September 2002 Archives

Jet lag


I'm trying to stay up until 10pm so that my sleep schedule will be somewhat back to normal. We got back (to home -- the plane landed 2 hours before that) around 6 tonight.

I have notes on the last few days, so I'll put that up soon. One tidbit to tide you over until then: The airport in Vienna has a cafe called Ikarus, complete with a mural of him falling from the sky. Yikes.

Billy Budd + some Museums in Vienna

Last night we went to see Britten's "Billy Budd" at the Vienna Staatsoper. The cast and music were great, but the design and production were lousy. Simon Keenlyside was a very attractive (and beautiful-sounding) Billy Budd, James Morris (Wotan in the Met's Ring) was Claggart, and Michael Roider was an excellent Captain Vere. I think the Captain is the most interesting (and sympathetic) character in a pretty depressing opera. I had heard it on the radio before, but I had never seen it live. I hadn't realized how blatant the homoerotic aspects of the opera are, and I'm amazed by what Britten got away with. At one point Claggart sings about his "depravity" while musing on the beauty of Billy Budd. The audience was much better-dressed than a Met audience, even the teenagers.

Afterward we went to the Palmenhaus, which is a restaurant in a Jugendstil greenhouse with at least 50' ceilings. The food was excellent, but it was SO LOUD.

Oops, I forgot to mention that when we were at the Staatsoper to buy our Billy Budd tickets, we went to Arcadia, the opera CD store on the ground floor. I bought Malcom McLaren's "Fans" album. It seemed appopriate.

We went to see the Vienna Secession building this morning and saw a beautiful work by Gustav Klimt called the Beethoven Frieze. It's a visual interpretation of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Klimt has never been one of my favorite artists of that era -- I'm more partial to Egon Schiele -- but this was fabulous. In the shop you could buy a snowglobe with the building in it.

Next we visited the Academy of Fine Arts to see the Bosch Last Judgement Tryptich, and then went on to the Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg. I don't normally do so much museum stuff on vacation, but there are so many important works here that I would never see in NYC. After lunch we saw the Imperial Apartments in the Hofburg. We had drinks afterward at Halle, a beautiful cafe/restaurant at the Kunsthalle filled with attractive people (including the waiters). We also walked around the new MQ (Museum Quartier), a collection of buildings near the Hofburg being changed into spaces to be used for temporary contemporary art projects.

We had dinner again tonight at Neu Wien -- this time for me to have my first Wiener Schitzel in Vienna. It's a really great restaurant, with slightly nouvelle cuisine, good wines and service, and a really attractive space.

All of the public squares and parks in Vienna have statues of famous artists who spent time in Vienna -- composers, writers, poets, etc. New York should really do the same.

Judenplatz, etc. in Vienna

We went to Judenplatz (Jew Square) to see the Rachel Whiteread-created Holocaust Memorial. Then we went to the Judenplatz Museum, which has the excavated remains of this first synagogue in Vienna. Parts of it date from around 1240, and it was destroyed in 1421as part of a wave of anti-Semitic persecution. Parts of the synagogue were then used to build part of the University of Vienna.

We visited the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore before that. One of the things I spotted was a textbook called "American Civilization: An Introduction". It had photographs of an American flag, fireworks over the U.S. Capitol, and Ricky Martin on the cover. They also had a series of books called the Xenophobe's guide to... They were sold out of the American one -- apparently it's quite popular.

We then had lunch at Restaurant Gustl Bauer on Drahtgasse after the Judenplatz Museum. The good was great, with a good atmosphere. The table next to us was a group on a culinary tour. You can basically get any kind of tour in Vienna it seems. The one American turned out to be a chef at the Ritz Carlton in Maui.

Melk/Nazis, then on to Vienna

In the morning we went to a big (and very good) exhibit, sponsored by the town, on Melk and Nazism, 1938-1945. There were specific names and addresses of Jews who had lived in the town, and their experiences -- ranging from survival to death in a concentration camp. There were a lot of photos of the town in that period, including one of our hotel decorated with Nazi banners on May 1, 1938 -- the Anschluss was in March of that year. The exhibit included posters made my children in the local school with photos and text. There were pieces of bomb shrapnel on display from when the town was bombed, front pages from local newspapers, official city notices, and photographs from the concentration camp at the edge of town plus nearby Mauthausen. They did an interesting job of also showing what happened at the end of the war -- expulsion of Germans from points east such as Czechoslovakia, and the prosecutions and executions of pro-Nazi officials of the town at the end of the war.

Afterward we went to one of the great Baroque buildings of Europe, the Melk Abbey (Stift Melk). It is still a functioning Dominican, abbey, and I was really struck, particularly after the Nazi exhibit, by the element of battle present everywhere -- angels battling, the battle of good vs. evil in the world, etc. It was recently restored, and many of the exhibits (including some religious propoganda) are pretty high-tech. The restoration was paid for from the proceeds of the sale of the abbey's Gutenberg Bible to Harvard.

We then drove along the Wachau wine area toward Vienna, stopping at the Kirchenwirt Restaurant in Weissenkirchen for lunch. It was a great meal with good local wine in a very tasteful room -- which isn't always an easy thing to find in this part of the world.

