If you prefer, you can read the German translation of this article here.
Have you noticed that life is a little bit hard? Are you disappointed that you didn't become an astronaut after all? Did you make some shitty life choices and would prefer someone else to blame for them? Did you lose the job you weren't very good at to someone who was better at it? Did you hear people on the street talking in a language you didn't understand? Are you disillusioned by out of touch politicians?
Well, worry not, lieber Mitbürger, for we have a new miracle solution to offer you...We call it Pegida™!
Pegida™ technology offers you an instant and magical new world view, vastly superior to your previous world view, for all the following reasons:
With the help of Pegida™, you become immune to the effects of inconvenient facts. If anyone from the "lying press" tries to contradict your world view, your brain will automatically short-circuit like a robot vacuum cleaner covered in milk. Thanks to Pegida™, when someone confronts you with the so called "truth", you'll repeat a series of standard phrases until they go away. Phrases such as - “Lügenpresse” "Fakten. Hör mir mit all diesen Scheißfakten auf!", "Nur 2%? Das ist mir egal, das sind schon 2% zu viel!", "Wir müssen die Kirche im Dorf lassen", or "Ich habe nichts gegen Ausländer, aber ..."
Of course, Pegida™ doesn't block all facts, just the most uncomfortable ones. Facts like "gravity" or "you like beer" will remain. But facts like "Although there will be problems along the way, the world is better when its people are free to live how and where they choose" will not. And really, really difficult facts like "Open borders are not the problem, refugees are not the problem, Islam is not the problem, Europe is not the problem, in fact, Europe is part of the solution to the problem of ignorance and xenophobia" will be completely suppressed. What will be completely suppressed? Exactly.
Scapegoating was an ancient tradition that involved taking a goat, projecting all of your problems, sins and disappointments upon it and then casting it out to the desert. It was a very fun and effective way to deal with your problems, because you weren't the goat. However, until now, the scapegoating system has always required a) a goat, and b) a desert.
Not with Pegida™! Pegida™ users are able to make absolutely anything into a scapegoat for society’s problems. Are you okay with foreigners, but disappointed about something else? Your life? Politics? Asylum seekers? The GEZ? That's fine. All are welcome at its weekly Monday meetup. Make your sign, come on down, bring your goat, and take a walk with us. Pegida™ is like the sausage of disappointment - it's got a bit of everything in it.
Remember when you were growing up in the GDR under that oppressive socialist regime that limited your rights to take part in really awesome verbs such as - say, do, go, travel, live, and experience? Well, with Pegida™'s selective amnesia function you won't! You'll forget that we've already tried the borders-walls-restricted-movements-points-us-vs-them-good-guys-vs-bad-guys-tribes-fear approach to running the world, and that it was a giant, bloody failure.
Do you get lonely sometimes? Do you wish there were other people around who shared your opinions? Do you enjoy viewing the architecture of German cities with their lights off? Are your Monday evenings usually free? Perfect! Because with Pegida™ you’re joining a community. Without it, you are just a disappointed individual who thinks no-one is listening to you. But with it, oh boy, you get to be part of a group of disappointed individuals who think no-one is listening to them! Much better! Many don't know exactly what it is they're not being listened to about, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be angry about it. Rabble! Rabble! With Pegida™ you get to be one of the Volk.
As a default, we humans are notoriously irrational. Many of us suffer from something called dysrationalia which is being unable to think and behave rationally despite having adequate intelligence. Dysrationalia explains why otherwise smart people might believe in horoscopes, Yeti, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or Xenu, the ruler of the Galactic Confederacy. Pegida™ has been designed to heighten our natural irrationality so that we can believe in EVEN more far-fetched things, like that the German way of life is somehow threatened by the economic and societal benefits of free movement, immigration and cultural exchange!
With Pegida™ this irrationality is also possible in the form of contradictions - Ausländers are taking all our jobs, yet Ausländers are only here to leech off of our social system. We are the people, yet no-one is listening to us. Some of us are fanatics, yet marching against fanaticism. Zero tolerance towards criminality when committed by immigrants, yet founded by a convicted criminal. The press lie about Pegida™, yet we won’t be interviewed to tell them the truth. With Pegida™ you can have hours of fun groping in the dark of logic.
