Today, the head of the former Lenin monument placed in Berlin during the times of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) got unearthed in order to be presented in an exhibition of historic monuments in the west of Berlin.
The head was just the upper part of a much larger monument of Lenin originally located at Lenin Plaza, now called Platz der Vereinten Nationen (Plaza of the United Nations), in Berlins district Friedrichshain. In 1991, the first Mayor of the reunited Berlin organized the disassembly of the statue, and the head with its over 3 tons of weight was buried in a forest in the outskirts of Berlin.
There has been a great deal of controversy over this step, as some people consider the era of the GDR as such a dark chapter of german history that they prefer to have every memory of it erased, in order to prevent nostalgic political feelings. Another group of people already critizised the original idea of disassembling the statue back in 1991 and consider it as a integral part of german history that should be remembered and discussed.
For some time, an official argument against unearthing the head was that city representants stated that nobody had any idea where the head exactly was located. This argument was refuted, when US-American film maker Rick Minnich joined the conversation. Minnich had recorded a satirical movie and, as part of its plot, not only had investigated the exact position, but even presented a scene where he himself uncovered parts of Lenins head.
The last obstacle in the way was the finding, that a certain species of endangered lizards by now had populated the head, so that during every action taken, the protection of the lizards had to be warranted.
After all, the head did get unearthed today and by midday, it was presented at the location of its future exhibition at Citadel Spandau.
Dota Kerr is a singer-songwriter from Berlin of especially local popularity. She has been making her mixture of intimate acoustic guitar music with poetic everyday life observations revolving around big city life, lover’s grief, cultural and political themes with her trademark witty, intelligent wordplays. Formerly known as Kleingeldprinzessin (princess of small change) and gaining a loyal fanbase by busking, she also integrates elements of Bossa Nova and brasilian traditional music into her music
Dota is going to release a new record on January 15th of next year, and even though it is not yet ready for a proper promo cycle to begin, she released a video of a song of this record that deals with the concept of borders, in order to publish a statement about the current situation of refugees in Germany.
(Again we have the problem of translation. The main point of the song is that the german word for borders might stand for borders as well as for „limits“, so every time Dota sings „es gibt Grenzen“ she implies that everything mentioned before is caused by the existence of borders, but also that the circumstances already have crossed the line of the tolerable.)
Who is inside, who is outside?
I draw a line. You must not pass.
Air meets Air here
Ground meets ground
Skin meets the bullet.
There is frontex and push-backs
Fences, weapons, refugee defense conferences
Themediterrean sea becomes a mass grave
There are borders / limits
They lead to nationalism with its nutty consequences
You disfranchise people just because they came from somewhere
There are borders / limits (…)
I sign off, hand me a passport,
that states: „World inhabitant“
Just „world inhabitant“.
Please tell me where to go to for this
I sign off, I re-register
It can’t be so difficult
Just sign me up as world inhabitant.
German Indie-Rock group Tocotronic have been known to openly position themselves in political debates. Even if they rarely explicitly adress policital issues in their lyrics, they’ve always been up to and willing to demonstrate their political positions, e.g. in taking part in campaigns against tendencies of creating a new, “german” nationalist identity, and resolutely opposing the implementation of a quote of german-language-only songs on radio by law (find a more detailled description of this debate at Goethe Institut).
In response to the recent racist and xenophobic attacks against asylum-seekers escaping from Syria, Lybia and other countries, Tocotronic released a song explicitly refering to the recent situation of the asylum-seekers in Germany. The song is called Solidarität and as the name states, expresses in very kind and comforting words the bands solidarity with these people. Here’s a translation of an excerpt of the lyrics (please excuse the crude translation, in german the carefully constructed prose is full of puns, but I guess it’s enough to get an idea of its content):
You, who undismayed are distressed by disdain Hunted every day by your traumata
You, who need every help who are running gauntlents in between the bourgeois / Babbits leashed by the herd confronted with their grimaces
You, who are at a loss and miss every bit of fondness standing in front of demolition you have my solidarity.
You can find the delicate ballad, only accompanied by acoustic guitars and a reduced string arrangement, here. It was also released on Tocotronics latest record, “Das rote Album” in May of this year.
Since gaining popularity in the early 90’s, Tocotronic were counted by music journalists and pop culture theorists as part of the so-called Hamburger Schule, a group of bands and musicians who dealt in their lyrics with the role of an individual in society and various cultural, political and societal issues from a leftist position (which is why the name references the german group of neo-marxist, sociological and philosophical theorists of Frankfurter Schule.) Important members of the Hamburger Schule (even though they normally despised the label) besides Tocotronic included bands like Blumfeld, Die Sterne and others.
German weekly Newspaper DIE ZEIT interviews two medical physicians working voluntarily in the Dresden refugee camp tent city, who report that the conditions of medical care and treatment, hygene and sanitary facilites in the camp are violating German Constitutional Law. Expired medication, no possibilites for sex segregation in sanitary facilities, not enough toilets, incially even without running water, unexperienced, overburdended, but dedicaded voluntary doctors. They speak of a humanitarian catastrophe. This illustrates various points of the recent debate:
Germany has been overwhelmed by the recent increases of asylum-seekers arriving here and still is trying to catch up regarding the organization and the regulatory processes.
