imomus: (Default)
[personal profile] imomus
In 455AD the Vandals -- the tribal name people from the area of today's eastern Germany and Poland were called back then -- sacked Rome, which is where we get the modern sense of the word "vandalism", meaning "senseless destruction, particularly in diminution of aesthetic appeal or destruction of objects that were completed with great effort." But wait, we're jumping ahead.

It's cold in Berlin. Very, very cold. Today's maximum temperature here is forecast to be minus 11c, and its minimum temperature minus 15c. This is colder than the seasonal average, and a lot colder than Osaka, my last city of residence, which today is ranging between plus 1 and plus 9 centigrade. I'm suffering from culture shock.

Dirty ice and crusty snow weighs heavy on Berlin; the pavement might have a little plowed catwalk you can mince cautiously along if you're lucky, but mostly you just have to slither and plod across it. The bushes outside my living room window were unlucky enough to develop a canopy of snow which kept getting heavier until the plants caved in completely. They now lie crushed under a massive snowdrift. Step outside and you're apparently wearing no trousers, and someone's apparently spraying hydrochloric acid in your face.

In these conditions you try to avoid going out into the Muscovite murk, the Martian perma-grey. You avoid the pain and hassle of the city. When you do make a trip outside, there's a palpable sense of exhaustion; Berliners have been facing these conditions for almost two months now, and they might continue for two months more. The novelty of snow soon fades, leaving a certain kind of Siberian despair in its wake.

That's the attitude of the downtrodden-looking middle-class majority, dowdy in jeans and boots and fleece jackets. But -- compared with Japan -- Berlin is also full of "underground people" who seem, in winter, to be more mad and desperate and poor than usual. The squat types with their big dogs look more embattled, the illegal U-Bahn ticket-sellers won't take no for an answer, and the alkies are drunker and more intrusive.

Coming back from my Brel interview at the BBC bureau at the Schiffbauerdamm yesterday -- on a weekday at lunchtime -- I shared a carriage with a shouty bunch of youths who'd obviously been drinking too much, because one of them vomited continuously on the floor while the others whooped with laughter, egging him on. Soon the whole carriage reeked sickeningly of the acid insides of his stomach. I got off as soon as I could only to board another train with a set of drunken youths on it. One of them sat next to me and suddenly began tugging my hat off, patting my trousers, and asking me which of the embarrassed women opposite I'd prefer to 69. "You've been drinking, haven't you?" I asked, in English. "It's not impossible," replied the geeky thug, in German.

My trips to and from the Berlin airport at either end of my Japan trip were characterised by similar encounters. On the way to Tegel in early December I was menaced by a madman who shouted (rather presciently) "Japan! Japan! Okay? Okay?" at me, but in a super-threatening way, as if I was personally insulting him. (I was dressed in Japanese style, with tenugui and cloak.) On the way back, on Monday evening, it was people shouting "Pirat!" My nerves were frazzled by 12 hours on jets, and having to lug heavy suitcases across the snow (the bus-driver decided, just two stops from the airport, for reasons of his own, to dump us at the kerbside), and I felt a sudden urge to pile into the idiots shouting at me. Six weeks in Japan had raised my standards for public behaviour to levels that Berlin doesn't come anywhere near.

It isn't just random, drunk rogue males on trains who menace you here. There are also petty officials to deal with. At the building the BBC shares with Reuters and other media companies I entered by the wrong door and stood in a corridor ringing a non-functioning bell marked "BBC". A German security guard approached, seeming highly skeptical that someone like me could possibly be a BBC interviewee. Even when I'd given him the name of my contact and explained that I was here to be interviewed, his manner didn't change; I was still some kind of intruder.

