The Dangers of Biking when Work & Party Traffic Cross

Berlin is a musical city. There’s very talented people playing in the metro every day (and quite some untalented, but that’s another story). There’s tons of gigs all over the city, every day. There’s not even one “guide”, on paper, or online, which will, or can, give a complete overview. And this is like, every day. Not just the weekend. Every day.

On workdays however, when four bands are playing in one place, because of the “neighbor-problem”, the set of each band will be too short. It doesn’t matter though, if it ends up with the the audience drumming on stage, and the singer/base-player in the audience. Quality over quantity is the attitude by now of both bands and audience.

Sometimes you have to chose unfortunately.  But when you’re lucky, you can combine two gigs, depending on where the neighbors start complaining on what hour and the bands have to stop playing (Prenzlauerberg and Mitte around 10pm, Kreuzberg around midnight, Friedrichshain, well.. errmm… you relocate the band to a park or so) . And if you have a good mode of transport. A bike works pretty well.
It can be risky though.

On a workday, traffic around 8pm is busy. Late-shift-commuters meet the early party tourists. So, on the 15 minute bike-ride from Friedrichshain to a gig in Kreuzberg I got almost driven over by a bus, two taxis, and a wheelchair.
Yes. A Wheelchair.
Not to mention I almost drove over a woman on bike staring at her phone, and quite a few tourist who don’t have a clue something like bike paths exist.

Oh. And this is Berlin. So on the way back you see a guy taking a pic of his girlfriend on the Oberbaumbrücke, she wearing nothing more than a latex bikini, a floppy hat and an open raincoat. It was after midnight, temperatures drop to 5 degrees celsius.

Another taxi driver makes room for you to pass a cop car in full alarm, parked on the bike lane, with a roadwork in the middle of the bridge and the tramtracks somewhere there too, because something happened again at the RAW again (how come they station 300 cops for months in a row in front of a squat, but they can’t seem to manage what happens at the RAW, where there’s actually crime, and victims..).

At the boxi square, after avoiding clashing your bike into many tourists again, and again, you pass a couple of guys pushing a cart which was filled with the usual protest gear. I almost shouted “which demo did I miss this time?”

Oh, and of course I forgot to bring a bag to the gig. Even though I KNOW I will buy vinyl at an event like this. Long the multi-functional pali shawl, which can be folded in anything including a bag. And then awkwardly holding it with one hand, while preventing accidents with your other hand when driving a bike through Kreuzberg & Friedrichshain on a night out… One eye on the traffic, one eye on that (hopefully still) unbroken record.

Still very thankful for that one taxi driver, who made room for me and my fragile record.

Note: all doodles made by myself when enjoying the not-so-risky public transport. See Twisted Kritters if you want to see more of them.

The slowest way to travel 6km

Every 21st June, there’s the “Fete de la Musique” in Berlin. But for years now, the “Nachttanzdemo (night dance demonstration) offers a different perspective on what music, and alternative culture means.

2016_Overig_Nachttanzdemo_2106_geelSuperficially, it seems to boils down to a lot of loud music, mostly techno, and crawl-dancing for four hours on a route that normally would take you max 20 minutes by foot. Like every year, I wonder why – musicwise – it is mostly the “rave-oriented” scene which is represented. Other sub-sub-sub-cultures need their “Freiraume” (free spaces) and are as affected by the Gema as the rave-scene..

The amount of people triples or even quadruples during the demo because nobody expects it to start on time; it is twice as long because of the cops in front and in the back; the “spätis” (evening shops) along the route are doing the best business of the month: and following the cop vans, there’s another crowd of “flaschensammler” (empty bottle collectors), just as happy as the “späti” people.. (oh, and of course lots of tourists grabbing their smartphones to document another example of local culture). At least the “Lauti” didn’t run out of gas and had to be pushed (prolly because the sound systems should be kept running).

We dance on the Traveplatz (lovelingly sometimes renamed to Raveplatz) in the “Südkiez” against gentrification. Against the weird phenomena, how an “interesting” neighborhood attracts new inhabitants, who next protest and call the cops for exactly that, what made this neighborhood interesting in the first place: the music, the life on the streets & in the parks and the little self-run shops and pubs. Against Order and Regulations, which causes pubs to close, parks fenced off, live music banned, dogs leashed, or makes it “necessary” to visit an alternative pub with 12 cops to make clear that pub should hang a price list of the drinks on the outside.

