Dublin, view from Google European HQ. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.

Dublin, a view from Google European HQ. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.

What happend to Avant-Hard after she left Berlin? How did it feel to leave the hip and jive dark-dancing mass? Where did Avant-Hard go and what does she drink now if not Club Mate?

The life after Berlin brought a massive change. If there is no change, you’re not living. In Berlin I was comfortable living the uncomfortable life. I was cleaning apartments while photographing festivals, writing blogs, editing videos, managing social media, organising events, fighting for the intern rights, doing city tours and graphic design for free or very low pay and dancing at night. It is hard to break the routine that has been working for years. Even if it makes you uncomfortable. People often fear the change. And it’s totally human. And the older you become the harder it is to make that step. But I got tired, more than that, I was emotionally exhausted and it was time to face the challenge.

Polishing toilets, thinking golden statue

It’s been a year since I left Berlin and it’s been a year since I haven’t written a blog post. Just a year ago I was polishing toilets imagining they were golden statues. I’d pay with a €100 note in McDonalds for a €2 ice cream, saying “sorry, I don’t have smaller”. In reality we just had to break it for two of us to get paid for Cinderella job. I was rejected by the Copenhagen University where I wanted to do multi-media MA, I was rejected by hundreds of small and big companies across Europe for over a year. Rejections were like arrows in my back, making me bleed stronger and stronger.. The three diplomas I had been keeping so proudly in the folder, lost the importance and I felt like I could flush them down that toilet I’ve just polished. In the end I was not only exhausted, I became apathetic and pessimistic and I wanted to puke in that toilet. I secretly dreamed about life grabbing my hair and smashing my face against an absolute fortune.

Google bridge

Dublin, Google bridge. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.

Dublin, the space office.

Dublin, the space office. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.

google xmas

Google. Xmas orchestra. All right reserved by Avant-Hard.

Latvia – the home I never loved

After seven years of living abroad I left 24h party people Berlin and I moved back to mum’s place. It felt miserable.

It was easy to get a job in Latvia because Latvian marked lacked specialists. I went to job interviews at well established organisations without preparation and almost always got the job. I became picky and would choose between the companies. I started working for one of the largest fashion labels in Latvia – QooQoo, organised a Twin Peaks party, did graphic design and social media work remotely for a startup in Vienna and joined an ambitious marketing agency as a social media manager. But I still was not happy, I did not believe in my future in Latvia.

I never felt the connection with Latvia. I could never deal with the extreme level of nationalism, racism, homophobia, lack of tolerance, Scandinavian prices and miserable €370 minimum wage, broken health and pension schemes.

This half a year in Latvia felt  like sitting in a dark box hoping somebody will open the lead. In April all of a sudden, I got a call from Dublin and it changed everything. I packed my bags and two weeks later I left the country. After being rejected by hundreds of companies across Europe, I was the perfect fit for the #1 rated company in the world – Google.

Though honestly speaking, I feared this was a scam until I entered the European headquarters. I mean, who needs an avant-garde bottle collector/Silicon Allee toilet polisher?

Bear foot and water guns

I did not expect Google to ever select me – I was too imperfect for everybody. But what other companies saw as a disadvantage in my portfolio, Google saw as an advantage. I had the warmest welcome of my life. It felt like they waited for me their whole life. My desk looked like a birthday party – full of balloons, candies, and funny memes. They pranked me so hard too and we all laughed for like a week after. Me being an underground Berlin artist that had holes in the pockets, thought that a big corporate company like Google was meant to be a boring suit-wearing routine. No, I never read any articles about Google offices and I haven’t watched “The internship”.

And so I entered this space that looks like a playground dream of my childhood with all the toys I never had. And I question myself – who are these people wearing no shoes, shooting water guns, pranking each other, hugging after long holidays and just having a blast? These absolute strangers made me feel so special, literally that there is no better person on the planet for this position than me. They opened the doors of their homes to me, the person they have just met. And after my ego was flashed down the toilet that I polished so diligently, I suddenly felt like I am standing on the top of the Everest chewing the Extra gum. Damn cool Everest.

google games

My team is like no other team I ever worked with. We are all very different. Different cultural backgrounds, different personalities, different political views and life values. If we were animals, we all would be different species. Like a mix of a dinosaur, a panther, a bull, an elephant, a dolphin, an owl, and a crocodile – basically the whole jungle. We are just a perfectly combined team. We are highly respective, supportive, tolerant and incredibly fun. My team are a bunch of supermen.

Healthy Environment

What blew my mind and still is blowing daily – is how much Google takes care of their employees. I could never even dream of meditating at work – well apart from sitting at my desk with the eyes closed and colleagues asking you if I was okey. Google offers a range of options how to distress, how to maintain the work balance and not overwork. The company kindly encourages you to do sports. The gym provided to anyone at any time of week has also free of charge yoga and pilates classes. Or during the lunch you can go for a swim, get a massage done or simply have a nap in the isolated char. If hitting the drums is something that will help you to relax, you can go to the music room or play computer games, play ping pong or pool and get totally detached from work for half an hour. My manager got us legos and a puzzle for this New Year’s, and as an adult you do realize that sometimes it’s the best way to have a break from work. There are special meditation sessions and a D vitamin room for the wellbeing too. There are also doctors on campus, should you need them. Google gives various relaxation options for everyone to choose what works best.

The quote below is complete opposite to the Google environment, because all of a sudden you realise that Google is your friend or as I jokingly say – Papa Google, since he cooks for me three times a day. Similarly to Scandinavian business model, Google makes sure you are happy at work and have enough time for private life. The company encourages to not stay after 6pm and also kindly reminds you of your holiday days for bigger productivity. Google motivates by providing a happy relaxed environment in all offices across the globe. There are also special perks an employee gets for outstanding performance and being Googley.

work quote

Possibilities at Google

Another thing that does not stop to amaze me is the possibilities of personal and career development. Google strives for innovation and initiative. And the sky is the limit. The projects that one can get involved in are endless. If you don’t have the skills, you can get them. Google gives the space for growth even outside of the contracted role.

For example, there is a peer-to-peer learning program where Googlers teach other Googlers on topics that can range from yoga to coding — and it’s all completely free!

Mayra Felix

In other words, Google does everything for you to be passionate about your job. This company created the atmosphere where you are self motivated to explore the limits and think outside of the box. You don’t need your manager to give you a project, you pick it yourself.

I Google, therefore I am

You never know where you will lose and where you will find. Google found me sitting in the puddle doing the math. I was trying to calculate my future, but since I was never good in maths Google said:”let’s do something different.” I have taken the role I never considered before. And to my big surprise I really enjoy it and not sure I’d go back to marketing. Google does not limit me to the title I was given, Google gives me the necessary space for being who I am. I left the puddle and the rain won’t stop me now.

And what happened to Berlin? Berlin is still there, dancing and making love to the strangers. I pass it by occasionally.  Berlin is the wild bird I never managed to get into to the cage.

Dinner in White. Flashmob. Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt

Dinner in White. Flashmob. Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt

Berlin was my home for 3,3 years. I came there July 2011 after graduation in England and was ready to start a new period of my life. I knew nothing or very little about Germany and Berlin in general, but I was tired of the UK and naively believed this was my chance to start a career.

A year before I moved to Berlin I visited a friend in Berlin. She lived on a vital full of bars, cafes and restaurants Falckensteinstr. and I fell in love with the city immediately. It felt both familiar and new at the same time. It felt like this is the city that never sleeps and this is what I need because I don’t wanna sleep.. I wanted to work hard 5 days a week in a media company and do my own video projects in the spare time. And so I started a German course on my 3rd year of studies, and a year later moved to the German capital with 50kg in my hands, paying a €300 big fine for the overweight in Luton Airport. Honestly, I did not know back then Berlin is such a popular city and that 95% of planes that land here bring whether expats full of hopes or party tourists who won’t even see Brandenburger Gate.

Kreuzberg remained my neighbourhood from the very first to the very last day, even though I moved several times like a proper Berliner, because if you haven’t changed at least three flats within the first half a year, then you are not in Berlin. A typical Berlin flat is located in an old building with wooden floors and a high ceiling, some of them still have coal heating and a stove that takes the 3rd of your 12 square meter room that costs you now €300. When I moved to Berlin, the Neukoelln boom has only started. While some only spoke about it, many others already were moving there, paying €200 for a 25 square meter room.

The first three things you have to get used to are: that Berlin drinkssmokes and parties a lot and everywhere; that friends you had yesterday, might be gone today because it’s a transit city and last, but not least that there is no work. Sitting in a park with a 0,70 cent bottle and a €2,90 kebab is comfortable and cheerful, smoking a joint is legal and relaxing. When there is a party – you don’t have to rush there, because: 1. everything in Berlin starts late 2. if you don’t go there, there are another 105 variants today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. With the friends situation I never figured out what to do – whether not to get attached to anyone and be just “whatever” or simply hope that I leave faster than my new friends.. Anyway, the reason why all the friends/expats/people are leaving is exactly work.

