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  • Boots on the ground

    So I’m back in Liberia after a five week break I’ve spent home in Munich (while measuring my temperature twice a day, been a guest on German television and radio), St. Petersburg, working for Kindernothilfe with mentally disabled children and in Hammelburg, where I attended a pretty rough HEAT course with the German armed forces. Being back feels great. When SOS Children’s International contacted me (thanks to Peter N. Bouckaert for the recommendation) I was just in the middle of a project in St. Petersburg which I’ve mentioned above. All I understood was “…Liberia…” - wow, I really did not expect to get back there during the recent outbreak of Ebola. I had my doubts as this was the first time I was asked to travel back to a conflict zone where I have just been. Contesting my luck a second time? I agreed and by now did not regret it. Working for NGOs is a totally different aspect and the people I have met last time all still did recognise me. When I arrived at the Royal Hotel in Monrovia, the place I stayed last time while working for BILD, the waiters came up to me and said “Oh Daniel, you are back!” - feels like coming home. Weird. The first days in Monrovia have been a little chaotic due to the usual ill communication. Of course almost nobody is working on weekends (I arrived Friday night) and of course nobody organised the working permit ahead of my arrival. So I ended up covering the situation inside the SOS Children’s Clinic in Monrovia which now also treats adults being tested negative on Ebola and released from the nearby ETU (operated by MSF). After that we’ve visited the SOS Children’s Village - a quiet and tidy oasis in the middle of the chaotic Monrovia - and a new ETU outside of town just being finished by the Ministry of Health. Since I didn’t have the permission from the Ministry I was not allowed to take pictures there and returned to the hotel. Later that evening Carl Gierstorfer called - a colleague whom I became friends with on Facebook. We’ve met in Brussels on our flight to Liberia and he introduced me to his colleagues Laura XX and Kai Kupferschmidt, also from Germany. He invited me to join them for a pool party hosted by the CDC at the Mamba Point Beach Resort - one of the best hotels in Monrovia. “A pool party with the Center of Disease Control folks?”, that sounded interesting - especially in times of Ebola. So we went and had some free beers and chatted with some experts. All in all been a fun night and what else would I have done (especially with the terrible internet connection at my hotel)? Before we split up Carl and his friends invited me to come with them on Sunday for a trip to the abandoned Hotel Africa on top of Monrovia with a stunning view on Westpoint, one of the largest slums in town, which has been hit hard by Ebola and was put under quarantine in August (which ended in riots and one little boy killed). They picked me up on Sunday in the afternoon and we drove to the location. My old friend Richard, who worked for me as a fixer last time I was in Monrovia, said it was save and we would not have any issues getting access. He was right (as most of the times). When we arrived a single guard was taking care of the huge abandoned hotel. He offered to take us to the roof for 15 US Dollars which we agreed to pay. This is Africa.. the view indeed was stunning and the black clouds over the ocean really added to the eery atmosphere of a decaying grand hotel overlooking the city currently the world capitol of Ebola. We’ve spent a few hours there and went back to the hotel where I agreed to meet Richard later that evening. It was great seeing him again and hearing his deep Manilow-like voice! Even though Monrovia was going through rough times because of Ebola he was doing fine. Thank god! I’ve introduced him to Carl and his friends and this way got him some new clients. I am writing this on a UNHAS flight from Liberia to Sierra Leone. Hassle with booking. Confirmation on a short notice. Almost missed flight. Racing to the airport.

