Monday, February 28, 2011

MusicMonday: Bright Eyes - "Shell Games"

The new Bright Eyes album The People's Keys is finally out - and I think it's fantastic. I also enjoyed the Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band releases in-between, but I can appreciate that some people have declared: "Conor Oberst is finally back as Bright Eyes".

The beautiful and dynamic "Shell Games" was my instant favorite.

"Shell Games" and "Haile Salassie" are currently available as a free mp3 downloads:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Berlin Angels - In A Berlin Minute (Week 43)

There are angels all over Berlin. For this video I concentrated only on ones found in cemeteries.

The inspiration for this video comes from three places:

The first inspiration is the song featured: "The Same Way - Part 2". Roberta Orlando, one member of the Italian band Spleenveil, wrote this and two other songs specifically for the "In A Berlin Minute" videos. How amazing is that?! When I heard this song, I knew that I wanted it to inspire the images instead of making a video and seeing if the song would fit.

One is my favorite film Der Himmel Über Berlin (Wings of Desire) by Wim Wenders. The film certainly deserves its own post one day - so for now I'll only say that it's about angels in Berlin and features beautiful black and white (and color) imagery. 

Last but not least, I've always been very fond of photographing angel statues.

Another Berlin Angel
Something different about this video: I used a little tripod for most of the shots. I wanted to match the stillness of the statues. However with going black and white and that very stillness a lot of the images look like photos, which is a bit disappointing since taking pictures would be a lot easier.

To capture the last two angels in the video I snuck into a cemetery after it was already supposed to be closed. However the door was still open and I just absolutely had to get footage of those two beauties. The inevitable happened: while the birds around me in the cemetery kept getting louder and louder (they must have known that his was supposed to be human-free time), I accidentally got locked into the cemetery.

After about an hour of walking around to find a way out and live-tweeting my little adventure, the security company I eventually called, sent a very kind security guard to let me out. By that time it was dark and well below freezing - so I didn't complain about not being "rescued" by a hot vampire


Thursday, February 24, 2011

YouTube Partner

When, 43 weeks ago, I spontaneously decided to make a one-minute video every week while I'm in Berlin, I wrote on this blog that "I need another non-paying project like I need a hole in my knee". At that time, however, I was thinking this wouldn't consume much time and I'd just make quick little shot-from-the-hip visual postcards for my friends and family (and as a record for myself). In A Berlin Minute was born (actually under the name "German New Yorker in Berlin" at that time).

I uploaded all the videos to, from where they automatically get distributed to Vimeo, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook... you name it. At that time I didn't pay any mind to the video social networks. But that has changed drastically over time. Talking about time - I spend way too much of that online promoting my videos - and commenting on others. This makes me often ponder if all of it is worth it.

Then again, today as I was framing up the face and wings of a beautiful angel statue on a freezing, but sunlit cemetery and hit the record button, I thought: this is where I'm happiest - while I'm filming, while I'm editing and then, of course, when I hear you liked watching it. 

That's the point of doing all this. It's the inner need to be creative and to be communicating images, ideas, stories - and then for you to see and hear them. 

Berlin Angel

There is another pleasure in experiencing the creations of others. To participate in communities like YouTube and Vimeo or my NY writers group (which I miss a lot!) or filmmaker networks like Shooting People and IFP or just be friends with other filmmakers, writers, musicians, photographers is essential to my creative and personal well-being. 

But you know, I can't deny that it would be nice to have this project also add to my financial well-being. Nice? Essential. Otherwise, I'm not sure how much longer I can afford to spend so much time on this.

So I finally applied for a YouTube partnership and now that my channel has over 2,500 subscribers I GOT IT. GNYBerlin aka "In A Berlin Minute" is now a YouTube partner! Thanks to everyone who has been watching, subscribing, commenting and 'liking'. 

This means I can make a bit of money off the videos via ad placements, have some other options for branding and, this was probably most important to me, the videos get featured more on the YouTube website and thus get seen a bit more. 

Will I get rich off this or even make any kind of a living? No. I'd have to have more like half a million viewers - and that seems to be more the domain of vloggers, which I'm not. But it'll help if you keep watching my videos on blip or on YouTube and click on an ad every once in a while.

Yet there are still those moments when I have my doubts about all of this - those moments like tonight when I was so engrossed in filming one more statue that I accidentally got locked into the cemetery and had to wait until after dark before I reached someone to let me back out. 

