Archive for March, 2008


Today I saw him sitting outside in front of his café for the first time this year: the spanish patrón of the bar in the “Markt in der Bibliothek” (see post of March, 18th: the films of Christian Petzold) So that’s my personal beginning of spring 2008.

Padron of “Markt in der Bibliothek”

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Yesterdays newspapers revealed that Deutsche Bank boss Josef Ackermann in 2007 earned 14 Million €. After the Liechtenstein scandal, social debate reached a point where information like this is nothing but another proof of the greed of “those up there”. On the opposite side of society German media correspondingly have detected a complete lack of values – see all the old men and BVG – bus drivers having been attacked and beaten down in the last weeks. (for more information see articles on welt-online and n24 in German.) Is that true? Do we actually live in a deeply unmoral society without ethics, without values? I observed the opposite during the last weeks: When I went to Airport Berlin-Schönefeld a couple of days ago to pick up a friend of mine I had to wait for two hours because the plain was late. At the information desk, in the middle of hysterical crowd of people who were wondering what happened to the plane, sat an arab or turkish looking guy, maybe 20 years old. He watched the screen of his computer very concentrated very absorbed, almost if he was meditating. I managed to cast a glance at the site he was watching: it was the wikipedia site about “Bescheidenheit” (modesty). Some days later I stumbled upon some Prenzlauer Berg street art which deals with similar topics “Demut”(humility) and “Gier” (greed). Are these the first signs of a comeback of values through the back door ?



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I am Berlin

Today I got this mail from our mayor Klaus Wowereit. The Prenzlauer Berger is now officially “Botschafter für Berlin.” Have a look at the capitals new image campaign “be berlin”. And see also post “be berlin – we are Cottbus”.

Sehr geehrte/r Marc Burth,

Sie haben mir Ihre Berlin Geschichte gesandt, die mich überzeugt und berührt hat.

Menschen wie Sie machen unsere Stadt lebens- und liebenswert.
Ich freue mich deshalb ganz besonders, Sie hiermit zum Botschafter für Berlin zu ernennen.
Hierfür möchte ich Ihnen bei einem feierlichen Empfang persönlich danken und werde mich noch einmal mit weiteren Einzelheiten bei Ihnen melden.
Ihre Geschichte finden Sie künftig unter http://www.sei.berlin.de/#/the-prenzlauer-berger/

Bis dahin grüßt Sie herzlich,

Ihr Klaus Wowereit
Regierender Bürgermeister von Berlin

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Eyerybody knows this feeling: you find something really nice and sympathetic. You are honestly glad that it exists but if it comes to confrantion you have to admit: what you imagined it to be is not what it is. Markt in der Bibliothek“Markt in der Bibliothek” is the name of a very sympathetic Spanish-Vietnamese co-production in Pappelalle 3 next to U-Bahnhof Eberswalder Straße, a fusion of a Vietnamese food shop and a mediterranian bar. They offer “Mittagstisch” for 5 € including salat and coffee, you can choose from three different dishes. The Vietnamese couple who runs the foodstore is very friendly, they run the tailor shop in Pappelallee 4 as well. The Spanish (or at least spanish speaking) “padron” of the bar usually wears a black torero’s head. If he’s in good mood, the bar is open the whole night and there is always someone who plays music and some guests who are dancing. So the “Markt in der Bibliothek” would be compelling – but reality looks different: You can be sure that in the food store you won’t find what you need and if you go there for “Mittagstisch” you need strong nerves, because of roaring loud 70 years glamrock and the fact that there is no heating and winter is back in Berlin. But in general: I still think it’s great that “Markt in der Bibliothek” exists. Exactly the same feeling I ‘ve got for the films of Christian Petzold.