2016_Overig_Nachttanzdemo_2106We dance in the “Gefahrenzone”, the danger zone, where since january more than 1.000 people were controlled by the cops, “just because”. And again and again, house projects are invaded for, again “just because”. A good excuse is always to “protect the youth”. You know, there might be a 17 year old illegally drinking a beer without permission of his/her parents. That’s enough to be allowed to try to break into a pub, which already let the blinds down.

We dance over the Frankfurter Allee, and into Mainzerstraße, a street which used to be one block of squats, and next to a street where so-called investors try to chase the renters out by “renovating” or any other more or less legal way. The house of one of our regular guests of the foodsharing brunch is one of their latest targets, the people living there already organized themselves and will fight back, but the money and the resources are on the other side, and they’re very much aware of this. The first arrest takes place in the Mainzer. Why is unclear. Later on, I hear somebody was at the wrong place when a expensive car lost a bit of air in its tires. As if the person responsible for it would hang around..

We dance at the corner of the Boxi. Where more trouble starts, and the cops block the demo, but no one knows why. All we do is dance. There’s a fire show, and more people join the demo. By now, both sides of the demo are almost hermetically closed in by cops in full riot gear.

It’s unclear why.

But we dance on. The live singer on one of the trucks starts rapping her frustration about the arrests, and next, the identification numbers of the cops making those arrests. The atmosphere changes slightly and becomes more grim. But we dance on.

2016_Overig_Nachttanzdemo_2106_detailWe dance under a full moon over the Modernsohn Bridge, where a group of other alternative techno people just put a tent with drinks on the middle of the bridge to chill out, dance and look at that full moon. I pause to enjoy the sight, and hang to the side of the bridge, chatting with one of the “gabber” people of the bridge party people. We share a cigarette, and agree how beautiful the moon is. And though we might be on different ends of the spectrum of the alternative scene, we agree on the DIY mentality and the fun of spontaneous, unregulated things that just happen, because some people just had an idea, and made it come true.

We dance on towards the “Media Spree”, where the mainstream music industry established a bridge head. We dance to Gema-free music, and celebrate a culture, where sharing is more important than selling.

We dance because it’s our “Kiez”. To reclaim our streets. To celebrate our projects, our lifestyle.

yuppie-city_zwThis is our Kiez. We are our Kiez. I look around me. I see the people from the foodsharing. From the house projects. The urban gardeners. The free shop. The senior hooligans of the Traveplatz. The people from the silk screen printing workshop or the hacker spaces. The straight-edge people of the vegan lunchroom, before vegan became hip. The collective bike repair projects (happily throwing a racing bike between them on the rhythm). The semi-homeless people of the Boxi park. The bee-keepers of a trailer camp. The independent sound system in a self-built transporter bike. The people who care more about their dogs then about themselves. The jugglers and acrobats of the children’s circus.

I hear at least 12 different languages, and see every skin or hair color naturally or artistically possible. I watch a muscular, deeply tanned, punk with a skateboard, dance next to small, skinny, grey-haired metalhead who keeps trying to do air-guitars to techno beats. Both completely covered in the golden glitter thrown around by a tall guy with a braided goaty in a flowery mini-skirt. The fat-bellied elderly Traveplatz alcoholic cheering with some teenage refugee girls, offering his beer, which is politely refused. A peroxide-blond bearded guy trying to keep up with his crutches gets help from some southern-europe technoheads full of piercings and tribal tattoos. The queers, the freaks, the losers, the weirdo’s, the bald heads, the dreads, the hairy ones, the bare-footed and the big-booted, we’re all represented here.. Without us, the Kiez would not be the same, and rather dull.

And we dance on.

To show, you can evict the houses, push the renters out, ban the music, clean the parks out, remove the street art, kill the guerilla gardens, regulate the pubs.

But you can’t evict the ideas, the dreams, and the willingness to make them happen..



Impressions – Undermining “planned Obsoleteness”


One of the things I like about Berlin are the “artisans”.. not the artists, but the artisans, the crafters. Those people who do miracles with your old stuff, and whose eyes light up if you bring some “inherited” piece of equipment or material. Stuff, of which other, more “official”, shops tell you: not worth fixing it, please buy our newest product.

Hobby_FotoToestelOpa4_bewerkt2A Flash of Time

Such as the analog camera I inherited a long time ago from my grand-dad. When I got it, I brought it to an official photographer shop. They told me: already the money you would have to pay us for opening it up, would be more than the camera is worth. So I let it dust away in my cupboard as a memorandum. Until I told one of my colleagues, a hobby photographer, about it, and when he heard it was a Leica, he immediately send me to an artisan repair shop nearby.

