Friday, December 14, 2012

Angels at Amazon

So, finally, the Angel book has come out; the softcover is already on Amazon, and the hardcover will follow, as well as a smaller softcover. The book — it comes in English and in German — will also be available at Barnes & Noble any time soon. I will keep you posted!

by Eva Schweitzer

Friday, November 30, 2012

Angels for Christmas

Christmas is coming! And here are a few of our angel designs for the Kickstarter campaign, if you still need a gift. We have three backers, so far, this is great, but it is not enough. So, if you pledge $10 or more, that gets you a beautiful necklace, or a T-shirt, or a mug with an angel, one of those pictured below, but there are more in the book. In addition, everybody who pledges anything at all will get a pair of golden cupid earrings as an extra gift.


See Kickstarter

by Eva Schweitzer

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cupid Angels

Here is the newest update from our fundraiser at Kickstarter, for the book "Wings of Desire — Angels of Berlin". We added a new reward, a pair of golden cupid earrings. Here is how they look like:

And here is how you can get them:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guardian Angels

Slowly, Manhattan returns to normal. I came back Thursday early in the morning with a bus from Boston to Chinatown (JFK was open, but no no flights from Europe were arriving). Midtown is ok; Chinatown however was dark and scary, like one of those Hollywood-movies where Manhattan is destroyed, Cloverfield, The Day After Tomorrow, Batman,  I‘m Legend, you name it. The only thing missing was the monster lurking in the corner (or maybe not, I swiftly escaped by taxicab). Crossing 39th Street was like diving in another world, with light, warmth, and music.

The Downtowners are now flocking our supermarkets. Buses are running, but not very reliable. The subway and tunnel damage is huge; this is worse than 9-11. Thanks God a lot less people died. It is still tough in Staten Island, New Jersey, and parts of the coast, however. Tomorrow I will visit friends in Rockaway beach to see how they are doing.

This brings me to the next point: In these days, everybody needs a guardian angel. And you can get your own guardian angel, as a T-shirt, a necklace, or a book. So, listen to the music and watch the angels of Berlin spread their wings, and let them help protect you!

by Eva Schweitzer

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Angels of Berlin

Finally, out next Kickstarter project is launching: Wings of Desire - Angels of Berlin. This is a new color picture book with Berlin's angels, and we are looking for funding to translate it in as many languages as possible. There are many prices, including advanced copies of the book.

So, here is it!

by Eva Schweitzer

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nights and Days

Berlin is in between the summer break and the fall; it is still warm, but activities are back. Last week, I visited an Open Night of Berlin's synagogues; of the nine that exist (and they are all different, from ultra-liberal to Chabad Lubawitz), five participated, the largest one at Rykestraße, actually just around the corner. They had a reading of Jewish jokes with Klezmer music, somewhat cliché, but fun. Otherwise, there was more music, services, food, and also a few installments of "Ask your Rabbi."

Tomorrow, Berlin starts to celebrate its 775-year-anniversary with a Historiale; also, the Open Night of Museums will take place on Saturday. I am planning to go to the "Museum der Unerhörten Dinge," the Museum of Never-Heard (or: Outrageous) Things". I have no idea what this is, though.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

German Literature

This is a very interesting article in the New York Review of Books on the perception of German, or, much rather, foreign literature in general in the U.S. As a matter of fact, I often had the same feeling. Any thoughts?

Franzen’s Ugly Americans Abroad

Tim Parks

I’m English and live in Italy. During March, within two or three days of each other, I received: from The New York Review, four novels by the Swiss author Peter Stamm; from the Italian newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, in English and Italian; and from a New York publisher, a first novel, Funeral for a Dog, by the young German writer Thomas Pletzinger. The last was accompanied by some promotional puff that begins: “Pletzinger is German, but you wouldn’t know it from his debut, which is both wise and worldly.”

