Archive for the ‘7 Gifts’ Category

Vienna’s Seventh Gift to the World: Vienna Virus and the consequences

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Viruses are programs that self-replicate recursively, meaning that infected systems spread the virus to other systems, which then propagate the virus further. While many viruses contain a destructive payload, it’s quite common for viruses to do nothing more than spread from one system to another.

During the early days of malware, most people had no idea what a virus was or how it spread. It wasn’t until the “Vienna” virus of 1987 attracted media attention that people began to take interest. A search was on for the author of “Vienna” and it was a high school student from (guess what) Vienna who created the code as an experiment. A guy called Bernt Fix was able to neutralize the “Vienna” outbreak, bringing to light the antivirus industry.

So, first big media attention for a virus and first neutralisation procedure of a virus. Not bad, I would say.

Vienna’s Sixth Gift to the World: Coffee(houses)

The Viennese middle class is quite xenophobic. Nothing particularly special about that, if there wasn’t the second “Türkenbelagerung”. Just for the sake of making the intro of this article more interesting, I conclude that the battle still has social significance up until today. And it might even really make sense, as, that’s when the idea of “coffeehouses” was, once again, migrated from Asia to Europe.

While the first coffee was served in Berlin, we were smart enough to apply an early form of guerrilla marketing, certainly out of the subconscious but obsessive perfectionism, by sweetening the otherwise bitter black cup of liquid. Milk! Honey! (Sugar!) World fame!

Of all the opened coffeehouses over Europe, Vienna’s are those that kept traditions, of course with European modifications, yet always going with the zeitgeist. Quite common today for example, are the types where the alternative/creative industry/artsy fartsy people hang out. But self service? Good luck finding one. We prefer grumpy editions of waiters, occasionally forgetting and mixing up your order.

Lots of surrounding explanation, what does that practically mean? As opposed to other places, coffeehouses count as “living space”. You don’t order, drink, and leave as soon as you’ve finished – you sit down, and stay for hours, maybe even the whole day. The best part is, you don’t have to consume all the time, but you get free tap water (of incredibly quality, but that’s worth another story) as soon as you’re done with whatever’s on your table.

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The lovely ceiling of the Prückel

There are still cafés with the same furniture as 50 years ago, and there are cafés that are also a record store, or furniture store. There is local jargon, as well as actual specialities like Einspänner and Melange, of which the latter is similar to a Cappuccino.

There’s far too much to explain here, so since there is far too much alcohol in my blood to make this straight, I’ll upload this embarrassing piece of blah just to force you to visit us and feel for yourself ;)

Vienna’s Fifth Gift to the world: New Electronic Music

Some day back in 1991 music programmer Klaus Filip introduced his new music production tool Iloop to his friend Christoph Kurzmann, who installed it on his laptop to use it as a completely new voice in improvisational music. While the rest of the world fell prey to grunge-rock in Vienna the birth of a new musical genre happened: electronic music, or to be more precise: a special kind of electroacustic improvisation. And because Kurzmann was the first to do this, I declare this Viennas gift to the world #5.

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And for some years the Viennese electronic music scene became the spearhead of progressive music making (again). Christoph Kurzmann founded Charhizma records, his friend and London ex-pat Peter Rehberg aka Pita co-founded Mego together with Ramon Bauer aka Sluta Leta and they were the first to release music by Fennesz. In 1995 the hugely infulential PhonoTaktik festival drew people and artists from all around the world. The music still is everything a regular music listener doesn’t want: usually slow paced, amorphous and refusing to fall into regular rhythms, minimal to monotony, perusing noise to form atmosphere and harmonies. Moreover usually completely instrumental and with a mania for detail only otherwise found in japanese artist’s work. And it is still the most exciting kind of music for people fanatic about music, aka readers of The Wire.
Then Kruder & Dorfmeister went on to global fame and in their wake Vienna was drowned underneath tons and tons of laid back grooves that became known as the Vienna coffee house sound. But the remains of these more forming years from 1991 to 1995 can still be heard in what has become known as clicks’n’cuts, minimal techno and too many other genre names that are too hard to follow but exciting to discover. If you want to check out history in your local record store, search for names like: Pita, Kurzmann, Fennesz, General Magic, Farmers Manual, Bruckmayr, Thilges3, Sluta Leta, Patrik Pulsinger, Lichtenberg, amo.