Our arrival in Wien was a NIGHTMARE. It's very hard to navigate (in a car) the streets of Vienna to a hotel on a small street without really knowing the proper route in advance.

I LOVE VIENNA. It's a fabulous city, and feels much more like a real city than Munich. It also feels very un-American in a way. The people are pretty sophisticated, and make even New Yorkers look like we don't care about our weight. As a city, it's so "out of the way" in terms of its importance today, but it doesn't seem to matter at all. It's a very cosmopolitan and attractive city. We looked at restaurants on along a street near us called Baeckerstrasse, which has several interesting choices. We chose a very attractive restaurant called Neu Wien (New Vienna) that turned out to be excellent. We had a classic of Vienna -- tafelspitz (boiled beef) with a great Vienna wine called Wiener Trilogie. On the walk back to the hotel we walked by a plaque on a building near our hotel stating that Robert Schumann had lived there for a bit.

On to Melk

We drove along the Donau (Danube) today. At one point we had to stop on a country road to allow several pheasants to pass. Yesterday it was some ducks. We could see evidence of last month's floods, including broken windows in the little shrines that show up along the road in the countryside. We visited the abbey of St. Florian, because that's where Bruckner lived for years, as the church organist. We saw the church, the organ, and his grave, but not the abbey itself because we weren't part of a group of at least six. We had lunch at a restaurant down the hill -- the Gasthof Erherzog Franz Ferdinand (the one whose assassination set of World War I).

We're spending the night in Melk at Hotel Zur Post. They have historical photographs of the town in the hallways, and I commend them for having photos of a pro-Nazi rally in the town on May 1, 1938. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant. We ate wild duck, and it really was wild. There was a bit of grape shot left in it. At the end of the meal we had a homemade walnut schnapps that was excellent.

Last night in Bad Ischl

We just got back to the room from Sud, the "modern" restaurant near our hotel. After we asked, our big blonde waiter (with earring in right ear, which seems to work the same way here as in the USA), told us that it was his restaurant, open since December. It's good, updated food, with a few classic German/Austrian dishes on the menu. The crowd was cool -- a lot of young people, plus people travelling through the area. The kitchen had an electric eye-activated slidind door, through which we could see the chefs cleaning everything with cloths and spray bottles at the end of the evening.

I liked the fact that, when we were looking at an Austrian magazine, the waiter asked whether he could "translate anything for us". The building was once a salt-processing building -- this area has been rich from the existence of salt since the Iron Age. During World War II, artworks in the area were protected from Hitler, plus Allied bombing, in the salt caves in this area.

We had an amazing sort-of-dessert-wine called Isabella that is local to this area. Isabella seems to be the grape.

One of the things I like about the German-speaking world, by which I really mean Germany and Austria, is the sociability of restaurants. It is common practice to greet others upon entering a room in a restaurant, and to say "Auf wiedersehen" upon leaving the room for good.

One of the things I noticed today, that I didn't mention in my earlier post, is that historical museums in this area often put contemporary art on display as well. The photo museum at Sissi's Teehaus mixed historical photographs with a display of contemporary works. The Bad Ischl Stadt Museum had sculpture by an Italian artists. I've seen this in other towns as well. I can't really imagine that in a small town museum in America.

I just saw a few minutes of Bush on CNN talking about the economy. I can't believe he has any support in America, where the "common man" watches much more TV than I do. He's a complete idiot, incapable of forming a decent sentence or explaining a simple concept. I feel horrified as an American when I watch him. Here in Europe, I search for some graceful way to let people know that not all Americans are warmongers, and that it's OK to tell us that our President is an idiot. As I read the coverage of the Germany election, all I can think is that they're just being polite. I'm sure that most European governments would love to say, "it's scary that the man with his finger on the nuclear button is such an idiot with no advisers with any historical knowledge".

"doing" Bad Ischl

We spent the day walking around Bad Ischl itself, on a rather cold and rainy day. I can hear the ducks on the river through the (slightly) open window of our hotel room, and watch a big flock of starlings. I'm not really uploading pictures right now, since I'm on a dialup.

We first visiting the Teehaus (Tee House) of Empress Elizabeth, popularly called "Sissi". Apparently there is a trilogy of movies about her starring Romy Schneider, and she is very big as a romantic heroine in this part of the world. She was beautiful and intellectually curious, learning how to photograph soon after it was invented, and building a villa on Corfu for when she needed to "get away". She was assassinated by an Italian anarchist while on a trip to Geneva in 1898.

We then saw the Kaiservilla, or the summer palace of Franz Josef I. It is a beautiful small Biedermeier palace, and It is still privately owned (and partially occupied) by a descendant of the family. The texts on the homepage say that the Kaiser allowed any subject of the empire to visit the interior, including his private apartments, when he was not in residence.

The thing that most struck me on the tour was when we saw the desk where he signed the declaration of war against Serbia, which began World War I. Looking at the desk, I remembered how many people died in that war (mostly young men), and I felt ill -- similar to the way I felt when I have visited sites of Nazi horrors, such as Dachau. Every town in Europe has a memorial to its sons who died in that war.

