Sunday, December 10, 2006

Not Another One!

Okay, I now have a theory that some higher-up at the New York Times is heavily invested in some Berlin real estate he can't unload. That's the only explanation for the deluge of travel-section articles on hip! edgy! new! East! Berlin! the paper has carried this year. This is, what? The fourth, at least.

That link will be good for a week, and I'm including it instead of the usual text-only link so you can enjoy the video that goes with it, which manages to mispronounce just about every single place-name it utters, including Reichstag, and identifies a Wurst as a Schnitzel. That the Grey Lady thinks it's news that the eastern part of the city is where the action is, and, worse, that it would print such twaddle as "Bullet-scarred buildings are metamorphosing from squatters’ homes, to artists’ studios, and then to retail showrooms. Gray Communist alleys are laboratories for trendy bars, restaurants and galleries. And, like the city itself, Berliners continue to reinvent themselves as cultural vanguards, pushing the boundaries of art, fashion and design" in 2006 is mind-boggling.

The city's economic deterioration is only touched upon once, in wondering who can afford €300 shirts, and the article never wonders how many of the revelers in the hip! edgy! nighttime are residents instead of, say, Americans enjoying a cheap year in Europe. But then, I guess it's reassuring for Americans to come to Europe to hang out with other Americans. That's what reinvigorated Prague, after all.

Finally, with the exception of M. Vuong's, which I haven't been able to get into since he moved to Neue Schönhauser Allee from Gipsstr., I would be very wary of their food recommendations. I've downed many a good beer at Altes Europa (although I guess now it's been "discovered"), but I would never even think of touching the food there.

Come to think of it, though, there's three more Sunday papers left to squeeze in a trip through Berlin's Christmas markets. This may not be the last article this year. Or maybe it is: there's nothing particularly hip! and edgy! about Christmas markets. Maybe that's one reason I like 'em!

23 comments:

William Thirteen said...

heh heh....it is amusing how perennial this story is. at least in the US papers. of course we all now how easy it is to sell fictive foreign stories to our in country brethren - the entire republican foreign policy is based on it! that said it would be an interesting study to see how often the newspapers' (re)discovery of berlin pops up and what exact sociopsychohistorical appetites it feeds. a sort of 'blooming landscapes' fairytale for the auslaenders...

Anonymous said...

I just find it very badly written.

Michael Scott Moore said...

Whoops, you got to this before I did. But I just used the same silly NY Times piece to post something on the wienerschnitzel nonsense and utilize a photo I took in California.

Anonymous said...

I am so psyched to see that the Times is finally trying to give some useful travel tips to its enormous 16-23 year old demographic. Jokes aside, I felt like this was one of those articles written by someone who was (a) connected and (b) writing off their travel expenses by writing a dumb article about it. Oh well...at least my friends in ny will momentarily think I'm "cutting edge"...

emptypockets said...

I believe this was written by a former EXBERLINER intern. I don't see why we can't all attempt to profit off of these lies. Confusing a Wurst with a Schnitzel is worse than Slate claiming that Negerkussen is made of ice cream.

emptypockets said...

And, I might add, have you ever eaten a plump salad? A Velvety soup? Sound unappetizing and, therefore, accidentally correct.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ed Ed Ed. just read your comment on Radio Free Mike. Wienerschnitzel is veal!!! The Germans even mess it up and get all huffy when you ask in a restaurant if it's really veal and then come back all abashed to admit they've "pigged" it. It is truly time for you to get out of here... :)

Ed Ward said...

Of the Wiener Schnitzels I've had in Berlin -- the bad one at the supposedly good restaurant Austria on Bergmannstr., the okay one at Honigmond, and the superb one at Lutter & Wegner -- only the latter was demonstrably veal. Part of the demonstration was the price. Worth it, though.

