The Dunkin' Berliner Rolls South to Prague; Gathers No Moss
In case you were missing a dose of my usual silly-ass bitching (Brit Eng: humourous whinging), you may find my lardy ass at my new blog, which promises to share all the travel stories which barely fit into a standard airline seat at:
WIDE BODY JETSETTER
Monday, December 7, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
The desk fan goes whuppa whuppa whuppa in the humid Berlin bog. I take my donuts in my left hand and prepare to leave the place where thousands have come and gone before. I stuff them in my mouth, verily, one at a time, in remembrance of Berlin. The thousands first, then the donuts. I am voracious.
Where? The Next. The next cheap place where creative people go to piss about and throw fairy dust at the sky while waiting for the wrecking ball. We won't be assimilated. There was a respectable time in human history wherein one could live and die in fields or coal mines. Now there is only the sad promise of a sad cubicle in a sad office space. Moving up? Nosir. Moving down. Give me black lung disease, motherfucker. At least my body will die before my brain.
The Next Place will have donuts. Yes, they will be the death of me, but I choose a glorious, deep-fried, jelly-filled sugar coma. Alcohol will be my anesthesiologist. He's the only one I trust. I will go there, to The Next Place, and start another blog.
Maybe it will be titled something like Notes of an Old Fart. I'm pushing 50. It would be a good time to give up the donuts and go for the laxatives.
This is the end, my friend.
But only of my life in Berlin. In the past 20 years in England, Ireland, Czech Republic and Germany, it has always been a bit unsettling when The Big Change comes round. Then I settle in. Then I move on.
There will be other lives in other cities.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Dunkin' Berliner's Last Few Weeks In Berlin
The time has come. This is The End, my friend. Leaving Berlin. There, I've said it. I'm not the first and I'm not the last. Every year I proclaim This Is My Last Year and then I stay. Six and one half of them have come and gone. 1492 donuts have gone down my tubes (probably more, I don't really count) and I am none the wiser. Perhaps donuts aren't brain food after all. I'm waiting for the pendulums of science and medicine to swing in my favor, much in the way that in one decade they declared that chocolate and wine will kill you, then turn right on around and say the same killers will now feed your brain and libido and you will live and love long time. Science is a fickle bitch, so I wait for her to tell me to eat three donuts per day.
I haven't posted much recently because I saw The End coming and I was numb. Mostly from drinking wine and waiting for the veritas. Haven't found much. Gentrification sucks, as always, mainly because the rents go up and the wages do not. What was once a cheap, barren, sandy beach for feckless, creative nomads (like me) is now fertile soil for money trees. Trustafarians and hipsters take the places of the old guard. They are multiplying and growing to fuse into one large beardbeast. There are now even subgroups within the hipster underworld, the most hilarious of the bunch being dubbed Lumbersexuals. Those are the ones, usually German, who wear blue jeans, hiking boots and red plaid shirts in addition to the ubiquitous big black glasses and beards. I'm guessing that Lumbersexual is a mashup of lumberjack and metrosexual. Perhaps they were cut out of the Woody Allen Sexcapade film featuring the room with the man getting it on with a large rye bread. Perhaps the Lumbersexual was next door having rough sex with rough wood. Splinters are not for everyone (ouch). Bollox. I call them Lumberjackoffs.
The Bellevue Saints
Today I was riding through Berlin for several hours on S and U bahns doing my weekly photo job for a tour company. Every Friday morning between the hours of 10 and 11 in the Ay Em, The Saints get on the S7 at the Bellevue Station stop. You will know them by the trail of dead lyrics. A band of gypsies with a beatbox on a hand cart and 3 guys playing trumpet, saxophone and accordion launch into the worst version of When The Saints Go Marching In you will ever hear.
Gah Martian inn,
Aaaaaaaah win da sints
gaa Martian inn,
Uuhhhh wah wan
Beeeee end dat numm-zah
Win da sints gaaaaah Martian inn!
Evvy botty nah!"
