Marcel Winatschek

Marcel Winatschek

Philosophical Thoughts on Design, Science, and Popular Culture

I’m Marcel, a curious author, programmer, and media designer from Germany who had the chance to work in Japan, China, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States of America among other inspiring places. My passions include movies about the end of mankind, music from the eighties, and the Japanese way of life in general. Today I’m studying Interactive Media at Augsburg Technical University of Applied Sciences and write essays about arts, cultures, and the various wonders of the Internet.

A Balm for Depression

Sure, sex is all good. But have you ever watched all the episodes of K-On! in one sitting, only to feel such a big hole in your heart afterwards that you started all over again to even begin to fill it? Exactly. K-On! is pure joie de vivre, a declaration of love for the cheerfulness, the carefree spirit, the plans and hopes we all had at some point.

In the world of anime, the genre’s vast and diverse landscape offers a variety of experiences, from epic adventures to heartwarming tales of friendship. Amidst this rich tapestry, K-On! has touched the hearts of countless viewers and has proven to be a powerful ally in the fight against depression.

K-On! may not be the first name that springs to mind when seeking solace, but for those who have ventured into its world, it becomes clear that the sweet, gentle melodies of the show are the perfect remedy for the aching hearts of those who battle depression.

When daydreamer Yui starts high school, she resolves to finally get off her lazy ass and join a school club so she won’t become a hopeless loser. But which one? Fortunately, the newly formed school band is desperately looking for a guitarist.

This could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship and a great music career for Yui. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know the first thing about playing guitar and has zero stage experience. She also gets distracted very easily and as soon as she learns something new, she forgets something else. This will be a hard task for the other band members...

K-On! is not about an epic legend, far-reaching heroic deeds, or saving the world. K-On! is about Yui, who is so warm, lazy, greedy, clumsy, naive, and cute that it’s a real joy to watch her go on her daily little adventures at school.

And about her four best friends Mio, Ritsu, Tsumugi, and Azusa, whom Yui only affectionately calls Azu-nyan, their shared, irrepressible quest to become the best rock band in the world with After-School Tea Time, and about the cute Southern New Guinea giant softshell turtle Tonchan, who is always busy swimming back and forth in the background. And about Yui’s little sister Ui, without whom probably nothing would run at all and whose self-sacrificing devotion will undoubtedly become a case for the nearest psychiatrist at some point.

This premise of K-On! might seem simple, but it’s this simplicity that makes it incredibly effective in addressing the emotional struggles that accompany depression. Depression often isolates individuals, making them feel as though they are trapped in a world of their own making. K-On! showcases the healing power of friendship and the importance of human connection.

Yui, Mio, Ritsu, Tsumugi, and Azusa come from diverse backgrounds and personalities, but they find solace in one another’s company. Watching them navigate the ups and downs of adolescence and forming a strong bond is a heartwarming reminder of the strength that comes from sharing life’s burdens with friends.

The characters of K-On! are not superheroes or larger-than-life personas. Instead, they are ordinary teenagers who grapple with everyday challenges, much like the viewers themselves. Yui’s struggle with procrastination and Mio’s shyness resonate with anyone who has felt overwhelmed by their own flaws. The relatability of these characters allows viewers to see themselves within the story, fostering a sense of understanding and empathy that is vital in the fight against depression.

Music has long been recognized as a therapy for the soul, and K-On! beautifully illustrates this concept. The girls’ passion for playing music and their unwavering commitment to their band exemplify the therapeutic qualities of creative expression. As they practice, perform, and simply enjoy music together, they remind viewers that art can serve as a lifeline in the darkest of times.

Depression often roots itself in dwelling on past regrets or fearing the future. K-On! emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment, and making the most of the here and now. The series encourages viewers to cherish the simple joys of life, whether it’s enjoying tea and cake, practicing with friends, or sharing laughter. By doing so, it instills the idea that even amid sadness, happiness can be found.

K-On! is not without its share of humor, and it uses light-hearted comedy to lift spirits. The quirky characters and their amusing antics provide comic relief, reminding viewers that even in difficult times, a good laugh can be the best medicine.

In a world that often seems daunting and overwhelming, K-On! stands as a beacon of hope for those who grapple with depression. By highlighting the power of friendship, the healing potential of music, and the beauty of the present moment, this anime series offers solace to those who may feel lost in their emotional struggles. It’s a gentle reminder that the path to healing may begin with small, simple steps and that it’s okay to seek joy even amid sorrow.

So, for those seeking an antidote to the darkness of depression, K-On! is the perfect prescription. With its heartwarming narrative and an endearing cast of characters, it serves as a reminder that there is always hope and that a brighter tomorrow can be found in the company of good friends, sweet music, and the simple joys of life.

If you ever feel alone, depressed, and abandoned by the whole world, just watch an episode of K-On! before you reach for the booze, the pillbox, or even the rope. And then another episode. And then another episode. Until, at some point, you start all over again. Again and again. Forever.

K-On! lets you understand what life is really about. About overcoming fears, gaining new experiences, and possibly even finding friends for life who will go through thick and thin with you. And maybe you’ll even rediscover your love for light and fluffy pop music, which you once traded in for hip-hop and electro.

If you don’t feel comfortable, chill, and at home from the first minute on, there’s no helping you. K-On! proves that sometimes it’s the little stories that soften the heart. Especially the broken ones. And no matter how much your soul is already eaten away by cynicism and the general suffering of the world, after a K-On! cure prescribed by me personally, you will automatically feel more content, happier, and in a more positive mood toward the entire universe.

Because Yui’s, in the truest sense of the word, carefree attitude rubs off on even the most sarcastic sourpuss. Guaranteed. K-On! is sugary sweet, melodious, and absolutely cult. And on top of that, there’s a whole lot of cream. After all, life is hard enough. And it’s best to share the daily struggle with some good friends.

I Lost My Heart in Tokyo

Japan is not only the land of cultural traditions, technological achievements, and historical, social, as well as geographical challenges, but for many enthusiasts a nation of big and small wonders to discover and explore.

In recent decades, Tokyo has become an international hotspot for pop culture, from fashion to music to art. Kyoto has the most beautiful temples, Osaka has the most delicious delicacies, and Yokohama has the most intoxicating nightlife.

If you make it to Okinawa, Hokkaido, or Tottori, you will experience Japan in its most multifaceted form. You will see that everything is possible here. And you will know that you are standing in the middle of a cultural treasure trove and that you only have to choose one direction.

In anime and manga, wide-eyed space pirates, domineering swordsmen, and brave magical girls come to life. In J-pop and J-rock, the beautiful as well as the shady sides of life are sung about. And in numerous novels from Banana Yoshimoto to Haruki Murakami to Mieko Kawakami, quiet as well as loud heroes seek happiness.

Japanese pop culture is full of love, full of lust, and full of passion. It seems to burst away in every conceivable direction, and every loud bang brings to life a new discovery, a new story, and a new potential passion.

My observations about the Land of the Rising Sun, poured out in words, are declarations of love for this seemingly endless universe of creative daydreams, into which we can immerse ourselves at will and whose brightly lit gates are open to all those who wander through the world with an alert eye, looking for an inspiring home.

I want to celebrate Japanese pop culture in my own words. No matter if it's fashion, art, music, movies, books, games, travel, technology, food, or life in general. No matter if it's anime, manga, or J-pop. No matter if it's known far beyond the borders of the Far East or has long since burned out as an eternal insider tip in its homeland.

I'm going on a journey into the distance for you, in search of an alternative world, whose energy you can feel up to here, whose courage you can smell up to here, and whose love you can feel up to here. I want to grasp it, understand it, and press it tightly against me.

In my texts about Japanese pop culture, which I regularly publish on this blog, I sit in the cockpit next to Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop, save the world with Asuka Langley Soryu and her friends in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and roam the ghost-populated forests of a long-forgotten world with Ginko in Mushishi.

I immerse myself in the noisy hustle and bustle of Takeshita Street in the heart of Harajuku, get intoxicated by the kids gambling in front of flickering screens in Akihabara, and sit down in a well-hidden jazz café in Shimokitazawa to listen to the bouncy sounds of Ryo Fukui, Casiopea, and Soil & Pimp Sessions over a cup of matcha tea.

And I take a trip or two back in time to a Japan that no longer exists. To the exciting seventies of the creative revolution, the colorful eighties of economic dominance, and the sobering nineties of the financial crash. Each era is as beautiful as it is different at the same time, wants to be discovered, and brought back to life.

Each and every one of my articles about Japan is a digital tribute to the creative spirits of a nation that often seems so far away. If you like to think outside the cultural box, are always on the lookout for new, exciting, and surprising things, and are not afraid of getting lost forever in a labyrinth of otherness, you've come to the right place.

Join me in discovering the most imaginative side of Japan, time and time again. In my articles about the land of the rising sun, I look forward to going on an unforgettable expedition with you into the depths of Far Eastern ingenuity and together recovering one or the other lost treasure hidden somewhere in the depths of Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka. Stay curious!

Beer, Beer, and More Beer

The second semester of my studies in Interactive Media has just said goodbye to me. Officialy it doesn't end until the end of September but with the semester break starting in the next few days, I can justifiably say that my first year at Technical Augsburg University of Applied Sciences is now over.

At the end of last semester, I told you the grades of the exams I took, and I want to stay true to that tradition this time as well. So I got a 2,7 in the basics of interactive design, a 1,7 in the basics of audiovisual design, a 2,0 in the basics of programming, and a 3,0 in the basics of web technologies. Good enough.

It has been an exciting year full of new people, experiences, and joy of life. I have learned, designed, and programmed a lot. We had to make our own movies, build machines, and create animations, tried our hand at various programming and markup languages, and almost single-handedly destroyed the university's beverage budget in the form of beer, beer, and more beer.

I joined the design student council and a Dungeons & Dragons club, helped out at events in front of and behind the scenes, and, according to rumors, even spent some nights in a more or less secret room on campus because I missed the last train home more than once.

While a few months ago, I was still convinced that I wanted to devote myself entirely to visual wonders and thus pursue a Bachelor of Arts, in recent weeks I have come to the decision that I would like to try my hand at the Bachelor of Science after all and thus prove myself in the world of bits and bytes.

The good thing about this plan is that if it fails, I can still crawl back into the art world the following semester. Possibly because the physics-soaked math has taken the fun out of it for me. I would then only have to make up a few missing modules.

In the next semester, we will have to try out various elective modules in the areas of design, computer science, and gaming and decide in which country we would like to spend our semester abroad. I'm leaning towards Japan, Finland, or Estonia at the moment, but I still have little a bit of time to think about it in peace. Besides, I have to be accepted there first, and this decision is, sadly, not mine alone.

My studies have given me, and I'm not exaggerating, a sense of life again. A reason to get up early in the morning. To come to campus with joy, smile at familiar faces, and experience new adventures. And for that, I want to thank everyone who has shared this journey with me so far. I'm really glad I decided to apply at Technical Augsburg University of Applied Sciences last year for being able to have this opportunity and excited to see what challenges await me next semester.

Tales From China

The fact that we were both born in the same year connects us, Luo Yang and me. 1984. I don’t think much about politics, she tells me when I ask her about the country she lives in. Nor do I think it has any influence on my work or my life. I’d rather take care of people around me, although, of course, their lives are affected by politics. A little bit.

Ai Weiwei is a pioneer and artist whom I respect very much, she replies to my question about the Chinese rebel the world knows and loves. But we come from two different generations. His works are based more on society and politics, whereas I care more about the emotions of the people around me. His problems don’t confront me directly because of that.

I ask about Ren Hang, who passed away a few years ago. He was a good friend of mine. I started taking pictures just before we met at one of my exhibitions in 2009 when he was still searching for his style. His persistence and effort won out against the strict Chinese reality and brought him the attention of the West.

Will Ren’s yet very offensive and alternative art leave something for China and the world, I ask Luo. It’s hard to say if he changed China for the better, but at least he gave more Chinese artists and young people the courage and strength to pursue their true selves and to bring people from the West closer to China’s younger generation. Ren was a brave man.

I tell Luo that I love Mian Mian. I know her books are well known in the West, but I don’t know her very well. She is one of the pioneers who write about their experiences and bodies. We have some mutual friends and I know her early and wildlife. The girls I photograph share some similarities with her. They are brave, young, lost, and beautiful.

The Chinese generation of the Eighties is trapped in a chasm, Luo replies when I ask her about the year we were born. We have adopted the traditional cultures of our predecessors and have been living in conflict with ourselves since the country opened up. We want to be freer but are held back by our family values. I don’t know Western peers too well, but we are all basically the same. We all share the same emotions and problems, regardless of geographical and cultural differences.

But I do have one last and almost clichéd question. What would Luo like to tell my readers about China and its young, new generation? I’ve been working as a photographer for over twenty years now and I’ve seen big changes in terms of the generation of the eighties and nineties. The new generation seems to be more relaxed and loyal to themselves.

