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click opera - Gotta come!
February 2010
 
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Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 09:35 am
Gotta come!

"My Berlin is over," says Craig Robinson (of Flip Flop Flyin fame) in a blog entry entitled Gotta Go.

"My Berlin is one where someone cutting me up on their bike makes me really angry; a Berlin where holding a door open for someone with a bicycle illicits a look of disgust not a smile or a thank you; and a Berlin where someone will be watering the plants on their balcony just as I'm walking underneath... I need to get out as soon as I can."

Of course we all experience these feelings of frustration from time to time. Except me. Except here. I fucking LOVE Berlin. I love it three years in. I love it every time I come back. I'm loving it this week, even despite the World Cup (the one thing Craig finds redeeming about the city: he calls it "the plaster over the wound"). I'm loving the banner hanging on the Oranienstrasse that says "Stupid football nationalists PISS OFF!"



The fact is, if you think Arsenal is a football team, Berlin only makes sense right now, in the grip of football mania. But if you know that Arsenal is in fact the art screen at the Potsdamer Platz showing the early films of Shohei Imamura this month, the "film poems" of Clive Holden, a "magical history tour", a "festival of festivals", and bits of the Tanz im August season, you're fine.

Business as usual in Berlin means not so much business, but tons of culture. But it's also got delights unmatched by either of the cities I've recently spent time in, London or New York. The clean air. The fact that you can ride your bike on the pavement. The forests and lakes just a short elevated train ride away. The Dahlem museums, which I visited last week. The Slow Life and the sobriety. The radical politics. The environmentalism. The loud, loud birdsong. The great theatre and visual art and design you can see here. The cutting edge international architecture. The excellent public transport. The trams! The fabulous zoo. The great coffee. Such high quality of life at such a low price! How do they do it?



A classic "God, I'm glad I'm in Berlin!" moment came the other day when I visited the new organic pasta cafe at 33 Mulackstrasse in Mitte. Leo Bettini is a South Tirolian-themed place (but in fact it's terribly "Mitte") with a deliciously cool interior (loose wooden slats around the kitchen, plain white tables and chairs) and staggeringly excellent food. Even the trip to the bathroom (with views out over a bamboo courtyard, and a delightfully clean, stark design) was great; I snapped photos, thinking how Japanese it felt. Japan with more space.

Or what about white beer for less than a euro a bottle? Apartments for less than 400 euros a month? One of which I yesterday signed a lease for! In fabulous Neubeca, with its aromatic Turkish market!

I'm sorry Craig walks around Berlin wondering "why does it always rain on me". My experience couldn't be more different. Berlin is my place in the sun. The rain is just an old lady watering her plants, Craig. And Arsenal is really a cinema.

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alphacomp
alphacomp
Digital Video Camera
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 08:16 am (UTC)

As a lifelong New Yorker art student frustrated with the current state of the government and very curious about living outside of the US, I've been seriously considering moving to either Stockholm or Berlin and studying Graduate Design. I think that this entry has definitely provided me with an interesting perspective on the latter city. How popular is the English language there? I've been leaning towards Sweden due to the widespread English fluency there, but Berlin seems more fascinating.

Also, out of curiosity, have you used Max/MSP in your music before? I remember you writing about it, and I always associate Otto Spooky with it (simply because of the cover and that distorted voice on "Sempreverde"), but I don't remember you saying anything about using it. It seems like a very Momus-circa-2000s musicmaking environment.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 08:20 am (UTC)

I seem to hear English being spoken everywhere I go here. Some people actually just go into a store and start speaking English, and, rather amazingly, get answered in English. But many of the older Germans don't speak English at all. It's wise to learn at least rudimentary German, and essential if you plan to take advantage of the FREE HIGHER EDUCATION EVEN FOR FOREIGNERS that exists here. (Something else great that I didn't mention.)

I've never used MAX/MSP in my music. Don't speak that language.


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martinish
martinish
martinish
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 09:06 am (UTC)

Berlin's a wonderful city get around. A public transport system that's enjoyable to use - how unusual is that? And yes, cycling on the pavement and cheap good beer - very civilized. How about a Momus radio podcast thingy around Berlin?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 10:22 am (UTC)

Your wish is my command!


