Friday, 21 September 2012

1: A-Z of Kreuzberg

It took Mcdonald’s thirty years to enter Kreuzberg, but it shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes to be part of the scenery.  Kreuzberg (cross-mountain) is a district unconnected to the rest of Germany for it’s void of Germans. The locals are Turks, Ex-Yugoslavs, Eastern Europeans and southern euro refugees and the district is a bustling place full of roadside Turkish bazaars, kebab stores, punk at the underground station and political rallies.

The bars are great, food is cheap and delicious and you’ll never need for a Turkish button. The Turks are a friendly people (mostly, like the Germans), and while relations between the two remain soured, Kreuzberg is where it works best.

If you too decide to live in Kreuzberg, you’ll want to swiftly follow this list of must dos:

  1. Grow dreadlocks, wacky facial hair or get a Mohican. 
  2. If you have a job, get rid of it. Kreuzbergers are unemployed and proud of it.
  3. Same goes for money. Empty your bank account, burn your belongings in a bonfire and start ripping through your wardrobe. In Kreuzberg, being poor is sexy.
  4. If you plan on studying, make sure you are over 33 and started your degree over 14 years ago.
  5. Dumpster dive rotten food.
  6. Disagree with people who agree with you as much as you can.
  7. Buy some spray cans. These will look good in your home even if you don’t use them. Some books on social landscaping and urban design will complement your aesthetic Sallowism.
  8. Always look tired.
  9. Learn to publish leaflets; everybody publishes leaflets in Kreuzberg.
  10. Get political. If you’ve never cared for your government’s parades of vanity, pretend you do. The best way to do this is to steal some anti-capitalist slogans from the introduction to Noam Chomsky books or to get some stickers with sound-bites like -- NATO: North Atlantic Terrorist Organization. Once you’re firmly left, advertise your credentials at all times and carry your stickers in your pocket.  If you declare a preference for a political movement, make sure its veganism, anarchy or at least explicitly anti-capitalist.
  11. Live in a squatted loft with no heating, running water or insulation. Make sure dripping can be heard at all times.
  12. Bring your Wellingtons; guerrilla gardening is big in Kreuzberg and you’ll need to express sympathy for it, even if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.
  13. Make sure at least some of your clothes are marginally ripped or ill fitting, while at least one item is stylish (follow this combination at all times).
  14. Wash as little as you can and deplore deodorant.
  15. Develop a distaste for Swabians (in 'Swabylon'), Bavarians and anybody with a career.
  16. Bring every hat you own (Berliners love hats – the more ridiculous, the better).
  17. Get a dog who is happy to spend long hours in tight, dimly-lit bars.
  18. Attend rallies. Berlin has five demonstrations per day and you’ll need to show the battle-scars, badges and slogans you’ve collected so far. 
  19. Be Argentinean and dance tango whenever you can.
  20. Make sure you make some kind of recycled art that could, were it not for the ignorance of your audience, potentially change the world.
  21. Do all this while owning a Mac. Parade this Mac in selected cafes. Disown it in public places where crowds gather.
  22. Make sure you own a lighter that advertises where you live or at least advertises one of your new Sallowist slogans. See j. for further details.
  23. Always pretend you really need what you buy at junkyard sales.
  24. Let everyone think that you’re always about to get evicted.
  25. Avoid being German. You’ll fare better if you’re not.
  26. Do not look at Turkish women in bakeries (or in general)
Rule z is possibly the most important.  Turkish women are beautiful and being a man (maybe even a woman), you’ll want to look at them. Turkish men far outnumber Turkish women on the streets however, and bakeries are one of the few places you will ever engage with Turkish females. These can be nervous times, but if you follow the guidelines below, you should be okay.

Make sure you know what kind of bread you want before you enter the bakery. There are hundreds of types of bread in Germany; from onion to olives, with or without seeds and in all shapes. When you enter the bakery, you may have the feeling of being alone with the women behind the counter. Usually a man will be loitering, so do not attempt a smile. A simple “Hallo” will suffice. Point to your bread and look down. If the man in the bakery is present, he will not want your eyes passing over the surface of his wife/sister/friend/daughter/acquaintance as you move your sight towards your chosen grain. When you are handed the bread, make sure your hand makes no contact with the server’s. This could be fatal.

Turkish men are very jealous. They do not like their women to talk to anyone, let alone other men. Many Turkish women work in supermarkets, Spätkaufen (‘7/11s) and bakeries in Kreuzberg, which makes buying basic nutrients like bread a challenge. You may think simply appeasing the bakery-pervading man with a smile, handshake or permanent eye contact would distract him from his jealousy. Not so.
Even if you are only thinking of looking at her, he knows. He knows you’ve got bread at home; you’re just here to take a look at his wife, because you can, because it’s a public place, a bakery, you fucking pervert. Don’t use bread as an excuse, he’s thinking.

If you take a look at Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg and decide it isn’t yuppie enough for you, you may find Mitte or Prenzlauerberg more to your pleasing. If the wide boulevards and converted breweries of the north take your fancy, you’ll want to decide what you are. Are you a Mauerparker, a Bauhauser or Brauereir? If you’re a Mauerparker, you probably should consult the A-Z of Kreuzberg and go and live there. You know you want to, you’re just being delusional.

If you’re a Bauhauser, you probably need a Starbucks, a couple of delis, a launderette, a shop that sells expensive table mats and some bars with Venetian lights nearby. If the answer to the last five is yes, then the affluent western district of Charlottenburg might be your ticket. If you need residential suburbia at a premium, try Zehlendorf in the southwest. If you want all this, but still want to be perceived as a struggling artist, then Prenzlauerberg might just be right for you after all: you’re a Brauereier.

As a Brauererier you own several didgeridoos and your carpets come from Pakistan. You like dangerous new acts and contemporary art installations, but you like them to be held in expensive converted breweries. You have a tape with a speech by Frank Zappa that you play when you get drunk at your garden-loft parties. You may be Danish, Swedish, Californian or Dutch. But fear not: Prenzlauerberg and Mitte will let you work in advertising, insurance or accounting without anybody actually imagining that you do.  You’ll be able to easily lose yourself in the crowd of the revolution while milking the beast that holds it back. You can pay over 1500€ per/month for your loft while still walk around barefoot in an Andy Warhol t-shirt. Cafes in Prenzlauerberg have recycled chairs and objects salvaged from the street; but worry not, coffee still costs a reassuring 3.50€.

Only live in the northeastern district of Marzahn if you are white and studying soviet-era facades or have right wing affiliations. The district of Neuköln has also become particularly fashionable in recent years although being the neighbouring, and thus competing district to Kreuzberg, I’ll let Neukölners tell their own story.

For further integration tips, discover Sallowism or Sallowism for Intermediates. 

1 comment:

  1. I want to to thank you for this very good read!! I certainly enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you book-marked to check out new things you post… Hypnose abnehmen" "Abnehmen mit Hypnose