And because China is evolving and changing every second, there will always be more and more young and interesting people. Maybe the internet and social media have brought the world closer together. Come to China and get to know the country and the young people better!

Every Person Has Their Own Color

When Tsukuru Tazaki thinks back to his youth in Nagoya, he feels torn between deep gratitude and dark sadness. Today, the 36-year-old leads a bleak existence in Tokyo, he builds train stations, and he is lonely. His story isn’t glamorous or exciting. But no life really is.

For a long time, Tsukuru Tazaki was close to death, of his own accord. Only the growing longing for his new acquaintance Sara lets him live on, the conversations and the hope for soon sexual intercourse, his tragic past always at the back of his neck.

If you read Haruki Murakami’s calm and detailed words, you must do so while enjoying a cup of green tea, in daylight, or a glass of expensive whiskey, at night. There is no other way. It was the same with his earlier works Norwegian Wood, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and 1Q84.

Tsukuru held no grudge against his four best friends, who had disowned him for no reason 16 years ago. He accepted his fate without a word, drowned his sorrows, and tried love but failed without much fuss. But he wonders how they are doing today. The gentle Shiro, the lively Kuro. The strong Ao and the clever Aka. He can still remember his last phone call with them clearly. He was asked not to contact them again. Never again.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the tale of a man who must open up old wounds to squander his last chance at a happy life. It’s interwoven with colorful events that seem out of this world but are a painful reality. Sake, beauty, and six fingers - the fear of the truth is never too far away. A journey that only someone with nothing left to lose can embark on. Or everything.

Tsukuru’s thoughts are always a little bit melancholically, revolving around others. If you put a finer point on it, it’s more like a groundless sadness called forth in a person’s heart by a pastoral landscape. He must be moving forward with a decision others made for him long ago.

People whose freedom is taken away always end up hating somebody. Can Tsukuru understand them after all? The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it. Tsukuru searches for answers. But whatever’s waiting for him out there, he’s not going to like it.

Haruki Murakami is known for his impeccable descriptions. In very Japanese fashion, he presents the reader with faits accomplis and, in one of his dreaded leaps in time, wipes them away with a wave of his hand. Suddenly nothing is the same anymore, although neither the characters involved nor the summer scenery have changed.

If Michael Bay were an author, Haruki Murakami would be his counterpart. No explosions, no noise, and no sensory deprivation. But plenty of skill. Everything fits together like a puzzle, every mention has a meaning. When Mr. Tazaki has nothing to do, he gets a train ticket. He buys a cup filled with hot coffee and sits down on the platform in Shinjuku.

Fascinated, he watches the people as they frantically get on and off, as they fall into their seats with relief, and as they ride away and disappear into the darkness. He is afraid to get on the train himself. But perhaps the time is now ripe.

Those who know the previous stories of the successful East Asian author will not experience any surprises in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, at least no nasty ones. Haruki Murakami remains true to himself and created the perfect book for the fading spring. And in one or two chapters, we suddenly feel caught, reminded of ourselves, immersed in the past. So put on some jazz, pour some tea or whiskey, and dive into Mr. Tazaki’s pale adventures, acting as a mirror to our own sad lives.

If I Can’t Be a Part of Your World

Of course, I can’t always have what I want. That would be far too easy. My own happiness sometimes collides with the dreams and wishes of others. And it’s not my place to harm them just because I have the questionable opinion that I must be the main character in every story told.

Every once in a while, I have to admit to myself that I’m only a supporting character in a play and that the spotlight is on someone else. No matter how difficult that may be for my own ego. Sometimes I’m neither Romeo nor Juliet but just some fruit seller suffering in the background.

When the black-clad, slim, and, at the right moments, impudently grinning person, with the white sneakers marked by life, whom I like, with whom I want to spend time, with whom I want to experience adventures, forge memories and together resist the perils of the world, already has just such a person by their side, but who, surprise surprise, is not me, the only correct path I should be able to take is the one that leads away.

Away from this charming person, away from their supposedly radiant happiness, away from the creeping pain to which I have become accustomed in the past out of pure ignorance towards myself and possibly a bit of masochism.

The main goal is to get away from the inner urge to maybe still, by some miracle that comes along and completely contradicts the logic of this universe, get the knowledge to become a part of this slowly dissolving hope.

Before I cause irreparable damage. To myself and to the one I actually wanted to win for myself. Because all I can achieve through this desperate plan is hatred, anger, and an almost unimaginable loneliness. And I certainly don’t want that. Unless I’m already lost. But then it’s all too late anyway.

So while you’re lying in bed with your boyfriend late at night, watching some show on Netflix, letting him dive into you, and now, not a single thought wasted on me, falling asleep snuggled up close to each other, I’m standing at the train station after some boring party in the rain and with two cold cheeseburgers from McDonald’s in my bag, waiting for the last train home, only to indulge in the one pastime I was determined to avoid: Thinking about you.

I could spare myself these embarrassing and pathetic mental scars by following the advice of others. That I should distract myself. That I should talk to the nice but uninteresting faces more than just a few irrelevant sentences. That I might find someone who can burn herself into my own emotional world just as much as the person whose attention I’m trying to draw to myself with every conceivable means.

But of course, I don’t want that. Because all the others are just empty shells in contrast to this one person. And although I know damn well that this isn’t true, it’s far easier to regard this lie, both subjective and objective, as a set truth and thereby melt away undisturbed in my own self-pity. Heartbreak, after all, is much more fun when you renounce all hope.

Because this way of dealing with grief is also much easier than having to face the uncomfortable reality that I may not be infatuated with the person per se, but with the false expectations I pumped into her from the very beginning.

After all, what do I know about this girl except the isolated stories she has so graciously shared with me and the connections I have been allowed to spin together for myself because otherwise I would have been sitting in front of a patchwork quilt of strangers’ memories? Exactly: nothing. I know nothing at all. And realizing this fact is the first step out of my own broken head and into the real world.

In addition, how could it be otherwise, I’m a good human being. Of course. At least that’s what I tell myself in order to not go completely insane. I don’t want to interfere with the other person’s romance at all, no matter how broken and certainly insanely unhappy I think she must be. This sneaky attack would not befit me and would also be deeply misanthropic. And possibly also very stupid.

Besides, and this is the most important point, it would bring me nothing. After all, I wouldn’t be the brave hero who rescues the helpless princess from the clutches of a painful relationship, no, I’d just be a run-of-the-mill asshole who’s been on a bad trip way too long and, out of whatever psychopathic abyss, has decided that his only chance for happiness is to ruin someone else’s. And no one wants to associate with someone like that.

Nobody wants to have anything to do with someone like that. Never in a million years. Especially not the person on the other side of my crumbling world, whose grin I see in front of me when I close my eyes. My happiness should be untouchable. Even if they have decided that I just aren’t allowed to be a part of it.

So there is nothing left but to scrape together the last remains of my own mind, my own reason, and maybe a little bit of my own pride and to come to the only right decision, which is worth following. I have to tear down, burn, and blow up these bridges built in the wrong direction as fast as somehow possible, in order to turn around and finally walk on the ridge of mental health again. Before it’s possibly finally too late.

Maybe the other nice faces aren’t just empty shells after all. Maybe one of them can evoke the same feelings in me as the black-clad, slim person with the white sneakers marked by life. Maybe one of them is just as pretty, smart, and naughty, if only I give her the potential to do so, instead of waving it off in annoyance from the start. And if all goes well, I’ll even forget why I was so fascinated by this one impudently grinning human being.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Walking

I love walking. Set me down anywhere on this round ball of earth, give me a direction and I’ll start walking. From A to B, crisscrossing, straight ahead and in circles. The main thing is to keep going, keep going. And when I talk about walking, of course I don’t mean jogging, running or sprinting, by God no, but the most relaxed form of human locomotion: Strolling.

Over the past few years, I have gradually increased the amount of walking I do. Some time ago, my daily step count was still in the one to two-digit range, but I was able to keep increasing my limit. Three digits soon became four digits. At some point, four digits became five digits. And five digits might even become six digits at some point. If that is even humanly possible.

I can now easily manage the scientifically completely irrelevant figure of ten thousand steps a day recommended by a Japanese company for advertising purposes. I’m currently averaging around twenty thousand steps - like a top athlete.

My success, which inspires every single person in this world, is based on three significant pillars of individual success: boredom, routine and distraction. After all, I have nothing better to do. I only do things when I’m used to doing them. And I only persevere with something if my thoughts are occupied with something else in the meantime.

Whereas with alternative sporting activities, such as jogging, I spend every single second of the agonizing and seemingly never-ending progress hoping that some confused hunter will mistake me for a graceful deer or at least a half-submerged wild boar and shoot me in the forest so that I’m finally over with it, when I walk I am often surprised that I have been doing it for two, three, sometimes four hours without actively noticing.

In the time that I’m more or less abusing my two still-functioning legs, I prefer to listen to alternative cultural podcasts. 8-4 Play, for example. Or Retrograde Amnesia. Or Anime World Order. The important thing is, that it’s something in which a couple of die-hard nerds talk passionately for hours about a topic that is far, far away from mass consumption. The geekier, more polyphonic and livelier, the better.

Then, armed with my noise-canceling headphones, I run through towns, across fields, along the lake. Past cars, people and nice-smelling cafés, boutiques and kebab stands. Always with just one goal in mind, to keep running until I almost puke from exhaustion.

In Augsburg, where I’m currently studying as you know, I have a regular route that’s been optimally tested, but is still open to experimentation. I really like the city because it’s neither too big nor too small and because you can disappear into both deserted alleyways and the hustle and bustle of the crowds - depending on what you feel like doing at the time.

So on a day that I can completely fill however I want to, I get off two stops before the main station, walk to the university library, treat myself to a coffee and a bit of laptop time and then take a long walk through the textile district, the strange park and the old town before buying something to eat at Rewe and heading home again.

And I do the same thing, every day, over and over again, like a broken robot that has no life. But it works. Because it’s routine. Because I like the varied route. Because I know exactly where I can rest, where I can access the internet and where I can go to the loo on my route, which seems random to outsiders. And it is precisely this certainty that mentally disadvantaged autistic people like me need.

This calculated knowledge reduces the chance of unpleasant surprises enormously, but still leaves enough room for new ideas, secrets and discoveries. And every now and then you even meet people you already recognize or don’t know yet and can have a chat with them. At least that way you don’t feel quite so lonely as you stubbornly go round in circles.

But, Marcel, if you run a thousand miles every day, why are you still such a fat pig? I have three perfectly thought-out and formulated answers to this cheeky and completely unexpected question. Firstly: Shut up! Second: I don’t know, leave me alone! Third: I’m working on it, okay? You can find more information on this in my guide Boss Transformation: From Beefcake to Thin as a Rake, which will soon be available in your local bookstore.

While I’m preaching about the running lifestyle to you, I’m really just trying to make it clear that if you need more exercise in your life for whatever reason, you just need to find something that doesn’t completely fuck you off while you’re doing it. It can be anything really. Except maybe hanging out on the sofa munching chips. Assuming you don’t lose weight while doing it. Because if you do, then you’ve practically won at life.

The only rule you have to follow is that you have to keep trying out the different activities available to you until you finally find something that doesn’t make you want to suddenly have a heart attack as a lame excuse to stop right there. Some people are lucky enough that their first choice is also the right one, while others will only be happy after the hundredth attempt. You have to be aware of this risk - but it’s worth it.

And if for me it’s walking along paths in spring, summer, fall and winter, in the sun, rain or snow, and hopefully not getting run over by a bus, for you it’s... I don’t know… soccer. Or tennis. Or climbing up skyscrapers without protection or other clothing. If the vanilla shit isn’t for you, then you should think outside the box. Life is full of opportunities - you just have to make the most of them.

So, enough guru talk for today. I’m going to put on my smelly sneakers, which are crying out almost too loudly for redemption, listen to a five-hour podcast about the best Super Nintendo games from the early nineties and then go out into the wide world like Hänschen klein. If I do get run over by a bus, at least I’ll have died doing something I really, truly love. And not everyone can claim that.

The Empty Heart

If I want to, I can become friends with many people in a very short time. No matter in which place, no matter in which situation, no matter with which counterpart. Then I’m funny, rousing, and open-hearted, as if we knew each other forever.

I share intimate stories and secrets, confess my biggest sins and fears, and make them feel like I understand them. I would leave no stone unturned, no matter how unattainable, to make them happier just by having met me. Even though we’ve just seen each other for the first time five minutes ago.

I used to almost pride myself on being able to actively shut down my shyness, lethargy, and social phobia and have it turn into the complete opposite all at once. Thanks to a self-taught trick I call spontaneous mental distraction, which works by thinking of something completely different just before doing something stupid or illogical, I do the bravest, craziest, and most likable things without being able to reflect on it beforehand. Because it’s simply impossible in terms of time.

These deeds then feel completely natural and not wrong at all. And in retrospect, I’m always glad that I dared to do it because it allows me to get close to people who would otherwise have remained inaccessible. It’s fun to have the world turn in my favor. And I used to think that this absolute accessibility made me a better, smarter, and, yes, even more popular person.

