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  • Seymour Gris: So over Berlin being so over


Seymour Gris: So over Berlin being so over

After a recent trend of online pieces by Berliners and non-Berliners alike lamenting the loss of "a" Berlin, Gris has a thought that maybe the problem isn't Berlin: it's them.

Here we go, another self-indulgent hipster “essay”: The Sacking of Berlin (and here’s another tortured thing in a similar, more navel-gazing vein) on Berlin being ruined, spoiled, over, destroyed, washed and sold out… and remember that rant in the New York Times by that disillusioned Aussie who just drank too much cheap beer to get anything done.

Yes, Berlin is over. It’s been over since 1914, since 1933, since 1968, since 1989, since 2000, since 2012.

To dismiss an entire city as ruined is utter arrogance. Ruined for whom? Ruined for self-obsessed sorta-creative types from Brooklyn and London slumming in shabby €500 rooms in Neukölln?

Ruined for those people who hate gentrification while loving third wave coffee bars?

Ruined for those people complaining about “the Germans” while never bothering to learn a sentence of the language?

Ruined for those people who parachute into a working class Berlin neighbourhood with cash from daddy for a few months and then bail after they don’t magically blossom into the next David Bowie?

Ruined for those who wander around for hours, beer-in-hand, snapping up iPhone pics to post on their street art blog, thinking they understand the city?

The kind of people who say things like “nobody” lives in FILL IN THE BLANK anymore, or “everybody” is moving to FILL IN THE BLANK right now)?

(White) people who moan that FILL IN THE BLANK is soooo white, and therefore must move to oh-so-much-more-diverse Neukölln or Wedding, where they don’t know a single local Turk or Arab besides the guy who sells them beer and Brötchen at the Späti?

Berlin, like every other city in the world, is a place where millions of “people” – mostly “normal people” – live, work, play and die.

Their lives have nothing to do with the vapid bullshit people have projected on a few neighbourhoods… they could care less about whether Berlin is “ruined” or which street is the latest to appear on the NY Times travel blog. They could care less about Bowie’s or Isherwood’s brief love affairs with the city. And guess what? The natives produce art, literature, music and film in their own language, which you might never understand. But if you can stream Breaking Bad, who cares about the 90 percent of reality you’re missing out on?

All you naysayers, maybe you should look up from your screens and attempt to engage with the city and the people in it. Talk to your neighbours. Check out the good work of http://givesomethingbacktoberlin.com. Become part of Berlin, and not just a consumer of it.