The Exberliner has interns? What do they learn? How to publish a crappy magazine? Does anyone have the paper copy of this? I'd like to see if Denny Lee is staff or not. The byline would say "Special to the New York Times" if it were a freelance piece; no such attribution appears on the website. And if this is the quality of Times staff in Berlin...

Anonymous said...

I would be delighted to become the Times' staffer in Berlin...does that come with a fat expense account and as little oversight as this NYT piece indicates?

As to the schnitzel debate, my wife (whose mother is German) "pigs" the schitzel she makes for frugal reasons, but between her cooking expertise and my proletarian tastebuds, it's better than any I sampled in Berlin, veal or no veal. However, when in Berlin I'm never after schnitzel anyway. I think I got twisted by all the bountiful Balkan restaurants that existed before the Wall came down. They were cheap, tasty, and high on protein for keeping winter at bay. And the surly Yugoslav waiters dodging Tito's army draft were an essential element of the whole dining experience.

What happened to them after unification, anyway?

daggi said...

I'm pleased to read that someone else finds the Exberliner "crappy" (though that is an understatement). Why don't they give up on wasting trees and concentrate on the sub-letting agency aimed at very gullible people who have no idea about the actual cost of living (and of rent) in Berlin instead?

Ed Ward said...

Olaf, the Times bureau here comes with lots of expense money because the paper's always sending you somewhere else; they don't print much Berlin-generated news, but a lot of stuff from elsewhere gets datelined Berlin because that's how the Times works.

As for the Balkan restaurants, they're still here, usually bearing the dreaded words "Internationale Spezialitäten," and featuring that well-loved troika of black pepper, paprika, and grease. They're usually identified as Croatian, too. I stay away.

And Daggi, the Exberliner has been upgraded to crappy now that they actually feature art direction instead of what looked like a 1991 DTP setup. Don't get me started on them. I edited two English-language magazines here before they showed up with Daddy's Money, and I have never seen such an unprofessional waste of time, starting with their being too lazy to research the name Berliner, which was in use by two (2) magazines at the time, one a high-profile bit of wankery co-funded by BVG, Bewag, and Deutsche Telekom.

But like I said, don't get me started.

Anonymous said...

Last time I tried to read ExBerliner I didn't get any further than a single paragraph item about a waxing parlour. It read something like, "Traditionally German women wear their leg hair high" and went downhill from there. It wasn't actually possible to understand it.

Anonymous said...

Last time I tried to read ExBerliner I didn't get any further than a single paragraph item about a waxing parlour. It read something like, "Traditionally German women wear their leg hair high" and went downhill from there. It wasn't actually possible to understand it.

Ben said...

Oh yes, thanks for pointing that one out (I haven't even got to 'enjoy' the video yet). Heinous, I tell ya, heinous. And silly me, thinking the whole time, an NYT travel correspondent would have to wait for his hangover to wear off before thumbing through those Frommers guides he bought at the airport. Luckily for the Times, they can polish off and republish the same piece a year from now, raising nary an eyebrow.

Oh yeah and screw the Exbaloneyer, too. Where is this phantom blog they told (emailed) me they would be making and co-linking, like, five months ago? I also hear they pay their writers close to nothing. Now that wouldn't be reflected in the quality of the writing now would it? (removing the Ex-B link 2day).

Ben said...

So I just watched the video part. They must have updated the Wurst audio in the meantime because now he just says something lame(r) like "Now this will satisfy your appetite". Oh, how I would have enjoyed seeing and hearing it called a Schnitzel (my co-workers did love his mangling of Reichs-TAG, however), especially since Americans seem to love that word so much anyway, making it all the worse for its misuse.

Ed Ward said...

Just to set the record straight on the Exberliner, as far as I know they don't pay their writers anything at all. They say they will, but they don't. Same goes for the staff, although they've been known to resort to violence to get a Euro or two to pay the bills.

daggi said...

Where is this phantom blog they told (emailed) me they would be making and co-linking, like, five months ago?