When the time came to exit the building the lady at the front desk called out a challenge so peremptory, rude and familiar that I assumed it couldn't possibly be for me, and walked straight past. Alarmed that she hadn't signed me in, she was in fact demanding which company I'd been seeing. It was her tone, though, that was so brash, entitled, authoritarian. I wish I could say she's a one-off, but there are times when everybody in Berlin seems like that. You go into a shop, just back from Japan, and expect the local version of a cheerful irrashaimase! Instead you get a sort of scowl that seems to say "What the fuck do you want, you weird pirate-looking guy?" Even when you say "Guten Tag!" you may well get no response.

Of course, the commercial classes mistrust the customers because the customers are often the very thugs and hooligans, alcoholics and shoplifters I've described tangling with on the trains; a class of people who, in the name of some ill-defined "anarchism" or "anti-globalism", smash shop and bank windows at any opportunity, and start drinking at breakfast.

It would be lovely to paint it as principled protest, but let's face facts: some Berliners have a self-righteousness about their incapacity, their unemployment, their non-participation in what they call the Scheisse-System. It's an attitude of arrogance-in-failure you just don't encounter in Asia. Osaka has a lot of poverty, but you sense that everybody tries their best, and that there's a warm glow of positive affect towards society, and towards collective property. The ugly tagging and name-scratching (and what could be a better symbol of the assertion of an ugly, arrogant individualism over collective property?) that blights every available surface (except, inexplicably, private cars) here is largely absent from Japan, where clear train windows and pristine plush fabric seat covers are still possible. In Berlin the council covers windows and seats with ugly patterns designed to deter taggers and name-scratchers.

It's white Germans who are the worst -- totally disinhibited, arrogantly lazy, proud of not fitting in, beer bottle in hand, ready to assail and insult strangers. The immigrant quarters are oases of responsibility and industry; in predominantly-muslim Neukolln alcohol is shunned, which is already a huge step towards a more civilised urban environment.

"Goths and Vandals, a rude Northern race," wrote the poet Dryden of the sack of Rome, "did all the matchless Monuments deface." I'd love to say it was a groundless, baseless stereotype, but here they still are today, these rude northern people. They ride the trains, they grab your hat, they deface the walls and windows of all available public (but not private) property. It's odd that they get so antsy in the midst of their long, harsh winter, because winter is the time when we realise how dependent we are on society, on co-operation, and on harmony for our basic survival. Even the proudest and bitterest of us must raise our hands to the Scheisse-System, thankful for its heat.
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(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 10:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chickensnack.livejournal.com
MOMUS BEFORE I FORGET the other night I had a dream that I met you in New York and you ignored me so I insulted you by claiming that New York City was more interesting than you.

Then later we apologized to each other and you let me look into your bad eye "for inspiration".

death to the gringos

Date: 2010-01-23 10:46 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
death to the gringos

Re: death to the gringos

From: [identity profile] chickensnack.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 10:51 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 11:01 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 10:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
What about all the incineration of bourgeois cars to avoid further gentrification of berlin? that seems like they aren't only worried with mindless destruction of public property.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/10/berlin-anarchists-torch-cars

Though I also prefer a more diplomatic aproach like the one with the LIDL bags

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 10:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Ha, I didn't see that article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/10/berlin-anarchists-torch-cars)! I must say, I'm much more positive about people destroying luxury cars than I am about people destroying public transport. Cars are an enemy of the city, an enemy of the people. I'd like to see them targeted as stringently as tobacco has been.

It's sort of funny how the Guardian article chooses a 26 year-old graphic designer in Kreuzberg as the mouthpiece of anti-gentrification. I mean, what is he designing? Last time I checked, graphic design was hand-in-glove with commerce. When graphic designers move into your neighbourhood, organic groceries and art galleries tend to follow.

I'm doing my bit in the struggle, as Jan defines it, though: putting a foreign name on my doorbell. Sure, it's a Japanese surname, not a Turkish one, but...