There, they didn’t tell me, forget that old camera, here’s our newest digital product. The shop-owner, who I suspected was close, if not over, his retirement age, opened the case, started whistling when he saw the camera. I could see he could hardly wait till he would be able to bring it to his “laboratory”. Three days later I could pick it up. He took the time to let me hear the sound the shutters made, showed me how innovative the light meter on top of the camera was, the mechanism of the film transporter, and in general, what a wonderful little piece of pure mechanical, no circuit boards involved, machinery this camera was. I showed him a separate objective which came with the camera. He scratched his head and asked: “may I? You got 15 minutes?”, took it back to his laboratory, handed it back and said: here, it’s completely dust-free now. Hobby_FototasOpa3_bewerktNo, free of charge of course. From the corner of my eye I saw his much younger colleague (daughter?) sigh and shake her head. There was more stuff in my grand-dad’s camera case, including some unused films from the 50s or 60s. Totally unusable by now. Those films now are an exhibit object in this shop’s display window.

This Cow Died Almost 100 Years Ago

Another object I inherited is a long, leather motor coat my grandma used to wear in the 1920s and 1930s sitting behind my granddad on his motorbike. The coat is heavy, it weighs close to 15, if not 20, kilos. It’s very thick leather. But it’s warm, and utterly cool looking. Though too big for me. So it was gathering dust, cause when I went to a leather shop to ask how much it would cost to make it my size, it was way over my budget, and indeed, at least 3 times as much as a new leather coat would cost.

Until I moved here. Again, I looked at that coat, such a beauty, such a pity. And too much sentimental value to give it away or even sell it. So I thought, what the heck, and searched for a leather worker here in Berlin. Found one close to where I live, and dragged the coat with me. Unpacked, it resulted in quite a few exclamations from the shop owner, and another artisan was dragged from behind her sewing machine. Such LEATHER. They just don’t make it that way anymore. People like thin, supple, leather nowadays. The shop owner shook her head, tut-tutted and dismissively waved at the new leather coats hanging in her shop.

Kleding_gedragen_OmasJas_Cowboyhoed_Lendendoek_RKZ_bewerktYes, of course they can make it fit my size. The only problem might be the machines can’t take that good, thick, quality of leather. Nowadays, we’re simply not prepared for it anymore. But… She looks down at the coat, and tentatively feels the leather again. Again, she mumbles something like, they just don’t make it this way anymore. She looks up and says: I have to try, I simply have to. So she takes my measures, which takes sometime, since she’s very precise. A week later, I can pick it up. Perfect fit. And a bit lighter too, since I am skinnier than my grandma. I leave after a lecture about greasing leather. But, nothing beats how that coat keeps me warm during the harsher days of the Berlin winters…

Re-Tired and Re-Soled

Sometimes, there’s stuff I didn’t inherit, but just love, because it lasts me a long time. Such as my bike. There’s a dutch bike repair shop in Berlin, where “my” bike hangs on the wall as a museum piece. Where, if I go there, at least 2 of the guys wipe the oil of their hands and, almost drooling, point out the drum brakes to each other. Where I almost always get advice, or some second-hand replacement part, for free, just because they love the fact I’m still keeping this piece of history in good working order. And if they charge anything, it’s not much more than the material costs.

2014_MF_Zo019_Afterparty_Pinked_zwOr like my trustworthy big leather boots. After 10 years of good service, and 3 months of oil & rust after working on something also build-to-last, a 50 year old DDR-high-sea-fishing ship, now serving as an alternative music venue (and still sea-worthy), the soles of those boots cracked, straight down the middle. I went to 5 normal shoe repair shops. They all shook their heads. Way beyond repair.

Until I found on the internet the address of an orthopedic shoe maker. I went to his shop. A stooped, older, and very, very grumpy guy wearing a leather apron lets me wait for quite a few minutes before coming from the back. He looks me over critically and tells me: I don’t DO shoe repairs, I’m a crafter, a specialist, a maker of shoes. I start to look sad. He’s my last hope. Those boots have lasted me 10 years. His quite bushy eye-brows go up. 10 years? he asks. Let me see them. So I take them out. He slides his finger over the stitches. That’s good craftsmanship, he admits reluctantly. Ok. Leave them here, two days.  So I come back in two days. There are my boots. Shined up to the max. He straightens his shoulders, rubs his thumb along the side of the new soles, looks at me, and there’s a hint of a smile on his face. They’ll last you another 10 years now, he tells me proudly. I burst out in thank yous, but he waves me out of the door, bends down to his next project “it was an exception, ok? I don’t do shoe repairs”. When I leave, he looks over his shoulder: just take good care of them, grease them regularly, will you?

