Talking ’bout my generation.

I live in Austria, was born and raised here – in this old small country that used to be so great and important. People tend to talk a lot about “soul” when they talk about Austria – the Austrian soul, the Viennese soul. Italians got temperament, Germans got their preciseness, the French got passion and inveted love and we got Sigmund Freud and grumpy waiters.

We Austrians like to feel blue and like to wallow in our sorrows surrounded by everybody who likes to listen, preferrable accompanied by a lot of alcohol. And that’s all it takes to invent “Heurige”, all those Viennese songs and our whole approach to art and literature. But this is not meant as a fiery monologue against this beautiful country – quite on the contrary. I guess we’re kind like that kid in the last row in school, that dresses weirdly and doesn’t talk much. But when it begins to rely on someone and opens up, you may see, on a good day, an intelligent and loveable person in front of you.

One of my favourite Austrian things is cabaret – not the french dancing thing, but the, again very Austrian, one man standing alone on a stage and talking about all the things he hates in his life and in this country in a very funny, amusing and contemplative way thing. I grew up with people like Alfred Dorfer, Josef Hader and Günther Paal, listening to their programmes on CD, watching them on television, in their movies or live. They always talked to me in a very special way – it felt good that there were people that had the guts to discuss certain things openly, when most of us couldn’t be bothered or didn’t have the courage. But even if it got very, very dark and serious they would bring you back with a witty joke. Going home with this certain feeling of having grown a little bit in the last two hours.

I haven’t been to cabaret in a while now but decided to see Manuel Rubey and Thomas Stipsits in “Triest” – not really knowing what waited for me there. I don’t know this two young Austrian actors very well I must admit – even though a quite strong enthusiasm for Rubey hit me when I saw him on my way to work in the subway this fall. I kind of noticed him but wasn’t sure why. Then it returned to me, that I saw this guy in one of the “Mundl” movies (another very Austrian thing, but that’s another story). When I reached work that day I did a massive Google search on him. I started watching “Fauner Consulting”, an Austrian online series that airs every Tuesday on the website, in which he plays a self-proclaimed life consultant, surrounded by strange but interesting people. I listened to some of the songs he did with his former band “Mondscheiner”. And I really liked all that – so I just bought tickets to see him live.

It’s funny how things sometimes come together in strange, obscure ways, but I guess that’s how life is supposed to be. Truly, it was quite unlikely for me to see “Triest” – ever. But I was late for work and everything added up to me seeing Rubey on the subway and in the end sitting in this audience waiting for the show to begin. And it was amazing.

Rubey and Stipsits do a brilliant job bringing this wild story to the stage. A film crew is on the ship to make a big, new Austrian movie with Rubey in a minor part. The comedian Stipsits, hired to entertain the holiday makers. They end up sharing a small cabin on the ship and becoming friends. And this setting gives this new generation of soulful, grumpy, angry, outright, disappointed, witty and charming Austrians the perfect stage. They feel so fresh and straight forward and go through it all with such ease that you just have to be totally magnetised by them. This two guys are about my age, Stipsits a little bit younger and Rubey four years older than I, and this may be another reason why they got to me so much. It’s strange but also liberating when someone talks about the things that bother you, that steal your sleep at night and that make you laugh.

We are a new generation of Austrians with all our soul. We wallow in our sorrows from time to time and like it a lot. But we also have new voices and new ways to handle things, allthough the subjects may stay the same. But we reinvent, we create and we’re having a damn good time. Hopefully.


Paint it Black.

“It’s a myth that men don’t have their own version of PMT, of course they do – every woman knows this. It’s a very simple experiment to conduct, all you’ve got to do is be with a man, wait until he starts doing something and then go up and talk to him. ‘WHAT?! What is it now?! I’m opening fish fingers can’t you see?! You come in here, walking on the floor – breathing the air like it’s yours – talking and talking and I’m doing something! Look they’ve fallen on the floor, are you happy?! Are you happy now?! Every time I try and do something for myself, you carbonize and then shit on my dreams. You’re just like your whole family! Why do I even dare to think I could dream, I could imagine, I could hope?!'”

