Thomas Rogers, “Berghain: The Secretive, Sex-Fueled World of Techno’s Coolest Club” (Rolling Stone, February 6, 2014) // Moritz Von Oswald @ The Bunker, Output, Brooklyn (February 8, 2014) // The Man From Tomorrow (dir. Jacqueline Caux, feat. Jeff Mills), The Studio Museum (February 13, 2014) // Zeke Turner, “Brooklyn on the Spree” (New York Times, Style, February 23, 2014)
One drizzly afternoon last November, I found myself in a bizarre situation: an hour-plus phone call with a magazine-features writer, providing background on Berlin techno culture and its famed Berghain club, which he was looking to cover for a prominent New York-based general-interest publication. He’d already written a few good music articles, expertly diving into subjects others would dismiss as skimpy, balancing analysis, insight and bystander-color to come up with the goods for both the lay-person and the nerd. And while I still harbor desires to tackle the subject of techno for the masses, such a dream (or the access to fulfilling it) remains obscure in the fog of my life. So I thought it better that this piece be written by a person of letters and ideas, rather than get slept-on by me, or tortured into being by one of the eminently employable critical recidivists, recently trying their hand at covering this beat due to the domestic EDM bubble.
The conversation went well. We were temperamentally simpatico, with enough in common (age, people, experiences, kids) that the posturing was minimal. He’d already been well tutored on the classics (Detroit, acid house, Tresor, Fabric, Ibiza), recognized the topic’s complexity, and showed to be sufficiently fluent in what may be morally questionable aspects of clubbing. (Win.) He was ready to go, and I think I was helping him get there faster. Still, it didn’t stop me from acknowledging the oddity of the moment: Here were some of my life’s most profound epiphanies, exposed to hi-beam levels of journalistic inspection, the kind usually reserved for proportionately weightier or sexier topics. It seemed odd that a micro-culture such as techno would now be ready for media Main Street (though that’s probably just another thing to blame on the Internet’s celebration of “the deep, authentic experience”). So despite noting the dissonance, my testimony was willing and unreserved, and for a few months now, I’d mostly forgotten both it and my interrogator.
The writer in question was not Thomas Rogers, whose piece on the Berghain and the Berlin scene Rolling Stone published last month, and which, knowing how big magazines work, may contribute to the spiking of my acquaintance’s story from ever appearing. But I’d be a liar if I said that reading Rogers’ piece didn’t reignite my concerns about cherished memories getting raided and cashed in for distracted effect.
I used to write a website about movies and television with the occasional Think Piece on Gwyneth Paltrow’s spending power. It is a website that just happens to be closing up shop for good tomorrow, unfortunately. Ours was a love the world could not understand. R.I.P.
By the end of my tenure at the soon (so soon) to be defunct pop culture website, it genuinely felt like I was reading the Entire Internet every day, and the only takeaway one can have from reading the Entire Internet every day is that the Internet is 100% Horrible. There’s a common sense that the Internet is just a collection of sad adolescent trolls hiding in their parents’ basements throwing digital feces through the proverbial bars, but the truth is much worse. Everyone is throwing the digital feces. The trolls just enjoy it a little more.
So, one of the most wonderful aspects of stopping writing for that website on a daily basis was that I also stopped reading other websites on a daily basis. With rare exception, I haven’t LOOKED at a blog in six months, much less read one. I still look at Tumblr most days, but Tumblr might as well be Instagram. It hardly counts.
And yet, I somehow have not managed to escape Blog Culture, because Blog Culture has become so pervasive that we are all doomed to a wasteland future of ad hominem non-jokes, knee-jerk unreflective judgements punched out on iPads during commercial breaks, and a Smithsonian’s worth of #selfies.
Journo friends, just putting this out there in hopes we are never in this place again, collectively: If you need the input or viewpoint of a trans person and do not know anyone, I am happy to connect you with folks. Just FYI. Let us pray that we can all try to get it right from now on, learn ways to report and write and critique that respect the identities and struggles of our trans brothers and sisters (and those who live outside gender binaries) among us and on the fringes.
Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another man more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.