Because of this system-defying trait, I quickly became an authoritative part of many different circles of friends, some of whom were formed only because of me. I was happy when people got out of their way to do something with me, courted my favor at parties, or were in love with me just because they thought I was the first and only person on this planet who understood them and their problems. The feeling of emotional arrogance eventually became quite normal for me.

A crushing truth, I initially dismissed as humbug, became a sad certainty over time: I’m a ghost. An empty heart wrapped in flesh without any hint of empathy. A bus full of loudly howling orphans could explode in front of me, and not only would I not care, no, but I’d even be annoyed by why the little buggers are burning up in front of me right now, of all times, and have to block my path so acutely.

The only reason I make friends with other people so quickly and easily is because they mean nothing to me. And if I do get a crush or two on someone, I analyze her intensely until I finally get to the bottom of her maddening fascination, only to drop her like a hot potato afterward. Because I have eaten it up. And then it just becomes, at best, boring or, at worst, unbearable.

Today, thanks to social media, when I look back at the various circles of friends of which I was once, at least I thought I was, a fundamental part, they often still exist - just without me. The photos that used to adorn their faces pressed close together next to mine now, years later, have to make do with one less fake smile. Friends, with whom I had spent merry summer nights and spun countless legends, became strangers from one day to the next as if I had never existed.

I practically sucked them dry and then moved on. Like an unscrupulous emotional wanderer who just felt, partied, and fucked amid his loved ones and the next moment, when no one was paying attention, suddenly disappeared.

Never to be seen again, on the way to the next adventure, only to pull off the same stunt as before - only with different faces. At least I have led a few strangers to each other, so my emotional greed had something good after all. That’s at least what I want to believe.

If I want, I can make friends with many people in a very short time. No matter in which place, no matter in which situation, no matter with which counterpart. Then I’m funny, rousing, and open-hearted, as if we knew each other forever.

Sometimes I wonder if I have any kind of character at all or if I’m just a soulless shapeshifter, so to speak, who only ever echoes what brings him as close as possible to his current target. Preferably into the favor, thoughts, or genitals of his opponent.

Always the right answer ready, always a cheeky saying in stock, always the correct tightrope walk between compassion, seriousness, and humor. And if I give the wrong response and feel the resulting inner pain of mental backlash, I learn from it, adjust a few set screws internally and correct them the next time I try. But is that really me?

The question of who one is is as old and clichéd as life itself. I’m probably just a Frankenstein’s monster cobbled together from book quotes, TV wisdom, and sayings I picked up somewhere from someone I once thought was good, who merely pretends to be human but is nothing more than a parasite somehow kept alive, feasting on the fears, dreams, and problems of others.

Then, like a ravenous predator, I pounce on the first depressed victim that crosses my path, rip it apart skin and hair, and gorge myself on its remains so that something finally fills me up again. A new body, a new thought, a new warmth. The main thing is something other than the tasteless nothingness to which I have already become accustomed for so long.

But the breath of satisfaction lasts only a short time and then disappears as quickly as it came. For nothing can fill this seemingly endless void within me, especially not a counterpart who only wanted to be loved, held, and saved, and is now nothing more than a vague memory in my continuous bloodlust. So, disgusted with myself, I move on to the next pretty face, hoping that this time everything will be different. For sure.

The Modern Diet

Honestly, I don’t even know why I’ve been eating less meat in the past few weeks. And when I say less, I actually mean a lot less. It just happened that way. At lunchtime, the cafeteria always served a portion of French fries with ketchup and mayo for a buck - and that was enough for me. Out of curiosity, I picked up a pack of vegan salami at the supermarket, which was actually quite good. And a little avocado, hummus, or pickles with the cheese sandwich: Best.

I’m not concerned about health, climate, taste, culture, or even the animals in my newly discovered meat reduction. Let the critters be chopped up. Preferably quickly and efficiently. Why does everyone want to eat only happy animals? The unhappy ones would be much more worthwhile to be torn out of life. Then, at least, it would be over for them.

I can think of at most three reasons why I don’t have to think like a psychopathic Patrick all day long of roasted pigs, fried chicken, and freshly butchered cows just because I’ve stuffed myself with nothing but fruit, vegetables and cereals for a day.

First, I don’t give a shit about what I eat. I’ve long since reached a redemptive point in terms of nutrition, where the focus is on coffee. And everything else is second to seventh priority. Whether I’m shoving a veal cutlet in my mouth or some soy wheat bean mash-based alternative pudding, I don’t give a fuck. It’s all good - as long as it doesn’t make me throw up.

Second, it makes me feel better than everyone else. At least secretly. When I put the vegan cold cuts on the conveyor belt at the checkout and the guy behind me has his half a kilo of mixed mince for 2.99 dollars, I think to myself that I’m the more modern person of the two of us. Of course, I don’t tell him that. But I let him know it by placing the sliced, rancid sunflower seed porridge with shredded vegetables in it in such an optimal position that he can read what’s written there in big letters under the supermarket logo: I’m better than you!

Third, I am a follower. And that’s probably the most important reason of all. You just have to tell me certain things often enough, and eventually, I’ll believe them. When I watch more or less secret recordings of some redneck slaughterhouses, where chickens are trampled, piglets are castrated, and cows are mistreated, then it has at most a short-term effect on me. But the more often I witness such things, the more I think to myself: Okay, okay, from now on more cucumbers, tomatoes, and potatoes should suffer. I get it.

A few years ago, I wrote an insanely important literary text with the brilliant title Vegetarians, fuck you! Meat is for eating, in which I vehemently defended my desire for dead animals. And when I read through this, you can’t call it anything else, philosophical masterpiece, I actually continue to stand by everything I wrote back then. Especially the first three words of the headline are still very close to my heart.

But I have learned in recent months that it is extremely important to try something new and only then decide whether you want to continue on this path - or not. After all, we live in a time that often seems overwhelming and thus equally depressing due to its countless possibilities, but on the other hand, it has never been made easier for us to simply dare to do something different and thereby develop an eclectic view of the world, society and, hopefully, ourselves.

By the way, before any militant vegetarians or even, God forbid, vegans celebrate me now for being the first person on this planet who has at least somewhat reduced his meat consumption, I would like to clarify something. Because I have three more than important rules with this newly discovered life feeling, which I use myself to keep almost rigorously.

First, although I actively do not buy meat and sausage produced from cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys or, what do I know, monkeys. But I do eat these products when they are offered to me somewhere. For example, when people invite me to eat. The reason is that a little meat can’t hurt. Possibly to prevent some ominous nutritional deficiency. Besides, I assume that this meat, in restaurants or at people’s homes, is of higher quality than when I get a bag of frozen Chicken McNuggets at Aldi.

Secondly, I am not a vegan. It doesn’t matter if it’s milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, eggs, honey, or whatever else you can squeeze out of the critter: It ends up in my mouth. I don’t feel like giving up eighty percent of all food just because, for whatever reason, it contains milk proteins, has been filtered through some fish bladders, or once a chicken egg flew past it. Give it a bone! That amount of boomer mentality is necessary.

Third, I eat fish. Ha! I can already see the surprised look on your face. I love fish. Salmon, pike perch, dorado, trout, halibut, herring, scampi, tuna, clams, crabs, eel, squid, cod, mackerel, plaice, oysters, shrimp, and sardines. Whatever is crawling around in the sea, I will find it, catch it, and inhale it on the spot. And you can send me as many links as you want to some pseudo-scandalous documentaries in which seventy thousand fish have to spend the rest of their lives squeezed into a rain barrel, just so I can slap them on my sushi: I don’t care.

As I write this, I’m stuffing myself with a cheese sandwich with the last vegan salami slice that was still lying around somewhere at home, and I just can’t find a reason why I should have bought the ones with cows, pigs, or horses in them instead. But maybe this is just the beginning of my journey. Possibly I will eventually evolve into a higher being who can live on nothing but sun, air, and coffee. And probably only then would I be truly satisfied with myself and the world.

The Terror of the Underworld

When Arano steps out of the station in Shibuya, his fate is already sealed. The young man came to Tokyo to make his dreams come true: It should rain knives. Preferably into the hearts of the yakuza, on whom he cultivates an inexplicable and rigorous hatred. There are too many superfluous elements in this world, is the credo he keeps muttering to himself.

Quickly caught in the crossfire of two rival gangs, the otherwise taciturn Arano, played by Chihara Junia, befriends club owner Kamijo, portrayed by Onimaru, and cheeky skater Alice, enacted by Rin Ozawa, and joins their chaotic world. But the tenuous bonds he forges are quickly torn apart by greed, revenge, and arrogance.

The film Pornostar, released in 1998, is the debut work of Japanese director Toshiaki Toyoda and cannot claim at least one thing: to be normal. Somewhere between drama, thriller, and gangster film and a bucket of fake blood, even a hint of a love story sprouts up, all within the restless backdrop of Tokyo just before the millennium.

Pornostar is full of blood, violence, and death. And yet it all happens almost matter-of-factly, incidentally, and so crudely in terms of craftsmanship that you almost have the feeling of sitting in the same room and witnessing how one human life after another is extinguished, only to stand on the street again afterward with a cigarette in your mouth and squander your hard-earned yen in the nearest arcade.

The film lacks sympathetic characters with whom we can identify. Arano’s motive to rid the world of the yakuza can be guessed at but remains largely hidden from the viewer. And Kamijo’s fatal step into the clutches of the underworld happens just as casually as the last meeting with Alice, who, of all the characters, might have been a way out for Arano and his dream of bloody knives.

But maybe it’s this narrative flaw that makes Pornostar so special. Maybe we don’t want these people to find happiness at all. Why should we? They have freely chosen to participate in this cruel game of the underworld. Possibly they have just earned Arano as an avenging angel. And possibly, with the first murder, he also plunges into an abyss from which there must be no escape.

In fact, Pornostar reminded me of Hideaki Anno’s Love & Pop, released the same year, without having anything in common other than being set in the same city. But the handcrafted, raw, almost documentary style of shooting by both directors could almost be two sides of the same coin. Except that one side is full of naughty schoolgirls and the other is just.... well... full of blood.

When you watch Pornostar expecting to be satisfied, inspired, or even happy at the end, you’re mistaken. The film takes no prisoners - quite the opposite. You would indeed begrudge one or the other character to experience the Grand Summer of Love on Fiji and thus slide blissfully into the year 2000, but as it is already said in the Bible: He who takes the sword shall perish by the sword. And to resist this holy prophecy seems to be almost an impossibility in this heartless world...

The Meaningless Love

As she makes her way home, I shout the first stupid thing that comes to my mind. The black-clad, slim person with the white sneakers marked by life turns around once more, grins, shouts back, and raises her hand. I wave as well, then she steadily gets a little smaller - even smaller than she already is.

The smoke from her cigarette dances in the otherwise clear air. I look after her only very briefly because I can’t stand the sight and the gradually embracing cold any longer, open the heavy glass door, and once again enter the building which is bursting with dreams of strangers and in the past months has turned into our refuge from the mostly noisy, chaotic, and abandoned by all good spirits world outside.

I wanted to deliberately miss the moment when she disappeared completely behind the walls. Maybe because deep down I’m a coward after all, and so I realize less quickly that it’s pretty lonely without her here, in these light-filled halls.

There is no worse feeling than being in love with someone I shouldn’t be in love with, for various reasons. Maybe because there are just too many differences between me and the person on the other side. Because the person of favor already has someone who fills the position that I’d like to hold myself.

Or because the person I have to think about again and again, at the most impossible times, possibly even all the time, just doesn’t share the same emotions that I so exceedingly vulnerably extend to them. And when things go really bad, all of these points apply equally and hit me all the harder.

One barely surmountable truth at least seems certain: This love has no meaning, no future, and thus no value. And I can’t change anything about that, no matter how much I twist and turn the matter and wish I could.

I try, with all my might, to find objective arguments for why it would be much more logical if I had no affection for the impudently grinning counterpart. But no matter how meticulously I try to track them down, they simply don’t exist - anywhere.

The lists, tables, and diagrams of the negative reasons remain empty on this day - as always. Because there is absolutely nothing to be said for not wanting to dive into this body that is almost bursting with different talents.

How could I resist this person’s sober, disarming, and perceptive charm? She’s pretty, she’s smart, she’s sassy. She always has a silly saying in store, either glowing with energy or apathetically sinking into her thoughts, and every time I talk to her, she opens up like a man-made grab bag of interesting stories.

Her manner changes fluidly from brash brat to motivating muse, without completely abandoning rules, guides, and socially relevant customs. She’s one of the good guys, no matter how much she sometimes tries to cover it up with her thuggish manner and loose mouth.

I collect every new detail about her life, like pieces of a puzzle scattered all over the globe, which, when assembled bit by bit, create a lovingly decorated and partially scarred treasure map that I can use as a guide to discover ever more adventures, memories, and inspirations.

