Monday, August 26, 2013

German toilets: Giving shite a stage

Some toilets in Germany have viewing platforms so you can inspect your produce after producing it. They even have a name for them as Gilly pointed out last week – Flachspüler. So they’re important enough to have entered the national lexicon.
Things are bad when all you’ve left to take pride in is your own shite. But evidently that’s what they’ve been reduced to. They must gaze down lovingly at the bowl after laying a shite in the same way a mother views her newborn.
There’s no other explanation. I was wondering if it was driven by that incessant competitive drive. Germans are so insecure they have to measure themselves against everyone and second best is a failure. They have to be the best, regardless of the consequences. Maybe they view shite in the same way, each rated according to the creator’s personal scale, with the owner always vowing to do better the next time. “Muß besser machen,” they mutter wistfully to themselves.
But of course they’re never satisfied. No matter how good a German’s shite is, it always has to be better.
Even if they shat the best shite ever shit, insecurities would surface with the next fart, and before you know it they’re on steroids working arses in the gym to produce the next one.
I, for one, have no desire to be reacquainted with dinner a full day after I’ve eaten it. I can forfeit the pleasure. That shit – literally – should be flushed the hell away as quickly and as callously as possible, and there’s certainly no reason to put it on a pedestal.
Sorry Germany, but you’re getting that shit all wrong.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Zombie hospital: Running out of patients

There’s a zombie hospital in Weißensee. It used to be for kids but they were all eaten, their brains gorged upon by the zombies that took their place.
Now they call it home, making it a zombie hospital. Zombie ambulances ferry sick and injured zombies to their care, and after they patch them up and resuscitate their ailing comrades, they eat their brains too. Braaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnns. Or rather, Gehiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrne… They’re German zombies after all.
Like the zombies, the hospital itself is fucked. Vandals have set the place alight at least 11 times already this year. It seems to be a regular pastime for the gobshites who evidently have no sense of history for the “protected” building they’re helping to destroy.
Yep, like others I’ve mentioned before, the Säuglings-Kinderkrankenhaus Weißensee is under “Denkmalschutz” as a listed building, but that doesn’t prevent the investors who purchased from letting it fall to the ground as they go back on promises made to procure it from the city. (For a song, I’m sure.)
The state-owned Liegenschaftsfonds Berlin is looking at ways to rescind the contract on the sale it made to MWZ Bio-Resonanz GmbH in 2005. Maybe they should have taken greater care at the time. I couldn’t find a phone number for the company, apparently a front for Russian investors, which said it was going to build a cancer-treatment center.
The Kinderkrankenhaus’ story begins in March 1908, when it was decided to build Prussia’s first municipal children’s hospital to help combat rising infant mortality rates at the time.
Construction got underway in June 1909, overseen by the prominent architect Carl James Bühring. He built a load of stuff in Berlin and then later in Leipzig.
On July 8, 1911, the hospital was inaugurated amid great fanfare on what was then-called Kniprodeallee. It had a little park for therapeutic purposes and – best of all – milk production facilities, with a cowshed, dairy and everything needed for milk storage and transportation.
Not only was the hospital considered one of the best of its kind anywhere, but it hosted the Third International Congress for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality from September 9-15 that same year.
Of course, more buildings were added down the years, as can be discerned from their varying and contrasting styles, but the cows’ facilities were done away with in 1920. Well, they catered instead to the city.
Later, in 1965, they became part of a dairy farm in nearby Heinersdorf. I presume they weren’t using the same cows or the milk must have been fairly sour.
The hospital was again expanded with a new wing in October 1987, but the whole thing was cruelly shut down after 85½ years of service to Berlin’s newest arrivals on January 1, 1997.
It’s been lying idle ever since, punished repeatedly by weather and brainless zombies who insist on burning it. Bruised, battered and burnt, it pines for the days it used to welcome little people into the world and care for those little people who suffer misfortune.
But no, its lifeblood is denied. It’s the hospital that ran out of patients.

Abandoned maternity and children’s hospital, the first municipal one of its kind in Prussia, and surely only one of the very few to have had its own cow facilities and dairy. Now left to suffer the ignominy of vandalism and weather-induced decay.

Hansastraße 178-180, 13088 Berlin (Weißensee).

How to get there
I just cycled there, the best way to get anywhere in this city. If your bike was stolen, however, (the biggest drawback of having a bike in this city), you can get the M4 tram from Alexanderplatz to the Buschallee/Hansastraße stop and walk from there. It’s just a stone’s throw away. Here’s a map so you know what to aim at.

Getting in
This place is so desperate for love and attention it’s practically inviting people in. The gate was locked by some concerned citizen after the last big fire destroyed the roof in one of the buildings, but when I went along again today the gate was kicked down and the lock nowhere to be seen.

When to go
Daytime is best because there are a few uncovered manholes lying around in which you could break a leg or even worse if you took a wrong step. Of course, you could also go along at night if you have a strong torch/neck, but you’re liable to run into the nighttime dwellers who may or may not be happy to see you.

Difficulty rating
1/10. Like I said, this place is begging to be explored. There’s no security and it’s accessible by public transport. It’s almost too easy.