Scheisse-Liebe

From: [identity profile] pay-option07.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 11:30 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That is the worst thing about returning from a trip from Japan. After a two week visit you need at least a month to get used to the home country's rudeness.
I have a 2 years contract in Tokyo and am worried it will take 5 years to recover.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-24 04:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bonsai-human.livejournal.com
Depends on the home country. I'm from New Zealand and most of our shop assistants are (if anything) TOO friendly. I found the shop assistant greetings in Japan very familiar.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ewok-sister.livejournal.com
Despite the body armour, these guys looks pretty stylish. Especially the guy on the fourth and fifth panel.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Some of them are actually Anglo-Saxon warriors from the period of King Arthur. Some are even Romans.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 12:43 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Why not link it to the second world war too? A country doesn't forget it's past that easily. Anarchism is an easy answer.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
first thing about Berlin that has some real bite I can relate to, after so much it's-all-so-great-and-we're-all-so-poor/sexy

the half empty/full beer bottle acompanies every f@cking five minute walk it seems, not just amongst stereotypical alkies. This Sylvestor I saw english speaking hipsters tossing the firecrackers in your general direction as much as lokals.

summer is great but has this element of fakery because it's a heat blanket over all that comes out in winter. The high blocks that reflect and radiate the sun in summer, suck any light in the sky during winter.

I've lived there a lot and am back every month or two, but last time I really felt the strangeness of it is very on the wane due to the fact of everytime you go out you are hearing english language gossip about parties. It's great that there is that space, a city that allows this, as it were, but it's overrun. There was a hilarious Peres Projects press release recently about in winter 'everyone' either haunts the clubs and bars or hibernates- typical classist ageist young'ish expat bullshit- as if the u-bahn is driven by a robot, the falafel is served by another one, and the supermarket shelves stacked by a few more. I have love for the city but i can't say I miss all this.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 01:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
by strangeness i mean what used to make the city so special i guess. I'm sure it's very special to those coming there in more recent years, I wouldn't want to take that away from them and their own experience, but as I say above, it now feels totally overrun -in relation to how it was. Of course compared to parts of London on a weekend it's nothing... I've perhaps gone off topic though.

The bit about self-righteousness in incapacity is spot on.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 02:23 pm (UTC) - Expand

Islamic superheroes vesus dumbass Mongols

Date: 2010-01-23 01:13 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)


A forthcoming Islamic superhero series blames the Mongols for destroying the Library of Wisdom. I wonder if the villians will therefore represent a kind of "Eastern idiocy", perhaps to bypass anti-West cliché. I hope not!

Re: Islamic superheroes vesus dumbass Mongols

Date: 2010-01-23 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eclectiktronik.livejournal.com
There is a growing European underclass, the inert matter of the historical process. Apolitical, hedonistic, seeking escape in drink and drugs, shunning community and society (suspecting their neighbours as dole scroungers, or believeing the tabloid myths of 'soft touch society' and immigration) and, in so doing, inevitably feeding the very system that oppresses them. Just look at how uneducated wasters appear on daytime tv shows, reality tv etc. lapping up the chance to be exploited as the production companies make millions.

yes indeed, the poor protect the wealthy. Divide and rule has worked in the north.

makes one wonder if they will ever get organised and form a proletariat. But that would necessitate at least laying off the booze - and switching off the TV. Until either or both are in short supply, the revolution is postponed!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 01:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Momus

Regarding

>Berliners have a self-righteousness about their incapacity, their unemployment, their non-participation in what they call the Scheisse-System. It's an attitude of arrogance-in-failure you just don't encounter in Asia.

Can I use this as a hook to interest you in a Guardian article on 'Is it possible to live a life without money?' from earlier this month?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/02/katherine-hibbert-living-without-money
It'd be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Well, Berlin self-righteousness about not-fitting-in and the London discouragement of recycling and squatting Katherine Hibbert describes are both, in a sense, bad faith positions. Because the consumer society we live in requires both production and waste (or, if you prefer, employment and unemployment). They form a sort of integral yin-yang, taut-slack. The squatter-skipper requires the consumer society to generate waste, and the consumer society should allow the squatter-skipper to utilise waste.

