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The Best of Berlin in September

The Local · 10 Sep 2010, 10:01

Published: 10 Sep 2010 10:01 GMT+02:00

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Born to run

The Persians are lucky that Haile Gebrselassie wasn’t Greek (or alive at a probably fictitious historical event, for that matter) because they wouldn’t have even had a chance to start counting their losses by the time the news would have arrived in Athens. Gebrselassie’s world record for the 26-odd miles of the marathon – set, naturally, in Berlin (in 2008) – stands at a touch over two hours. To be exact: two hours, three minutes and 59 seconds! Berlin, you see, is perfect for athletics’ most gruelling event – a runner’s dream being a flat city with reasonable autumn temperatures. Its ideal conditions make the city the world’s fastest marathon course; for its 37th edition on September 26, the million or so attendees that will line Berlin’s streets will be expecting pace, and a lot of it… from wheels as well as (some 40,000) legs, since both wheelchair users and inline skaters can participate in the two-day (Sep 25-26) programme of events. On the day of the main event, the vociferous morning crowds will also be participating in some partisan cheering as Germany’s Irina Mikitenko attempts to defend last year’s women’s title. Gebrselassie will be merely trying for his fifth in a row. But really, it’s not just the pace that matters. In 1990 – 20 years ago this year – the runners streamed through the Brandenburg Gate like the tears streaming down their faces, as they finished the marathon for the first time in a reunified Germany: this history is yet another reason why the Berlin Marathon is one of the most beloved in the world./JS

BERLIN MARATHON, Sep 26 | The race begins at 9:00 on Straße des 17. Juni at Kleiner Stern (Tiergarten, S-Bhf Bellevue) and ends on the same street, near the Soviet Memorial (Mitte, U-Bhf Brandenburger Tor). The awards ceremony takes place at 14:00, at the Brandenburg Gate. For a map and a complete schedule of events, visit www.real-berlin-marathon.com

Wood works…

The sound of sawing draws you into Not A Wooden Spoon, whose calm white shop front’s simplicity reflects that of the work done inside. When owner Michael Ferguson steps out of his sawdust-strewn workshop at the back to greet his frequent customers, he stands alongside giant floorboards stacked ceiling-high: the ingredients of his impending masterpieces. Consciously or not, the London-born carpenter, who lived for 10 years in Sydney before coming to Berlin, is a pioneer in eco-furnishings. Using raw materials from a variety of sources - rubbish skips, renovated houses and specialist salvage yards - he creates utterly unique pieces of furniture, from mirrors and lamps to drawers, chairs and beds. There is something wonderfully solid and charismatic about his furniture. You learn its origins from the price tags: the blue-and-red painted wood of one chair was taken from a flat down the road, on Prenzlauer Allee. Due to the high demand for Not A Wooden Spoon’s wares, there are often only a few items on display, but you can walk into the shop at any time and place an order for a piece made from scratch. The furniture is not cheap - a large chair costs about €200 – but, when faced with the soulful yet solid grace of the final product, you will think every cent is worth it. A charming café next to the shop, itself a former furniture shop and thus rather confusingly entitled “Möbel”, contributes to a nice afternoon’s pottering./PRC

NOT A WOODEN SPOON | Oderberger Str. 2, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Eberswalder Str., Mon-Sat 11-18 (except when Michael’s off making a delivery), michael@notawoodenspoon.com

Return of the Kult

At one time, had you removed the international music section from any given record store (for those of you who still visit those old museums), a small horde of concerned fans would have decried the loss of an important slice of musical culture. This is what happened when Radio Multikulti disappeared in 2008. And now Berlin’s one and only authentic forum for “world music” – by now an expletive that doesn’t do justice to a vibrant, internationally minded local music scene that thrives off small clubs, alternative DJs and underground bands – is back in the form of the privately funded “Radio Multicult”. For 14 years Multikulti, which was run by public broadcaster RBB, provided an essential service in that it supported myriad subcultures ignored by mainstream Berlin stations. Still, despite widespread protest and petitions from the likes of CDU MP Rita Süssmuth and famed Russendisko DJ/author Wladimir Kaminer, the plug was pulled on the station, whose market share had dropped to a mere 0.8 percent and 38,000 listeners a day: the cash-strapped RBB had decided Radio Multikulti didn’t have a big enough audience base. Multikulti’s Berlin frequency was taken over by Funkhaus Europa, a quality world music station from Cologne – with great programming, but entirely lacking a connection to the Berlin scene. Why revive Multikulti as Multicult now, after ‘failure’ in 2008? Clemens Grün, music director of the new station, just feels that Berlin needs something like this: an arbiter of Balkan wave, Cuban, Latino, afrobeat and other international sounds to make the city’s multikulti claims truly valid./RR, WC

Story continues below…

Radio Multicult starts broadcasting on September 1 over 88.4 and 90.7 FM – together, these two frequencies cover all of Berlin. For more info and to listen online, visit www.multicult20.de

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