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In Berlin the streets are strangely airy......

.....and it seems like every other conversation includes the reference “…..and then the wall came down”. In fact I should only speak for Kreuzberg, the area of the city in which I’m living and working, because I have barely left it since I arrived two weeks ago. Apparently this is normal behaviour for a ‘Kreuzberger’, although to fit into the broadest demographic category I would be Turkish and own a kebab shop. The donor kebab, which I never embraced through my undergraduate years, has now assumed central importance in my daily consumption, along with a disproportionate amount of bread-things from German bakeries. So my biggest problem here so far is stomach pains…..that and not being able to speak the language. In fact general communication breakdowns on all fronts – internet cafes line every street here, full of fluorescent lights and booths full of teenagers looking at porn, but barely a wireless internet café anywhere where you can take your own laptop. Meanwhile the apartment I’m staying in boasts a relic from a previous age – dial-up, to which I seem unable to connect.

When I biked to ‘work’ today (this is possibly the best biking city I’ve been in, the pavements are so wide that you happily share them with pedestrians and every other street is cobbled, so cars drive slowly making that pleasant European sound of tyres bumping over uneven surfaces) the streets were eerily empty save for a couple of large ‘Vive la Revolution’ banners swinging over the streets. Police cars were beginning to line up in preparation for the May 1st festivities (or riots…depending on whose description you listen to). I was working most of the day but when I rode back after the ‘premiere party’ of the project I’m involved with (bratwurst in a bun and beers you had to pay for), the same streets were packed with the sounds of reggae and hip hop, a mixture of mohican-ed punks, hipsters and Turkish teenagers cruising up and down the streets. Every now and then a group of green shielded-helmeted Polizei would charge down the street in what was apparently more of a ritualised dance than any kind of genuine confrontation. That hadn’t stopped the authorities organising close to fifty police vans lining the streets all the way home to Gorlitzer Park, which was pumping out techno music in the pitch dark from the old railway station in the middle of it.

Berlin Revolution Banner

Berlin Graffiti Protest

My apartment is on Wrangelstrasse, which boasts a range of Kreuzberg delights: kebab shops, bakeries, tele-internet cafes, dirty-couch bars and working mens clubs full of old Turkish men. It is hard to see into these for all the cigarette smoke but then that seems to be the case for most of Berlin where everyone smokes like a chimney. A strange contrast to living in the uber-health conscious Berkeley. I am also around the corner from what is surely the most popular ice cream shop in the city: there are still people queuing there at 2am in the freezing cold. The apartment has wooden floors and high ceiling and big windows onto the street. It also has two roommates - a tuba and French horn player - and two crazy cats. I saved Charlie’s life a couple of nights ago after he squeezed his head into a bag of catfood, got stuck and proceeded to crash around the house in a suffocating panic with the bag over his head.

Berlin Painted Building

Berlin Man on

In a funny way Berlin has begun to renew my faith and energy for city living after three years post-Alabama of fantasising about the freedom and possibilities of a rural existence. This city is teeming with cheap places to live and outlets for creative energy. As Markus of Raumlabor put it – “here it’s possible to renovate an apartment that the government will pay for, rent an office for nothing and put a sign on the door calling yourself an experimental artist”. Most people I have met so far seem to be doing more or less that. I heard an British musician on the radio (Noel Gallagher possibly??) the other day who had just moved to Berlin. He described the city as ‘psychologically spacious’, which is precisely the feeling that I get being here.
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2:09 PM

Hey! you're in Europe....Say hello to the Raumlabor people for me and General Public Agency- they were so helpful when getting our book together. What are they up to at the moment?

and I know what you mean about Berlin - it is so liveable and cheap and arty, kinda like I feel London was always just a few years before I ever really experienced it...but maybe that's just me and the boring ruts I get stuck in...    



3:22 PM

Hey Lucy, I've got the link from a friend in London. I have my studio @ Wrangelstraße 92, and Peanutz and a few from Raumlabor I worked with before. You sound like you are pretty busy and enjoy your time. great.
Besides: there are quite a few cafes where you can log on the internet, i.e. Morena Bar on Wiener Str. and MIR on Görlitzer Str.
See u around, an    



1:11 PM

Holy Shit I want to come to Berlin! "This city is teeming with cheap places to live and outlets for creative energy. As Markus of Raumlabor put it – “here it’s possible to renovate an apartment that the government will pay for, rent an office for nothing and put a sign on the door calling yourself an experimental artist". Nice to read about what you are doing...    



5:44 PM

mikes free rent    



6:32 PM

http://www.adquity.com

Classifieds for our community. Buy, sell, trade, date, events... post anything. Adquity Classifieds.

http://www.adquity.com    



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