Saturday, August 18, 2007

Still Silly

Or, of course, what you call the dog days. Supposedly ruled by Sirius, the dog star, which is strong in the sky at this time of year. But whatever you call them, they're days not exactly filled with excitement around here. Nervous tension, yes, but excitement? Nope.

Still, one has to do this and that, and so here are three extremely silly things I noticed in recent peregrenations around hip! edgy! Berlin.

* * *

Like that huge poster on the building they're renovating on Rosenthaler Platz, which gets sold to one advertiser or another for a while. Current occupant is Coca-Cola, and the part of the ad I see, doubtless having something to do with some download scheme or another (I think they've got something going with iTunes, actually), and it screams "Music on the Coke Side of Life!"

You can tell this is an ad aimed at younger folks, of course. The rest of us who lived through the '70s have had quite enough of music on the coke side of life. Every time I pass that thing I think "What, do you want to chain me to a chair and make me listen to David Crosby albums?"

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Rosenthaler Platz, the derelict building across from the Coke billboard, which once housed a Beate Uhse and then part of Sony's ill-considered street-art cooptation, sprouted some ghostly inhabitants a few weeks back:



But I guess they wanted privacy, because the last time I walked past, the place looked like this:




* * *

One of my weirder international moments came one night in the '80s in London, as some friends and I were passing through Soho, and they -- all British -- stopped and pointed. "Wow, look at that!" I saw a very well preserved '52 Mercury. "Cool car," I said, and they all gave me a weird look. "It had Texas number plates!" someone said. Well, I'd just come from Texas the night before, so that didn't even register: most all the cars in Texas have Texas license plates.

Still, it was a valuable lesson in paying attention to where you are, which is why I did a double-take while waiting for the light yesterday at Friedrichstr. and Unter den Linden. A genuine Ford Crown Victoria with New York Police Department markings, a visibar on top, and what looked, in the seconds it took to turn the corner, like two of NYPD's finest in the front seat.

Turns out it lives here and you can rent it for special occasions. Like, I dunno, arresting your ex or something.

Not that they have a monopoly on this. There's a more generic, Blues-Brothers-y, black-and-white for rent at Sage Cars, who have a lot on Brunnenstr. I pass often. They've also got a yellow Checker cab, which brings back memories of the Checker Metropolitan I once had. But that's another post.

* * *

Advertising in this country has always made me a little crazy, but then, it's not aimed at me. That's been driven home by the creepiest ad campaign I've seen in a while, BVG's "Augenblicke" posters. As you can see from the website, it's sort of a lonely-hearts thing, where you submit the story and they illustrate it. The artist is so bad that the posters attract attention to themselves, actually, so while whether he/she's capable of actually rendering a human visage so someone would recognize it is questionable, it might (shudder) accidentally work.

Ah, well, it's better to look out the window anyway, right?

7 comments:

William Thirteen said...

the BVG Augenblick site is a sort of "i saw you on the u-bahn and wanted to ravish you behind the ticket kiosk" kind of thing. a clever idea on the part of the BVG, a long term revenue growth strategy by encouraging the customer base to reproduce....

MountPenguin said...

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Rosenthaler Platz, the derelict building across from the Coke billboard, which once housed a Beate Uhse and then part of Sony's ill-considered street-art cooptation, sprouted some ghostly inhabitants a few weeks back:

Here's something that's been vaguely puzzlingly me for some time: wasn't there a building next to that one, directly on Rosenthaler Platz itself, which was demolished sometime in the 90s? Where the temporary kiosks are now. My memory is somewhat vague on the subject and tells me the Beate Uhse was in the demolished building, as I would have gone past it on the tram up the Kastanienallee quite often, and I definitely remember a Beate Uhse being there. Or maybe the building was demolished before my time and there was prominent Beate Uhse advertising on the building you mention?

MountPenguin said...

a clever idea on the part of the BVG, a long term revenue growth strategy by encouraging the customer base to reproduce....

"Absofort hängen wir einen abgedunkelten Liebeswagen an jeden Zug der Linien U1, U2 und U7, wo sich Paare diskret und auf einer ganz neuen Weise die Beförderungsbedingungen erfüllen können".

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

there was prominent Beate Uhse advertising on the building you mention

Indeed there was. Until it shut about 8 months or so ago. I just went there to visit the public library opposite, honest guv'nor. I also use the TU 'Volkswagenhaus' library, ahem, round the corner from 'World of Sex' and the Beate Uhse 'museum' at Bahnhof Zoo. Hmm.

But there was a building next to the ex-Beate Uhse, and must have been demolished about 5 years ago. I still remember it being there.

Is the quote about the Liebeswagen from the Kommune 1? I'm sure they campaigned for 'Beiwagen' (I mean 'Beischlafwagen') on the tube in West Berlin...

William Thirteen said...

perhaps they could open a Beate Uhse outlet in one of the wagons as well! along with the classical music they plan on pumping in the U8 would soon be the city's most romantic getaway...

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

The classical music on the U8 to stop kids hanging around the stations...it'll work, if Berlin's youth are anything like those of the eastern ends of the (London) District line. Years after the 'scheme' (cut staff, fit CCTV, some cheap speakers and a CD player) started there was something about it on Woman's Hour. "I dahnt like it, it's well uncool, now we go to the chippy", some 13 year old truant from Elm Park could be heard saying.

And Beate Uhse mobile branches: I dread to think what the 'Berliner Fenster' screens would be used for....

Ed Ward said...

Actually, one of the first Beate Uhses I saw was mobile: a sort of trailer they just drove up into what is now Invalidenpark and opened for business. They were very aggressive in the east in the early '90s -- and yes, there was a shop in that now-derelict building, as well as another building on the corner that was in such bad shape it had to be demolished.

As for classical music in drug-infested public places, I used to dread having to change trains in Hamburg because of all the junkies and pill-heads hanging around there. Then they got the idea from some sociologist somewhere to play stuff like Vivaldi REALLY REALLY LOUD right where that little park is by the exit (there was a flower seller there I used to really pity -- first the junkies, now this!). It worked, though, and now you can walk all the way from the station to the row of hotels there without seeing a single person twitching in the gutter.

The Rosenthaler Platz U-Bahn station is the worst open drug market I've ever seen. I was waiting for a train once and one from the opposite direction pulled up, a guy got out and handed a really thick wad of bills to this kid sitting on one of the benches, then hopped back in the train and was gone. Guess the cops were too busy worrying how they were going to chase folks out of the Umsonstladen.