#75: Germans wanted, €9 tix, Neukölln funfair, football, Feuerwehrbenutzungsgebührenordnung
And the continuing absurdity of German bureaucracy.
Hello 20 Percent!
When Germans want to talk about a hodgepodge, they love to use the term Flickenteppich, or patch quilt. A random collection. And that’s how Berlin’s professional football (er, soccer) landscape used to feel. Like the city had just ended up with a Flickenteppich of teams after reunification, most notably Hertha, which plays at the Olympic Stadium in the west, and FC Union, which has its own field in Köpenick, in the east.
Both teams now feel less like a random collection of teams and more like physical representations of the old Berlin versus the new Berlin. Union fought its way up from the lesser 2. Bundesliga (second division) over the last decade into the top 1. Bundesliga in 2019 and even qualified for the Europa Conference League this year.
FC Union is like a renovated Altbau in whatever borough is your favorite with a really great Fahrradkeller (bike storage room) and roof apartments that make you long for a better job.
Meanwhile Hertha has just been existing over in the west. They were always in the top league because, West Berlin, but little else. But it looks like that’s about to change. They have all but fallen into the second division (they have one chance at redemption Monday in Hamburg but it looks grim) after a nightmare season.
They’re like a 50s-era flat in Steglitz that was once nice but hasn’t seen much love since Helmut Kohl was chancellor (1998 was his last year, for the history-impaired). Like so much in former West Berlin, Hertha seems like something left over from Bowie’s Berlin, which was great but was also like 40 years ago (or even 50).
Speaking of Flickenteppiche: The corona hospitalization incidence traffic light has improved to yellow. Only the 7-day incidence remains red. The lights originally were to signal policy changes (ergo, lockdowns) when red but are now just symbolic.
And with that I wish you a Flickenteppich of a weekend, which are always the best kind (there’s supposed to be storms and even maybe tornadoes this afternoon, btw).
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, May 20
Received booster: 61% (61% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 1,637 (2,686 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,574 (+18 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 346.8 (356.7 Tuesday)
🟡 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 5.8 (8.5 Tuesday)
🟢Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 4.4% (5.8% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Maientage probably not ending, just moving
This is the last weekend for the Neuköllner Maientage (May Days) at Hasenheide park, a temporary amusement park that always felt too provincial for metropolitan Berlin, which of course made it that much more Berlin. They’ve always been a Flickenteppich of local toughs, wide-eyed children, German carnies and adolescents getting a scare on the Wilde Maus. Not to mention all the sweets and cheap trinkets. And this year, a member of a Berlin crime family was even murdered at the event — the second of five brothers to meet an untimely end. The Maientage is an indirect victim of Berlin’s popularity: Hasenheide is suffering from too many visitors so to save the park, the Maientage has been evicted. But, local politician Jochen Biedermann (Die Grüne) told RBB24 he hopes to have an alternative location by September (Tempelhof?).
BVG to sound boring
Over the years, the announcements and warnings in BVG buses and trains have become — you guessed it —a Flickenteppich of sounds so the public transport company has now standardized its “audio branding” meaning the sayings and tunes … and they sound a little like the banal default beeps and boops of a computer operating system. Check them out here and suffer BVG’s stilted, machine translations (note to BVG: We also do professional translations that will save you from us mocking you for relying on DeepL).
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You can now buy the €9 ticket
Creating a Flickenteppich out of when and where you can buy the special €9 monthly ticket, the BVG has already made it available in their app. It will give you access to all public transport in Germany (as well as regional Deutsche Bahn trains) from June through August. Other public transport outfits have said they’ll start peddling the thing at machines and ticket windows Saturday. According to Tagesspiegel, BVG even began sales before Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, made it official Friday. And, after swearing it was just impossible because there was absolutely no way they could ever find the workforce or the equipment, the S-Bahn and BVG have said they’ll increase capacity on many bus, tram and S-Bahn lines for those three months after all.
Berlin wants more Germans, no word on dual citizenship
The Berlin government — the Senat — Thursday discussed plans to boost the number of annual naturalizations (people becoming German) to 20,000 per year from a current 6,000. At the moment, about 450,000 of the 20 Percent in Berlin would qualify for citizenship (me, for instance), according to Berliner Zeitung, but the process is often too opaque or arduous because it’s overseen by a — wait for it — Flickenteppich of 99 bureaucrats spread across Berlin boroughs with varying capacities and abilities. Mayor Franzika Giffey hopes to wrest the responsibility for naturalizations from the boroughs and place it in a newly created office at the Landesamt für Einwanderung aka Ausländerbehörde (🤮) with 200 new bureaucrats. Hopefully the process won’t take more than two (TWO) years. Does anyone believe her? We’ve also been trying to get more info on the federal promise of better opportunities for dual citizenship but so far only the Interior Ministry has said they’re working on it (Die Grüne refused to talk about it).
Even Berlin bureaucrats suffer from Berlin’s bureaucracy: The city-state spent €500,000 on a special intensive-care ambulance but it can’t use it because, according to Tagesspiegel, the vehicle isn’t included in the Feuerwehrbenutzungsgebührenordnung (fire department fee schedule). Including it in the Feuerwehrbenutzungsgebührenordnung (No, it’s not the longest German word) will take about six months, so hold off on that serious illness. Check it out: No Flickenteppich in this item (do you see what I did there?).