Category Archives: Berlin

Couture Eggs at Achteinhalb presented by iHeartBerlin

How about some good old charity good-deed-doing for the upcoming Easter-weekend? This Easter Berlin-based lifestyle blog iHeartBerlin.de promises to turn the traditional family holiday upside down and  transform it into a contemporary charity fashion event. In collaboration with Achteinhalb they have asked eleven of Berlin‘s avant-garde designers to create Couture Easter Eggs. The designers are Anna Wegelin, Burkhardt/Möllmann, C.Neeon, Esther Perbandt, JULIAANDBEN, Parsival Cserer, Paula Immich, Phoebe Heess, Proportion, Reality Studio and Von Bardonitz.

These unique eggs will be auctioned off on iHeartBerlin.de from Monday April 18 until Friday April 22, 2011.
The proceeds will be donated to children’s charity and Japan disaster relief organizations. On Thursday the eggs will be presented live at a vernissage at the Achteinhalb Concept Store.

The COUTURE EGGS Auction will take place on the iHeartBerlin blog starting this Monday April 18 in the evening and will run until Friday April 22, 2011. During their vernissage on Thursday you will be able to enter your bids, you have to register to attend though.

Learn more over at iHeartBerlin.de by clicking HERE.

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From Berlin to Paris: Stereo Total

Living in Berlin you have probably heard of Stereo Total before (if not: shame on you). If you’re living in Paris, maybe not so much, but then again, I don’t really know. Welcome to the review of their next-to-newest album Paris <> Berlin.
Stereo Total is a band that consists first and foremost of Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring (in the past there were other band members). Françoise is from France and therefore lends some French credibility to the music by applying her signature thick accent (although I’ve read somewhere that her German is actually practically accent free) and has co-written almost all of the songs on the album, together with a Mr. V. Finsterwalde, who is really just also Brezel Göring under another alias.

Paris<>Berlin was released in 2007 and as Stereo Total releases usually go, created a little buzz in alternative and indie media, while that didn’t really translate into mainstream coverage (although they enjoy some visibility within the German media thanks to hits like Liebe zu dritt, Wir tanzen im 4-eck and Ich bin nackt). Also as usual the album features a mix of languages, primarily German and French, but also some English (though no Spanish or Japanese this time around).
Logistically I will go through the tracklist, try to limit my words so as not to bore you to death, provide some background info where necessary and give a X out of 10 rating to each of the songs. Yay, let’s go!

1. Miss Rébellion des hormones
Sweet, melancholic intro to the song and thus to the album. And a song about a girl in need of love attending a boarding school. “Elle a besoin d’amour, plus que de nourriture” (she is in need of love, more so than of nutrition). Haven’t we all felt like that at some point? 8/10.

2. Ich bin der Stricherjunge
One of the rarer songs on which Brezel is singing. About a gay hustler who is smoking way too much. It’s fun and it’s nice, but the major highlight is probably Françoise exhibiting her newfound trumpet-skills, that are rudimentary but totally suffice to make this song a little gem. 9/10

3. Plastic
A very typical Stereo Total song IMO, since there are several songs that sound very alike. It’s not bad, but nowhere near the genius that some of their other songs are. “I wanna be plastic too, less like me, and more like you” is a cute line though. I’ll grant it 7/10, knowing that Stereo Total average-ness is still above most of the rest.

4. Komplex mit dem Sex
A lot like Baby Revolution, this song is quite and cute, but centers around the issue of sex. While a song about sexual confusion (man? woman? nympho? masturbation? her libido is a fiasco) sounds like a horrible idea for most musical acts (because really, we don’t want to hear about it from the likes of Britney, Mando Diao, Bruce Springsteen or many others), it is a wonderful starting point for Stereo Total to be creative with the material. 9,5/10.

5. Lolita Fantôme
Much like Plastic in French, this is a song I’d consider to be average Stereo Total material. Neither mindblowing nor bad or boring, a good 7/10.

6. Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik
10/10, because this song is fucking fantastic and my favorite on the album. Name-checking the history of rock (and roll) this songs sends you a hundred thousand kisses from the hell of music (and when you receive them, you cannot survive). “Ich bin die neue Selbstmordwelle der Nineteen-Eighties” (I’m the new suicide wave of the 1980s) is a line that should be my new daily mantra. Never has killing canonical rock/punk/pop-history sounded so charming, complete with electric bleeps and stuff. Stereo Total bringing their A-game.

via stereototal.de

7. Plus minus Null
And the A-game song on the Album is followed by another A-game tune! Yay! Plus minus Null reminds me a lot of “Exakt Neutral” on the previous album “Do the Bambi.” Awesome contrast between the music accompanying verses and chorus. “So viel reden für so wenig Sex” (so much talking for so little sex) gives you and idea why she never arrives at the equilibrium of more or less zero. Deserves a 9,9 out of ten, just to make Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik a little more special.

8. Mehr Licht
It’s not bad and it’s diverse, but somehow it doesn’t get to me, so I’ll label it “skip-able” and give it a meagre 5/10.

9. Ta voix au telephone
Brezel singing (in French) and Françoise groaning to a tune that could well have been born in the 60s. Before re-listening to it I couldn’t remember how cool that song is, would totally make for an awesome driving-my-car (not that I have one) song. Âllo, âllo, tu m’entends? 8/10



10. Patty Hearst
Who is Patty Hearst? “Princess and terrorist,” according to Stereo Total (who ask to be saved by her). I like the song and give it 8 out of 10 (stars, points, whatever), definitely one of the poppier on the album. But what I really had to do for this review is finally informing myself about who Patty Hearst actually was and what she did. I’ve seen her image and heard her name countless times, but somehow I never got to the point that I had actual knowledge about this (leftist? alternative?) icon. So, here we go:
Patty Hearst was born 1954 to a wealthy family and was kidnapped while attending the University of Berkeley in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a left-wing urban guerrilla group, that tried to swap Hearst for imprisoned members of their group. This plan failed and they then demanded the handing out of food worth 70 Dollars to each person in need in California (which would have amounted to about 400 Million US-Dollars), a demand that was met only in part by Hearst’s father who donated 6 Million for food being distributed in the Bay Area. Ultimately, this didn’t change the SLA-members minds, but what happened and cemented Patty Hearst’s fame (or notoriety) was her switching sides, when she became an active member of the SLA, participating in a bank robbery that she was later convicted for. She refused to testify against other SLA members and held on to her commitment to the group, but her defense argued that this was caused by the trauma she had experienced through the kidnapping. After having been convicted to 35 years in prison, she actually only spent two in jail and was pardoned by US President Bill Clinton in 2001. She has worked as an actress and produced documentaries ever since.
Turns out that I actually have heard about her, but never connected her name to the story. Inneresting, ain’t it?

11. Baby Revolution
This one is co-written by iconic gay filmmaker Bruce LaBruce in that its lyrics are picked up from his feature film/porn-movie “Raspberry Reich” with its very own take on Gudrun Ensslin, revolutionary forces on the radical left and explicit sex scenes in shades of straight, gay and bisexual. Having said all that, the song has a lullaby-like quality to it, the lyrics being recited calmly and smoothly, with the music twinkling along. One of my favorites on the album, therefore a solid 8/10.



12. Relax Baby be cool
A cover of a Serge Gainsbourg song that is nice, but then again nice is kinda boring, so yeah, I don’t mind it, but it leaves me cold. I feel like it should have taken off somewhere, but doesn’t. Still, 6/10.

13. Chewinggum
A cute tune with cute lyrics, once again a good illustration of what Stereo Total achieve on average, if not slightly above. 7,5/10

14. Moderne Musik
Somehow in my mind Moderne Musik is closely connected to Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik, even though the two have little in common (well, yeah, except for both being from Stereo Total, being on the same album and scream-singing of certain lyrics….Shut up!). I feel that this one is slightly less stellar than the awesomeness that is Küsse, but it is still a cool track and works perfectly as an album closer, so 8/10.

I hope my review/Patty Hearst teaching lesson provided a little fun time for you, and if it made you interested in the album and if you haven’t already listened to it, go and do so, you’ll not regret it.

Futuristic Living pt. 2: Moving to Realstadt

After my first post on planning dwellings and cities for the future here, I wanted to revisit the topic by giving you some impressions of an exhibition called “Realstadt” that is still going on in Berlin, where you can visit it until November 28th, in the Kraftwerk Mitte. Right below you can see Berlin two times: the first is an re-imagination of the area around Alexanderplatz, and below that is model of the city, carved out of wood (and though coming close to reality, this too contains buildings that have only been planned but not realized).

Let’s enter the rest of the Realstadt exhibition through a subway model, shall we? Okay.

