Archive for January, 2006

Schwarze Haut, weiße Angst and the Parallel Societies

Anarchists in the Haus!

While I waited for the bus, stomping my feet and fighting the cold weather, I noticed some frizzy scribblings ornamenting one of the columns supporting the bridge and the railways somewhere in Kagran. Either It was newly added by some bored teenager/passerby or I just didn’t simply notice it. The graffiti is the opposite of what I usually encounter every time I go to work. I mean, I know that Vienna was used to be the center of arts and all things like that centuries ago but vandalism is certainly the order of the day nowadays. You really cannot miss them. The vandals are rampaging. They like to put their marks everywhere and the city of Vienna is having problems dealing with them.
I don’t really mind them unless a) they start to “uglify” the new buses or train seats and b) they reek of racism/hatred of any kind.
With the point A not only they make the interiors of the vehicles depressing and disgusting (frankly my dear, it is not PUNK ROCK!, okay perhaps I am just getting older), but also a lot of money has been put to waste. With the point B it is a sign of a discontented youth trying to magify his/her hate through the power of words and by unleashing them will send everyone to panic. I mean, gee, Neonazis in the house! All right!
They are all over the place. They are splattered on the walls of the buses, on the trains, under the seats, even the street walls. And the “authors”? They move in shadows. They live, they eat, they work like the normal people. You cannot identify them unless they wear their “uniforms,” which is unthinkable today. Or they show up on your TV blabbering what is wrong with the foreigners without jobs and the best solution is to kick them out.
The first time I read them with my own eyes I was a bit amazed, my mouth agape. But this is the 21st century, right? And the people must have learned their lessons.
Unfortunately Vienna (or the whole Austria, or the whole Europe) hasn’t come to terms with it. Perhaps, parts of it. And this is the trying times. You mix glabalisation with unemployment equals everyone is fucked. Somehow Fortress Europe is afraid to acknowledge that it exists.
Racism exists everywhere, that is a fact. Still, there are a number of people living in this city who are struggling with their identity, shaking off the “Schuldgefühl”, forgetting the past, and worse, they could be the politicians who capitalise in this concept.
The words “Nazis, Bimbo, toten, Neger, Ausländer raus” are something you really cannot deny.
At the end of the day, I thank that Vienna is not Moscow, nor some parts in Russia, where cases of racism are frighteningly increasing, where haters smear synagogues and rabbis are beaten up during daylight and Asian students’ hostels are burned down while the Russian media keep their mouths shut, their eyes close, saying that it is not really happening.
And I hope that it won’t turn out like Paris.
Oh yeah, please tell me the truth. Do the Viennese really read Elfriede Jelinek???

Winter And The People

It is obviously colder than it was before. Well, let’s say its colder than it was in the past weeks.

The City changes when its colder.
People are more silent, i think. A few people praise the winterish coldness while the rest of it hates it and voices this hate.
I do not dislike the coldness, i dislike the people lately. Mister Winter either makes me more aggressive, or it is the shitload of work, or probably i am in my midlife crisis.
Yesterday i had to wait 24 minutes for the U4 subway to pick me up in Spittelau. I was not dressed properly to stand in the coldness, yes that is my fault and not the fault of the Wiener Linien, but still.. I was freezing enough to tremble, which was recognised by a young man who offered me his jacket. Sweet young man, thank you! I didnt accept this sweet offer though.
The subway arrives and a huge crowd stomps to the train and jumps in like a monster was after them. One elbow in your tummy, one feet on yours, a schoolbag in your chest, and a hand on your ass. That is how it feels to use the subway when something is going wrong badly. I dont know what reason the Wiener Linien have to let their customers wait 10 to 20 minutes for a subway in the most crowded times. The coldness probably shocked them, or whatever. It is winter guys, it is supposed to be cold!
Today, the same thing again. This time i was prepared. I wore as many sweaters and socks as i could. I was ressembling the Michelin Männchen pretty damn well.
At least the great amount of people in the subway somewhat brought in some warmth, and i am getting used to hands on my ass, and elbows in my chest.
Not only this makes me a little sad about the people. I see more and more homeless people around, maybe because they are now searching for a warm place. Today i sat in the U6 on my way home from work and noticed a couple who took a handfull of xanor mixed with morphium pills. Yes, i know the brands, hence i knew what they were about to take. I have never noticed something like that in the subway before. Weird things happen lately.
But still, please, dear Wiener Linien, could you pretty please with sugar on top let the subways come and leave within 5 minutes again? yes yes? please please? mkthx.

