uberlin

Another Year in Berlin: überlin’s Highlights of 2012

by James and Zoe

Wow, what a year! It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Berlin two years – because it feels like we’ve lived here forever, yet sometimes it’s like we’ve just stepped off the plane. That’s the enduring freshness of love, I guess. Too sappy? Then maybe we’ll just skip to our highlights of 2012: our favourite moments and places, most awesome blog posts, and all the other (furry) little things that made the year our best yet.

überlin's highlights of 2012: January

The Loxx Miniature Railway version of Berlin is probably the city’s best-kept secret, or at least it was until our photos ended up on the front page of The Guardian website. Small world(!) – on our second visit to the mini-Berlin on top of Alexa mall, we ran into Dave from the blog Andberlin – who also named Loxx as one of his highlights of the year. This is the perfect place to go on a rainy winter’s day.

überlin's highlights of 2012: February

To celebrate Zoë’s birthday we went to Stockholm and Copenhagen and while we were there, visited the most beautiful and inspiring place we’ve ever been. Looking back at our post about the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, I feel like my words fail to live up to Zo’s stunning photos, and even those can’t capture the breathtaking beauty of the museum and its coastal environment. We thoroughly enjoyed our short time in Scandinavia, but the Louisiana was the hands-down highlight.

überlin's highlights of 2012: March

The first of our articles to appear on The Guardian, 5 Apps Berlin Really Needs, was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the buzzy, bubbly startup capital of Europe. Our iProtest app concept gamified civil disobedience, while Angry Berliners turned German bureaucracy into an addictive platform game. Our Buskamatic app aside, March was a great month for music – Modeselektor released the iconic video for their “Berlin” anthem, and we discovered Big Stu’s comedy rap tributes to Hühnerhaus and Kottbusser Tor.

überlin's highlights of 2012: April

Our personal highlight of the year has to be getting our hands on this little ball of cute. In fact, Olive is probably many readers’ main reason for visiting the blog – we might be better off training her to work a camera and a laptop and leaving her to it! The unofficial überlin mascot, Big Ö is recognised way more frequently than we are, and has turned up in the unlikeliest of places – including an Instagram tutorial video and a conversation with a Bully-obsessed stranger at my cousin’s wedding (“you own Olive the dog?!!!”). Apart from welcoming our fuzzy daughter to the fold, we also ate the meal of the year (with matched cocktails!) at Rollin Restaurant.

überlin's highlights of 2012: May

If our May pick was a movie it would be the überlin prequel, Escape from Newcastle. While our home toon stands for everything we hate (or is that the other way around?), we still have a soft spot for the football-loving Stella-downing lads and lasses we grew up with – something we hope came across in our “origin story”, From Geordie Shore to Germany. Back in Berlin, visiting friends introduced us to the Ramones Museum, the only such institute devoted to the Detroit proto-punks in the whole world, the personal collection of a Berliner who must be their greatest fan.

überlin's highlights of 2012: June

It might seem obvious, but our What I Know about Germans post is like David Hasslehoff’s “Looking For Freedom”: ubiquitous, infectious, and every German loves it ;) . Credit for our “greatest hit” actually goes to writer Liv Hambrett, for her keen observations about her adopted countrymen, and illustrator Mischief Champion who’s busy bringing them to life for WIKAG – the book! Photo op of the month (year?) had to be Berlin Gay Pride 2012 – so many queers! So many colours!

überlin's highlights of 2012: July

It seems like a long time since Zoë spent a boiling Berlin Fashion Week maximising her time in the air-conditioned tent, and occasionally popping outside to photograph slebs like Fashionbloggerin Miggy. Lucky for us, she braved the heat long enough to get these impressions of Berlin Fashion Week SS13.

überlin's highlights of 2012: August

While Peaches was never exactly a reason for moving to Berlin, we’ve never been able to think about the city without picturing her merkin. Since we arrived, we’ve been lucky enough to see her twice: “doing herself” live on stage and orchestrating a protest/video shoot in support of Pussy Riot. We weren’t the only starstruck fans following this freak parade into Mauerpark, and it was impressive to see Ms Nisker whipping up a storm to publicise an important – and still ongoing – cause. Less colourful, but no less eye-opening, was guest blogger Russell Dornan’s look behind the closed doors of Berlin’s Natural History Museum.

überlin's highlights of 2012: September

You Know You’re a Berliner When… you pose for a photo pretending the TV Tower is your penis, which then becomes a lightning rod for critics of hipsters, expats and archisexts (I made this one up). Having regular “Berlinergasms” was just one of 11 sure-fire signs that you’ve become a Berliner, along with dancing in a U-Bahn station and witnessing at least one daily act of crazy. Zoë saw more craziness at London Fashion Week SS13 – here is just a taste.

