Category Archives: Music & Films

Sunday Documentary: Do Communists Have Better Sex? (NSFW)

Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon Still 2

Photo: Still from Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon

The 2006 documentary ‘Do Communists Have Better Sex?’, explores the sexual attitudes of Germans and in particular the differences between the mind-set of East and West Germans when it comes to sex and sexuality.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, scientists were keen to study the sociological and psychological differences of the previously divided people of the newly re-unified nation.

With footage from numerous TV programmes and public information films, the documentary examines the paradox that in the more controlled society of communist East Germany, people are more satisfied with their sex lives.

It is suggested that against the backdrop of seemingly overt sexual openness: pornography; nudity; Frei Körper Kultur (FKK); and prostitutes brazenly offering themselves on well-trodden streets, like the area around Berlin’s S-Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten, sex was not openly discussed in the more liberal West.

Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon Still 2

Photo: Still from Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon

In East Germany where abortion and prostitution were illegal, sex education and sexual discussions were more prevalent.

At 45 minutes, all I could think was ‘Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!‘ because of Ylvis’s What Does The Fox Say?

Due to the subject matter and the inclusion of numerous scenes of nudity (including the obligatory naked volleyball shots) , the documentary ‘Do Communists Have Better Sex?’ has been age restricted by YouTube so you will need to sign in to view it.

Do Communists Have Better Sex? (2006)

Sunday Documentary: Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Removing the Tresor sign - still from Sub Berlin - The Story of Tresor

Photo: Still from Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Tresor was at the vanguard of the Techno movement in Berlin as the city adjusted to its post-reunification status.

Berlin newcomers and the press hail Berghain as one of the world’s greatest clubs but Techno lovers of the 90s and early 00s will say ‘you should have been in ‘the old Tresor’.

The old club on Leipziger Strasse was torn down in 2005 as part of the redevelopment of Potsdamer Platz.  The building housing the original Tresor had a checkered past.  It was previously the vault under the Wertheim department store, seized by the Nazis and subsequently destroyed during the bombing raids of World War II.

Tresor re-opened in 2007 in Heizkraftwerk Mitte, a former power station on Köpenicker Strasse, and a new shopping mall is currently being built at its previous location on Leipziger Strasse.

Through interviews with clubbers and DJs who were part of the story, photos and video footage, Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor, a 2009 documentary by Tilman Künzel tells the tale of Tresor from its opening in 1991 to the closure of its original location in 2005.

Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Ohrwurm: Adel Tawil – Lieder

Und ich singe diese Lieder - still from the video for Lieder by Adel Tawil

Photo: Still from the video for Lieder by Adel Tawil

Lieder by Adel Tawil should possibly come with a warning as it is essentially 32 Ohrwürme in one (if my Maths is right).  The English translation of the title is ‘Songs’ and the lyrics refer to other songs, e.g. the first line ‘Ich ging wie ein Ägypter’ – I walk like an Egyptian – is a reference to the 1980s hit by The Bangles.

In my efforts to learn German, I have completed the whole Rosetta Stone course and I’m working my way through Duolingo.  Georg of Digital Cosmonaut has often suggested listening to German Hip Hop as a learning tool and when I heard this pop song I got a glimpse of how that might help.

The fact that so many of the songs used in Lieder are familiar to me makes translating the lyrics and working out the references a fun way to improve my Deutsch.

This video posted on Adel Tawil’s YouTube channel includes the lyrics and some pictures that make deciphering the references a little easier.

Adel Tawil “Lieder” (Lyric Video)

If after watching the video you’re still a bit unsure of the lyrics here is a very handy table from the Wikipedia.de article for Lieder by Adel Tawil.

