Sunny days

Berlin love: bite-sized edition

25 bits & pieces I love about Berlin, in no particular order:

1. The prevalence of mineral water. Bubbly trumps still H₂0, every time!

2. Transportation is always on time. Planning is possible!

A bus stop in Lichtenberg, Berlin.

Accurate to the minute! A shock coming from Thailand where the answer to “what time is it?” is usually “mango sticky rice.”

3. … And astoundingly cohesive! The underground, trams, and buses all work together to get you basically anywhere.

People walk along Berlin's busy streets.

Places to go, people to see. You know the deal.

4. Kino culture. The cinemas are unique, historical, and oh-so-cool. Come warm weather, open-air cinemas spring up, screening classics like To Catch a Thief and Bonnie and Clyde.

5. Green spaces everywhere. Parks, rivers, places to jog, or chill with the family — natural spots scattered throughout the city dedicated to hanging out, drinking beer, and barbequing with friends.

The river by Maybachufer, Neukölln, Berlin

Sitting by the river drinking a beer or mineral water = lazy summer days in Neukölln.

6. The city is extremely bike-able (from spring to fall, at least). Cruising along bike paths from one end to other is delicious.

A woman in red bikes in Berlin.

Two wheels are better than none.

7. Drink to relax, not to get drunk. Having a few beers throughout the day is totally kosher. For the most part, people handle their alcohol maturely while out and about.

8. Konzerts. You wanna see [name your favorite band] play? Chances are they’ll be coming through at some point.

A band plays in the courtyard of an exhibition opening.

Some awesome British band rocking the gallery.

9. Startups. Have a business idea? Try it out here. Still cheaper than NYC, Silicon Valley, or Singapore, Berlin’s attracted a slew of successful startups in recent years (SoundCloud, etc.) with its try-anything-once vibe and creative energy.

10. Infamous clubs. For unparalleled atmosphere, nightclubs like Berghain reek of decades of debauchery.

A disco ball is lit from aside.

Dance, dance, dance to the radio…

11. Art galleries. Duh!  The old and new national galleries; museums ranging from cult to classic; clean, contemporary art spaces; avant-garde hole-in-the-walls; collectives and co-ops; and on and on. Take your pick; pick your take.

Two people look at art at an exhibition opening in Berlin.

“Is that art?” “I have no idea.”

12. Feeling kinky? Up for some sexual exploration? There’s probably a workshop, club, or meet-up for it, with a supportive, open-minded community waiting to welcome you.

13. Understated day-to-day life. Aside from a few obvious social scenes, people generally keep to themselves — they don’t scream and shout about what they’re doing. Life happens; let’s move on.

A street-side scene, downtown Berlin.

Keep moving; nothing to see here.

14. Accepting. No one’s going to give you shit for being yourself.

15. Summer snow! Seriously: pure magic.

A dusty dandelion in grass.

Soft dandelion dust ends up drifting everywhere in the air.

16. High quality food. Bread, cheese, meats, produce, etc., have to meet high standards to be sold. The difference is taste-able.

17. Endless days. Starting near end of May, the sun stays up forever. I’m writing this at 9:45 pm — and it’s still light out. (June 08)

Sunset and highrise, Berlin.

Sun-setting sky at almost 10pm, Mitte, May.

16. Female tech scene. With Berlin Geekettes headquartered, there’s an uber supportive environment for women wanting to delve deeper into coding and the like.

18. Culture. In addition to Berlin’s rich history, the distinctly international mish-mash of artists makes for a limitless global fusion of creative expression.

A butoh dancer performs.

An impromptu butoh performance with live DJ.

19. It’s okay to walk around with earbuds in. While this feels socially impolite in Asia (my personal feeling), everyone has their music on here.

20. Despite its size (over 3.5 million people), it’s a quiet city. Possible to hear yourself think on streets and even buses.

A woman goes down the U-bahn stairs in Berlin.

Wandering the city is peaceful, even when the mind is combating clutter.

21. German is a sexy language. Yum. Fantastisch.

22. Fashion inspiration. There’s a crazy high percentage of stylish people, often incredibly beautiful to boot! Soak it up.

Some fashionable folks at the K-W Berlin Biennale opening.

Pulling off a leopard-print hat is not the easiest thing to do. Berliners can.

23. “I’m sorry” is virtually non-existant in casual conversation. Being a Canadian woman, I’ve a habit of saying those two words approx. 100 times/day. So, sigh of relief: no saving face, no placating, no people-pleasing. One of the reasons shit gets done so efficiently here.

24. Environmentally friendly. Different bins for paper, plastic, organic, and other — recycling in Germany is not for the faint of heart, and a win for mother earth.

Sun shines in Berlin.

Clean city streets, waste bins on every corner, organized recycling… all that’s missing is a system for shoveling snow from walkways in winter.

25. The air is fresh. So fly high…

A projected image of a woman swinging with shadow overtop.

Swing ’til you fly off. Berlin will catch you.

Sound, sweetheart

Tried seeing delectable Ben Frost at Berghain. Realized two songs in still can’t cope with concert volume. Frustration gnaws. Keep trying — never know if/when it’ll get easier. 5 years later, a constant reminder. Berlin’s a quiet city, lovely in that way; suits me. But at konzerts, the sound, in all its glorious vibration, eats me, my insides, expands ’til it feels like I’ll burst if I don’t hear nothing soon. On the whole I guess it’s gotten better, but sometimes it’s like it’s in reverse, getting worse. A low-fi problem, I know. Barely a problem. More that it takes me back, disorients my sense of self, being here, now. Cried a little on the way home. Slept it off, sound still inside, reverberations of past.

