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Monstrous Monuments: Vienna’s Giant Anti-Aircraft Towers

Monstrous Monuments: Vienna’s Giant Anti-Aircraft Towers

On 9 April 1938, Adolf Hitler stood before an audience of 5,000 in the vast hall of the Nordwestbahn train station. He spoke of their city, just absorbed into the Third Reich, as a pearl in need of a worthy setting. Few could have known that setting would be a noose of concrete anti-aircraft towers […]

Palermo Ristaurante: Biananci Reinvents Palermo

In Vienna, Italian restaurants are often avoided. Dime-a-dozen trattorias serve tired pasta concoctions with the occasional fish and meat dishes that are neither fresh nor interesting, leaving any semi-competent cook to wonder why one shouldn’t just make this stuff at home. But you don’t have to tell Antonio Biananci. In fact, the new co-owner and […]

Sommerkino 2010

Young Viennese, in shorts and T-shirts, laugh at the fashions of their parents as portrayed on screen – the shaggy haircuts, the thick glasses and shapeless, post-hippy clothes of Vienna of the late-70s. To the right; so luminous on the hot summer night as to seem just a few meters away, is the Parish Church […]

Back Yard Baroque

Walking along one of the park’s broad avenues, a middle-aged man leaned to one side and spat. Dull thuds and shouting were carried on the breeze as children played football on a well-worn grass quadrangle, and the gate of a playground groaned as it swung closed. Near the centre of the park, three men spoke […]

Towers of Burden

Looming high above the green fields, chestnut trees and buzz of activity in the Augarten, stand two towers: lonely, broken and ugly. They are constructed from several hundreds of thousands of tons of reinforced concrete, reminders of a painful past that have been left at the margins of politics, history and Viennese life. They are […]


It had been almost 40 years to the day since Woodstock, that now-mythical concert that just “happened” on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York and so set the standard for self-expression and social progress. Or, whatever it was. Having missed that one by a couple of generations, I set out to experience as best […]

Meeting the Wrappers

Meeting the Wrappers

A Wednesday evening in mid April: The weather was unseasonably mild, warm enough even to sit out at Skopik and Lohn, the 2nd District bistro where I had reserved a table for a dinner interview with Australian poet John Mateer. Walking up the Leopoldsgasse, the globe lamps along the façade shed a soft glow over […]

Augarten Dreams

Augarten Dreams

On a steamy day in late August, the Augarten closed over me, a place of retreat from the baked concrete and piping hot pavement between the park gates and my apartment several blocks away. The cool breeze is seductive in this fine old baroque park in the Leopoldstadt – Vienna’s 2nd District, and the smell […]

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