Text Anspielung auf
1. Strophe
Ich ging wie ein Ägypter, Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles
hab’ mit Tauben geweint. When Doves Cry – Prince
War ein Voodoo-Kind, Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix
wie ein rollender Stein. Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
Im Dornenwald sang Maria für mich, Maria durch ein Dornwald ging
ich starb in deinen Armen… (I Just) Died in Your Arms – Cutting Crew
…Bochum ’84. Bochum – Herbert Grönemeyer
Ich ließ die Sonne nie untergehen, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me – Elton John
in meiner wundervollen Welt. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
2. Strophe
Ich war willkommen im Dschungel Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
und fremd im eigenen Land. Fremd im eigenen Land – Advanced Chemistry
Mein persönlicher Jesus Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode
und im Gehirn total krank. Insane in the Brain – Cypress Hill
Und ich frage mich wann werd ich, werd ich berühmt sein, When Will I Be Famous – Bros
so wie Rio mein König für die Ewigkeit. König von Deutschland – Rio Reiser
Ich war am Ende der Straße…angelangt, End of the Road – Boyz II Men
war ein Verlierer, Baby! Loser – Beck
Doch dann hielt ich ein Cover in der Hand, Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine
darauf ein Mönch, der in Flammen stand,
Kurt Cobain sagte mir, ich soll kommen wie ich bin. Come as You Are – Nirvana
3. Strophe
Ich war einer von fünf Jungs, The Boyz
„One Minute“ aus, dann war’s vorbei. One Minute – The Boyz
Ich sang nur noch für mich,
für ’ne unendlich lange Zeit.
Dann traf ich auf sie Annette Humpe
und sie erinnerte mich. Du erinnerst mich an Liebe – Ich + Ich
Wir waren Welten entfernt Ich + Ich
und doch vom selben Stern. Vom selben Stern – Ich + Ich
Refrain
Und ich singe diese Lieder,
tanz’ mit Tränen in den Augen. Dancing with Tears in My Eyes – Ultravox
Bowie war für’n Tag mein Held, Heroes – David Bowie
und EMF kann es nicht glauben. Unbelievable – EMF
Und ich steh’ im lila Regen, Purple Rain – Prince
ich will ein Feuerstarter sein. Firestarter – The Prodigy
Whitney wird mich immer lieben I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
und Michael lässt mich nicht allein You Are Not Alone – Michael Jackson

Source: Wikipedia

Berlin: Giant Bear Pole Dances Around Fernsehturm

Berlin Tanzt - Photo from YouTube video from Tanzbüro Berlin

Photo: Still from YouTube video by Tanzbüro Berlin

Let’s be honest, a dancing bear is bound to get your attention.  If you’ve been in Berlin over the last month or so you will have noticed the posters for Berlin Tanzt with a bear captured mid-leap in many of the U-Bahn stations.

But when that bear appears in a video and is as tall as the Kugel of the Fernsehturm and uses it to do a pole dance you’re hooked, right?

Well check out this genius advert for Berlin Tanzt from Tanzbüro Berlin on YouTube then:

tanzcard präsentiert: BERLIN TANZT. Auf 22 Bühnen.

Berlin Tanzt is a dance festival performing on 22 stages across Berlin from 29 January to 28 February 2014.  For more details check out the Tanzraum Berlin website.

Sunday Documentary: The Tunnel

People At The Berlin Wall At Schwedter Strasse - Still From NBC Documentary - The Tunnel

Photo: Still from The Tunnel – NBC

Produced by Reuven Frank and narrated by Piers Anderton and first aired on 10 December 1962, the NBC documentary The Tunnel follows a group of West Berlin students determined to help people flee communist East Berlin.

Featuring footage shot inside the tunnel under the Berlin wall, the programme offers a unique insight into the remarkable efforts some were willing to go to in order to secure the freedom of others.

The tunnel stretched 120 to 140 metres below the border from Schönholzer Strasse 7 to Bernauer Strasse 78.

As the film points out the intention was to free many more East Germans but the tunnel flooded after 29 people had used it to cross from East to West.

The Tunnel

The documentary and the story it depicts also inspired the film Der Tunnel (2001) and the documentary Der Tunnel: Die Wahre Geschichte (1999).

Der Tunnel (auf Deutsch)

Der Tunnel: Die Wahre Geschichte

Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled for this video but you can find it here.

Berlin Songs: Parlez-vous anglais ? – Last Paradise On Earth

Parlez Vous Anglais ? - Last Paradise On Earth Promo Photo

Photo: Damien Stein

The eagle-eyed Urban Explorers amongst you may recognise the location of this promotional shot for the new song from Paris / Berlin based outfit Parlez-vous anglais ? as it’s the basketball court at Kaserne Krampnitz.

