Discover more from 20 Percent Berlin
#167: Neukölln apartments, forbidden dance, Fernsehturm renovations
That's a baby echidna. Really.
Hey 20 Percent!
First up, if you need help finding a shop that’s open this weekend, stop by our holiday shopping hours guide.
And now: I love and hate Easter, and for the same reason.
I love Easter because for some reason Germany — despite being awfully agnostic — still has ancient laws giving everyone a day off any time a certain carpenter from Nazareth did anything of note. I’m a big fan of days off even though I’ve been self-employed for most of my life. I’m indifferent on Nazarathean carpenters.
At the same time, what kind of country staples itself to the archaic beliefs of a few? Not very democratic. For example, it’s illegal to dance on Good Friday from from 4am to 9pm, which is only problematic if you went out Thursday night (though, this being Berlin, no one is going to enforce it). But it gets worse.
Movie theaters are actually forbidden from showing movies that don’t reflect the seriousness of the holidays. So I guess you could show All Quiet on the Western Front but not Manta Manta 2, a reboot of a terrible German comedy starring Til Schweiger, Germany’s Leonardo Dicaprio.
The German movie industry used to censor itself on holidays using the voluntary FSK rating system but, as RBB points out, almost no movies have been FSK-banned on holidays in the past two decades. So the law is kind of pointless.
Maybe once Germany jettisons the fax machine, it can jettison these laws too.
Hope you’re having a few good days off.
Baby animals are always cute. Always
Even people who do news for a living like good news, which is why I read Berlin Zoo’s press releases. On February 25, a zookeeper at the Tierpark (Berlin’s other, and arguably nicer, zoo) discovered a baby New Guinean short-beaked echidna, a kind of egg-laying mammal that looks like a hedgehog. It’s only the second time one of the beasts has been born in Berlin and the first in 115 years (and the whole egg thing makes it sorta Easter). Only 33 of the animals live in captivity, so it’s kind of a big deal. If you want a Good Friday rabbit hole, google the animals — they live in Australia and New Guinea, and are an evolutionary link between reptiles and mammals. Babies are called “puggles” and they nurse from their mothers’ feathers. You had me at puggle.
Would you live where the Berlin Sopranos lived?
Speaking of good news: Some apartments may soon be free in Neukölln. An administrative court Thursday ruled that members of the notorious Berlin Remmo crime family must leave their villa in the popular suburb following eviction proceedings by the district, Tagesspiegel reported. Neukölln took over the property in 2018 after proving it was purchased (from the government) in 2012 with ill-gotten funds for €200,000. The Remmo son who owned the house had rented it to his mother, and Neukölln then had to take over the lease but has been working to cancel the contractual obligations because of its poor relationship with the family since — Tuesday just over 100 cops raided the place looking for two Remmos who allegedly stole batteries from a nearby home-improvement shop. The Remmos are expected to appeal.
The operators of the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz want you to visit more regularly, not just when your parents are in town. They’ve launched a year-long revamp that will add some retro to the viewing platform and restaurant by including colors and designs from 1969, when it opened. They’re also going to update the menu and are working on drone videos of inaccessible areas of the tower (like an escape platform and the inside of the elevator shaft). The Berlin landmark was last renovated in 1994, according to the Morgenpost. There is reason to be skeptical: The renovation should make it a “cool recreational spot”, the marketing head said in perfect Boomer, and he also wants people to head up into the silver goodness for … wait for it … Spargel. Your parents will certainly be pleased.
Cargo bike startup couldn’t carry enough cash
You may not have even known it existed: cargo bike startup Avocargo is no more, according to Gründerszene. The Berlin startup launched two years ago with plenty of hype and 110 cargo bikes — they offered station-less short-term rentals of electric cargo bikes much like scooters from Bolt or cars from Miles (Miles’ founder was also an investor). But they ceased operations April 3 after efforts to find a new owner or investor failed. You can still borrow a cargo bike from the German bike club’s Flotte program for free (or for a donation) here though.
Woman attacked on bus in Wedding, Taxi driver killed
A woman on a bus in Wedding was attacked Tuesday evening by an unknown assailant, Tagesspiegel reported. The victim remains in hospital after the man — reportedly no relation to the woman — boarded the bus and stabbed her several times in front of her seven- and nine-year-old daughters. He then fled and remains at large. An assailant in an apparent murder in Grunewald also remains at large after a taxi driver was discovered unconscious in the leafy suburb early Thursday — he later died in hospital. The Polizei is releasing little information about the unrelated attacks, citing their ongoing investigations.
Feel like seeing a hare (as opposed to a cuddly bunny) on Easter? Head to the eastern Berlin hoods of Lichtenberg, Marzahn-Hellersdorf and Karlshorst, environmental group NABU told Die Zeit. Open areas haven’t been fertilized for decades, which supports diversity and bunnies, er, hares love a diverse diet. Or just stay in your neighborhood and wonder (as I do) why foxes are proliferating in the Hauptstadt.