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 09:14 am (UTC)

And still people go to Paris instead.


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sparkligbeatnic
sparkligbeatnic
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC)


Paris is also nice ...


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sparkligbeatnic
sparkligbeatnic
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 09:32 am (UTC)


How do the pedestrians and cyclists negotiate the shared pavement? Cyclists in Europe tend to drive faster and more agressively and ride heavier bikes than in Japan.

Aren't there specialized bicycle routes in Berlin such as in other cycle-friendly places like Amsterdam & Copenhagen?

Come to think of it I don't recall the places in Germany I've visited as being especially bicycle-friendly (small university towns excepted).


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 10:30 am (UTC)

I'm just back from a cycling trip, so I can answer these questions!

How do the pedestrians and cyclists negotiate the shared pavement? Cyclists in Europe tend to drive faster and more agressively and ride heavier bikes than in Japan.

Germans do ride bikes quite aggressively. Many streets in Berlin have dedicated cycle lanes, usually on the pavement, but sometimes on the road. But bikes are all over the sidewalk too, and as a pedestrian you get used to looking behind before you make any sudden, unexpected movements. Apparently sidewalk riding is illegal, technically, here. But everyone tolerates it, and everyone does it. Being vigilant is a small price to pay for reduced pollution, increased health, and so on -- things all Germans care about.

As for negotiations, the cycle lanes usually follow the traffic system, ie you ride down the street on the right sidewalk, not the left one. You can "contraflow" in the bike lanes, but maybe one in 30 cyclists will glare at you or say something.

Germany is the only non-Japanese place I've been where you see the usual Japanese problem of limited parking space for bikes. There are just so many of them here.

Currently I'm not locking my bike, because I love just jumping off and on without having to fiddle with a lock. My bike is rundown and shitty, but by not bothering to lock I turn those qualities into advantages. So far it hasn't been stolen, but I don't think Berlin is quite as honest as Japan, where I once left a bike unlocked on the street for three months, and found it in exactly the same spot when I came back (with a police notice on it asking me not to leave it there).


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 11:04 am (UTC)

More pictures of the organic pasta place:


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scottbateman
scottbateman
Scott Bateman
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 12:25 pm (UTC)

While I'm currently still enjoying NYC a great deal, you're making Berlin sound really, really good--it may have to be my next big move at some point...


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 12:41 pm (UTC)

It would be great on price alone, even without all its other attractions. Let me give you an example. My rabbit has gnawed through my USB 2 cable. I need a new one. I'm in London. I go to Argos, a discount electronics store. The cable costs £9.99, which at today's conversion rate is €14.43.

I decide to wait until I'm back in Berlin. Sure enough, today I find the same cable at Saturn for €6.89. Less than half the price.

Now, I'm not an economist. I have no idea why this cable needs to cost twice as much in London. It's not as if German workers are paid less, or work in worse conditions, than British ones -- quite the contrary, they have better holidays, better health and pension arrangements, etc. It's not as if fuel costs more in the UK. I assume it's just that more people in the UK are prepared (and can afford, apparently) to be ripped off, that more people are marking stuff up and therefore others have to mark up, and also rent and storage are much more expensive in the UK because of the silly property market bubble that reigns there, where shitty housing is sold at astronomical prices.

But as long as British national sentiment makes Britain hold back from the Euro, British people won't know how badly they do on basic commodities; how absurdly they're overpaying for everything. Worse products and services, higher prices.

I'm actually doing an interview with the Financial Times about Berlin's extraordinary cheapness later in July, so if anyone wants to give me some economic tips as to why the differences in price are so extreme, I'd like to hear about it.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 01:14 pm (UTC)

yo Momus, I gots some questions for you. As a foreigner with no work visa (I assume), how long are you legally allowed to stay in Deutschland? Unless it's different for citizens of the EU. I think I'd be deported in about a week.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)

As a British citizen, I hold a European passport and can live anywhere within the EU.