Markt in der Bibliothek Insalate

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I met Jochen Nestler the first time at Karlovy Vary Film Festival in 1998. He was 62 at this time, I was 27. We startet talking and had a glass of wine together. He was one of the most gentle persons I ever met, very intelligent, an extensive reader. We figured out that I lived in Berlin and he in Stahnsdorf not far from Berlin. We promised to meet some time and have a coffee together. He was probably surprised when I actually called him, but he said he was pleased to meet me again. ( I mentioned before that he was a very gentle, very polite person). So we met a couple of times in Berlin. From the stories he told me, I learned a lot about what it meant to live as an artist in GDR. He was born in Rochlitz, Saxonia in 1936, was among the first students who startet studying at the “Deutsche Hochschule für Filmkunst” which is now “Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf” in Potsdam-Babelsberg. He worked as a screenwriter for DEFA, most of his screenplays, literature and theater plays he wrote together with Manfred Freitag. Here‘s one of the rare photos of the GDR’s writing team. When their film “Denk bloß nicht, ich heule” (Just don’t think I’ll cry) was harshly critizised for it’s critical discussion of socialism during the 11. Plenum of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) which took place from December 16 to December 18, 1965, the sccreenwriting career of Jochen Nestler was over. The film was forbidden in the GDR. As many of his critical colleagues, Nestler from then on wrote fairy tales and children film scenarios for DEFA. When the wall came down, he wasn’t capable any more to get used to a completely new Television and film industry with different rules – and he didn’t know the people. From 1994 on he taught screenwriting at HFF Konrad Wolf. In August 2001 he told me that he was working on a huge projekt, an novel. I immediately understood that this novel was “the project of his life.” I felt very honored when he invited me to a reading of the first chapters of his novel. The reading took place at the filmschool. There where maybe 20 people, some of his teaching colleagues, some students and Jochen Nestler was very nervous – and then he started reading. I don’t remember the working title of the novel but I remember a scene which took place at the Goethepark in Weimar. I listened to his low voice and understood that Jochen Nestler has fallen out of his life too often. The new, Western life wasn’t his at all and in East Germany he wasn’t allowed to live the life he wanted to. I was pretty sure that nobody would be interested in publishing this novel, it was just not good enough. After the reading he came to me and asked me what I would think about it – I knew how much effort it must have cost him, to ask me that question and I told him that I liked it very much. He looked at me with a sad smile and said: “Thank you, I’m very glad to hear that from you.” He knew that I was lying. Five months later he was dead. He died March 17th, 2002.

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Rainy Sunday Horror

Everyone who is living with children in Prenzauler Berg knows the horror: It’s cold, it’s rainy and it’s Sunday. You know you definitely have to go out with the kids, because everybody is getting mad sittin in the flat the whole day – but there’s nowhere to go: Kiezkind Indoor Playground on Helmholtzplatz will be crowded, so is every reasonable café in the kiez because it’s Sunday and everybody is “brunching.” If you didn’t hate the brunch-custom already, on rainy Sundays with kids in Prenzlauer Berg you will learn to hate it, I promise. But there is a solution: It’s called MARCHÈ SEEBERG OST. Marchè Seeberg OstGet everybody in the car. From Prenzlauer Berg you are quickly on the highway direction Hamburg. At Kreuz Pankow you head direction Frankfurt O. / Dresden. MARCHÉ SEEBERG OST is a lovely, cosy place with a beautiful indoor playground for the kids and reasonable food. Everything you need for a pleasant Sunday. And if you are one of those who really need it: they offer brunch there too. Every Sunday from 9-14, € 11, 90 per person. For further information click here.

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Berlin’s got a new image campaign: “be berlin” is the new slogan, the official site of the campaign can be seen here. There’s a big discussion about whether slogan and campaign are a great success or just crap and not worth the 10 Million Euro it will cost. I don’t want to join the debate, but there is one point I agree with Friedbert Pflüger(CDU) who says that Berlin doesn’t need an image campaign at all because it has a good image already. There’s something true about this… espacially if you look at the image problems East German cities have – no work, no future no quality of life and so on. But they are struggeling bravely to change this reputation. The city of Cottbus (1 hour from Berlin, 100000 inhabitants, 15,1% unemployment) for example has recently started a large image campaign “Wir sind Cottbus” (We are Cottbus). It seems to be inspired by the nation-wide “Du bist Deutschland” Campaign which can be seen here (with this campaign Germans should be convinced to get more children. I’m personally not convinced if that will work.) Andreas Mack and Katrin Androschin, who created the “be berlin” campaign said that “it is new in city marketing to look for interaction with the citzens” and that “the point is not to dictate a message from above but communication of a city with its inhabitants.” The “Wir sind Cottbus” – campaign follows the same strategy, with remarkable results:

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