Wobbles And Knobs

Today I brought my old amplifier to a repair shop, because the socket for the phono input was doing weird stuff. I talked to the guy on the phone beforehand. Yes, of course he can fix it, he can fix anything. Of course, he’ll give me an estimate what it costs. So I unplug my amplifier, wrap it in bubble plastic, and step on my bike, and 1500 meters further, in between a vegan restaurant and a shop selling exclusive designer bags, is a dusty shop full of cables, spare parts, and reassembled hifi equipment.

I step in, and an elder guy in a blue coat with glasses comes from the repair room behind the counter “ah, you phoned. Let me see her”. He carefully unwraps my amplifier, and, almost caressing it, immediately brings it to the repair room, starts plugging it in, wobbles with the knobs, and agrees with me, yes, the old stuff is so much more reliable and long-lasting then the new stuff. IF you take care of it. And he starts telling me anecdotes about what he all found in amplifiers and tape decks. He quickly gives a preliminary diagnosis of the problem, and tells me, he’ll phone me tomorrow to give an estimate of the costs, and how long it will take. Repairing will be quick, but waiting for spare parts might take a bit. I immediately feel like my amplifier is in good hands, and tell him about the old Thorens record player I recently got and which needs a bit of love (& cleaning).

2015_Overig501_Materiaal_Muziek_ThorensMenno_bewerkt2His eyes light up even more. Though, he’s skeptical. Thorens is a name, a label, not all is as good as the name pretends. But yes, he’s more than willing to check it up, clean it, bring it in good state, give the mechanical parts a bit of grease. Max 60 euros, if nothing is broken. And yes, he’s fast. He starts telling me about DJs from Hamburg or Rostock who travel to his shop. With sparkling eyes he gives some anecdotes about what state he found their record players in. Proudly he says, he can repair almost anything. And fast. And good. And lasting. Good-as-new. IF you take care of it after it has been through his hands, of course.

The Crafty Fifth Column

These artisans, these professionals, are the silent force opposing – and opposed by – “planned obsoleteness”. They are threatened in their existence by a culture of throw-away technology. Where the warranty of a new camera or telephone is no longer than two years max, and even the bigger shops tell you: it prolly won’t last much longer than those two years. “Here, buy our newest product”.

I know. What they charge me to repair my stuff, simply does not cover the actual time they put into it. These are people who work with their hands. Who love when something of good quality comes into those hands. Something they can appreciate. Who truly take pride in their job. When they can bring something into, or close to, its original state. Technology, or craftsmanship which make their eyes light up, and, even with the most grumpy ones, makes the corners of their mouth go slightly up.

They hate doing shitty jobs. And if you bring shitty stuff, no matter how much quality work you put into it, it will still be shitty stuff afterwards. So yes, if you bring them quality stuff, they, albeit sometimes begrudgingly, love you for it. One of the – only – ways you can repay them (cause they usually undercharge you…) is to respect the quality of the product, and the quality of their work, by taking good care of it. And that’s what they’ll tell you again and again: take good care of it.

Rant – When A Flux of Pink Indians might not be such a bad idea

Cleansing the underground, cleansing the neighborhood, cleansing the population: A rant about bad things happening, over-reacting, pointing fingers, underbellies & crocodile brains, and my personal aversion against (self-)proclaimed protectors. And why it might actually come to me dressing up in bright pink, slapping faces with my house-shoes.

People sometimes tell me I’m a pessimist. I rather describe it as “I hate it when I’m right”. Or worse, when my more absurd jokes become true (hey, Life, that was a frikkin’ JOKE!). But lately, I’m beginning to lose that sense of pitch-black humor, and feel the need to hide under a blankie, being “sick & tired of waiting for this world to end”.

I’m sick and tired of hate. Sick and tired of generalizations. Sick & tired of polarization. Sick & tired of “cures”, which are worse than the “disease”. Sick & tired of (self-)proclaimed “protectors”.

Yes… many bad things happen. Thing I can’t, and won’t condone. Things I can’t and won’t laugh away. Things which make me want to hide in a dark corner. But the reactions to those bad things are so out of proportion, I have to shake off that blanket.

“Cleansing” the underground

Recently, an underground – neofolk – party had to close, because the owner of the venue where it took place received threats from “the Left”. I’m very much aware that, in some undergroundier than underground music scenes, there are some “bad apples”. I walk around in those scenes, and am not one of the people who shuts up when I spot “brownish” tendencies. And I’m not the only one. The reaction however, of some people outside that scene, to threaten the venue where a party from that scene takes place with violence, and on the net, start a hate campaign, is completely out of proportion.