What a wonderful insight this careless moment of blurb-talk gives us into the contemporary American mindset! We want something worldly, but if it seems too German, or perhaps just too foreign, we become wary. As my mailbag indicates, the literary community is very much an international phenomenon, but not, it would seem, a level playing field. To make it in America Pletzinger must shed his German-ness as if he were an immigrant with an embarrassing accent.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

German Punctuality

Going to the airport in Newark, I found out that it's not so easy to fly to Berlin. At least not to check in, because, as a Delta employee found out while trying to process my request, "you want to go to an airport that does not exist!". Very true. Berlin's new airport, Berlin Brandenburg International, named after the late German chancellor Willy Brandt, did not open in time, as the authorities found out just three weeks before the prospective opening, but it will so only next year. Maybe. We will see.

So, my mourning about the closing of Berlin Tegel was a bit premature. Other than that, I should probably be happy to have escaped the heat in America, which—as seen on German TV—is melting streets, airports, and bridges. Maybe in 2020, when I‘m trying to get to the newly opened Willy Brandt airport, JFK will have melted away. Well, all that flying is not healthy anyway.

How is Mark Twain doing? Very well, I‘m in the last throes. Yes, for quite some time now, but I‘m still faster than the airport builders. Twain had a best friend in Berlin, a little older than himself, a German-Jewish novelist named Rudolf Lindau, who was also Bismarck's press secretary (another late German chancellor), and spent time in France, Japan, and California. They kept in touch long afterwards. Right now, I am trying to track down some more letters between the two. In those times, by the way, the post office would deliver letters the same day, sometimes within hours.  Very punctually. You will read all about it in the book, which has been renamed "A Tramp in Berlin".

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mermaids and Kings

While my German friends were still arguing about soccer — how long does that Soccer Cup run anyway? — I had more important things to do: I helped opening the Atlantic Ocean for the summer season. With a grand key. Okay, not helped, but been there. Today was the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. As usually, I arrived too late and it was so packed that I had no chance whatsoever to see mermaids. Thankfully, I found a first-floor bar, air-conditioned, to watch the parade from above (with a beer).

It didn't feel very summery, though (thanks to the air conditioning and the Heavy Metal), so I went to the beach to warm up. Coney Island has evidently been taken over by Puerto Ricans, btw. Anywhoo, at the end of the parade the King, the Queen, and some guy with a hat walk down the beach with their entourage, mostly photographers.

Before the actual marching down happened, a bunch of mermaids cleared the path by planting red tape in the sand; I figured it out only when I looked up and found myself being the only person still lying on a towel within that path (reading The New York Times Magazine). I hopped out of the way just in time; this, however gave me a head start before all those other photographers (this, and my elbows). 

So, I took a picture of the King, the Queen, and the guy with the hat opening the Atlantic Ocean with a big key. Here is it. Afterwards, I had another beer.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The BEA is over (and I have just so recovered). It is pretty clear that the future of the book is digital and cross-platform; meaning, combinations of books, movies, websites, and the like. Everything is extremely loud, more colorful, faster, inter-active, and loaded with bits and pixels.

And, of course, what really sells books is still celebrities.

This applies also to political books, not only to fiction. Basically, there were two types of political non-fiction books at the BEA that made a splash: the drama-queen conspiracy book, like, how that black-muslim-arab-kenyan-indonesian-Hitler/Stalin-type foreigner is wrecking our country, or, likewise, how Aliens operating from Area 51 are doing the same thing. And the second category are celebrities known from newspapers or, even better, from TV.

If you want to double up on that one, be Bill O‘Reilly. After "Killing Lincoln," he has written "Killing Kennedy". The Google can't miss that one. What's next, "Killing MLK"? "Killing Garfield"? "Killing Hitler"? I‘m not taking any bets, but I am probably incredibly close.

On a lighter note, I listened to a comedy riff by Dan Wilbur about "Better Book Titles," he also talked about blurbs. Here is my favorite: "Is that a tape recorder? Get the fuck away from me" — Jonathan Safran Foer


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Books, Books, Books

Today was the first day of the BEA! Actually, not precisely today, since it's after midnight, but I'm in my own time zone anyway. Today was the day when the Javits Center was still preparing for the tide, so, not much going on, except experts telling us what hot new internet feature Silicon Valley is offering us this year. Evidently, this year's hot new thing is Pinterest. It is especially liked and used by women, which is good for the publishing industry, because we are, by and large, women. The next three days will consist of IT- and SEO-guys telling us the difference between Epub3 and htlm5.

