John Medlock: Some apology to Berlin.

Guest author John Medlock’s piece is a thoughtful apology from an expat to a city that was always a playground for histories twists in fate and is rapidly changing in the past years. But more than that it is a beautifully written wake up call for all Berliners (born wherever):

Berlin. Wake up from your slumber. The third summer of love is now dead, buried, a mystery. It’s a jealous footnote to those who weren’t there and a nauseating pit of nostalgia for those that were.

Maybe it was the drugs. Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the history and that sense of standing on the precipice which sends the alluring shiver of expectation down the spine of everybody who passes through the city’s gates. Or maybe not.

Whatever it is, there can be no denying that the sensation has changed. Maybe it has watered down, or maybe it has disappeared altogether, but the search for the hit is getting harder. It’s something that cannot really be quantified. Because of that, it may no longer be found again and we cannot tell if 2013 will be a fourth.

So I’d like to apologise because there may be some portion of blame to be doled out for the demise.

I apologise for my curiosity, I apologise for my naïve quest for the authentic and I apologise for every other person, Ausländer or Deutsche, who is here doing the same thing.

The City.

Berlin is the most authentic place on Earth. History has made that the case. There simply was never any time for bullshit. Never was and never will be. This city is like the ugly, pretentious older brother who, no matter how much you try and disbelieve them, is right when they say they’ve seen it all.

In 2011, with the flood of ever richer, ever younger, ever more disenfranchised and dysfunctional people fleshing out the districts of note (Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Neukölln), the (3rd?) summer of love happened. The music was great, the parties, the drugs, the people. Pure Hedonism. No apologies. And, in the spirit of so many platitudes, the party died.

In its place, hubris, followed by doubt, followed by anger and finally a flaky kind of cynicism has taken root. Now you justify to yourself and others why you are here, living space feels like it’s at a premium (almost just as much as the need to be believed).

„How long have you been in Berlin?“ is constantly, consistently leveled.

„How long is enough?“

We feel gagged now. We are lost.

Is the party still in Neukölln or has it (whisper it) moved to the West? What the fuck happened to Kreuzberg? Remember Wedding? When will richer people stop bitching about the quest for authenticity when there is no authentic experience that can be bought with your wallet (except, of course, for all those powders)? Let me now, as an outsider, blame the outsiders for the lack of anything to focus on. This city’s transient nature is dizzying. And let me blame the drugs. Because that’s easy. And because they’re never as good as they once were.

The city is afraid to look to its future almost as much as it’s afraid to look to its past, since we know that nothing good ever comes from a fixation on what has passed

The Reader.

At least, I think that is the case and I think that that is true. Because I wasn’t there; because I am not here… I am living in the past and I’ve chased a dream like everybody else, in love with the Berlin of 2010/2005/2000/1995 ad nauseum. Dreamy images I’ve lusted after from history books, films and from computer screens, planting the foundation of our generation’s constant affliction: the incessant need to ‚be there‘.

Perhaps that dream is now dead. It seems that against the dying face of winter, on the sliproad into 2013’s summer, nobody really knows where it’s at.

And how can you trust me? The fact that this is in English should speak volumes. Yes cities change and you cannot, should not, attempt to pin international forces on individual people. We’re all playing the game and this city is the perfect playground. But one still has to be sensitive to it. Do not be threatened into thinking that you should ‚know your place‘ but definitely never take what this city has, and what it offers you, for granted. History walks the streets as much as you do and the present can be blown away in an instant.

Out-priced today, it may be the Turks, but you can be sure that tomorrow it’ll be your artistic collective under the hammer. Be under no illusions. But equally, don’t take any shit.

So grow bold Berlin. Feel stronger in yourself. Charge up my smartphone and be sure to ignore the krusty punks, with all their quasi-social-fascism and suffocating cultural pontificating. Shrug off too the cynicism of the panda-eyed dying ravers, pink skinned and sensitive to the morning light, as innocent as newborns. Perhaps build a wall around the redneck anti-Schwabians (but be sure to keep those rich southerners in there with them too).

But most of all: reclaim and protect your identity; from the freemarketeers, from any group that thinks it owns you and from people like me who try and understand you.

Times are hard so revel in your latest reincarnation. It is the only thing you can do. Because if we weren’t all partying, we’d probably all be crying.

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