  • About Sierra Leone

    Just a brief update as I am literally kneeling in front of a trash-can which functions as a makeshift desk while I am editing images and writing this log entry. I am back in West Africa and yes, it's about Ebola again. But it's a totally different pace this time. I've spent a whole week on the road traveling rural districts and slept in bush hotels. Almost cried when I entered my room in the Hub Hotel in Freetown - amazingly clean and nice. First time in a week I had a shower without feeling unconformable stepping on the floor afterwards. After I was done working with SOS Kinderdorf I was embedded with burial teams in Zone 2 - that means Freetown and the surrounding area. What a horrible but important job theses guys are doing. They’ve been picking up dead bodies in the slums of Freetown all day - almost all of them suspected to have died of Ebola. Once their truck was packed with body bags we moved on to the cemetery - a massive graveyard especially for Ebola fatalities. What a sad place to work at. On my last day in Freetown I’ve visited the Burial Team Training and talked to some of the men who applied to become a member of these units about their motivation. “Ebola is like a war and I want to fight for my country” one 21 year old man said to me. He probably has no clue what's waiting for him out there. Waving goodbye to the team I was working with the last days I continued to meet Fonti, a 40-year old survivor of Ebola who hast lost both children and his wife to the disease. He himself survived Ebola and can’t infect himself anymore for at least a couple of months (no exact numbers at that time). He now works at a Ebola Treatment Center. Way back to the airport, Pelican ferry at 11pm. People watching Champions League (Arsenal vs. Dortmund, Arsenal won) while waiting. Still 33°C and 50% humidity. I stopped caring about sweating, got used to feeling sticky. Still no confirmation of my UNHAS flight back to Liberia. No idea how to get to the airport hotel upon arrival past midnight. The thought of arriving in a rural area after a one hour ferry ride packed with my gear - not something I looked forward to. In the end I’ve became friends with one of the luggage guys working at the ferry… after chatting about Bayern Munich and soccer they called some friends who would pick me up in Lungi where the boat arrives and take me to the airport hotel. Sounded not really trustworthy but what were my options anyway? So I went on the ferry and rushed through the bay to the Island (?) where the airport is located. 15 minutes through pitch black night with salt water spraying into the ship every now and then and occasional stops due to engine problems. TIA - This is Africa. I spent the night at the Airport Hotel in Lungi. Got my old room, met the same cockroaches I left alive last time and fell asleep - at least for a few hours until I had to get up again. Way back to Monrovia. My UN flight was supposed to fly at 9am. Usually you have to be there two hours in advance. But when I arrived at 7am I found nothing but a tumbleweed at the airport. Even the immigration desks were empty - so I was stuck there with no phone connection (as my Liberian phone stopped working) and no internet to check details. The security staff that showed up told me to wait, so I did.. for hours. 9am - still no passengers, no UN personnel. I started to get nervous. Finally I found someone to borrow their phone from so I could call the liaison officer in Kenya and guess what: The flight has been re-scheduled to 1300. The UN has sent me a mail minutes after I’ve left the hotel and therefor of course I didn’t get it. So I’ve spent 5 hours at the Airport, made new friends with the staff and killed time by watching African TV shows in Creol on flatscreens mounted to the walls turned to max. volume for no audience but me. Awesome! I’m starting to develop a little Africa fatigue. I mean I love this country for it’s “easy going” mentality but after 16 years of frequent work over here it sometimes starts killing me… boarding my flight now. Farewell, Sierra Leone!

  • Never been a fan, fascinated nonetheless: Whisky.