Ultimately, though, humans need to be productive; to make things, and exchange them. This is what I miss somewhat in the West, and find in Asia. Asians are fully aware of the need to produce, to make, to work. In the West we've somehow forgotten it, first of all because of our colonial period, and more recently because of our outsourcing of production to Asia, and our concentration on services and the property bubble to finance ourselves. I should probably add the internet as part of our delusion, our distraction from making things.
Edited Date: 2010-01-23 01:51 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-23 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand

Dickensian turn?

Date: 2010-01-23 01:41 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Instead of complaining, that the urban poor are so disorganised and fragmented nowadays, so impoverished and neglected that they have become a problem for any class fomation to battle the class struggle from above, you're lamenting how uncivilised they are. Instead of realising, that it's not manners or lectures about manners that poor people need, but overcoming of pauperism and self-contempt to get organised, you choose to critisize the lumpenproletariat. That fits in neatly with Berlin's official stance on the problem, having mayor Wowereit deploring the complacency and non-ambitious attitudes of unemployed and poor people in Berlin. Phrases like "Self-righteousness about their incapacity, their unemployment" are really the worst, most classist I have ever read from you.
Disguising the contempt for the underclass with an cultural-ethnic argument then, trying to link their behaviour to some sort of barbaric, uncivilised tribe tradition is the icing on the cake.
And adding to the decomposition of the underclass you introduce an alleged asset of the migrant community, the religious constraint of prohibition. That's pathetic.

Re: Dickensian turn?

Date: 2010-01-23 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
it's not manners or lectures about manners that poor people need, but overcoming of pauperism and self-contempt to get organised

The man who tweaked my hat off yesterday had no self-contempt, I can tell you. He and his three friends had organised themselves specifically to get drunk, and at that point had achieved enough pleasant disorganisation to share it (and some vomit, thrown in as a bonus) with those of us who were actually moving about the city with a sense of purpose. They had also obviously spent quite a lot of money on alcohol, so if they were paupers it was only because they'd drunk whatever cash they had.

I make absolutely no apology for admiring the non-alcoholic culture of Muslims.

Re: Dickensian turn?

From: [identity profile] lord-whimsy.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 02:49 pm (UTC) - Expand

Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] jdcasten.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 07:18 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 07:48 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] jdcasten.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 08:04 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] jdcasten.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 08:42 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] jdcasten.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 09:35 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] jdcasten.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 10:29 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] jdcasten.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 10:42 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] jdcasten.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-25 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-24 05:47 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: [identity profile] pay-option07.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-23 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-24 05:57 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Commoner Whimsy?

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-24 06:45 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Dickensian turn?

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-24 06:09 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Dickensian turn?

From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-24 08:38 am (UTC) - Expand

Click Opera "Cops"

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-24 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
What's the timetable on your move to Osaka?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Exchange "Berlin" here for "London", and your post exactly resembles the kind of rant you used to crank out every time you passed through London. So all that stuff about the special evil of Anglo-Saxon culture, the "anglosphere" etc. was a load of rubbish after all! I do think the drink-fuelled antisocial aggressiveness is something you encounter in most Northern European cultures. Not so much in Latin cultures. I live in Paris, and sure, you get the rudeness of shopkeepers and the authoritarianism of petty officials. But you don't get the binge-drinking. And there seems to be a general overlay of "civilisation" for want of a better word in relations between people.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 02:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
So all that stuff about the special evil of Anglo-Saxon culture, the "anglosphere" etc. was a load of rubbish after all!

Where do you think the "Saxon" in Anglo-Saxon comes from?

