Those of you who have been keeping up with the happenings in my life outside of this blog know that this post is about three weeks late. Then again, you’re probably also aware that I’ve been in a motivation crater recently, so you’re lucky to be getting a post at all.
At the beginning of February, I moved out of my flat share in Charlottenburg into my own apartment in Prenzlauer Berg. If you’ve never been to Berlin, that probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but just know that I am now on the exact opposite side of the city, and I couldn’t be happier.
It can be tough to get a handle on the different districts that make up Berlin, especially since—unlike the boroughs of New York, say—their borders are very rarely geographically delineated. It’s very easy to cross from one to the next and not necessarily know it. Never fear, though. In case you ever find yourself in Berlin and wondering whether you’re in Prenzlauer Berg, I’ve come up with a foolproof test, broken down into three easy steps:
Look around you.
If the child-to-adult ratio is anything less than 1:1…
You are not in Prenzlauer Berg.
Seriously, this place is teeming with small children. It’s funny, when I was last here in 2008, Prenzlauer Berg was still a relatively hip district, though its star was waning. It was filled with yuppie-types who knew, but didn’t want to admit to themselves, that they’d missed the deadline on becoming a hipster before it was cool. Fast forward four years, and all those yuppie-types have children.
The transformation has manifested itself in some very entertaining ways, at least in my neighborhood. Behold, for instance, Cafe Ballon:
This is a cafe right across the street from my building. I’ve never been in, but I can tell from looking through the window that in addition to the typical coffee bar/seating area they have one side room with a ball pit and another with a padded jungle gym. Sort of Discovery Zone-esque, if you remember those. I think this so perfectly illustrates the hipster/yuppie attitudes of Prenzlberg’s parents: “I want to take my kids somewhere fun, but I better be able to get a decent latte and wifi on my iPhone.”
Even more hilarious, though, is the children-themed liquor store in my neighborhood:
For those of you unfamiliar with Max & Moritz, this is basically the equivalent of a store called “James and the Giant Peach Wine & Spirits.” (Where I imagine there’s always a 2-for-1 special on the makings for a fuzzy navel.) Bizarre.
My building itself also has a lot to offer in the amusing visuals department. It has that particular fusion style that emerges when Altbau meets natural decay and cheap repairs jobs. I call it quasi-fancy. Take a look at my foyer for an example:
Seven-eighths of the floor is covered in a pretty lovely mosaic-patterned tile, and then suddenly, right before the door, it gives up and gives way to basic, utilitarian red. Somehow the attempt to make the transition appear symmetrical only makes it worse.
If you look around in the vestibule, you’ll realize that about 75% of the windows have at least one stained glass panel in them, and exactly 0% have a complete set. My favorite is this one, above the door:
I always wonder what’s going on in the rest of that idyllic scene that has been lost to the ravages of time. I like to assume it’s zombies.
The commitment to semi-flashy details continues in the back courtyard, where only one corner of the bordered patio is tiled, and the rest is simply paved:
The abandoned toilet only enhances the essence of half-assed glamour.
Lest you think I’m complaining, I should explain that I find this all incredibly charming. I love my new neighborhood. The best thing about it? It’s not Charlottenburg.
“Youth’s the most unfaithful mistress; still we forge ahead to miss her.”—There was a transit strike in Berlin today, so I spent the afternoon cleaning my apartment and singing along to Dashboard Confessional, the musical equivalent of my high school sweetheart. Though I’ll always have a soft spot for them, I’ve gained enough perspective to admit that most of Chris Carrabba’s lyrics are emotionally overwrought and sort of ridiculous. Still, if there’s a more perfectly poetic one-line summation of what it’s like to be a teenager than the above (from “Swiss Army Romance”), I’d like to hear it.
“Diese Beschleunigung verlangt einen neuen Typus von Schauspieler, nämlich einen Darsteller […] der stakkatoartige Brüche und Emotionen souverän und virtuos aneinandersetzten und reproduzieren kann, immer distanziert und gelassen, aber niemals kalt gegenüber der Veranstaltung, der die Virtuosität und Schnelligkeit einer amerikanischen Hardcore Band besitzt.”—I ask you, what actor wouldn’t want their virtuosity and speed compared to that of an American hardcore band?
Something weird happened to me on the internet today.
One minute I was studying for my Berlin theater class and looking at this:
The next minute, I was in the throes of a full-on fangirl moment and looking at this:
with no real memory of how I got from point A to point B. Honestly, I’m not sure which is more troubling: that my Pentatonix obsession has progressed to the point that I’m blacking out, or that it’s progressed to the point that I’m considering joining Twitter, something I swore I’d never do. (One upside: I could re-tweet things like this, instead of taking a screencap and uploading it to my Tumblr like some sort of partially computer-literate weirdo.)
By the way, this group’s cumulative vocal range apparently stretches from the third A below middle C (as heard in the recent video) on one end to the third F above it (as pictured above) on the other. Five (almost) is a lot of octaves!
A soft-jazz rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” Almost as bizarre as watching Haddaway’s “What Is Love” (you know, the song from A Night at the Roxbury) performed as an emotional ballad on the German X Factor. Clearly, musical genres are very easily lost in translation. See also: German radio stations that think it’s appropriate to play ABBA and 50 Cent or LMFAO and The Temptations back to back.