the plan:
NYC for the summer
Berlin for a year
and hopefully back to Montreal

so back to Berlin
which means back to blogging
and maybe migrating to wordpress ?

a berlin blogger i shall be


blogging… elsewhere

*dusts off blog*

I’ll be blogging from the Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide in Montreal, Canada, over the next few days at

Bis dann…

lovely plateau ladies

.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }

On a sunny day on the Plateau, by Mont Royal Metro station, I ran across these three lovely ladies. I think they wanted us to recycle. Little did they know we had just arrived from Germany. Of course we recycle.

Things I need to stop doing now that I’m not in Germany at the moment:

Don’t answer the phone by saying my last name. If Bell Canada was actually anywhere near efficient this would be problematic. Luckily I’ll have time to work on this one; our phone connection probably won’t be set up any time soon.

Using English when I feel like it. Despite Montreal’s much touted bilingualism, no one is trying to practice their English a la German way. The mailman looked at me like I had 5 heads and two tails when I said hello. Then he just rattled something off in an incomprehensible mumble.

Eating imported cheese. How a francophone "nation" can have such expensive cheese products is beyond me…

Things I can still do:

Go to the park every day. La Fontaine is the new Hasenheide.

Other notes to self:

Take Midnight Poutine food recommendations very seriously.

Next time say goodbyes BEFORE leaving the country for an extended time period. Oh well…

berlin retrospective: baby edition

The reason why I never manage to post anymore (no it has nothing to do with Facebook, leave me alone).

French people on Bergmannstrasse
Yea if you have a kid, you have to go to Prenzlauerberg. It’s like all bobo – and they all have kids. I swear go there and you’ll see.

Geburtshaus Kreuzberg
I skillfully avoided people who had nothing positive to say about deciding to deliver at a birthing center. I ignored the people who looked at me crazily with a big WHY? written across their faces. Yes I knew beforehand there were going to be no doctors and no pain relief. I survived and all went well. The midwives at the Geburtshaus were amazing – before, during, and after. And they are for the most part Kreuzbergers. I see them by the canal, on Körtestrasse, on Bergmannstrasse… everywhere.

Lumpen Prinzessin

is not in Kreuzberg. Still, it’s by far my favorite second-hand shop for baby things.  They are wonderfully sweet people and we’ve always found exactly what we were looking for (usually for some ridiculously cheap price like a euro fifty).


stands for some sort of child development exercises formulated by some scientist in Prague. It should stand for Peeing Everywhere, Kids Ignorant of Pants. Imagine 6-10 mothers all ringing bells hanging on a string in front of 6-10 naked kids. For an hour and a half.  And we paid for that.  I still have headaches just thinking about it.

Tierpark Hasenheide

Once you get past the drug dealers, Hasenheide is like Disneyland. It will take you a week to figure out all of the stuff that is in there and how to get there a second time without getting lost. Oh look fish, squirrels, sheep, geese, peacocks… ARE THOSE DEER? I love Hasenheide.

In conclusion: Kreuzberg is also family-friendly, without the bobos.

berlin retrospective: du bist deutschland, sure you are

Again, from Black Looks, the UNICEF campaign. (Sokari has the best links, via Black Women in Europe)

The Jung von Matt agency hasn’t let themselves be discouraged after the Du Bist Deutschland fiasco, which lit up the blogosphere with parodies of their crappy advertising. They are back with a German/Euro fave, blackface! What’s a week in Germany without some white person smearing brown paint on their face.


*goes back to packing*

berlin retrospective: potsdam edition

no go
no go
no go
I think the No Go debacle won the prize for the most ineffective use of media space to talk around a very pressing issue.

Insufficient evidence for the case of Ermyas Mulugeta
and the men on trial were acquitted last month.

Refugees Emancipation – an organization doing some wonderful work out in Potsdam
I’m glad to have had the experience of heading out there to teach for a bit. It really informed my outlook on many an issue relating to asylum laws. And I met some very inspiring people.

In the news: Human Rights Watch on a particularly vexing problem for asylum seekers in Germany, actually having the conflict going on in one’s home country officially recognized by German authorities. A problem not limited to Iraqis, although this attempt to screw a large number of folks over en masse is particularly novel.

ah Potsdam…  where the German flag waved proudly even before the World Cup.

berlin retrospective: work edition

I’ve worked with and for some really crazy people since I’ve been in Berlin. I’m sure some of these people could be diagnosed as borderline psychotic.

I saved two e-mails which exemplify a traditional German trait, the need to lüften (i.e. let freezing cold air into a perfectly temperate room every 5 minutes), and general office insanity.


Ich schlage vor, dass wir alle 2
Stunden für 5 min. unser gesamtes Büro Lüften, d.h. nicht nur ein Fenster
sondern so viele wie möglich öffnen und zwar zu den folgenden Zeiten:







Falls es jemanden zu kalt ist oder
zieht kann in dieser Zeit eine kleine Pause einlegen oder Kaffe/Tee holen gehen.

Gibt es irgendwelche Einwende?



Betreff: verwestes Fleisch

Liebe Kollegen,

obwohl ich, nachdem ich alleine war, zum Dauerlüften
übergegangen bin, blieb ein penetranter süßlicher Geruch im Büro. Nach einigem
Suchen konnte ich schließlich eine kleine weiße Plastiktüte neben Burkhards* Schreibtisch
ausmachen, die bereits stark verwestes Fleisch enthielt.

Wer auch immer dieses biologische Experiment durchführte sei
über das Ergebnis informiert: Ja es hat wieder angefangen zu leben! Ich hoffe
dass die Versuchsreihe damit abgeschlossen ist.



*names have been changed to protect myself from former officemates I may happen to see around the neighborhood

coming up: extended leave

I guess that’s what I’m calling it now. We are taking an extended Berlin break.

First New York. Then Montreal.

But Berlin… How do I love thee (or not)? Let me count the ways.

That will be the official theme for the month of July, in between diaper changes. And then I’m outta here.

a short study in building german national identity

Urbanstrasse, at a double pedestrian light
Something like this…

Dürfen wir jetzt gehen?
Nein says the girl in the stroller to the mama.

A couple of seconds pass.

Können wir jetzt gehen?
Nein says the girl sitting pretty in the stroller.

The far pedestrian signal turns green.

Können wir jetzt gehen?
Nein says the girl waiting patiently in the stroller.

The closest light turns green.
Wann können wir gehen?

And off they went. Guck mal ein blaues Auto*, ein weisses Auto…

Happy stereotyping and a wonderful Bergmannstrasse Fest. Kreuzberg jazzt und kocht noch ein Mal.

*Auto = Mercedes

(note: Today will mark the day I’m officially done with German. From now on, it’s downhill from here. Or if I’m lucky my German will stagnate at its current level for the rest of my life for the future amusement of my daughter.)

plagiarism at the telegraph

Stealing other people’s writing provokes an overwhelming feeling of disgust in me. Enough disgust to write about it 4am when I could be catching up on sleep.

At Black Looks, there’s a post linking to Koranteng’s Toli, a blog which featured a piece on the plaid plastic bag, the one that gets you stopped at customs, the immigrant bag. I was just talking about this bag over the weekend because the bags showed up in one of the short films in Paris Je T’Aime, which we rented on DVD last weekend.

Plagiarism in Plaid is the post at Korateng’s Toli which makes it pretty clear that the author at The Telegraph has stolen a passage from his original piece and used it without noting the source. Apparently they don’t have German spellcheck at The Telegraph (Is this really Britain’s No 1 quality newspaper website?). Liz Hunt even copied the misspelling of "Türkenkoffer" from the original piece into her article. Disgusting.

« Older entries