Condemning a whole (albeit very small) music scene because of a few bad apples, and a lot of unfounded suspicions, will only lead to polarization. To the people who threatened the owner of the venue: you in fact give the opportunity to those few bad apples to take over that scene, because this kind of intimidation won’t make people give up their music. But it will make any kind of discussion completely impossible. I’m on the fringe of that scene, and consider myself an antifascist. Believe me, I can really do without the “protection” of some self-proclaimed, uninformed, self-righteous, outsiders.

And be realistic: the fascist threat isn’t coming from a few dozen people dancing slowly to neofolk music by candle light…

“Cleansing” the neighborhood

Another local “incident” of the past few weeks: cops invading squats in full riot gear because an uniformed person dealing out parking tickets was beaten up. Probably more than just the parking ticket happened, but still, beating someone up with 5 people is not ok in my book. Now I know dealing out parking tickets in Berlin is a risky job (just like telling people not to smoke in a small pub where the owner smokes himself). And really, not just in this neighborhood. It still is not ok to beat someone up for it. However, the reactions of the cops to this incident was absurd. It became the excuse to invade a local squat in full riot gear, and quite a few other actions following this. Resulting in the confiscation of a few fire extinguishers (hooray!). It was not exactly the first time the cops interpreted their task of “keeping the peace” in a rather, well… violent and disproportional way (for example last summer).

Dear cops: I applaud you. Very brave. It will most definitively help to release the tension in the neighborhood and make us all just love & want to hug you. Especially if you invade another house a few days later because of a small bag of garbage dumped 20 meters away from the helmeted, shielded, and well-insulated invaders. Or raid a small bakery because a few “suspicious people” are buying their breakfast there. Or get up a ladder in full riot gear to silence the music coming from a nearby balcony.  Circling low above the neighborhood for days in a row with helicopters until deep in the night also makes me wish I had a bazooka at hand. And, as always, when such an “incident” happens, I just love being followed by a police van when I walk the streets with two friends of mine. Gosh, I never felt so safe in my life, having our own, private, surveillance unit.

Again, me, as one of the people living in the neighborhood, can do without this kind of “protection” from outsiders. Really, dragging people out of bakeries, invading a house because of some garbage thrown out, trying to intimidate with helicopters or following any group larger than 2 people on the streets, does not make me feel any safer in my neighborhood.

Again, this kind of intimidation won’t work, it will only lead to polarization. And again, be realistic: the chances that this will lead to a “bloody revolution”, the government being overthrown or Friedrichshain declaring its independence are pretty minimal.

“Cleansing” the male population

Last but not least. A very belated reaction to the “incidents” on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other cities. Just to bring it back into memory (though I don’t think people have forgotten, yet…), on New Year’s Eve near the Central Station of Cologne, a lot, and I mean a LOT of women were sexually harassed or even raped, and subsequently robbed, on a scale rarely seen, by a mob of drunken men. This is bad. This is very very very bad. However, the reactions in the press, the social media and especially, the violence coming from “gangs” of hooligans and other self-declared “protectors of the german woman” were completely out of proportion. Within hours, the rumors about “nord-african” or “arabic” looking attackers, or “refugees” were all over the net, and the hate-campaign started. Again, leading to generalization & polarization.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few male chauvinist sexist pigs among refugees or people from the Middle-East. I just don’t think there’s more of them among those groups as in any other group… (hey, I’m a pessimist, remember?). And I’m all in favor of rooting this out. But…

Pointing the finger

What scares me are the reactions. First, I see people from whom I thought they had some kind of brain all of a sudden supporting the Pegida-movement.”oh, they were right about the hordes from the middle-east threatening our o-so woman-friendly culture”.

Already much has been said about this elsewhere, so I guess I don’t need to repeat the statistics in detail. Just a quick summary: most refugees are christians;  gang-criminality, including robbery and group-rape (aka “gang-banging”),  is associated with poverty & bad perspectives and yep, being an immigrant is associated with poverty & bad perspectives; rape is caused by rapists, not by the clothing the victim wears nor the “ethnicity” or “religion” of the rapist: there’s no statistical evidence of a higher occurrence of rapists within “refugees” or ” people from the Middle-East”.

