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Berlin is Burning
March 2, 2009 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Conspicuous Combustion: since May 2007, 292 luxury cars have been burned in Berlin. A simple Google Map at brennende-autos.de ("Burning Cars") charts the date, model, and location of each.
posted by anotherpanacea (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Perhaps also of interest: Earth First!, Direct Action Germany.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:46 AM on March 2, 2009


Clicking at random I got a Smart, a VW Polo, and a Land-Rover. How is the "luxury" related to these cars?
posted by jet_silver at 9:57 AM on March 2, 2009


They aren't all mid '80s Renault Alliances or Ford Escorts?

In my book, that is the surest sign of luxury: Did it break down on you constantly when you were going to highschool? No, then that's a high-class ride, baby!
posted by quin at 10:00 AM on March 2, 2009


So basically it's all happening in Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Prenzlberg. Oranienstr. (in Kreuzberg) went from cruddy to ritzy in the last 3 years, it seems, and frankly I blame Lucia more than anything else. But I'm confused by Prenzlberg -- that shit's been yuppy for a good 5-6 years already. Who still bothers to burn cars up there?

Meanwhile, I was glad to hear a few days ago that people are still fucking with that ridiculous building with the car-elevator on Reichenberger and Liegnitzer. I used to live right across the street two years ago and paid 300-something for 40 square meters. The rents in that building have to be about 4-5 times higher than the neighborhood average. I'm not really an opponent of gentrification -- I'm gentrifying Neukölln as we speak -- but that shit's just ridiculous.
posted by creasy boy at 10:00 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are they sure it isn't just some confused and disoriented "Frenchmen" running amok?
posted by codswallop at 10:00 AM on March 2, 2009


Actually, it's really uncanny how that cluster maps the exact border between Kreuzberg and Neukölln. And it's not a straight line.
posted by creasy boy at 10:08 AM on March 2, 2009


Where did the data for this map come from?
posted by DU at 10:09 AM on March 2, 2009


When the ELF morons committed that rash of Hummer burnings on the US west coast I remember reading somewhere that the complete or near-complete combustion of the flammable materials used in making a Hummer is more damaging to the atmosphere than all the fuel a Hummer could burn in its working lifetime.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:10 AM on March 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


car-elevator on Reichenberger and Liegnitzer.

So that's what that is! I lived on 150 Reichenberger for a few months and couldn't figure out what sort of lifestyle was being advertised on the corner. That was before I moved to Neukölln, where I am gentrifying Dounaustrasse as fast as I can with my bourgeois penchant for hot showers and clean underwear.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:12 AM on March 2, 2009


All within a week or two of me having sex at each location. Hmmm....
posted by LordSludge at 10:16 AM on March 2, 2009 [9 favorites]


My first reaction: Awesome!

After clicking on one: A Ford Fiesta? Seid ihr verrückt geworden? Opels aren't that swanky either.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:18 AM on March 2, 2009


PS Time Europe just did a story on the car-burnings though mostly it's an article on the gentrifying of Pberg. Trend-spotting apres la lettre, it seems, in this case about 5 or 6 years apres.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:18 AM on March 2, 2009


One night last month, Kappelle came across a “heap of junk that used to be a Porsche the night before,” he said. “I was just relieved that he didn’t park in the empty space behind me.”
love the community spirit there, asshole.
posted by klanawa at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember reading somewhere

I don't want to sound like I'm defending arson as a valid political action, but BS. Nutjobs and idiots (often hard to tell the diff) will spew this line about anything they don't like. "Solar panels don't put out as much energy as they consume during manufacture", "ethanol produces more carbon dioxide during processing than it saves while being burned", etc.

Also, the main link seems to be more about class warfare than environmental action, although the inclusion of the possibly-confusingly-named "Earth First" has blurred this more than it already was.
posted by DU at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Will someone please burn the MULTIPLA?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:20 AM on March 2, 2009


When the ELF morons committed that rash of Hummer burnings on the US west coast I remember reading somewhere that the complete or near-complete combustion of the flammable materials used in making a Hummer is more damaging to the atmosphere than all the fuel a Hummer could burn in its working lifetime.

Of course, if their actions persuaded or intimidated lots of other people not to buy their own Hummers, it might be a net environmental gain.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:21 AM on March 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Nutjobs and idiots (often hard to tell the diff)...

That's supposed to be WINGNUTS and idiots. Just wanted to clear that up so the full force of my parenthetical bon mot will be felt. TREMBLE BEFORE ME, DITTO-HEADS!
posted by DU at 10:21 AM on March 2, 2009


One night last month, Kappelle came across a “heap of junk that used to be a Porsche the night before,” he said. “I was just relieved that he didn’t park in the empty space behind me.”

love the community spirit there, asshole.