    The WhiskyAdvovate recently released the Top 20 Whiskies of 2018. I must admit even though the idea of enjoying a glass of Scotch while smoking one of my precious cigars always fascinated me. Too bad I don't like Whisky at all. It tastes shitty - worse than medicine. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy most sorts of alcoholic beverages (don't tell my mum, please) and would always favour a gin and tonic, craft beer or wine over a boring glas of water. I am also convinced that drinking whisky would perfectly suit me. Like my Buddy Holly glasses, my wanna-be hipster attitude, the Harrington jacket I keep wearing even though I'll never be James Dean and so on. Still, whisky and I won't fall in love for some reason. Many people tried to persuade me, talk me into the whisky thing. I have tried all sorts and brands, on the rocks, with water and plain. No cigar. However, sometimes I feel like having a whisky anyway. At least holding the glas, nipping every now and then, hiding my nausea while looking totally handsome. The previously mentioned ranking got me interested again and I really want to try one of those anytime soon. Why not start with the best? The top ranked whisky 2018? Nikka from the Barrel - it's a Japanese blend, but I like how the bottle looks. And it's also the #1! For Nikka From the Barrel, it’s been a long road to Whisky of the Year. This Japanese blend made its U.S. debut in 2018, but its inception dates back more than 30 years. In 1985, Nikka Whisky Distilling Company’s blending team, led by Shigeo Sato, designed this whisky using both malt and grain whiskies produced at Nikka’s Yoichi and Miyagikyo Distilleries. When taking into account the full array of casks—bourbon barrels, sherry butts, refill hogsheads, and more—over 100 different constituent whiskies are enlisted. “From the Barrel” suggests barrel proof, but that’s not the case. The blenders made a conscious decision to bottle at 51.4% (derived from 90 British Proof) to deliver maximum flavor impact. They succeeded. Notably balanced and elegant, the colorful palette of whiskies combines for tremendous depth of flavor. Soft, sweet butterscotch and orange peel meet poached pears and stone fruits. Earthiness appears as dried autumn leaves, coffee, old oak, and tobacco. Among the tangle of spices, tasters identified chili pepper, allspice, cloves, and universally adored its ginger note. Finally, wisps of smoke and sea salt. Overall, it feels generously malty, with the grain whisky lending broad sweetness and supple mouthfeel across the long finish. Maybe a whopping $65 feels a little pricey given the likelihood of me emptying the bottle into the sink because I'm once more disappointed about myself not liking whisky even though I am convinced I should! But there's way more expensive bottles on that list - higher priced but lower ranked (makes sense). Does Glendalough 13 year old Mizunara Cask sound yummy? It's an Irish whisky and could be yours for nothing less than $120. Precious few distillers outside of Japan are resourceful and determined enough to lay their hands on virgin mizunara oak to cooper their own finishing puncheons, let alone allow you to experience its flavors at such a reasonable price. Stone fruit, Quaker oats, comb honey, and sandalwood aromas are followed by ripe melon and tropical fruit flavors trailed by cocoa. Fragrant spices contribute to a sublime balance, with spicy chocolate, coffee grounds, and menthol to finish. This is a rare gem among Irish whiskeys. For me it's maybe rather the lowest priced whisky here: 1792 Bottled in Bond, a bourbon, for just $36 (for this price I could still have it sitting in it's bottle for decorative purposes for the rest of my life). While this offers no age statement, it revels in the renewed respect for bottled in bond whiskey which assures us it is at least 4 years old, 100 proof, from one distillery, and one distilling season. This new appreciation is for good reason. Toasted oak, chocolate-covered banana, vanilla, and apple meet hints of coffee and cinnamon on the nose. The high-rye recipe delivers the requisite cracked pepper and baking spices on the caramel-laden palate laced with licorice. This widely available bourbon seems to dwell in the age sweet spot, is nicely balanced with oak, and comes at a price that leaves little cause for hesitation. Which blend would you recommend to a miserable beginner?

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  • | podcast

    dan/raw currently is in state of a brainstorming and will be available sooner or later. CONNECT WITH ME