Finally, after lunch, we visited the Museum der Stadt Bad Ischl -- the town museum. We were both surprised by how good it was, and we actually ran out of time and were told it was time to leave. There are rooms on the history of the region, the city itself, the Imperial family, folk music, traditional costume, etc. There are a few neat rooms that are reconstructions of a peasant house, and one of a combined home/inn/tavern.

More wandering in Austria - Styria

We drove through pretty countryside in Styria today, having lunch at a tasteful, attractive restaurant called Pilz Stub'n at the edge of Filzmoos There was a table of three older ladies in once corner, drinking coffee and trying their recently purchases chocolates from Salzburg (about an hour's drive away). They also got into a discussion with the waiter on different types of coffee that the restaurant made -- expresso vs. coffee vs. "kleiner Brauner". I think the kleiner Brauner is just espresso served with a tiny pitcher of cream on the side. We had a traditional soup native to the area (and rarely found) called farfel-suppe. It's a broth made by boiling smoked beef, plus dumplings with little bits of the beef. We talked to the waiter when he asked where we were were from, where we were travelling, etc. When we mentioned New York, he said it was a beautiful city, but it wasn't for him, since he was a "Bergkind" (mountain child).

I'm amazed by how carefully resources are used here, compared to the USA. Over time, as the world starts to have conflicts over resource limits, this area of the world is going to work out things much better than our country. Clothes made of expensive wool or leather (like trachten -- traditional clothing -- epecially home-made) have different prices based on size. I also see recycling bins, for separating different types, everywhere -- including gas stations.

There are so many details like this -- clean bathrooms, well-maintained roads even in rural areas, public transit available even between villages with hundreds of people -- that make Germany and Austria, and most of Europe, so attractive. I know many of my friends don't really understand my Euro-philia, but I think the things one sees after travelling here regularly, especially if you have a little bit of money and don't have to "backpack it", make one realize what a rich, thoughtful society is capable of. I'm very frustrated that a country as rich as the USA manages its resources and public infrastructure so badly. The quality of life is so high here for people, even if they don't have a lot of money.

I see on the news that Bush isn't sending congratulations to Schroeder on being re-elected as Chancellor of Germany. Apparently it's anti-American to disagree with the policies of an out of control president who wasn't even elected with a majority of votes. I hope the rest of the world realizes that many Americans are horrified by Bush and this march to war.

We went driving around to some of the beautiful towns in this area of Austria, the Salzkammergut -- including St. Wolfgang and Hallstadt. We had a late lunch at the Cafe Zauner here in Bad Ischl. It is the oldest pastry vendor/cafe in Austria, and historically was a supplier to the Emperor and the aristocracy. At one time it was said that the way to learn what was going on in the empire was to listen to gossip at the tables. As it was crowded, we shared a table with a really handsome older couple. She looked like good peasant stock -- her hands were bigger than any men I know, and he looked like Bruckner.

We had dinner tonight at the hotel restaurant, since many places in this town aren't open for dinner on Sunday night. Our handsome, lederhosen-wearing waiter reminded me of a younger, tall and skinny Bill Arning.

There are public internet terminals with webcams scattered about in public places in small towns here in Austria. Last night we were walking around Bad Ischl around 9pm, and we saw two teenage guys in front of one of them. They must have had the webcam on, because one was dancing around in front of the terminal.

I hurt my back for no apparent reason, so I don't feel up to writing more right now. We're occasionally watching the BBC World News for the German election results.

From Munich to Bad Ischl

We found a hotel, The Goldenes Schiff (The Golden Ship) -- in Bad Ischl. It was the summer capital of the Austro-Hungarian for at least 60 years. The Crawford, Texas of Emperor Franz Joseph, but with culture and pretty buildings and great pastries.

On the drive here from Munich we were slowed down at one point by young men wearing traditional clothing -- wool hats, lederhosen, etc. -- herding cows across the road.

We had lunch on the way at Hotel Gasthof Mauthaeusl in southern Bavaria. They were having a tournament of the card game Scharfkopf (sharp head), which James's family in Wisconsin, who came from northern Bavaria to the U.S. 150 years ago, also plays.

Last night in Munich, things were already starting to get rowdy one day before the official beginning of Oktoberfest. For the first time I saw drunk, loud, people in the streets. Along the lines of icky people, there was also a CDU/CSU rally (the Christian conservative parties) in Marienplatz, the main square of the historic center.

While watching TV tonight in the hotel room, I saw some performances of pop stars on German TV shows. I was really struck by how "controlled" and choreographed British and American music stars are at this point. The Germans looked so amateurish compared to how our pop stars now look on TV. I'm not saying the music's any better or worse, just that the production values are so different.

We had dinner at a restaurant visible across the narrow Traun river from our hotel room. It's called the Weinhaus Attwenger, and we absolutely had to go there once we read that it was a place where Anton Bruckner dined many times when he stayed here in the summers. There is a plaque near the entrance with a relief of his head in profile and a text telling us this fact.

We love Mark Twain

The rush towards war with Iraq is a horrifying thing to watch via the German newspapers -- it's the top story in all of the papers here, even though a national election will be held in two days. I sit in restaurants here in Munich, and I can hear that people are talking about Bush and the U.S. Regarding war and the politicians, I bring you a selection from Mark Twain:

The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger" (1910)

Munich -- corporate art

An office building near our hotel has a cool neon sculpture on the ground floor. Photo courtesy of James.

