Being in Berlin: Graffiti, graffiti, graffiti

One of the things you cannot not notice in Berlin is graffiti. You’d be hard-pressed to find an abandoned wall or building without it. Somehow, it works here.

Of course, there is graffiti and there is graffiti. While I hate when vandals ruin the facades of baroque building by spray-painting something on them, I have become a big fan of graffiti in Berlin. I guess you can’t underestimate the legacy of the Berlin Wall; place where graffiti street art was taken to perfection.

Check out this NY Times video piece on graffiti in Berlin to get a glimpse of what Berlin feels like today. I do think that graffiti represents well what Berlin is becoming within Germany and within Europe: an avantgarde metropolis. Rent in Berlin is cheaper than in Prague, while unemployment is 5 times as high. There is no better place for a struggling artist to live. (Oh yeah, those generous social benefits help.)

1 in 5 Germans Want The Berlin Wall Back

Here’s an interesting tidbit I heard on the radio today while driving to my favourite sushi place: 1 in 5 Germans want the Berlin Wall back. An iconic symbol of the Cold War and the divide between communism and capitalism, the Berlin Wall was broken down amidst much celebration in 1990.

And perhaps even more surprising? Those who want it back are mostly Eastern Germans. Apparently, breaking down the wall didn’t put an end to differences between the east and west in Germany; Despite the absence of a dividing line, Easterners in Germany still feel like second-class citizens compared to Westerners. And I don’t blame them — salaries in the east are 25% lower than those in the west, and unemployment rates in the west are half of that of the east. Yet despite all that, 73% of Western Germans don’t feel that Eastern Germans are at a disadvantage.

As a side note, if you want to see a movie that depicts the effects of the Berlin Wall falling, rent Goodbye Lenin — it’s excellent.