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Posts tagged ‘Loos’

DECADES OF GRATEFUL WRITERS WISH CAFÉ CENTRAL A HAPPY BIRTHDAY

I know a parallel universe where a writer can be alone in the company of others. A place where the air is laced with the scents of freshly roasted coffee beans and the soft tones of piano music accompany stories-in-the-making. A place where the cell phone remains tucked away and the only interruption is the arrival of a slice of Apfelstrudel with a side of freshly whipped cream or a berry torte topped with a sliver of chocolate and a swirl of gold.

Café Central — inspiring writers, poets, artists, intellectuals, and countless more for 140

Cafe Central Coffee on a silver platter served with water

Cafe Central Coffee on a silver platter served with water

years! Franz Kafka, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos, Peter Altenberg – were all “Stammgäste” here – so-called “Centralists”. Sigmund Freud, Karl Popper, Gustav Klimt, all came here as well. Rumor has it that Leo Trotzki played chess here while preparing for the October Revolution in his homeland. Happy Birthday to a true Viennese institution!

Without you, Vienna would only be half as wonderful. Thank you, Café Central, for being you, and allowing writers the world over precious hours of in-between times and boundless inspiration.

In my historical fiction novel that takes place in the beginning of the 1900s, Women and Wild Savages, the Austrian poet, Peter Altenberg, describes to Lina

Cafe Central Desert

Cafe Central Desert

Loos the masterful skills of Café Central’s head waiter, Herr Ober Franz:

     “The third appeal of Café Central is Herr Ober Franz, the dominion of this empire of suspended time. Everything runs like clockwork and occurs only with his blessing. Astuteness is only surpassed by his ability to be discreet. A connoisseur of all drinks, he knows the rules to all games. Before the Herr Guest utters a syllable, good Franz addresses him in the appropriate tongue. In addition to German and English, I’ve heard Franz speak French, Italian, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Russian. From the 250 newspapers available in this coffeehouse, Franz knows each of our favorites. Once I even witnessed Franz, without a word, setting a Presse in front of a man who had been absent from Vienna more than a decade.”

                Franz’s slender figure glided through the labyrinth of marble tables. His

Cafe Central Apfelstrudel

Cafe Central Apfelstrudel

upper body swayed as his coattails swung elegantly and his black bow tie aligned perfectly.

                “He presides, my dear. If we Viennese are half naked without a title, it is Franz, not the magistrate, who confers the honor. He masterfully ignores his guests to bestow us with the treasured in-between times: between the bank and the barber, the lectures and library, the firm and family, between today and tomorrow. He and His stand guard over our idle hours and never jostle us with a disapproving glance or unrequested bill.

                                                                                                Women and Wild Savages, KC Blau

And don’t miss on World Poetry Day!

MARCH 21 – PAY WITH A POEM DAY!

On Monday, March 21, Julius Meinl along with Café Central and other coffeehouses throughout the city are celebrating World Poetry Day by offering patrons the opportunity to pay with a poem by choosing their favorite Julius Meinl coffee or tea and “paying with a currency better than money: a currency of emotions” . Let your creative juices flow, be inspired by the ambience and enjoy the Mélange.

https://www.meinlcoffee.com/poetry/campaigns/pay-with-a-poem-2016/

 

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Walking a Mile in Another’s Shoes – Tis the Season for Less is More

Be not afraid of being called unfashionable.
Adolf Loos (Austrian architect, designer and critic)

Into extreme sports? Suffering temporary insanity? Dodging dish duty? Or simply frugal-minded? Whatever possessed you to head out on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving to be one of the first 50 shoppers to land the two-for-one Elf-on-a-Shelf giveaway, it was surely only your primal will to survive that returned you home Friday evening, safe and sound after a day of elbowing through phubbing teenagers in the Yankee Candles shop and umbrella-yielding Omas in the Piercing Pagoda.

Tis the season, eh? Was it worth it?

I admit the frenzied excitement that fills the air when the colorful flyers flood the mailbox the Wednesday before Black Friday. Perhaps it evokes memories of the days when the Sunday funnies came in color and you anxiously awaited those. But did you ever stop to ask yourself why? And why aren’t things lasting like they did back in the day? That big TV set that your family had from the time you were allowed to watch cartoons until the time you graduated high school; the microwave oven that was so enormous you could crawl in and hide and also probably gave you and Fido a nearly lethal dose of radiation every time you nuked some popcorn but the dang thing just wouldn’t quit. Things lasted FOREVER – just like Auntie Emm’s indestructible fruit cake.

