Time for Russian Disco: Wladimir Kaminer turns 54!

Wladimir Kaminer discovered the car for himself late in life. More precisely: with ramp. After six stories, the bestselling author had his driver's licence, and after 53 editions, he added his own ramp podcast. And now? Wladimir is 54 years old! On his birthday, we look back at his best ramp moments.
Text Thomas Crown
Photo Kirill Kirsanov · ramp.pictures

It's the year 2002 and we're still far ahead of the ramp era and Wladimir Kaminer is a resident of Berlin for just 12 years. But the story begins here - with Wladimir's little stories from everyday life. That's right: we're talking about "Russendisko", his first bestseller, which made the author famous at a stroke. A short time later, Kaminer's first column in Auto.Kultur.Magazin ramp followed.

"Even in Moscow, you could cross the street at any intersection with your eyes closed on a red light. The chance of being run over was no greater than winning a car in the lottery."
Wladimir Kaminer

First essay in ramp #3

What makes a hero? Vladimir explores this question in his first text for ramp. And, via Yuri Gagarin and a frustrating traffic jam, he comes to the conclusion: "Even in Moscow, you could cross the street at any intersection with your eyes closed when the light turned red. The chance of being run over was no greater than winning a car in the lottery." Well then.

Vladimir's driving licence

We didn't want to challenge the darned seventh time. Or rather, we didn't want to challenge Vladimir. For the sixth text in the ramp, he wanted to drive himself. How does it feel to get your driving licence at 43? The choices were "feels good", "could be easier", "difficult difficult" and "really scary". You can read which answer Wladimir chose in ramp #9. This much can be revealed: It's entertaining. And you can also find out what an adder in a hot pan has to do with it.

The ramp Podcast

After 53 editions of ramp, the next milestone: Wladimir gets his own ramp podcast: "UNTERWEGS mit Kaminer". In the pilot episode of the new series, he not only tells us what the podcast is about, but also how it all started with him and us. And then there's the matching super super super test in ramp #53 - with lots of BMWs, but also unicorns.

Fashionable insights in rampstyle #22

It's no secret that Wladimir can write well. In the current issue of rampstyle #22, however, he also demonstrates real modelling qualities. Namely in a shoot with fashion photographer Katja Hentschel. But the whole thing is not just a fun event, it is also photographic proof. Because the text is about fashion and identity. Which then raises the question: "Who am I - and if so, how many?

Credit: Katja Hentschel

54 and 54

"It never rains in southern California …", says a well-known song by Albert Hammond. In Berlin, however, that can sometimes be the case. And that's exactly what Wladimir experiences together with publisher and editor-in-chief Michael Köckritz. Two Swabians with a boxer engine are creative accelerators. And in the end, it is clear that it is best to carry the sunshine in your heart and drive through the capital with the umbrella in your boot. More about this in the soon to be published ramp #54.

Wladimir Kaminer was born in Moscow on 19 July 1967. The writer and author has lived in Germany since 1990. In an interview he once summed up his life like this: "I was a hippie and dissident in a communist dictatorship, I was a soldier in a very strange army, I was a refugee in a foreigners' hostel, then a reading-travelling storyteller." His new bestseller is called "The Lost Summer. Germany Smokes on the Balcony" and is published by Goldmann.

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