August 27th, 2004 §
Vienna is one of the most beautifully lit cities in the world at night. The scale of the architecture is majestic and lit well at night one feels that one is wandering through the 19th century on the night of a great ball.
As I rode past the National Library tonight the moon peeked out from behind dense clouds. I shot at ASA 50 as I loathe digital noise. I was concerned about getting a steady enough shot without a tripod but my bicycle saddle was perfect against a lampost.
I was on my way home from an open-air concert at the Rathaus summer film festival put on by the IMZ and the city of Vienna. It is one of the strangest film festivals in the world – showing only opera and ballet films for two months outside for free. Both the opera and the ratatouille were excellent.
The opera was a silly piece of work called Giuditta by Franz Lehár. A sad and happy romance of a soldier named Octavio. The opera was in German and I am beginning to think that German is the ideal language for opera. The songs are convincing and robust. There were quite a few dramatic, spoken interludes which were well-enough acted by Mehrzad Montazeri and Natalia Ushakova, falling into one another’s arms and speaking and singing of true love. To my shame, I must admit that I enjoyed the show.
The set was spectacular as well. An entire desert oasis built outside in a massive auditorium complete with soldier’s tents and combat jeeps.
La vie viennoise.
August 22nd, 2004 §
the comfort of a sixteen-century house.
life after war, health after disease
and plenty after famine.
death in bed as grandparents.
in the darkness, my bicycle gleams.
a small golden ribbon still flutters
on the back stays, reminder that once
what mattered most a radiant smile
from this one, who writes now,
bereaved of ribbons and dinners
and your soft touch in the night
parting late into the unknown.
city gusts buffet dead sentiment
streetlights force the eyes to see.
cobblestones clatter, voices rattle
discordant medley of saturday nights.
somewhere here you part into
pointless divertissement, satisfied
your best was done. comforted
by friends. yet ever the question.
the golden ribbon still flutters
with the wonder of unearned love.
August 22nd, 2004 §
After the loss of my Powershot S30 (great pictures, horrible camera) in action in Russia, I have a new camera. A very different creature with a 12x leica lens and a manual focus dial. But no RAW mode so one must get the photo right the first time (white balance). So far so good. The closest thing to my dear deceased and fully manual 35mm Pentax K1000: the Lumix Z10.
With hundreds of wonderful photographs in the archives, I will be working on posting a fresh photo everyday. I also plan to post some of these archives, as time permits.
The first subject is an OBB vendor at Westbahnhof.
The OBB conductors are very nice but those working in Westbahnhof seem to be chosen for their mediocre command of English or any other foreign language (most Austrians speak English very well). The selection process is calculated to increase the frustration to unbearable levels for all involved.
In Westbahnhof, there is one window for local train information (second floor – also serves as baggage storate and lost and found), another bank of windows for local ticket purchase, and a third bank of windows for international purchase and international information.
Heavens forbid you confound the function of each bank of windows, as none will give any information but that assigned to their domain. Occasionally the international lineup is ten deep and the local windows empty. And vice-versa.
There is a fourth official information counter which refuses to give any information at all but will rent you a hotel room at vastly inflated prices – if you let them take an advance on your credit card first (before they find the room).
Fortunately the rest of Vienna is a good deal more hospitable. If you ever arrive in Westbahnhof, I recommend you make your way immediately to the central city tourist office beside Staatsoper. There they will find you a good room at any budget for a very small fee and you will part with all the maps and cultural schedules you will need for a month.