THE SHITTY GUIDE IS NOW CLOSED

After five years full of lies, exaggerations and massive hangovers we've had enough: the Shitty Guide calls it quits. We give up. So what the fuck happened?

Ancient history

It all started five years ago when Kata and Benni went on a back-packing journey to find themselves.  After a month of travel they ditched the Lonely Planet and ended up in used-panties shops all over the world.

6 months later they were wandering in Belgrade and trying to shake off a hassling gypsy woman who was following them. There and they had another eureka moment. It wasn’t an apple that hit their head but large portion of liquid coming out of the woman’s mouth. The idea of the Shitty Guide was born.

A spiritual journey into the margins. An odyssey to find the raw, the untouched (not talking about the used panties), the real, the authentic places where no tourist - or sometimes even local - would dare to go.

Once in Antwerp they started writing a ‘shitty’ guide. After a year of wandering around Antwerp’s shittiest places (and 1232 cans of cara pils) The Shitty Guide was a fact. A Microsoft doc was sent into cyberspace, which you could download for free. A guide based upon experiences, lies, assumptions, truths, stories, exaggerations and full of spelling errors. An ode to imperfection.

Shitty Guide 2.0

It was an underground success, 5000 downloads! Soon after the release a group of unemployed nobodies started following Benni around everywhere. They always met at the Groenplaats, right under Ruben’s penis, drinking cara pils. Together they shared a love for shitty places and speed.

Using brain power and sheer will, from a simple .doc the Shitty Guide expanded into a shitty website on the world wide web: the Shitty Guide 2.0. All thanks to the hard work of Simonneke, Krokky and Vinny, who had nothing better to do anyway. An incredible moment in internet history.

From that point on, everyone who Googled ‘drugs Brussels’ or ‘drugs Antwerp’ arrived at our humble little website. No Ricardo, we still don’t know where to fix ketamine, fuck off. Since then, we've had 120.394 unique visitors to the website. On average 1900 unique visitors per month! In total our little website had half a million page views.

Even a mobile app was developed. It never made it to the app store, because of “shitty” in the name, but hey, that’s really not the point is it? 

Together with the help of talented low-lifes such as Anne, Ellen, Sam and Bram we threw some incredible, unforgettable parties and expanded the Shitty Guide. We went on shitty expeditions to discover new territory, but mostly found hang-overs and islands of regret.

Shitty Goes Worldwide

World domination was always the shitty goal. We’ve thought long and hard on our international expansion strategy.

First we took Brussels. Our favorite hellhole! We asked a random, unemployed local on the street to write the guide for us. That random local was Coby, who is now no longer unemployed, she “works” with animals now, but don’t worry, she didn't really change, she still has drugs- and mental issues, anyway thank you for everything Coby.

Due to the huge demand, the next logical step for a Shitty Guide was Kiev, Ukraine. A team of young, dedicated Shitty explorers decided to go there in the middle of the winter and join the war. But we don’t talk about it. We can’t, because we don’t remember anything. It was dark, it was cold, there was vodka and bare fistfights in the snow.  We went to Chernobyl and we tried Tinder there. Gave it ⅕ stars on Tripadvisor, the HBO-series were much better.

After Antwerp, Brussels and Kiev there’s really only one place left: Brasschaat. One of our writers, Freddy, grew up there. His psychologist recommended writing about his trauma’s. The nightmares didn't go away, but the Shitty Guide Brasschaat is something that exists now. Sam Gooris became a life-time fan and Jean Marie Pfaff wears our logo on his collar till the end of his days. Less happy was the ex-mayor, who was forced to react in a newspaper that yes, the cops on Segways were a bad and expensive idea. 

Shitty Tours

Building on the success of the paper guide, Benni and Freddy decided in 2016 to give tours. It was a massive success and we had great time. The owners they loved us, and we loved them back. They were delighted to host the tours, and always greeted us with much hospitality. No doubt: every owner of a brown bar or turkish disco venue or tibetan noodle shop or whatever has A LOT more sense of humor than any stupid fuckin’ yuppie owner of a posh hip coffeebar on the Antwerp south.

But unfortunately time, and also bulliness by this city’s government, took its toll. Already 5 (5!) places of the original Shitty Tour™ closed down since we started. The closing down of these places (Ciné Royale, Café Kiebooms, Café Vogelzang, The Turkish Disco , Tipanan karaoke) is a big loss for cultural heritage of Antwerp. The city is changing.

Shitty <3 Imagoverlagend

The city is changing, and this is the consequence of an active policy of disneyfication and gentrification. One of these policies was the “imagoverlagende taks”. Since 2015 all nightshops, shisha bars, video library, etc in Antwerp had to pay an additional, medieval tax 'cause the city council apparently gets to decide what is nice and what is not. We, at Shitty Guide, were not pleased with this feodal mindset and decided to fight back.

