Friday, April 25, 2014

Fresh Hell: Finding a Flat in Berlin

Oh yeah, this entire blog has been a thinly-veiled anti gentrification rant:  The Impending Gentrification of Berlin, The Hipster Invasion, Landlords aka Fucklords, and The Current and Very In-Your-Face Gentrification of Berlin.  This blog is a redneck swamp hat with a wide brim shading very angry eyes.  Donuts dangle from strings around the brim.

It’s Fucklord time again.  After yet another one year sublet, we found ourselves looking for another flat.  Not because we paid the rent on time every month for the entire year, not because we never had any neighbor complaints, not because we have money in the bank and a spotless rental history—but because ‘it is a free market and we can rent to whomever we choose’ sayeth the Fucklord.

Oh yes, our hauptmieter gave up her contract behind our backs and the Fucklord saw the chance to kick us out as well, saying ‘you are not our tenants.’  Our hauptmieter told us from her year abroad in France that she was sorry that the Fucklord hadn’t chosen us.  It wasn’t anything personal, you see, they ‘probably just want to raise the rent and get a commission from the next renter.’

Nothing personal?  Jesus fuck.

So off we went into the thick of things again.  Each time we try to get another flat the rents go up 50%, the lines outside the flat viewings get longer and the new metric fuckton of additional paperwork fells another rain forest.

If you are looking for a flat in Berlin, watch out for the poisonous sentence ‘the viewing will be on such-and-such date at such-and-such time.’  This means you will be standing outside the flat (most likely in the rain) waiting for a beady-eyed bald man (most likely in the pub) with a group of 30-40 feckless feckers just like yourself.  If you choose to view a flat that is NOT in Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Mitte, or Kreuzberg, you will have to wait outside with slightly fewer feckless feckers.  Maybe only 10-20.

We were waiting outside the shabby, dreary-looking 1940s concrete slab down the road from Mauerpark.  The usual suspects gathered:  hipsters, students, Italians, Spaniards and Spanish-Italian hipster students.  The beady-eyed bald German appeared late as usual.  He led the group of 30 up the stairs and held out his arm.  If he says ‘Heil Fucklord!’ I will strangle him with his own belt and take his keys, I thought to myself.  He did not.  Instead he had us all wait in the stairwell while he showed people in one or two at a time.

This thing must be a tiny fucking shoebox!  Only 2 at a time can view it!  The first couple came out after only 2 minutes and the next pair was let in.  The first couple was grasping an application form in their sweaty hands.  They dropped to the ground in the stairs and started filling out the form.  By the time it was our turn to get into the flat, it was in fact a bit of a shoebox.  But there was no reason to keep us waiting; 7 or 8 could have easily fit inside at once.  But it is the Fucklord’s market in Berlin.  The Fucklord can arrive 30 minutes late and make 30 people sit in the stairs filling out paperwork while mumbling moo-hoo-ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaa under his fetid breath.

When I went to look at the living room I saw why there was a flat tour limit:  a pregnant woman sat on the couch watching television with a very sour look on her face.  I know, honey:  German tv is pretty scheisse.

I asked if we could submit the form online by email, and the beady-eyed Deutschbag smiled and shook his head.  “In the STAIRS!”  If we wanted it badly enough we would have to cop a squat, open up a vein and write it with our own blood.  Pens were not provided.  We decided we were through with this dog and pony show.  We told beady baldy that we would not be sitting in any fucking stairs to apply for any fucking shitbox for any over-inflated price. On the way down the stairs the usual suspects scrawled on their papers in the stairwell.  ‘What do I put here?’ one hipster asked.  ‘That’s your boss’s info’ said the other hipster.  I couldn’t get around them; even though they are skinny fucks in skinny jeans, side by side they are a minor roadblock.  As I tried to step over them, my boot hovered for a bit.  If I stepped too far too fast, my bum ankle would send me crashing down on the poor Italian couple below the hipsters.

My boot hung in the air.  I was tempted to put my size 13 right in the middle of the hipster’s application—or on his empty fucking skull.  One of the hipsters looked up and saw the impending danger.  They shimmied to the side just slightly and let me by.  Then they returned to their feverish scrawls.  They would get this flat. Oh yeah.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

American Style Pizza in Berlin

Gentrification got you down?

Greedy, weasely landlords throwing you out in favor of the uberhip?

Grab a fat slice of American style pizza!


We need the comfort food.  The taste of home that you can't quite get anywhere else:  pizza be thy name.  Everyone in Europe seems to hold the thin, bland, soulless Italian pizza in the highest regard and use it as the litmus test.  Then they go and fuck it up even further by putting corn, ruccola, potatoes and all manner of godawful shit on it.

Sure, thin, crispy pizza with a flavorless tomato stain and 10 strands of cheese might appeal to those with peasant taste and the appetite of a little girl, but when we Yankee Doodles haul out the pizza, we try to kill ourselves by exploding our guts.  We order XL pizzas and a 12 pack of beer, pass out on the couch and wake up and eat the cold remainders for breakfast.  And drink the remaining beer as well.

American pizza is not just thick crust; it's like a fluffy pastry which is crisp on the bottom and chewy in the middle.  It has so much cheese and toppings on it that you can't see the sauce or crust under it.  The sauce is rich, thick and flavorful.  And we make the pizzas in at least 4 sizes.  Boo-yow.

I FOUND THE PLACE:  Manhattan Pizza on Monumentenstr. 26 (xberg near Viktoriapark).  The Chicago Pizza is The One.  It is so good I think about it all the time.  It is perfection served out of a tiny hole in the wall on a back street.  And it comes in 5 sizes.  The small pizza is thick enough to choke a donkey.

Don't be fooled by the names:  it won't be like a New York style pizza or a Chicago pie.  But it's about everything else they throw on that makes it right:  the aforementioned perfect crust, the rich, zesty sauce and the piles of cheese and toppings that will make your Yankee flagpole rise.  I'm drooling as I write this.  I won't mention my flagpole.

The one called Chicago has salami, onions, ham, bacon and extra cheese.  Go there in the middle of the day and you will have the whole place to yourself.  They are mainly a delivery business, but damn is it a good pizza.  I didn't believe it, so I went back 4 times.  Then I ordered the second largest one they had (45cm), ate half of it there, then took the rest all the way home on the bus, pissing off everyone with the smell.

Then, gentle reader, I ate it cold that night for a late night snack.  Then I reheated the last piece for breakfast.  Yes, I am a fat bastard.  But a happy one.

Manhattan Pizza:  Monumentenstr. 26, Berlin-Kreuzberg. Closed Mondays.