Vienna’s Fourth Gift to the World: Fusion cuisine

SchnitzelViennese cuisine – “Die Wiener Küche” – is famous far beyond the borders of this country. Most people can identify at least a few dishes as typically Viennese. But a lot of those people don’t know that we stole borrowed most of what comprises the local cooking.

Take Palatschinken, for example. This typical Viennese dessert originally came from Romania (The name was derived from the latin Placenta, by the way.) Most other sweets, like apple strudel or Buchteln were taken from Bohemia, with the exception of Golatschen, a pastry made from flaky dough, which we got from the Czech.

Goulash is considered quintessentially Viennese, which is partly correct, because at the time we acquired the recipe from the Hungarians, Austria-Hungary was still one country. The same can’t be said for Munich, the city that gave birth to Leberkäse, one of the best things you can put into a bread roll, according to the Viennese.

Well, at least the Wiener Schnitzel is a true Viennese dish – meaning we took the recipe from the Italians.

Now, exchanging recipes between cultures is nothing unheard of – actually, it was quite common throughout the ages. But the Chutzpah of combining all the cuisines of the neighbouring countries and areas into a big stew, sprinkling it with tiny details like Sachertorte and calling it out traditional way of cooking was something rather new and innovative. And it was this cunning that gave way to modern-day culinary adventures like Tex-Mex and California maki. Which, I guess, can be considered a good thing.

Vienna’s Third Gift to the World: Waltz

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One can trace the origin of waltz to Vienna and it became fashionable during the late 1700s. Soon, the whole Europe and then world caught this dancing fever. Now the world knows many variations of waltz. And to distinguish it, the Viennese call theirs Viennese waltz or the Wiener Walzer. And I don’t know how many can actually dance it. You see I tried and what happened was I got dizzy all right?

Like every dance step/trend, waltz was considered earlier to be vulgar and crude by the society. If this story was true, a newspaper in London commented on its editorial, “We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last … it is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressure on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”

The most famous of all waltz songs is “The Blue Danube” or An der schönen blauen Donau composed by Johann Strauss the Younger. You can always hear this one played from the yearly Neujahrskonzert and the Opernball, the highlight of the Austrian carnival season. Next year expect its return on your TV screens.

Vienna’s Second Gift to the World: The Zentralfriedhof

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The Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) is the largest and most famous cemetery among Vienna’s nearly 50 cemeteries. Opened in 1874, this enormous cemetery spans 2.4 square kilometres with 3.3 million interred here.

In the late 19th century architects hired by the Viennese city government planned a new cemetery for the growing capital of the huge Austo-Hungarian Empire. Calculations predicted a population of 30-50 million (sic!) Viennese by the end of the 20th century… so the Central Cemetery was designed to fit those giganto-futuristic numbers. A big wall was built around the area.
The Empire collapsed after WWI… two decades later WWII started… and — although Vienna is prospering — today only around 2 million people live in Vienna.
There is a special forest management department for the cemetery. And a big drive hunt takes place from time to time to force deer and other animals out of the cemetery.

Well. We have enough space for all of you, folks, but I’m not sure if we should invite you. That would be morbid. But — actually — “morbidity” could be “Vienna’s Third Gift to the World”.

Vienna’s First Gift to the World: The Subconciousness

For the next seven days, the Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days (to see what the rest of the world is contributing, click here).

There was a guy around called Sigmund Freud. He was a Viennese neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind.

Think about it. Or not.

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(Don’t be afraid, it’s just an animated gif.)

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