Excuses, Excuses

Thanks to Kean for connecting the dots on this one.

I’ve suspected Potsdamer Platz was in trouble for some time. An early symptom of this was when the strange “music experience” show downstairs closed precipitously. Not long after, a Sony Records person I knew from the States came over here to find out why Sony Records Germany employees didn’t want to move to Berlin and work at the Sony Center. Apparently morale was horrible, but it did, it must be admitted, pick up: Sony, at the start of merger negotiations with Bertelsmann, moved to Munich.

That’s right: besides the fancy branding-store there, there’s no Sony in the Sony Center.

Nor, apparently, is there any Daimler-Chrysler in the Daimler-Chrysler Center these days, since this article hints pretty strongly that both the Sony Center and the Daimler-Chrysler complex are on the market. And that’s mostly what there is to see at Potsdamer Platz these days.

Besides the architecture — which I think is best seen from afar, for the obvious reason that you can’t see a skyscraper when you’re standing next to it — there just isn’t much at PotzPlatz. There are the cinemas, of course, which are essential to the Berlinale, and the don’t-call-it-a-mall-or-we-fire-you Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, and a few luxury hotels, which are also essential to the Berlinale — or at least the egos who attend it. But the place has been a bust when it comes to commercial space. And why not? There’s commercial space everywhere here, most of it cheaper than PotzPlatz.

Let’s face it: the city’s in trouble. At this point, even the city is admitting it. The link to the PotzPlatz article came after Kean sent me an almost unreadable exerpt from a speech due to be delivered in Sydney by Adrienne Goehler, identified as “a former senator for arts and science in Berlin.” I have no idea which party she represents, and she could be a CDU-er sniping at the SDP’s leadership, but if I discern (through what may be a lousy translation) correctly, she’s right in scoring the unemployment (17% overall, but, as she doesn’t mention, well over 33% is some parts of town), debt (€60 billion), and what she calls an “old-boy network” and I call entrenched anti-entrepreneurialism as problems.

So woo-woo, we have a lot of artists. Frau Goehler even admits that there’s a lot of art made here but no way to sell it: for that you have to leave town. I’d actually advise her to take a look at what’s in some of these galleries here. She might not be so optimistic if she’d take a walk around some of the galleries I see every day, too. And yeah, I know, there are a lot of artists who rent cheapo space here so they can build their stuff and ship it out without showing it here.

Ah, well. At least she admits “As impressive as the numbers are which officially document the strengthening of Berlin’s creative industries, it is equally visible to the naked eye that there isn’t and won’t be enough paid work in this city to counter the jobless rate. For some years now, this shortage has forced mainly jobless artists and academics into new forms of working and living that arise from a lack of money and a simultaneous surplus of ideas.” Which sort of doesn’t make me feel too bad that nobody I know can make a living here, myself included.

But unlike Sony, I haven’t made a sale or a merger that allows me to put my apartment back on the rental market. Yet.

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