And now?

They don’t.

THROW AWAY SOCIETY, PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE & DARING TO BE OUT OF FASHION BUT NEVER GOING OUT OF STYLE

And the reason? Many. But one is discussed in this story from March of this year on NPR’s All Things Considered entitled In Trendy World Of Fast Fashion, Styles Aren’t Made to Last.

And that’s kinda sad. And it’s what I thought about on Black Friday here in Austria, when I wasn’t engaging in self-defense leg kicks in the Home Décor department of my local Target trying to hold on to the last Threshold Decorative Stag Head Wall Sculpture (maybe I would have been tempted, had Austria had a Target and the Stag came in a wider variety of colors, like hot pink, for instance). No. I wasn’t there so if you come over to my place looking for Mr. Stag decked out in tinsel you’re bound to be disappointed.

Yildiz Shoe Service Shop

Yildiz Shoe Service Shop

MR. YILDIZ – HERO OF THE MONTH

Black Friday I was picking up my boots from the shoemaker, Mr. Yildiz, who was explaining to me all the steps he took to put my favorite, very-worn Italian leather boots back into fine beautiful working (walking) condition. Better than new.

Who is this hero capable of breathing old leather back to life?

Mr. Yildiz  came to Austria from Turkey almost 20 years ago. At the time, he hardly spoke a word of German.

Mr. Yildiz from Yildiz Shoe Service

Mr. Yildiz from Yildiz Shoe Service

He started an apprenticeship in an orthopedic shoemaker shop in the 8th district where they made orthopedic inserts for shoes in addition to doing normal repairs.  The start was difficult requiring him to take home his instruction booklets at night and translate them word for word to get by. But after a three-year apprenticeship he could call himself a shoemaker and continued working in the shop for over 15 years. When the shop’s owner retired well into his 70s, a family business over a century old came to an end and Mr. Yildiz decided to strike it out on his own.

Made to Order Shoes at Yildiz Shoe Service Shop in Vienna

Made to Order Shoes at Yildiz Shoe Service Shop in Vienna

Lucky for me, Mr. Yildiz found himself a shop in the 2nd district and now for over two years, he has been sewing, stretching, patching and polishing life into shoes in his own place since.

WALKING A MILE IN ANOTHER’S SHOES

I talked to the expert shoemaker about his skills and the craft and about shoes in general. Mr. Yidliz laments that it is often difficult to find a really fine pair of well-made shoes nowadays. Maybe the mass produced shoes are cheaper and more trendy than their hand-made competition but Mr. Yildiz’s doesn’t understand why anyone would want to be constantly replacing their shoes after a month or two. Because let’s face it, nothing fits you as well as an old pair of shoes that have walked with you for weeks, months — if you’re lucky – years. And every time your wee little toe presses the leather on the side and your heel against the back, and your arch against the sole, you are indenting that shoe to fit exactly your foot and no one else’s.

Made to Order Belts at Yildiz Shoe Service Shop in Vienna

Made to Order Belts at Yildiz Shoe Service Shop in Vienna

No one else’s shoe and no new shoe will fit you quite like the one you’ve worn.

So maybe rather than snatching up the next bargain this holiday season, we should go for less presents but higher quality – giving things that will last.

 And if you live in Vienna, I highly recommend the services of Mr Yildiz, who gave me permission to put his information on my blog (he has no website of his own), so here it is:

Yildiz Shoe Service, Gredlerstraße 2, 1020 Vienna (just walk over the Marienbrücke bridge from Schwedenplatz or take the no. 2 tram one stop to Marienbrücke).

Opening Times:

Mr. Yildiz in his Shoe Repair Shop in Vienna

Mr. Yildiz in his Shoe Repair Shop in Vienna

Mon – Thurs: 7:30  – 18h
Fri: 7:30 – 12.30 pm and 14.30 – 18h
Sat: 7.30  – noon
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Vienna and her Coffeehouses – Sit Back and Smell the Coffee

Cafe Museum

Einspänner (small mocca with whipped cream) at Cafe Museum

“The Viennese go to coffeehouses, because they do not want to stay at home but also don’t want to be outside, because they want to be alone, but in the company of others.”
– Jörg Mauthe

Vienna and her coffeehouses are inseparable and it’s one of the things I love most about this city.

At the turn of the century Vienna boasted over 600 coffeehouses. Today many of these traditional places still thrive and provide a living room away from home for Vienna’s business people, students, artists, intellectuals and international guests in the same way they did over one hundred years ago. Many Viennese then and now, have one particular coffeehouse they like to frequent, their so-called Stammcafé and sometimes even a particular table where they like to sit, their Stammtisch.

Not only do the waiters, dressed in a black coat and tails, even today, look the picture of etiquette and grace of a bygone age, they still act it too. If you want a quick coffee and to get on your way again, be sure to ask for the tab once the coffee is brought, otherwise you might wait a while because in a Vienna coffeehouse, no one expects you to drink and run.

In today’s world of multitasking, fast food, speedy service, instant delivery, finding a retreat in the middle of the city that not only allows you but expects you (!) to take a few hours to sit back and smell the coffee is balsam to the soul.

Some of my favorite coffeehouses:

Bräunerhof: especially on a Sunday afternoon when they often host musicians around 4 pm. I love it here because you walk in and feel like you have stepped back in time and could look over at the neighbor table and see Thomas Bernhard scribbling notes for his next novel in his beloved Stammcafé  . You can sit in Bräunerhof for hours reading the papers, a book or writing and no one would ever dream of hurrying you along.

Cafe Central

Palais Ferstel, Home of Cafe Central

Café Central: for a lunch menu during the week (the food is wonderful) or for a late afternoon dessert. The Klimt Torte is particularly decadent. And I love bringing out-of-town guests here and watching their faces light up in tormented indecision as they study the savory contents of the dessert vitrine. Usually I end up suggesting desserts for the table so everyone can try a bit of everything. Café Central can get crowded especially at lunchtime so reservations are recommended. But once you are seated, you no longer notice the hustle and bustle. In fact, it adds to the experience.

Don’t overlook Peter Altenberg who keeps vigilant watch by the door. When my book finally gets out, English-speaking readers will learn more about the beloved poet who used Café Central as his home address.

If walls could speak!

Café Central has been host and Stammcafé  to so many philosophers, writers, poets, politicians and artists over the years that it is almost impossible to list them all. A few: Adolf Loos, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Hugo von Hofmannsthal…And the list goes on and on.

Once when a coffeehouse waiter asked Peter Altenberg if he knew who died, Herr Altenberg responded, “Everyone is fine by me.”

Café Diglas: Years ago, I used to frequent Café Diglas rather often. Nowadays less so but it hasn’t lost any of its ambiance or charm and has a great location right across from the book store Morowa on Wollzeile. It is open 365 days a year, from 7 am till midnight. Now the place is famous for its funky toilet doors. They are transparent until you close them, then they cloud over. Don’t take my word for it, see the youtube video here: Cafe Diglas’ Magical Doors

Café Landtmann: Now a place for politicians and business people have meetings, they have a wonderful breakfast selection and you might be interested in knowing that this was once Sigmund Freud’s Stammcafé.

Peter Altenberg and Lina Loos adorn the frontpage of Cafe Museum's Cake for the Ball of the Coffeehouseowners

Peter Altenberg and Lina Loos adorn the frontpage of Cafe Museum’s Cake for the Ball of the Coffeehouseowners

Café Museum: Last time I stopped by for an in-between hour at Café Museum, when I asked the waiter for the bill, he started reciting the damage: “a bottle of champagne, a serving of caviar” and he stopped and I smiled. “Just a mélange” I replied. And he raised his eyebrows as if sharing a secret. “Ahh yes. Perhaps we’ll save another day for the rest then.” I love Café Museum and not just because it was once designed by one of the main characters of one of my books – Adolf Loos.

I love it because you come here and feel relaxed and welcome. As soon as you take your seat, you feel a integral part of the place rich with history and culture and you know you can sit for hours without a hurry or worry.

Cafe Hawelka

Table free outside of Cafe Hawelka

Hawelka: Right off of Graben is where all the actors and artists loved to hang out. Amazing Austrian authors like Friedrich Torberg, HC Artmann and Hans Weigel liked to come here. Famous for its legendary Buchteln (sweet pull apart rolls often filled with jam and served with vanilla sauce), they are still made fresh in-house. The tables are situated in such a way that you feel like you are being discreet when you come here.

Cappuccino at Kleines Cafe

A Cappuccino at Kleines Cafe at Franziskanersplatz

I had the good fortune one day several years ago of spending a few hours with Leopold Hawelka, who opened the coffeehouse in 1939 with his wife, Josefine. I walked over to his Stammplatz, situated by the entrance where many an out-of-town visitor moseyed on by him unaware of who had just welcomed them in and I asked if he would mind if I asked him some questions about the Café Hawelka. I think I made his day. He clambered his 93-year old body down from his stool and fetched some books and photo albums and joined us at our table. As his wife, Josefine, buzzed around their guests, still directing the workings of the coffeehouse at age 91, Herr Hawelka proudly shared with us pages upon pages of newspaper clippings, photos and articles about their coffeehouse. And every few minutes, his stories would revert back to tales of his wife as he lovingly looked up at her who had no time to waste for such idle talk. Though both Josefine and Leopold have since passed away, their son has taken over the coffeehouse and still makes the Buchteln according to his mom’s famous recipe.

