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Ich bin ein Berliner
May 20, 2008 1:55 AM   Subscribe

Do you like Berlin? The hippest city on the planet has some interesting video blogs. My personal favorite is First We Take Berlin which is pretty off-beat and covers a lot of not so hip areas of the city. In their current episode they go to the annual may riots in Kreuzberg (after a weird little mouse story). Then there is Mayda3000 which is the longest running video blog about Berlin. Watch Berlin is a sort of compilation of many different video blogs most of which are in german but there are some are in english as well. And last but not least there's Verbundstoff which is in german only and takes a look at the very underground Berlin electronic music scene.
posted by namagomi (47 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, I like Berlin. But I think maybe I liked it better when it was West Berlin. What went on there in those days was like some sort of precious secret, some rare jewel. And a foray into East Berlin was a weird step into another world: truly exotic. These days, Berlin... I'm not so sure. Well, anyway, I'm just a bitter old fart who just thinks the past was better than the present... nevermind me!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:16 AM on May 20, 2008


A Berliner is a jelly donut.
posted by Goofyy at 2:29 AM on May 20, 2008


The hippest city on the planet

says who?
posted by matteo at 2:34 AM on May 20, 2008


says who?

lots of people, everyone in new york is 50 now : )
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:40 AM on May 20, 2008


I don't know about hippest but if the quality of the gummi candies is any kind of indicator ... well, the best jellybabies/gummi people on the planet are to be found in Berlin.

They are shaped like the walk/don't walk figurines on the traffic signals, and come only in the two requisite colors of green and red, which are apple and cherry flavored respectively.

They had big jars of them at reception in my hotel and although they couldn't tell me where they came from (allegedly, from one store in the old Ostzone, known only to the hotel employee who would stop there and buy them herself on her way to work), they were generous with them and gave me a bag to go. Or, on reflection, maybe just to go away.

But anyway ... mmm ... gummi Berlinese traffic people ... mmm ...
posted by kcds at 3:14 AM on May 20, 2008


A Berliner is a jelly donut.

A Berliner is either a jelly donut or an inhabitant of Berlin.
posted by sveskemus at 3:27 AM on May 20, 2008


If hippest city on the planet = city with the most middle-class post-collegiate 20-somethings on the dole and writing grant applications, then hell yes we are the hippest! If, on the other hand, hippest city on the planet = city where the pants-with-skirt-over-them thing has held on the longest, we are also the hippest.

Er. But it is a very neat town in many ways.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:31 AM on May 20, 2008


A Berliner is a jelly donut.

"Ich bin ein Berliner." is grammatically correct. He would have been incorrect had he left the "ein" out, since he didn't actually live in Berlin.

On preview, what sveskemus said.
posted by moonbiter at 3:35 AM on May 20, 2008


Berliners don't properly call the jelly donuts Berliners, they call them Pfannkuchen. All Germans I've ever mentioned it to with were mystified by the "JFK called himself a jelly donut" story. "But...why would you sink sat he was calling himself a donut when he was clearly talking about Berlin?"
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:39 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


very underground Berlin electronic music scene.

Yeah, Richie Hawtin is real underground.
posted by mkb at 4:07 AM on May 20, 2008


I thought we took Manhattan first, then Berlin
posted by FeldBum at 4:11 AM on May 20, 2008


The hippest city on the planet

Salt Lake City begs to differ.
posted by aswego at 4:16 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I visited Berlin a few weeks ago. It is indeed very cool.
posted by SciencePunk at 5:07 AM on May 20, 2008


The hippest city on the planet

How awesome that you live in Berlin and are a surgeon "to boot"! Are you a "hip" surgeon?
posted by Wolof at 6:00 AM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Really good kebabs; cheap too.
posted by YouRebelScum at 6:11 AM on May 20, 2008


But I think maybe I liked it better when it was West Berlin.
I feel compelled to bitchslap you for that but shall resist this once. besides, east berlin isn't at all anymore the way you may remember it from days long gone by.

says who?
well, if tribeca, bowery or the village are your kind of thing then berlin is the place to be. there is just way more of that in berlin than nyc these days. you know all those people lamenting the difference between the old nyc and the contemporary version? the ones who would love times square to be like baltimore again? well, that's berlin for you. plus a little bit of glamour.

Salt Lake City begs to differ.
okay, you're right. there's definitely bigger lovin' going on in SLC.
posted by krautland at 6:22 AM on May 20, 2008


wolof, well I do a few hip cuts every once in a while
posted by namagomi at 6:30 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I feel compelled to bitchslap you for that but shall resist this once.

Hey, man, you don't wanna bitchslap me. Good thing, in fact, that you're resisting.

besides, east berlin isn't at all anymore the way you may remember it from days long gone by.

