Vienna's late June afternoon heat makes me long for nothing more than to retire for a nap in a darkened high-ceilinged drawing room, cooling off under a slowly turning ceiling fan. French doors open to the north to let in a breeze; the slowly passing hot hours of the day filled with languid dreams of sitting on a porch somewhere on Southern shores, balancing a frosted silver cup with mint julep in one hand while reaching for a refreshing cucumber sandwich with the other.
Every now and then, during these midsummer's dreams,
a voice kept whispering to get up and write a blog,
to which I countered that it's been a quiet week in Vienna,
”with the women still strong
with all the men good-looking as always,
and all the children still above average.” *)
Little did I know that "Vienna’s cultural life has come to a virtual standstill as the city has been gripped by Euro 2008, the quadrennial soccer championship"! I would have never found out, were it not for that bane of modern life, the World Wide Web, infiltrating my drawing room, tempting me to glance at the "New York Times".
"O, woe is me, to have seen what I have seen,"
for having laid my eyes on Michael Kimmelman's article
"In Battle for Vienna: Soccer 1, Culture 0"!
Having attended Cecilia Bartoli's "Maria Malibran - La Rivoluzione Romantica" concert at Vienna's Musikverein only the evening before, and with tickets at hand for a night at the Volksoper to see Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" performed by Russia's St. Petersburg Mariinsky Ballet Company, with Vienna expecting Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, and Rolando Villazón to perform this Friday at Schönbrunn Palace, furthermore the Vienna Philharmonics under Zubin Mehta set to play there with Lang Lang two days later, I was stunned to read that, according to The New York Times,
"Vienna’s cultural life has come to a virtual standstill".
I am still stunned, but I have decided to take Kimmelman's assertions as not meant to be taken seriously (he may have been in need of a bit of comic relief, after all he has had to report, during May and June alone, from such varied places as Manhattan, Budapest, Captiva Island, Berlin, Dublin, Spain, Baden-Baden, France, and Italy!).
After all, was it not Vienna that gave rise to the legend that one can survive even the bubonic plague under, and thanks to, the influence of alcohol?
In other words, better yet with the words of the popular Viennese song, "O, my poor old Augustin
O, my poor old Augustin,
Culture or soccer,
They just can't win!"
Here is the link
to the above-mentioned article in the New York Times,
written by Michael Kimmelman for the "Art and Design" section,
published on June 26, 2008:
In Battle for Vienna: Soccer 1, Culture 0
I hope I will be forgiven for wanting to linger a little longer
over this delicious bit of newspapering (as I see it),
and bestow on the writer
a hundred Golden
for using soccer championship, Maria Theresa, Burgtheater, Goethe, Shakespeare, New York, East Side, and, take this, antimacassar and Carla Sarkozy (!), within a single article about Vienna's soccer and culture clash.
The Blue Filet Crocheted Antimacassar
(size 10 thread, 5x4")
shall be awarded for the creative use of "narcoleptic"
("crowds have been almost narcoleptically well behaved,"
always bad for a slow news day, isn't it?),
and the heroic combination of "mobs" and "opera audiences"
("mobs in the FanZone were quieter than some opera audiences,"
as in "no riots", i.e. bad news!).
A Yellow Card instead for writing that “Austria is gripped by what you might call the small-country syndrome.”
Finally, the Red Card for this:
“The tournament, the nation’s bid to join the global sporting big time, has been a passing disaster for the city’s cultural institutions, which for ages have supported the local economy and given Vienna its glorious, albeit somewhat undeservedly, antimacassared reputation.”
*) "... the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average" (original quote by Garrison Keillor, “A Prairie Home Companion”)
**) it takes 50,000 points for a one-way ticket to Aries, a 100,000 for the roundtrip.