Kleines Cafe

Kleines Cafe at Franizskanersplatz

Kleines Café: What’s not to love about Franziskanerplatz? In summer, Kleines Café moves its table onto the square and though you are just steps from the busy Kärntnerstrasse you feel like you are in another world. “Kleines Café” means “Little Café” and the place is indeed small. Fans of the Ethan Hawk  and Julie Delpy film “Before Sunrise” (which I definitely recommend) will be happy to know that this is the place Jesse and Celine were having a coffee when a gypsy woman came along and read Celine’s palm and then told them not to forget that they are both stars.

Coffeehouse quotes:

The Viennese go to coffeehouses, because they do not want to stay at home but also don’t want to be outside, because they want to be alone, but in the company of others.
– Jörg Mauthe

People go to the coffeehouse to rest, to read newspapers, to work, to speak about important things, to see friends, to finish correspondences, to be close to beloved beings and those who should become such, people go for these and countless other reasons and go above all quite mechanically, out of habit, as a constitutional condition, as a reflex, without a particular occasion (which according to Karl Kraus proves signs of “nomadic domesticity”), occasionally people even drink a coffee in a coffeehouse, but that’s not the reason one goes there.
– Hans Weigel

The coffeehouse is a home with all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. You can leave it anytime. That is why you like to go there and hate to leave it. You have social possibility, so many, that you do not need to engage in them all. Company is available, talk, and you are a poised gentleman over chance. If you get bored, you can pay and leave –try doing that once when you are a guest or host in a home.
– Hans Weigel

 Auf Wiedersehen in Cafe Central  If you are Viennese and want to share the coffeehouse experience with a guest to the city, sign up to participate in the Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations from the end of September 2013 until the end of November 2013.

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Check out this cool post on the Vienna coffeehouse from Nicholas Parsons, October 2012, “The Ballad of the Wiener Kaffeehaus” as an ode to Vienna’s cafe culture.

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Stilettos, Life and Loos

Modern women in Stilettos

Adolf Loos lived at the turn of the century in Vienna. He was not only a renowned architect and designer but an opinionated social critic on everything from Austrian cuisine to women’s clothing.

Fußbekleidung
In an article entitled, “Fußbekleidung,” Loos comments on how footwear reflects historical changes in lifestyles. “If you go to New York, you always get the feeling that an accident has occurred somewhere.” He writes that when people walked less, “high platform heels came to reign, which were indeed fit for the park and castle but not for the street.” He goes on to state (over one hundred years ago(!)), “… in this century, the human foot is going through a change. Our social circumstances demand that we be faster from year to year. Time is money.”

Oh yes, Herr Loos. Time is indeed money. Then as now. And for this reason, shoes change. So I (humbly) pose the question, what does this mean for the stiletto?

“Stiletto, how did she get to stilettos?” you ask.

Fact is, two manuscripts I critiqued this past year for guy friends contained smart, sassy career women who waltzed about their demanding day jobs in stilettos. When I suggested that these authors tone down their mantasies by at least having these women place their stilettos in their purses and simply whip them out for short periods of time, to bash the bad guy over the head, for example, my suggestions were met with scoffs and eye rolls. (Granted, I couldn’t see these otherwise very talented and sensible writers but I knew. I just knew).

So what is the stiletto appeal?

They’re definitely not cheap, comfortable or practical (the Zalando guy delivering them would never be caught dead wearing them). And they definitely do not reflect the typical modern woman’s lifestyle of running from daycare to work to the grocery store, back to daycare, soccer practice and home to cook dinner. Do all that in shoes tall enough to help you step over a tall building in a single bound, and you are liable to face some of the problems explored in this very enlightening article on the topic entitled appropriately enough, “High Heel Horrors“. I mean, bunions, bony growths, back pain, hammertoes – that’s sexy?!

No, really. Be honest now.

Loos predicted in his article that, “Lace shoes will dominate the coming century, like the riding boots did the last.” He was right about that. It makes me wonder what he would have written about the stilettos. Somehow a part of me fears he would have preferred them as well.

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