Summer snow

The summer snow here kills me, in that yes-please-kill-me way. Sitting on the grass in my (my? Seem to have colonized that awfully quick) park, while dandelion dust drifts, suspended in air, as if inside a snow-globe shaken from all sides — air fresh like quiet freedom. Hands, fingers run along grass; soft dust nestled between blades for summer sleep, cat-napping ’till atmosphere stirs again. Stare up, up into leafy canopies overhead as sun darts in-and-out of shadowy-shapes. Heaven, truly.

Slice of, anyway.

In transit


“You need to show an onward ticket, miss.” Don’t have one. My hands shake, voice nervous. Haven’t slept, stayed at the airport last night after first flight.

“What can I do to help the situation?” There’s enough time before boarding to book something for show, so it’s no big either way I guess.

“Let me check.” (Drifts away and back.) “No problem. Remember for next time, please.” The Italian man who later turns out to be slightly psychotic watches to make sure I get through okay.


Airport is confusing. Looks small but unfolds in a twisted maze. The staff at the various airport shops are not exactly friendly. To me, anyway. Morph into an anthropologist conducting ethnographic research, so interactions become nothing but information of interest.

Pass by two blondes, long-long legs, stick-straight hair, Russian-model-gorgeous, smoking their faces off in the nicotine room – shooting the shit, leaned inwards, salivating on whatever salacious gossip hangs in the air, suspended by the wafts of smoke. Good picture.


“Yeah, I didn’t expect to pick you guys up here. This one’s where all the cheap flights go though. Takes about an hour. Most people fly into Tegel. ” Deliciously beautiful Chiara, 20 something, almost perfect English, even sexier German, chats with her American friends who just flew in from who knows where. We’re packed in her small stick shift, blasting down the highway. Chiara skis. So do the others. So do I. We talk shop. Whistler, boarding vs. two planks, Colorado, slope dating, etc.

“Here’s your U-Bahn stop – and here’s my number – call me if you need anything.”

“You’re so sweet. Thank you so much.” The girl just drove a total stranger across hell’s half acre, 11 at night.  Offered on her own volition – all I did was ask where the taxi service was at the airport. Human generosity, alive and kicking.


U-Bahn, S-Bahn. S-Bahn, U-Bahn. Rain. Directions A gave me are wrong. More strangers offer to carry my suitcase down stairs, up stairs. Can’t lift alone, maybe if I weren’t so damn tired. Ask more people to literally point me in the right direction. Wander. Eventually take more right turns then wrong, end up in close proximity, but still no dice. Everything looks dark, concrete is all the same. Starts to pour. I worry about my cameras getting soaked. No awnings near. First time I’ve even thought about crying and I do.

Almost instantly, taxi pulls up. Walk bleary eyed over, between sobs. Show my map to the Turkish driver. “No problem, miss!”

He throws my suitcase/backpack in trunk. We start to head back to the airport. Manage to realize this soon, explain using gestures (don’t speak German or Turkish) and map where I actually need to go.


Ring A when arrive. Tears dried, shake it off, you’re just tired. Doing fine. Kicking ass.

Have an hour intense convo once up in the flat. Haven’t slept in about two days, yet finding out what art events to attend tomorrow suddenly feels urgent.


Respond, don’t react

“Are you attaching? Of course you are! It’s human nature. You know the drill. Let it go. Loosen the grip — respond, don’t react.”

He doesn’t know how much he helped me with that brief rundown on life lessons 101. In 2 mins flat, over fresh fruit smoothies no less.

What if the apartment doesn’t work out? Let it go. There’ll be another one. Where am I gonna keep my stuff? Let it go. It’s just stuff. Will my body survive without the gentle touch of that special man? Let it go. Touch is everywhere.

Am I attaching?

Of course. Thoughts, actions, feelings, habits, fears, freedoms — everything holds me too close. Dancing amid pragmatism and adolescence; those awkward years between birth and death.

If you’re averse to awkwardness, chances are you’ll be averse to life.

I lay my head down on the start-stop of myself, repeating the uneasy silence within until I hear its pattern. Wound-up energy with no place to breathe.

If not this, then what? Gliding from here to there, unencumbered? Can’t do it; impossible.

No, these untimely-unseemly-downright-uncomfortable asymmetries demand to be embraced. Roughly, warmly, they beg to be sought after — not avoided.

I am not always my best self.

But I still buy my ticket: I still get on the plane.

A little girl connects with someone outside.

Can you handle it?

As I watched this video (below) with my jaw half-dropped, I wondered how many girls will look at this without blinking an eye?

When the main words in a song are “video phone,” and there’s a woman — actually, two — writhing around with virtually nothing on, stroking giant, plastic, phallic guns, purring “if you want me, you can tape me on your video phone,” I have to wonder how desensitized North American teens are to this BS — and how many will look up to this ‘superstar’ and want to emulate this crock of crap.

I’m a huge fan of catchy pop tunes, and I love a good dance number as much as anyone, but this is beyond. Utilizing video — perhaps our most powerful medium for conveying information and ideas to the masses — to create epic works of socially constructed, gendered lies is criminal — this is the Male Gaze, personified. (Literally: there are men with video cameras in place of heads.)

I realize that there are SO many videos like this, and ones that are much, much worse; I simply haven’t paid attention to any of them for such a long time, and watching this one today, after several years of cleansing my palate from mainstream junk, set me right off.

Well, onward. It only fuels my fire to move forward with my own aspirations of making video and films filled with conscientious, positive content that lifts women (and men) up, rather than dragging us down to this tickity-tack level of lo-fi kitsch so glaringly deprived of any wit, intelligence, or style — and, ultimately, respect.

The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.

Marshall McLuhan