Every now and then I tend to fall in love, I have to admit. This time it wasn’t on first sight. A friend of mine recommended the British tv-series “Black Books” to me a while ago. I watched it and was quite pleased. But for some reason I couldn’t get into it that much at the time. Now, months later, I tried again and it’s just great – it’s dark and moody and cynical and simply brilliant. Starring Dylan Moran, the Irish comedian, it’s more or less about him: He, Bernard Black, owns a bookshop and is just miserable with everything.

I also took a look into Dylan Moran’s stand ups and it’s always the same formular: Being abject about life generally and his own persona and the people surrounding him in particular. And I don’t think I ever saw somebody suffering that brilliant! And of course… he’s quite a cutie, don’t you think? ;)

And a little Doodle-tribute:

The End of Dreams.

“Rapid eye movement sleep is a normal stage of sleep characterized by the random movement of the eyes. (…) REM sleep in adult humans typically occupies 20–25% of total sleep. (…) During REM, the activity of the brain’s neurons is quite similar to that during waking hours. (…) Vividly recalled dreams mostly occur during REM sleep.” (Wikipedia)

I try to remember the first time I got in touch with R.E.M.’s music. It must have been quite early in my life, but I can’t seem to get hold of a particular moment. I think my sister had one of their albums in her record collection and maybe this was the first time – me going through her stuff and finally playing the record. If I’m not totally wrong, I think it was “Life’s Rich Pageant”. And it must have been the early 1990’s.

The first R.E.M. album I bought was “New Adventures in HI – FI” – and this was a moment in my life I remember quite vividly: I surely bought it at the record store in the town I went to school. Brought it home and played it on my small CD-player. I remember sitting in my childhood-bedroom, listening to it over and over again and thinking: “This is something absolutely different. This is thrilling.”

It must have been 1997, I was 14some years before I had discovered the Beatles and was absolute addicted to them. But I was starting to spread my view, got into Punk and listened a lot to Green Day, The Levellers and some Sex Pistols. R.E.M. had been some kind of background noise all the time – they were all over the radio and music television and I always liked their music. But it was not until then, that I really wanted to now more, hear more.

I bought some of their other albums – “Automatic To The People”,  “Monster” and “Reckoning” as vinyl. And starting with “Up” every record they released over the years to come. My record collection of R.E.M. absolutely isn’t complete and I also can’t say, that I heard all the songs they made. I always wanted to, but other bands came in the way. When I look back, I had some very intense music crushes in my teenage years and strangely it was never as intense with R.E.M. – which doesn’t mean I didn’t liked them as much or wasn’t fan enough. I really think I was and am – but there is something different about them and their music. They’ve been there for such a long time (I was born 1983, they started making muic 1981) and they seemed to always be there. It kind of felt like family to me. I knew I always could come back to them and feel at home.

Then, on 8th of July 1999, I was lucky enough to see R.E.M. live at the Viennese Staatsoper. It’s the best location you can imagine for a concert – this old place with it’s golden adornments, red carpets and wooden seats holds so much grandeur and elegancy in it, that if you combine it with, what seems quite the opposit, a rock-concert, you get an atmosphere that’s breath taking.

At first, my sister, who always accompanied me willingly to all sorts of concerts when my parents didn’t approve of me as old enough to go there alone, and I didn’t seem to lucky. All tickets were sold months before the concerts and I didn’t saw a chance for us. I nearly had forgotten about the concert when one day shortly before the date of the concert, my sister called me, standing in line in front of a ticket office. She had heard on the radio, that there were tickets left and that they would be sold now. So my wonderful big sister waisted no time and went there to stand in line with many other hopeful fans. And we got lucky!

I remember being very nervous on the day of the concert. I remember my sister buying me the program, with many pictures of R.E.M. in it and I remember of being in a state of absolute happiness. We had amazing seats on which my sister must have spent a fortune. We sat on the very right side, in the fourth row in front of the stage. There was a big old-fashioned carpet on the floor of the stage and many vintage looking amplifiers with little toy dinosaurs on it. Beeing in the middle of my Punk phase I wore a bright yellow t-shirt with Snoopy on it (don’t ask me why) and my hair was dyed in a beamy green color, tuned up into thorny spikes. I was 16, my face covered with pimples and I must have looked really out of place.

