Impression – Back From Borg Country

Back to base.. (or “the warzone” as one my friends described it)

All of a sudden I realize how many graffiti is all over the place, and how colorful it makes this city. Normally I only notice the really good pieces. See all the half- or completely ruined & abandoned buildings along the tracks. Get out of the S-Bahn, hear music, and it IS actually someone playing a guitar and not a huge flock of seagulls or an air-conditioning. Or on the platform, see a guy holding his bike, and completely relaxed, smoke his cigarette directly under a non-smoking sign.

Walk past the local streetpunks begging “for weed and beer”. Smile because people not even in the back of their head consider leashing their dogs. Inhale deeply the smell of broken sewage, rotting garbage & the exhaust of the close-to-totall-loss cars, the only ones which people here can afford, and are not that susceptible to arson.

Avoid some fireworks, still saved from new years eve, being thrown into a passage. Go into my street and immediately discover a few cardboard boxes with “zu verschenken” (“for free”) and a some abandoned couches, mattresses and other furniture soaked by the rain. Actually for the first time notice that my window ledges are “noisy” with tags. Sigh, and remove a few empty liquor bottles from those window ledges. Sit here, inside, and hear the groups of people laughing and chatting on their way to the pubs, prolly holding “a beer for on the way”.

Though I could have done without getting almost hit by a car when I crossed the road or stepping into dog shit.

Just gotta check in the park if the local “senior hooligans” are still as loud and messy as always, if any dreadnecks are annoying the “Norman’s” with a beat here and there, and how much grass could even try to reach a height over 3cm after weeks of berlin’s no. 1. hobby of “grilling”

Impression – A Short Trip to Borg Country

First day I arrived in Sweden I made a joke about how it felt like Borg country.

This was meant to be a frikkin JOKE. As in, not to be taken seriously, and most certainly to be disproved. When I spotted the logo of this company in the harbor, well… it just summed it all up. Guess it’s one way to find out I not only thrive on (non-assimilated) chaostrophy, it’s a basic need.


One day left to sniff out the magick, or at least find a bit of grass longer than 3cm, a tree being allowed to shed its leaves, or a piece of broken fishnet washed up on the beach.

But the seagulls are cool, almost won a staring contest with one of them. And frikkin amazing falafel in the only neighborhood where I didn’t feel completely “at odds”.

Impression – Getting rid of saved bread

Picked up 30 kilos or so of bread, rolls, and cake at the bakery again. The Free Shop, where I usually distribute the bread is closed, so I step on my bike and ride to all the spots where I know people are begging.

Group 1 is sitting near the metro station with a sign “please donate for weed & beer”. But they also happily take cake and croissants. Something big with beard, belly and lots of tattoos shyly asks if he can take a few rolls for the next day. And  he discovers the rolls with poppy seed.. he tries to hide his eager, so I say yes, please yes, take it, I have another 25 kilo to get rid off.

Group 2 includes a guitar player busking with a djembe player and about 7 people trying to collect money from the people walking past. Especially the cakes are appreciated. One of the women delves out a banana-chocolate-pudding thing from the bottom of the carton box and completely melts. Funny how these oso-scary beggar punks turn out to be in fact extremely polite. For sure when it involves chocolate.

After 5 groups of people hanging on the streets I still have too much bread left, so on to one of the local squat pubs. Unfortunately, it still closed. Outside a group of backpackers sits on the sideway making music, and I manage to upload them with another bunch of free bread. Yes, for free, now will you please take it? Backpacks are opened and the bread packed. Except by one guy, who just looks at me and says “you completely flatten me”. No, he doesn’t want any bread. And keeps looking at me in utter surprise. I noticed before, I seem to attract the people marked by life.

In the mean time, the people in the pub hear me talking to the people outside. Ok, the bartender still hasn’t arrived, so officially the pub is closed, but yes, please do bring the food inside. Thank goodness, I finally managed to un-bread my bike.

Impression – Just another warm summer night.

Warm summernights make this city feel so surreal..

Waiting for the S-Bahn, a young guy, obviously not sober and obviously not happy, so completely lost and out of balance, he risks falling on the railwaytrack. Sits down, head between his knees. Older, obviously more experienced – and obviously also not sober – alcoholic, walks up to him. “You ok? Where do you have to go?” “Ostkreuz. My wife walked out on me.” Train arrives. Older guys picks the young guy up and carries him into the train. And I see how he makes the younger guy sit down, offers a sip of his beer, and starts listening and nodding to his story…
Though it’s probably a sad one, the way someone obviously on the “loser” side of society cares for a complete stranger in trouble makes me smile.

Going to a noise gig in a techno place. Playground for adults made out of old pellets, near the water. Lots of hidden corners, and things to climb in. Just missing a swing. Too tired to actually enjoy the music, so walking back to the local station.

Seeing a couple not only picking up empty bottles, but also cigarette butts with maybe a bit of tobacco left and bickering at each other in some east-european language.