Not to forget the instrument of  robbery under cover of sexual harassment or grinding up (“antanzen”) is not exactly a new strategy. It is, unfortunately, a pretty well known, and used, instrument by petty criminals for example in touristic areas or by gangs in Berlin (who supposedly already have divided the different club-districts among each other). We had quite a few nasty incidents last summer here in Berlin. The latest trend I’ve heard about distracting someone to be able to rob him/her (usually her) is to set his/her hair on fire… This resulted in a completely stupid and helpless reaction of “law and order” (leave your phone at home, or don’t use it openly, don’t wear expensive jewelry). Which boiled down to another nice case of victim blaming. Just as stupid as the reaction of the mayor of Cologne: keep those men at arm length.. yeah, right… So the phenomena is not new, and to blame it on certain groups or the victims is pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

But well.. I guess the people who now all of a sudden go over to the Pegida camp are probably just as fact-resistant or susceptible of conspiracy theories as that Pegida guy I tried reasoning with (until he started denying the Holocaust, then the discussion stopped from my side).

The underbelly & the crocodile brain: fear is all you need

Second, I see fear. I see people sharing this “Taharrush gamea” (organized sexual harassment)  phenomena when referring to Cologne, and being afraid this might become “normal”.

Well, except for the fact there’s a lot of discussion about this phenomena, especially about the (pre-)-organized aspect of it, rape culture isn’t exactly new. Any woman in any culture, also in our oso beloved western culture, does not at least take a deep breath and mentally prepare herself before walking through a mob of drunken young men. One of the yearly events in our neighborhood I hate the most, the so-called “Biermeile” on the Frankfurter Allee, I mostly exactly hate because of this. I think the average hair color there was some darker shade of blonde, and I observed a higher occurrence of mustaches. Also, I do not enjoy walking past a club just around the corner on a saturday, which “clientele” used to consist mostly of young white males from the surrounding countryside. It changed ownership a few times after that, now programming mostly russian artists. The cat-calling and harassment diminished, but sure as hell is still there. Typically enough, it was the least when that club programmed popular turkish artists… Again, I don’t like generalization. Not when it comes to blonde hair, or mustaches, or being from the countryside, or russian or turkish.

Again (yes, I’m a pessimist), I’m quite sure all groups have quite a few male chauvinist sexist pigs among their ranks. Believe me, there’s no pre-organization needed for sexual harassment on a huge scale. Just add alcohol, add “group dynamics” or male-bonding-rituals: many of these men would not try to grab you, or even do some cat-calling if they were on their own. My impression is that often, they are more trying to prove themselves in front of their mates, than actually trying to get their hands on you. Though it’s still frikkin scary and disgusting. Add the above named factors, and the crocodile brain takes over and any woman suddenly becomes a potential prey, who “should know her place”. And me, as a woman alone, I rather avoid places on a weekend night where I know I might bump into a group of drunken men, exactly because of this.

Oh great.. there are the protectors again

Third.. I see this “phenomena” of “we have to protect our women from the invading hordes” and these self-declared protectors patrolling public spaces (and beating up anyone dark-skinned in the process). Protectors. Oh really. Knights in shining armor. Sure. Need a white horse? Get real. I’m a woman. Not german, and probably a tiny bit too dark to be considered “worthy of protection” by those self-declared protectors. But heck, even if I was german and a platinum-blonde, I’d rather pass on that protection. I wouldn’t trust it. Rely on a group of male chauvinist pigs to protect me from another group of male chauvinist pigs? And expect them not to turn on me to “express my gratitude” for being protected? I don’t think so….

A flux of pink indians

Nope. If I would see any group phenomena which would actually protect against large scale, organized or not, sexual harassment of women, it would be self-organisation. Of women solely, yes. Non-aggressively of course. What I’m thinking of, is something like the “pink ladies” (or Gulabi Gang) in India. If you don’t know what this is, look it up. Rape culture, again, is everywhere. And in India, a group of women, wearing pink saris, organized themselves to educate, to protect and, in unfortunately some cases, to avenge. And how did they avenge? By beating rapists with house shoes, and thereby publicly shaming them…. I don’t like revenge, I don’t like publicly shaming.. but heck, I laughed me ass off with a vid of a group of pink ladies slapping a group of rapists with house-shoes and giving them a good verbal bashing… Thereby making clear that sexual harassment is not cool, it’s not normal, it’s not something any woman asks for, no matter where & with whom she is or on her own, or what she wears, and it’s something you should be fukking ashamed for even thinking about it.

And believe me. Male chauvinist pigs won’t like women organizing themselves. Not the so-called aggressors, and not the so-called protectors. One the regular demonstrations I participated in, was the so-called “witch-night”, when a huge group of women only, went on the streets to claim them back. No other demonstration I participated in, not even the most controversial ones, met so much verbal, and also physical aggression from the “general public” as that one. Yes, from males. No matter what age or background or even “intellectual” level (heck, one of the most aggressive reaction usually came from the balcony of a fraternity, and from mostly white, university students).