The closed cemetery gates from the inside

Who am I kidding? It was a thrill to live-tweet about getting locked in and trying to find a way out. I just love telling a story. And that one would only have been more exciting if the rescuer hadn't been a kind security guard, but a hot vampire... 

Damon (Ian Somerhalder) in Vampire Diaries

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Radiohead / Thom Yorke - Lotus Flower - Beyonce - Single Ladies - Genuwine - Pony

Thom Yorke in "Lotus Flower" video

Chances are, if you live anywhere in the Western world you've seen the video for "Lotus Flower" the new single from Radiohead, who this past Friday self-released their new album The King of Limbs online (CD coming in March).

What's so striking about this video is the fabulous and somewhat brave commitment to just show Thom Yorke do his quite fascinating dance moves. King of Limbs is right!

Oh, but if you live in Germany, maybe you haven't seen the video. Because as so often it's being blocked because of the "record label + GEMA vs. online video hosts" dispute. Apparently Radiohead aren't completely on their own when they release their music.

So here is a version of the official "Lotus Flower" video that as of right now can be seen in Germany:

Hochgeladen von h0nki

But that's not where it stops. Almost immediately people were mashing the video with the song "Single Ladies" by Beyoncé. Again these have been difficult to find. Here is a video of Thom Yorke dancing to "Single Ladies":

And of course, this needed to happen as well: someone mashed up the video of Beyoncé and the ladies from the "Single Ladies" video dancing to "Lotus Flower". Creative.

Not sure how long these will stay up of course...

Because it seems only fair, here is the official, original video for "Single Ladies" by Beyoncé.

Hochgeladen von vidsuperstar


I know, I know, it's kind of cheating - since I had already published this post. But just after I did, I saw on Twitter a link for this Thom Yorke Dance - Song combination on Funny or Die: Thom Yorke Dances Alone To Pony by Genuwine


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Now streaming: New Lykke Li album - 'Wounded Rhymes'

If by chance you've read some of my recent music posts, you may know that I'm ridiculously excited about next week's release of the second album by Swedish singer Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes

After a few early song releases, suddenly here comes the big present: the entire album can currently be streamed (via The Hype Machine). 

Not sure how long it'll be online - but for now, here it is: 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Music Monday: Peter Bjorn and John - "Breaker, Breaker" + "Second Chance"

The Swedish band Peter Bjorn and John are about to release a new album in March called Gimme Some. So far I can't see a direct connection to the current single "Get Some" by Swedish singer Lykke Li, whose first album Youth Novels was produced by Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John.

Here's the short, fast and catchy "Breaker, Breaker" in a cool sped-up video:

Download "Breaker, Breaker" in exchange for your email address on the new PB & J Blog.

An even catchier song from the upcoming album is "Second Chance", which unfortunately doesn't have a video yet. I suspect they're working on something...


Friday, February 18, 2011

Berlinale 2011 - In A Berlin Minute (Week 42)

The Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale (2/10 - 2/20/11), is such a big, layered event that it's impossible to participate in everything or even be able to keep track of it all.

Can you squeeze anything about it into a one-minute video? You know, I had to try. So lean back - or fasten your seat belt (this is another fast one) - and I hope you'll enjoy the impressions I captured for you from my own personal Berlinale experience.

The song featured in this video is "The Strange Case of Dr. Chiaia" by Tans ( Thank you!!!

Public figures featured in this video:
Sandra Trostel (director) of Utopia, Ltd.
Joe Walker (editor) and Liza Marshall (producer) of Life In A Day
Aditya Assarat (director) of Hi-So
Maike Mia Höhne (curator) of Berlinale Shorts

In an earlier post I featured a clip from the Life In A Day Q & A [currently not available]. 

Berlinale Palast during Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Berlinale - "Utopia, Ltd." and "Life In A Day"

The 61st Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival) is going on right now.

So far I've seen a handful of great movies, attended a few overcrowded parties, listened to fascinating Q & As with film participants, hung out with some awesome people and kept thinking: I cannot wait to attend another festival... with my own new film All's Well and Fair.

One of my favorite films so far was the documentary Utopia, Ltd. by Sandra Trostel about the Hamburg band 1000 Robota. Somehow thoughtful, tragic, funny and with a great soundtrack - it's a great view behind the scenes of a young band, who comes across equally as a little naive as well as wise, and the record label (Tapete Records) that deals with them. I know, I know, sounds contradictory - but you see, being creative and finding your way in the world of art and business really is quite confusing. It personally resonated how 17-year olds in many ways struggle with the exact same things as 37-year olds.

What took me by total surprise was how much I liked the YouTube - Scott Free (Tony + Ridley Scott) - Kevin McDonald - hundreds of "amateur" filmmakers collaboration Life In A Day. On July 24, 2010 via YouTube people were asked to just film their day. In only five months, editor Joe Walker, together with a team of assistant editors, turned thousands of hours of footage into a comprehensive and nicely flowing visual and auditory composition, which celebrates the diversity and the parallels of people from our entire planet.

I really didn't expect to like it. But I laughed and I cried - and I definitely recommend watching it on a big screen when you get a chance. It streamed on YouTube parallel to the premiere at Sundance - and I'm really glad I waited to see it in the big Friedrichstadt Palast here in Berlin instead of watching it on a laptop. Big thank you to editor and friend Julia Wiedwald for taking me.

I recorded the Q & A afterward to share with you here:

Unfortunately I missed the Utopia Ltd. Q & A because that screening had started late and my friends and I had to run to make it to the Hi-So screening. That film was also great - so was Trope de Elite 2. But now I'm out of time to write. I've got to run to the Berlinale Shorts Party...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Like me, Tweet me or Surf on

Finally did it! 

Today I finally managed to add the little Facebook and Twitter widgets and get them to align just right. 

Above (at the very top of this post) you now should see a Twitter Meme button (to share this post on Twitter) and a Facebook Like Button (to share this post on Facebook).

On the left just below the cool YouTube widget for In A Berlin Minute, you should now see the direct link or "Like Box" for the Facebook pages of my web series In A Berlin Minute, our documentary All God's Children and my new documentary All's Well and Fair. You can use those "boxes" to "like" the respective project pages or go directly to those pages and leave this blog (depends on where you click).

The first step was actually to figure out what the difference was (and how to articulate it in Google searches) between the "Facebook Like" button that let's you, my dear reader, share this post on your Facebook wall, and the "Facebook Like Box" which links to the Facebook page listed. 

Figuring out how to right align the buttons at the top of the post proved a never ending odyssey - but eventually I figured out I could left align the Tweet button and take out the padding (change from 4 to 0 px).

For the like boxes I had to adjust the height and width to make them fit and not cut off the actual button. 

These were the links that helped me (and to whose writers I'm very grateful): 

I may dare to add the Stumble Upon button another day - but I'm afraid it'll throw everything off again. Besides, all social media share buttons are below each post via addthis anyway. They're just so tiny, I'm afraid no one notices them...

So please, feel free to share any posts on your favorite social media sites - or use the links on the left to surf on outta here...

Monday, February 14, 2011

MusicMonday: Congratulations, Arcade Fire!

Canadian band Arcade Fire just won Best Album of the Year at the 53rd Grammy Awards for The Suburbs. While it may seem surprising that The Suburbs would win over albums by Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, I wasn't actually surprised. All three of their albums have been outstanding - full of layered dynamic, inventiveness and heart. And this is definitely my favorite (and best) album of the year - and it's been quite hyped and celebrated by media and fans alike.  

When I see how happy Win Butler and the rest of the band are after accepting the award,  I have to celebrate them some more. Fortunately they played my favorite song "Ready To Start" right after the acceptance speech:

It's quite possible that this video off the TV screen will be taken down, so here is also the official live performance video for "Ready To Start":

I did just realize that their Spike Jonze directed short film Scenes From The Suburbs is playing at the Berlinale this week and there are still tickets available (challenge at Berlinale).

Now if only they'd play a few more shows this year so I can finally see them live...

Friday, February 11, 2011

ICE Train View (Berlin - Hamburg) - In A Berlin Minute (Week 41)

I LOVE to travel. And I mean the actual movement from point A to point B. I'm a huge fan of road trips. But there's a special place in my heart for train travel - particularly on the German trains.*

During the 41 weeks since I've moved to Berlin I've gone on countless train trips between Berlin and Hamburg to see my parents and some of my oldest friends.

This one-minute video shows you impressions out the window of the Berlin-Hamburg-Berlin ICE (Intercity-Express) from all four seasons (including this 41st week).

By the way I ended up not messing with the speed of the shots - the high-speed trains tend to vary in speed depending on the situation.

Talented and generous Florida musician Jason Matherne let me use another great song from his collection: "Brujera"

* If there are no delays, canceled trains, missing cars (which had my reserved seat), broken air conditioner, stinky smells...