Sorry, but as an ex-New Yorker I found this hilarious. The former, I mean. Although you calling him an asshole is funny for ex-New Yorkers too.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:22 AM on March 2, 2009


It makes me a really, really bad person that I kind of enjoyed this story.
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait until May 1st rolls around and check the map again.
posted by chillmost at 10:26 AM on March 2, 2009


I refuse to take this seriously until they start coming for the Robben and Wientjes trucks.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:27 AM on March 2, 2009


I was often tempted to drop the cinderblocks I had on my deck over the edge onto the luxury cars that tourists would park out front. I held off because I lived above my work and it would certainly have been traced back to me.

I don't shed any tears when rich fuckers get their houses or cars burned, however. They've sold out their fellow humans.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:28 AM on March 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Next, we eat the owners.
posted by The Straightener at 10:34 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Am I allowed to have a healthy distaste for car culture and a thorough understanding for the environmental impact thereof and still not be an asshole arsonist?
posted by space2k at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


foxy_hedgehog, you just confused the hell out of me. A few friends of mine were living at 147 Reichenberger in the fall and then moved down to Donaustr.
I had to follow to your flickr page to figure out if you were one of my friends .... but your flat looks a hell of a lot nicer than theirs.

btw I was at a party right by Ostkreuz last month and there seemed to be some sort of car-burning festival going on, it had spread to a nearby warehouse and the entire neighborhood was cloaked in smoke .... quite intense.
posted by mannequito at 10:39 AM on March 2, 2009


Yeah, that's a building with a car elevator. How much space would you have to have in an apartment to be willing to cede 4-5 square meters of it for your car? Of course, if there are that many car burnings, it might be worth it.
posted by creasy boy at 10:39 AM on March 2, 2009


DU: even as a fan of solar panels, I feel compelled to point out that embodied energy is a perfectly valid concept, though I think manufacturing is different than torching something.

It's an interesting post, even if some of those cars are hardly luxurious. I wonder how bad things have to get economically (or WRT peak oil) before any conspicuous public consumption becomes a target for violence. It's a fairly tenuous consensual arrangement that allows us to feel safe leaving the second most expensive physical investment just parked any old place.
posted by werkzeuger at 10:42 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


By the way, that car-lift building in Kreutzberg costs €2,279 a month, according to this website.

I think the guys targeting Fiestas and Polos are going after the wrong target.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:45 AM on March 2, 2009


I feel compelled to point out that embodied energy is a perfectly valid concept

I didn't say it wasn't. Obviously it takes energy to produce a product.
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on March 2, 2009


"ethanol produces more carbon dioxide during processing than it saves while being burned"

Last time I checked, this was actually true, at least for corn-based ethanol. Switch-grass is another thing, though.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:49 AM on March 2, 2009


ARGGHGHGHGHGHH
posted by DU at 10:50 AM on March 2, 2009


Am I allowed to have a healthy distaste for car culture and a thorough understanding for the environmental impact thereof and still not be an asshole arsonist?

No doubt I would feel differently about direct action in defense of the environment if it was my car that got destroyed. But until that happens, I'm unable to share in the passionate denunciation on display in these "moron" and "asshole" comments.

To the best of my limited understanding, the direct action folk perceive the car culture as something which is killing us. So they are trying to kill it first. A quixotic undertaking, no doubt. But requiring a courage far greater than that displayed by, say, your average Internet snarker.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry DU!
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]



foxy_hedgehog, you just confused the hell out of me. A few friends of mine were living at 147 Reichenberger in the fall and then moved down to Donaustr.
I had to follow to your flickr page to figure out if you were one of my friends .... but your flat looks a hell of a lot nicer than theirs.


I bet they are still nice people, and quite good-looking, even if they are not me. We should all get together for drinks at Valentin Stueberl.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:57 AM on March 2, 2009




oh, and nice shot of the astronaut.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:59 AM on March 2, 2009


Re: killing cars before they kill us - insurance will undo that death, and the owners will just be more angry at environmentalists. Kind of like anti-abortion folks killing doctors - if the statement doesn't move the intended audience, you're not doing it right. Becoming the monster you fight, and all that.

foxy_hedgehog - defacement of townhomes? Kudos for the scale of the bomb (graffiti slang, no enviro-activist intent).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:05 AM on March 2, 2009


I park my Lamborghini in my pool to avoid these nasty fires.
posted by orme at 11:05 AM on March 2, 2009


I remember reading somewhere that the complete or near-complete combustion of the flammable materials used in making a Hummer is more damaging to the atmosphere than all the fuel a Hummer could burn in its working lifetime.

