Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Schönbrunn summer night free concert 2008

Schloss SchönbrunnThis is the time of the year when the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will perform again for free tomorrow night, 9 p.m. at the Schloss Schönbrunn in the 13th District, exactly in front of the majestic Neptune Fountain. This is going to be an open-air event where everyone doesn’t need to reserve tickets just to see the famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

If you don’t mind the crowd and standing up, it could be a feast just listening to Austria’s one of “best-known musical institutions.”

Georges Prêtre, who conducted the New Year’s Concert 2008, will be conducting the orchestra tomorrow. It is broadcast to over 50 countries world-wide via the ORF. Well, well, well…

According to the website, in case of bad weather an alternate date will be on Wednesday, June 5, same time, same place.

Reminder: Ring closed off

I, myself, haven’t been near the Ring today, but I just remembered that its closure (rather, the closure of parts of it) was planned for today, so I thought it might be a good idea to post a reminder.

Vienna’s Fan Zone extends from Babenbergerstraße to Schottengasse; all traffic and public transport usually going along this part of the Ring will be diverted until 4 July.

While the website of the Wiener Linien mostly concentrates on providing information on how to get to the Fan Zone (I’d still very much like to know how all affected NightLines will be diverted..), posted a very useful map of alternate routes today (source).

Land der Berge, Land der Neurotiker?

“He wanted to spare his family a shame.”

Or himself, the murderer? I wonder what he was thinking when he killed his own family brutally by ax.

The 39-year-old man, identified only as Reinhard S. by police at a news conference here, turned himself in in the early hours of Wednesday, saying: “The bodies of my dead wife and child are lying in my flat.”

Sources 1&2

According to the authorities the reason for this hideous crime is financial.

But is it only the issue of money? Nothing is known about the man except that he worked as a PR consultant, his wife a government employee. How about his relationship to his dead wife, his deceased parents and father-in-law?

In less than a month after the family drama in Amstetten Austria is again hogging the headlines with another crime such as this.

Once again, the Austrian reputation is in question. What is happening to this country? The suspect doesn’t typify the usual image of a killer. Neighbours talked about the normality of the family: middle class, the husband and wife are both academics, a growing child, a house situated in the so-called noble district, Wien Hietzing or the 13th District. The neighbours didn’t notice anything that could disturb this harmony.

Now they know that there is something wrong. Everything is only facade.

Is there such a thing called Austrian syndrome?

BBC is looking for Austrians.

Yes, the popular British media wants the natives’ opinions/commentaries concerning the “Horror House” or the Amstetten case.

Are you Austrian, and if so how do you think this latest abuse scandal will affect your country’s citizens and will it affect Austria’s reputation internationally? How will the country cope with this in the long term?

The international press, the British especially, believes that it certainly affects the whole country because of (rotting) bad apples that exist in this country.

I find it hard to believe that media have the nerve to pose the above-mentioned questions. First of all, it is not Austria’s fault that evil incarnates also live in this country. When the world is full of them. Second, if only the media (local and abroad) try to check their own (mis)behavior–the paparazzi breaking in to the hospital where the victims are confined, publishing their real names, photos and the address. Instead of leaving them alone, they sensationalise the facts and make a profit out of the victim family’s misery.

Like every nation of the world it has its positive, as well as negative, side. It has a tradition/code of ethics that outsiders cannot easily fathom.

You cannot teach an old dog new tricks but educate the younger ones.

Plus, there’s always Sisi, Gemütlichkeit, Sound of Music and Mozart. In the end, they will prevail over the evil Josef Fs and Wolfgang Priklopils in this country.

The Austrian Syndrome (AKA The Keller Krazees)

Of course the world is abuzz with the latest Austrian kidnapping and imprisonment tragedy. I’ve received many email inquiries — and Austria seems to be debating — the “how” of the whole affair. How can a man who was well-regarded and thought of as totally upright by his village and peers turned out be be, in essence, a horrible monster named Josef F., who imprisoned and raped his own daughter in his own house, fathered seven of her children, and basically lived such a Jeckyl and Hide existence that not one soul suspected a thing despite the fact that he lived with a large family and rented to tenants in the same house.

Just as background, the thumbnail story is that the man imprisoned his young daughter, kept her there for two decades, fathered seven children, one of which died and some of which he brought out of the cellar, placed on his own doorstep and claimed they were the children of the imprisoned daughter, who he claimed had run away to join a religious cult.

It’s unbelievable, really. But I think I have one small piece of the puzzle. I’m not claiming to be an authority on the Austrian psyche, nor criminal psychology, nor anything else. However, I can remember a story that happened to me in Vienna back in 1991 that would probably explain a little bit about how nobody would suspect or, more accurately, allow themselves to believe this man could commit such crimes.

You’ll notice that in most of the news coverage, his neighbors, friend and associates all comment on what a good dresser Josef F. was, and how he was always responsible and authoritarian, and how he was a good business partner, a good consumer of their goods. Many called him “successful.” (In the US, it’s always “quiet” that neighbors say characterizes serial killers or other social miscreants, and in the US, that’s good: if you leave other people alone, you’re not perceived as a problem — but I digress).

When I was a student, I rented a room from an 83 year-old Austrian widow. I and two other students shared her 3 bedroom flat on the top floor of a slightly grimy part of Vienna’s Ninth District very near WUK. The owner of the apartment building was a lawyer with offices on the most-prestigious Stephansplatz in the First District.

The owner’s son, Peter, lived at the end of the hallway in a tiny one room flat. He had a hallway toilet and his bathtub stood in his kitchen. He wasn’t the cleanest fellow, because he was using his bathtub to grow pot. Our landlady warned us off of him, but, eventually, we became somewhat friendly — friendly enough for him to ask us for loans from time-to-time.

Be part of the "naked" history

Oh, well, I am not so sure how to put a title on this. But it fits, don’t you think so?
Of course, I am talking about Spencer Tunick’s Vienna project. Mr. Tunick is known for his nude installation. The effect forms abstract images due to the huge number of persons closely placed together.
Spencer Tunick and Greenpeace
Are you interested to be part of this spectacle? Are you ready to strip and huddle with other naked individuals? Are you just a regular guy or gal? That means, you are not an exhibitionist or a passionate nudist. Yes, funny is it. Read again, if you are a sex maniac, then don’t join. Something like that.
In one of the articles about him, Channel 4 wrote:

Nudity is not new in art and, in this case, being naked in urban settings highlights the contrast of the natural human body and the environments we create to live in. Tunick states, ‘I feel that my nudes are not controversial. The controversy lies in the fact that I am using the city as my landscape.’

Next stop is in Vienna, on May 11 at the Ernst Happel Stadium.
You are not paid to pose but the first 2,008 registered participants will receive a free return train ticket within Austria from the ÖBB.
If it is not enough then maybe a limited edition photograph of the installation in the Ernst-Happel-Stadium will suffice. I know it sounds not too convincing.
So if you are too shy to join the naked hoopla then perhaps taking a peek of what happened on May 11 might interest you (just like me). An exhibition follows on June 23, 8.30 pm at Kunsthalle Wien public space karlsplatz.
Are you ready to join?

Falcogasse soon???


That’s what I heard from any native I talked to after telling them that Ziegelöfengasse in the Fifth District would soon be Falcogasse. It is not definite yet. And I doubt that it will ever happen. I am not sure if the signatures plus the list of prominent people who spoke out to have a Falcogasse would be granted. Take the former mayor of Vienna Helmut Zilk for example. Initiated by Alex Nausner of the 88.6 radio station, he and the supporters think that Falcostiege is not enough to pay an hommage to Austria’s first-ever successful pop musician.

Falco was successful, talented, and just like every artist who got trapped due to a mix of fame/self-doubt/bad friends/money ended deadly.

They said he was a music genius, a Wunderkind like his family, friends, colleagues and fans declared. Maybe he was also one of the “great” musicians Austria has ever had. So why not a street to remember him. But is it really worth it to rename Ziegelöfengasse (since 1862, it was Piaristengasse as the private Catholic school Piaristen is located there, renamed due to a once-standing brick kiln, Ziegelöfen in German) Falcogasse?


What do you think?

Yay or Nay?

What Up, The Weasel?

Anybody know what is up with the U3/U6 delays and the closing of Westbahnhof Station?

As I was riding the U3 today, the announcer first said that the problem was a “security incident” and that the trains would be running “irregularly”. Next, the train operator announced that the fire department had closed Westbahnhof and there would be no ability to change trains there.

Finally, they announced that the U3 was going only as far as Neubaugasse and that from Zieglergasse, one could get to Ottakring — but that the police had closed Westbahnhof.

As usual, none of the Vienna news websites I know of have any information, nor does Wiener Linien

What a storm!

Torn branches in the First District! It was a matter of minutes. First, the dark clouds, then the strong wind. It didn’t stop. It became stronger, really stronger. We were sitting in the garden, suddenly, a colleague shouted: “Time to take cover!” And everyone was inside the building.

Then the whole area was enveloped in darkness as the strong wind forced the trees to do a powerful dance. Twisting, turning, waving, cracking. More! I hurried to the bus station. I tried to call someone but it was difficult to get through. Then I stopped at the sight of a flower basin already cracked in front of me. The flowers were unharmed but the soil was already sprawled on the pavement. Tis a pity for the owner who wasn’t at home. Or who might be there but couldn’t do anything.

Then I got afraid that the flying debris–from the broken pieces of vases, pots, bottles or roof and blocks–would fall on me or scarce or hit my face or whatever part of my body. Suddenly, it dawned on me that it was a scene I remember from childhood. Tropical storms. Typhoons. Or even a movie like “Twister” as the dark clouds became compact and later would form a deadly cone.

It was sudden and astonishing by the sudden outpour of water and lashing of the wind. According to Der Standard, two people died in Vienna. Barbra Streisand cancelled her Schönbrunn concert tonight only to pursue it tomorrow, Friday. And the Donauinselfest? Come rain or shine the Danube music festival will go on.

Open-air cinemas in Wien


If you are planning to spend the hot summer nights in Wien, might as well spend it via chasing the stars. I mean, the stars of the movies while sitting under the hopefully star-filled night. Okay, that sounds so cheesy.

We all know the popular Kino Unter Sternen, which features a tribute to the stellar US comedian Jerry Lewis. It will run from June 28 till August 12. Apart from the comedian’s films, other movies to be screened include “Science of Sleep” with the fantastic and pretty Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, Roman Polanski’s “Dance of the Vampires,” and etc.

Now the city’s Main Library will also have its own open-air cinema and it is going to be on the library’s rooftops. Called Lichter der Großstadt (The lights in the metropoles), it is already in its fourth season. This year’s theme will the significance of big cities such as Vienna, New York, and Saigon and will kick off on June 22 till July 1. It will be a mishmash of classics, rarities, and succesful films. For Vienna the feature movie will be “Exit-nur keine Panik” and for NewYork it will be Spike Lee’s “Summer of Sam,” his cinematic rendition to revisit the serial killer Son of Sam and the situation of NYC around this time. I read that the admission costs will be €7 and € .50 cent higher for Kino Unter Sternen.

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