I did a 100 different jobs in Berlin. I worked for a paleo restaurant, film festivals, Berlin Fashion Week, creative agencies, model agencies, tourism agencies, startups, art and film projects, production companies, Rocket Internet + I did various freelance jobs and ran workshops on the internship economy. After a month I moved to Berlin I already had my collages presented at the public exhibition. Seems like a lot going on, but all that does not make you financially stable. There is no minimum wage in Germany (even though this shall change soon) and many places offer you black work, which means that no one pays the taxes, and you end up without a pension scheme and most importantly without a health insurance. Having no health insurance in Germany is a tragedy. Yes, you can come with an EU or whatever insurance from your home country, but it still will cost you money OR will cover only emergency. All in all you gotta love German bureaucracy in order to survive.

Berlin is definitely one of a kind. It’s a city of freedom. You can do here whatever you want. Participate in any kind of activities, climbing walls to check abandoned spaces, going to wild, experimental parties or riots, attending tantric or DMT gatherings, having a dinner with your own table on the underground station, traveling naked etc etc etc. See my The Very Berlin Moments blog post.  Whatever you want to try in your life, you can do it in Berlin and no one ever will ask you anything or give you a judgemental look, because here everything is normal or abnormal, but still acceptable. Berlin is a vegetarian city that stinks of urine, beer and weed. Berlin’s true face is “I work at the party”. Because most of the people work in the bars, cafes, galleries, tattoo salons, festivals, shared spaces etc. Startups work hard, but Friday afternoon you already see boxes of beers in the office. Fashion shops in the city centre open at 11am. And even big international companies will end up sniffing coke, because they are young, because the young rule the city. It’s like a big community and in the end of the day it’s just a big party where everybody knows each other. Not that it does not happen in London or other capitals, but here it’s more public and sexual. It’s more dirty by all the means, like New York in the 80s. Creativity for the creativity’s sake, not for the money. I am a freelancer, I pay my rent, but I can’t pay for anything else.

All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Berlin is beautiful in it’s own ugly way. It’s grey on the outside, but it’s the most saturated on the inside. Walking the right streets and entering the right doors open up a completely different view on the city. Berlin is absolutely anti-romantic, rough, but very cosmopolitan. Berlin is the city where you can discover something new every day, I’ve gone to random stations and came across with mind-blowing things. Berlin is a cheap prostitute without a health insurance. And yet it is full of talented and amazing people, important and special places. Berlin is the city to love and hate. With all these wonderful opportunities, there is no industry here and respectively no money. Poor artists’ myth has died with the previous century. An artist is also a job not a style of living. 

Bossa Fakata in Berlin.

Bossa Fataka in Berlin.

There are now mainly three work options in Berlin:

  1. You run your own business, and you earn enough to live in prosperity.
  2. You are a freelancer, who is lucky to have clients who pay enough to live in prosperity.
  3. You do a simple job (example: bartender, sale’s person, call centre) and you are happy with €700 – €1000 a month, because you do not care about the career

All these options are a headache, because there is no money in the city and you are in a constant run for the client who pays. Berlin is NOT the city for those who want to build a career. To register a new company you need €1, to make sure your business gives an income, it has to be international. Same goes for the freelancing – locals won’t pay much for your most wonderful design; often they won’t pay at all. It’s a normal practice – work for nothing. Herz lV is not an option. Living on benefits is not an option, because to move out from this city was the option for me. Because working for free was not something I came for. The experience I gained in Berlin is unbelievable. Nowhere else in the world I would have had a chance to do what I did in Berlin. But you get tired from working for free, because working for free is volunteering.

It’s important to understand that there are job offers in Berlin, but mostly internships, badly paid or unpaid. I’ve gone to interviews to find out they have no money to pay. My friends had high positions, but their payment was delayed. I was also told stories when applying for a cafe job a boss would ask:”Do you want to get paid?” It is also important to understand that there is a high competition absolutely everywhere, especially because us Latvians, Polish, Romanians, Bulgarians etc. don’t want to stay in the home country. We increase the amount of applicants for a good position up to 300 and up. But if other cities have well paid options, Berlin mostly does not.. Even IT specialists are paid much less in Berlin than the rest of Germany.