While the building in the picture above was a design for some youth convention center for the youth organisation of the former GDR, it totally looks like “Darth Vader’s school for stormtrooping children,” right? Hilarious, but even more so if you think about all the potential connections between Strom Troopers and GDR youth organizations. As Daniel Liebeskind mentions here, architecture tells a lot of stories and a lot about the people who designed and built a building.

The exhibition is interesting for the models and designs alone, however, I was slightly underwhelmed. By seeing the ads and reading about the aims of this exhibition, I thought I’d encounter many more models of the type right above or in the three pictures below: Cities and buildings that are not, and probably aren’t to be in the next 100 years, but that represent intersting experiments of thought and imagination, where the wish is the architect, rather than the math. Fair enough, many of the models featured are still amazing to look at, but what bugs me about that, is the lack of information given with the individual pieces and designs. Because obviously basically all designs are unrealized (or at least not yet – or not anymore), but from the texts coming with the pieces it’s often hard to find out, especially if you want to dig a little deeper and see where the model deviates from reality – and why. I feel it wouldn’t have taken too much effort to provide that, and it was noticeably missing in my perception.

In autumn 2010 Berlin is playing host to «REALSTADT.Wünsche als Wirklichkeit» [Realstadt.Wishes Knocking on Reality’s Doors]. The focal point in this exhibition will be not only the concept of the City but also the way we deal with the City. It is the wishes of very many different actors playing an active part in shaping the City that are central to the exhibition: mundane wishes and spectacular ones, idealistic and economic ones, local and global ones. Cities, after all, are built from wishes, animated by wishes and pulsing with wishes.
– REALSTADT Berlin 

The image above shows you one of my favorite models, that of a church. I like it so much, because it does a good job at representing what these models and these exhibitions are all about: Giving you a clear sense of what could be, what it would look like and coming up with ideas that take shape in a more concrete way than just some random thought in somebody’s head. Plus, the model reminds me to give you a “Going to Church” post again. Models like the one pictured right below are also interesting in that they bring maps to life and give you a clearer sense of how where you live is situated in the greater scheme of things. Which sounds way more esoteric than it’s really ment to sound.

A vast array of around 300 architectural and planning models and 80 exemplary projects from all over Germany testify to the wish for change and the energy needed to make it happen. In response to a nationwide call, these models were submitted by local authorities, town planning offices, universities, planning initiatives and individuals. The prize-winning projects of the competition “National Prize for Integrated Urban Development and Baukultur”, which was organised in 2009 by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development represented important points of reference. They include blueprints for extensive urban redevelopments and pinpoint interventions, realized concepts and shelved competition entries, participatory processes and bold individual statements.
– REALSTADT Berlin

Due to my lack of originality I decided to not bother you with any interesting information here whatsoever. Instead, I’m just gonna say that I love color coordinated things, so let’s just look at some  more things in good old white.

The exhibition is open from 10 to 8 every day, and as a special treat for you, if you’re a student, it’s free. Despite my critique, I highly recommend you to visit the exhibition, if not only for the exhibition building itself, the Kraftwerk Mitte. The bar, cashier and lighting is done nicely and the whole building makes for an interesting background to the designs featured.

 

Waffles on a Sunday

This last sunday was blessed with beautiful weather here in Berlin. I got up early, worked out, and then me and my flatmate went to the fleamarket in the Mauerpark. Afterwards I had to work ’til evening, but even that was fun, considering it was an event filled with nice people and colleagues in a good and playful mood. Then later I was treated to some good old Swabian Linsen with Spätzle (lentils with Swabian noodles) and even some sausage, vegetarian though, cause I don’t eat meat. Full as I was, I fell asleep while trying to watch a movie.

But what I want to post here is actually what we did right before hitting the fleamarket, namely visiting a café called “Glücklich am Park” on Kastanienallee, because I got a gift coupon for my birthday earlier this year. Big thank you to Carolin and Maren for that! We spent 10 Euros on three waffles and felt super-self-indulgent, which was good. We started with the one on the right in the picture above, with a fig-mint-curd sauce on top, and afterwards had a waffle with some raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Delish!

Our last waffle was topped with some vanilla-curd and a fruit salad. As you can see below, we had some interested table-guests, little sparrows, who were very intent on picking up all eventual crumbs.

And those two lovely giraffes are in this post, cause I spotted them on the fleamarket and I just love myself a good giraffe. Or two. So enjoy.