#249: Uber Arena, Görlitzer attack video, more protests
The gender pay gap is getting worse in Berlin
Hey 20 Percent!
The Mercedes-Benz Arena will be re-named the Uber Arena in March after the unprofitable ride-sharing company bought the naming rights. A beautful Inception-level joke.
The word “über” in English means “very, very” and is borrowed from German — the umlauts give it away (though they’re not always used). I assume it was adopted from Nietzsche’s “Übermensch”. Uber usurped the term for its brand, using the version without the umlauts, probably to be more international. Ironic because Anglo-Saxon companies love to add umlauts to add a sense of Teutonic seriousness (hell, even German companies do it — got2be in Germany and göt2be in English).
But now, Uber is bringing its linguistic Frankenstein to the German capital much in the same way Starbucks brought Italian coffee culture back to Italy in a paper cup (what size is a ‘venti’ again?). Do Germans pronounce it “Über” or “Uber”? I’d ask my German wife but she rides her bïke or takes püblïc tränspört.
The renaming will make the soulless area Berlin’s dotcom downtown, home to Uber Arena, the Amazon Tower and Zalando. Money rather than common sense has reigned in its developement despite the promise the area — a former railyard — once held. Hopefully the adjacent RAW space will be better developed.
But the joke doesn’t end there. Verti Music Hall will also be renamed — wait for it — Uber Eats Music Hall. Please, don’t sing with your mouth full. Only this morning did I discover that “Verti” isn’t just a random latinate name given to the space — no, a company I had never heard of had bought those naming rights. I guess it was money well spent — I now know there is an insurance company I will never use named “Verti”.
Have a good über-weekend, y’all!
PS: If you’d like to have an über-Wednesday, come out to Accidentally German — two hours of stand-up comedy with me and comedian Carmen Chraim hosted by an actual German, Masud Akbarzadeh. All in English at the world famous Cosmic Comedy in Mitte. Tickets.
Disappointing start to group rape trial
It’s no wonder women hesitate in reporting sexual assaults. The trial of three men accused of attacking a couple and raping a woman in Görlitzer Park in June started Thursday amid breathless reports of a video that supposedly exonerates the accused. But if you read past the headlines, like this one in Tagesspiegel, you discover the video is only seven seconds long and may — or may not — show the victim involved in a sex act with one of the suspects — and exonerates no one. Also, the victims’ nationality is somehow now, for the first time, an issue (they were tourists). The video was only recently discovered on one of the suspects’ phones — a phone he’s had with him the entire time he’s been in custody since the charges were filed. Nice detective work, Polizei. The articles note that the attack was the onus for a security summit that may lead to a fence and closing hours at Görlitzer Park, as if the mini-video that says nothing about the charges eliminates the need for increased security. But the accusations resonated so loudly because nobody feels safe in Görlitzer Park after dark. Both Berlin and the city’s journalists need to do better.
Protesting the AfD’s protest
Berlin politicians Thursday protested a recent meeting between AfD politicians and far-right idealists by leaving the city-state’s senate just as a fellow pol from the right-wing AfD was about to speak. The über-protest started when Raed Saleh, a top politician with the center-left SPD, stood up to leave as Kristin Brinker, who leads the AfD in Berlin, began her speech to complain about slander against her party, according to RBB24. Brinker herself is accused of meeting with far-right activists in the summer. Only AfD members remained in the chamber to listen to the whining.
More farmer protests as well as trucker protests
The Year of Discontent® continues Friday with protests by both truckers and farmers who have parked their vehicles between Brandenburg Gate and the Siegessäule (Victory Column) on Straße der 17. Juni, according to the Morgenpost. The logistics industry is angered by a recent increase in commercial tolls while farmers continue to protest cuts to diesel subsidies — they’re especially keen since the Grüne Woche agricultural convention starts Friday in Berlin with planned appearances by German agriculture minister Cem Özdemir (including one at a science slam I’m MCing). Expect über-traffic congestion as well as reduced bus service around Tiergarten until early next week.
The gender pay gap in Berlin widened to 11% last year from 10% in 2022 even as it shrunk to 4% in Brandenburg from 6% in 2022, according to the Berlin-Brandenburg statistics office. That’s still below the national average of 18%. In Berlin, women gross an average €22.97/hour while their males counterparts earn €25.91/hour.
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