Tuesday, September 06, 2005

First Crumbs of Sepember

Only a couple of weeks to go until the election now, and the streets are practically polluted with campaign posters. Some inspired genius has printed up various improvements to be pasted on parts of them, so that Gerhard Schröder is seen wearing Frankenstinian bolts in his neck, a red clown's nose, or weird cartoony eyes. They're added to the posters with a good deal of precision, making you look twice. One less craftsmanlike defacer has printed up strips of paper that say "war and profit" and pastes them over the appropriate parts of the posters' declarations of purpose.

In England, the Guardian's blog has a rather silly piece on the posters (and a photo of the weirdest one), followed by a bunch of really great comments from readers, many of whom are from Berlin.

Me, I just keep repeating "Two weeks from Sunday, and I can't vote anyway" and keep walking.


And I sure did a bunch of walking yesterday, after a couple of friends visiting from California left me their press passes to the IFA. This stands for the Internationale Funkausstellung, which happens every two years. Although the name translates as "International Radio Exhibition," it's really a consumer electronics show, although I have to say that, as someone who's not much interested in cell phones or MP3 players, satellite television or podcasting, it wasn't too exciting for me.

Worst idea of the show, technological advances department: 3-D TV. Yes, it really works. Yes, after two minutes of watching the promo, which was various letters of the manufacturer's name kicking a soccer ball around, mostly into your face, I felt a headache coming on. No, you can't get the 3-D effect if you aren't right in line with the screen. No, it won't catch on. And you'd think I could remember who showed it with all those letters running around, but I can't. (Twenty minutes later: Grundig).

Worst company name: Gigantek. From China.

Worst company name, runner-up: Pilock Corporation. Um, you guys aren't going to do business in England, are you?

Germans Conforming To Stereotype Award: the 45 persons (I counted) lined up single-file for an inflated, clear-plastic giveaway pillow from JVC.

Best Company Exhibit: Vestel, a company I'd never heard of, but which was showing tons and tons of very impressive television equipment. They also had the best idea for how to show how good their screens were: by broadcasting a quick-cut collage of scenes from old movies. My immediate reaction was "Wow, I've never seen that look so good before!" There wasn't a lick of information about them anywhere in the hall, though, so imagine my surprise to learn, when finding that link up there, that they're Turkish! That settles it: I want Turkey in the EU by next week so there won't be any duties and I can afford one of these rigs!

Worst Company Exhibit: Sony. a bunch of "rooms" cordoned off by layer after layer of diaphanous black fabric. It was so confusing walking around in there, bumping into other people, that I'm absolutely sure I missed a lot of the products on display. Their promo reel for televisions was another collage from films, but it was all stuff blowing up and people shooting at each other. As with the idiots who were demonstrating their home theater rig with that race scene from the next-to-last Star Wars film, I wanted to shake them and say "Of course it looks good! It's all digital!" They should check in with Vestel: there is nothing remotely digital about Katherine Hepburn's cheekbones, which attract me far more than digitized explosions.


Motel Hell: In more what-were-they-thinking news, Deutsche Telekom is offering weekend stays in the T-Com House for lucky winners of its contest. It's off behind the Museum of Communication on Mauerstr. not far from Potsdamer Platz, but I'm trying to imagine who, out of the hundreds of thousands of people here whose lives have been made hell by Deutsche Telekom, would voluntarily turn a weekend over to living in a house completely controlled by their technology.


Finally in news from the 'hood, a shop right next door that's been empty for about six years suddenly started showing signs of life as a crew of young beatnik-looking types started totally renovating its insides. It's a tiny place, and I wasn't sure what was going on until first the drinks cooler, then the espresso machine turned up. Okay, it's going to sell food of some sort. Yesterday the sign went up, and now I'm both intrigued and worried. Its name is Mörder. Murderer.

Guess they'll be selling meat, right?

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