Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Who are you calling a Weiner?
For some reason, we so no plaque commemorating the Hitler announced the Anschluss from the balcony of the palace in 1938. I wonder why that is?
Ladies and gentlemen, may I finally present you with part one of my long promised account of our Eastern voyages. I’m going to post them more or less in order, and will, once I’ve boring you all with the text, throw up a page or two of photos. I may or may not duplicate those on Facebook later.
On to Vienna, where our wandering and underslept heroes are, having located an overpriced hotel, orienting themselves in the capital of the once-mighty Hapsburg Emipre.
We were located in the middle of the shopping district, from where we took a quick peak at the cathedral, lunch at Burger King (we were hungry!) and then down to the Imperial Palace quarter. There, we were accosted by one of the many be-robed classical music touts that prowl the tourist zone, hawking a concert of Vienna’s greatest hits by various ensembles catering to, well, people like us. Figuring we’d never get tickets to the real deal, we acquiesced to the overtures of a girl selling tickets for “The Imperial Orchestra” for the following night. When she gave us directions, she said “it’s just down this street here – you know, where the Burger King is.” Amynah and I looked at each other guiltily – did she know our secret shame?
We, and 500 other tourists showed up at the stroke of 8:11 or thereabouts the following night and settled ourselves into what we had been assured were the best seats in the section with the worst view. No matter – the hall was lovely, decorated with elaborate wood carvings apparently for Vienna’s well-to-do to dance under in the late 19th century, and almost well-insulated enough to block out the sounds of the parking garage Muzak blaring from across the street.
If half a successful music career is an imaginative band name, then I predict a bright future for the Imperial Orchestra. They’re not short on chutzpah, I can assure you; I wouldn’t have the brass to call a ten-piece ensemble an “orchestra,” nor would any entertainment featuring a ballet sequence performed in fuzzy bunny costumes strike me as deserving the name “Imperial.” It was good fun though.
The Imerperial Orchestra, performing with the Elmer Fudd Ballet. Note the bunny ears on the right.
During the days, with an embarrassment of Viennese riches on offer, ranging from Hapsburg palaces to the Museum of Modern Art, we elected to visit the Esperanto Museum. Our logic – and we were proven correct in this - was that we were highly unlikely to run into crowds of other tourists there.
Screw you buddy, I don't need a translator - I know Esperanto!
The “Museum” consisted of a single room in the Austrian national library dedicated to this and other made-up languages (including Klingon); the displays consisted largely of posters from the annual Esperanto conferences over the century. The most disturbing exhibit, by far, featured a recording of a woman’s breathy reading of Esperanto erotic poetry. I didn’t understand it, but I will admit I did get a funny feeling, what with all the words like “penetrato” and “ecstsasa.”
Following a mention of erotic poetry with a picture of giant globes is just asking for a bad joke, I know. I regret nothing!
In a similar spirit of universalism, and much more complete, was the museum of globes – featuring some giant numbers that mapped out the heavens, pocket globes, and one smaller number for children that included a handy pamphlet describing “The Peoples of the World” including both their Austrian and Tyrolean varieties, both of whom are apparently inclined by nature of their race to grow facial hair and smoke pipes. To this, based on my observations of Viennese women, I can only agree.
(I lie. Viennese women were all very attractive, and rarely smoked pipes).