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February 2010
 
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Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 10:18 am
Deeper into Neukolln

When I first moved to the northern tip of Neukolln in 2006 there was a funky little record store (it also sold comics, jagged grungy silkscreens, books of pervy photos of wounded Japanese girls by Romaine Slocombe, and copies of FRUiTS magazine) on my street called Le Petit Mignon, run by a frenchman called Guillaume Siffert.



In March 2007 Le Petit Mignon closed its Neukolln shop, moved up to the Torstrasse in Mitte, and merged with Staalplaat, a Dutch record shop and label which started as a cassette distribution operation in 1982. At the time, it looked like Le Petit Mignon was getting "upwardly mobile", moving from a marginal area to hipster central in Mitte. But in early 2009 rumours started to reach our ears that Le Prodigal Mignon was seeking to return to Neukolln, bringing Staalplaat with it. Guillaume spent a couple of months scouting locations, and finally settled on Flughafenstrasse, a busy commercial, working class street that slopes down from Tempelhof Airport to the Neukolln town hall.



The new Neukolln Staalplaat -- called Staalplaat Working Space -- opened in late April. I made my first visit last night, to see a Midori Hirano show in their concert space at the back. I actually missed Midori's set because of a fireworks display at Tempelhof, catching instead the sensuously placid guitar sounds of Rac-ka, a duo from Osaka.

It felt good being in there, even if there was something a bit cautious about the way Guillaume had to unlock the door to let us in. On the Staalplaat blog page Rinus details not just the new venue's problems with noise-obsessed neighbours, but their view that "the neighbourhood is turning into a red-light district, with illegal prostitution, women-, drugs-, and arms trafficking, bribery, violence and noise disturbances."



I personally felt a big hippy-alternative vibe of calm. Staalplaat's concert room has sofas. It's very quiet in there (and not just because of the neighbour with the decibel meter) and the only lighting is a couple of candles and some ghostly ambient seep from the backyard. When experimental music is playing, you're instantly in a Wire magazine article, and when the show is over and the audience mills out into the shop area you feel something of the vibe of the old Rough Trade shop in Covent Garden, the one under Slam City Skates.

The move back into Neukolln -- deeper into Neukolln, in the developing area around Boddinstrasse -- seems to have given Staalplaat a rush of relevance, a new mission and energy. Whereas, up in Mitte, Staalplaat pretty much blended in, sensibility-wise, with neighbours like Bongout Gallery and Neurotitan, down here in "deep Neukolln" it seems to be back on the cutting edge, joining semi-squat cultural guerilla operations like Loophole (from which I did a livecast back in February at the invitation of the ubiquitous Rinus Van Alebeek). The gamble seems to have paid off; foot traffic into Staalplaat during the day is apparently rather higher down here "in the middle of nowhere" (actually close to happening spots like Weserstrasse) than it was up on tacky Torstrasse, the Oxford Street of Berlin hip.



Neukolln may not have Mitte's buy-yourself-hip clothes boutiques (oh shit, did Best Shop close down already? Maybe Mitte doesn't have them either!) but it does offer less conventional clothing possibilities. I'd recommend a trip to the gigantic Bauhaus store on Hasenheide, directly across the road from Viet-café Hamy, our cut-price version of Mitte's Monsieur Vuong. At Bauhaus you can marvel at gorgeously utilitarian gas cannisters, chipboard slabs, orange-painted trolleys and red nested toolboxes.



Copying Jan Lindenberg -- my personal style guru, who uses them to soften his recycled MDF chairs -- I bought a €4.60 recycled Bauhaus packing blanket yesterday and modeled it for Hisae's camera right there in the store, to the amusement of Saturday shoppers. I run the pictures here so that Twit Opera and the Anons can mock me as if I weren't already mocking myself, and because milky_eyes was complaining yesterday about the absence of photos of me. Packing blankets -- like deep Neukolln -- are where it's at, man. You read it here first.

30CommentReply

rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 10:11 am (UTC)
sh*t!

thanks Nick, that is just the kind of fabric I was thinking of to use as noise absorbers,
good find.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 11:04 am (UTC)
Re: sh*t!

Ground floor, just after the turnstiles, immediately on your right, under the rolpad.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 10:16 am (UTC)
Berlin

Is there an official Momus Guide to Berlin that I can purchase yet? I realize that much of this outlet features this and that little unknown gallery or shop in Berlin, but is there something condensed for us lazy, but culturally curious soon-to-be exchange students? Momus guided tours of the essentials? Or are we supposed to fend for ourselves in this unfamiliar, foreign land, and try to "discover" things ourselves?

Forgive me, it is late in California and I am somewhat delirious.

But it would be nice to see what you consider essential in Berlin. "Essential" being your own definition. And sorry if this has been addressed already, I usually read this in a feed type thing.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 10:21 am (UTC)
Re: Berlin

Berlin Unlike is a good city guide. For recommendations within six years of Click Opera (some of which will be out of date by now), just googling on the terms "imomus" and "berlin" will bring up some stuff.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)

Momus since we all know by now that you write Twit Opera yourself why do you even bother to keep up the pretence? Is it simply your (sadly misguided and post-modern) devotion to all things Humperson and meta?


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC)

I doubt that Momus is behind Twit Opera, but the Twit may have a point about the narcissism of small differences. Aren't you playing the hipster rockist card here Momus? Mitte hipsters are less authentic because they get their hipsterism at buy-yourself-hip clothes boutiques, unlike those in edgy deep Neukolln (who it seems prefer the cultural tourism of Turkish street markets).


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand


(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
viceanglais
viceanglais
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
Has 'dapper' been hijacked by the far Right?

Dear Momus, I'd like to wear some post- or pre- war retro suits, and have a swooping short-back-and-sides, but the whole look has been hijacked by the British National Party. Is the wearing of Bauhaus packing blankets a way to counter this worrying state of affairs?!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Has 'dapper' been hijacked by the far Right?

I personally haven't worn any clothes at all since someone told me that Hitler used to wear them.

And didn't he like dogs, refrain from meat, and hate smoking? Okay, it's cats, horsemeat and 60-a-day for me. My life is in Herr Hitler's hands.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)

if it weren't for the asbestos weaved haphazardly into the filler within those blankets I would have been using them for comforters years ago.
-John Flesh


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)

alright, maybe there is no asbestos, but considering they are made of old bits you never can quite be sure what the shiny strands truly are/where made from.
-John Flesh


ReplyThread Parent
count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)

I shaved my head yesterday momus. I honor of you. (I had always wanted to try it).

Oh god I look horrible. Like a shriveled testicle or a mental patient on chemo. My cat won't even look at me. This was a big mistake. I am truly stunned at how bad a decision this was. My curly locks were one thing I always got compliments on and now I have nothing. NOTHING!


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sun, Jul. 12th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)


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Re: When in Rome - (Anonymous) Expand

endoftheseason
endoftheseason
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
The most important question you'll ever have to answer

This is mildly unrelated (only mildly, given that it's never really unrelated), but the question must be put to you, Momus, as it must be put to everyone.

Are you an atheistic existentialist, a theistic existentialist, an absurdist, or a nihilist?:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absurdism#Relationship_with_existentialism_and_nihilism

Those are the only choices because, objectively speaking, it's impossible to be anything else.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009 10:14 am (UTC)
Re: The most important question you'll ever have to answer

Atheistic Existentialist.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)

you seem really uptight and self-conscious about all the image and class stuff.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009 08:21 am (UTC)
Deepening Neukölln

Dearest Momus,

Irrespective of the individuals involved...and aware cities evolve and how I also find myself living in 'Kreuzkölln' where as 5 years ago I lived in Neukölln...I would be interested and you have addressed this somewhat in past entries but what are your thoughts on what is happening presently now here in this small ecke of Berlin? I ask not in a localised sense as such but in what can we understand form what is happening in this area and how and for whom is it evolving? I may add that I am part of this process...

Mark


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009 08:35 am (UTC)

thanks for your daily tourist guide to neukölln.. arrgh!
nick wrote: "After all, I'm one of the white people gentrifying this neighbourhood." !!
damn right


ReplyThread Parent
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)
radio staalplaat

an informative hour on the past present and future of staalplaat can be listened to here http://www.archive.org/details/radio-on


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
sweet injuries

i've been meaning to make it over to the new working space as well - did you see any more romaine slocombe laying about?

°Wm13


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
Re: sweet injuries

did you see any more romaine slocombe laying about?


there is one, the last one
costs 16 euro

shop is open tues-sat 14.00 - 19.00

r.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)
pauldepiperssoninkreuzbergpleasegod

i know guillaime. i know rinus van alabeek. there not the best please god. there not the best or the worst or the second best. their intentions are not the worst or the 3rd best. they are not great. neukolln schmokolln. torstrasse borestrasse, really its not a big swing, berlin is not based on geographical divisions in art terms. its not big and culturally realistically derisive enough. i live here and ive lived in all of the hipster and non hipster enclaves and the differences in reality are ludicrously minimal(not in a r hawtin sense).


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