Berlin is a city of change, Berlin won’t be poor forever. The business centres are being built, the clubs and graffiti being removed, even the Wall leftovers.. More than half of my friends have left Berlin, and a few are planning to move out soon. This blog post is also written for those who plan to move here. My advice is – know exactly what you want from the city. If it is just a year for the experience sake – it is a great place, if you think “career” and “family” – this is a sad place. Not being able to pay for the dentist is sad, not being able to fly for a holiday is sad. Berlin is sad during the day and fun during the night.

A few days before leaving for good I’ve filmed the places I have been cycling through on a regular basis. This is Berlin I will remember.

Goodbye to Berlin from Katja Avant-Hard on Vimeo.

Falckensteinstr. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

Falckensteinstr. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

1. To love dogs. I used to have panic attacks, when I saw a dog, and I never wanted to have one myself. Berlin changed it all. From big to small Berlin dogs never bark, never jump, don’t wear a leash and can sit outside the shop without making a move or noise what-so-ever. See for yourself here.

2. That the artist has to know how to sell. You are the product, the marketer and the seller all in one.

3. To love beer. Before I moved to Germany, I strongly disliked this type of alcohol. Now I can tell the tourists what is what. I also learned that your bathtub is your beer fridge for the house party. And if you haven’t drank beer in -10, you have not been to Berlin.

4. That Berlin has the best Zoo in Europe. When you’re sad, I strongly recommend visiting this place, where you can easily spend the whole day.

5. To make the bridge bounce while dancing on it (Modersohnbrücke in particular). Get DJs, get a good stereo system, invite people, make a party, let the heavy cars still go over the bridge, dance like none is watching, make it bounce, feel it!….

6. That unfortunately yoga and being vegan can be fashionable. After several years of living here I got a flock of sheep impression. Because people without reason are trying to do both and are not realising, that it does not suit every body, and both vegan lifestyle and yoga can do harm. Yet on every corner in Berlin you now will find a yoga center and even though Germany has really good meat and lots of farms and farm product delivery options, Berliners are trying to avoid iron and take B12 Vitamin. Dear readers, everything should be in balance. I have vegetarian/vegan friends and I respect them. Find your reason first, and make sure your body agrees with it.

7. To multi task. German classes in the morning, work until 20:00, meeting friends in the evening + contributing to 10 other projects at the same time.

8. To cook crackers and bread without flour and eggs. I worked for a paleo restaurant, where I learned the secret.

9. To cycle in Neukoelln. Neukoelln inhabitants have a tendency to stop their cars randomly in the middle of the street, they also ignore traffic lights which turns a cyclist experience into survival.

10. To travel with soup pots and baking dishes on the underground. Shared food parties is a normal practice here. Great and sweet idea too!

Kottbusser Tor. A part of a university project.  Don't have the name of the author, if you know please drop me a line.

11. That the trash bags can cost €3,50 when they’re bio  supposte to normal ones for €0,59. Recycling is a big thing here.

12. What means an amazingly relaxed big city life. It’s the capital, but there is no stress and no rush. No rush in the morning, no rush in the evening, no rush for the party…

“There just isn’t really this fear of missing out,” Mr. DeNorch said. “You just feel like wherever you’re at is fine. You’re just having a good time.” … “When you want to go out to the club, you grab a beer on the way,” he said. “You can buy some weed on the street so you can smoke a joint if you want to. There’s all these little things you can do here that you can’t do there to get you in the mood.”

“In New York specifically, there’s a huge amount of stress about what you’re doing tonight and where you’re going to be in the city and who you’re going to be with,” said Mr. Ladner, a founder of the Janus party. 

Read full Article on NYTIMES

13. A feeling of blended genders. Berlin is the city where I’ve received the least amount of compliments. In here you forget that you’re a woman, as it does not matter how attractive you look, people seem to not pay any attention, because they like it all: any size and any gender. There are both negative and positive aspects of this, yet this is typical Berlin.

14. That Berlin is a temporary stop for many of us.

“It’s like living in an airport here in Berlin”
Ben Sömethingorother

15. That work and parties in Berlin are like black and white. “…half of all Berliners make under 1500 EUR a month, and a third less than 1000 EUR” (source)

Berlin is the poorest German city, with highest unemployment rate and half of the expats are receiving the job-centre benefits. Berlin is the place where jobs don’t last long. And it’s also normal if you have not been paid up to a year, but then you might want to go to the lawyer. On what really is happening in Berlin and the city’s mayor you can read here.