Munich - geekitude

I was harsher than I had to be, and some would say shallow, in my previous post about the appearance of my fellow geeks. I guess it's not that bad, but part of my overreaction is that I find smart people (men and women) sexy. An average-looking person with a good mind is HOT, in a way that a well-toned body housing an incurious mind is not. The other problem is the astounding lack of social skills in a lot of geeks. I realize that's not exactly breaking news, but the reason I've found myself in the technical world over the last decade is precisely because one can now find interesting people in the tech world who are interested in something other than science fiction and Monty Python.

One of the weird things I see here is people keeping their computers on during a presentation -- writing email, reading slashdot, even writing code. I'm sure they believe that they're multi-tasking, but at times even people sitting in the front row do it, and then ask questions that show they haven't been paying attention. They even did it during the talk by Larry Wall, the inventor of Perl.

Munich, Geeks, Alte Pinakothek

I'm trying to write a little bit before I fall asleep. My geek conference started yesterday. Except for a few fabulous exceptions, such as this Dutch guy:

dutch perl guy - one of the presenters

this group makes all of the financial conventions I've attended look like a supermodel gathering. Loads of pasty, out of shape guys with long hair and beards -- not as a fashion statement, but for low maintenance. Not that I have much of an excuse on the beard-while-traveling front right now.

The exceptions are generally from Europe. The guys from Copenhagen are in a class all their own, as are a few of the German ones.

For the Mac fans -- Macs make up a majority of the computers here at the conference.

I was pleased to see my fellow Americans making fun of Bush. I feel like wearing a big "I'm not one of those bad Americans" button while I'm here. It's horrifying to see the U.S. and Iraq on the front page of every paper here each morning.

Today was a phenomenal day on the food front. We had lunch at Pfistermuehle (Pfisterstrasse 4). Wow! It was incredible. I had a trio of soups for my appetizer: venison broth with a pistachio dumpling, foamed cream of chestnet mushrooms, and a creamed fennel and celery root soup. That was followed by homemade ravioli filled with freshwater crayfish -- yes they have those here -- on a bed of Savoy cabbage. It was accompanied by a bottle of Austrian Gruener Veltliner.

We went to the Alte Pinakothek for three hours tonight -- it's open until 10pm on Thursdays. I always knew they had an amazing collection, but I saw so many paintings tonight that I have loved for years, but only knew from books. They have a huge number of Breughels (8 rooms!), Duerers, Cranachs, Rembrandts, Titians, etc. I finally got to see the Rembrandt self-portrait I've always loved:


The museum building was damaged by bombing in WW II, and it's interesting to see that they've chosen to make it obvious in places that they've only partially restored the building. There are areas that were once more decorative that have been left plain.

We had dinner afterward (at 10pm) at an Italian restaurant in a passage called Amalianpassage between our hotel's street (Amalienstrasse) and Turkenstrasse. The restaurant, Il Baretto, was pretty authentically Italian. The older woman waiting on us said she had lived in Germany for 40 years, but she was still Italian. She was from Naples, my favorite city in Italy. We all three spoke in a mixture of German, Italian and English. I told her that my simple (and perfect) pasta dish couldn't be made in NYC today, and she said that was because they were all American there now, instead of Italian.

When she found out we were from New York, she went, "Ooooh", and frowned. I told her, "It's OK", and she said something like "the world just goes on". We also told her we really hated Bush, that he was terrible. She responded, "like Berlusconi".


Universities are much more cool these days. There is an open wireless network here at the site of the conference, so that I can use my notebook anywhere to connect.

At breakfast there was guy sitting at the other end of our table who I was convinced was an American geek headed for the same conference -- he was wearing a Basics t-shirt after all. He turned out to be a French journalist here to cover a big motorcycle show. We apologized for thinking he might be American.

Munich - a couple of pictures

The Wittelsbachs weren't prudes when it came to art. This is a picture of a satyr in one of the interior courtards of the Residenz -- one of the royal palaces:


I like the uniforms worn by workmen doing street work here in Germany:

worker outfit.jpg

Munich - Pinakothek der Moderne

I got the high-speed wireless networking at my hotel here in Munich working. Yeah! No more ghastly earthlink international dialup at 28.8 kbps.

Today we went to the brand spanking new Pinakothek der Moderne on its opening day. It's a new modern/contemporary art museum. How often do I get a chance to go to a new museum on its first day? The building itself doesn't seem all that distinguished in terms of architecture, but it works for showing the work, and it's designed to allow lots of ways to see the other people in the museum.


After I registered for my geek conference, we had a fabulous late lunch at Cafe Greco, a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant in the Neue Pinakothek, or more accurately, outside of it.

After walking around the gay area of Munich a bit, we had dinner at a beautiful restaurant called Faun at Hans-Sachs-Strasse 17. The staff was all gay, and the crowd was an amazing mix -- elderly couples from the neighborhood, gay guys and the women who love them, a few cycling/hiker types, etc. They even had wild hare on the menu!