There's an English expression that says, "if all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail". Pegida™ works on a similar principle. Only, it's more like, "if all you have is Pegida™, everything starts to look like Islamisierung."
This article is from the author of Make Me German a funny, entertaining look at integrating (or failing to) into every day German life. Learn more.
"Have you seen that Heftig website?" asked my friend Alex, as we were sitting in a bar in Mitte.
"Funnily enough, I just blocked it from my timeline today" I said.
"I'm not surprised, I've had that one about old people's Tattoo's on my timeline about 74 times this week."
"Don't look at that one while eating. Also, most of the pictures in it are literally just old people with tattoos, there's no way of knowing if they got them fifty years or one week ago."
"I saw a report that said they now have more social traffic than Spiegel Online and Bild, combined."
"Old people? That seems unlikely, most can barely email."
"No, Heftig, you moron."
"Oh. Yeah. It's a sick, sad world." I said.
About three days after this conversation, by coincidence, I received an email from a Mr Sven Heftig, the batman of click-bait (since unmasked). He'd seen my original HTBG list post from 2012, which had gone viral again on this spam blog and wanted to post a German version on Heftig.
Heftig, is the German buzzfeed. At least in principal, since Buzzfeed has original content and while almost all of that content is rather dumb, it's a least trying. Heftig, at least until now is mostly just a German language spam content farm designed purely to harvest click-bait content perfect for FB timeline click-throughs.
Of course, I immediately forgot all my ethics and principals, because the principled writer very often becomes the principal former writer who now works in the Deutsche Bahn Service Center. So ,of course, my publisher and I said yes to the request and shortly after, this post was published Ein Engländer erklärt, wie man Deutscher wird.
In the article they linked to the books landing page, and not directly to Amazon, so I got to see the traffic passing through Here are the stats.
Amazon Sales Rank before post: 1250.
Peak Amazon Sales Rank after post: 14th
Time book stayed in Amazon Top 100: 7 days (17 days later, it is currently at 303.)
Spiegel Best Seller List rank before Heftig: 40th (the book had already been on the list for 56 weeks and was declining fast in the last few before the Heftig feature, for some reason Buch Report only shows the last five weeks.)
Spiegel Best Seller List rank after Heftig: 14th (it single-handedly jumped the book 26 places!)
Unique visitors to the books landing page: 10,150 (were referred directly from the Heftig feature).
FB shares: For some reason they deleted the FB post, last time I saw it there were around 10k likes, and 3k shares plus many amusing comments like "too long", "too much text", which help explain why it is hard to sell books in 2014.
You can say what you want about Heftig and I've said plenty of mean things, but they sure help sell books. I'll be interested to watch if they are able to move away from this type of click-bait spam towards original content, as they have promised in recent interviews. If so, I'd be more than happy to supply them more of it, or to put that proposal in more tempting speech "You won't believe what this guy will do to sell books! Look how shamelessly he markets himself to anyone who'll listen!
It's me, your old buddy Berlin! You may remember me from such important historical moments as "American president calls himself a donut", "here come the Russians" and "black man outruns white men to the annoyance of other white men". Yeah, that's right, Berlin! Brandenburg's noisy neighbour...
How are you? What have you been up to lately? Doing a lot of those fun human things? Arguing with your neighbours? Being cruelly overlooked for promotions by your idiot of a boss? Making selfies? I bet you have. You little cute, mobile, fun bag.
I'm sorry I've not been in touch lately. It's mostly because I've been very busy not caring about you at all, because I'm an arbitrary grouping of buildings, parks, and lakes, combined together in a manner that allows for simpler transport, sharing of resources and government supervision.
I felt compelled to write you now though, in response to all the many, many words you've been writing about me in recent years. If I had ears, they'd almost always be red. So many words, so much discourse. It's enough to make an eight hundred year old municipalities head spin! So much passion and frustration, anger and euphoria. I'm the best city! I'm the worst city! I used to be the best city but now I'm busy selling out everything that used to be important to me in the pursuit of small pieces of paper that can be exchanged for spa weekends and sports cars. Berlin, you're getting so expensive. Berlin you used to be cooler. Berlin, you're mostly now just full of Americans selling baked goods...
While I appreciate all the attention, let’s get a few things straight. I'm neither the solution, nor the problem. I can neither save you, nor set you free. I'm not an ace up people younger than thirties collective sleeve. I'm a collection of postleitzahls. Everything else that you like about me, is really just you, collectively. The magic of Berlin is just you, the people of Berlin.
Same for the "your Berlin is not my Berlin" nonsense. Well, of course it's not. That's the whole point. That's the reason you all packed up your shit, left your Kackdorfs and moved to me in the first place. Because here is the space and the freedom to find and create exactly the life that is meaningful to you. Cities give you the space, the options, and that anonymity to do that.
Meaning from your jobs, meaning from your homes, from your relationships, from friends, lovers, family, from those tiny little mini halfling dogs you all seem to like so much and let shit all over my wide streets. Where you choose to live your daily search for your daily meaning is up to you. No-one should be able to decide it for you. Tell you your choice is wrong. That you're too late. That you're making other people who already live there's search for meaning more expensive and that really everyone would just prefer it if you'd go somewhere else and search for meaning there, how about Russia? Russia is supposed to be lovely this time of year.
Whether you call heimat a beach bar in Cuba. A monastery in Laos. A favela in Brazil, or an alt-bau in Spandau. Each to their own. People want to live in me for the same reason you wanted to live in me. They are no less worthy because they are later to my no jobs, comparatively cheap rent themed party. Yes, even if they are Swabians.
When there are more things than people who want those things, those things go up in price until just one person wants them, or until someone makes more of those things available, when prices fall again. Sadly, you can't reason with the free market. You can't ask it to please be a little more rational and think about the little man, in his abject lowly poverty. He was there first, after all.
No, you can only regulate it, or pull up a chair and watch.
So let's all call a spade a spade, or at a minimum, let's agree not to call that spade gentrification. Words like that obfuscate the real problem, they stop you channeling your frustration at the people who could alleviate it. If there is not enough housing, or the housing is too expensive it's a failing of my government, elected by you, to represent you. Make them build more. Or stop privatizing what they have, so that richer people than you can speculate with it. Or both. Yes, do both.
Loves, hugs and techno kisses.
B (Deine Hauptstadt)
I recently entered this in a short story contest over at Iheartberlin and my entry was one of ten winners. It's entitled "an open letter from the city of Berlin". I had a strict word count, so their version is much shorter, I prefer this one.
Images: Tree - Credit: Karen Mardahl, Fuck Mediaspree - Credit: Barockschloss. Bicycle - Credit: Adrian Perez, More to this life - Credit: Leo Gonzales, Schwaben Raus - Credit: Dr.Schwob, Gentrification - Credit: Thausj
So it's been an exciting few weeks preparing (with the help of my publisher C.H.Beck) the launch of the book. I could write several blog posts about the rush of finding something you've written in book shops, as I experienced for the first time this weekend. In fact, I probably will, but I'll save that for another day. This post is just a short round up of good news, the big one being - the book is out. Since the 15th July. Read more about the book here - http://howtobegerman.net/
How's it selling, Adam?
It's already the 81st best selling book in the iBookstore, beating even Barbara Dunlop and her book "Was für ein Mann!" Not bad. It's also fairing well on Amazon, picking up reviews and as I write this, it's the 1731st best selling book on Amazon.de. A promising start, but my goal is to crack the Top 100 which I will with your help and some press features.
How can I win the book, Adam?
Several sites are doing giveaway, Venture Village has five signed copies, Berlin Loves You has three, C.H.Beck has five, and Lovelybooks.de has 10. In fact I'll also be doing an online reading for Lovelybooks via Google Hangout, this Thursday at 7pm (Central European).
Competitions are for the elderly, Adam. Where can I just buy the book?
Purchase it at Amazon here Purchase it at The Hipstery (worldwide shipping) here Purchase it from C.H.Beck here More updates to follow. If you'd to schedule a reading, or just attend one, you'll find the contact form and listings here.
Greetings recently thawed comrades. With the Hipstery's vaults overflowing, we've applied generous savings and launched a short Spring Sale. With reductions of up to 50%, on our, how can we delicately phrase it? Less enthusiastically received
Act now, sale ends on Monday and stocks for many items are limited.
To the Hipstery sale.
Thanks for your consideration!