urban exploring with abandoned berlin

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i expect to hear the creak of floorboards at the berliner luft-und badeparadies (BLUB) in the southern edge of berlin’s neukölln kiez. i expect to feel slightly unsettled, haunted even, by an uninvited presence. i expect to hear the snap of a twig, only to turn around and spot a wisp of some unholy spirit. but the only ghosts here are the ones that hang in the air as my breath freezes.

it is just past noon on a grey monday in january. there’s a light frost so that the whole experience is cloaked in a kind of moodiness. i’m waiting on the arrival of ciaran, an expat who has become something of a berlin legend for his website, abandoned berlin; a social community where ciaran details his trips to the city’s many derelict sites and ruins. it turns out i had been waiting in the wrong spot earlier — i’m now standing on frozen grass at edge of a sparsely wooded area. and even though the trees are bare, you’d never glimpse this spot from the street. it’s a few minutes before ciaran arrives on bicycle, shaking my hand before shackling his bike to a rusted sign. we enter through what could pass for a door cut out of the chain-link fence, ducking under branches as BLUB looms into view, a stack of wood beams and shattered glass.

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three years of littlecity

tumblr_netz7lKuZh1u21eo4o1_500it was early 2011 when i first shyly toyed with the idea of starting a “blog.” it was around the time that the word “blog” didn’t have exactly the same connotation as it does today. blogs were “the cool thing,” and no one rolled their eyes at you when you proudly declared that you were writing one. in 2015, though, the word “blog” itself is enough to make me cringe. following our continuing obsession with portmanteauing everything — mockumentary, liger, brangelina, affluenza — the “blog” is in itself one of those sad words you can’t help but be embarrassed to say out loud. but in the beginning, the timidity wasn’t for the word but for the thing itself.

it was years, literally years, before i was able to talk about this thing called littlecity without the obligatory nervous laugh or sheepish grin. it’s funny how hard it can be to talk about these things that we’re passionate about, the projects that we pour our hearts into, the goals we stop at nothing to achieve. i have brushed off littlecity like it wasn’t one of the most important parts of my life. i have smiled and blushed and rolled my eyes when others have talked about littlecity in praise. it was easy for me to talk about anything else, other than this thing that, some days, i wake up for in the morning.

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music monday / kiasmos

it has been my sincere pleasure to get to know the music of nordic duo kiasmos over the past couple months. made up of neoclassical composer olafur arnolds and synth tech producer janus rasmussen, the project wanders somewhere between each artist’s respective genre. a stormy hybrid of minimal, contemplative techno, and melancholic contemporary classical. stunning, to say the least.

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featuring / souls in a box

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how old is your soul? is it a perpetual child, excitable, uninhibited? is it wise beyond its years? what does it look like? is it a wisp of purple smoke that unfurls from your mouth when you speak, or is it an aura, golden like a halo around your head? what does it sound like? is it a melody that only you can hear, or is it tangible; the beating of your heart or the sound of your footsteps? these are the kinds of questions that alessandra mannisi is exploring with her photography project, souls in a box.

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2014 in songs

warm water” that you played through a portable speaker in the basket of your two-year-old bicycle, your last summer in montreal. volume turned way up, riding with two of your best friends — to work with the sun rising at your back, coffee in one hand, or to the bar at night, racing to beat the rain. you pretended you were in “now & then,” embodying every cliche: carefree, sun-kissed, singing at the top of your lungs without knowing the words. you played it at the park in the heat, in your stuffy apartment, on your computer at work, in the studio, and in the early morning when the three of you came home, sticky with sweat and laughter, from a night of partying under seventeen moons.

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