You fell for that one then, Ben? Their comment to me was quickly deleted as spam. And then I introduced "die Prüfung von Kommentaren", as they say in Germany.

BiB said...

Daggi, I remember reading your answer to the Ex-Berliner. They ought to have felt chastened, but, as they do with many projects, it seems, then forgot to follow it up. I once contacted them to offer my services. Translators weren't being sought, but would I mind sending in a piece and they'd see if they liked my style, which I did, and perhaps they didn't - like my style, that is - but they could have bloody told me so. Another pal sent them something, which they told him they loved, and would print, but could he just cut it a bit, which he did, and no mention of money was made, but he was happy to let them have it anyway, and was chuffed because he is German and his English - utterly brilliant - had passed their test, and he bought the rag excitedly whenever... and there was no sign of it. And no further news from the magazine. Poor behaviour. I have NEVER seen the magazine on sale anywhere. Does it actually exist?

WV: hchswype - a Scottish expletive meaning Ex-Berliner.

Ben said...

Daggi, oh yes I fell for that one and hard. And this from the first 'successful' Berlin English magazine. One bitten, twice shy, I guess. BiB's friend's experience is the newest in a line of sad stories I've been hearing lately, confirming my hunch that cold-shouldering must now be official Ex-B policy.

Ed Ward said...

The Ex-B is not a professional operation. No one there has any clue whatever how to run a magazine, since nobody involved had ever done one before. It's aimed at exploiting the young kids who are here for a year or so, who don't need money and aren't really all that interested in knowing where they are but want to hang out with other young Americans/Brits. It doesn't serve the older demographic -- and by this I mean over 30 -- nor does it seek to integrate with the English-speaking communities whose first language is not English. I had tons of research on this, but when they started up, they never even talked to me. Nor have they since. Fuck 'em.

And Ben, they're not the first successful Berlin English magazine. Metropolis was actually making money when Zitty inexplicably folded it. And my b magazine either made or lost DM 20 over the course of its three issues, which is pretty spectacular, considering we didn't have an ad salesman or circulation director. With a little help, and less stupidity on the part of the clique who wanted to make big money on the Internet, although they weren't sure how one did that (but everyone else was doing it!), we'd still be in operation today.

daggi said...

With a little help, and less stupidity on the part of the clique who wanted to make big money on the Internet, although they weren't sure how one did that (but everyone else was doing it!), we'd still be in operation today.

How about starting up something new? If it's self-exploitation, we wouldn't expect any money out of it anyway. But maybe some money from the Arbeitsagentur ("Ich-AG") could come our way?

On the same theme, there's a pretty thin new Onlineangebot calling itself "The Berlin Paper", something to do with Zitty and Tagesspiegel.

Ed Ward said...

Daggi, I am not getting involved in any more magazine start-ups unless someone approaches me with such a fat wad of cash I can't say no, and I sincerely doubt that's going to happen. I've already gotten burned twice this year, and right now all I'm interested in doing is working for myself and getting the hell out of here.

If you want to do it, I'm available for consultation.

As for http://www.theberlinpaper.com/The Berlin Paper, well, it's more professional than the Ex-Berliner, I guess.

Ben said...

Daggi, The Berlin Paper is from Holtzbrinck, a global publishing conglomerate, which also owns (among others) Die Zeit, Der Tagespiegel, plus a fistful of German, US and UK publishers like Macmillan, S. Fischer, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, etc.... so I guess funding is not a big problem (for now). They've got some kind of joint deal with NPR-Berlin too...some interesting geopolitical podcasts and whatnot here: www.theberlinpaper.com/npr/

Wouldn't it be cool, though, to have some kind of real underground punk-like publication--like way low-budget and minimal but, you know, hard-hitting and such with no worries of pissing anyone off, nay, with the intention of pissing people off. That would be fun. God, I'm so naive.

Ed, didn't know that about Metropolis at all. Or you own b. Now that's a minimal name. Any copies online?