But yes, Latin-Catholic cultures are different. They do handle alcohol slightly better.

any body wanna

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-23 03:01 pm (UTC) - Expand

Beer belt

From: [identity profile] ianc2674.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-01-24 11:49 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 03:07 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"It's white Germans who are the worst" - all Germans are white, as all Bantu are black (except albinos)

whats a computer

Date: 2010-01-23 03:12 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
all com spew ter users
are fucking green
you fucking transparunt cuntoe

whork dose not set you free at all

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-23 03:19 pm (UTC) - Expand

spot on

Date: 2010-01-23 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I felt the exact same way on returning to America from Japan, with a slightly different context. The first thing that shocked me was the constant, bitter sarcasm of everyone. As in Berlin, people take pride in not caring about anything, and there seems to be a pervasive, collective sneer at reality. 'Red' Americans exhibit this as just plain dumb anti-intellectualism, anti-reason, anti-science. But the blue Americans have a similar attitude, (just different targets) even though they'd be loath to admit it. The other thing that disturbs me about America is how mindlessly fixated people are about only a handful of things. You go to a party and get your ear chewed off about fixed-gear bicycles, or home-yogurt-making. They'll listen with polite curiosity if you'd like to describe any of your own fixations, but will stare blankly if you try to engage them in a conversation about culture, politics, current events, etc. People seem to have retreated from society into their own private sub-cultures, and their is no common ground anymore.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ziggyzest.livejournal.com
"You go into a shop, just back from Japan, and expect the local version of a cheerful irrashaimase! Instead you get a sort of scowl that seems to say "What the fuck do you want, you weird pirate-looking guy?" Even when you say "Guten Tag!" you may well get no response"

hmm.. wonderful post. I think it has all of the reasons listed in it as to why I personally left Berlin.
It's a hard place to live without but it's also a really hard place to "survive" for long.
Although..." it's white Germans who are the worst -- totally disinhibited, arrogantly lazy, proud of not fitting in, beer bottle in hand, ready to assail and insult strangers. "

I have to say I sort of miss that because now that I'm back in England I personally really dislike how subservient everyone is and how the system gets to do anything it pleases with people.
There is a vicious freedom in Berlin, I think, which sure, on one hand means you suffer but on the other means that you're free too.

There is a kind of dignity in that sort of recklesness.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-24 06:03 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"I have to say I sort of miss that because now that I'm back in England I personally really dislike how subservient everyone is and how the system gets to do anything it pleases with people.
There is a vicious freedom in Berlin, I think, which sure, on one hand means you suffer but on the other means that you're free too.

There is a kind of dignity in that sort of recklesness."

Change England above to Japan, and you're not far off regarding it, either...

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cap-scaleman.livejournal.com
This is why I don't do drugs or drink alcohol. I'm a light Straight-edge person.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-25 02:02 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
because you're afraid you might harass people in public if you do?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mcgazz.livejournal.com
"Berliners have a self-righteousness about their incapacity, their unemployment, their non-participation in what they call the Scheisse-System. It's an attitude of arrogance-in-failure you just don't encounter in Asia."

I've always thought the shrugging attitude of "Shameless"-type working class refuseniks was at least more honest than that of their middle class counterparts, who pretend to be clinically depressed or invent psuedo-M.E. phantom illnesses to make their refusal to work and participate seem somehow more ligitimate and respectable.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Date: 2010-01-23 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've just returned to a country I've spent much time in (also in Asia, Thailand in my case) and I'm always struck by the things that just couldn't be possible back where I come from (America). Many bus stations here have computers for people to get online while they wait for their buses, for a small charge. But what's impressive is that the device is not behind a glass case, it's not even chained down; it's just a computer there in the open. There just seems to be an acknowledgement that this machine is for everyone to use, why would you abuse it? Compare this to New York City, where I once desperately needed to check my e-mail at JFK Int'l, only to find that every public computer terminal (which, as a security precaution, had already been built into immobile furniture) had been senselessly vandalized into inoperation. When I got a bike in Thailand, I asked a local friend where I could could get a bike lock (a necessity in America, yet one that still hasn't deterred thieves). She said "Oh you don't really need anything like that, people know that's how you get around, no one will take it!" And for the 3 months I had it, it was un-harassed.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gloeden.livejournal.com
I long ago ceased to be surprised by how rude and entitled white people can be. I'd heard stories from friends about the Germans. And they seem to consistently be at the top of lists of bad tourists.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is the saddest Click Opera post I've read in a long, long time, perhaps ever,
Having lived in Berlin for 4 years, I know exactly what you mean Momus.