I gotta call BS too. Purely in terms of carbon, it's trivial to show that a Hummer burns more gasoline in a year (assuming typical driving habits) than the mass of the Hummer itself. If you're including other things that might be in the Hummer, such as heavy metals, you generate some additional damage, but it's really not comparable since it's a completely different kind of damage than CO2 emissions.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:06 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think all these car burners should just focus their arsonic energy on that one fucking building. Seriously, why are you burning cars in Prenzlberg? It was already overrun by little children 6 years ago.

foxy, we should make a trivia game -- name the location of famous graffitis. Is that astronaut on Skalitzer near Görlitzer Bahnhof? And do we have a photo of the two guys on Schlesische Str.? ...oh, my girlfriend just said the astronaut's in Mariannenstr. as seen from Skalitzer.
posted by creasy boy at 11:06 AM on March 2, 2009


The article says a third of the fires are being called political. The majority may just have been for fun.
posted by pracowity at 11:38 AM on March 2, 2009


On thinking about it for a bit longer, I'd actually be really hard pressed to describe the kinds of violation I imagine one would feel to walk outside and find their car a burned out husk. Sure, you can make the easy joke that their insurance will pay for it, but it's more than just that. A car can be nothing more than basic transportation for many people, but for some it's also their place of solitude, their filing cabinet, their freedom that only exists in potentia.

Sure, for some it might be nothing more than a minor inconvenience to have their insurance company sort out while they switch to one of their other automobiles, but what if the Audi or BMW in question is the one nice thing that this person has been able to get for themselves.

I've never owned a nice car, but I can imagine that if I finally had saved up enough to get something that I wanted to care for and be proud of, and I came outside and found it a smoking ruin, I'd be pretty upset.
posted by quin at 11:43 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


You mean these two guys?

Then there's this, a lesser-known masterpiece from Reuterkiez.

I saw a guy at a party a few weeks ago wearing a hoodie with a silkscreen of the astronaut. I couldn't stop smiling at him. It was like we were both playing the trivia game without speaking.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 11:46 AM on March 2, 2009


I'm not down with arson, but if you are seeking

something that I wanted to care for and be proud of

buying an Audi is probably going to leave you feeling rather empty inside.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 11:50 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


My hat was in that car!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:08 PM on March 2, 2009


Pah! Last New years eve in my town, The Hague, 50 cars were burned. And the police calls that a quiet night. And that's at one sixth of the population of Berlin. So if we were Berlins size we would burn those 290 cars in one night! Instead of puttering on and taking more than a year.
posted by jouke at 12:12 PM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know I just remembered this, and checking the map, feel a little bit slighted: Last spring someone torched the mofa/scooter that was parked in front of our place in Friedenau - that's right, I'm gentrifying Friedenau, I'm wild like that: Wiliamsburg in the late 80's now... Friedenau... a-hem- and though it also ruined the car it was parked next to - I guess that car didn't rate as it was collateral.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:14 PM on March 2, 2009


They've sold out their fellow humans.

By buying a nice car?
posted by Bookhouse at 12:19 PM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


yes
posted by dirty lies at 12:50 PM on March 2, 2009


Yeah those guys. They're awesome. Filthy etc.: there are lots of huge-ass graffitis here -- so many that I think all of them can't be illegal. Actually my favorite is the orange guy in the Oppelnerstr...photo anyone?

Foxy: watch what you say! Twice I had an occasion to rent an Audi and drive to Munich and back. I was going 120-130 mph the whole way. I think it's probably the only time I've ever driven a really good car. Since then I dream of buying an Audi for myself just so I can cruise around with no speed limit. And in this dream of mine, I imagine getting kinda pissed if some kid torches it.
posted by creasy boy at 12:58 PM on March 2, 2009


A few friends of mine were living at 147 Reichenberger in the fall and then moved down to Donaustr.

Literally every person I know is in the process of moving from Kreuzberg 36 to Kreuzkölln.
posted by creasy boy at 1:00 PM on March 2, 2009


No orange guy on file, sorry! And nothing of that big guy made out of little guys that's behind the entrance to Watergate. How about this nuclear family on Wrangelstrasse instead?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2009


Wow, an apartment in that car-lift building costs some 800 thousand. For that price you can literally buy an entire building full of apartments just across the river. Also the translation of that article is terrible.
posted by creasy boy at 1:05 PM on March 2, 2009


All within a week or two of me having sex at each location. Hmmm....

Do you smoke after sex?

Have you every checked?
posted by codswallop at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2009


Is the family new? I've never seen that.
posted by creasy boy at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2009


The family's been there at least since last summer, when I showed up. And down the block from the carlift building, next ot the Asian Wagen Imbiß, "New York Style Lofts" arise (seriously, that's what the sign says) with attendant graffito telling the bosses where to stick it.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:10 PM on March 2, 2009


That Chinese imbiss is seriously a good deal, by the way, at least for the fried rice.
posted by creasy boy at 1:16 PM on March 2, 2009


When the ELF morons committed that rash of Hummer burnings on the US west coast I remember reading somewhere that the complete or near-complete combustion of the flammable materials used in making a Hummer is more damaging to the atmosphere than all the fuel a Hummer could burn in its working lifetime

Hey, I remember reading that Obama's a secret muslim! It was on the internet so it must be true!