Citizens of other countries can't stay more than 30 days in any 90 day period under the Schengen regulations if they're just here on a tourist visa. Student visas allow much more flexibility. And to get one of those you just have to enroll to study German.


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charleston
charleston
Bonham C
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 01:14 pm (UTC)

man, you are making me want to move to Berlin... haven't been there in too long...


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desant012
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Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 01:25 pm (UTC)

Those German gurls sure look tasty - I wouldn't mind unwrapping my 400 lb bratwurst for them (181 kg for you "metric" people) .


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cityramica
cityramica
cityramica
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 02:18 pm (UTC)
i'm glad you're having a good day

You know, I think San Francisco must be a terrible place. Not because of the occasionally claustrophobic size, the overabundance of interest in Burning Man, the threat of killer earthquakes, or the fact that the world turns into a survival horror video game when i walk down certain streets....but because my kitten keeps climbing up my leg and it hurts, i haven't heard back from a magazine in Brooklyn I submitted work to, and yesterday I couldn't find my keys and was late to work.

Actually, I'm kind of starting to like it here. At least things are going well now that I have my own apartment and access to better food :)

though now i'm re-considering Berlin....


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desant012
||||||||||
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
Re: i'm glad you're having a good day

blluhhh barrfff. Why the hell would you move to Brooklyn if you're on the West Coast? It's like moving to a dumpster when you're living in some kind-of ... I don't know, gold covered palace.

I checked out a place in South Williamsburg under the shadow of the BQE - $2400/month. Why people would pay that rent? They're [[[[[[[[[ poseuurs ]]]]]]]]]]]


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uberdionysus
uberdionysus
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC)

Berlin sounds great! Everyone I know who has visited or lived there loves it.

Why is it easier to bike there? Less traffic?


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)

hi momusness! im coming to berlin! would be nice to see you there!
xxfumikoness
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting (http://photobucket.com)


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jul. 2nd, 2006 08:48 am (UTC)

Ah, see you in Berlin, Fumiko!


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instant_c
instant_c
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC)
BACKINGTRACKING

Nick, I'm feverishly working on tracks for you, which will use all original sounds and noises carefully recorded and placed. In fact I am even creating the program to perform the track with great care. I would like to request only on thing from you, the backing vocals for Beowulf. I need the full tracks of the backing vocals to test part of the program that allows you to play your accompanying vocals part by part along with your live vocals. thanks much, I really hope you enjoy the tracks, I'm putting a lot into them for you!-David


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Jul. 1st, 2006 09:10 am (UTC)
Re: BACKINGTRACKING

Hi David, that sounds great. But the way I record, I don't have separate tracks, I tend to chuck multitrack recordings away after I've used them.


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anti_peace_riot
anti_peace_riot
Fri, Jun. 30th, 2006 10:06 pm (UTC)

*grumbles*

I'm still very jealous of you. I lack the funds to move there but hopefully by next year I'll have enough to live there for at least a year.

What's a good way to learn German? Some people I know swear by those audio tapes, but I'm not sure I trust those.


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siokaos
siokaos
Christopher W. Moriarty
Sat, Jul. 1st, 2006 01:12 am (UTC)

how's the tech "industry" there, practical for an american CS major to find a job?


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Jul. 1st, 2006 08:38 am (UTC)

Something I was wondering reading your piece: how do you see your own impact on Berlin's economy? Do you make it a cheaper or more expensive place to live??

John


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Jul. 1st, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC)

arsenal is a tram stop in brussels or, with-an-e, a military base in venice. actually.


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soidisantfille
soidisantfille
soi-disant fille
Tue, Jul. 4th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)

Please, please, please, tell me where this amazing coffee you speak of can be found in Berlin. I am headed there in ten days and after two months in Prague - where slop water vending machine fare and thimblefuls of tepid, gritty espresso is the norm - I am dying for a decent cup of coffee. More than that, I want the BEST cup of coffee in Berlin, regardless of the cost. Your recommendations would be much appreciated.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Jul. 6th, 2006 11:55 am (UTC)

Try the coffee at the place I recommend in the piece, Leo Bettini at Mulackstr. 33.


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