We threw a party Shitty Party 4(000), made an underground nightshop video song, wrote a petition and gathered 400 signatures and even went to protest together with Murad and the other nightshop owners at the city hall. The city graciously accepted our 400 signatures and threw it in the trash when we were not looking. Today, the imagoverlagende taks is still there. Another great achievement by the Shitty Guide.

This is the end, shitty friends, the end 

The Shitty Guide became a victim of its own success. Too many tourists came, looking for shittyness, but making everything less shitty. The whole city nowadays feels like Disneyland on coke. Very soon the city will go the same way as Venice: too many tourists, too many (sunken) cruiseships and too much water.

That’s why we're leaving Antwerp, for good! We shall return to where we came from: ashes to ashes, dust to dust, shit to shit. The goods news: you're invited to join our ship! A 21th century version of Noah's Ark, but with less beastiality and more tolerance for LGBT. Together, we will survive this great flood of shit.

Join us at the final shitty party. And remember. There may be a terrible climate catastrophe ahead, but while there's moonlight and mdma and love and romance: let's face the music and dance.

A big thank you:

- Benni Booi (our spiritual shitty leader) 
- Katarina for coming with the idea of the Shitty Guide 
- Frederik Van den Bril 
- Vincent Peters
- Koray Sels
- Bram Van Bree 
- Simon Peters 
- Sam Van Loon
- Anne Verbist 
- Ellen Anthoni 
- Sven Mes & Liselotte for making the shitty fashion happen
- Lode Uyterschot for believing in the Shitty Guide (LOL) 
- Armand from Café Strange 
- Dylan from In de stad Aalst 
- The Zomsa family 
- Patsi & Tim for hosting the first shitty party at Mu(i)ltatuli
- Stefan en Sabrina van Cafe De Vogelenzang
- The owner of Cinema Royale although you never wanted to talk to us
- Tipanan family (we never got to say goodbye…)
- Stefan van de Turkse Disco 
- The Bivak crew (Lotte, Zoe, ...) for co-organising the first shitty tour
- Jasper Kuylen & the volunteers at ThisisAntwerp magazine we had a barfight with.
- Serge Muyters
- All the Antwerp drug dealers for the 2+1 promo
- Gestapo Knallmuzik
- Johnny Boy 
- The Ukrainian guy who took off his shirt and yelled at Simon “we fight now” 
- Koen Crucke for running the best instagram account in the world
- All the journalists who didn’t have anything better to write about
- That one newspaper photographer who hates his job and got really pissed at us
- Tanguy Otomer for being our arch-rival  for so many years
- All the volunteers at the Shitty Party
- Everyone who came on the Shitty Tours 

 

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Shitty Guide goes Berlin: Shitty Karaoke, abandoned theme parks and police dog chases.

We’re standing surrounded by police cars, eyes locked on the very angry Rottweiler rolling its eyes around and routinely lunging at us between foaming snarls, as the Berlin police copy down our information. Our mission had been relatively simple: a routine jaunt over a fence into an eerie abandoned theme park, to lounge about on decapitated plastic dinosaurs or try to get stuck at the top of the big creepy Ferris wheel like one nostalgic 90-year-old woman did in the summer of 2013. (source)

The Berlin police, however, don’t take so kindly lately to these harmless fence-hoppers, as evidenced by their unleashing of the killer dog, which chased us through a field and was called back just before it tore a man’s asscheek off.

________

This summer Shitty Guide went out and about to discover what sort of shit lies beyond, in the obscurity of the European ether. Turns out there’s lots of shit to choose from.

Berlin, for example, is the notable historic home of lots of really bad shit. Fortunately there’s some left over, and it probably won’t get you killed anymore (police dog chases aside.) Perhaps due to the flourishing fascism and division that once held Berlin and its inhabitants so firmly by the proverbial balls, the city has since rebounded in the opposite direction and helixed itself into a graffiti-covered, anti-fascist, punk-rock, electro-hipster paradise. It is often stupidly, unsufferably cool, crammed with freshly-tattooed youths and bad-but-hip conceptual start-ups, fancy clubs that fire off confetti and darker clubs where you can bone for as long as you like on the sofas, but of course, these things require access to money, and for this visit we shot for some shit of lower cost.

SPREE PARK

The Kulturpark Plänterwald was opened in 1969 to celebrate the German Democratic Republic’s 20th birthday, but the fall of the Berlin wall and the dissolution of the GDR eventually dropped it into the hands of one Norbert Witte, a carnival operator with an unfortunate history of accidentally killing people with cranes.

Unfortunately, the park failed to perform as Norbert had expected, and he moved his operations to Lima, Peru in 2002. This ambitious venture evidently took a turn when he was imprisoned for eight years for attempting to smuggle 181 kilos of cocaine back to Berlin inside the ‘Flying Carpet’ ride. (source)

The park went up for sale on ebay (seriously) after Witte went to prison, but in the end it was purchased back by the city and, as evidenced by our very brief visit, security has since been ramped up. Fortunately, the German police don’t have many options for prosecuting trespassing offenses by non-Germans, so we were released with little more than a slap on the wrist, fond memories of the eerily murmuring park and near-death by murderous Rottweiler.