The concert was amazing. They were brilliant and Michael Stipe just made my day with his exceptional eye-make-up, his massiv stage presence and his outlandish dancing moves. I was as happy as one can get – ever. Then they played “Everybody Hurts”. I love this song very much, but back then it meant the world to me. It was about everything I felt in this crazy years of adolescence and it always comforted me that it should be that everybody felt the same some times. And that I maybe wasn’t alone.

I took the courage and waved to Stipe, when he was looking in our direction during the song. And something amazing happend: He looked me right in the eye and smiled. I still get shivers when I think about that and the following moments: As the song ended, Stipe walked to the very right side of the stage and gestured to come to him in my direction. I didn’t move – I couldn’t even begin to think, that he meant me, it was not an option to me. He gestured again, and as I still wasn’t moving he climbed down the stage, walking through the star struck crowed right on to me.

I never believed in blackouts and I still am skeptic about the concept. But I had one back then. I still can’t remember what happended next. The thing I do know, is that I suddenly held in hands the lyrics of “Everybody hurts”, that my sister and the people around me were kind of hysterical screaming and that Stipe was moving back up the stage again. But I don’t have any memory of him giving the sheet of paper to me. My sister later explained, that he made his way through to me, handing me the sheet with the lyrics on it, and that some girls in front of us grabbed it, as I still wasn’t moving. He took the sheet away from them, and again tried to give it to me. I’m relieved, that finally I must have managed to move and take it.

I don’t think that I have to explain that this was one of the most amazing moments of my life. I don’t have to mention, that I never saw a better concert and I don’t need to tell you, that I will remember this day for ever.

Four years later, in 2003, I saw them again, together with my big sister, at their open-air concert at Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna. We both were thrilled to go there, remembering that amazing last time. But as with all things, you can’t repoduce such an astonishing evening. The concert was okay, but we weren’t so happy – standing in the very rear of the audience and filled up with the memories that didn’t wanted to be overwritten with something new.

I never saw them in concert again. But I always hold them dear to me. I remember the excitement, when their new, and now to be last, album was released this year in early spring. It felt so fresh and full of energy. I recall talking to my partner about it, and being proud of the guys for still making such great music.

Yesterday, lying in bed, chatting with my partner and checking facebook on my iPhone I saw this message of a former working colleague: “wtf? OH NO! R.E.M. split :( DISKLIKE!!! ” I first didn’t believe it. Then I paniced and told my partner about it. We both started searching the internet for more information. And it was true.

I wasn’t yet born when the Beatles split. When Oasis announced their breakup last year, it wasn’t much of a surprise to me and I just waited for their solo projects, hoping that they would be good. But it never occurred to me, that R.E.M. could do the same. As mentioned before, they were my constant. They were always there. I really was in shock as the news came through to me last evening and I’m still filled with emotions and a kind of sadness you get, when something big in your life ends. Their breakup feels like the final end of my youth, which, being 28 was coming sooner or later. A part of my family is gone, the one, that told me to hang on and that it is okay to cry sometimes.

It’s about life.

Sometimes good things come to you in unexpected ways: I’ve been following Emily Martin’s Blog for some time now (I think, to be precise, it’s been years). I’m really fond of it, because it was one of the first blogs about this whole tinkering-selfmade-creativness, that’s grown big now, even in Austria, I stumbled upon. However, one day in March 2009 I read her blog entry about this radio show she was listening to and about this host called Ira Glass. I clicked the link and read a little about it on the This American Life homepage.

But at first it was just some of this web-things to me – you come across dozens of recommendations every day, when you’re browsing the net. And most of them just pass you by or end up in some link collection. Strangely I started to remember about her entry on This American Life now and then, something had made me curious. Until one day, I think it must have been the summer of 2009 by then, I just downloaded the This American Life App to my iPhone. I remember being fed up with my music collection and in need of a change.