I've since escaped to sunnier, more civilized climes (Tuscany).
The cultural difference is mind blowing. I've never been to Japan, but it seems like the attitudes toward public decorum are kind of similar. Public intoxication is severely frowned upon here. There have been times when I've had a few drinks, stumbled down the street and felt like a complete social outcast.

In my 2 years here I've never seen a drunk person in public (besides myself and my foreign friends). I'm probably sheltered here in the Tuscan countryside, surely there are fucked up people on the streets of Naples (just a guess, I've never been to Naples), but in general it just doesn't seem to happen.

I remember walking down Schönhauseralle in January and some asshole on a bike yelled out "schwuchtel!" to me. It was my first winter in Berlin and I was just dumbfounded. It depressed me for a long time. I just couldn't believe people behaved like that towards total strangers.

That kind of thing has never happened to me in Italy, If you want to be left alone, people will leave you alone. At least that's my experience.

So yeah. Fuck Berlin. It can be a fun place at times. But in the dead of winter it's absolute hell.


(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-23 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
So basically Berlin in winter is just like every web comment section? ^_^

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-24 02:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vogdoid.livejournal.com
this is depressing. I'd have hoped for better from Germany.

I live in Chicago for about three years, and standards for public behavior here seem to vary by location, situation etc. Today I had a very nice time walking around town, riding the trains, etc. A stranger greeted me warmly on the train platform, and it was such a surprise that I immediately expected him to ask for change, but he just wanted to say hi. That set the tone for the day. I heard a great busker, coffee shop & store employees were friendly and smiling, etc.

At other times, (especially baseball season in the neighborhood where the Cubs play, where public drunkenness and loutishness is the norm) people can be horrendous.But bad & good behavior both seem to cut across race & class lines, and seem to be tied to other factors.

I do miss the ultra-civility of Japan at times.

you need to go further north

Date: 2010-01-24 03:27 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh how horribly frightful. For civilisation you'll need to come to Finland. We are the Asians of Europe!

Re: you need to go further north

Date: 2010-01-24 04:47 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Huh? Finland? The country where alcoholism is so rampant that you can only buy booze from government run shops? THAT Finland?
I was in Helsinki for Vappu (Walpurgis Night) one year and it was pants shittingly terrifying. I have NEVER seen such a huge amount of people so out of control.
Oh and it's the only place on earth where I've been punched in the face by psychotic drunk strangers. Twice actually, on two separate occasions.

The "Asians of Europe"? More like the Liberia of Europe.

Contrast Germany/Japan

Date: 2010-01-24 11:32 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have been living in Japan for long years by now and while I also have quite a tendency to complain about the more miserable aspects of this island, your entry made me aware that I am probably in danger of forgetting what is more than a little objectionable concerning German cities.
Anyway - good blog.
Please keep up the good work.

Oliver

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-24 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Have you been to Moscow?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-24 03:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Yes, in 2004. Here's some text (http://imomus.livejournal.com/2004/03/20/) and here are some pictures (http://imomus.com/dailyphoto230304.html).

(no subject)

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-01-25 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand

doppel

Date: 2010-01-25 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Momus! I keep seeing you in McFit on Heinrich-Heine-Str. But, in fact, probably not - korrekt?

Re: doppel

Date: 2010-01-25 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
No. I pass underneath Heinrich Heine Strasse pretty much daily on the U8, but I never go to McFit.
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