On the way to the University for my registration, we walked by St Markus Kirche. They had an exhibit by Beate Passow on the pillars of the inner sanctuary, in which she put images in light boxes of famous crucifixion paintings (Cranach, Rubens, Dali, etc.) where the Christ figure had been erased. The title of the exhibit came from a Raymond Pettibon quote: "As long as he suffers there is hope". The bulletin board of the church, at the entrance, had the most amazing collection of items: a graph of apartment availability in Munich (it's an expensive city with affordable housing problems), a map of Afghanistan accompanied by a photo from Schroeder's visit there, and a map of the Nazi's plan for transforming Munich.


On a happier note, we walked around the Englischer Garten and had lunch at the outside tables near the Chinese Pagoda. There was a film crew of young, cute Germans eating near us, including this fine specimen, with a Brownsville(!) t-shirt:


One of the things that amazes me about this part of the world is that they use glass everywhere. They don't give you plastic when you have a beer at an outside area on picnic tables -- you get sturdy china plates and glass beer or wine glasses. Even at an Esso (Exxon) gas station, you can drink coffee in a real cup and saucer.

Munich - Geschwister Scholl

We visited the Geschwister Scholl Platz today. They were a brother and sister who were killed by the Nazis for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets at the Ludwig Maximilian University. The memorial is very good -- there are ceramic versions of the leaflets on the pavement near the windows from which they were thrown.




We arrived this afternoon after visiting the memorial chapel for Ludwig II on the Starnbergersee.

It was a nightmare getting to the hotel, because several of the main roads were closed for an ecological/pedestrian friendly thing called Street Life -- yes, in English.

It was amazing to see this grand boulevard -- Ludwigstrasse -- free of cars:

Roll 14 - 75.JPG

OK, it's not totally free of cars in the picture, but that's people cleaning up and an ambulance.

Reutte, Austria

The second of the two castles visible from our balcony was lit tonight for the first time. There were fireworks, which sounded like guns being fired as they echoed through the valley. We had dinner at the Hotel Maximilian, run by a dynamic woman named Gabi with perfect English. A group of Americans (probably a church group) got together in the next room and sang after they had dinner. An older man and a hunky young blond man with rosy cheeks arrived near the beginning of our meal, both wearing traditional loden jackets and green wool hats.

After dinner we went for a couple of drinks to the Braue Keller, a cool place in the center of Reutte. It's basically a stone cellar that is now surrounded by a modern wooden building. The crowd was attractive people of college/graduate school age, some gay, some not. The 3 bartenders were fabulous women in their 20s and 30s that would not be out of place in a cool East Village bar. One of them was dressed in early 17th century attire as she ran about filling drinks, talking with patrons, etc. She had a friend sitting at one end of the bar who was dressed like Marie Antoinette, drinking Sekt and smoking cigarettes.

The high altitude and relatively dry air here are kicking my ass. I'm getting a sore throat, but I think it's just dryness. It's not as if I'm going to stop having coffee and alcohol to compensate.

Reutte, Austria

We spent the day driving along several high-altitude routes in the Alps.

We had lunch in Bielerhoehe (2000 meters above sea level), with a view of the big lake at the top of the Silvettrastrasse , a high-altitude mountain road in the Alps. There are a lot of people in the area riding bicycles or hiking, even elderly people. As we left our progress was slowed by a young, small, dark-haired cowherd (very Alpine) with his herd of cows crossing the road.

I'm amazed by the amount of public transportation available here. At this remote location, 2000 meters up, there is a bus stop, and there are more along the way, to allow people to ride a bus up into the mountains, walk until they're tired, and then take a bus home.

Reutte, Austria

At breakfast, writing some notes. The people in this area (Reutte/Tirol) are very friendly. I've never been anywhere in the world where surly teenagers working at convenience stores were likely to smile and say hello while serving you. The men are generally pretty handsome, and teenage boys on bicycles are likely to smile at you as they ride by. A teenage boy with his hair dyed red giggled and smiled at me as he walked by me on the main street of Reutte yesterday, and then ducked into a cafe to join his friends.

Our pension (Pension Waldrast just outside of Reutte) has a big friendly and slow-moving dog named Bari. We have a view of two different castle ruins from the balcony of our suite, for all of $55/night.

Another table at breakfast was a group of Americans, who seemed to be veterinarians. They happily talked about things like delivering calves and difficult births as they ate breakfast. I was impressed when all four of them got into a Ford Ka to go somewhere.


Yesterday was basically a blur. Yes, I got to fly business class, and sit in a barca-lounger seat, but we had turbulence over the middle of the Atlanctic (?) and I didn't sleep much.

One thing I do remember from the flight was having a plastic knife but a real metal fork. What's the point of that? Americans and their government are stupid.

At the airport in Frankfurt I was surprised to find the baggage claim area had signs that said "Smoke Free Terminal", although I had seen people smoking in other areas before we got to that place. They have their priorities in order: no smoking, but the airport has a branch of the Beate Uhse chain where you can buy porn and dildos.

We had a rather mediocre lunch at an atmospheric little place in Eberbach, a town most famous for being the place where Queen Victoria was conceived. Let's not think about proof on that one. The most distinctive thing about lunch was the fact the the preisel berry sauce served with my Hirschbraten (venison) was topped with whipped cream.