(but seriously, there could be a lot of nasty chemicals in the hummer's interior, but in terms of global warming, burning one hummer is not a big deal.)
posted by delmoi at 1:58 PM on March 2, 2009


So burning cars is the new graffiti ? What a pile of fuming shit, indeed!

In almost a pavlovian fashion the press attributes this vandalism to "left leaning" groups of "youngsters". Insurers are given an plausible excuse to raise insurance rates for small cars, harming people who just don't have mass transit as an option.
The police-state loving politicans are offered even more reasons for more orwellian security methods, as someone must watch over this "terrah" attacks. Automakers increase their sales, perpetuating a business model, and garage renters can practice higher prices and none of these is a problem for really rich people, just a minor annoyance, as opposed to normal people who still has to own a small car. This is just mindless destruction, as opposed to creative change.

Car sharing, mass transit, bycicle friendly citywide routes, telecommuting, all of these seem more likely to break the illusion that having a car gives one more freedom, exposing not only the fact that car running costs are quite high, but the fact that having to commute, pay an insurance, pay for a parking spot, all of these demand a wage for a work that isn't necessarily going to produce, but more hot air, and definitely wastes time.

Of course there are some problems that need to be addressed:
1. urban sprawl also causes an increase in distance from home to workplace, some of which may be addressed by bus, light rail and telecommuting;
2. cars protect the passengers from bad weather, unlike a common bike;


At the end it seems to be a problem of inefficient distribution, as a person may be located far away from the location they need to reach.
posted by elpapacito at 2:16 PM on March 2, 2009


Cool. Can somebody map the San Francisco portable toilet arsons? I think there have been a couple dozen in the past 3 months.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:37 PM on March 2, 2009


So burning cars is the new graffiti ?

The only one who has made that equation is you. If you re-read the comments, I think you'll see that the discussion of Famous Berlin Graffiti is just a shout-out from people who live in the affected neighborhoods.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:14 AM on March 3, 2009


There's a graffiti wall across the street from my place here in Salzburg, but most of the graffiti around town seems to be Turkish kids doing unimaginative tag-style stuff. They're really good at keeping it squeaky clean for tourists.
I'm jealous of Berlin.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:01 AM on March 3, 2009


To the best of my limited understanding, the direct action folk perceive the car culture as something which is killing us. So they are trying to kill it first. A quixotic undertaking, no doubt. But requiring a courage far greater than that displayed by, say, your average Internet snarker.
I'm not disagreeing with this assesment, but it really doesn't move me. To the best of my knowledge, abortion clinic bombers believe they are stopping mass baby murder. Doesn't make it right just because a they think it's justified.
posted by cj_ at 2:19 AM on March 3, 2009


Yeah, el papacito, you need to calm down a bit. This is Berlin. There aint no urban sprawl here, absolutely everything can be reached easily by public transportation, and there's no shortage of parking. I feel like there are also very few cars per capita, though I can't back it up with any evidence. Burning cars here has nothing to do with environmentalism and everything to do with the rancid leftovers of 1960s politics and a knee-jerk antagonism to a perceived 'bourgeoius' lifestyle (spelled spiessig in German). There's no problem of congestion here and the only reason you would ever need a car is to go out into the countryside. The environmentalists are the Spiesser and they sure as shit aren't out burning cars.
posted by creasy boy at 6:04 AM on March 3, 2009


The political car burnings are in most cases directed to company cars like Deutsche Bahn or supermarket chains, and when they get torched there's usually a letter claiming responsibility for some policy or other of the company, like the treatment of employees, profiting of discriminatory chip-card system for asylum seekers, or transporting atomic waste (in case of the Bahn). You can read them up in the bi-monthly post-autonome leaflet Interim in the "Volkxsport" section.
The most of the other random car burnings are probably also due to some anti-yuppie part time revolutionaries, the sorts that smashed in the windows of my bar because they thought 2€ for a beer was too expensive, and a fucking parasite like should move back to Stuttgart. I wouldn't give them the honor of calling them leftist though, I'm a leftist and want nothing to do with those assholes.
posted by kolophon at 10:48 AM on March 3, 2009


Ah that's a much better explanation. Though at first I read "Deutsche Bank", which made more sense -- when I was a Deutsche Bank customer I put some serious thought into torching some of their shit. What's wrong with Deutsche Bahn?
posted by creasy boy at 3:37 PM on March 3, 2009


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