The first episode I listened to was “Return to the scene of the crime” and it spooked me a little bit. It was very serious and a little bit creepy and not the best choice for me to get an impression of the show. Then again, months passed before I tried it again. I can’t remeber which episode I chose next, but it must have been one, that was absolutely made for me. And that’s how, after some complications and rough patches, I fell in love with This American Life for good. I listen to it regularly – sometimes I listen to two shows a day over weeks. Then it happens that I need some break and squeeze in some days of music on my way to work and home. But sooner or later I’m browsing the archive again for a title that fits me at the moment.

I’m thinking about how I could describe this radio-show at best… For me as a girl from Austria it’s really about America and to get a better impression about what is really going on in this land, that sometimes feels very near but also is far far away. It’s about finding many similarities in the daily lifes of Americans and Austrians or every other European country you like, but at the same time seeing and trying to understand the distinctions. For me it’s kind of a ambassador, that comes to your living room, or a pen pal from Chicago that writes you on a weekly basis.

But eventually it’s really just about people and their lifes – and that’s the thing that unites us very much. Because everyone has the same fears and hopes and sorrows in the end. This American Life starts you thinking about yourself and people around you. It gets you to laugh or to think about things in a different way and sometimes it makes you cry. But it’s always okay, because you know you are in very good hands.

To round things up, here’s my top ten of This American Life shows, in no distinct order:

Apart from radio shows there are also tv shows now (but I haven’t watched them yet) and there are live shows, they record now and then. One of my biggest wishes is to see one of their shows live and not only hearing, but seeing Ira Glass speaking the words that have grown so much on me:

It’s This American Life from WBEZ Chicago distributed by Public Radio international. I am Ira Glass.

Quarter of a dream, coming true.

I doubt it, but maybe there are still people out there, who don’t now how big of an Beatles fan I am: Well, I just fell in love with those guys when I was around 11 or 12 years old. Their music was everywhere in our house and my older sisters had posters all over their bedroom walls featuring the four guys from Liverpool.

Early innocent questions, where followed by me literally eating up every book about the Beatles, sorting their albums chronological and listening my way all through them. Soon that wasn’t enough and I wrote down the lyrics of all their songs in a big folder, accompanied by drawings and scribbles and soon not only my school-books were covered in Beatles quotes but my whole room looked like a fab shrine.

Those guys were my first real music love. They gave me a reason for really wanting to learn English in school, they awoke my affection for drawing and painting and they taught me to play the guitar. I knew and still know all of their songs and can sing along to most of them. I saw all of their films and collected everything I could gather. I was member of the Beatles fan club, went to Beatles-Double-Group concerts and Astrid Kirchherr exhibitions. I lit a candle on John Lennons day of death every year and I found my longest and one of my dearest friends through my manic search for Beatles stuff.

These four guys were my life for a long time and still have a big part in it. I did everything a fan could do, I guess – but one thing: I never had the chance to see them live, beeing born 13 years after they split up and 3 years after John Lennon died.

But now the day had come for me to see at least one of them: Mr. Ringo Starr played the Arena in Vienna last Sunday, 17. July 2011, and I was there! And I can’t even begin to tell you how happy that made me. It was a dream, nearly as old as I am, coming true. I have to admit, that Ringo never was my favourite – there was always John Lennon first and after that Paul McCartney (like most of the Beatles fan would say, I guess). But it was nearly unreal for me to be in the same place like a guy that I, after all too, worshipped so much over the years. He was there. And he was so much alive and real.

My favourite bits of the concert of course where the Beatles songs he played, but also some of his solo or early stuff really rocked my world:

He ended the show the best way possible by giving a prayer out to John Lennon, singing “Give peace a chance”. I was really touched and it felt, and I know that sounds quite cheesy, as if Lennon was looking down on us. But, when it comes to the Beatles, I guess I am a bit cheesy…

The only thing that was quite strange and left the audience really unsatisfied, was that there was no encore. Ringo and his All Starr Band simply left the stage and that was that. But, however, this are two hours of my life I will never ever forget, with or without encore!

© all photos taken from Cremers Photoblog, derStandard

Let them talk, Hugh.

A while back I heard, that Hugh Laurie produced his first album “Let them talk”. It didn’t really come as a surprise to me, cause it was so clear that this would happen eventually. As an oldschool fan, who doesn’t only now him from his role as grumpy Gregory House, but his early comedy-masterpieces like “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” or “Jeeves & Wooster”, I always loved Laurie for his musical talent.