As about the parties – they are always here: cheap or absolutely free, 7 days a week. On a hot summer weekday all the parks in Berlin are full with jobless people or people who do odd jobs. Berlin parties more than it works. If you are considering Berlin as your next career destination, please think of Hamburg first.

16. That Berlin’s tech startup scene is far behind the Silicon Valley, and that we Europeans are modest in comparison to brave Americans, who can sell an old three-leg-chair without blinking as a brand new one.

17. That bio products in Germany are at least 95% bio, full stop. My research on eco label in Germany you can read here.

18. That a Berliner is a traditional North German pastry similar to a doughnut with no central hole made from sweet yeast dough fried in fat or oil, with a marmalade or jam filling and usually icing, powdered sugar or conventional sugar on top. 
John F. Kennedy‘s words “Ich bin ein Berliner” are standard German for “I am a Berliner”. Mentioned in Len Deighton‘s 1983 novel Berlin Game, an urban legend has it that due to his use of the indefinite article ein, Berliner is translated as “jelly doughnut”, and that the population of Berlin was amused by the supposed mistake. The normal convention when stating a nationality or, for instance, saying one is from Berlin, would be to leave out the indefinite article ein. Throughout the 1980s, the legend was spread even by quality papers and reputable media like The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC or NBC.

A berliner in a box by Dorit Bialer http://iwanteverything.de/

19. I also learned that giving a birth and remaining skinny is a normal practice in Berlin. The answer to “how?” I still haven’t found.

20. That it is okey to be explicit, naked and have sex in public spaces. Freedom to everyone. Just be yourself. No judgement, no fashion, no boundaries. From train station to night life. Berlin is possibly the most sexually open city on earth, that also makes a stable classical relationship almost impossible. Berlin greets open relationships, swingers, gay/lesbian/transexual, BDSM and other experimental loving methods.

“Ask any straight woman over 30 and she’ll tell you that the odds of finding a committed man in this city are about as high as unearthing the Holy Grail. Is there any hope for the single Berlin female?”

– See more at: http://www.exberliner.com

“Men are like toilets. They’re always occupied, and when they’re not – they’re full of shit. Well, welcome to Berlin!”

                                                                                                                           – Emilie

P.O.P Berlin

P.O.P Berlin

Clarchens Ball House Berlin. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House Berlin. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Exploring Berlin has been truly exciting for all three years. Secret venues, old theatres at midnight, weird parks, abandoned spy stations, life under the ground, inspiring personalities were found and met within this time, but only three summers later I’ve visited Clärchens Ballhaus. Built in 1895, the once-grand building has been through a lot. On September 13th 1913 Fritz Bühler opened the dance hall „Bühlers Ballhaus“
(Bühler’s Ballroom) in the back of Auguststrasse 24/25, which now ended up in the touristic center full of stylish onlookers and happy locals. It became known as Clärchens Ballhaus after Bühler was killed in WWI and his widow, Clara, took over the business.

During the peak, there were some 900 dancing establishments inBerlin, then already known for its nightlife, though just a few have survived. With such fierce competition, Clärchen’s dance hall on Auguststrasse in the city center had to find creative ways to attract customers. After the war ended in 1918, “Aunt Clärchen”, as many called her, held events for widows, who danced with each other because men were scarce. Meanwhile, the opulent upstairs ballroom was rented out for outlawed sword fights that often left the floor covered in blood.

Now the place is still holding the old dancing like: swing, cha-cha-cha, tango etc. And if you’ve never done it before, they will teach you. Ground floor has a bar and a kitchen, the lush gardens are buzzing with people sitting among various bushes and grape trees. Regular concerts and dancing make it the Ball House for what it stands. The famous Mirror Room can be rented for private events, and it’s probably the most impressive open space in the entire building. Quentin Tarantino used Clärchens as a location for his film Inglorious Bastards.

Lona Jakob is the oldest Ball House visitor, informed Spiegel in 2013. At a spry 91 years old, she is the oldest regular guest at Clärchens Ballhaus. It’s where the former ballerina met her late husband in the 1940s, and where she returned late in life after his death to rediscover her love of dancing. Now, she dresses up in sequins and heels (despite breaking her leg not long ago) to come dancing here with friends and her daughter every Sunday. And now, as then, she always waits to be asked to dance.

