Favorite Things: Steve Butts and ‘Babylon Berlin’


This week’s edition of Favorite Things spotlights Steve Butts, the bodaciously bearded bookseller you may have seen working the floor at Schuler Books in Okemos. With the current Coronavirus pandemic, everyone’s been spending ample time at home, so we asked Butts, 47, what’s been getting him through his time in quarantine. The Lansing resident, who’s a Lake Odessa native, said his choice spans mediums. Here’s what he had to say: 

Right now, my favorite thing is “Babylon Berlin,” a German television series that streams on Netflix. The series, which is based upon novels written by German author Volker Kutscher, is set in Berlin during the post-World War I, Weimar Republic. It’s sort of a police procedural, but like “The Wire” it’s very complex and full of webs of intrigue. I think anyone who enjoys the intrigue of “The Wire,” mixed with homages to classic German filmmaking and Baz Luhrmann-style musical cabaret scenes, might find “Babylon Berlin” enjoyable.

My girlfriend, Kris, and I first saw it after it was recommended on our Netflix front page, likely because their algorithm noticed we had watched other foreign television programming. The tense plots and historical basis of the show captured me immediately.

The German socialist republic is unsettled and tumultuous with the emergence of Nazi nationalism, the actions of Trotskyite Russian expats and an increasingly decadent population. 

For Kris and I, the coincidence of the news of a new season concurrent with the pandemic outbreak inspired us to start the series over from the very beginning. We plan on slowly working our way back through it until we complete the recently released season.

I think the show provides a similarly unsettled world to our own. Where upheaval is a daily occurrence. Within the smaller context of the show’s protagonists, there is also a sense of purpose and even accomplishment. I think their ability to function is a useful analogy for not allowing our current difficult situation to overwhelm or paralyze us from action. Plus, watching episodic programs gives us something to look forward to.

Also, I am thankful that the community has a resource like City Pulse, which not only occasionally highlights someone like me, but will keep us informed and help us to determine how to react to local news and inform us of community events.

We’re all in this together—just with the proper social distance.

(This interview was edited and condensed by Rich Tupica. If you have a Favorite Things suggestion, email rich@lansingcitypulse.com.)

City Pulse needs your support now more than ever. Advertising — almost all our revenue —  has fallen sharply because of closures due to the coronavirus. Our staff is working seven days a week to help keep you informed. Please do what you can at this time to contribute to the City Pulse Fund. All donations are tax-deductible. 


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Connect with us