflicting Germany (see above), Friday’s announcement that Schokoladen – the squatty “cultural centre” with club, theatre and what-have-you – will be “saved” from eviction. The Berlin Senate actually stepped up to the plate to negotiate with the owner of the building. Good news for Mitte. Good news for Off-Kultur.
4. West Berlin lives!
Since the Wende in 1990, there’s been a steadily fascination and fetishisation of all things East Berlin and East Germany, from Trabis to vintage furniture. For the past few years, coinciding with the hipster masses’ rediscovery of Kreuzberg, Cold War West Berlin has been the object of more and more interest. Now this, a slick picture and video gallery of the old West on Tumblr! Bleak! Sexy! Edgy!
5. Trash in the bin = big penis
The crowd-sourced Notes of Berlin blog of weird street messages is always entertaining, but this is sign found in Kreuzberg really good. Before you click, here’s the translation:
Trash in the bin = big penis
Trash on the street = small penis
Not that difficult is it?