This album eventually holds everything a Hugh Laurie fan can be waiting for: Great Blues tunes, Lauries fabulous voice and the joy of great music-legends that make their appearences on the album. Now it plays up and down on my iPhone and I think it will be for some time more. Well done, Mr. Laurie!

Tracking Heartbeats.

Newsflash: Mr. LOVECAT himself finally presented one of the DVD boxes he produced for promotion purposes. I’ve done the drawing some while ago and am, as always extremely proud, to be part in this wonderfull project! I’ll post the original illustration later on, but for now – take a look at the smashing music video for “Tracking Heartbeats”:

Music & Words.

Last monday my boyfriend and I had the great chance to see Patti Smith at the Burgtheater in Vienna. First of all – this is a top location for a Rock concert and I love the special mood that arises from old and dignified walls when they open their doors for something a little different from time to time.

Some years ago (I must have been 16 back then…) I had the pleasure to see R.E.M. at the Vienna Staatsoper – it was beyond words and still my favourite concert. Back then I saw Patti Smith for the first time, not quite sure who she was. She supported R.E.M. on only two or three songs but she left a lasting impression on me. And I decided to learn more about here.

Sadely I acutally never really did, apart from listening to her now and then… there were other things for me at that time, my head and heart was all stuck in to Beatles, R.E.M., Green Day, Tocotronic or Bob Dylan – what is, when I look back now, a quite strange mixture of taste in music. But it fitted me fine back then and it always stayed with me and made me a quite wide ranged adult music lover. One that seems now ready for digging his head into her songs and work.

So – 12 years later my boyfriend, who is just reading Patti Smith’s new book “Just Kids”, took me out to see this grande dame of Punk and Rock again. And we had a great evening of music and energy and deep thankfullness that someone like Patti Smith is out there, still living her fascinating way of life. She had a quite awfull cold and drank tea all the time. Sometimes she had to start songs again because of her bad voice and now and then her voice broke a little more than usual… But it didn’t make it a bad concert – on the contrary it seemed to benefit it: Patti Smith’s whole performance is, for me, about imperfections and rawness and the fact that she was not on top of her form just made her more tangible and true.

I think Patti Smith is one of the strongest and at the same time most vulnerable women I ever saw: She takes the whole room over and shouts with her wonderfull voice for freedom and love. But she also stands there, suddenly seeming a little bit smaller and thinner than she is, crying for her dead friends and lovers. And all this makes her so special to me and to so many people. She was such a important voice of her generation and I hope she also is for ours. We couldn’t do better…

Dear Christopher.

When you are a fan of something or someone, you tend to gather everything about it you can find. Recently this happened again, when my lovely boyfriend came up with Matt Smith’s recent tv drama for BBC 2 – “Christopher and his kind”. We both are big “Doctor Who” fans – my boyfriend introduced me to the series in 2002 or 2003 and we, from this point on, waited impatiently for every new episode. Matt Smith is now our third Doctor in a row, suceeding Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant, and we love him dearly. And he manages not only to give this new Doctor a brilliant, hyperactive and barmy new face but also does a great job with more serious roles like the one of Christopher Isherwood (author of “A Single Man”, which recently was made into a movie with Colin Firth).

The movie is about Christopher Isherwoods years in pre-war Germany in the 1930s and his encounters with the gay community (which was suprisingly lived out more open at this time than in Great Britain), the dazzling art scene and sadly the upcoming Nazi-movement. “Christopher and his kind” wins his viewers with his elaborate story-line, beautiful pictures and, I have to say it again, brilliant actors.

I am a bear.

I’m very fond of Julian Barratts and Noel Fieldings Mighty Boosh project. But now the british comedy duo is taking some time out and part their ways. One of Julian Barratts recent project, together with his wife Julia Davis, was the short-film “The Bear” for Sky Arts “Chekhov Comedy Shorts”. And it’s excellent. I think Julian & Julia (even the names show, that this is a couple made in heaven!) do a great job: It’s  authentic, it’s funny and it really gets to you.