TEUFELSBERG 

Atop the Grunewald Forest on the crusty rim of West Berlin suburbia, there lies a cluster of white globes struck up on the horizon like a suspicious crop-up of warts. These land-warts are the towers of Teufelsberg, German for “devil’s hill” – a man-made hill reaching 120 meters above sea level, constructed from 75 million cubic meters of post-war rubble lugged out of Berlin and dumped over the incomplete remains of a Nazi military-technical college -- making Teufelsberg essentially just a really, really massive pile of shit.

Due to the superb listening abilities atop the shit pile, in the 1960’s the U.S. National Security Agency chose to set up shop and construct one of its most massive listening facilities to monitor Soviet and East German military operations, thereby forcing the shut-down of two massive ski jumps that had opened on the hill (depressing both deviant Soviets and ski bums alike.) The remaining globes are military radomes that comprised a NSA spy station, though the rest of the facilities were broken down and removed after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Teufelsberg Field Station has since been unofficially adopted by the Initiative Kultur-DENK-MAL and reconstituted as an urban graffiti wonderland/artistic shit zone. The raised woodland property is lined with trails and alcoves sometimes occupied by squatters or artists. The shit pile has become the collective brainchild of innumerable artists and muralists, littered with sculptures and discarded home fixtures, freestanding bathtubs (for lounging, we suppose,) deconstructed furniture, pallets, plantlife, recyclables, and piles of bare materials owed to unknown projects in the works. 

In the center of this maze of half-realized creative structures are the towers themselves, rearing up to 80m above the forest, comprised of multiple exposed floors devoted exclusively to graffiti and murals, and capped with three massive white globes of peeling white plastic canvas. The top tower is mostly intact, so after a climb of six to seven flights up a pitch-black staircase above the roof, you emerge in the darkness of the top radome. The radomes are impressive echo chambers and notably bad places to pass gass. Save the grumpy old dude at the gate that wants seven euros for entry (though there’s beer and chocolate cake on donation) and quite a few lost-looking Germans wandering around on acid, the site is nearly bare of touristic traffic. Plus the view is nice or whatever, if you’re into that shit.

MAUERPARK KARAOKE

Every Sunday at 3 PM, Joe Hatchiban treks his massively powerful portable sound system out to a stone amphitheater in Mauerpark, a large stretch of park behind during the flea market. This has become one of the largest public karaoke sessions in existence, meaning a massive horde of people gathers together to make each other suffer in unison at the same time every week. Sounds a lot like church! Maybe Sundays just aren’t supposed to be good. A crowd of hundreds crams a stone stadium on the backside of the Berlin wall and is generally fairly supportive of its victims, though bad performances notably get preference. The spectacle is apparently a Berlin tradition, all thanks to Joe and his unmatched passion for shitty singing.

The market itself is crammed end-to-end with Berliners selling all their old shit, ranging from boxes of rummage and detritus from innumerable dead grandparents to more upscale small business owners hawking their wares to tourists. We found a bunch of plastic dinosaur skeletons for 5€ and a paperweight in the shape of an ass with ears for 2. Whatever strikes your shitty fancy. 

RENT-A-BIKE 44

We owe a notable shout-out to a not-so-shitty guy named Alexandros, who helped us get around the city for next to nothing.

Alex loves shitty bikes. He was the neighborhood repairman for upwards of twenty years in Neukölln before he saved up enough to buy himself five shitty bikes and start renting them out to people for four bucks a day. Now, he owns hundreds of shitty bikes and rents them out daily on the basis of trust, with a host of helpers from eight different countries. Yunus, his right-hand-man on the day we stopped by, explained Alex’s ascension from neighborhood handyman:

“I think this should be mentioned – he didn’t have the ten or twenty thousand euros to start the business. He started piece by piece. He was working from the opposite, from the cellar. This is our first year where we have the rental business in priority, before it was a mechanic – like a repair store.

“Today we have 230 bikes. That means Alex made something good, and now we are not only colleagues anymore, we are also workers for this – well, let’s say good guy. My deepest respect, you asshole,” he says, kicking Alex in the leg. “But he lost all of his hair during the time – look at that.” Alex doesn’t say much, rolling a cigarette and smiling. Up rolls an older woman on a commuter bike, and she stops to talk to Yunus in German, clasping his arm affectionately.

“That’s our grandmother,” Yunus says when the woman rides off. “She’s 82. She can’t walk, but she can cycle. It’s her mobility. She says without that shitty bike, she’d be dead.”

For more information about abandoned shit in Berlin, check out the excellent resource www.abandonedberlin.com

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