Then I sit there, listen, marvel, and travel back with her once again to those fateful moments that made her, in the truest sense of the word, the wonderful personality she is today. And no matter how great, meaningful, and varied I think my existence is, it’s nothing compared to the plays that are playing out in front of my mind’s eye. I watch in suspense and can only be stunned with my mouth wide open.

The meaningless love is not a shock, not a jolt, not a tremor. It gnaws at me, always a little, sometimes more, sometimes less. Usually in situations where I least expect it, or just when I catch sight of a certain smile, drawn by the experiences of a young but exciting life. Then I’m happy for a moment and shortly after I remember that, yes, there was a reason why my heart was about to get a little heavier again.

But contrary to all appearances, meaningless love is not an ominous feeling - quite the opposite. It would be much bleaker to resist this emotion from the outset. The fact that I feel the stupid love at all somewhere in my atrophied soul, which has been freed of all empathy, is proof that I haven’t yet completely closed myself off to the world, that I’m not yet dead inside, that there’s still hope for not drowning in my minimalist melancholy at some point for good and without any prospect of rescue.

As she makes her way home, I shout after her the first stupid thing that comes to my mind. There are no lies, no mockery, and no false expectations hidden in my words. I am fully aware of the position from which I am almost screaming at her and that her little world is already full of characters I neither can nor want to replace.

The black-clad, slim person with the white sneakers marked by life turns around once more, grins, shouts back, and raises her hand. I wave too, then she steadily gets a little smaller - even smaller than she already is.

The only hope is for a future in which I may continue to follow this pretty face and listen to her stories. After all, our time together is limited. But the psychological fact that other people bore or even annoy me after a short time, and this person doesn’t, is sometimes so new, so rare, so unusual, that I can’t help but stay close to them and wait eagerly to see what else will come.

Of course, I have to be careful not to fall into the same traps that many others have fallen into before me. After all, unrequited affection can tip over in the blink of an eye, leaving me not only with the sad certainty of an unfulfilled romance but also with the ruins of a friendship that has turned to dust and ashes. And this, of course, should be avoided at all costs, otherwise, the depressing journey will end not only with empty hands but also with a wounded soul.

There is no worse feeling than being in love with someone I should not be in love with for various reasons. And yet, secretly, I’m a little bit happy about it. Because it also says a lot about me and the path I’ve taken so far.

After all, this emotion, which is classified as negative from the outset, can turn into a veritable treasure trove of mind-expanding ideas in no time with a different perspective. I just have to draw the right conclusions from it and not operate in outdated thought patterns.

Meaningless love is a bittersweet gift from which I can draw insights, get inspiration, and gain a lesson or two about myself and the people around me. It allows me to enrich my own life with the experiences of others that they so trustingly share with me.

I should not close my mind to this chance in any case, but, on the contrary, approach it as open-heartedly as possible. Even if, or perhaps even because, I will probably never reach the actual goal of becoming a part of the world of the one to whom this meaningless love applies.

But hope, no matter how small, puny, and unrealistic it may be, dies last, as we all know. And sometimes that’s all I need to keep going in this usually so noisy, chaotic, and abandoned by all good spirits world that is waiting for me out there, in front of these light-flooded halls.

Crash All the Servers

To do justice to my rediscovered offensive of unconditional openness, I naturally don't want to withhold from you how I fared in my first semester of the Interactive Media program at Augsburg Technical University of Applied Sciences. After all, we just received the grades for our exams. And let's put it this way: It went better than expected. Really.

Here are some hard facts. In the Basics of Visual Design course, I passed with a grade of 1.7. In the Basics of Three-Dimensional Design course, I passed with a grade of 2.3. In the Basics of Computer Science major, I passed with a grade of 3.3. In the elective Japanese 1, I passed with a grade of 1.7. In addition, I got a few credit points for nude drawing and our trip to the Bavarian Forest.

I postponed the exam of the subject Basics of Programming to the next semester because I had not prepared for it sufficiently and had lost faith in humanity after our computer science exam, which felt more like a state exam in the field of mathematical quantum physics of all undiscovered parallel universes.

It borders on an organizational miracle that I survived this section so unscathed. And then also with a 3. Maybe praying with my fellow students in the evenings over one or two text messages did help after all. And that was even though I had learned that you should never demand from God but only ask. And: If you only ever take from God in a crisis but don't think of him when things are going well, he is first busy forgiving you before he helps you. But apparently, God is more chill than you think. So all I can say is: Thx. And: LYL.

Of course, I didn't let myself miss one clichéd fun: Trying to crash the online administration server of the university with one or the other reload until the grades were finally visible. But that didn't work. Probably I should have reloaded not only every five minutes but every five seconds for that to work. Well, next time I know better. Hehe.

By the way, my lawyer advises me to make it clear at this point that I will not try to crash the server of the university or even any other server or anything else in this world, in any way whatsoever. Neither intentionally nor by accident. After all, you can never be too careful these days. Many thanks to Mr. Stegemann of the law firm Stegemann and Partners. Props go out.

While I'm quite pleased with the results of my first semester, I'm also aware that I'll only be able to master the coming years if I can squeeze the content I need to learn into my head more consistently, more regularly, and with much more commitment. Through the right mix of Anki, repetition, and the Pomodoro technique. At the very least, I'll focus on those three strategies. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully. What do I know about learning the right way?

I've also realized one other thing that I hadn't finally decided at the beginning of my studies, and that's what degree I'll be pursuing. Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. After all, we have to know that by the third semester.

But if the info exam gives even a small glimpse of what's to come, then I'll try with all my might to cling to the Bachelor of Arts. Because otherwise, I might end up empty-handed. After all, you can always justify good or bad art somehow, but computer science is like an out-of-control killer robot. It knows no mercy, only zeros and ones. Pass or fail. Life or death. And I know which side I would be on.

Apart from that, I can say that the Interactive Media program at Augsburg Technical University of Applied Sciences is a lot of fun, rich in variety, and should be interesting for anyone who feels somewhat at home in both the artistic and technical worlds.

Of course, most of the entertainment value comes from fellow students with whom you struggle through lectures, trainings, and exams, but that's probably the case in any degree program. And in this respect, I was really lucky. Greetings go out to the C-group, which was rightly described by a possibly too-smart person as those who always sat in the last row at school.

Unfortunately, I can no longer claim to be a freshman. This temporally very limited term, in connection with my no longer quite so dewy person, had always led to wide eyes and the one or other stuttering in people facing me.

In any case, I'm excited to see what new adventures await us in the second semester and will spend the next few weeks reviewing the basics of programming to get through the postponed exam just fine as well. Hopefully. But at least I'm not the only one who hasn't successfully gotten through this subject yet - for whatever reason.

With that, we end another chapter of my rediscovered offensive of unconditional openness and I hope you'll join me again next time when Marcel Winatschek's more or less exciting journey as a student continues. Will he crash a certain server? Will he become the first person to be handed a master's degree in just his second semester because he's finally recognized as the global genius he's always pretended to be? So handsome, so smart, and yet so humble. Or will he be exmatriculated because the glass buildings of the university are not fireproof enough for him and his, let's call them, accidents? Stay tuned, we'll know more soon.

You Can Have Alone Time When You’re Dead

My biggest concern when I started college wasn’t about the learning contents, the professors, or future fears about what the heck I would do with the degree once I had it in my pocket, but how the other students would react to me. After all, I was twice their age in my late 30s. Most of them could have been my children. Maybe they even were. Some of those faces looked quite familiar to me right away...

My suspicion that I was the oldest one here had been confirmed during the first week. By a large margin. Not only in my study program but generally within a radius of five hundred meters. Probably even the janitor was younger than me. And he was retiring soon. Should that have given me pause for thought? Yes, perhaps. But now I was here, after all, so I had to make the best of it.

In any case, I was already mentally preparing myself to spend the next few years in isolation at the senior table, slurping oatmeal, and philosophizing about the good old days with myself. When MySpace was still the measure of all things. When you still had to rewind VHS tapes before returning them to the video store. When the song of the year was a techno mix by the Smurfs. "Every Smurf likes to listen to the radio, full blast anyway. The rhythm goes right into every leg, that’s how dance music for Smurfs must be!"

While the president of the university gave his third welcome speech of the day and still seemed to be just as enthusiastic as at the first one, the campus was packed with young people scurrying back and forth, equally confused and full of nervousness.

Their T-shirts were decorated with more or less creative graduation 2022 slogans. 12 years of Walk of Fame - the stars go, the fans stay. And: Graduation today, captain tomorrow. Or: With the graduation in their hands, heroes become legends.

With so much concentrated youthfulness, I would have liked to throw up. Of course, I had already expected to see this beforehand. Because I am extremely smart. What else did I expect? Exactly. After all, these people were the norm here - not me. They were the majority, and I was the alien.

In between the guided tours, through the buildings, the city, and the room where the beer fridge throned, I then got into conversation with my fellow students. Gradually, the uniformity of more or less fashionably dressed puppets turned into interesting characters with names, pasts, and humor.

I realized quite quickly that they were also just normal people, each of whom also had their fears, hopes, and dreams. And they were all as excited as I was, if not more so, just for different reasons.

A week full of getting-to-know-you tours, various flat-sharing parties, and a lively study trip to the Bavarian Forest later, I no longer felt any fear of not being able to make friends because of my advanced age.

When I entered the cafeteria the following Monday, the first familiar heads were already smiling at me. "Hey, Marcel!" I heard from one of the tables cheerfully call over. I grinned back, followed the hustle and bustle, and sat down on a free seat amid my new companions.

Of course, I’m still the old fart. Just like Kerstin is the stoner, Jonas is the farter, and Dana is the one who got mounted in the fire truck. I’m not the only one who gets stupid looks from strange students, no, everyone has to carry their baggage in whatever way. The key to happiness, in this case, is unconditional openness and a positive attitude - no matter how hard that may be sometimes.

Being part of a group means being aware of your possibly not-so-glorious shortcomings and taking it with humor when they happen to be in the spotlight. The only important thing is to have a good line in stock with which you can keep the wheel turning and thus shift the focus to the next person. It’s a game that you only lose if you don’t take part in it.

Since that fateful first week, friendships have emerged from the hundreds of encounters that have taken me all over the city, to various apartments, clubs, and bars. No matter where I go, I catch sight of familiar faces everywhere.

Not only from my degree program, from the student council, and from the electives I took, but also from friends, roommates, and relationships of those who didn’t avoid me because of my difference, but, on the contrary, even invited me into their lives. Of course, I still have to listen to one or two stupid comments from time to time. But that’s just part of it.

Today it’s quite normal for me to walk the streets with them, exchanging stories, creating memories, delaying the morning a little longer. I am happy to learn more about those who confide in me, to support them with advice, deeds, and silly sayings, and to help them to solve one or the other problem conscientiously - provided that they want to do so at all.

If you think that you hate people, that you don’t need anyone else but yourself, that you’re better off closing yourself off to everything and everyone, then you need to pack your seven things, set fire to your previous life, and go somewhere else. With new people, new opportunities, and new adventures. And do it as fast as you possibly can.

Of course, even these relationships are not permanent. I will soon have forgotten many names, faces, and encounters. And they will have forgotten me. Because they have moved on. Or because I’ve taken a different path. And that’s perfectly fine. New people will enter my life again, again and again, as long as I make that possible, in whatever way.

Some of them will stay for longer, maybe even forever. But these chances only arise if you don’t nip every conceivable contact in the bud just because you have convinced yourself at some point that you are happier alone. Out of fear, out of pain, out of excessive demands. No matter how strong you think you are in this matter, at some point you will break. And then it will be too late.

As we stumble out of Iveta’s apartment door, hooting loudly, and smelling of tequila, wine, and popcorn schnapps, into the nearest convenience store to buy a few more road beers, I glance briefly down the brightly lit street. New people are streaming through it. There is laughter, singing, and dancing in the buildings.

I am, now, at this moment, part of this backdrop, this ensemble, these stories. Because I have dared to do something and have not closed myself off from the unknown, although that would have been so much easier. Because one thing is certain: you can have alone time when you’re dead.

Feelings Without a Name

In the most unexpected situations, I meet people whose sheer existence fascinates me so much that I can hardly comprehend it. It’s not like I’m overwhelmed with love, hate, or pity because the tentative affection I feel for the person on the other side doesn’t fit into the emotional template into which I’ve almost instinctively squeezed all previous encounters.

It’s not love because I’m not consumed by jealousy, desire, or grief. It’s not hate because I finally feel a touch of empathy again. I’m happy when the other person is happy and sad when the other person is sad. And it’s not pity because any supposed fragility I see in the other is merely a reflection of my own inadequacies.

The more interesting I find another girl, the more I naturally want to know about her. Even the smallest banalities that no one else is aware of, possibly not even the person standing in my spotlight, become significant, important, and even overrated. What kind of music does she listen to? What clothes is she wearing? How exactly did she become the collection of ideas, ideals, and identities that she is today? And what would you even do with the answers to these questions?