Gustav Klimt and Austria

Bad publicity is still publicity.
The Belvedere hogs the limelight these days. Last week, a drunkard man threatened to destroy the famous “Adele Bloch Bauer” paintings done by Gustav Klimt along with others if they would be returned to their rightful owner, Maria Altmann, a Viennese-born US citizen.
Though I can understand the man’s “frustration” (patriotism or emotional connection to history, you decide), I don’t know if the Austrian government’s attitude is to blame. The culture and education secretary Elisabeth Gehrer explained that there is simply no money to finance (or pay Ms Altmann) the paintings in question.
An increasing number of visitors flock the museum just to catch the last glimpse of these paintings. Soon Austria will have to say goodbye to them.

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–oo–

I am curious how John Malkovich will fare as the Hollywood reincarnation of Klimt. According to this article, the republic of Austria has never been interested with the famous painter, his works and what he did, even when he was still alive.

Vienna in books: Part 1

According to W. Somerset Maugham, “the wise traveller only travels in imagination.”
Recently, a friend told me how much she hated Wei Hui’s new novel, “Marrying Buddha.” I openly admitted that I am not really impressed with her debut, “Shanghai Baby.” It was superficial, period. The buzz–banning and burning–was not worth it.
The author’s promise (or blame the PR that marketed it as the voice of the new China, or the Shanghai scene) felt short. It was all name-dropping, designer goods-loving tart extravaganza. Perhaps, I was expecting too much. Perhaps, I was thinking that I would get an impression of Shanghai, just a bit of Shanghai. Like I always have upon reading Banana Yoshimoto and Haruki Murakami’s short stories, I see Japan. Or just reading Milan Kundera has given me the opportunity to peek into the communist Czech Republic, not to mention the trials and tribulations of an immigrant. And so on and so forth.
You can’t be wrong in books. Take every young German-speaking boy’s childhood favorite, Karl May, who did travel once or twice to the United States but definitely wrote a great deal about Red Indians and the Wild West using his imagination with the help of maps, etc.
Mind-roaming through reading is cheaper. I guess… It also encourages you to dream, to aspire to see the place yourself.
Weeks ago Kurier reported that the museum Louvre received lots of visitors mainly due to the publication of Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” (“Sakrileg” in german). Honestly, I haven’t read it. And now that it is going to be a movie, the number of people who will be interested to see it will increase. i bet.
This reminds me of “The World According to Garp” by John Irving.
I know that it was made into a movie in 1982. But I am not sure if the readers made their way to Vienna just to see where Franz Grillparzer had lived. The way the character TS Garp made jokes on the poor Viennese writer was harrowingly funny. I asked a few people if they would have his works that I could read. Unfortunately their copies are missing.
One thing that really got me was the author’s reflection on the importance of Vienna in the 20th century. How Garp’s teacher Mr. Tinch, with his stuttering voice, described Vienna as the “real Europe. It was c-c-c-contemplative and artistic. You could sense the sadness and g-g-grandness.””
Hmmm… Could be funny to do “The World According to Garp” tour.
What do you think?

We proudly present: Less comfy seats.

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When I was a younger, the seats in the U3 were dull and comfortable. I can’t quite remember their color, but it was really nice to sit in them – unfortunately, they were often ripped open by what lawpeople call “vandals”, and what I tend to call “fucking punks who should be castrated”. A few years ago, a new kind of seat was introduced – blue, much less comfortable, and covered with a psychedelic mix of symbols, all for the sake of keeping vandals at bay. But it seems that didn’t help either, and now we have those things in the U3. They are made completely of plastic, they’re probably the most uncomfortable thing I ever sat in, and to top it all, they’re butt-ugly. What’s next? Cubist benches made from concrete, colored brown and black? C’mon, I know vandalism probably costs the Wiener Verkehrsbetriebe quite a lot, but it can’t be bad enough to justify this.