Other than that, I am looking forward to meeting the widow of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Stephen Colbert, Neil Young, and Colin Robertson, whose phone number I have lost, so I sure hope he is there. There is also a new book on Starbucks, as well as one on the Penn State scandal.

Other than that, we had a great event in May in Los Angeles introducing the new Berlinica book The Berlin Wall Today, at the Wende Museum with Justinian Jampol, Michael Cramer, Cristina Cuevas- Wolf, and the Consul, Wolfgang Drautz, who has left for Berlin by now. Here are two pictures.

Now the newest update on Mark Twain: The book is nearly none, but not completely. I‘m preparing the second proof. There are still some rights issues, and also, three or four pictures are missing. But it will be a great book! I'm going to post some pictures as soon as I've figured out how to use Pinterest.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Berlinica in Los Angeles

Welcome to the city that never sleeps — Los Angeles (the  sister city of Berlin)! I will be there next week presenting our current book, The Berlin Wall Today. Actually, Michael Cramer will do the presenting; Michael is a Green Party politician from Berlin who is representing Germany in the European Parliament; he does Wall tours himself, and his previous book is a guide about biking the Wall.

The event is at the Wende Museum in Culver City, Los Angeles, 5741 Buckingham Parkway, on May 8 at 4pm. The Wende Museum is devoted to the Cold War and the Wall. Here is the link. There is a Q&A and a reception afterwards. Also, Consul Wolfgang Drautz will be present. So, come and tell all your friends!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mark Twain Goes On

The fundraiser for our upcoming book "Mark Twain in Berlin" has expired on Kickstarter, but we will go on with the book until the final goal of $2000 is reached. We are at $1328 now, that is not too bad for a four-week pledge drive. Every reward promised will be honored, and we are inviting everybody who wants to participate to do so.

Now we have teamed up with a non-for-profit organization for arts and culture, On The Road Productions International, owned by acclaimed filmmaker Rosemarie Reed. Rosemarie did the movie The Path To Nuclear Fission, distributed by Berlinica.

So, your donation will now also be tax-deductable, and, of course, you will get your reward. The detailed list is still on Kickstarter, just to sum it up: $7 gets you a button, $12 gets you three Berlinica ebooks, $25 gets you a preview softcover copy of the book, $35 gets you a T-shirt, $50 gets you a hardcover copy of the book, and $100 gets you a copy AND your name in the book as a backer.

The biggest reward is a day-long guided tour in Berlin to all the places where Mark Twain has been, including lunch with the author who researched Twain's life, dinner in Mitte and a free stay for the weekend; we lowered the price of this to $500.

So, please make out a check to On the Road Production International. Please contact me for the address and additional details at: eva (at) berlinica (dot) com. You can also sign up for new blog posts now (see left).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mark Twain, The Last Day!

So, we are in the last hours of our Mark Twain fundraiser! Join Kickstarter to underwrite a new book on Mark Twain in Berlin, get the book, a button or a T-shirt, or even a free stay and a tour in Berlin!

So, what happens, if the goal of $2000 is not pledged? Stay here, I will keep you posted.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mark Twain in Berlin, Revisited

One week is left for our fundraiser, and, at this point, I would like to talk a bit more about how this book was planned. The fact that Mark Twain spent half a year in Berlin is astonishingly little known. People know that he traveled Europe, mostly London, and he also spent time in Italy and in Vienna. In Germany, he visited Heidelberg and Bayreuth.

Twain was in Berlin in the winter of 1891-1892, mostly to flee from his financial problems in America. He had invested a lot of money in a new printing technique that did not really work, and he had bought the rights to a memoir of the Pope that did not sell, either. So, the basic idea was to spend some time in a cheap European place. Why he choose winter; I have no idea. Winter in Berlin is grueling, and in those times people heated with coal. That made the air pretty bad. Since Twain was sick anyway, this nearly killed him. He was in bed with pneumonia for four weeks.