The intangibility of a different being can drive me crazy if I’m not careful. Not only can’t I find a definition for my own sensations, no, I don’t even manage to file the other person away in shelf-like categories. Because every encounter brings new insights and I feel compelled to shatter again the theories of the previous day that were set in stone.

Then the floor, strewn with dust and debris, is witness to the fact that the irrefutable knowledge of human nature I was convinced I possessed all those years was worth about as much as the time I wasted trying to find answers to questions that may not even exist. Because not even the person in whom I suspect this very enlightenment knows of its existence.

Maybe I project too much into the other body. Maybe there is nothing over there. Maybe it’s just a normal girl who wants to cope with herself and the world around her and has enough to do with that alone, and I just imagine being just a little bit infatuated with her and her secrets, because I can thereby ignore the complexity of my own life for a short time. I can only receive the happiness of myself when I have found out how the other person defines happiness. After all, reality will be able to wait that long for me.

I rack my brain over the question which emotion I feel now exactly. If I could think of a name for it, a definition, it would be easier to find a way to deal with it, to put it aside, to cope with it. I’m not even sure if it’s a real feeling that’s buzzing around in my head, or if it’s just a figment of my imagination because I’ve got too much time to think about it.

The feeling without a name is too strong to ignore but too weak to utterly deal with it. So I carry it around out of a slowly creeping habit and wait almost anxiously for the moment when it knocks again on the door of my chaotic world of thoughts - usually when the mischievously smiling face that first set me on this, in the truest sense of the word, noteworthy path enters the room.

Possibly, however, this gap in my own emotional spectrum is also the sad proof that I’ve lived my life so far in predefined paths, in which even my feelings were only copies of copies of copies. From television, from books, from the lies of society. Their names are rules, no, almost laws for how I have to behave when I have fallen into one of these feelings.

Do I feel love? Then I have to despise the relationship the girl is in, burst with jealousy if she just looks at someone else, and cry masturbating alone into my pillow at night because I will never be a part of her motley world.

Do I feel hate? Then I have to turn the girl’s life into hell on earth, set her pet, her family, and her whole apartment block on fire, and spin the threads of manipulation so skillfully that she ends up collapsing screaming in the open street because existence has no meaning after all anymore.

Do I feel pity? Then I have to turn myself into a more or less invisible guardian angel who does everything to ensure that the victim of my favor is never harmed again - and simultaneously I have to feel really good, great, and important because otherwise there would be no purpose at all. In the end, it’s all about myself and no one else. Just like always. What’s the point of helping someone else if I can’t get any credit for it? Exactly.

The worst thing about the nameless feeling is that I may have no right to it. After all, there are much more important people in the life of the girl I’m trying to put my worn-out template on. I’m nothing more than a fleeting marginal figure whose stage appearance is only of such short duration that I’m not even explicitly mentioned in the corresponding script. At most, perhaps, as a passerby, spectator, or some guy in the background.

But maybe this insight is enough to make peace with the nameless feeling. Maybe it doesn’t even make sense to find a meaning for it. Because it’s not permanent and can disappear as quickly as it came. At the latest when the person whose accessible gaze first triggered it has moved on again. On to new scenes, people, and stories. While I linger in the backdrop that has just been abandoned by the spotlight and is about to dissolve, gazing after the once so disarmingly smiling silhouette, only to have forgotten shortly afterward that the feeling without a name ever existed.

A Student for Life

After the more or less sudden end of AMY&PINK, I felt lost. For fifteen years, I had put all my energy into a project that used to be full of fun, passion, and hopes at the beginning and towards the end was just a slowly languishing burden. When the bright lettering went out, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sank into idleness. The days passed me by. Was today Tuesday or already Friday? February or September? What year was it anyway?

I couldn’t get myself up for anything productive and spent days, weeks, months going for walks, watching TV shows, and floating through depressive periods where I just lay there and scrolled through Reddit, YouTube, and Pornhub by turns. From sunrise to sunset. And vice versa. By my late 30s, my life seemed over. What was there to come of it now? Except a heart attack from too many frozen pizzas and too little exercise.

The only things that kept me alive were the voicemails from my good friend Hannah, who probably knew me better than I knew myself at this point, the programming course that the employment office forced on me so that I would at least have somewhere to put things away, and the fact that I was much too lazy to commit suicide.

On a far-too-hot summer day in June, I had taken the 9-euro ticket to nearby Munich to walk in circles and listen to a few podcasts while I was there. After all, I was getting to know the streets of my hometown so well that they were getting on my nerves. At least there was life in Munich, even if there wasn’t any inside me.

After I had bought a coffee-table book about Japanese pop culture in a bookstore, because that was the only topic that even remotely interested me, I sat down on a free bench on my way back into the city center to leaf through it a bit and, at the same time, to press the ice-cold Diet Coke can that I had bought at the nearby Edeka onto my mouth. Its contents had been acting as my main source of nourishment for several weeks - after all, I didn’t want to get any fatter.

Looking up, I noticed that the bench I had sat on was in front of the city’s university. Young people were milling about the grounds, chatting, laughing. Some were in a hurry, others were sitting on the grass. There was a boisterous mood. The large buildings watched over the small figures, most of them scurrying around frantically, whose future would be formed in them.

The setting reminded me of series like Gilmore Girls, Community, and Greek, and I found it a little sad that I never had the opportunity to also lead the certainly quite exciting existence of a student. Because my high school diploma wasn’t enough for that, and after my training as a media designer, I simply ignored the option of being allowed to study.

After all, I wanted to earn money. With AMY&PINK. And that would undoubtedly live forever and soon become an international media empire. Like Vice. Or the New York Times. Or Russia Today, for that matter. I wouldn’t need a degree for success. As opposed to all the other losers out there.

So I was sitting on this bench in my late 30s, able to call a book and a can of Diet Coke my own, and feeling sorry for myself. Two young women had taken a seat next to me. The blonde proudly told me that her little sister had registered just in time for the entrance exam for the upcoming winter semester. The brunette marveled somewhat exaggeratedly. I hope she gets in! For sure!

When I got back home, I was interested in what I should have been able to study with the qualification I had received through my vocational training. Communication design. Graphic design. Interactive media. And I was a little annoyed that I had not taken advantage of this opportunity but had been so stubborn as to consistently ignore every opportunity that stood between me and my obsessions. And I was also proud of my stubbornness at that time.

While lethargically clicking around on the Internet, I came across the website of Augsburg University of Applied Sciences, which had been offering a mix of design and computer science for a few years with its Interactive Media degree program, and advertised it with flowery words.

In times of great social and technological upheaval, the future of work, living together, mobility, and communication is changing, it said. Whether on the Web, in the Internet of Things, in virtual realities or in an Industry 4.0: media and technologies encounter us in many different ways in the course of the digitalization of our environment.

With our renowned Interactive Media degree programs, we ideally prepare young people who have an appetite for design and technical craftsmanship, the statement continued. Students are taught design- and media-specific skills as well as basic working methods and procedures. In numerous seminar and project work, students practice applying their specialist knowledge in practice.

And, Topics of study include interface and interaction design, software development, 2D/3D animation, web and app development, sound and motion design, game design, and game development. The unique interdisciplinary approach of the Faculty of Design and the Faculty of Computer Science guarantees a well-rounded education in design and media informatics.

The degree program sounded like a colorful grab bag of everything I enjoyed. Designing, programming, you would even learn how to create video games. Pure madness. Before I sank back into self-pity for never having taken advantage of this opportunity, a date jumped out at me. There was still one week left to register for the next semester.

In the associated admission rules it was written that not only a high school diploma but also a professional qualification would be sufficient to be allowed to start studying - provided that one would pass the necessary entrance examination. I took a sip from the seventh can of Diet Coke that day, thought about it for a moment, and filled out the linked application form. I’ll give it a try, has been my motto since that day.

After that, everything happened very quickly. I was invited to the entrance exam, which I passed. I was invited to the interview, which I passed. I was sent the application for enrollment, which I submitted on time. Then, at the beginning of October, I entered the campus of Augsburg University, sat down in a lecture hall for the first time, and was suddenly a student.

A few weeks earlier, I had thought that my life was over at the end of my 30s, that there was nothing more to come, that all my dreams had been dreamed and all my hopes buried, but suddenly I found myself in a completely new story, with new goals, new tasks and new people. An unexpected adventure had begun. After all, I’m a Student for Life.

People Who Stare at Streets

Yusuke looks out the window. Under the voice of his late wife houses, trees, and the sea fly past him. He doesn’t notice that another person is sitting in front of him in the red Saab 900 Turbo, while he fills in the sentences’ gaps with his own words. Misaki will soon get him to a place where he can finally find himself.

I watched Drive My Car by Ryusuke Hamaguchi last night for the second time now. The Oscar-winning Best International Film, based on the short story of the same name from Haruki Murakami’s 2014 book Of Men Who Have No Wives, recounts the experiences of two people whose fateful encounter no one could have foreseen - least of all themselves.

Yusuke Kafuku, played by Hidetoshi Nishijima, is a successful stage actor and director who is married to the mysterious Oto, embodied by Reika Kirishima, a beautiful playwright with whom he shares a peaceful life despite a painful past. When Oto suddenly dies, Yusuke is left with unanswered questions and the regret that he couldn’t - and didn’t want to - truly understand her.

Two years later, Yusuke, still struggling with Oto’s death, accepts an offer to direct a production of Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima. He drives to the big western city in his beloved fire-red Saab 900 Turbo, where he learns upon arrival, to his surprise and disappointment, that for legal reasons he is forced to have Misaki Watari, brought to life by the magnificent Toko Miura, a young chauffeur hiding a traumatic past of her own, drive his car.

Rehearsals progress, and Yusuke and Misaki eventually develop a routine, with the Saab increasingly becoming an unexpected confessional for both driver and passenger. Less pleasant for Yusuke, however, is the decision to hire Koji Takatsuki, played by Masaki Okada, a handsome young television actor with an unwanted connection to his late wife, for the lead role.

As the premiere approaches, tensions between the cast and crew grow. Yusuke’s increasingly intimate conversations with Misaki force him to confront uncomfortable truths and uncover haunting secrets left behind by his wife.

I’m glad that I have seen Drive My Car for the second time now. Because with each new encounter, we put different expectations into the characters whose thoughts and actions seem to be reflections of our own understanding of humane coexistence. Misaki’s character, for example, now vaguely reminds me of someone I only recently met. Her sober, disarming, and perceptive manner invites me to want to know more about her. What does she think? Why does she think that way? And who or what made her who she is today?

The flowing conversations in Drive My Car are like intimate dances with the purpose of building bridges to other people. Stone by stone, inch by inch. With each new day that dawns in Hiroshima, the chance arises for two people to open up a little further to the other, only to be rewarded with new insights - no matter how painful they may be. And these insights are not only for the other person but often also for themselves.

Only those who haven’t even begun to try to understand Drive My Car would describe it as calm. Every scene is seething. Yusuke, who can’t forgive himself for his wife’s death, searches for answers that may not exist. Misaki, whose observations only become trusting words when she thinks the chances of further injury are slim. And Koji, whose search for meaning can only save others but not himself.

Eiko Ishibashi’s sporadic music dispels the absolute silence at the right moments which is broken only by glances, touches, and conversations. Sweeping tracking shots over the autumnal Japanese backdrop make the characters appear as if in a diorama and their wishes, hopes, and dreams seem small and lonely.

A meta-level flows through the entire film: the story of Uncle Vanya, who is confronted with his life and missteps in the world-famous play by Anton Chekhov. The character of Vanya represents someone who has spent his life working towards something that never became reality. It’s a reflection of time and emotions wasted, a theme that both Yasuke and Misaki grapple with throughout the film as both deeply regret their past relationships.

Drive My Car is adult in the truest sense of the word. Its characters have shed any childishness, any banality, indeed any trace of joie de vivre, and try with their last ounce of strength to maneuver themselves safely through the thicket of painful memories, only to have to admit to themselves at the end that they cannot drive away from the past - not even in a red Saab 900 Turbo.

When We Became the Past

No matter how far away we may find ourselves, in the crowded streets of New York, on the hot coasts of Australia, or under the high ceilings of Berlin’s old apartments, we return home sooner or later. To our city. To a world in which time seems to stand still. And we feel superior. Because no one there dared even come close to what we have achieved.

The streets of the small community are still the same ones we rode down on bikes as kids. Ran down. We know them inside and out. Every nook and cranny, every shortcut. We still dream of the time when these alleys were the veins of our childish existence. And every meter, no, every inch, is tainted with memories that wash over us at just the right moments.

As I walk down the main street on a sunny summer morning, not meeting a soul, my thoughts go wandering. They float up, over the city, and they create a plan. Of the houses. Of the paths. Of the fields. And everywhere marks with souvenirs pop up, which pull me in with a mental touch and play back to me once again what makes me a human being.