We spent the night in Gundelsheim, a very beautiful little city on the Neckar, at the Hotel Restaurant Zum Lamm. The owner/chef, Fritz Schmid, is a good cook and a total wacko. There are a lot of pictures scattered about of him at his various hobbies -- cooking, antique cars, etc. There's a sort of vanity zine about him and his adventures on the table when you sit down for a meal. We were totally worn out, and managed to stay up until 10pm before we went to bed. Unfortunately, we seemed to be staying in the loudest town in Germany. There had been a festival the previous weekend, and people were tearing down the kiosk on our street when we tried to take a nap earlier in the afternoon. At midnight, the bells of the Catholic church down the street rang about 25 times, and then at 6am the bells rang for a good 5 minutes to get people up for mass. Similar, shorter peals o' bells occured every 15 or 30 minutes after that.

At breakfast we sat under a relief of a 16th century noble, probably to the Wars of Religion, inscribed with the phrase "As he said to him, you can lick my ass." I just love history.

We then hopped on the Authobahn (normally we prefer smaller, slower roads for the scenery) to head towards the Tirol (Austria). At Sindfeldingen there was an awesome rest stop with several restaurants and fake metal sunflowers at the entrance. We had a quick lunch of sandwiches at another one near Ulm. It was spotless and well-designed, with tables outside for people to bring food they had
brought, or purchased at the cafe.

I'm struck by the amount of activity and maintenance one sees, even on smaller roads and in smaller towns. My immediate response was "this is a nation of busy bees." Everywhere you look someone's sweeping up leaves, or fixing the perfect roads, or taking a brush and scrubbing the street in front of a house. (I'm not kidding -- I've seen the street scrubbing more than once since I arrived.) In the Alps, the roads are immaculate, and it's obvious even in pretty remote areas that people trim the grass near the roads and prune the trees.

Another thing that strikes me is how active people are here, at all ages. I saw a woman today who must have been in her 70s at least, wearing lipstick and riding her bicycle along the bike path near a highway. Another thing I've noticed is how intensely land is used. I've seen plowed fields in the cloverleaf formed by the intersection of two Authobahns, plowed right up the to edge of the road.

We're spending the next four nights at the Pension Waldrast outside of Reutte in the Tirol. When the woman proprietor explained how the radiator worked, James said we're not usually cold. She asked, "Oh, are you from the mountains?" He replied, no we're from New York. Given the date, I was glad to see that she didn't really have a reaction to that bit of information.

We had an awesome dinner tonight at the Hotel Zum Mohren (Hotel Moorish Woman, yes -- nice caricature on the menu). They had great wines by the glass, and a fabulous large woman, built like a 19th century diva, waiting on us. We drank red wines from the area around Krems, and had game and plenty of starches. There was a local crowd at the bar, and it became obvious after a while, giving the cruising views aimed at our table, that a number of the attractive men at the bar were playing for my team. Nothing came of it, and we left for a little walk around the town before heading home. There are bike racks everywhere on the main street of the town (which is part of the Via Claudia), and I haven't seen a chain or lock on any of the bikes. People just ride up and drop them off. Ruette is a beautiful town. A lot of the building are from the 16th century, and there are many Baroque buildings with elaborate wall paintings on the front.

A lot of working class men in Germany and Austria seem to wear earrings these days, generally gold or silver hoops on the left ear.

In honor of 9/11 and NYC, we listened to Copland's "Music for a Great City" in the car -- we brought the CD with us. Pictures of the attack on the WTC, including some pretty disturbing ones of people jumping, are in all the the German/Austrian papers and magazines today. I sort of shivered when I saw the first one at a newstand today, of the fireball from the second plane hitting the tower.

at JFK

I'm writing notes in the business class lounge at JFK while we're waiting for our flight to board. Business class is much better than coach! The lounge has free drinks -- I'm drinking a very strong vodka tonic -- and snacks. It's a weird crowd. A lot of people are reading that screeching conservative rag pretending to be a newspaper -- the New York Post. There is a TV loudly playing some ESPN show with highlights from previous NFL games, and there are cute German and Russian businessmen hooking up their laptops to the phones. There is a certain amount of "privilege" in the attitude of the people in business class. A lot of them have no qualms about talking as loudly as possible in their cell phones, even with strangers sitting right next to them. These aren't generally the people travelling on business -- they're people with enough miles or money to travel
business class for pleasure trips.

Flyers seem to be dressing better. Is it because summer is over? Or are the tacky people more likely to be afraid to fly now? I haven't seen a single applique t-shirt. Note to the Arkansans in the audience -- I did see a Dillards suit bag!

The bookstore here in the terminal had a book about Flight 93 featured in the window. Who would buy that to read on a plane?!

Off to Europe

We're leaving today for Germany and Austria -- Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and points in between. I may or may not post while I'm there.

On the off chance that anyone here is a fellow geek attending YAPC Europe, that's what I'm doing in Munich, so send me an email if you're going to be there.

I give you this amusing post from to entertain you a little while I'm gone -- his anchors don't work, so go to August 13. I found his site while looking at fray.

Cheney doing business with Iraq

Here is an interesting link to a 2000 article in the Financial Times, courtesy of Mark Morford, about the fact that American companies like Halliburton and GE have continued to do business with Iraq through partners and subsidiaries.

the reverse cowgirl's blog

From Salon's new blogs, I bring you the reverse cowgirl's blog -- wherein a writer attempts to justify the enormity of her porn collection. So far it's a bit more work safe than bj's site, but we'll see. Any woman who calls Andrew Sullivan "the screechingest right-wing-flapper homosexual since Roy Cohn" is a woman I want to know and buy presents for.

Take Me Out

I'm not normally awake at this hour, but I couldn't sleep. Forgive the incoherence.

We saw "Take Me Out" -- yes the gay baseball play -- at the Public Theater yesterday afternoon. I didn't it expect it to be so good. It's a great play, and this is coming from someone who could not care less about baseball. It took me a little while to get used to the idea of baseball players with such vocabularies, but I got over it. I think Joe Mantello as the director really "nailed" the play, and the cast is excellent. The John Rocker-type character is, in a lot of ways, the most interesting character in the play. How much leeway do we give damaged people to be... awful? Yes, there's male nudity in it, and the cast is attractive, but that's not really the reason to see the play. If anything, it's a bit distracting from what is a good text. I have to single out Denis O'Hare as the gay player's money manager -- he knew how to "own" the stage during his several monologues.

I really recommend it. If James, who doesn't even know how to pronounce Derek Jeter's last name, loved it, excusing yourself from attending because "you don't like baseball" doesn't make sense.

There were two women sitting next to us. One was like us -- not interested in baseball, but interested in theater. (I can never decide when to use theatre vs. theater.) Her friend was a total baseball fanatic -- someone who, when visiting another city, goes to visit stadiums just to see them whether there's a game or not. One of the two women complimented James on his (slash) No War button, and he gave her one to wear. The other one said, "I would wear the opposite -- nuke em' all!" Is anyone out there surprised when I tell you that the baseball fanatic was the "nuke 'em" lady?

We separated to run errands as we walked home. I dropped by The Strand on my way home. For someone like me, who finds brains sexier than brawn, the Strand is the hottest spot in the city. So many smart, attractive men, looking at books, looking at each other, looking at books...

As I walked home up Fifth Avenue, I spotted Amanda Lepore in a torn cut-off t-shirt and shorts. Wow -- I've never seen her in daylight before.

Once I got to Chelsea, the burning question in my mind became: Why do gay men who are kind of... lumpen feel the need to wear sunglasses that really only work on someone like David Beckham?

Kiki and Herb at the Knitting Factory

Kiki and Herb at the Knitting Factory

Kiki and Herb at the Knitting Factory

Earlier in the evening we (James and I -- he has more photos) saw Kiki and Herb at the Knitting Factory with Glenn, Dan and a few of their friends. Oh my heavens! Why didn't someone drag me to see them earlier? I LOVE THEM.

As I told Glenn, I think our drag sisters have MUCH better politics than the gay community in general. They can't really buy into the "but if I act like a straight white middle class male I'll be OK" version of gay politics. (I thought about linking Andrew Sullivan in that sentence, but I couldn't bring myself to sully my web site with a link to that miserable excuse for a pundit.)

Where to begin? As Dan said, it's certainly not what comes to mind when one says "drag act" -- it's much more of a brilliant piece of theatre by two very talented people. Kiki's politics are great, and political theatre that works is my favorite thing in the world. She hit on 9/11, the idiocy of Bush, his illegitimacy, our obsessions with kidnapped children, and probably some things I didn't even catch in the whirling chaos that is Kiki and Herb.

Favorite excerpts included:

Shitty things happen sometimes, but that's not an excuse to do more shitty things.

After a song in which she says she's tired of crying for victims of this or that, she says: because crying doesn't change anything.

After she talked about the shitty things that happen in the world, and about the idiot that passes for our President, and received a lot of applause, she said she was glad to hear that she's not alone, and when they round all of us up, she's glad she will be with people like us at Guantanamo.

The opening act, of whom I had also heard, but never seen, was The Wau Wau Sisters. They ROCKED. I feel like such a scrawny wimp -- they both had bods of death. They gave us rockin' songs, hilarious repartee, and acrobatics! We bought the CD!

Heard on the way out of the Knitting Factory, from an Ani di Franco-type young woman: "I'm wearing my new sweatshop free panties!"

Damned helicopters

Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick!

It's bad enough that they have to close the middle of Manhattan for half a day, but do I have to be bombarded with the sound of police helicopters too for the damned NFL party? Is this what NYC is going to become? We'll be a whore of city like Venice, but not as pretty?

Is this what they mean by "going native"?

A U.S. Special Forces bodyguard assigned to protect Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks with colleagues after an assasination attempt on Karzai Thursday Sept. 5, 2002 in Kandahar.

Two more.

The art season begins again

It was a bit warm, so rather than wear something fabulous as my hero would have done, I attended a few openings dressed in my art uniform of shorts and an MTA shirt.

Our first visit was to see Ann Craven [images] at Klemens Gasser, which apparently doesn't have a web site. She makes beautiful, not quite real, paintings of birds and flowers -- like greeting cards only better. We had to go check it out since we acquired a watercolor of hers at Bellwether's party. Oh -- here's a page that shows a photo that was in the back, and gives the gallery address.

The second opening was Andrew Guenther at Silverstein Gallery -- great show! There's a wall of beautiful-and-political-at-the-same-time drawings and watercolors, some of his paintings, some works by guest artists (indicated by big stars on the wall above), and most fun of all, a (moving) sculpture that "is made up of a custom made coffin, built by the artist to fit his individual proportions, mounted on top of a mechanical rodeo bull. " Not surprisingly, the crowd at this opening was much more cool. The gay boys were skinny and geeky, not the posey-muscley kind I saw at the other opening.

As we left, people were getting ice cream (to go with their beer) from the truck outside -- playing that damn "Turkey in the Straw" rendition.

I'm so glad the summer art lull is over!

My Palm V just fell over and died - lost everything that hadn't been sync-ed recently!

I think I'm going to go out tomorrow and buy a Sony Clié tomorrow. I don't feel like buying anything too expensive, since I'm hoping to get something like this eventually.

Do any of the four people who read me have one? Are you using it with a Mac (OS X)?

I'm think of this or that.

OK, a Goering quote too

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. -- Hermann Goering

Found here.

Eugene Debs on War

Today's quote is courtesy of James Ridgeway.

They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people." —Eugene Debs, Socialist candidate for president, June 16, 1918.

The speech led to Debs's being stripped of his citizenship and sent to jail for 10 years.

dont bom irak

Get Fuzzy rocks.

Tattoos for diabetics

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This is very cool, and came out of my alma mater!

In honor of all of the people at Sunday's gathering who were discussing their current and future tattoos, I present this article.

Dull, dull, dull

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As the date approaches for my 3 weeks in Europe (leaving Sept. 9), I'm getting dull here on the blog because I'm rushing to finish stuff for my clients before I go. I realize I am all the way over at the blog end of the blog/journal continuum at the moment.

I will have a computer with me in Germany/Austria/etc., but I don't intend to spend much time online while I'm there. I will probably keep notes on the trip, but whether I will actually post them during that time is, as yet, undecided. Andy was sweet to suggest that I should post regularly while I'm there, and that he would like to read my "on the road" entries. I almost always take notes on trips, so we'll see.

My son, the 11-year-old drag queen

I just love this story. His drag name is "Alexis Love".

Get your OS X on

Ken Bereskin, Apple's Product Manager for OS X, now has a weblog.

More reasons to go "Down Under"

The Australian National Library is adding internet porn to its collection.

The project is aimed at providing material for future social historians, not patrons with bad Google skills.

"The examination of society and culture of a period by necessity involves the study of its sexual life," he wrote in the library's newsletter.

"With this in mind, it is clear that there is no merit in being coy today and therefore delivering an incomplete picture to future researchers."

He cited the usefulness to historians of Victorian pornographic diaries and novels as proof of the importance of collecting contemporary erotica.

Krazy for Keithers

Andy organized a get-together last night in honor of Keith visit from L.A. Also representing the left coast was the adorable Jessie. There were lots of attractive and smart boys there -- no girls at all even though some were invited.

I finally got a chance to talk with Dan. He's a charming and smart guy -- we talked about everything from ex-pat job opportunities in Europe to Benjamin Britten. Note to Dan: we should get together and listen to some CDs. I also listened to a discussion of font-geekitude between him and Chad.

The always squeezable Dan'l introduced me to a cool guy named John who runs the Streetwork project of Safe Horizon. The group was the beneficiary of Dan'l's recent blogathon. John just happened to be there to meet a friend, and isn't one of the blog-children, at least not yet. We talked for quite a while. He's sexy and reminds me of a classical musician I once met in South Beach at Warsaw. Top that boys! No circuit queens for me.

I also ran into Trick/Patrick of Morplay. I met him once before through Joe Ovelman, so we talked about Joe's art for a while. I'm a huge fan, and I think James and I are among Joe's most enthusiastic collectors. There is a Nerve gallery of Joe's work that's worth the hassle of registering.

Who else was there? I said hello to Sam and Scott, but we didn't really talk. I met Brian, who was wearing a t-shirt reminiscent of the playing-with-logo works of Daniel Pflumm.

James has a few photos on his site of the evening.

gaytheatre mailing list


For those that are interested, someone just told me about the gaytheatre mailing list. There seem to be a number of NYers on the list.

Schroeder Romero

Schroeder Romero, one of my favorite Williamsburg Galleries, has launched its new web site. Check it out!

A race to the bottom...

Talk about defining deviancy down! Palestinian suicide bombers have nail bombs, Israel has dart bombs.

Palestinian officials have condemned Israel's reported use of tank shells which are said to have sprayed thousands of metal darts at a target in Gaza, killing four Palestinian civilians.

Israeli media said the Israeli army confirmed it used flechettes in an operation near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim, south of Gaza City, on Thursday.

Palestinian medical officials said the victims were cut to shreds after being hit by the tiny metal darts, which are dispersed by a tank shell.

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