On an unrelated sidenote, is it me, or does the amount of insane people always rise shortly after new year’s eve? On a single trip from my home to the Möbel, I was confronted by a guy who constantly screamed that everyone around him should be thrown into the train tracks while he did gymnastics with his duffle bag, a loudly singing sikh who was aiming his flashlight at people as if it were a gun, and a guy who demanded that I show him the nearest place to buy hashish, and made some rather rude remarks about me and my direct family when I declined. O tempora, o mores.

Their lives as a dog

This weekend my vacation is finally coming to a close. It is going to be goodbye quiet Burgenland, hello chaotic Vienna.
The silence and orderliness is very much noticeable here. The streets are devoid of honks and beep-beeps of the cars, the traffic noise coming from the Gürtel, loud people who seem they have drunk litres of alcohol, and worse, dog poops that scattered on the pavements.
In our small village people have a house and they keep their dogs inside. I remember an old neighbour who told us his adventure in Vienna. One afternoon he saw a woman walking her dog. He was standing a couple of feet away when he noticed that she brought her pet closer to the parked car. A few seconds later he was so astonished that the owner didn’t shoo the animal away as it pissed on the tyre thinking that no one was looking around. So as a law-abiding citizen, he confronted the woman by asking if the poor vehicle was hers. She was so embarrassed that she hastily left without giving him a reply.
Our neighbour just shook his head and was relieved that his domicile is not in Vienna.
I heard that dog owners pay a hefty amount of fee to maintain their pets, but by golly, some of them are irresponsible.
(more…)

Egon Schiele meets Barock

I hope all of you had a great and fantastic and alcoholic New Year’s Eve!

Before i left for prague, my Monsieur and I went to the westbahnhof (for what reason ever, i dont remember) and he spotted that great adjustment of advertisements on the wall. What has Egon Schiele to do with Barock? Is he a thief? What the hell am i talking about? Well, see for yourself.

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I dont think it was intended to be this way, and that makes it even better.
Nearly as good as a bottle on a frozen pond.

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Best of 2005 in numbers

Another year, another list. I’d like to bring you some of the more interesting or funny Vienna Metblog 2005 facts here, straigt from our trusty statistics department – well, actually it’s just a perl script, but then, who can tell the difference anyway? Anyway, here goes:

* We had readers from over 25 different countries, and I’d like to send a shout out to the one guy in Norway and that other guy in Saudi Arabia who read us. And to the tens of thousands of other people who do, too, of course.

* 20.2% of our readers use a different operating system than Windows (Mainly OS X, Linux and FreeBSD), and 40.6% use a browser different than Internet Explorer – Firefox takes a strong second place with 20.7%, followed by Safari, the Mozilla browser and Opera.

* 3 out of 4 readers come here directly or via a bookmark, the rest found us thru search engines – it won’t be a surprise to anyone that Google rocks this department, delivering 3 times more readers than MSN who came in second, followed by Yahoo and others.

* Our top referrer this year is *drum roll* – The Guardian! An English newspaper, of all things… oh well. They linked our story about the Gelatin bunny, which obviously interested a lot of people. As another sign of international link goodness, referrer #2 is a polish newspaper, unfortunately their article is no longer online. Cheers to 49Media, Second Silence, Enlarge Your Pen (Prost nach Graz), Wooster Collective, Ostracised from

Doctor’s Orders

One time in December last year after I brought my son’s urine sample (a procedure we have to do until the big day of examination at the St. Anna Kinderspital) to the doctor’s office, this notice, at first, took me by surprise. Then I felt agreeing on the content. I am not imagining. The world is a-changin’. Voila! The pressure of living in the city.
Where is Miss Manners when you really need her?

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Some things change on a new years day

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First of all, my apologies for being so silent for the last weeks – I prepared for and attended 22C3, which took much more of my time and ressources than I had planned – as usual. Anyway, when I came back to Vienna, my first planned stop was the phil – planned because it was, like most shops on New Year’s day, closed. But on my way there, I found this sign, put up by the office of bridge and foundation work – it informs you how to pass a specific obstacle (in this case, some stairs) in case you are somehow unable to pass it on foot – for example, if you are in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller. I’ve seen similar signs in Malm

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