When we were twelve, we broke into that trailer and used helium stolen from the fair to turn our voices into those of Mickey Mouse. When we were thirteen, we cried and called the ambulance because Maria had crashed into the fence of the open-air swimming pool while sledding and so much blood was streaming down her face that we had to throw up. When we were sixteen, we sat on the slide of the nearby playground and Paula pulled up her white shirt to insult the neighbor who had tried to beat us up with a shovel the day before, topless and waving her middle fingers around.

When I come to my senses again, I stand on a small bridge a little outside the city. Close to the seemingly abandoned allotment gardens. The sun shines on my face, sweat runs down my forehead, and below me, a small stream makes its way to the next village. I stare into the clear water and suddenly realize an inescapable truth that makes my heart heavy and brings tears to my eyes.

We ruled this place, made it shake, made it tremble. We passed through its gates at night, we kissed, ate, beat, cried, came, shouted, laughed, and drank. Loudly. Energetic. Courageous. So that we may perpetuate ourselves. So that our deeds would still cause murmurs a hundred years from now. So that we could not die, even though we had long since passed away.

Our graffiti faded. Our legends were silenced. Our markings were erased. The generation that wreaks havoc in these streets today has no idea of what took place here years ago. What we risked. Who we touched. How many enemies we made and how many friends accompanied us. It doesn’t matter to them. They don’t care about our names. Our places. Our sorrows. Our songs.

And then we realize that we don’t have a single reason to feel superior. Because we have accomplished nothing. Because nothing lasts. Neither in this place nor anywhere else. And that it doesn’t matter at all how far away we go and what we experience. With whom we experience it. How often and how intensively we experience it. Because at some point, we turn around. And none of it is there anymore.

Our memories only haunt the city as vague shadows. They have no effect, no desire. But they serve as proof that we have been replaced. By young people who consider us irrelevant and write their own legends in the places that served as a backdrop for our memories. And this is neither the first nor the last time.

But this generation will also return to this place someday. And they will stand on that bridge and they will cry and they will become aware of the fact that none of their actions, no matter how rad and passionate and dramatic, will result in eternity. That their youth is a copy of a copy of a copy. And that everything falls apart once they turn around.

All that remains as consolation is the eternal dream of doing something that no one before us has ever done. So we find ourselves in the crowded streets of New York, on the hot coasts of Australia, or under the high ceilings of Berlin’s old apartments. We don’t think of a copied life, we believe in a unique one. That is what makes us strong. It is the only way not to lose our minds.

We go on. We fill the empty legends of our memories with new adventures, images, smells, tastes, and sounds. And maybe next year we can return here again. To our city. To a world where time seems to stand still. And we feel superior. Because no one there dared even come close to what we have achieved.

Art Makes Me Angry

I’m standing in front of a wall. It’s big, bright, and largely empty. Only two framed pictures are hanging on it. I’m trying to look at them as concentrated as possible, but that doesn’t change the fact that just a few stick figures were drawn on the white canvases. They are staring back at me. A sun in the corner, some grass on the ground. Everything’s black and white.

The one next to it doesn’t offer a much more adventurous experience either. The gallery owner is sitting on a wooden chair, quite bored, typing on her iPad. Connoisseurs, patrons, and buyers are buzzing around me. And I want to scream. Art makes me angry!

My friend Julia and I went to Art Week in Berlin. Big and small galleries all over the city offer admission, with a relatively inexpensive ticket, to a kinky world that may otherwise remain hidden to many. So we went to Art Berlin Contemporary, Opernwerkstätten, Kunst-Werke, and Hamburger Bahnhof. Some coffee in between. And my anger, deep inside me, grew stronger and stronger.

I saw everything. Massive blocks of fat on the floor. Fists on ropes. Newspaper clippings behind glass. Brains on a table. Memes printed out on cardboard. I waded through a sea of Justin Bieber posters, and when I looked up, some guy was jerking off another one on an old color TV. I would have loved to grab the nearest gallantly strutting art lover and yell at him: What am I supposed to feel, what am I supposed to think, what the fuck are you guys trying to tell me?! Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!

You have to figure out for yourself what you want art to convey, Julia calmly says as we walk to the next gallery somewhere in Mitte. No one can tell you how to feel. In that very moment, I feel stupid. Just plain stupid. Because in front of every painting, in front of every installation, in front of every sculpture, someone is standing with someone else, and they are talking about what they see there. They discuss, they praise, they criticize.

What the artist was thinking with choosing this color. With this material, with this angle. While there’s a veritable orgy of blood with dead animals, fresh vegetables, and young people dressed in white and dictated by a half-dead fat Austrian going on behind me, I’m standing in front of a picture with stick figures. It costs around 2,000 dollars. Would it be worth it to me if I ripped it off the wall right now and beat up gallery owners, creatives, and collectors with it until someone can give me an answer to the only question I have right now: What?

I love the art world. I love those beautiful people who are better dressed than any Fashion Week attendee. I love the big and bright buildings that were once train stations, workshops, or factories and now serve as a parallel universe to a world torn apart by war, hate, and poverty.

I love the large-format magazines and the old books and the breathy red wine and the intellectual chatter and the absurd prices and the girls armed with burlap bags roaming galleries alone on Sundays, positively brimming with impetuous introversion and buzzing sexuality of a cute student living somewhere in an old apartment in the middle of Kreuzberg who you can fuck only after talking to her for hours while sipping on red wine on a Saturday night. It’s just the art itself I don’t get. But that’s the main point of being here, isn’t it?

Then I feel like a New York Post reading Fox News viewer who votes for something with xenophobia on Sundays and would prefer to rip the balls off child molesters, but at night, when his wrinkled wife is asleep, masturbates to photos of his underage niece.

Anyone who doesn’t appreciate art turns into a junk food eating, lettuce discarding redneck with a Windows PC at home. It’s all artificial. They’d rather watch soccer than go to a museum, prefer fat to carrots, beer to wine, cunts to muses. Too stupid for art, too conventional for beauty.

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I scurry past watercolor paintings, leave wax figures on the left, wander through rooms without sense and reason, but they give me nothing - and that’s all right. Instead, I like striking photographs. But I already knew that before.

I love to observe people observing art. I pick up the vibes of a world that is both absurd and beautiful, that suffers and hopes, whose cuts between poverty and wealth are harsh. I like to get upset about stupid art. Does he want to fuck with me, I say. 2,000 bucks for that shit, I ask myself. That I could create something better in kindergarten, I splurge.

But that’s not what it’s all about. I’m aware of that myself. But I don’t care. I laugh with and about art and all the trash that sells itself as such and therefore is exactly this at the same time. I tell myself that stick figures, Austrians, and Justin Bieber don’t give me anything, but the mere fact that I still think back to what I saw this weekend proves me wrong.

Art makes me angry. Not everyone can say it has that effect on themselves. And even if 99 out of 100 things I see make me angry, they still flood my thoughts, energize me, bring back memories, joy, and... a whole lot of hate. And the few bright lights that cling to me, I pursue them, I stalk them, I want to know everything about them. Why, I ask myself then. How, I ask myself. Where, I ask myself. And I ask myself particularly: What on earth are you trying to tell me?

When the Voice of an Entire Generation Fell Silent

Even today, more or less strangers still ask me by email, letter, and shouting through the open window what happened to AMY&PINK. The portal of good humor. The party ship of Berlin’s newcomers. The voice of a generation that never wanted to grow up, partied for three days in Berghain, and woke up one morning in the ruins of their denial of reality.

Vice’s crude mix of topics has set a precedent, even in the German blog landscape, as Hannah Lühmann once compared us in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to a brain-dead zombie medium, which is on its last leg with embarrassing horoscopes, irrelevant excitement, and paid partner links for vibrators. AMY&PINK, for example, the extremely successful blog by Marcel Winatschek, which is considered the Bild newspaper of hipsters, is one of the epigones. Because it deals intensively with the breasts of various A to F celebrities, albeit in that sloppy gesture copied from Vice between permanent boredom and excitement.

And further: On AMY&PINK readers learn that the consumption of crystal meth will turn them into lazy zombies, and stupid-looking four-legged friends are the true heroes of the night because an American blogger photographs the dogs of strangers walking at night. And they are urged to finally take away the swastika from the Nazis as well as their ugly friends because it is a symbol of love and peace. The blog is read primarily by young urbanites, and its ironic attitude is as much about the overall social situation as it is about the latest YouTube hit.

The reflexive answer to the exceedingly individual question of why AMY&PINK no longer exists is: I don’t know. And that wouldn’t even be a lie. Because I really don’t know. Maybe it just happened that way at some point. Maybe there was no place for it in today’s media world. Maybe things just have to end at some point, before they are artificially kept alive (even longer) for reasons I can’t understand.

AMY&PINK saw the light of day in 2007 as the successor to my then personal blog Tokyopunk, just as I was making my way to Berlin to begin my training as a digital media designer in the field of conception and visualization at Aperto AG. Everything was new, everything was exciting, everything in my life suddenly revolved around the German capital and the motley people scurrying around in it.

I filled my new project with private stories, finds from the internet, and some fresh music videos and found passionate writers like Hannah, Caro, Ines, Misha, Wenke, Sara, Meltem, Jana, Daniela, and Leni to keep taking the site to the next level. AMY&PINK transformed from a small blog to one of the most-read online magazines in the nation.

In the early years of the new decade, AMY&PINK was the digital destination for young rebels, hipsters, and avant-gardists - and those who wanted to be just that, or at least to know what nonsense these chaotic people were up to. We were invited by brands like Mercedes, Microsoft, and Deutsche Telekom to events all over Germany and the world.

New York, Toronto, London. Rome, Shenzhen, Los Angeles. Lisbon, Monaco, Las Vegas. To get drunk with Kendrick Lamar, Tokio Hotel, and Frank Ocean. And all because we wrote weird things on the internet, using swear words all the time, and some people wanted to read just that. And every now and then there were exposed breasts to be seen. Or vomiting girls. Or swastikas made of cocaine. The more provocative, the better.

The press loved and hated us at the same time - just like the readers. AMY&PINK succeeds in shocking, German newspaper Die Welt wrote about us, for example. The only question that remains unanswered: Who are Amy & Pink?, puzzled Süddeutsche Zeitung. Eye candy, Cosmpolitan applauded. Even if the name sounds like girlish fantasies, this blog pleases not only women. At AMY&PINK current (and sometimes very curious) topics of society are described honestly and sincerely. The special thing about it is the fabulously good illustration. Ruthless and refreshingly different.

No writing product on the Internet has been so unerringly successful for a long time, Les Mads praised us. A grin while reading is guaranteed, said Uberding. The high quota of naked women makes AMY&PINK reminiscent of the blog-turned-schoolgirl report of the 21st century, The Stiller described us. The classic. Because: good mixture, variety of topics, diversified. You just have to like it, Indigoidian wrote.

When I once shared a cab in Kreuzberg with a Swiss student standing randomly by the side of the road and she asked me what I was doing, she got wide-eyed at my answer: AMY&PINK, I know that, I read that every day! And the guy who was checking the press tickets at Melt Festival, when he looked at it, just said: AMY&PINK? Isn’t that that boob magazine? Even in Prague, a girl at a party knew the site. I loved these chance encounters.

AMY&PINK, like probably no other German blog, offers the raw material for bored teenagers who have grown up in their filter bubble of iPhone, Facebook, Buzzfeed, but also Miley Cyrus and Youporn, Nils Jacobsen tried to describe us at Meedia. The world of AMY&PINK is not so much about the girls themselves, but about the girls in the male imagination, who are given an inexhaustible arsenal in the social media age. It’s a world of fast, always available sex, even if it’s not available in real life - after all, YouPorn is always available.

And continuing: It’s a viral world that traditional media have completely slept through - and even the mouthpiece of the somewhat more sophisticated younger generation - NEON - often only touches on. Most recently, the G+J magazine boldly tackled the taboo subject of masturbation - whereas AMY&PINK provides direct templates. The up-and-coming writers can work off the scandals that happen in the pop world every day.

As trashy, calculated, and linguistically limited as the Berlin blog often comes across, its directness is more in tune with the zeitgeist of the younger social media generation, who now spend their time on YouPorn and BuzzFeed than on Playboy or Spiegel Online, Nils continues.

And: The zeitgeist has changed creepingly but radically in recent years. For those in their early twenties, it’s: porn is okay. Fast sex is okay. Sasha Grey and Miley Cyrus are their protagonists - not the Eurovision Song Contest and Lena. AMY&PINK is the most consistent shorthand of the new pornographic Internet age: Everyone can see everything today - and everyone sees everything today. And Marcel Winatschek is the blogging pimp of the Miley Cyrus generation, always feeding the 18-year-olds new fodder - written by those same 18-year-olds.

The problem, unfortunately, became that I continuously maneuvered AMY&PINK into a spiral of What the Fucks, from which I soon couldn’t get the site out. While in the beginning, everything was funny, ironic, and over the top, at some point a completely far-fetched professionalization of the content took hold. On the one hand, we had to be more blatant than everyone else to keep readers interested, on the other hand, advertisers demanded less exposed private parts on the front page.

