#109: Fire, Art Week, anti-trans violence, Union on top
Can you ride the bus for free now?
Dear 20 Percent,
Berlin Art Week kicks off tomorrow. The programme of exhibitions and events promises a bewildering number of aesthetic grapplings with the themes of our time: ecological crisis, technology, identity and, of course, the war in Ukraine. The nice thing about Art Week is that it’s all over the place: there’s no single central theme or grand narrative or stupendous location, as this essay points out. It’s impossible to engage with all that Berlin creativity, und das ist auch gut so (and that’s fine). Why not tear yourself away from your routine and engage with something on the art menu? You might encounter something transformative and memorable.
Or just weird.
More news below!
The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, September 13
New cases in one day: 2,146 (1,293 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,778 (+3 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 198,9 (195.7 Friday)
🔴7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 8.4 (8.6 Friday)
🟢 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 3.0% (3.4% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Russia targeting energy supply?
Torsten Akmann (SPD), a state secretary in Berlin’s interior ministry, told state parlimentarians that the Berlin Verfassungsschutz (Office for the Protection of the Constitution) — the agency responsible for counter-espionage — that there were indications that the Russian secret service had been gathering intel on Berlin’s energy supply, energy-related agencies and politicians working on energy policy. Akmann warned that Russian agencies could attempt to spy on decision-makers through infected e-mails. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Germany has feared Russian hackers could target critical infrastructure.
Saturday night, the roof of a former Jewish old-age home in Gesundbrunnen caught fire, sending smoke across the city. It took 150 firefighters to extinguish the blaze in the abandoned building early Sunday, as reported by the Morgenpost.
Another WWII bomb
Is it just me, or are these bombs showing up with increasing frequency? Another unexploded bomb, a Blindgänger, was discovered in Grunewald near Huttenweg on Sunday. The Berlin-Potsdam train line as well as the AVUS highway were closed for five hours as bomb experts defused the 500kg American explosive, according to RBB.
I want to make some dud-related pun here to get you to contribute a few ducats to our Patreon but they were all too dad-jokey, even for dad-jokey me. Our Patreon is here.
Trans woman attacked
Another incidence of anti-trans violence in Germany: on Saturday, a 16-year-old boy was arrested for verbal harassment and attempted assault after he allegedly attacked a 49-year-old trans woman working in a hair salon in the eastern neighbourhood of Friedrichsfelde. According to the police, the boy, who had already repeatedly insulted the woman, entered the salon on the pretext of apologising for his previous actions. The hairdresser threatened to call the police. The 16-year-old left the shop, took a cobblestone out of his pocket and threw it against the door, damaging it. Earlier this month, a trans man died after being brutally attacked at a CSD parade in the western city of Münster. Only days later a trans woman suffered serious injuries after being assaulted by a group of youths on a tram in Bremen.
Union top table
I don’t follow football religiously so I rubbed my eyes when I read that 1. F.C. Union Berlin, Berlin’s not especially rich but intensely grassroots-proud Eastern club, was leading the Bundesliga after beating Cologne 0:1 in an away match at the weekend. I mean, this is the team whose stadium was, due to a lack of funding, renovated largely through the labour of its own fans back in 2009. The side gradually rose from the third division to the first. The team has gained a cult following, even among expats. That they’re now on the top and above the likes of Bayern — however temporarily — is something to relish. Besides, Nina Hagen shrieking the club hymn — “Wer lässt sich nicht von Western kaufen?” (“Who doesn’t let themselves get bought out by the West?”) — always sends chills down my back.
More of a loophole than a factoid: since the BVG lifted corona regs and opened up the front entrances of its buses in July, drivers only accept contactless payments. However, the fine print of the VBB (Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Association) states buses must accept cash. The city transport department has told journalists, essentially, that passengers who are unable to pay by card or phone could travel on buses anyway. So no ticket needed? BVG spokesman Jannes Schwentu explains: “When checking tickets on the bus, we will proceed with the necessary sense of proportion and refer passengers without contactless payment options to the next purchase option.” Proceed at your own risk. The VBB is reportedly working on updating its terms and conditions.
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