There is a great need of improving the cooperation of the involved parties.
Anti-aslyum-seeker-violence and sentiments in various parts of the nation, as well as the reservations certain parts of the political world and the population hold regarding the dimensions of support Germany should offer to these people, have hindered the process of attending them.
Additional obstacles in the way are the physical and mental health conditions of the asylum seekers, cultural and language barriers, the recent heat and the vacation period in Germany.
Nevertheless, the great commitment of various civilists and volunteers donating basic necessities or offering their private space for a period of time should not be unmentioned and gives some spark of hope.
This is kinda out of my comfort zone for various reasons. Recently, I’ve been repeatedly accused of being contaminated with „white guilt“ (probably not without any reason, considering my status and me being grown up as white, male and european, but my attempts to grow on that field might or might not be the topic of another blog entry). I rarely listen to a lot of HipHop regularily (with a few exceptions). And I’m not informed thoroughly on the topic.
Nevertheless, neither the recent police violence against black adolescents and the subsequent revolts and demonstrations of the population in various areas of the United States nor the current hype of Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album To Pimp A Butterfly have passed me by without attracting my attention.
By combining deeply personal and self-critical reflections with political statements and historical references, Kendrick Lamar creates a very dense and complex image of the situation of the black community in his country. This record aims at nothing less than being a historical document of the present time – and the most surprising thing is that it succeeds in this ambition. Knowledge of history, the scene, present events and and an untamed sense of vigor, determination and playfulness characterize this record and therefore make it a powerful political statement hard to ignore. The fact that he doesn’t even shy away to cause controversy even in his own camp is remarkable. (I especially love the part where the article states that second single The Blacker The Berry is „delivered with creative venom that made headline writers scramble for to find synonyms for “pissed off” (it’s “blistering,” “scathing,” “seething”)“)
And, not least, he completes the package by a wild and free-spirited combination of HipHop, Funk, Jazz and Soul that not only is incredibly inspiring, but also incredibly catchy and versatile. As rare as it is – listening to this record not only is intellectually overwhelming, but also very much FUN!
Here’s a man very confidently claiming for everyones attention to notice these topics that concern everybody, and he won’t swallow down his anger or leave his argumentative fist hidden in his pocket.
To immerse yourself a little deeper into the man, his music and his mission, i recommend the following articles:
For german readers, I recommend an analysis of the artwork of To Pimp A Butterfly and its numerous refereonces on the website of german hipster magazine Spex.
Last but not least, NPRs All Songs Considered did a special edition, analyzing the song King Kunta a little deeper in regards to political, historical and musical references. Gives you a hint on how profound and complex this record is.
Tl; dnr: Kendrick Lamars sophomore album is a punch in the guts, an intellectual challenge, and an absolute fun to listen to. Even if the revolution still is yet to come, we got the soundtrack right here.
I just stumbled upon a blog called “Shit People Say To Women Directors”, where women working in the film industry are sharing their experiences regarding misogynist and anti-women statements received from co-workers. Here are some examples:
I was at the screening of my feature length documentary. The event organizers set up a little bar and table for the reception. A man (who knew I had directed the film) asked me, “will you be behind the bar serving the drinks?
Every time I walk onto a set, some knucklehead approaches me and asks if I am in the make up department.
I was producing a commercial and was pulled out of my office and asked to turn on a washing machine because I “would know more” about putting the wash on than any of the guys there. I pressed the “start” button.
Usually carelessly hidden / packaged up in what is intended to be a joke, the degree of degradation and humiliation of these statements that these women have to listen to in their everyday life, for the simple fact of being a woman, is apalling and repellent. I really hope this blog contributes its share to raise awareness.
As Frontline reports, there were more civilian deaths between the intervall of 2007-2014 in Méxcio within its current domestic political context of the War On Drugs, than in the same period in officially declared international war zones Afghanistan and Irak taken together. Frontline, a public broadcast service (PBS) policital documentary series in the USA, pointed out this relationship by referencing a recent release of the Mexican government of numbers of deaths in their country.
Méxican political magazine Sin Embargo commented on this with a headline saying: The war is neither in Afghanistan nor in Irak, México has more deaths.
México has found itself in a constant and everyday battle against the organized crime for a long time. Various gangs and cartels conducting drug transfers, trade of persons, and fights over the regional dominance in the USA, México and great parts of Central and South America cause a climate of terror, fear, violence and oppression. While the comparisn of these numbers obviously doesn’t intend to ridicule the suffering and deaths in war states in the middle east, the fact that, without the same attention of media and press (even less in Europe!), what is happening in México has, for a long time, more than reached the proportions of an inner-country war, is more than alarming. Once more, it raises the quesiton where the interests of the people in charge lie, if this isn’t a proper issue to be taken care of.
The foto shows a fence on top of one of the border bridges connecting Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and El Paso, TX, leading over the Rio Bravo. Border regions are of high interests for the organized crime groups who are transfering drugs, weapons and people from or into the US.
Tl, dnr:According to Mexican governmental data, the number of civilian deaths during 2007-2014 in México has outreached the combined number of civilian deaths in officially declared international war zones Afghanistan and Irak.