We don’t need reactions which are out of proportion and only lead to more hate, more generalization, more polarization.

But a Flux of Pink Indians… I’d like to see that happen on the Biermeile on Frankfurter Allee next year… Actually, I might even put on a pink sari for that..

Blurp – Going Over The Years

Meet up with friends, go to party, see live acts, party more, go sleep.
Wake up with the smell of smoke in your hair, a slight tinnitus & the afterflashes of a scrobo, find consensus on where & when to meet with friends from far & near, hardly have time to shower & eat.
Off to more live acts, more party till early morning hours…
How come NYE & New Year’s day start to feel like Maschinenfest?

Impression – A Guitar Night Out

Omg.. after a great Chrysalide gig in Slaughterhouse (with only like 25 people watching, people, what’s wrong with you, already hibernating??) I traveled back in time yesterday, to something in between the Vera club in the 90s combined with a cheesy 70s party in the ORX and the hairmetal-karaoke from the Baroeg: the Paranoid Party in Berlin:

  • The djs were actually playing from VINYL. Including some well-played records with lots of cracks & hisses (that poor ZZ-Top-record…)
  • The tracks were in between 3-4 minutes long, and they were songs. As in, you know when a song started and when it finished. No fancy mixing
  • The good old worn-down leather couches to crash on on the stage, and the “steps” around the dancefloor to sit & hang around (Vera….). HUGE speakers, think (again) Vera in the 90s
  • NO fancy light effects. Heck, no light effects at all. Just two projections of something brownish/black I couldn’t decipher & a huge discoball, and therefore, wonderful pretty shadowy corners and a shady dancefloor. A not overfilled, but well-used dance-floor on an uneven wooden floor.
  • Lots of 70s and 80s hardrock & metal (from the Sweet to Motorhead, and I think I heard Rock Goddess…), ok, that’s mostly too mainstream for me (not my music in the 80s either), but also Slayer, L7, Fugazi, Hellacopters and of course Nirvana
  • The crowd was enthousiastic and having a frik-load of fun. lots of air guitars, jumping, running around, headbanging, lifting each other up, doing ballroomdancing, jumping on each others backs, tossing each other around. I had a weird air guitar-headbanging-sparring-contest with some unknown guy on Motorhead 🙂
  • When the first note of a song started, it was always someone’s favorite. And that someone would jump up, get a huge smile on his/her face and MOVE. Nicest thing I saw was a big guy dancing, jumping around, running up the stairs to the stage, doing an air guitar there, running down again, jumping, and next on stage again for his air guitar. Not to show off or impress, but simply because he was going crazy on that song.
  • Crowd mostly dressed in tight black jeans, bandshirts with sleeves cut-off, lots of long hair, few mohawks & the bald-head-with-beard. Beer seemed to be the most common drug, though not an “alcoholic” atmosphere. Party started early to Berlin standards (high-time around 2), ended not too late (I left around 5)
  • I saw people leaving the party actually going up to the djs to thank them…

For the record: it’s this (monthly) party: from these people:

And this is how they promote themselves (didn’t hear Melvins, Monster Magnet, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and the like unfortunately… maybe next time 🙂 ) “PARANOID – KREUZBERGS HEAVY ROCK PARTY! The waiting has come to an end! Finally Berlin has a regular clubnight where you can party to the coolest Rock&Roll-Sounds. Who finds the common Indie-Parties to poppy and starched, who finds metal bars frumpy and grumpy, who fears teenagers and trite blockbusters at Ballermann-Rockparties, watch your knickers get wet! The city’s finest deejays spin: – STONER à la Queens Of The Stoneage, Monster Magnet, Graveyard or Kyuss – GARAGEROCK à la White Stripes, Black Keys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or Jon Spencer – SCANDINAVIAN-ROCK à la Hellacopters, Turbonegro, International Noise Conspiracy or Hives – OLD SCHOOL METAL à la Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Pentagram or Slayer – 70’S ROCK à la Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, MC5 or AC/DC. – PRE-GRUNGE à la Nirvana, Soundgarden, Melvins or Mudhoney – US-ALTERNATIVE à la Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Beck or Lemonheads – UK-INDIEROCK à la Supergrass, Kasabian, Primal Scream or Oasis

Blurp – Taking off your Boots

Weird experience. At the end of a mega-fetish-industrial-noise party, I sit on the ground, take off my boots and put my leggings back on. And a guy comes up to me telling me this is “not done” and I should have used the bathroom to do it in private… Other people walk past and I get “the eye”.