überlin's highlights of 2012: October

October was a month of light and dark. The gloomy nights provided the perfect backdrop for the Festival of Lights and (we think) our animated GIFs were the perfect demonstration of the event’s kaleidoscopic displays. Far less joyful was Berlin Crawling: 10 Halloween Horror Films, a list of creepshows shot here in the Haupstadt, ranging from the slick (the neo-Giallo short Yellow) to the just plain sick (corpse love story Nekromantik).

überlin's highlights of 2012: November

We’re so glad Phia agreed to be the first subject in our series of Berlin portraits. We’d heard the Australian singer/songwriter/thumb-pianist at an intimate concert in a fellow musician’s house, and loved her stories and songs about her granddad, a Berliner, and what it meant to live in his hometown. We spent a beautiful, crisp day discovering her Berlin, and sharing our love for the creative, open city we now call home. Oh, and we celebrated two years of überlin/living in Berlin!

überlin's highlights of 2012: December

As we entered our third winter in Berlin, we thought we should share the survival skills we’ve picked up with expats who’ve recently arrived from warmer climes. With the help of Josh Bauman’s awesome caricatures of us (and Olive!), our more-or-less practical tips about How to Survive a Berlin Winter helped to restore calm among the panicky sun-botherers freaking out at the first sight of snow. I wonder if anyone’s quit their job or grown a beard on our advice? And giving away €250 of Berlin-themed swag was a great way to end another awesome year of überlin.

Join us in 2013 for more Berlin love and LOLs. Happy New Year!

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Ramones Museum Berlin

by Guest Blogger

We visited the spiritual home of the proto-punks with Kevin Cousins, who also introduced us to our favourite record shop in Berlin, Bis Auf’s Messer.

Ramones 1

The comic book, buzzsaw chug of the Ramones is one of the most recognisable and imitated rackets in rock’s pantheon. Eternal misfits, they occupied a space of paradox: musically inept but trailblazing in their deconstructing of musical conventions; Rock and Roll Hall of Famers who never really hit “the big time”; a band equally influenced by the Stooges and the Ronettes. They were the kind of band that inspired dogged devotion: a definitive cult item. Therefore, it is perhaps fitting that the one museum dedicated to these loveable losers is far from their hometown of Queens, New York, and just happens to be where one of their biggest fans lived: Berlin. The Ramones Museum is a testimony to die hard fandom, and has Johnny, Joey et al’s scruffy, underdog charm written all over it.

Ramones 2

Ramones 3

The exhibits are arranged in a loosely chronological order, charting the Ramones’ rise from snotty street urchins to major-label almost-stars. Most of the material is presented through myriad fliers, handbills, posters and photos, but within the yellowing snippets there are some real treats to behold. Shots of these punks mooching on street corners in their home city, unnoticed and awkward, stand side by side with iconic portraits of them hitting London for the first time. There they were hailed as champions of a new, three-chord zeitgeist, with a wide-eyed John Lydon and Joe Strummer jostling to be in the presence of their unlikely idols.

Ramones 4

Ramones 5

Ramones 6

There are touching stories told, too, in which Joey emerges as an especially magnetic character. Clumsy and loping, all limbs and bushy hair, he sticks out as a truly missed icon of the counterculture, with his goofy visage standing out as a welcome presence in all the images on display. His relationship with Johnny was famously fraught: the latter stole and married his girlfriend, leading to a frosty silence that lasted the rest of their career, and this tension is in clear evidence in many of these compelling images.

Ramones 7

Ramones 8

From the sublime to the ridiculous, then, as you can witness Dee Dee’s alarming propensity for treading in dog-dirt, and the obligatory, Spinal Tap-esque “rotating drummer”. Alarming, too, are their label’s (desperate?) attempts to market the band. Ramones surfwear for the Australian market, anyone? Amongst other treasures are Joey’s beaten mic-stand from their last show in 1996, Dee Dee’s omnipresent padlock necklace and Johnny’s savaged Levi’s.

Ramones 9

Ramones 10

€5 buys you a lifetime’s entry(!) and a drink in the bar. There you can sit and scan the walls, which form a ramshackle mural/shrine to the Ramones, in the form of graffiti left by passing punk and indie musicians. From Biffy Clyro to Sum 41, all these artists have been inspired and touched by the Ramones’ less-is-more ethic and surging, fuzztone pop. They soldiered on and “did the clubs” for years, watching the bands who they influenced overtake and outshine them along the way. They were perhaps tragic in the fact that, unlike a lot of punk bands, they wanted and courted fame but remained perpetual also-rans. Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee died within a few years of each other: they would surely have been delighted to see their legacy done service at this excellent, big-hearted little museum.

Ramones 11

Ramones 12

Ramones Museum
Krausnickstrasse 23
10115 Berlin-Mitte
ramonesmuseum.com

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