#194: Noisy Berlin, would-be bomber, ugh cars
The ravers raved
Dear 20 Percent,
The ad popped up on Twitter: “Germany works”. Intrigued, I clicked and found myself on a site targeting foreign investors and tripped over the following: “Germany is like an engine, with its parts seamlessly integrated and running smoothly.”
Germans and their car metaphors. The site wants us to believe the country is purring along like a well-tuned Merc AMG. No mention of the Bürgeramt-booking mess, the sh*tshow known as the Ausländerbehörde, the overflowing trash cans in my local park, people begging outside of every bank or my doctor’s broken fax machine.
The fantasy that Germany is a paragon of efficiency and order lives on, at least in the heads of the country-marketing people. But as every expat in Berlin knows, Germany isn’t always what it says on the tin.
Of course, one shouldn’t complain too much or go too far down the Germany-hate rabbit holes. It’s a fine line. The status of bitter, hyper-critical expat isn’t one to aspire too. So much does work well in Germany.
The BVG and the Deutschlandticket, for example, are two transport services that hold up pretty damn well in international comparisons. And I love the German Drogerie-shops (dm, etc.) And I loved the fact that I got to stay three nights in hospital after the birth of my son — for a low fee. I’d love to hear what you like about Germany in the comments.
Enough random thoughts for one morning. Some news below!
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A Russian dissident living in Berlin has been charged with attempted homicide and attempted aggravated arson, according to ARD. In May 2022 he allegedly planted a bomb in the basement of a building in Steglitz that housed a branch of the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The bomb failed to ignite and was only discovered days later and was defused by a police bomb squad. Last year the 45-year-old Russian man camped outside the Russian Embassy to protest Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The screech of a tram. A growling motorcycle weaving through traffic. The din of the A100. Some 600 Berliners have submitted noise complaints on the government’s Noise Action Plan 2024-2029 site — and you can submit your favourite low-noise places to relax here. Submissions are open through August 9 and are meant help the city figure out where it should implement noise-reduction measures such as reduced speed limits. According to the mobility and environment department, 591,000 Berliners are subject to unhealthy levels of noise at night.
Planet was raved
On Saturday 200,000 people thronged Straße des 17. Juni between Brandenburg Gate and the Siegessäule to enjoy beats booming from 25 sound trucks like it was the Nineties all over again. Only midday Saturday did the police and fire department green light the event. Until the last minute there were doubts about whether organisers could guarantee an adequate number of paramedics. Before the party, the police tweeted: “Please do not undress at #ravetheplanet. Participants have complained to us.” Pretty sure that never happened in the Nineties.
Dumb car news of the day
There are so many pointless car accidents in Berlin. Here’s a scenario that just keeps repeating itself. On Monday an 18 year-old taking part in a suspected illegal road race down Yorckstraße in Kreuzberg smashed the Range Rover he was driving into a tree, totalling the SUV and resulting in a visit to the hospital. According to Berliner Zeitung, witnesses said the Range Rover took a corner at such a high speed it was up on two wheels. Another car travelling at dangerous speeds was seen leaving the scene of the accident.
This week, we snuck an event into our factoid segment: street food market Bite Club (€4 to get in) turns 10 this Friday with a jamboree at Arena on the banks of the Spree. Congrats, folks! It’s not easy to keep anything up and running in Berlin for that long. Also happening on Friday, just a few metres upriver at Else, is Ukrainian Sound Garden (free) — with a tempting all-night programme including music, food and a market.