The cheap thing did not work out, either, since he soon moved to a fancier place, a posh hotel Unter den Linden as opposed to an inner city apartment. But he did have fun, socializing with celebrities, and doing research. He did not get much published about Berlin in the U.S., though. When I checked his all-time worklist, I found "The Chicago of Europe". I also found notes that he did more stories on Berlin, yet to be published. Long story short, they are in the Twain archives.

I also found that quite a few Berlin papers had printed stories on Twain's stay in 2010 (due to the 100-year-anniversary). And, lo and behold, one of those authors — the best one, I must say — was a former colleague of mine, Andreas Austilat.

I commissioned him, and by now, he has dug up a tremendous amount of information, including a blueprint of Twain's apartment, his church, his speeches, how he rode the street cars or walked Unter den Linden, the schools his daughters frequented, and the research he did. I also  took some before-after pictures in Berlin (actually, the before-pictures are available in archives). What I find most exciting is that Twain witnessed (and described) an uprising of disgruntled workers. This later found its way into a novel by Heinrich Mann, the brother of Thomas Mann , "Der Untertan".

The book will also have stories on Twain published in Berlin newspapers in the 1890s  (translated). All in all, this will be a fascinating book shining a light on half a year of Twain's life that has been hidden, so far.

So again, I ask everybody to endorse this book at Kickstarter. There is a free stay in Berlin and a grand Mark-Twain-tour in it for you. And, also, you will be among the first readers to get the book.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mark Twain in Berlin

So, we are at half-time with our fundraiser, and the pledges are at $375. This is great and I am thanking everybody, but it is by far not enough! We need to raise $2000, otherwise, everything will be nullified. So, everybody out there who loves Mark Twain and would like to read a book with new Twain stories, this is the moment to commit! And, also, tell all your friends, and post it on Facebook and Twitter!

by Eva Schweitzer

Monday, February 6, 2012

Endorse Mark Twain and Be a Guest in Berlin

Great news: A gracious sponsor has emerged who will let you stay for free in his Berlin apartment for one weekend—if you endorse Mark Twain.

Right now, we are running a fundraiser for the upcoming Berlinica-book "Mark Twain in Berlin" at Kickstarter; a book with never-before published stories. If you donate $750, you will get a private, day long tour to all the places Mark Twain has been and written about in 1891-1892; including breakfast and dinner at a restaurant from 1612, as well as lunch with the author, metro editor Andreas Austilat, at Tagesspiegel.

So now, Jörg Mehringer, who rents out apartments for Berlin-visitors, has promised to let you stay in his place near Kurfürstendamm for free if you choose this tour. Have a look at the place, it sleeps two:

Sleep and Surf nahe Kurfürstendamm

And here is the fundraiser at Kickstarter

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Be Mark Twain in Berlin

Be a Mark Twain scholar! Help to bring never-before published stories of the great American writer and humorist to light, for all to appreciate! It is a little known fact that Mark Twain spent half a year of his life in Berlin, Germany, in winter 1891-1892, together with his wife, Olivia, and his three daughters, where he wrote various articles. Now, Berlinica will publish the first book to tell of this journey and to print these stories.

And you can help. We are launching a fundraiser for this book, and you can get valuable prizes, including a day-long tour in Berlin to all the places Mark Twain has visited, did research on (or in), or had lunch with famous people. The fundraiser takes places at Kickstarter; there is also a little movie that will tell you more of the book.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Contest: Ten Free Ebooks for Berlin-Lovers!

Berlinica is now selling ebooks on Amazon and Barnes&Noble, for the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony and Kobo Readers, the iPad, and all other devices. The first ebooks are Wallflower, a love story set when the Wall fell, the history book Berlin in the Cold War, Berlin for Free, a guide to everything free in Berlin, and The Berlin Wall Today.