The video for Last Paradise On Earth, a catchy bit of Disco-Synth-Pop was filmed at a number of Berlin locations, including Spreepark, Eisfabrik and the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park.

Parlez-vous anglais ? – Last Paradise On Earth

The new Parlez-vous anglais ? EP, Dancing On The Other Side will be released in March 2014 and they will be in Berlin for a DJ set at Intersoup on 31 January 2014 with a live show to follow at Kaffee Burger on 28 March 2014.

Parlez-vous anglais ? - Dancing On the Other Side Artwork

Artwork: Paul Roche

If like me you’re new to the band you might also like to check out their previous EP.

Parlez-vous anglais? – Sunglasses and Shirts

You can see more from Parlez-vous anglais ? on their Facebook and Soundcloud pages.

Klassiker 2014 – Elderly Germans in film poses

Cabaret - Contilia Gruppe / Werntges Studios (pensioner Martha Bajohr poses as Sally Bowles)

Photo courtesy: Contilia Gruppe / Werntges Studios

Proving that the old like to have just as much fun as the young, a group of pensioners in Germany have recreated scenes from classic films for a 2014 calendar.

Klassiker 2014 was conceived by the Contilia Gruppe, a healthcare company whose interests include a number of residential care homes in Essen, as a gift for residents and employees.

Shot in a professional photo studio (Werntges Studios) the models aged 75 to 98 struck poses from films including Blues Brothers, Saturday Night Fever and Titanic.

My personal favourite, with a Berlin connection of course, is Martha Bajohr as Sally Bowles from Cabaret.

You can read more about the project (auf Deutsch) on the Contilia website and download a pdf version of the entire calendar.

How Animals Eat Their Food (and What Does The Fox Say?)

How Animals Eat Their Food (T-Rex screen print from video)

Photo: Still from How Animals Eat Their Food by MisterEpicMann

I have reached an important turning point – my nephew is telling me about YouTube videos I should watch.

At the end of the summer, two weeks after I introduced him to Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Say?), my nephew, Owen (who was 8 at the time), told me during our fortnightly Skype call that I had to watch How Animals Eat Their Food.

He then fell off the sofa because he was laughing so much listening to me laugh at the video.

I realise that as this was the most popular YouTube video in the UK in 2013 and has almost 94 million hits at the time of writing that it is likely that you have seen this already but just in case…I hope you find it as funny as Owen did.

How Animals Eat Their Food

Now, with over 334 million hits, it is even more likely that you have seen the video that inspired his suggestion - Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!

Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Say?)

Berlin Songs: Sam Smith – Berlin

Sam Smith - Berlin (Radio 1 Live Lounge) - image courtesy of BBC

Photo: Courtesy of BBC

BBC Sound of 2014 winner Sam Smith chose to cover RY X’s Berlin on a recent visit to the Radio 1 Live Lounge.

BBC Sound of 2014 was compiled from the three choices of 170 DJs, critics and bloggers of the acts to watch out for in 2014.  Past winners include Adele, Ellie Goulding and 50 Cent and last year’s winner Michael Kiwanuka featured in my A Year in the Life of Berlin post as the video for his song Tell Me A Tale was filmed in Berlin.

The Longlist, the 15 most hotly-tipped acts, can be found on the BBC website and I’d recommend checking it out.  You’ll certainly be seeing a lot more of some of the names on it over the next year.

Sam Smith – Berlin (Cover Version)

For anyone not familiar with the song, here is the original version.

RY X – Berlin

Sunday Documentary: UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin

UNLIKE U - Trainwriting in Berlin (screenshot from the film)

Photo: Still from ‘UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin’

The documentary UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin follows a group of graffiti artists spraying trains in Berlin and explores their motivations and experiences through interviews.

The film was originally banned from cinemas after complaints from Deutsche Bahn but the makers recently won an appeal against this decision.

Unfortunately, though the film is available in full on Vimeo it can’t be embedded but you can find it by following this link: UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin.