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#159: Topless in pools, BMW motorcycles, Teufelsberg
Female bureaucrats earn more
Hey 20 Percent!
The German government is thinking about legalizing weed in Germany. I don’t think it will ultimately happen (too many legal and political hurdles) but I’m not against it. I’m not a Kiffer (marijuana smoker) but the drug is legal in the two places I consider home in the US — Denver, Colorado and Portland, Oregon — and few of the negative effects have cropped up, especially when compared to the damage tobacco and alcohol cause.
But should the German government legalize marijuana, I’m pretty sure the same thing will happen in Berlin that happened when it was legalized in Denver and Portland — everyone was like, “What? It was illegal?” And it’s how I felt this week when the Berliner Bäderbetriebe, the people who run our city-state’s public swimming pools, said going topless would now be allowed for everyone, everywhere and, yes, all at once. It seems bizarre that in let’s-get-naked-in-the-park, … in-the-sauna and … in-the-club Berlin, swimming with bare breasts was verboten.
The rule change started when one of us 20 Percenters took her top off at the Plansche, a water playground in Treptow, nearly two years ago. The police were eventually called and the kefuffle led to protests, local rule tweaks and then Tuesday’s about-face. The Taz broke the topless-is-now-ok story.
While it seems odd that it wasn’t allowed, really it’s just the German penchant for compartmentalization — not only are you allowed to go naked in saunas, you HAVE to go naked in saunas but um Gotteswillen, cover up while doing laps in Locho (Sommerbad Wilmersdorf).
Have a good weekend!
P.S. We don’t really care how (or if) you’re dressed when you become our supporter on Patreon. Hang around for a year and we’ll gift you a mug or, if you’re impatient, you can buy one here. Also no clothing rules on the use of the mug.
We’ll believe it when we see it
Teufelsberg, the Cold War listening station in southwestern Berlin that is a fave of urbex explorers and Instagrammers, is to become a cultural site, Cold War museum and cafe, according to Tagesspiegel. Cologne architect Hartmut Gruhl recently bought out his partners, who purchased the real estate from Berlin in 1996. A raft of ideas have been announced for the former spy station including single-family homes, a luxury hotel and even a transcendental meditation retreat backed by eccentric Hollywooder David Lynch. Officials placed it under historic preservation regulations in 2018, meaning the buildings and deteriorating radar domes will have to remain — earlier plans called for their partial or complete removal.
So many strikes it’s almost France
Workers at Berlin garbage dumps are striking today as Verdi, one of Germany’s unions for public employees, demands raises of 10.5% or at least €500 a month for full-timers. Street cleaners and garbage trucks aren’t participating in the strikes, according to RBB, but the labor action won’t be the last in Berlin. Care personnel at public hospitals (Charité, Vivantes and the Jewish hospital) will strike next week on behalf of Verdi — they want the same pay raise. And Deutsche Post workers this week voted to enter an unlimited strike if the union can’t reach agreement with management Friday — they want a 15% pay bump, according to RBB. My post people only deliver my mail like twice a week these days so not sure I’ll notice.
First Berlin fine for the Last Generation
How much does it cost to glue yourself to the street to bring attention to the ongoing climate catastrophe? €600. A court in Tiergarten Thursday fined Carla Hinrichs 20 days’ pay (equal to €30/day) for blocking traffic as part of a protest in February 2022, the first fine lodged for the Berlin protests. Hinrichs is a founding member of the group and its spokesperson. She said the fine won’t prohibit her from continuing to protest, according to the Morgenpost.
Old-school industry in new-school Berlin
The Berlin fuzz took delivery of 49 new BMW motorcycles Thursday, only four of which were electric, which is super-disappointing. But in typical German fashion, the cops first want to test the bikes for two years before fully committing (they’ll then probably discuss the results for another two years and then the bureaucracy related to ordering more will likely take another two). The Berlin Polizei has a total 153 motorcycles, according to the Morgenpost, and I’m really writing this as a reminder to myself that I’ve been meaning to visit the BMW motorcycle factory in Spandau since I moved here over 20 years ago. Yes, BMW motorcycles are made in Berlin and have been since 1969 (I’ll spare us all a cliche joke about Spandau not being in Berlin). TIL: You can tour the plant for €11.90, in English even.
Tuesday was equal pay day and women in Berlin now earn 10% less than their male counterparts, according to Tagesspiegel, compared to 18% less nationwide. However, full-time female public employees earn 0.6% more than their male co-workers — part-time workers 1.2% more. There’s a however to that however: four times as many women have part-time public sector jobs in Berlin than men.
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