Who to bring
It’s not really that romantic a setting anymore, but if abandoned hospitals are your thing, then by all means, bring your girlfriend/boyfriend. Otherwise just like-minded explorers would suffice.

What to bring
Camera, beer, a decent torch, brains for the zombies.

The aforementioned manholes are worth looking out for. Then there’s the ceilings which are liable to collapse on your head. One of the stairs had collapsed since the previous time I was there, so the buildings are neither safe nor stable. The place is inhabited by a few unfortunate homeless, but I’m sure they’d leave you alone as long as you left them alone. Obviously watch out for any nosy neighbours, Polizei etc. Be suspicious of anyone who invites you to go along with them. They might be after your braaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnns…

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Brehme-Palace

The Berlin City Palace isn’t the only one they’re building. In the north of the city, in Pankow, on Brehmestraße, they’ll soon start construction on the “Brehme-Palace,” a magnificent beacon of all that is going wrong with this city.
While the Berlin City Palace is ultimately a well-meant if foolish waste of money better spent elsewhere, the “Brehme-Palace” is purely designed to make as much cash as possible for greedy developers facilitated by politicians.
The provocatively named “Brehme-Palace” – a block of 34 luxury apartments – will be constructed in all its magnificence beside the “Ökoprojekt” of 72 apartments built over Kleingärten they already dug up despite much public protest.
I would have thought garden apartments were better than concrete for the environment, but no, the head honchos in all their wisdom know better. No doubt “Ökoprojekts” will soon be springing up all over the city.
The locals aren’t happy with the “Brehme-Palace” and why would they be? There were a few signs and banners at the site displaying their dismay.
The politicians bleat on about Berlin needing more housing. Well, the fucking “Brehme-Palace” isn’t the answer, unless you’re asking how do you get rich quick.
Luxury developments and “exclusive” apartments do not solve Berlin’s housing problem. They add to it. Most people who need a place to live can’t afford the prices these places are demanding. They cater only to investors and the rich.
They drive up house prices, they drive up rents. They help create a frenzy over the lack of housing and so push the prices up further again, fueling demand to unsustainable levels. Meanwhile the developers milk it while they can. And the city suffers.
It happened in Ireland before. Look how that all turned out. You can keep your fucking Brehme-Palaces.

Monday, August 12, 2013

New world

I like my new place, even if I haven’t had time to settle into it yet.
Sure, I got the keys and my name’s on the door, but circumstances over the past week have prevented me from really moving in, really making it home.
But it’s a great place, albeit temporary, as all places are. The day you find the place you’ll stay is the day… well, let’s not get into that. Even then some fucker will probably dig you up to make way for a new supermarket.
My “landlady” left all her furniture and she’s got some pretty nice stuff, stuff she picked up from fleas’ markets and trendy 1970s film sets, stuff I’d never have been able to gather on my own. Most importantly, she has wooden floors, loads of windows, a little balcony and a wine rack.
She left all her cutlery, plates, pots and pans and so on, so there was no need for me to get anything. She even left food in the fridge and wine in the wine rack.
“Work away on that,” she said when she gave me the keys.
When I switched on the radio for the first time, the dial was already set to FluxFM.
There was even toilet paper in the bathroom, fancy toilet paper, with pictures of flamingos and things on it. Not only that, but it was perfumed, perfumed! What in the name of Jaysus anyone wants with perfumed toilet paper is beyond me, but there you go – that’s the type of place I’m living in now.
I’ve inherited a load of plants that I have to water so they don’t die. Before I only needed to worry about José, the cactus, but now there are two more cacti as well as a large palm tree and some other, regular, plants. I should be watering them now but I’m writing this.
I like the area, despite it being Prenzlauer Berg. It’s not the up-its-own-arse part of Prenzlauer Berg but the more run-down part on the other side, just north of Mauerpark.
I get the feeling there’s a strong sense of community here. People are friendly, they talk to each other, greet each other(!) and are generally pleasant to one another.
There’s a Kebap place around the corner with decent Kebaps for €2.80. But the Kebap fella knew everyone that walked by. They all said hello, some stopped and chatted, others waved. Mad. I don’t know how many times I said hello to ignoramuses in Pankow that wouldn’t even look at you in response. So that’s a nice change.
Amenity-wise, there’s loads of shit around. There’s a taverna on the corner that I haven’t tried yet, a hairdressers downstairs, a bar around the corner called the “Black Witch” with pints for €2.20 and a Späti with good cheap beer a stone’s throw away. They have some stuff made by monks. Amazing how all the beer is made by monks. You’d have to wonder what the nuns are doing in their convents. 
The S-Bahn station’s around the other corner with trains directly to the airport in case you’re of a mind to get away. Or arrive, of course. The trains go in both directions.
My main concern was whether the young lad would like it, but he seems to be delighted. “We got two houses!” he proclaims from time to time. One wasn’t enough. Obviously he won’t feel at home in this one until I do. Once things settle down a bit and I have a day off we’ll make it a home.

Pictures here (apart from the first one) are from the abandoned paper mill of Wolfswinkel.