There are tons of stories in the walls of these building, most of them we will never know, but we can feel the spirit and enjoy it until it lasts. Breath it in.

If you want to have a coffee with me there, feel free to drop a line.

The Mirror Room. Image taken from: http://peutereycitymag.peuterey.com/

Image taken from: girlitude.peugeot.it

Clarchens Ball House

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Clarchens Ball House. All rights Reserved by Katja Avant-Hard


Clarchens Ballhaus in 1920s.

Berlin underground catwalk. Image taken from: http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/

After three years of living in this incredible city, I understood and learned a lot. One of the brightest realisations was that Berlin, the city of freedom in all its expressions, has made me lose my gender, my femininity, my attractiveness. You can get me wrong, if you want to, but a woman needs compliments. I am far from being a narciss, but I’d get five to ten compliments a day in the UK. And when I go back to Riga, I need only a day to get a compliment from a man. But today in Berlin I received a compliment worth a million.

A woman wants to look good not only for herself, she needs to feel attractive and wanted by others. It’s a part of being a female. Berlin has been so greedy with compliments, and so generous with liberation and enervation, that the difference between male and female has vanished. Equality has it’s positive and negative sides. Wearing Dr. Martens, jeans and oversized jumper is too easy, for both girls and boys. Sometimes I think in Berlin transvestites and transexuals dress better than the women themselves. In Berlin I found myself being left without compliments both times: when I dressed pretty and when I wore casual clothes. No one pays attention, because everyone is too cool ( in both connotations). All of the sudden it didn’t matter what you wore (or wore nothing at all, they still would pay attention).

Wearing a dress from a Give Away box

Wearing a dress from a Give Away box

But here is a story. Last year I found a nice loose dress in a box on the street of Rasenthaler Platz, which said “Zu verschenken” (Give away). It was in a great condition and I took it. Today I wore it for the first time to work. After work being tired and sticky (+30) I was walking to pick up my bike. As I open a locker an older gentleman comes by and speaks fast German, and at first I thought he is telling me I parked my bike in the wrong place, but his face is kind and he says something about my dress. My German being ok did let me down this time, and I honestly said “Sorry, my German is not that good”. He made sure I spoke English and then said that he does not want to disturb me, but he was sitting in the cafe that I passed by and my dress looked so pretty on me that he could not resist to tell me. I smiled widely thanking him and he added then:”And look what I get back, a nice smile! Thanks for walking by!” We spoke for 10 more minutes, and he told me he moved to Berlin in the 70s from New Zealand and he has seen this city change a lot. He has been doing photography for living all his life long and so we spoke about photography. I placed one of his Berlin photos below.

He was extremely nice and reminded me of Adam, my 77-year old friend in England, we still exchange real post with. Needless to say Mike made my day and I felt like a woman again.

Berliners, tell more compliments! Don’t keep it to yourself! And I mean both genders here.

“It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments, for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming.” 
― Oscar Wilde




All rights reserved by Mike Minehan


P.S. And it finally rains!

Ramones. Image taken from: http://www.spin.com/

The proto-punk band RAMONES was one of the most influential bands in the beginning of the 70s on the emerging music scene of New York. They played one of their first shows at CBGB‘s in 1974. The songs they played were very fast and very short; most clocked in at under two minutes.  Legs McNeil, who cofounded Punk magazine the following year, later described the impact of that performance: “They were all wearing these black leather jackets. And they counted off this song…and it was just this wall of noise…. They looked so striking. These guys were not hippies. This was something completely new.” They have influenced such bands as Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned.

“All the other singers [in New York] were copying David Johansen [of the New York Dolls], who was copying Mick Jagger…. But Joey was unique, totally unique.”

Dee Dee


[regarding Joey] And all of a sudden, girls were paying attention to him. Girls who weren’t on medication.

And so it happens that there is the RAMONES museum & bar in Berlin on Krausnickstr. 23, 10115. It was opened on the October 8, 2008. 

ramones museum berlin

Ramones Museum Berlin. Image taken from the FB page

Danny Fields was the manager of the Ramones, as well as Iggy and the Stooges; he has worked in various roles with Jim Morrison, the MC5, the Velvet Underground and the Modern Lovers. Danny was also a technical assistant at Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory. 