Then they clap and dance and shake their fucking cups in your fucking face. JAY zus. In over one year of seeing the same fuckers doing the same fucking song on the same fucking S7, not one coin goes into the cup (nor do they learn the lyrics). People stare forward in apathy, even when the gnarly McD's soda cup is shaken so vigorously under numb chins that soda crust and tobacco lint fly with the coins. And they do not. Change. The tune. They play exactly one verse, badly, then get off at Tiergarten Station. When they venture too far from Bellevue, their halos begin to tarnish. The trains run back and forth. The broken record spins, hiccups, repeats, repeats, repeats...
If that ain't dedication I don't know what is.
In the crux of the tunnels under the Berlin streets the accordions squeeze filth through their flapholes. With the unholy mantra of the Bellevue Saints still echoing through my early morning brainfog, a new earworm wiggles through my auditory canals. Yes, you guessed it: Dunkin' Berliner hates accordions. Not because the accordion isn't a real instrument, not because they are only played by drunken gypsy polka rejects in the dark tunnels of Europe—but because they are simply the most cheesy instrument on the planet. Even the shitty plastic recorders played by first graders high on Cap'n Crunch don't hold a candle to this shit. In the dark annals of history, someone glued a tiny piano keyboard to a fucking bellows, handed it to a gypsy and said 'Go forth!' (read: get the fuck out of town!).
Two accordion players plied their sleazy/cheesy trade. What is worse than an accordion? Two. One played 'rhythm' MEHHH...muh....MEHHHH...muh while the other lounge lizard's greasy fingers were slip-sliding away over yellow plastic keys. Sweaty armpits pumped away. I wanted them to stop, face each other, and give challenge. Yes, I wanted them to stop torturing commuters with dungeon dreck and start the duel. Like the scene in Deliverance with the guitar, the banjo and the Tard. I believe that when two hideous, backwoods instruments come together, they must duel. Dueling douchebags on accordions. Now THAT's entertainment. Maybe next year they'll even rise from the bowels of the U bahn, ride high over the city on S rails and topple The Bellevue Saints.
Building A Shorter America
Dunkin' Berliner Observation: Amis are getting shorter by the year. Each season when a new gaggle of Ami chicks pours out of the planes, trains and automobiles, I notice the shortness. The voices are still loud, and the ubiquitous LIKE has been newly adorned with UM and RIGHT? But they are losing an inch every year; the batch I saw today must have been around 5 feet 4. Last year they were 5 feet 5, the previous years 5 feet 7—you get the idea. So how is America breeding smaller people? Science (that fickle shit) tells us that tallness is a sign of a country with a high standard of living, and that the Nordic types are the tallest. So what happened to the standard of living in the U.S.A? Where are the Amazons? Sure, a lot of short-assed Mediterranean types dumped their genetic ooze into the American genepool, but there just aren't enough of them to shorten the entire population. Maybe it's the diet. I blame the kale.
Wild, Drunken German Yoots
One thing hasn't changed in all the time I've lived in Berlin: drunken teens on public transport. Passing through Hauptbahnhof today, a group of them were so loud in their drunken shouts, hoots and sieg heil—uh... hoorahs, that the entire train could hear them through closed windows. I'm guessing that they had just graduated high school and were letting off a bit of steam. There's where I envy the Europeans: a dozen boys barely old enough to shave board the S-bahn, drop a case of beer on the ground and begin the festivities. In the States the cops would be legally authorized to call in SWAT and hose 'em all down. One of the yoots is a boy of about 5 feet tall, whith a curly green mop on his head (maybe he's just finished a breeding tour in the U.S.). He hooks up a little amplifier to his phone, the beat rages, and the whole group joins in drunken falsetto: EVERYBODY DANCE NOW! And they do, as jiggy as their wobbly legs will allow. Green moptop looks a bit green in the face as well, and slumps back into his seat until the next chorus of EVERYBODY DANCE NOW strikes up.
How will I find such entertainment in one day anywhere else? Where will I go next? Stay tuned.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
I’m happy to live in Berlin. Sure, I rant and rave about gentrification and rising rents on my various Blogs, but I am still proud to be living in a city in the midst of change. Yeah, the old hole-in-the-wall joint I used to eat/drink in has become a yuppie hellhole of yoga and whatnot. But there are other holes in other walls. Later they will become assimilated by the Yogaborg, but at least I WAS THERE. BEFORE.
Sadly, this is also the hipster mantra: ‘Um, like, I did this stupid ironic thing that I’m doing, like, WAY before it was, like, cool.’
As much as I hate hipsters and yuppies, I do realize that whenever an area in any given city is cheap enough, cool enough, and available enough—it is doomed. So I might as well enjoy it while it lasts. I am REALLY surprised that I have lived here this long. Every year I take inventory of my meager accomplishments. Every year I get drunk and proclaim to all my (few) friends that This is the Last Year I Will Live in This Yuppie Shithole. Then we all have a laugh and we all have a drink. I am STILL amazed and the breadth and depth of my hypocrisy.
Still I am here. Still, like a beat-down, son-of-a-middle-class-bitch, I rise.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Food seems to be a big concern in rich countries recently. Not that they’ve run out, not that they’ve sent it all to the starving African chilluns out of white guilt, but the worry is that They are putting Shit into The Food. And We all know who They are: Monsanto. Apparently, our very digestion is at stake. If We eat food grown from seeds by Them, We are unwittingly condemning ourselves to bowel cancer on an apocalyptic scale. You see, apparently, They fuck with The Food.
I’m no stranger to food scares. Back when I was a starving student (O how I miss those days and so does my waistline) studying in London (I spent all my dough on the flight; hunger followed), I found a way to eat for free from time to time: Hare. Fuckin. Krishna. In the midst of the infamous SoHo red light district in London lies a Hare Krishna temple-slash-vegetarian restaurant-slash-your-hair-into-a-baldy-pony-tail. I dragged my hungry ass there to sit and listen to their Krishna chanting and the rumbling bellies of others for an hour or so until they would feed us. I was happy with this arrangement as I was a vegetarian at that time. Nobody tried to convert me or cut my hair. But I believe I caught a few of them looking at my long, flowing, hippie student pony tail with lust.
Then I took some friends there. Then some bastard said to me: ‘You know They fuck with The Food.’
‘Waddaya mean, Bugsy?’ I says to the mook.
‘They put Salt Peter in the Krishna food.’
‘What the fuck, Chuck?’
‘Salt Peter makes yer wanger go all doughy like, see?’
At the time I was more concerned with my empty stomach than my salty peter, so I threw that particular conspiracy theorist on the woodpile with the rest of them who dared to disparage the starving student vegetarian life.
Back to The Now. Now people say that They are fucking with the global food supply. I have to take issue. My food supply is constant and unrelenting. I have the 300 lbs to prove it.
‘The Evil Monsanto is doing evil things to poor little plants and making them into Frankenplants! Genetic modification, boooooo!’
‘Fish DNA in tomatoes and shit like that! Mllleeegggghfffft!’
I don’t eat tomatoes.
‘But THEY. Shouldn’t PUT. SHIT. In our FOOD!’
They pump all sorts of hormones in milk and beef and the women are milky and the men are beefy. What’s your problem now?
‘I ! DO NOT! EAT MEAT! OR DRINK MILK!!!’
Ok, now I’m starting to get it. You’re one of those silly little vegan fucks, aren’t you? Well, good luck with the micro-organic diet. I’m going to get a STEAK AND GUINNESS PIE and wash it down with EXTRA STRONG MICRO BREW STOUT. Please enjoy your puke green wheatgrass tea and raw cabbage with the other sad little fuckers in the corner over there. Take a sad selfie while you’re at it. Then post it on a Change the World website. Silly Rabbit. Don’t you know? If we suddenly stop eating meat, all those cows and pigs will wander into traffic and be killed. And here you say you care for animals.