  • | about

    God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die. BILL WATTERSON 1978 Being an executive producer, writer and showrunner, Dan has always been a design-savvy beau of visual arts and storytelling. In 1998 he jumped head over heels into the show business and never really left. He has about twenty years experience in producing and directing television shows, documentaries and long form productions. He also is a confessed Mac head, cigar aficionado and curator of all things pop-culture. ​ He has been an award-winning television host, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice, worked with NGOs in 16 African countries and once quit his job at a production company to become a photojournalist and spent three years covering conflicts and war zones worldwide with publications in all major outlets and exhibitions in Berlin, Zurich, Iraq and at the Biennale in Venice. ​ He eventually grew up, got married and just recently became a loving dad. In 2008 Dan celebrated his 30th birthday on Mount Kilimanjaro, the world's highest free-standing mountain. 1999 - 2006 TV Host In 1999 Dan joined the On-Air team at GIGA, a daily 5-hour live show on NBC Europe covering all things entertainment. In 2001 his show was awarded with the Grimme Online Award. He was soon promoted to editor in chief and led - although he was only 26 years old - the studio production in Berlin. Projects (selection) Anonymous (Season | Show | Director) Follow Your Love (Season | Reality | Director) I Know Who's Good For You (Season | Show | Director) Kitchen Nightmares (Season | Reality | Producer) Real Life, San Francisco (Season | Reality | Producer) I'm A Celebrity Get Me Outta Here! (Season | Show | Producer) Let's Dance (Season | Show | Director) The Real Cool Runnings (Season | Reality | Producer) Cocaine (Season | Documentary | Director & Producer ) Farmer Wants a Wife (Season | Reality | Producer) Director / Producer Dan left NBC GIGA in 2006 and switched sides, starting to work as a director and producer with assignments in Africa, Asia and the US. Responsibilities have included script writing, talent casting, budgeting and the supervision of production and post-production personnel. 2006-2013 Executive Producer / Showrunner Back at television Dan worked as a Showrunner and Executive Producer for south&browse/all3media and ITV Studios. Projects (selection) Chap vs. Bloke (Season | Show) 15 Things (Season | Show) Comedy Court (Pilot | Show) Home of Records (Season | Show) Mix Up Arts (Season | Show) Miss Wildcard (Season | Show) Beat Bus (Season | Show) Love Island (Season | Show) 2016-2020 2013-2016 War Photographer 2013 marked the beginning of one of his most important stages in life. Dan quit his job as a show producer and started to cover conflicts, humanitarian crises and war as a photojournalist. ​ He covered the street riots in (June 2013), the turmoil in (August 2013), the unrest in and (2014), the conflict in the / DRC (March 2014), the war on Cocaine in (June 2014) and the war in (July 2014), the outbreak of Ebola in (2014), illegal child labor in (2015) and kidnapping gangs in (2016). Turkey Egypt Ukraine Crimea Democratic Republic of Congo Colombia Gaza West-Africa India Venezuela He has been published in international magazines, newspapers, news sites and books including (US), (US), (Germany), (UK), T (Ireland), (US), (Germany), (Germany), (Germany), (Germany), (US), (Germany), (US) and others. TIME Magazine Newsweek stern The Guardian he Irish Times NBC Sueddeutsche Zeitung Focus ZEIT Geo Science BILD New York Times His work has been showcased in Rome, Berlin and Iraq and also at the 2014 Biennale . Dan has been awarded with the Focus Project People’s Choice Award and has been shortlisted multiple times for the annual LifeFramer award. 2016 Dan quit his career in favor for his family. 2017 Dan's last assignment in Venezuela was filmed and aired on DMAX/Discovery Channel. Managing Editor at BILD Today Dan works as a managing editor at Axel Springer's BILD, Europes biggest newspaper and news website, being responsible for the daily live news shows 2020-Today

  • | travel photography

    FIGHTING EBOLA The Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 exacted a terrible toll on major countries of West Africa. Latest estimates from the World Health Organization indicate that over 11,000 lives were lost to the deadly virus since the first documented case was officially recorded. ​ These images cover the first months of the outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone. View More NINJA MINERS Many people lost their jobs after the fall of the People's Republic of Mongolia and became traditional herders. In 2001 and 2002 Mongolia faced two harsh winters (known as dzuds), and a third of the country's livestock was lost. Thousands of families took up so called ninja mining, searching for quartz or gold on properties large mining companies deemed unmineable. The self-dug mines go up to 20 meters deep and are often very unstable and in danger of collapse. View More CRIME IN CARACAS Crime in Venezuela is widespread, with violent crimes such as murder and kidnapping increasing annually. The country has the second highest murder rate in the world. ​ This collection covers kidnapping gangs, street violence and overcrowded prisons. View More AFRICA DIARIES This collections contains images taken on various NGO assignments in countries across Africa since 2004. ​ The assignments covered child trafficking, drug abuse, sexual assault and poverty in general. View More TRASH KIDS Ghazipur is one of the largest landfills in India. It was opened in 1984 and reached its capacity in 2002 when it should have been closed. But the city’s detritus has kept on arriving each day in hundreds of trucks. Hundreds of people live right on this landfill searching through faeces and garbage for something worth selling to junkyards . View More

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Journalist, writer, former war photographer, geek dad, retro connoisseur, cigar aficionado, cultist, podcaster and curator of pop-culture.

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