In addition, the Wild West days of the Internet were over by the mid-2000s. Any pictorial content that had not been contractually approved by the author, rights holders, and, preferably, three to twelve additional lawyers, was not allowed to be published. The site lost its visual bite because everything consisted of official press photos, the texts became more and more absurd and unrealistic, AMY&PINK turned from a shining rock star into a washed-up lunatic who slurred loudly to strangers on the street that he was still cool - really, I swear, you, burp, stupid cunts!

Long before I suddenly found myself somehow in the shop window of the digital world through Twitter, I liked AMY&PINK, Marie von der Benken told Netzwirtschaft. But when Hannah Maria Paffen was still there. I was very young and hoped for castings at Fashion Week. And she was allowed to go there as a blogger. At that time, I had as much idea about bloggers as Boris Becker had about serious liquidity planning and thought they were primarily spoiled brats who spent too much money on brand-name clothes in which they then photographed themselves.

Furthermore: Hannah, on the other hand, was honestly overwhelmed by the fact that a company wanted to fly her to Berlin to see a fashion show and I started reading all her texts. That must have been around 2007. At some point, she left and AMY&PINK became the Stefan Effenberg of coming-of-age blogs. Once world-class, but today you wish someone would tell him once in a while: just stay at home and enjoy the thoughts of the good old times.

With the departures of the authors of AMY&PINK also disappeared the variety of voices, which for a long time provided the content balance on the site. For every photo series about fucking teenagers, there was an intimate text about heartbreak before it decayed, for every LSD-soaked music video an amusing travelogue, for every bizarre inanity a story about the small and big experiences of those who had chosen AMY&PINK as the medium to digitally realize themselves there. After all, they could have published their texts in NEON, VICE, or the local paper in Buxtehude. But at some point, all they got were empty shock articles. The aim was to attract attention at all costs when no one had been interested for a long time.

I tried to save AMY&PINK. Really. Not God is my witness, but Hannah, without whom I would possibly have drowned in my madness long ago. The poor thing had to listen to the drama every day, for years. There must be something we can do with it!, That can’t be the end!, and Maybe we should try it again in English? I was caught in an eternal cycle of brooding, doubting, and trying things out.

If I were even a touch as cool as I’ve always pretended to be in my countless articles, I should have doused AMY&PINK with gasoline years ago, set it on fire, and let it explode behind me in cinematic slow motion as I walked crazily smiling toward the camera. But I’m not cool. And I can’t let go that easily either. After all, visitor numbers continued to be quite good, the content I’d been building for years was being diligently clicked, and any SEO expert would have been happy to see such metrics.

But in the end, I put way too much time into saving AMY&PINK that I should have rather invested in important things. Getting a real job, for example. Having children, planting trees, building houses, I don’t know. Only to admit to myself at some point that it’s not going to work out with AMY&PINK. Not because the website itself didn’t work anymore, but because I had outgrown the whole thing and it was finally time to say goodbye. AMY&PINK had been fun for me at some point and now it wasn’t anymore. And no click numbers in this world could change this feeling.

So one fine morning I sat down in front of my laptop with a hot coffee, made a backup of the site, and then purged the server. And I felt nothing. Nothing at all. I was just empty inside. AMY&PINK was dead. And I didn’t care. I finished my coffee, got up, and went for a walk.

Even today, more or less strangers still ask me by email, letter, and shouting through the open window what happened to AMY&PINK. The portal of good humor. The party ship of Berlin’s newcomers. The voice of a generation that never wanted to grow up, partied for three days in Berghain, and woke up one morning in the ruins of its denial of reality.

The reflexive answer to the exceedingly individual question of why AMY&PINK no longer exists is: Because I didn’t enjoy it anymore. And it took me a long time to admit to myself that this reason alone was enough to end it, even though logic said otherwise.

Instead, I now have my own little blog again, which I can fill with content that really interests me, and where it doesn’t matter if I’m the only one reading or liking it. Here, it doesn’t matter if I write about my current favorite Japanese band or publish a short story about a city at the end of the world. I may even post an article or two from AMY&PINK over here if I think it would fit quite well. After all, why not? I can now do whatever I want (again). Hooray.

I’ve learned a lot from AMY&PINK and the people who even had anything to do with it. But now it’s time to let it rest and start something new. After all, the world out there is huge and the possibilities to find happiness are limitless. You just have to have the courage to let go, to reach out to the unknown and let it lead you to new adventures - before it’s finally too late.

Germany Is Fucked

If this is Germany, I don’t want anything more to do with this nation, I think to myself as, for the twelfth time in a row, the annoying Telekom commercial for a concert featuring pop singer Mark Forster comes on. All I wanted to do was watch Pamela Reif’s latest fitness video on YouTube - for reasons that have as little to do with health, sport, and proper nutrition as the double-stretched dürüm kebab, extra hot, and with cheese on top, which I shove into my wide-open mouth as far as humanly possible.

Nazis, conspiracy theorists, and coughing vaccination opponents are not yet bad enough to finally turn my back on this nation, but Mark Forster, no, that’s not possible at all, shakes me deep inside. Even a daring jump out of the open kitchen window becomes more attractive with each additional beat, with each word.

Mark Forster’s music, if you want to call it that, is artistically right up there with cottage cheese and chives. The only thing that’s more boring is driving the waste paper to the local recycling center, looking for a parking space, getting out, opening the trunk, unloading the bundle of yellowed newspapers, magazines, and porn magazines and then throwing them into the correct container before exchanging two or three sentences about the weather with the local city employee. Although I would like to have a scientific basis for this claim before I commit myself to it.

If anyone out there asks me why German pop culture isn’t remotely as successful as the American, British, and even South Korean, then I show them 194 Länder by Mark Forster and they understand the suffering, the powerlessness, and the creative dystopia that this, well, machination exudes.

Their gaze drops, a brief nod, a heavy sigh, before they flee back into artistic civilization with their Kendrick Lamar, Dua Lipa, and BTS records under their arms - the main thing is to get away from here, this black hole of media diversity, as quickly as possible. With Mark Forster you feel as if your uncle touches you indecently in the crotch, while he whispers softly: You are great! into your ear. And you ask yourself: Is this still abuse or already the new normality?

Ever since I learned my first three English words, dog, tree, and cock-cum-cunt, I’ve wanted to turn my back on Germany. Inspiration radiates from the West, from the East, from the North, and from the South, but one thing is for sure: it’s not here. Here’s only brown bread, RTL, and Mark Forster. But the further away I go, the stronger my urge for home throbs.

And by home, I certainly don’t mean values, pride, or slogans. For me, home is the techno CD of the Smurfs, it’s the poorly dubbed anime on RTL 2, and it’s being snapped at by both the next customer and the impatient cashier at McDonald’s because you had a brave day and wanted to know what kind of white sauce is on the rancid Big Mac.

In Germany, nothing - absolutely nothing - is cool. Movies, series, the vanilla I-fuck-your-mom-hip-hop. Even Mongolian YouTubers are probably more interesting than what has independently bred within our borders on this platform continuously dubbed as forward-looking from a pool of now completely irrelevant amateur comedians and is now first feared and then celebrated by an entire generation of media creators, almost as if they were suffering from digital Stockholm syndrome.

Rezo says something about the incumbent chancellor and is then dragged through every talk show with more than five viewers who are still alive at first glance, because he is the politically and socially critical voice of the youth. After all, there can only be one of them. The ZDF viewers, who are slowly rotting away, can’t remember more than that. The guy with the blue hair, that’ll have to do. Wasn’t there another one who wanted to save the climate? Oh, never mind. I don’t even want to get started on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, because everyone who has spent more than three minutes on the Internet hates those services - and rightly so.

You can see in every single second that German actors would rather be on the theater stage than getting shot down here for the twelve-thousandth Tatort. But what can you do? ARD pays better than the vaudeville theatre in Buxtehude. People have been ranting about German television ever since it was created, including and especially the people who make it. To say another word about it would be like beating the proverbial dead horse, spitting on it, and then letting a stupidly grinning TikToker dance over it.

Incidentally, with this digital-critical comment I just want to prove that at the beginning of the year I learned which new, hip social app 12- to 12-and-a-half—year-olds are using these days to fidget around half-naked in their Ikea-furniture-cluttered kids’ rooms for their 15 seconds of fame. By early next year, it’ll be a different app. This is, after all, the unstoppable cycle of social media.

By the way: Pretending to be only marginally concerned with the advancing evolution of the digital revolution instead of admitting that you’re just too old, too fat, and too ugly to make it on these new platforms and therefore crying yourself to sleep night after night with a bucket full of chocolate ice cream in your arms is just as sad, as publicly blurting out over and over again that you don’t own a TV, have deleted Facebook, or will be baking bread yourself from now on because that’s what you’ve always wanted to do. For whatever reason.

People who bake bread at home are the ones who meanwhile play Mark Forster’s new album, listen to his pseudo-wise words, feel, bob along. Man, when will I finally see you? I’ll send you a heart in red! Wow, so romantic, Mark. Some things come and go and never come back, and that makes it worth even more! Wow, so profound, Mark. I say goodbye to the old life, monkey dead, shut up, like the kids in India, I make a shoe! Wow, so... um... okay, that’s too high even for me.

I’d like to tell the people who voluntarily listen to a complete album by Mark Forster, from front to back, who nod their heads in agreement at his concerts, who snuggle up to their boyfriend or girlfriend and finally feel thoroughly understood, who sing along with philosophical perfections like We are forever, forever, from now until the end, I'm not going away, never ever, I'm with you, if who is looking for me! and mean it, look deep into their eyes, directly into their head, and really, honestly understand what fatal decisions they have made in their life, to stand now, here, in front of this stage, and listen to the lulling wisdom of Mark Forster, instead of literally experiencing anything else.

They could have, literally, done anything else on this planet and beyond, but no, they made a conscious decision to buy tickets over the Internet, get in a car with three or four friends, drive to Deutsches Eck in Koblenz, to listen to songs like Übermorgen, Chöre, and Wir sind groß for two hours, and to like it, and afterwards to buy a tour T-shirt and a poster, so that all remaining friends, colleagues, and acquaintances would know that they were with Mark Forster. And instead of being ashamed of it, they are proud of it.

On the whole, it is exactly this average attitude of bank employees who fly to Mallorca every year for a week, and if they are foolhardy, even to Thailand, that contributes to the fact that German pop culture can no longer be saved. And I’m not talking about the mainstream or that only those who listen to psychedelic 70s underground rap metal from Finland are great people, because that’s the only thing that makes the meaning of life clear to you.

Mark Forster, just like Helene Fischer and Andrea Berg before him, is the absolute zero of those who have never looked even a millimeter outside the cultural box in their lives. Who let their musical tastes be dictated to them by Spotify, Antenne Bayern, and the culture section of grandma’s TV guide, who have absorbed into their shallow personalities the first thing that’s been thrown at them: some harmless pop rock hit crap that scrapes so close to the creative flatline that even the busy signal on the phone is more exciting.

If you can listen to the radio for an hour straight in the afternoon, from one newscast to the next, without going completely insane, without feeling the urge slowly rising inside you to rip the receiver out of the car or throw it out of the open-plan office you’ve somehow ended up in, then you know, that your life is wasted, that you will never create or achieve anything meaningful, that you are walking the same path that millions have walked before you, without even once thinking that maybe you don’t always have to walk straight ahead, but could take advantage of one of the countless forks in the road.

But that would be far too risky, who knows what awaits you there. So you’d rather keep listening to Mark Forster, whom you only meet if you’ve never taken even a hint of a risk in your pitiful existence, and have long since gotten used to this indecent touch somewhere deep in your soul drowning in mediocrity. Or as Mark philosophically adeptly puts it: There goes a bus.

Songs From Another World

When I finally got my driver’s license in my early 20s and drove my mother’s bright red Seat Ibiza through the streets of my hometown, which was buttoned up to the top, crisscrossing back and forth, there was no hip hop, no techno, and no Britney Spears blaring from my speakers. No. It was the then-new single by a Japanese pop musician.

Kumi Koda was her name. Butterfly was the song. My girlfriend at the time, sitting huddled in the passenger seat, was ashamed of me as we drove past the local ice cream parlor, the school, and the outdoor pool. With Butterfly at full volume. The fact that she let me touch her after that should rank as one of the most mysterious wonders of the world in human history.

Of course, it makes absolutely no sense that I listen to Japanese music. I’m not Japanese, and I don’t know Japanese. No matter how much I sometimes wish that I did and how many Japanese lessons I have had to endure. And believe me, there were quite a few.

My teachers despaired of me. Greetings go out to Mr. Hasegawa, Ms. Takeda, and Mr. Sugimoto. To Ms. Ikeda, Ms. Takahashi, and Ms. Watanabe. To Mr. Fujiwara, to Mr. Noguchi, and to Ms. Yokoyama. To Ms. Ota, to Ms. Sato, and to Mr. Suzuki. And to Mrs. Maier-Dümpfelstetter.