Walking to the end of the platform I see two guys about to start fighting. Fists flying, and the younger one takes out what looks like a club and goes after the elder guy. Weird how I stay absolutely calm, and without thinking, ask them wtf is wrong with them & to take it easy, step in between. And then they actually both start explaining to me what the other one was doing wrong “he started!”. Another guy also steps in, and they split up. Turns out the club is actually a flute.

Shaking my head, I step into the train. (and nope, not for one second I was scared or felt threatened, they were just disturbing my pleasant dreamy mood)

Why go to the movies if you can just drive a few stops in the Berlin S-Bahn..

Rant – How to disturb a party (reprise)

It’s relatively quiet again in the neighborhood. That is, relatively. And only concerning the amount of cops. But holy shit, you got a pretty good idea how the people in Baltimore, or in the Schilderswijk in the Hague, Netherlands feel.

The opinion of people in the neighborhood about what happened last week varies: some distinguish between the “good” squatters of the Kreutziger, who are indeed, very constructive with all their DIY projects – also for the neighbors, such as the “Rent advice” and the “social support”, and the “bad” squatters of the Rigaer, who supposedly make a mess of everything, throw garbage on the streets or just leave empty bottles everywhere (“and I don’t get it, they all ride a bike, don’t they?). This even from leftish people. Strangely enough, some of the more “mainstream” people, for example a young born and raised Friedrichshainer, are far more positive: all cops are bastards, and long live the squatters – as long as they keep living here, and protest (and yes, are loud and make a mess), the rents wont rise that much. In other words “those squatters, they never did anything to me…” – thereby implying the cops do…

In general, the average neighbor is on the side of the squatters.

They’re part of the “Kiez”. Just like the elder citizens drinking their beers  in front of the late night shop until it closes, the spontaneous art made of disintegrating bikes, the guy refusing to tie his dog outside the supermarket since “that’s patronizing the dog”, the small pubs which are more or less extended living rooms, the senior hooligans in the park asking for cigarettes, the light technician projecting his light-effects on the walls of the house opposite the street, the fact that the only butcher around sells “bones for dogs” only, the begging punks at the metro station, the guerrilla knitting, the buskers, the small patches of squatted soil around many trees in the streets with benches or flower beds made out of left-over wood, the Roma guys making music and singing on their balcony, the carton boxes put on the streets with stuff “for free” everywhere & all the time, the dread-hippy giving his ouija-board an extra layer of varnish in front of his window, the notes “clean your dog’s shit, damned” getting endless responses with other notes taped under it..

What is NOT part of the Kiez are the uniformed semi-cop-traffic-wardens who only dare to walk around in groups of five, complaining about ghettoblasters or dogs-without-a-leash in the park, or the metro security who just outside the station starts pissing people off (a few days ago I walked passed them when a not completely sober and slightly worn-down fellow-neighbor shouted some stuff towards them about uniforms and too small genitals). or “new” neighbors who complain about a klezmeh-band playing in pub which exists here for more than 10 years – after which the klezmeh band picks up their instruments, and continues in the park, resulting in a nice get-to-gather-and-sing-and-dance at 2 in the morning…

Rant – How to disturb a party

This weekend, both Kreutziger & Rigaer Streetfest (crawling distance from each other) took place

The Rigaer Fest started last monday. And what should have been a celebration of DIY-Culture, has been disturbed quite a few times by unnecessary and sometimes violent police action.

Worst was last wednesday, when the “everything-for-free-fleamarket” on what is known as the Dorfplatz ((“village square”, the crossing between Rigaerstr & Liebigstr.) was cleared out by 100s of cops. First thing they did was put up a HUGE light pole. Then, when the people tried to build up the market-stands, they started clearing the place. Again and again. And though the neighborhood-people tried to be peaceful, the cops were there in full riot gear.

Why is still unclear.. Especially since it was not a concert or parties or anything LOUD, it was a frikkin market…. which wasn’t even allowed to be build up. All what was planned was a lot of nomoney-economy and neighborhood initiatives presenting themselves. There should have been free tattoos, free silk screen printing and a lot of people just giving stuff away.

But yep, the street would have been blocked with all those people enjoying it. So the dear dear cars couldn’t drive through… And yep, the beloved Bild-tabloid was already predicting riots for weeks…

The only complaints the neighbors had about noise, was the noise coming from the generator for the police light pole…

Blurp – Thunderstorm

Flattened & deafened by the Swans, step outside & the thunderstorm was just approaching.

Best strobo ever, the whole sky lighted up, letting my sweat-drenched hair do some independent headbanging in the wind, see bolts of lightning try striking the Fernsehturm, and thunder trying to be louder than my slight tinnitus. Lying down in the rain watching the sky is a wonderful way to cool down until I was soaked to the bones. Was so smart to hug the still very warm stones of Volksbühne to prevent me from getting a cold.