Yes, I get it. You’re worried about genetically modified foods, though your reasoning is about as sound as any twitching, undernourished hippie’s could possibly be. The problem is with uber-Capitalism. The bigger the farm companies, the more profits they need to make (rather than just food), so the more they need to tweak things to produce larger crop yields and larger profits. They’re not spending millions on genetic plant research just to fuck with some uppity vegans (as entertaining as that may sound). They are ‘probably’ (don’t really know and don’t really care) just trying to build a better tomato, one which is resistant to pests and maybe even allows the use of less pesticide. Or it doubles the output and profits. If you don’t like this idea, you could always grow your own veggies in a community plot outside of a squat in Berlin. You won’t even need salad dressing; all of the puke, piss and vinegar from the punks will coat your sprouts for ya—in both chunky ranch and balsamic.
The Overpriced Organic Grapes of Wrath
Veganism started off as any religion does, with strict rules and practices. Don’t eat this, eat that; dress this way, don’t dress that way. Fuck this way, not that way, and only this type of person—but only after this ritual. Then it starts to propagate, like some bacteria in a Petri dish. Soon it gets on some lab assistant’s coat, leaves the lab and now you have an epidemic trend on your hands.
When you walk into one of those organic / bio food shops, you’ll notice the price of this particular religion is quite steep. Who in the flying FUCK can afford these prices? Maybe the twitchy little vegans in the corner taking selfies aren’t skinny from the vegan diet—they just can’t afford the fucking thing. Have you seen the prices? It is a huge scam. The label says ‘bio’ or ‘organic’ so it costs double. Why? Because the lack of pesticide use cuts the crop in half, thus doubling the price? No. Because the whole organic thang is trendy, followed by trustafians, yuppies and other vapid individuals who like to think that paying more for something is better. How do you know it’s organic? Because it says so on the label? Damn, there really is a sucker born every minute. Any fool with a computer and a printer can make a label. There is no way to certify if something is truly pesticide free and organically grown as they say. The government does not get involved in verifying marketing claims—they only occasionally check the rat turd levels in the sausages (which are tasty, by the way; that rich, smoky flavor makes EVERYTHING tasty).
So the big trend is to slap a BIO label on something and charge double. And the suckers suck it down like tequila-swilling Tijuana whores. Hell, it wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t so goddamned stupid. I’ve even seen a kiosk in P’berg selling (ahem) ‘Bio Currywurst.’
So apparently, vegans aren’t the only fools falling for this BIO bollox.
Friday, January 9, 2015
The other day I took a stroll down memory lane. Don’t ever do that, I’m telling you.
The familiar old neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg was home to me and my lovely wife for 5 years before we were banished to the Berlin hinterlands. I only mention that my wife is lovely so you will feel sorry for us when I tell you how we got railroaded right on out of there by the gentrification scumlords. If it were just grumpy old moi, myself und ich (or me and an ugly wife) who lost a place to live, you might just think ‘GOOD! Get rid of the grumpy old ugly fucks and let the new Rich but Sexy Berliners move in!’ As one does.
I initially went down to my old Helmholz kiez (Danziger-Duncker-Prenzlauer Allee) to pick up some second hand lights for sale. A nice, waiflike couple was sitting in their empty commercial space waiting to sell me their old lights so they could embark upon their new voyage of their new image in their new commercial space. I still don’t know what in the flying fuck they were selling. There was a counter, a mini espresso machine and some dishes. And a cat. Their website is just as mysterious. Apparently that’s all you need in Berlin if you are a Trustafarian. The lights weren’t as advertised and I couldn’t use them. So I thanked them for wasting my time (I did it in a very smooth way, I’m telling you. The couple looked fragile and earnest, and this combo can still the harshest of tongues. Even mine.) Off I went.