ICE Train View - between Berlin and Hamburg
ICE Fensterblick zwischen Berlin und Hamburg

"In A Berlin Minute" now on Facebook

Yesterday I finally created a Facebook Page for my weekly web series "In A Berlin Minute". I debated for a while if I really needed another platform. But then I thought: hustle, hustle, hustle. 

Please check out the "In A Berlin Minute" Facebook page and "like it" if you like it.

New video coming later today...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jonathan Franzen - Freedom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I was reading "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen, I kept thinking of the dream of the "great American novel" and of other family sagas. I'm always amazed when an author can create so many intertwining characters (and character traits) and plot points that all seem to resonate with each other in a perfect harmony of cause and effect.

His writing is so detailed and knowledgeable that at times it feels like a true account of a real family. Or is he just blinding us with dropping factual details that don't actually fit correctly? Having the intellectual, sullen sister listen to Belle and Sebastian seems like a great and well-informed choice. But then when she turns up the volume to drown out her brother and girlfriend in the room next-door, doesn't it seem that the author picked the wrong "hip in the 90s band"? Is he just an author doing surface fact-finding but misses the nuances?

Those kinds of questions in the end didn't really matter to me. In such a grand sweeping story that covers so much ground in exploring and describing psychology, sociology, culture, sex, human interaction, environmental concerns, preservation, the war in Iraq, life of trust fund babies, down-and-out rock stars, teenage fanzine reporters, gentrifying moms, passionate love affairs... and all that over the span of several decades (and from varying perspectives), there is enough to make you contemplate, to entertain you and to inspire you - there's no real need to wonder if Jessica should have listened to Rage Against The Machine instead. The choice of the Bright Eyes / Conor Obers concert was definitely right on - and the contemplations during the show hit a little close to home.

Reading "Freedom" makes me want to read "The Corrections" by Franzen all over again.

Monday, February 7, 2011

MusicMonday: The Decemberists - "The King Is Dead" / "Down By The Water"

"The King is Dead", the new album by Oregon band The Decemberists has been pretty much playing non-stop since I bought it last week.

Unfortunately there's not a proper music video for any songs yet, except for two official live videos - and then this video of very cool photographs (also inspires the album art work). The photographs have been put together with texts in a lovely and atmospheric video collage over the song "Down By The Water". This video is included in the deluxe box edition.

Neither the songs featured live or "Down By The Water" are my favorites from the album - although I like them all. One I can't get enough of right now is "This Is Why We Fight", which seems quite fitting during the protests in Egypt.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Urban Birds - In A Berlin Minute (Week 40)

Birds, birds, birds. Berlin is full of them. They're eating, fighting, mating, sleeping - like all Berliners. They just don't have to go to work, nor do they have to go clubbing (which reminds me that I'm about to run late for a concert with Radiopilot).

This week's video is dedicated to my friend Robert Plass, who suggested in the summer I should do a video on the "Spatzen", and to new friend and book critic Jessa Crispin (the Bookslut), who inspired me yesterday with her story of the fighting magpies to make week 40 about Urban Birds. Unfortunately I didn't come across any magpies today.

At the very last moment I pulled out the shocking conclusion of me playing "Angry Birds". Yes, I've been sucked in and I'm hooked. But it just felt too silly - especially because it seemed a disrespect to the fabulous musicians of Spleenveil (Roberta and Al).

An extra special huge thank you to Spleenveil for sending me one-minute songs to use in my videos. You'll be hearing a lot more of them in my future videos. But I advise you to check out their sites to listen to their full songs and watch their incredible, creative and beautiful music videos:

Spleenveil on MySpace:
Spleenveil on YouTube:

Seagull in the snow
Möve im Schnee

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Steven Levitt + Stephen Dubner - "Freakonomics"

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm fully aware how late I am to jump on the "Freakonomics" bandwagon, but just in case you also haven't gotten around to it yet or have a paralyzing aversion to non-fiction: I do highly recommend giving it a read soon (or the sequel, which supposedly is more of the same).

It is sure to make you think about human behavior, it'll open your eyes to new ways of looking at trends and cause & action and you'll get a choice collection of surprising facts (about cheating teachers, naming children and why drug dealers still live with their moms, etc.) to share during your next blind date. And last but not least, you could finally say that yes, of course, you have read this bestseller of the ever-popular pop-socioeconomic science!

The reason why I'm not giving it 5 stars is that for my own personal taste a little too much of the book seemed to be written by and for parents.