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Archive for May, 2007

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The Danube…

Some sort of tree was dropping seeds like dandelion seeds: little gossamer things that fell like snowflakes. I left Melk after walking around the Abby, admiring the art, tired of cathedrals (this one had the most extensive guilding of all, nearly everything was guilt.. they were Catholics after all (haha)). The boat, sailing through the land of benedictine monks, took me past castle Rammstein, Villendorf Village, and Castle Duhrnstein (Sp?) where Richard the Lionheart was held Captive).

It was all very touristy until I got off the boat in Krems and took one of those nice, long earthy walks from one town to another. I passed a public pool and waterpark, and an old dilapidated public park down a road marked condemned. Finally I walked into the trainstation from the backside, through the loading docks and railyard.

To me, one of the most beautiful things about this trip has been just how THE SAME Western Europe is to the U.S. Its all ordinary, France or Austria is just a slightly different flavour of ordinary, which I hope contributes to my awareness of my own setting back home. I believe I can feel and see how Decatur, or my Grandparent’s land would appear to a foreigner now. I know that will contribute to my experience working in the woodshop and building my keyboards, or sitting around having dinner with Yogini, or walking around the University.

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I love wandering this City… continuing down the streets in this town, another museum, a palace, the crown jewels of the Hapfsberg Royalty.

This evening, right around sundown, I found a park in front of the old palace with thousand and thousands of Roses, in full bloom, literally hundreds of varieties, all with their own special name and colour and size and density of buds… And a generous portions of Crimson and pure white amidst their seas of green.

The scent. The scent was amazing. I sat. I sat quietly.

Everyone in that park was cheerful.

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Fancy People

I was walking down the street and noticed a corner electronics shop here sells Vaccuum tube HiFi equipment.

And four or five shops along the main drag down from the hostel sell ruffly, lacey men’s bits and variations on the Opera Cape or Fancy Coat.

And in the old section, busts of famous people, and statues are inset into the walls or line the edges of the roof of nearly every building. Where did they get all those statues?

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Lurid Vienna

This morning I made it to Saint Stephan’s Cathedral in time for the first Catacombs Tour. The tombs were well sealed(yea right). Nonetheless I learned a little about the stench of fifty year old death, ten year old death, hundred year old death… all where the Viennese Cardinals are buried.. and the Royal Family’s Intestines are entombed in the Cathedral Catacombs (that’s right, the intestines). There is a small opening in the ground in one room where the bones, an unfathomable pile of them, of the victims of the plague, during late enlightenment times. I imagined the musty stale-aired edges of that room, the pile of bones claustrphobically thretening to slide down if one tried to climb out. At one time no one came to Church at the cathedral because it stank so bad from the public grave inside. The Cathedral itself–dark paintings adorning the walls, gold used structurally in arching cielings… Satisfying, VERY satisfying, to my tastes.

Then on to the Museum Quarter for another sensory overloading barrage of good art. First an exhibit studying the taboos of Korea. The exhibits here began with a zen study in black and white and Green and Magenta. I stood there for some time, then proceeded from one room to the next, the gallery itself designed to raise the stakes from one room to the next. A fifty foot mural of psychedlic colours, armys moving into pornographic visceral melted shapes, culminateing in images of white people fucking, subsiding into steel machinery, with a crowd at the bottom of the picture, clamouring for positions. Then on to Korean women, selfconciously middle aged, or young, or very young. More odd Zen-like works, but with the sloppiness and dark ragged-edges of a dreamscape, juxtaposed with simple fields of colour. The most disturbing piece, to me, was a film of a bicycle laying in a cityscape. The wheels were first still, then turning, faster and faster… I was sure that it was a film in reverse and someone would enter and move the wheels at then end… but then the wheels just slowed to a stop. Art has rarely been so jarring to me.

Vienna is a hot city. I don’t know how they eat all that Viennese Scnitzel and Sausage on these sultry summer days. It is not as hot as atlanta, but close. And the streets are lined with expensive stores and populated with the middle class, the rich and the poor… it’s the grime that makes it feel like Atlanta though. I sat in an upstairs bar having more tea, and a Wien (Viennese) breakfast — Tea and croissants and rolls…

Then it was on to see the Leopold collection. I perused the gallery, still overloaded from yesterday’s smorgasborg of art, concious of my decadence. My eyes had little descrimination left in them, so I just noticed the space, my feet, the floor, the weight of my body from walking around for days, riding the metro in a fog.. I stopped for another cup of tea at the museum Cafe’.

Eventually I came to some lovely Kilmpt’s, which poked a hole through my jaded senses…

Tomorrow I am riding a train out to A small town, and strolling through a thousand year old abby all day, then riding a boat on the Danube river. That should be a nice change of pace.

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…if only I spoke German.

Really, Vienna is pretty. The museums are fantastic. I just spent almost five hours wondering the museum of history of art, looking at a ton of great renaissance and and boroque art. After awhile, the Van Dyks and Rubens and… (I forgot all their names) started to run together. The collection is remarkable. The building was created in the 1800s specifically FOR this collection, that of the Austrian kings. The mid 1800s was a good time for archetecture if money was being dumped into it. These structures are pretty much the zenith of buildings made by royal patronage. They could pass for cathedrals. In fact, compared to the cathedral overlooking Lyon, I think they are even more fancy (the difference in the time period is important too–I guess). I think I’m going to visit St. Steven’s Cathedral this afternoon then come back and go to bed early… Maybe tomorrow I’ll head out to the countryside for a couple of days.

Oh yea, the other nice thing about Vienna: Almost everything has to do with music in some way or another.. We’re in Mozart town now, gentlemen, fire up the wind-up organ machines and don your opera capes, it’s time to WALTZ!

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