Finally, sun. This must be an extraordinarily beautiful city in the summer. Lunch is usually eaten outside the little sidewalk stand where it's bought - which is barely tolerable today but which must be great when it's warm. Spent a fair amount of time in the Turkish district of Kreuzberg/Neukoelln, including a recording with DJ Ipek Ipekcioglu (below, right). Interesting to hear an unvarnished view of German-Turkish relations, still difficult after all these years and sadly reminiscent of the immigration debates and the views of the Latino communities in the States.
We began the day in the studios of RBB, the regional broadcaster for Berlin and Brandenburg. One of their channels, Radio Multikulti (yes, their real name), uses music as a bridge between German and the various immigrant communities. Their building is the world's oldest radio building - that is, a building meant specifically for radio. It also houses two working dumbwaiter-style elevators, which have no doors. They're on a continuous loop and you hop on and off as the actual passenger compartments go by. It looks insanely dangerous, and they're forbidden by law to build new ones, so of course we have to try them. Only two people can fit onto a platform, and there isn't in any case enough time for more than 2 people to get on or off. I'm with Irene, who is fine getting on behind me, but a step slow getting off on the ground floor in front of me. This is a problem as I also need to leave the still-descending platform and the top of the elevator comes perilously close to the top of my head as I quickly bend a 6-foot body out of a slightly-less-than-6-foot-and-getting-smaller frame. Tragedy is averted and I am showered with mocking laughter by the rest of the crew.
I ask at Multikulti about the Kurdish community, which began with the original Turkish 'Guest Workers.' As it happens, we're told, a Turkish rally last night turned violent when Turks and Kurds clashed with each other and with the police. 15 arrests were made. The current tensions between Turkey and the Kurdish PKK party threatens to spill over into northern Iraq - but it has already spilled over here.
The Turkish influence on the music scene is strong, but nowhere near as strong as the Turkish influence on Berlin cuisine. Doner kebap -- shaved meat, cabbage, onion, tomato and harissa sauce on a naan-type bread -- is one of Berlin's specialties, along with the ubiquitous currywurst (sliced spicy sausage in a tomato-based sauce). Both are yummy, usually bought on the sidewalk, and reflect the Eastern immigrant community's influence. Today we found some terrific doner kebap and didn't even mind sitting outside to eat it. -- John Schaefer