After about 20 years and countless Japanese courses, I can count to seven on a good day, distinguish kokoro for heart from kodomo for children, and shout out a loud Hajimemashite, watashi wa Maruseru desu! for Hello, my name is Marcel! That’s it. Really.

You’d think that after all the Japanese anime, comics, series, movies, concerts, books, dramas, video games, and what felt like hundreds of thousands of songs, I’d be able to do a little more. But no. Even for my great love, the popular culture of Japan, I’m still too lazy to learn Japanese in all seriousness.

But maybe that’s not even wrong. I have met enough students in Japanology who wanted to turn their hobby into their vocation and, with every freshly learned word, had less desire to consume anything Japanese. Maybe because then you realize that Japan is just a normal country with problems, boredom, and a relatively average entertainment industry. Like Germany. Or America. Or Romania.

Hundreds of Japanese wouldn’t throw themselves off strategically well placed bridges, skyscrapers, and train stations every year if the nation in the far, far East was as great as it was portrayed in K-On!. And that’s despite the fact that the series is virtually an all-around credible documentary about the everyday school life of young adolescents in the Land of the Rising Sun.

But I don’t get anything out of that due to my complete mental blockade to even absorb any further meaning of a Japanese word into my brain. To me, everything in Japanese sounds great. Everything is wonderful. There’s something magical about every little thing.

If Jacques from some Parisian suburb immediately makes you wet just because he asks you in the worst French accent for directions to the nearest public toilet, then Japanese has just that effect on me. What are you saying, little Japanese girl? Your dog has warts on his balls? Kawaii!

I’m that typical fat vanilla nerd, always a little too close to his first heart attack, who thinks Japan is the Mecca of evolutionary creativity and celebrates everything with even one Japanese character on it, even though he couldn’t even tell it apart from a Chinese one, on a unnaturally high level of obsession.

Soon I’ll cover myself in cuddly pillows with childish-looking, half-dressed waifus, who are, of course, millennial old vampire queens, on them. Only eat rice drizzled with sake. And officially change my name to Marcel-san.

When musical gods like Hikaru Utada, Scandal, and Asian Kung-Fu Generation bang, roar, and strum the keys, strings, and microphones, I don’t hear hackneyed lyrics about love, pain, or freedom. I hear the pulse of Tokyo. The vibration of Osaka. The voice of Kyoto. And sometimes the fart of Düsseldorf.

With songs like First Love, Secret Base, and Rewrite, I can rhyme together own stories in my head. Imagine my own personal closing credits. Fantasize my life on the other side of the world. J-pop exudes the same kind of magic you had as a German kid, listening to English-language songs on the radio and not yet having to understand what bullshit was being sung about in them. Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby? Uh, no thanks, I’d rather not.

Of course, I could look up the translations of these very songs on the Internet. But that would be very stupid. Then I would know that my creative heroes that I listen to, since a Japanese song was on some Sailor Moon soundtrack CD that has made my taste so, let’s call it, alternative, forever, also only give the same, with pop rock underlined brain shit from themselves, like Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and Ed Sheeran. And then I might as well hang myself.

Nevertheless, I would claim, at this point, that J-pop is the best music genre humanity has ever produced. Jazz is dead. Hip hop is grumbling. Even K-pop, which is celebrated absolutely everywhere, can only be colorful and nothing else.

Japanese pop music, on the other hand, is melodic, emotional, and has an intangible power that can otherwise only be experienced by accidentally standing between sweaty weebs armed with two to seven Canon SLR cameras and a sixteen-year-old girl dressed as Rem from Re:Zero at an anime convention.

Because if you don’t have to pay attention to the lyrics but only to the musical performance as a whole, only then you notice what refinement, skill, and sonorous perfection many Japanese artists put into their completely authentic work. And I can justifiably claim, identify, and evaluate that. After all, I studied music history for 63 years at Moon University.

But it’s possible that J-pop just broke me. Because they like to mix and stir eight different musical genres, three orchestras, and a singer screaming at the top of her lungs, and turn up the volume to 11 in their barely four-minute songs. So that you might think the universe is about to explode while God dies and the Keio Girls Senior High School choir cries in the background.

J-pop, these are the anthems of my own little screwed up world. The Japanese music industry doesn’t care if I listen to their songs. Adore the stars. Watch the music videos. They don’t market to me through TV commercials, radio slots, and newsletters. I don’t exist for them. I can make up their meaning on my own. I don’t have to know anything of their scandals, problems, or rumors.

J-pop, it’s a huge personal playlist. Just for me. Because everyone else thinks the songs suck. Whose emotional range has something ready for all my life situations. I can dance to it. Laugh. Cry. Whether they remind me of a sad anime episode, the stirring background music in video games, or my first minutes at Narita Airport, stepping through the Welcome to Japan banner into a world of cultural, technological, and human wonder. J-pop is always there for me, satisfying a little bit of the wanderlust that I feel in my small, perpetually annoyed, and bored heart.

Of course, J-pop is not cool. Even Japanese people don’t think J-pop is cool. Once I mentioned that I liked AKB48 at a picnic in Yoyogi Park, I was allowed to spend the rest of my Japan trip alone. Because apparently state TV ran a report about me repeated every full hour, in which they warned the population about me and said you’d better stay away from me. A gaijin who is into AKB48 and admits it publicly? When you see this walking hentai, drop everything, including your kids and pets, and run for your naked life!

Cool Japanese people like Swedish indie bands, American rappers, and British DJs. But definitely not a bunch of pasted-up Yukis from next door who greasy pimp managers threw together into a so-called band, and now bounce up and down and back and forth to poppy dance music until something inside them breaks.

Because they realize that only overweight middle-aged office workers want to party and mount them at the same time. And they are subsequently replaced by younger models after their crisis of purpose, often accompanied by shaving off their hair and crying in front of TV cameras. Then again, that’s probably how it is throughout the entertainment industry. Everywhere. All over the world.

And if you look at interviews of Japanese bands and musicians, there’s no pride to be seen in what they’ve created. No arrogance. Not even a hint of self-confidence, but rather the exact opposite. A collective apology for being responsible for such noise, which is also falsely dubbed and sold as music by record companies. As if they should be ashamed for following their dream. Instead of taking over their fathers’ cement factories, as true Japanese should do. After all, they brought shame on Otosan. Shame!

Not even they themselves seem to like J-pop. For whatever reason. But maybe that’s just the Japanese politeness that is clichédly admired and celebrated in every travel documentary. They are very shy. The Japanese. All Japanese. There are no exceptions. Every child knows that. But maybe I’m just weird. Well, not in a cool sense. Oh God, definitely not in a cool sense. But rather in a sense of: Should we admit him to the next nuthouse right away or wait another two weeks?

If I hear even one bar of any Katy Perry memorial theme on the radio, I want to mutate into a mass murderer on the spot. But place me down in front of a ten-hour long The Best Anime Theme Songs from 1980 to Today YouTube video at full volume and I’ll starve and die of thirst at the same time because I just can’t turn it off. A Cruel Angel’s Thesis simply is a banger to die for.

I’m fully aware that with this revelation, I have lost any chance of future sexual intercourse. But I can’t pretend to like people like Billie Eilish, Lizzo, or Lil Nas X anymore. It just doesn’t work. Their songs. Their stories. Their thoughts. They don’t mean anything to me. Nothing.

Instead, I sit here, close my eyes, and listen to Perfume, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and Babymetal with pleasure. As they confidently sing about sekai, dokidoki, and hanabi. And I’m happy. Truly happy. Although, or maybe even because, I don’t understand a single word.

The Transience of Written Words

This blog has changed again and again over the past years. From the little diary of a Bavarian media designer to the story collection of creative minds spread all over Germany. From the bible of Berlin nightlife to the tabloid newspaper for hipsters. From a digital news site to a never-sleeping ticker of viral happenings. Until at some point, I was faced with a sheer monstrosity of false expectations and hopeless prospects. This website wanted to be everything but collapsed from not being able to do anything right. For a variety of reasons.

I had forgotten what this blog was really about and wanted to stay relevant at all costs. In this fast-paced media world. With my eyes forward, there was only one choice: Keeping up. Keeping up with the news. Keeping up with the trends. Keeping up with the loud and shiny and flashing. I was Marcel Winatschek, bitch, I had to be even more extreme than everyone else.

At some point, I was just blindly churning out news, lookbooks, gossip, YouTube videos, shitstorms, and boobs in a completely irrelevant mix. The main goal was that something was happening. Whether I liked it or not, it didn’t even matter anymore. Stand out at any price. Fake it till you make it. The future could only get better. But it didn’t.

I was breaking up a fight I could neither win nor even wanted to. The blog had filled to bursting point with nonsense and bullshit. Which, of course, I didn’t want to admit, while everyone else was already shaking their heads. It had to be harder, better, faster, stronger. Standing out at any possible price.

Every single year I had some kind of relaunch. Every single year the same promise, packed into a pseudo-epic article, that now everything would be the same as it used to be. That I finally understood what I really wanted. That my website would finally be good again.

But I broke this promise again and again. Because the world around me kept getting louder, shinier, and flashier and I couldn’t stop the merry-go-round I was on until my bad metaphors blew up in my face and the blog broke under the weight of verbal and illustrated crap.

By the end, all I wanted was for it to be over. I was on the verge of deleting the site, the archives, and all the files. My blog had failed. I wanted world domination. But what I got was a glimpse into the absolute void of what could have been a bright future that I had ruined for myself. There was nothing left of all the fun, the expectations, the hope.

One last night, soaked in cheap wine from the convenience store, I rummaged through the old texts. The ones I had published when blogs were just getting big. When life was still a game. When all seemed right with the world. The ones that had long since been lost in digital nirvana and pounded with a cement block of meaninglessness. I read them. And they were good. Those ten-year-old lyrics about love, dreams, and the expectations of an entire generation, they were good. Just good.

These texts were better than most of what I had published in the past few years. All the fast-moving dramas, rumors, and doings of some walking, breathing attention deficits. All the digital constructs of a money-grubbing industry whose little cogs had long since been ravaged by burnouts and depression. All the never-ending news of a world that seemed to spin a little faster with each passing day. They were already obsolete the moment I wrote about them. Wasted words with no mind. Without resonance. Without weight.

I realized that there was only one way to save my blog. And that was to do the exact opposite of what I saw as my task in the past years. To get off this metaphorically still incredibly stupid merry-go-round, which today almost seems to take off with speed, to look at it from a safe distance, and to go my own way, with my own definition of time.

What does that mean again? I want the writing that appears on this blog to be relevant not just in the next ten minutes, but in the next ten years. Someone in the far distant future, when hoverboards really can hover and we fly to some kind of space spring break over the weekend, should read them and think to themselves: this speaks from my soul. It inspires me to try something new. I should show this to those I like and love. Because its contentual quality is timeless.

Of course, no sentence is for eternity. Texts written from the heart are always snapshots. A portrait of the time in which they were written. But a Youth Is Wasted on Youth has a different half-life than a Miley Cyrus Pissed on the Floor Again. Although the second has also somehow its charm. For one or the other.

So what does this mean for this blog now? I want the site to be a motley grab bag of surprises again, with something nice for everyone. No matter if you want to read a review of an anime dripping with fascination or an ode to my new favorite author. Whether it’s the amorous introduction of a sublime singer or the painful memories of a time long gone. Whether you just want to look at some enchanting images or witness an epic story in the shallows of New York, Berlin, or Tokyo.

It’s important to me that the articles that appear on this blog from now on are so great, so beautiful, so worth reading, that they will still be relevant in one, in two, in five, yes, maybe even in ten years, without losing the rough edges for which the site is known. Cowboy Bebop will still have a cult following a decade from now. Haruki Murakami’s books will still be important a decade from now. Texts about heartbreak will still inspire people in a decade to take control of their lives again - or at least to sink a little more beautifully into self-pity.

To make a fresh start, I completely archived my blog, wiped the server, and just started all over again with a fresh design. Bit by bit I will now select old articles, revise, correct, smooth, and re-illustrate them and then publish them again. But of course, I will also regularly add new content and mix it in, so that there is always something exciting to discover. With each dawning day, my blog shall grow a little bit more. Slowly, steadily, and with joy.

The irony of this text lies, of course, in two points. First, it’s basically just another one of those repetitive pseudo-epic texts that praise the resurrection of my blog and swear on high and holy that everything will now go back to the way it used to be. After all, that’s how it always worked so far. Secondly, it denounces the transience of words and is itself one of the texts that, for content reasons, will lose relevance in no time.

I simply want my blog to once again become a small, peaceful garden amid an unmanageable digital jungle full of nonsense. Where everyone has fun, no matter if they want to indulge in the profoundly formulated transience of being or just marvel at a few pretty words about even prettier adventures. Everybody is welcome to look around and take the thoughts and opinions with them that they think are important, right, or simply amusing. In any case, I would be happy if I could continue to accompany you as a reader a little bit on your turbulent life, entertain, and inspire - doing it my way.