I certainly wouldn't imagine that it is! As a matter of fact, I'm quite certain that it's not!

the ones who would love times square to be like baltimore again

No one wants Times Square to be like Baltimore again. It was never like Baltimore. It was Times Square.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:31 AM on May 20, 2008


Pfannkuchen are pancakes.

Something funny about 'hipness'. The more people say something is hip, the less hip it becomes. This doesn't prevent Berlin from being a shining example of civilization. However, other things may lend a bit of tarnish to scene.
posted by Goofyy at 6:49 AM on May 20, 2008


I'm quite certain that it's not!
well, duh. you're still wrong though.

It was never like Baltimore. It was Times Square.
times square was hooker central and getting gonorrhea was almost as easy as getting mugged.
living at 37th and 9th was fun back then.

Pfannkuchen are pancakes.
note that german pancakes are far superior to the fluffy crapola you cann a pancake.
posted by krautland at 6:56 AM on May 20, 2008


Yes, normal pfannkuchen are a little bit like pancakes, but Berliner Pfannkuchen a.k.a. Berliner are not.
posted by moonbiter at 7:10 AM on May 20, 2008


...the fluffy crapola you cann a pancake.

Sir, I take umbrage at your rough and uncultured remark. I have never canned a pancake.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:18 AM on May 20, 2008


I was talking about what you called "normal pfannkuchen," which are even better than that image might suggest, but yeah ... krapfen rock, too.
posted by krautland at 7:18 AM on May 20, 2008


In fact, on second thought, even the pancake-shaped pfannkuchen are not really like pancakes at all. Both are good, however, and I heartily disagree with krautland on the superiority point. But then I grew up near a IHOP.
posted by moonbiter at 7:18 AM on May 20, 2008


krautland, in my 4:10 comment was referring to Goofyy above you. I should have quoted more precisely. However, I suggest a duel to answer the pfannkuchen vs. pancake question, to defend flapjax at midnite's honor.
posted by moonbiter at 7:23 AM on May 20, 2008


Times Square has been a lot of things in its existence, and the 70s/80s version was indeed pretty venereal. But, I never noticed any similarity to Baltimore at all other than the crabs, ba dum bah, Igottamillionofem.

It's entirely possible to have non-bitchslap-worthy reasons for thinking that West Berlin > Berlin.

Pfannkuchen are pancakes.

Sir, you have quite a bit of knowing going on there.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 7:23 AM on May 20, 2008


"normal Pfannkuchen" and fluffy IHOP flapjacks are different and differently awesome. A super-fresh jelly-donut Pfannkuchen (with real preserves in it, not freaky magenta goo) eaten to nurse your hangover on January 1st is a thing of transcendent beauty. If JFK had known this, he would have said "Ich möchte einen Berliner Pfannkuchen!"
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 7:32 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought Rekyavik was awarded the current hippest city on the planet title some five years or so ago?

And it's empathetic too!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:32 AM on May 20, 2008


I associate the word "hip" with a sneering, preening attitude and being cooler-than-thou, etc. In that sense, Berlin is not hip at all - people here are very chilled & friendly.
posted by dydecker at 7:43 AM on May 20, 2008


http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berliner_Pfannkuchen#Bezeichnungen

It's like the sub/hoagy/grinder/etc of Germany.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 7:44 AM on May 20, 2008


I've always wanted to visit Berlin and maybe live there. But I don't know the language and as an American, I'm not an EU citizen. :(
posted by BrianBoyko at 7:47 AM on May 20, 2008


Berliners 'friendly'?! What the hell has happened down there the last years?
posted by Catfry at 7:47 AM on May 20, 2008


As far as Berlin blogs go, I like Spreeblick.
posted by muckster at 7:49 AM on May 20, 2008


Catfry, I guess it's all relative. Previously I lived in Tokyo & Barcelona, so by that standard Berliners are perfectly open and friendly ;) It's not smalltown let-me-bake-you-a-cake friendly, but as far as big cities go, it's about the best you could wish for.

Does Berlin have some kind of rep for being cold & standoffish or something?
posted by dydecker at 7:57 AM on May 20, 2008


The Philharmonic is burning. :(
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:58 AM on May 20, 2008


Do you like Berlin?

No. And I'm starting to believe all this about Berlin being so great is some kind of in-joke that I'm not getting. Most of people there are either pretentious bores who are trying way too hard to be quirky and hip (non-natives) or assholes (natives), the city is poor (and no one gives a shit) and it's too big (in terms of area).
To me, Berlin is one of those places that are nice to visit but terrible to live in.
posted by snownoid at 8:43 AM on May 20, 2008


New York Times today has a neat feature about Tempelhof Airport. Jelly donuts included.
posted by monospace at 9:02 AM on May 20, 2008


"Berlin" was also a band that had the best-selling song of 1986. ("Take My Breath Away" from the Top Gun soundtrack...)
posted by destinyland at 9:07 AM on May 20, 2008


I had some good times in Berlin a few years back. Saw most of the "sights" but also did a fair amount of just plain wandering. As for people being nice, one of my favorite memories is watching some hunchbacked old woman curse a guy out on the street for bumping into her. Not sure if that one experience is anything like the norm, but always brings a smile to my face when I think about it. Also, wandering into the Pergamon Museum on the museum island one day to get out of the rain and being totally fascinated for hours.
posted by friendlyjuan at 9:10 AM on May 20, 2008


Berlin has a lot to recommend it as a medium-sized town with a high standard of living for a large number of its residents, but the relentless auto-hyping is largely bullshit. I really hated it here a few years ago when the only people I ever seemed to meet were bad artists, on the dole, with multiple degrees in gender studies, but now I'm starting to meet more native Berliners, and I have a little boat for exploring the excellent nature, and I cherish having the opportunity to work less and spend more time on noncommercial projects important to me than I had in NYC or SF. It definitely has its upsides and downsides, like any other city. It is not the world city or counterculture capital it wants to be, but it could happen someday.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 9:24 AM on May 20, 2008


Some years ago Berliners had a reputation for being rough and direct, some would say brutally so.
posted by Catfry at 9:44 AM on May 20, 2008


Loved Berlin when I visited in October ('07)- spent a week and a half in an apartment in Prenzlauer and walked all over the place. The overwhelming crush of hipsters was tiresome after a while, but at least these were (in many cases) the real thing living in relative penury (you can get an apartment in, say, Kreuzburg for 200 euros a month- you'd pay 10 times that in Amsterdam or, God help you, London); they aren't the trust-fund asshole poseurs you see in NYC. I'd move there in a heartbeat if I were 20 years younger, seriously.

Coffee: The best (maybe only) proper third-wave coffeehouse in Berlin is called Bonanza and they are rocking one of the few Synesso machines in Europe. Oderbergerstr. 35.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:46 AM on May 20, 2008


Also- when Germans laugh about JFK's "Ich bin ein Berliner," it's NOT because they are so stupid (like those apocryphal "No VA!" Mexicans) to not be able to tell when somebody is saying "I am a resident of Berlin" in the context of a fucking speech about supporting West Berlin after the fucking construction of the fucking Berlin Wall. Germans are (mostly) not morons, they KNOW what he was trying to say. What they giggle at was his ACCENT, and oldsters love to mock it with super hard R's.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:51 AM on May 20, 2008


If you said "I am a Cuban!" would people in Tampa think you were calling yourself a delicious sandwich? No. If you went into a sandwich shop and said "I would like a Cuban," would people think you meant you were seeking a person from Cuba? No. There is nothing complex or puzzling about this.
posted by penduluum at 10:28 AM on May 20, 2008


Every time a see a post about Berlin here, it's like a trip down memory lane for me. I lived there from 1977 through 1980, and the best memories of my life seem all to come from there. Yes, there was the wall, but in the Cold War era, the contrasts were often stunning. There were places that seemed like a fairytale, and other places that drew a picture of absolute brutality. It was, at that time, a city where Realpolitik was more than a political science buzzword.

Imagine living in a city, if you will, where you are walled in, and here are tons of bureaucratic hoops to jump through should you want to go somewhere. For some of the people in the city, it was a death sentence to try and leave. You might, after all, decide that it could mess with your mind- and it did, to the extent that there was actually a defined mental condition called Mauerkrankheit, or "Wall sickness". In my case, it took the form of, one dreary night, of getting a little blitzed with a pal and going to the wall, armed with bricks from a construction site nearby, and tossing them over the wall with the express intention of trying to set off a landmine or a tripwire on the other side to fuck with the Grenztruppen. We didn't succeed.

Still, that ambiance produced an extraordinary milieu- a city of colorful people, politically aware, and a city that was especially vibrant and alive at night, an in-your-face island of the West inside the Iron Curtain.
posted by pjern at 11:15 AM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


oldsters love to mock it with super hard R's.

Also kind of an urban legend as hard Rs were thin on the ground in JFK's own accent. Check it out . "Ich bin ein Beahleenah."

I think he actually did a pretty good job. But I have also frequently heard it mis-related as "Ick bean...ein...Bear-leaner!"
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:01 AM on May 21, 2008


Are you purposely using the word hip in the [more than likely] not-opposite-but-wrong sense of the word, or are you intentionally doing anachronistic post-modern marketing for donut panakes?

Because either way? I'm catching what your throwing.
posted by humannaire at 4:36 PM on May 21, 2008


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