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“Berlin Calling” Book Launch Party and Discussion

The American, Berlin-based author Paul Hockenos will present his latest book Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall and the Birth of the New Berlin (The New Press) at Urban Spree Galerie on June 17, 2017.

An exhilarating journey through the subcultures, occupied squats, and late-night scenes in the anarchic first few years of Berlin after the fall of the wall Berlin Calling is a gripping account of the 1989 “peaceful revolution” in East Germany that upended communism and the tumultuous years of artistic ferment, political improvisation, and pirate utopias that followed. It’s the story of a newly undivided Berlin when protest and punk rock, bohemia and direct democracy, techno and free theater were the order of the day.

In a story stocked with fascinating characters from Berlin’s highly politicized undergrounds—including playwright Heiner Müller, cult figure Blixa Bargeld of the industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, the internationally known French Wall artist Thierry Noir, the American multimedia artist Danielle de Picciotto (founder of Love Parade), and David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust incarnation—Hockenos argues that the DIY energy and raw urban vibe of the early 1990s shaped the new Berlin and still pulses through the city today.

Just as Mike Davis captured Los Angeles in his City of Quartz, Berlin Calling is a unique account of how Berlin became hip, and of why it continues to attract creative types from the world over.

Paul Hockenos is an American journalist and author who writes for The Nation, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Foreign Policy, the New York Times, and many other media outlets. He has held prize fellowships with the American Academy in Berlin, the European Journalism College, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is the author of three books, including Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic, and lives in Berlin.

“Can unruly artists change the world? Or do they just provide the soundtrack to history? The Berlin of the 1980s is famous for two things: a wild counterculture and the surprising end of the Cold War. Paul Hockenos, who knows the city inside out, brings them together in a fast-paced, sometimes astonishing story of underground clubs, squatters, and dissidents.” Brian Ladd, author of The Ghosts of Berlin.

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