Around me are a lot of almost-naked people, some of them only wearing pieces of duct tape, there’s quite a bit of semi-fucking going on, there is an open view on the bondage area & the dungeon, and just sitting on the ground, not even in full sight, and just very practically getting some warmer clothes on before leaving is “wrong”? Gosh, you would have had to try hard to spot my underwear.. Really… Maybe if I had made a performance out of it, it would have been acceptable..

Guess it says enough about the party. Musicwise it was amazing (ouch my feet), the other aspect… Well.. I’ve been to quite a few of the more regular “normal” Berlin parties which had more atmosphere and where well… the audience might have been extreme, but most definitively themselves? Imho, there was quite a bit of showing off, and not enough expressing… I remembered what someone once told me about KitKat: you can put a german secretary in leather & latex, it will still be a german secretary”..

Blurp – Support the Senior Citizens

Sitting here in my still sweat-drenched t-shirt & about to count all my bruises, I just realized the fat old guy I supported when he crowd-surfed the pogo zone was actually Jello Biafra.

I don’t do hero-worshipping, not even old ones, but if anyone would have told me 30 years ago, that at age 48 I would be jumping around in the pogo zone and keep the even older former singer of the Dead Kennedys in the air, I would have just laughed and for sure not believe it…

Dang, I planned to not dive into the pogo zone this time (gig was sold out, and there were quite a few “tanks” in it), and was safely standing in a corner, but well, third song or so was “California über alles” and I suddenly found myself bumping (and for all, being bumped) all over the place…

No reason to stop after that. (and it was a frikkin good gig, two members of Victims Family are part of the band. nuff said 🙂 )

Blurp – A random outside event

Nice surprise at the Lohmühle Summerfest today: militant queer-rap with great lyrics on nice danceable, slightly cheesy, rhythms. If they play near you, go see them, live so much more better than soundcloud.

It also made me realize, looking around me in the audience, how many people were around who, if you want to mention gender, can best be described as “post-gender”. But fuk all that, in the end we’re all individuals (and dangit, how we love to express this 🙂 ).

And of course I enjoyed the rest of the fest, the diversity in age and appearance of the people, everywhere self-made food & drinks and little performances or play areas for kids & grownups, just letting myself go with the not really straight flow, meandering between wildgrowing greenery, self-built houses & sheds, random recycling/art, kids, dogs & cats running freely, laughing my ass off when a kid got reprimanded for pushing her daddy into the dust-kicking pogozone & mummy next jumping in herself dragging the kid along, and the general utterly relaxed atmosphere. Berlin at its best imho, but ah well, I am a bit of a hippie at heart 🙂

Impression – Eeew.. am I settling down?

Biking downhill from the hidden garden of the Villa I realized something weird..

Yep, living in this neighborhood, in my little “scene”, always felt good.

But, looking back at another busy, full weekend, with renovating a bit in the giveaway shop, saving & distributing food on the market, where all the standholders know me by name (and friendly laugh at my slight wasp-phobia), going to another great gig & hanging outside with my friends waiting for it to begin, at the sunday fooodsaving brunch chatting with our regular guest, a random couch surfer or some people I dragged in to enjoy the free – vegan – food, then off to the circus acts in the garden of the Villa, and admiring the huge amount of apples & pears hanging in the old fruit trees (long live the Villa bees!), and end the night freezing my ass off under the stars watching a sweet little movie, every now & then scanning the sky in the hope the Perseids give me a falling star.

Dangit. I’ve “arrived”. My two feet, my heart and my head are firmly planted here. That’s scary. That’s frikkin scary. Omg, I haven’t “settled”, have I?

Though the word itself still triggers an almost allergic reaction (literally, as I noticed not that long ago, it results in choking & coughing my lungs out), eeks, I’m settled, in my own, slightly freaky, way.

Though, when talking to someone who (also?) loves traveling unpaved roads, yes, I do have a certain “longing”, especially for the Balkan – the beautiful german word “fernweh” describes it so well. Though I still picture myself as the crazy old woman on top of a mountain with 15 cats and 3 goats (and a donkey or an alpaca).

And I know my experience here might differ from others, who point out how this city can suck you dry, how hard it is to crack this nut, how much the anonymity of a city of millions can lead to utter loneliness, or can’t understand how I like living in, what one of my friends called it, the warzone, with its filth, its bad smells and its very present and visible seamy side..

My always present urge to keep moving is goners, that urge to move on, even when and where the situation feels good (thank you, nomadic ancestors, for the horizon fever & the always itchy feet). It’s so weird to realize this.

At least it’s gone for now. It prolly will be back in winter, since this city so frikkin different depending on season, but for now, weirdly enough.. the itch is gone…