Let them eat pancakes!
June 16/17, 2012 was the best birthday night since Christmas.
Thank you to Louise & Van Bo, Fia & Johannes, Jana, Livia, Vicki, Adam Berry, Pisser, Nomi, Fatima, the Esra & Zeynep, the Kotti Gecekondu, Südblock, all guests of 48 Hours Neukölln, Prinzessinnengarten, Betahaus, W52, Occupy Biennale, the Berlin Peace Festival, Pfefferberg, the BMW Guggenheim Lab (really!) and all other supporters!
Here’s what happened:
I met the 1 m² House crew at Betahaus around 6 PM. After a minor technical issue, we put the house on a sack barrow and brought it to the Kotti Gecekondu, a permanent demo by long-time Kreuzbergers against rising rents and privatization of public housing.
We parked the house and made freaky blueberry pancakes and veggie patties. One of the most memorable quotes:
Van Bo: “We still need a door for our house.”
Resident: “Let’s take a door from my apartment. If they raise rents, we’ll just disassemble the building.”
(We didn’t take up the offer.)
After using up all our pancake mix, we took the train to the 48 Hours Neukölln festival around 10 PM. Our crowd guru Van Bo and our documentarists Fia & Johannes had to leave us, but Jana and I met some very nice young punks on the train. Nomi, Pisser and their buddies helped us set up our house on Reuterplatz, a lively square at the center of the festival.
We made pancakes with raisins and chocolate chips. Nomi went insane with the sauces and infected many guests with a lifetime craving.
Here are the most memorable occurences during our four hours at the festival:
- Nomi and her crew informed various festival guests that our house was headed for the BMW Guggenheim Lab and asked them to write messages for the Lab on our house. Among the contributors were calligrapher, a painter and a graffiti artist from LA.
- One drunk film maker tried to push over our house after we told him about our tango with the Dark Side, but Jana, an Oxford grad with a focus on urban studies, swatted down his stereotypcial tirades like pesky house flies. If you ever have trouble with coffee house demagogues, I recommend you befriend a scientist – they’ll make your critics feel inappropriate.
- A funny Canadian sociologist with an acute case of discophobia made me some cinnamon tea around 3 AM. It helped me combat my exhaustion and bloat from excessive pancake consumption.
- Well after sunrise, a man in his early thirties passed by. He was in a talkative state. His style of dress was popular with urban hoodlums in the mid-1990s, before Picaldi and Bushido, but his eloquence betrayed at least some post-secondary education. He asked me why I didn’t take any money for the pancakes. I replied that I’m rich. This caused him to falsely accuse me of being a prophet. Maybe the worst symptom of poverty is the belief that you don’t have anything positive to contribute.
The overdose of sugary pancakes made me hyperactive. At 4 AM the festival was definitely over, but I still wasn’t tired, so I decided to try pulling the 1 m² House from Hermannplatz to Alexanderplatz. That’s a distance of 5 km. If you’re pulling a “cara-man”, it takes almost 3 hours.
I didn’t generate as much attention as I expected – Berlin is like a graveyard on Sunday mornings – but at least I burned some calories. At Alexanderplatz I parked the house next to the Urania World Clock. I only got about three hours of sleep, though, because there was a peace festival going on.
The festival participants whose tent I slept next to served me tea and Syrian pizza. After talking to my new breakfast buddies about the deficits of the German education and immigration systems for almost two hours, I took my house and walked towards the Occupy camp at KW Institute in Mitte.
On the way I met a former neighbor I hadn’t seen for about three years because he had moved to Egypt. He’s one of the last people I’ve ever done something nice for – what a coincidence to meet him on my birthday walk.
At the KW Institute, which is hosting the Berlin Occupy camp, I met three schoolgirls who had decided to spend their Sunday afternoon painting at the camp. When I was their age, there was hardly a Sunday when I was sober enough to even leave the house. Like the 16-year-old Emal, most of the big occupiers at the camp were still recovering in the dark corners of the gallery hall from their “revolutionary” late-night activities.
The girls immediately offered to help and spent the next hour decorating the house. I hope they come to the workshop on July 8. Kids are great!
From the Occupy camp I walked further north to meet a camera team from the German foreign broadcasting service DW. They shot a scene of the house along a pond in a busy park. On the way, I took this picture:
After the shoot, I pulled the finished house up a hill to the nearby Guggenheim Lab and parked it on their lawn.
When I left the Lab at 6 PM, I had pushed my house around Berlin for almost 24 hours. A loose crew of about 20 contributors helped me turn 15 kilos of ingredients into pancakes and serve about 100 people. 15 people helped me paint the house. The whole event cost me about 30 euros and half a weekend.
It all started with an inexplicable urge to make porridge – first it was just my buddy Dr. A and me - and now it’s a small movement. My best idea ever was to stop whining about what others have and instead share what I have.
Here’s a slideshow of the day’s events: