Friday, 24 October 2008

Uses of bad translation #17: sensationalist reporting

The English-language press is all abuzz right now with scandalous headlines out of Austria:

Far-right Austrian leader Joerg Haider was my gay lover, reveals his successor

Haider's deputy reveals gay affair

Leader says Haider was his lover

Ooh,  how very exciting and shocking.  Apparently Haider's deputy and designated successor Stefan Petzner told an Austrian radio interviewer that Jörg Haider  (the most charismatic of Europe's extreme right politicians, who accidentally killed himself in a car crash a week ago)  was "the man of my life".

Naturally I turned immediately to the German-language press,  expecting it to be absolutely overflowing with feverish coverage of such a salacious tale.  Strangely enough however I could hardly find anything.  The German press,  if they mentioned it at all,  treated it as a very minor aspect of the larger Haider-death-and-aftermath story  -  a typical example is this article in Der Tagesspiegel,  which mentions Petzner's remarks in a couple of paragraphs right at the end,  calling them "supposedly homoerotic statements"  (angeblich homoerotische Äußerungen).

Huh??  Saying that Haider was "the man of my life" is a bit more than "supposedly homoerotic",  I would have thought.  What gives?

Bad translation,  that's what.

Turns out that what Petzner actually said was that Haider was his "Lebensmensch".  Lots of high-ranking figures in Haider's party have been using this term to refer to their dearly departed leader,  and while there is speculation about the homoerotic bonds between Haider and his circle of young male adjutants,  they were not likely to have all been his lover.  Petzner probably was,  but it's not the words he used which revealed it so much as his tearful and emotional behaviour in general.  He was in fact at pains to avoid saying anything unequivocal about the precise nature of his relationship with Haider,  and the Austrian media is still too constrained by notions of decency to have hounded him about it.  (The fact that Haider had a male lover was in itself not shocking because rumours about his sexuality have apparently been quietly circulating in Austria for a decade  -  exciting little interest because the homosexual minority was one of the few Haider did not attack,  and no one else was very concerned about it,  apparently not even his wife.)

So what does Lebensmensch really mean?  Interestingly, many Germans themselves seem to be unclear on this point,  as the word is quite obscure.  In the way it was used in Haider's circle,  it has at least two dimensions:  it can mean someone who plays a vital role in your life,  and it can refer to a life partner,  i.e.  a person with whom you share your life,  either as a very close friend or as a lover.  So quite a lot of room for ambiguity there,  and the words Petzner used were certainly not tantamount to declaring that you've been shagging the guy for years.

This is even clearer when you listen to the interview that the reports all refer to.  The relevant bit comes about 8 mins in  (just after 25:40 on the site's countdown clock).  The interviewer says that Petzner said at a press conference that Haider was  "so important for you,  a Lebensmensch,  and  -  in your words  -  'I loved him'.  How would you describe this relationship between you?  Everyone has the feeling that this was quite a special relationship".  You can see where she's going with that,  but she's not so rude as to be completely direct about it,  and he isn't going to be either.  Note also the use of the indefinite article with Lebensmensch:  she allows the interpretation that Haider was potentially just one of many important people in Petzner's life.  He then says that he got "Lebensmensch" from Haider,  that Haider had often said to him  "you are my Lebensmensch"  and that  "he and I know what is meant by that and that should remain just between the two of us"  ("er und ich wissen, was damit gemeint ist und das soll auch zwischen uns bleiben").

That's as explicit as it gets.  Barely enough to raise an eyebrow.  But it's nothing bad translation can't fix.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

"An encounter with a guy who's a plumber"

Possibly the finest moment of Jon Stewart's Daily Show in the US presidential campaign thus far:  their take on the media blitz on  "Joe the Plumber"  following the third presidential debate.  An example in miniature of what happens to anyone whose head pops up above the political parapet these days.
(The relevant bit starts at the 5 min mark of the first clip;  the media-related stuff begins at the 7 min mark and continues into the second clip)

"Why are we vetting THIS guy??  He's already done more interviews than Sarah Palin!"

Friday, 10 October 2008

The troubling mind of Sarah Palin

A fascinating article in the Guardian yesterday casts an intriguing new light on the Republicans'  vice-presidential candidate in the coming US election.  Admittedly it's just one article and the author is almost certainly writing from a position of left-wing bias,  but it nonetheless rings true with everything I've so far seen from Sarah Palin,  especially in the interviews,  the convention speech,  and the debate.  It all seems to fall into place now.  And the result is an even more disturbing picture than the one we already thought we were seeing.  A montage of quotes from the piece to illustrate:

Lyda Green,  Republican president of the state senate,  speaks for many in the party in Alaska when she says Palin has been "disappointingly liberal" since she was elected governor.

Larry Persily,  a senior civil servant who has worked for three Alaskan governors and is a former associate director of Palin's office in Washington, says:  "She was just not interested.  She had no interest in public policy beyond the populist drive to raise oil taxes and push through ethics reforms that the Democrats had already drafted."

Rebecca Braun,  editor of Alaska Budget Report,  a non-aligned political newsletter,  adds:  "If she hasn't pushed the teaching of creationism in schools,  it's because she hasn't pushed the teaching of anything in schools.  She hasn't promoted her rightwing views because she hasn't promoted any views at all.  She really hasn't done very much."

Laura Chase,  who managed Palin's campaign,  recalls her not as doctrinaire but as seriously ambitious.  "We were sitting at my kitchen table at about 11 o'clock one night,  talking about term times,  and she said:  'If I haven't moved on to higher things after two terms,  I don't deserve to be in politics.'  I said:  'Sarah, you'll be governor in 10 years.'  And she said:  'I don't want to be governor,  I want to be president.'  I glanced up and she was looking down at a piece of paper,  she was on to the next thing we were doing.  I just chalked it up to the adrenaline of the campaign."

"She's really pretty insecure.

"She likes being in the limelight,  being the centre of attention.  What she really craves is popularity,  she wants the warmth and love of the public."  Laura Chase says Palin has an uncanny ability to be all things to all people.  "She can walk up to people and quickly have a perception of what they want her to be,  and she will instantly be that person."

"She draws on something inside herself to make them like her.  She's a natural actress.  And then she wants to do it again,  with even more people.  She's a brilliant politician,  but it's all about getting more and more people to love her."

Now, I can sympathise to some degree with Palin's desire to be liked and her chameleon-like attempts to be everything to everyone.  I'm prey to similar insecurities and I tend to do the same sort of thing  (albeit with less success).  But Sarah,  well,  she takes it a good few steps further.

It would seem,  in fact,  that this woman is doing nothing less than trying to seize control of the most powerful country on earth for ultimately no purpose other than her own personal need for approval.

Breathtaking though that is,  it does seem to make sense.  And that,  viewed together with her relentless ambition and her undeniable charisma,  rather freaks the hell out of me.  Sure,  she probably won't get into the White House this time.  But she's still relatively young,  and the Republicans have a recent history of favouring populist charismatic candidates with highly dubious qualifications.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if she comes back in a few years,  older and wiser and even scarier.

Now I know what "generation gap" means

Overheard in the locker room of the local pool - three seven-year-old boys talking while towelling themselves dry:

"Hey, we all have team towels"
[exchange of observations on which teams they have]

Oh how cute,  they all have team towels.  Of course they do,  they're Melbournians,  every man,  woman and child here seems to have a full wardrobe of items in the colours of their favourite football team.

"I like mine because it has my favourite font on it.  Comic Sans MS."


Well Ma,  I'll be danged,  the boy has a favourite font.  Why,  gosh be darned,  when I was his age,  I don't think I knew what a font even dang well was.  'Course, back in them days,  we was still scratching our wordifyin's on bits of slate,  wasn't we.

I am feeling so very twentieth century right now.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Metaphysical typo

It's unusual for a typographical error to make you take a moment,  sit back and ponder life's mysteries.  Well to be honest it's never happened to me at all.  Until today,  that is.  And I have the online version of Melbourne's The Age to thank.  They just ran a story reporting the sudden and unexpected death by stroke of Rob Guest,  a cast member in the Australian production of the musical Wicked.  The crucial sentence:

Guest talked to a friend early on Tuesday night and seemed fine before collapsing at his computer and being,  according to radio station 3AW.

Fascinating, isn't it.  Initially I thought they meant "dying",  but he died later in hospital,  not at his computer.  So I am left pondering their meaning – and ultimately other things besides.

I actually saw that show just two weeks ago,  by the way.  I remember thinking how amazingly agile he was,  marvelling at the way he could leap around the stage like a ballet dancer,  and hoping I would be in such good form at his age...

Friday, 15 August 2008

Pity your American friends

... because they are citizens of the world's most embarrassingly nationalistic country.  Oh sure,  there are countries out there which engage in more horrible displays of nationalism or are more belligerent;  there may even be countries where there is more mindless flag-waving.  But when it comes to sheer infantile behaviour designed to massively shame any thinking citizen,  it's surely got to be USA!  USA!  USA!  all the way.

The latest evidence?  Something that's been right in front of my face for a few days now,  every time I log out from my  (American)  Yahoo!  email account,  but it wasn't until I read this little article in The Guardian that I found out.  All the mainstream American news outlets have,  through some unspoken yet universal agreement,  moved the Olympic goalposts.  Faced with the appalling prospect of another country winning more gold medals than them for the first time in decades,  they've rearranged the medal tally so that it's now ranked by total medals - because that way the USA has a better chance of coming out on top.  CNN's way of doing it is particularly neat - not only is the total medal tally in bright red and in the first column,  it's augmented by bars.  You have to look really quite closely to notice that China is way out in front in golds:

Needless to say,  this is a very new development in the American media,  and every other nation in the world is still counting the traditional way.  Which makes the world's greatest nation look utterly pathetic.  I liked the comment by the author of the Guardian piece:  "Perhaps the US networks should start celebrating bronze medals as the true sign of Olympic achievement?  Because there the USA team still has a big lead."

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The "Aussies" in Beijing

Yeah,  just killing time on a lazy Saturday morning,  clicking on whatever brightly-coloured item pops up on Yahoo when I finish checking my email... well,  I didn't see much of the ceremony yesterday,  so I was feeling the need to catch up with the three billion people who did,  or however many it was.  (click images to enlarge)

Gee,  their sandals might be very summery and Australian and all,  but in those outfits they could be mistaken for New Zealanders...
(takes closer look at flag)

The people at Yahoo USA did do some research - they carefully looked up the name and details of the flagbearer:

... they just failed to notice this was not in fact the guy in question.  Despite that nifty Polynesian accessory he's been draped in  (hey,  are those things kiwi feathers??  Were any endangered national symbols harmed in the making of this opening ceremony?)

You know,  I really don't mind.  It's just like the Canadians and the Americans.  I think the New Zealanders have more cause to be offended for being mistaken for Australians.  I'd love to have people thinking that we were seriously committed to environmental goals,  dead against genetically modified food and nuclear weapons,  and fully in favour of gay civil unions and protecting the dignity of indigenous people.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Mamma Mia: the Trailer

For those who just can't wait until the preview of a film comes out,  we proudly announce a whole new concept in cinema journalism:

The trailer review!

Yes,  fed up with waiting for the actual movie,  some reviewers are now dissecting the trailer.  With hilarious results in at least one instance.

You know,  I actually can't imagine any part of the film itself being any more enjoyable than that review was...

Thursday, 1 May 2008

German Word of the Day

Krawalltourist:  lit.  "riot tourist".  Person who goes to Kreuzberg in Berlin on April 30/May 1,  and specifically to the Oranienstraße area of Kreuzberg,  in the hope of seeing clashes between hordes of riot police and a few kids throwing bottles,  stones etc.

Once upon a time,  about twenty to thirty years ago,  the "revolutionary" date of May 1  (which is internationally associated with the labour movement)  was cause for radical left-wing,  anti-capitalist protesters to take to the streets of Kreuzberg  (and other places in the world)  and demonstrate,  which would often lead them into conflict with the police.  The protests in Kreuzberg were always fairly lively,  since the area was a major centre of left-wing radicalism,  full of squatted houses.  In 1987,  in the wake of repressive police activities and against a background of angry protest against the conservative city government,  the May 1 protests escalated into an explosion of rioting and violence directed at the police and other symbols of the "capitalist establishment" - shops were looted, barricades were erected,  and in a large part of Kreuzberg 36 the rioters were a law unto themselves for several hours.

The few years that followed saw similar violence on May 1,  enough to establish something of a tradition;  however after the fall of the Berlin Wall,  a lot of squatters moved out of Kreuzberg to create new squats in the empty old buildings on the eastern side.  The reunification of the city also brought ideological challenges,  resulting in conflicts within the radical left which eventually saw a decline in the strength of the protests in the early 1990s.  The radicalism of Kreuzberg in general has declined since then,  with most squats being shut down by the city government.  In the last five years or so,  the protests have been little more than a few idiots provoking the police for their own amusement;  there is little or no organized political aspect to it.  Which is probably how it should be;  after all,  how radical can a protest be if it happens only once a year and on schedule??  (insert joke about Germans and punctuality.)  A "revolution" you can set your watch by?  I don't think so.

Nonetheless,  every year huge numbers of police descend on Berlin for the event - I strongly suspect Germany's police forces send their rookies for "hands-on" riot control training - and every year the number of Krawalltouristen has grown.  Apparently there were some right from the start in 1987,  with large numbers of people going to Kreuzberg to marvel at the chaos.  At least they had something to look at.  These days,  the number of "riot tourists" ludicrously outnumbers the actual rioters,  and the whole thing has an unmistakable aspect of farce.  You wander down Oranienstraße today and the crowds will look exactly like those at a football match,  standing about drinking beer,  eating kebabs,  joking merrily to one another - except that down the side streets there are several hundred police in full riot armour,  batons and tear gas at the ready.  And inevitably someone will throw something,  the police will slowly move in behind a wall of perspex and a few canisters of tear gas will be fired,  causing the crowd to run giggling and shouting,  spilling their beer and kebab sauce,  out into the neighbouring streets.

I can't help feeling that the police should just stand there and do nothing.  Or better yet,  slowly move away,  forcing the provocateurs to follow them.  It would spoil the show marvellously.

And perhaps the day would regain some of its political dignity.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

A hint of Europe in the air

It's often said that Melbourne is the most European of Australia's capital cities,  and in some ways that's true.  It's more liberal politically and socially,  has relatively good public transport,  and probably a slightly greater appreciation of all things cultural than most of the other capitals.

But alas,  the similarities are not confined to the good stuff.  There's also the relatively cold weather and the substandard beaches,  for example.  However,  the thing that really makes me think  "omg,  they weren't kidding when they said this place is European"  is the way that far too many of the locals STINK.  Yes,  Melbournians unfortunately share that old European inclination to believe that regular showering and use of deodorant are lifestyle choices.  Even more so,  it seems,  as we move into the colder months.  No people,  even though the average daily maximum temperature has dropped to twenty,  that is NOT the sign for you to stop showering till spring.

Not surprisingly the phenomenon is at its most,  shall we say, pervasive in the gym.  What makes it particularly nauseating there is that it's supplemented by another interesting little European trait,  namely a total inability to see the signs all over the walls saying  "Please use a sweat towel during your workout."  So many people both in Europe and here in mini-Europe just do not seem to see any reason to bring a towel with them at all,  while others do bring a towel but don't seem to understand what it is for,  namely to place on the benches under your sweaty body so that said bench is not left  "pre-lubricated"  for the next unfortunate user.  For them it's just a handkerchief-sized thing that they wipe their foreheads with occasionally.  (Actually I can only speak for Germany in this respect;  for all I know gym users in the sweatier lands of the Mediterranean may be diligent in ensuring there is a towel between them and any bench surface at all times.  But somehow I doubt it.)  While not all gym-goers here stink and some do use towels,  there is nonetheless considerable overlap between the towelless and the odiferous.  Sometimes I really,  really wish I wasn't a gym addict.

Monday, 24 March 2008


This just in* from The Age:

More hard-hitting news from the War on Drugs here.

* Well,  actually from a couple of days ago now.

The good old days are here again

Yes,  history does go round in circles.  These days,  it's the Middle Ages that are coming back with a vengeance.  Islamaphobia is the new anti-Semitism:  after all, Arabs are Semites too - although that's hardly relevant really;  this new hatred is defined more by otherness of religion than otherness of race,  just like the old.  "Christendom" is a more meangingful concept now than it's been for five hundred years.  National borders are losing the meaning they first gained at that time,  and educated people all over the world can now again communicate in a common tongue.  And good old-fashioned medieval sin and penance are back too,  in a big way:  in response to the apocalyptic preachings of wandering prophets,  everyone is now increasingly wracked with guilt about the emissions produced by the planes that take them beyond aforesaid national borders.  But fortunately a very appropriate relief is at hand:  carbon offsets,  which are the new indulgences.  Pay your coin and wipe the blemish from your soul.

Of course,  the original indulgences never went away completely,  and neither did old-style anti-Semitism, of course.  But neither are what they once were,  and their new incarnations have taken their place.  And already there are environmental Luthers hammering their theses on the doors of airports the world over.  Next:  Reformation,  Counter-Reformation  (as airlines finally switch to carbon-free fuels),  and of course lots and lots of witch burning.  That's something else that never really goes out of style.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Musical geekery

The song chart meme (via LittlestYellowestDifferentest):

And of course I couldn't resist joining in:

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Melbourne / Berlin: a district-by-district guide

Melbourne and Berlin have a lot in common.  They're both the most culturally vibrant cities in their respective countries,  they're both roughly the same size,  and they're both full of fascinating people and places.  Not surprisingly,  they also appeal to the same kinds of people:  Berliners who visit Australia often rank Melbourne as their favourite city,  and Melbournians travelling through Europe always seem to fall in love with Berlin.  And Nick Cave is by no means the only one who's ended up living in the other city for years.

When I moved to Melbourne from Berlin,  I found myself inevitably classifying areas of the new city in terms of areas familiar to me in Berlin,  as a way of orienting myself.  I was amazed how easy it was,  and how neatly it all seemed to fit.  This is my guide to Melbourne for Berliners,  and to Berlin for Melbournians,  according to what Australians call  "suburbs"  and what Berliners know as  "Bezirke".

Caveat:  it's only a rough approximation,  and there are plenty of differences between the two cities,  not least stemming from the fact that the dominant ethnic group in Berlin is the Germans and in Melbourne the Anglo-Celtic Australians.  But I think it gives anyone familiar with either town a pretty good idea of how things fit together in the other - at least in the inner city areas.  I'm basically restricting myself to those;  I could go beyond that but I'm not very familiar with the outer suburbs of either city,  and let's face it,  outer suburbs just aren't very interesting anywhere really.  The further out you go,  the more boring and/or nasty things tend to get,  and let that be warning enough for you.

First a rough geographical overview:  inner east of Berlin  =  inner north of Melbourne,  inner west of Berlin  =  inner south of Melbourne.  Centre  =  centre.

Northcote  =  Friedrichshain.  Not long ago considered very dull,  now increasingly hip with lots of new little cafes/galleries/live music venues and other  "alternative"  things.  Some of these have established themselves,  most however are rather ephemeral and will disappear relatively quickly,  to be replaced by others.  In other words,  an area in flux,  with a lot of interesting things going on.  Some bits are much more hip and/or upmarket than others.  Ethnically still pretty much dominated by the traditional majority group,  although slowly becoming more diverse.  Note that Northcote does not have a Simon-Dach-Strasse area:  the closest thing to that is probably the Bridge Rd-Church St area of Richmond.

Richmond  =  hard to classify in Berlin terms:  something like the Hauptstrasse area of Schöneberg mixed with Simon-Dach-Strasse area of Friedrichshain.  Close to coolness but not quite there,  despite sometimes trying very hard - with the exception of a few venues which are genuinely very good indeed.

Brunswick  =  Neukölln  (Nord - the parts closest to Kreuzberg).  Similar to Northcote/Friedrichshain in terms of being in flux,  rapidly becoming much more hip,  lots of new arty-alternative things popping up.  However,  both poorer and hipper than Nthcote/F'hain and even more interesting things going on nowadays.  Much more ethnically diverse as well:  this is an area which has long been an ethnic minority stronghold,  particularly for the Arab/Turkish/Muslim ethnic minorities,  but with other groups as well.

Coburg  =  Neukölln (Süd/south).  Geographically one step out from Brunswick/Neukölln.  Similar to that area,  only not becoming hip.

Fitzroy North,  Carlton North,  Clifton Hill  =  Kreuzberg 61.  Comfortable,  relaxed,  leafy area of the city,  full of quiet well-ordered streets with nice little cafes,  bookshops and organic groceries.  A few good bars and music/performance venues.  Lots of people who vote Green.  Becoming more expensive these days,  more yuppie-ish,  but still very alternative in character,  if rather "safe" and unexciting.  Traditionally an ethnic minority stronghold  (with main ethnic group Italian in Melbourne and Turkish in Berlin),  but less so these days as rents rise.

Fitzroy  &  Carlton,  parts of Collingwood  =  Prenzlauer Berg  (especially south of Danziger Strasse).  Once the hippest part of town (and originally very working-class),  but became much less hip over the past decade or so as all the fashionable young wannabes moved in.  Now increasingly expensive and increasingly mainstream and "trendy".  However,  still a number of good bars and music/performance venues hanging on in various places.  Also lots of nice leafy streets and still some interesting little cafes and shops.  The alternative past is by no means completely dead,  but the area is not as pleasant as it once was,  and nowhere near as affordable.  Ethnic diversity:  fairly low.  (Note Fitzroy/Carlton doesn't have nearly as many babies as Prenzl Berg:  still more a young singles place than a young families place.  Fitzroy/Carlton also doesn't have the old,  fairly mainstream gaybourhood that Prenzl Berg does,  although there is something of a gay presence there and it's likewise fairly mainstream)

Abbotsford  &  parts of Collingwood  =  Kreuzberg 36.  Not long ago quite seedy,  poor,  gritty,  very hip in the slightly scary inner-city-ghetto kind of way - drugs,  punks,  loud bars,  etc.  Now increasingly gentrified,  but retaining a respectable amount of its earlier character.  Very strong hippy tradition as well.  Located on the banks of the river,  with some nice green spots.  Features a major arts centre  (in a refurbished historic building complex)  and a sizeable children's farm.  Also has the city's biggest not-totally-mainstream queer scene  (although some of the most interesting queer stuff is now happening elsewhere,  especially in Melbourne where it's moved to Brunswick and Melbourne City).  Still an ethnic minority stronghold (Turkish in Berlin,  Vietnamese in Abbotsford).  Also continues to have a very strong sense of community,  with people willing to protest against new developments they feel will alter the character of the area.
Note:  Collingwood/Abbotsford was never quite so hip or vibrant as Kreuzberg 36 was in the eighties;  it lacks Kreuzberg's legendary squatting past.  Kreuzberg 36 is perhaps unique in terms of its steeped-in-tradition cool and the strength of its community spirit,  although both have weakened in recent years under the pressures of development and rising property values - something also confronting Abbotsford/Collingwood.

Melbourne City,  South Melbourne  &  Port Melbourne  =  Mitte  &  Tiergarten.  All the main tourist landmarks,  plus the main business district and the city's major parklands.  Also includes the main arts precinct and museums.  Lots of fashionable galleries,  eateries and nightlife,  and the city's most expensive residential districts.  Also the city's most expensive shops.

I'm less familiar with the south of Melbourne and the west of Berlin,  so the following are only a very rough comparison:

South Yarra  (west of Chapel St)  =  Mitte  (Spandauer Vorstadt)  but minus Oranienburger Strasse.  Expensive and fashionable,  but mostly in a rather quiet and understated kind of way.  This place has style - expensive style.  However,  still a few surprisingly down-at-heel corners surviving if you look hard enough.  Lots of art galleries and boutiques.  Next to the river.

South Yarra (east of Chapel St) & Toorak  =  Charlottenburg.  Also expensive but less fashionable.  "Old money" area.  Possibly not quite as many art galleries in the Melbourne area as in Charlottenburg,  but I haven't really looked closely at either area.

Prahran & Windsor  =  Wilmersdorf/Schöneberg.  Includes the city's traditional mainstream gaybourhood.  Generally similar to Mitte/South Yarra  (the latter being next to it in Melbourne,  on the northern edge of the gaybourhood)  but not quite as expensive or as fashionable.  Fairly boring on the whole.

St Kilda (minus beach)  =  Schöneberg/Tempelhof  (minus airport).  Fairly mainstream,  still relatively working class,  still some very seedy corners but on the whole undergoing gentrification  (and St Kilda has been going upmarket with startling speed,  more so than Tempelhof or Schöneberg).  Probably more ethnically diverse than the other areas in the inner south of Melb/west of Berlin,  which tend to be very much dominated by the majority group.  [Edit 26/01/08:  St Kilda is probably more like Prenzlauer Berg - not only is it going upmarket from poor origins,  it also used to be a quite alternative area popular with artists,  and there's still a fair bit of artsy stuff there.  It also has a reasonable gay presence,  spillover from adjacent Prahran/Windsor.  Possibly even more like Prenzl Berg than Fitzroy/C'wood,  as those areas have a few patches which are very Kreuzberg.]

And that's it - everything within the borders of my world,  which essentially consists of the central areas of two cities on opposite sides of the planet.  I'd like to have been able to talk more about Melbourne's inner west - the Kensington/Footscray/Yarraville area - but I really know very little of it,  although from what I've heard it sounds a lot like Wedding/Moabit.  If you want to check out maps of any of these places,  you can find Berlin here and Melbourne here.  Explore and enjoy.