“You have to take the rough with the smooth”, say the riffraff to the gentrified (or vice versa). And there is still a good deal of gritty realism to be spotted in Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte, at least as far as the exterior design goes. So that us middle-classes can sit with a latte and laptop and enjoy the crumbling charm of an exposed brick wall neatly dressed in some city graffiti.
It’s a multi-bender, this ‘gentrify or deny’ issue. Is Prenzlauer Berg a neo-paradise on the rise or do we see a demise – a paradise lost to the Bobos, a gated community for the bourgeois bohemians – or even the bourgeois entirely?
A bohemian might entertain the idea of divorcing the district and wedding wild Wedding. But isn’t that a fake escape? Isn’t a bohemian more closely related to an organic soft-drink, expressing his coffee the milky way and bathing in solar power than to the display of a satellite dish and a solarium fetish as the paraphernalia of the lower class? Closer, in other words, to a top-performer in the cultural industries than to a discount shopper or channel hopper, even if a silly circus of 4 x 4s or an entourage of high-tech twin-pushchairs could cut his edge and cross his path?
Sure, a better mix of minglers would be cool, but that’s simply not the rule. So should a Boho go or should a Boho stay? Yes, I take ‘poor but sexy’ over ‘rich but rigid’ any day and yet have decided on Mitte/Prenzlauer Berg as my homestead, since to me it is still nearer to Eden’s garden than to Eliot’s wasteland despite some limousine liberals.
And a s much as I detest the SUV mentality as much do I object to the “Swabians f… off” slogans. To a foreigner one has to explain the different mind-set of a Swabian and (bohemian) Berliner: The Swabian is seen as having the German Arbeitswut (work mania) and living a rigid life of nine to five while the Berlin bohemian feels free to dispose of such and determined to idle away. So that’s two worlds colliding and since Berlin is defined by and its success based on this lack of work mania the introduction of this opposed (counter-)productive mind-set presents a problem to P-Berg. The area used to be a protected zone from money minders and now some people see a last ‘wildlife reserve’ having yet again been changed by the mighty coin for better or for worse but certainly for good.
Well, while the argument continues enjoy the last ‘roughness around the edges’ as long as it remains whether you are a smooth operator or not.
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City Look And Outlook Berlin: Bobo versus riffraff and vice versa – by OTA-Berlin Constituency Blog contributor Mr Jörn Meyer from OTA Berlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License. If you use this article or parts of it, please refer to http://www.ota-berlin.de.