I passed the closed Café Lyrik and remembered the spell cast by the Witch. Free ‘music’ (using the term loosely) with overpriced drinks and a performance sounding something like a steel kitty in a blender (complete with metallic screams and feverish, glass scratching death knells), followed by a donation cup shaken so vigorously in our faces that everybody had to stop drinking and stare to see how much we WERE NOT putting in. Apparently 15 EUR was NOT enough for the avant garde scheisse we were watching. The Witch told me so. And the Deutschbag at the next table scoffed out loud when I refused to give more. I won’t say don’t go there. If you are NOT a brain dead, self important Trustafarian with delusions of grandeur, you probably already have the good sense not to (Dunkin’ Berliner flash mob idea: everybody cram into that tiny ‘art/music’ space, don’t order a damn thing and then dump a sock full of pennies into the collection plate. Smack those bitches up).
I continued my walk down memory lane (aka Danziger strasse) and passed the empty windows of the Fuss-feti-fisch. This is a place where you can stick your feet in a fish tank and have swarms of little fish eat the barnacles and toe jam right off your sunken feet. There are aquariums in the windows full of feet sucking fish, lights and signs and benches with towels, but that place is NEVER open. Meaning: MAFIA MUTHA FUCKAZ. Don’t go there either. Hell, if you need your toe jam eaten, let me know. I know poor artists who will eat your toes out on a stage for loose change, I’m tellin’ ya.
No trip down Memory Lane is complete without a visit to your old flat, the place you used to call home, the place where some yuppie fucks are now living. Gentrification is a BITCH. I wanted to see the type of quality human beings who could possibly replace my loser ass, who could possibly be a better tenant than me, who in the HELL would want to pay more than 600 EUR for a studio apartment. It couldn't be yuppies; they only live in large lofts, not studio apartments. This I already knew. But I tend to read ahead in the script, so it was no surprise that the new tenant was just a number: my old buzzer simply read ‘60’. In fact, most of the flats in our old building were now part of the growing scourge of holiday rentals in desirable hoods. They weren’t even hiding it. A large banner now hangs above Dunckerstrasse 90A and proudly proclaims BERLINER LEBEN HOLIDAY RENTALS. Nine of the 12 flats in our building were already owned by Das Leben when we moved in. When we lived there, I do recall an ungodly amount of suitcases thumping up and down the stairs and late night screams in Mediterranean languages. We were happy to endure it as proud members of the multi-kulti Berlin life (aka Berliner Leben). But we were forced out. When our contract was ready to be renewed, they refused us (after paying rent on time every month for a year), saying in writing “It is a free market. We can rent to whomever we choose.” Harsh words from harsh cunts. Why have regular tenants at a fixed rate when you can kick them out and charge 70 EUR per night as a holiday rental? There is now only one of our original neighbors left in our building: Riewoldt (pronounced ‘revolt’). As I recall, the door to his flat had been kicked in a few times and there were blatant splinter/spackle/patch jobs done on the door. Fight da powah, Herr Riewoldt.
There is a growing resistance to these types of predatory rental investors (scumlords, et al) and laws are being drafted as I write this. As I was doing my due diligence (Googling), I discovered a fact that would be shocking if I were able to be shocked at this point. The busy-bodied little man who dogged us the entire time we lived at Dunckerstr. 90A (saying he was the hausmeister) was in fact the very agent provocateur behind the Berliner Leben tenant ousting: Marcus Buthmann (whom we called Buttman) was talking seven shades of scheisse to the press about his proud holiday rentals. That’s right: the same Buttman who helped us out the door; the exact same cocksucker. And that’s not libel—the man does indeed suck cock.
In a city that changes as much, as often and as constantly as Berlin, nobody seems to notice that a very large rug is being pulled out from under our feet. Sure, sluggish student paralegal interns are rising from their hangovers to wave the flag. Too little, too late. The scumlords are winning.
I crossed the street with the mixed emotions of knowing I was right and being powerless to do a damn thing about being wronged. Skinny old American fucks in suits talked on phones in lofty voices while a German teenager in hip hop attire trudged by in high swagger mode, oozing anger in his neo-yuppie hell. Even the small courtyard recreation area across the street from my old digs was being torn up. The ruins of the ping pong tables we used to play upon were lying on the ground beneath the plows of the machine. CAT operators smoked and laughed in the midst of the mayhem.
I switched to high swagger mode and trudged past the usual sushi bars, trendy cafes and yoga holes of Yuppie Central. Even my old hole-in-the-wall kebab joint had been renovated and neon-ensconced. Dunkin’ Berliner truth: the smaller and grungier the hole in the wall, the better the food. The bigger the space, the more neon cacti, the more bland the food, the more yuppie it is. Period. This area used to be commie, punk rock, artist, drifter, and dreamer. Now it is just another non-threatening place for yuppies and breeders to take root and grow money trees. Because that’s what gentrification is all about: rip out the old, plant the new, harvest the money crop. We who choose to live our lives in pursuit of something other than money are not worthy of living in a cool neighborhood. We don’t stand a chance. Because we have neither money nor power; nor do we want anything to do with any of that shit. So They win. Again. Always.
Maybe one day, one of us will snap. Necks.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
I never thought I would celebrate Christmas again. I put the kibosh on the whole charade 20 years ago. I believe in neither God nor holiday capitalism, so what was the point? A religious family which was dogging/godding me at every turn did not make for pleasant digestion, so I would spend my Eves at dive bars commiserating with the lonely barflies and spend my Days hung over. The way it should be.
Then I got The Love, The Marriage and all dat. My baby wants to celebrate Xmas, so why not? Why let the Miserable Bastard ruin her Xmas? This year she went completely Christmas crazy: baking dozens of batches of cookies in dozens of styles, combining ancient Czech recipes with ancient Google ones--and even rummaging through the forest for pine needles to make a hand made wreath. I’m shocked. In a good way.
Then came the Xmas lights. One day last week, a cheap handful of small colorful lights were dropped on my lap with the orders to hang them somewhere festive. There they hang, in the side window of our garden cottage, just bright enough for the next door neighbors to witness our seasonal solidarity.
Then came the most unpleasant part, the ugly beast which I had sworn I had slain: The Christmas Shopping. You see, you can’t just have one of those fucking potato chips; you have to eat the whole bag. Eight scrawny lights in the window weren’t enough. We needed to bedazzle this bitch, apparently. Eight hours of shopping in at least 8 different places yielded the same result: no colored Xmas lights. Apparently the colored lights hanging in our window were a one-off shopping deal at a small market. Undaunted, our search raged on. We even ran the foul and frenetic gauntlet at IKEA with the other Saturday rats in the maze. I don’t think IKEA makes a gazillion dollars because their pseudo-balsa-wood furniture is so goddamned chic. They make a gazillion dollars because they FORCE you to walk through a sense-addling maze and view EVERY SINGLE FUCKING THING THEY SELL. Even the ‘shortcuts’ are a ruse. You just go back to another part of the maze you wanted to avoid. You can’t get out of there without spending at least 50 EUR and that’s the trap.
We noticed a trend in Berlin; maybe it’s the same in the rest of Germany outside of our island of weird: all of the Xmas lighting is white. Try and try, walk and walk, bitch and bitch as I may, nobody had the goods. When my baby asked the tall Aryan man in the IKEA vest where we could find colored xmas lights, he responded—in a loud and proud voice, I might add—“Nur weiss! (Only white!).
I’m not sure what is was that made that seem odd to me; maybe it was his blond hair, his blue eyes, or his square jaw hoisted in the air when he said ‘Only white!’ with pride. White pride. Or maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe it was the 8 hours on my feet with my goddamn dogs barking. Maybe he did not in fact mean ‘You are here in Germany. All we have to offer you are white lights. Und you vill like zem. Colored lights are for other countries with colorful persons and colorful personalities.’
You can have your xmas lights in any color you want--as long as it's WHITE.
But there is something weird going on here. As we were dragging our defeated asses home with no lighting assets (and 10 EUR worth of IKEA shit we hadn’t planned on buying—HA-HA! We didn’t spend 50), we noticed that the very few houses on our block that had Xmas lights had only white ones.
Goddamn racist bastards.