Ellen Allien – The Other Side Berlin
Deaf, Dumb + Blind Recordings
I love watching travel shows, but I can rarely connect with the hosts or the trips they feature.
Rick Steves, whom I’m sure you’ve caught on PBS before on a blurry Sunday when you’re nursing a hangover, is a wealth of information. But he’s probably not the kinda bloke I would be buddying up with in a hostel. Although I can see him traveling with my dad and the two of them having a rarin’ good time.
At least he’s not as annoying as Samantha Brown, who tries to not only be cute, but be funny. She may connect with soccer moms or 40-something men who fantasize about having an affair on their wives with her in the $500 a night Italian hotel she’s spouting about, but she does nothing for me. I would probably end up in some foreign jail after pounding her in the head with a brick I’d pulled off a castle wall during a tour.
I can credit Ms. Brown, or The Travel Channel, for sparking my interest in the city of Berlin. And it just so happened that we were sent “The Other Side Berlin,” a travel guide for Berlin that was meant for folks like you and me.
In The Other Side series of travel CD/DVD combos, Deaf, Dumb + Blind Recordings has teamed with the more artsy/clubbing/shopping, edgy travel guide peeps, Time Out.
I’ve often turned to Time Out New York when I haven’t been back to the city for a while and want to get a leg up on what’s up before I land. Although they are hard to find here in Denver. What’s up with that? Once again, thank-God for the Internet.
Anyway, this series has tapped into the underground culture knowledge of artists, DJs, producers, and people in-the-know who take viewers to all their local haunts, from eateries and places to watch a sunset, to parks, where they shop, and of course, their favorite drinking holes and dance clubs.
Now in their fifth edition (having covered New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris), they’ve called on Ellen Allien, a Berlin resident, electro music producer, entrepreneur, and founder of the BPitch Control Party Series and BPitch Control Records, as their guide. Much in the way you ride on the coattails of friends you visit, Ellen introduces us to Konnopke’s Imbiss, where people start lining up in the morning for their signature currywurst, something that I’ve never heard of before. I got hungry just watching her and her friends inhale a few.
She also grabs beers at a restaurant/bar adjacent to a green park with rolling hills, Nola’s. Her drinking/eating companion is Ritchie Hawtin, who jokes, “For a single guy like me, to maybe run into someone, roll down the hill, bump into a girl who’s lying there naked. This is always great for a North American guy. You see something like this…unbelieveable!”
I did recognize her venture into the Hackecher Markt, a place Ms. Brown had barely tipped her toe into with an obvious level of fear (which I had to laugh at). The old walls tell a story of today’s artists, as colorful graffiti covers the outside and the eclectic, Juxtapose-styled pieces line the inside. I also learn that the owner of this Markt, which is both a gallery and a spot to buy art, has preserved this area of the city while fighting and winning against the real estate moguls who are in the process of the “beautification” of the city. So it’s not just happening in the U.S. Interesting.
The first hour of the DVD is the personal tour by Ellen, while the second hour delves even deeper into each of Berlin’s travel attractions, including places to eat, drink, dance, sleep, sight-see and venture. The Other Side Berlin is short and sweet compared to the many travel books that would take a lot more time to get though. But it’s packed with so much good information that shows the many sides of this evolving city that you probably wouldn’t see unless you were there. After watching The Other Side, I not only looked into flights to Berlin, I seriously thought about what it would be like to live there.
The Other Side package also comes with a soundtrack for your travels, designed by Ellen Allien, along with a handy insert that not only includes many of the spots covered in the DVD, but a map of Berlin as well. They also give you the URLs for every spot they feature so you can delve deeper if you choose. All in all: brilliant.
If I had one complaint, and only one, they seemed to have about three songs on repeat during the second portion of the DVD coverage, which got pretty annoying. Considering that a music producer was involved in the project, I would have thought that the music portion would have been more expansive, using the opportunity to introduce the viewer to more of her catalog.
I’ll give two thumbs up on the Berlin series, and can’t wait to get my hands on the other cities they feature, which I expect will be either San Francisco or Seattle. And when they’re ready to see the other side of Denver, they need to give me a call.