Danny Fields will give a lecture on the history of punk book PLEASE, KILL ME at the Ramones Museum,

Berlin, this Sunday 27.04.14. at 20:00

Entrance possibly free

Facebook event


The Ramones. Image taken from: http://rockstarwallpapers10.net/


Image taken from: http://www.aspirantsg.com/

Image taken from: http://www.aspirantsg.com/

Freelancers and independent professionals are a growing and vital part of the European workforce and economy. Politicians at all levels of government need to understand and address this important demographic. Ahead of the 2014 European Parliament elections, we, the freelancers of Europe, call on government and businesses to:

Recognise freelancers!
Give us official status at all levels of government and bureaucracy. Realize that we’re not the same as small and medium enterprises or other activity categories. Remember us when you create policy that affects us.

Give us access!
Make sure freelancers can access all government services, bid for official contracts, access training programs and qualify for funding.

Count us!
Include us in all official statistics, and study our demographic better. Don’t put us together with other small business categories.

Give us a voice!
Talk to our representative organizations, give us a seat at the table and appoint an EU freelancers’ envoy to champion our concerns.

Treat us fairly!
Pay us on time. Write contracts that treat us ethically.

Follow this link to sign up the petition: http://www.freelancers-europe.org.

Together we can make a difference! Freelancers deserve better work, health and pension conditions! 

Fight for your Rights!

Fight for your Rights!

Twin Peaks.

After 25 years from the last episode of Twin Peaks, the spirit still lives and the fan base is still growing. These Lynchian places where are they?

There are several Twin Peaks related bars in the World. There is The Black Lodge in Bulgaria, which is more for metal heads; there is The Black Lodge in Vancouverwith impressive well thought through design, there is Black Bear Lodge bar in Brisbane, Australia, “where stag heads, fir trees and Johnny Cash rule, the red velvet curtained stage still provides the back drop and ‘a cast of Blue Velvet characters hang out.” And there is a restaurant/sports bar chain called Twin Peaks  in DallasTexas, which did not impress me at all.

Inspired by the deeply strange Club Silencio in Mulholland Drive, the film director himself has opened a nightclub in the French capital. Everything from the toilet bowls – black on black – to the saltiness of the nuts on the bar was decided on by the master himself. He even created the 1950s-inspired furniture, the chairs designed to “induce and sustain a specific state of alertness and openness to the unknown”. (the Guardian) And here you can still smoke inside; and of course there is a small Blue Velvet stage.

Silencio. David Lynch club. Paris. Photo: Copyright Alexandre Guirkinger | Silencio

Silencio. Image taken from artinfo.com

Yet, there is another Lynnchian place on earth, and it’s in Berlin. It’s been here for a while, but it has just relocated (well a few months ago) to Kreuzkölln. It is also called The Black Lodge, and we are totally ok with it. The place is nicely hidden on Sanderstrasse 6, and there is no indication that this is the Twin Peaks bar; because the old huge signboard says something unrelated and the windows are masked. The first room is completely black except for the ceiling and radiators; it is also a bar which is pretty ritzy. On the walls there are two gold framed mirrors and the white candles on tables, typical. The bar has a great selection of strong dutch beers and a mix between cocktails and long drinks. The prices are standard. The 2nd room is more exciting if you want to get the real feel of the Black Lodge, as it has red heavy curtains and the stripy floor; however it is very narrow, suppose to the real spacious room in the TV series. The tables are tiny and you sit along the wall. There is a hidden door which leads you to the restrooms and.. yet another room, which is totally bizarre because it’s a smoking area and it looks like a typical Berlin bar, grey ragged walls authentic furniture, all in all totally not fitting the mood of the previous two rooms. I’d would paint it black and put an owl there or at least a framed Laura Palmer photo, like Madame Claude did. If there was no 2nd room, you’d never get a Twin Peaks feeling, other than that it’s a lovely stylish bar, which gets 4 stars from me, and we’ll ignore that 3rd room.

P.S. They make fantastic event posters; check their Facebook page.

The Black Lodge. Vancouver.


Berlin is changing, this change is unstoppable. The breathtaking Wilde Renate’s Labyrinth aka Peristal Singum will close forever on the 29th of March 2014. The homepage says: 

We welcome you to

collaborate! participate!

& transform!

Which means the guys are going to demolish it all and re-build it elsewhere and you can get involved.

About Peristal Singum

Within a 9 month period of continuous work, a small group of creative enthusiasts built  surrealistic and at the same time accessible installation spreading  on two floors.  This spontaneous creation was built from scrap metal, used timber piling, glass bottles, one car and different sorts of civilization waste.

Peristal Singum is a combination of Alice in Wonderland, a playground for grownups and a creepy cabinet with amusement factor.

By virtue of particular arts and materials, free organic interior design and extraordinary setting, people intuitively sharpen their senses and intensely  perceive entities around them, as well as the ones that reside inside of them.  The journey through this genuinely strange construction unveils secrets to ones who are willing to hark, question and take on challenges.  As a result, each person passes through one truthful, remarkable and authentic experience (http://karmanoia.org/peristal).

“It’s not for the faint of heart and it’s really hard to describe without giv­ing it away to some extent, but really, I urge you: go and check out what Peri­stal Singum is.

You will not regret it and you will never find some­thing like this again, ever, any­where, in and out­side of Ber­lin.”


This might be your last chance @ Wilde Ren­ate Salon, ALT-STRALAU 70 10245 Berlin

Wilde Renate Peristal Singum. Image taken from: http://samyroad.com/

David Bowie exhibition

David Bowie exhibition

The exhibition David Bowie is coming to the German capital. Berlin is the city where the exceptional artist has spent some of the most productive years of his career.

On 20 May 2014 the exhibition curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, opens its doors to the public. Exhibition venue is the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. Be among the first to experience a spectacular show!


David Bowie is the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie – one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times.

The exhibition demonstrates how Bowie’s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, theatre and contemporary culture and focuses on his creative processes, shifting style and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre and film.


The Berlin stop is one of the highlights of the international exhibition tour due to the intimate relationship between Bowie and the German capital. The exhibition sends the visitors on a time journey through the subculture of West Berlin during the 1970s, the time when Bowie and dazzling companions such as Iggy Pop influenced the Berlin nightlife.

The Berlin years 1976/78 were some of the most productive years of Bowie’s career; it was then when he wrote music history. He drew creative energy from the city and created a triptych of groundbreaking albums: Low, Lodger and the centrepiece Heroes. It was recorded within sight of the Berlin Wall at Hansa Studios. Here, he and his companions experimented with avantgardistic concepts of their personalities breaking boundaries between fashion, music and performance art – life and art merged to something radically new.

The exhibition in the Martin-Gropius-Bau shows those intensive relationships and presents objects which have been gathered up especially for the Berlin stop of the tour.

"In 1987, Bowie returned to the divided city to perform for a crowd of 70,000 fans, their sparklers and candles glittering around the Reichstag. Towards the end of the show he read aloud a message in German. “We send our best wishes to all our friends who are on the other side of the Wall.” Then he sang “Time will Crawl”. On the other side of the hateful divide, hundreds of young East Berliners strained to hear echoes of the concert. They caught sight of stage lights flashing off blank, bullet-marked walls. They heard Bowie greet them. They listened to his song. Their song. Berlin’s song. “We can be heroes, just for one day,” he sang in a daring, ironic elegy to both the divided world and his past life.  As “Time will Crawl” reached its climax some of the East German crowd pushed towards the Brandenburg Gate, whistling and chanting, “Down with the Wall”. They threw insults and bottles at the Volkspolizei, rising together in a rare moment of protest. On stage Bowie heard the cheers from the other side. He was in tears." Read full article: The Berlin landmarks that inspired David Bowie  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/b20113b0-8753-11e3-9c5c-00144feab7de.html#axzz2s3ZrCQb6

“In 1987, Bowie returned to the divided city to perform for a crowd of 70,000 fans, their sparklers and candles glittering around the Reichstag. Towards the end of the show he read aloud a message in German. “We send our best wishes to all our friends who are on the other side of the Wall.”
Then he sang “Time will Crawl”.
On the other side of the hateful divide, hundreds of young East Berliners strained to hear echoes of the concert. They caught sight of stage lights flashing off blank, bullet-marked walls. They heard Bowie greet them. They listened to his song. Their song. Berlin’s song. “We can be heroes, just for one day,” he sang in a daring, ironic elegy to both the divided world and his past life.
As “Time will Crawl” reached its climax some of the East German crowd pushed towards the Brandenburg Gate, whistling and chanting, “Down with the Wall”. They threw insults and bottles at the Volkspolizei, rising together in a rare moment of protest. On stage Bowie heard the cheers from the other side. He was in tears.”
Read full article: The Berlin landmarks that inspired David Bowie

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