The latter three are enhanced ebooks with live links to the websites of the venues and the historical sites mentioned, as well as Google Maps links to their addresses. The Berlin Wall Today also links to a three-dimensional map of the area where the Wall once stood, and to detailed maps of memorials, border crossings, and cultural sites.

To celebrate this, Berlinica is raffling off ten ebooks! All you have to do is to answer those five questions about Berlin and send the answers to info (at) berlinica (dot) com before March 1, 2012. Good luck!

Here are the questions:

In Wallflower, Molly and Mick are taking a trip to the Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn Station in Berlin, which was divided right in the middle by the Wall. But when our two heroes meet, the Wall is just about to fall. In what year did the Wall come down?

Berlin for Free: One of the places you can visit for free in Berlin is a famous historic building that was burned by the Nazis but restored with a glass dome after the Wall came down. What is the name of this building?

The Berlin Cookbook: What is a “Berliner” (or, as they are called in Berlin, "Pfannkuchen"), and what is it filled with?

The Berlin Wall Today: The longest piece of the Berlin Wall that still exists is also the world’s longest outdoor gallery. What is the name of this gallery?

Berlin in the Cold War: During the Cold War, American, British, French, and Soviet spies were constantly fighting each other, in secret. What is the name of the American government agency concerned with foreign espionage?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meet the President

Today, I‘ve met the President. Not Barack Obama, the German President, Christian Wulff. For those of you who have not being paying attention, probably pretty much everybody, Wulff is in trouble because he got a lot of perks from his rich friends, respectively their loving wives, starting with a 500.000 € dirt cheap loan and not ending with a toy car for his young son. Well, at least he neither took money from Fannie and Freddie nor had Brangelina over in the guest bedroom of Schloss Bellevue.

Wulff was in the Berliner Ensemble, the former theater of Bertold Brecht in Berlin, and he was interviewed by Joseph Joffe, the publisher of Die ZEIT (full disclosure: a paper I also work for). Joffe, the full-blooded transatlantic politician he is (he graduated in Harvard, teaches in Stanford, and is a member of the Aspen Institute, the Hoover Institute, the Atlantic Bridge, the American Academy and the Leo Baeck-Instititut), defended Wulff, sort of. So, evidently, the State Department still likes Angela Merkel, because Wulff has been handpicked by her, and if he has to go, she's in trouble.

The most astonishing thing, however, was the near-total lack of security. Sure, you had to sign up per email, but there was no scanner, no handbag-searching, no bringing of passport. I was sitting thirty feet away from the President. I could have thrown my shoes at him, then again, how would I‘ve gotten home? After the event, I finally saw one security guy who assured me that he was not alone. I have seen a higher level of security for Mamma Mia at the Winter Garden on Broadway.

A few of the older ladies in the audience snickered, but other than that, people were polite. Wulff pointed out that he does not want to be judged by the media (you betcha!) but by the people, but sadly, they did not have a Q&A afterwards.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Red Orchestra

Stefan Roloff, who made the movie The Red Orchestra (distributed by Berlinica), will speak in New York City on January 12 about the famous Anti-Nazi resistance group together with Anne Nelson, who wrote the book The Red Orchestra: the Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler. Anne Nelson will present slides on the topic. The event takes place at the German Consulate at 6pm, it is free, but reservation is required at germanconsulatenyc[at]

Here is the website, and here is more:

The Red Orchestra was a major resistance group that opposed the Third Reich within Germany from 1933 to 1942. The Gestapo labeled them as Communists and traitors for their efforts to overthrow the Nazi regime, a myth that was perpetuated by Allied Secret Services until recently. Historians now officially recognize their work as that of one of the largest and most efficient anti-Nazi resistance groups.

The participants represented a broad range of political and religious beliefs. Forty percent of the members were women. Together, the resisters represented many facets of German society. Many artists were among them. Putting an end to the Third Reich was their common goal.

Anne Nelson is the author of Red Orchestra: the Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler (Random House 2009; C. Bertelsmann 2010). She will present a slide lecture of archival photographs dealing with the fine arts in Nazi Germany and the many ways artists opposed the regime, operating in the heart of Berlin through networks of painters, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, and art students.


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