New York

I’m recently restored to Vienna after one of my sort-of-annual New York visits, and rather than narrate a week of parties and shopping I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Jill came from D.C. for a weekend.

Lower Manhattan at sunset.

Brooklyn Heights sunset.

Poodle pictures.

The hostess and the tall guy.

Ben in his element.


Enroute to brunch.

Through all the years I lived in New York I never took this picture.

Mexican brunch.


Snappy Service!

It’ll cost more than a dollar to convince me to eat a hot dog, even from Gray’s Papaya.

Seriously hot.



The juice stand at 1st and 1st.

Some holiday decadence (margaritas at midday).

Rosa Mexicano.

Dancing in Virgin.

The Obamathoner.

Old haunts.

Upper West Side sunset.

A Malaysian restaurant on Grand. The only vegetarian options were salted fish with bean sprouts, salted fish with Chinese broccoli, shrimps with eggplant…etc. Though, as Gato noted, an improvement from Austrian restaurants, where, means chickens or turkeys or (worst of all) Geese.

Dumbo Ferriswheel.

Dumbo factory.

Ben’s birthday, just before the “best breakfast burrito”…EVER.

Joanna and Gato.


Swiss cafe on Lafayette.

A pout.

The new Lower East Side.

And somethings never change.

As they say, Austrians stick together.

Paper bag gardens.

Angkor Wat meets the Yellow pages meets Manhattan.

The new design museum at Columbus Circle.

Fall in Central Park.

A totally sober Friday night at 66 Rivington.

Still sober.

Claire and Cam.

Yerry and Jared.

The fab four.

Shakira and Cam.

Snoops. Notice that she and Shakira have matching pyjamas.

Vera’s Ecke.


All things Brighton and beautiful, part 1.

With October comes a marathon of weekend and week-long sojourns, inaugurated last Friday by a trip to Brighton – due south of London on La Manche – for Nick and Gav’s highly-anticipated wedding extraordinaire. Gato and I stayed both nights in a boutique hotel on Regency Square called Hotel Una, which compensated for its coziness (and by coziness I mean smallness) in style and served a mean mozzerella omlette at the morning buffet (all inclusive). We had some time to explore the seaside town before wedding festivities began, and Brighton, with its boutiques and coffee shops and weekend openings, totally won me over.

One of Brighton’s two piers burnt down in 2003 and reconstruction remains a divisive issue in the city to this day. Here is a picture of the pier on fire (via Wikipedia):

The remaining ‘Palace Pier,’ as it’s known, bears an unfortunate resemblance to Coney Island and Vienna’s Prater. Given the abundance of charming spots in the city, I’m guessing that Brightonians rarely venture out onto the pier. While Gato and I took strolled along it, he marveled (in the awe-struck way that only an engineer could) at the number of roller coasters and bumber car rides that the structure withholds. My favorite was the bucking bronco ride Beat the Bull:

Treasure hunting appears to be a popular pastime on Brighton beach.

My favorite part of town was North Laines, great for shopping and sipping on hot chai lattes. In Vienna one becomes accustomed to hm shopping – only H&M and Hermes, so the variety of boutiques was a very welcome change. I noticed a high concentration of hip sex shops (as opposed to the seedy variety that dominate Vienna’s sex shop market) and (not an unsurprising consequence) equally hip maternity stores.

Good name.

You get the point. Here, to give some perspective, is a typical sex shop in Vienna:

Here are some more pictures of Brighton:

A modeling schnoof

And I haven’t even gotten to the wedding yet. More to come.


Thanks to the BBC’s Chris Hogg for bringing these must-have new gadgets to my attention. From Tokyo to Vienna to you:

Secret surfing

What makes this ‘phantom mouse’ different from an ordinary mouse is the red button in the middle. If someone surprises you when you are looking at a website you shouldn’t be, one click of that button and the browser disappears instantly from the screen and the task bar. Vendors say it is much faster than clicking closed a window in its corner. You can also set it to swap your ‘dodgy’ window for a more appropriate one. Unsurprisingly, they say they sell a lot to secret porn surfers.

Skin scrutiny
This is a microscope, powered by the USB port on your computer. The manufacturers suggest you use it to check your skin for blemishes or your teeth for marks. It comes with software that allows you to measure what you’re looking at on the screen, just by saving the image and dragging your cursor over it.
Coffee control
The Japanese love to drink coffee in cans from vending machines – warm in the winter, cool in the summer. These USB powered platforms keep your drink warm or cool – although the risk is that it is easier to spill it all over the keyboard if you keep it close to the computer.
Muscle mouse
For those who worry that those hours at the keyboard are leaving you flabby, the ‘muscle mouse’ might be the answer. Stick the pads onto your muscles, anywhere you want to tone, and using power from the computer, electrical pulses will be sent to the pads to tone your flab. You can adjust the strength of the pulses by pressing a button on the side of the mouse.
Mirror, mirror
For those who spend a lot of time chatting to friends online, this ‘magic mirror’ has a USB camera fitted under the surface. The manufacturers say looking into the mirror while you chat allows you to express yourself better while looking directly at the camera lens. Twenty-four LED lights around the mirror are designed to make sure you look your best
Stealth cooling
Hiroyasu Yamamitsu, an Akihabara store owner, is demonstrating the USB neck cooler. The fan is powered by your computer and hidden in the tie.You put it round your neck and slip the knot over the fan. It blows cold air over your neck and no-one else is any the wiser.He came up with the idea for the product himself, he says. From time to time he holds brainstorming sessions where staff in his shops try to come up with new gizmos to attract customers.

Hopefully those brilliant engineers will develop some USB device for curtailing interminable UN meetings, until then I think I’ll save my money for something really useful, like a Caipirinha.

Budapest, Geris, and Salzburg

Here are some photos of the last few weeks, which have been replete with the Geris’ visit, Season 2 of Gossip Girl, and Salzburg:


Hungarian Parliament

Mom and Bruce and St. Stephan

Eis at Ruszwurm






The Gresham Hotel, home of the 20€ cocktail.

Back in Vienna:

Just another day at the National Library…


Just when we were about to unpack the fall coats, summer returned in time for a Saturday at a lake in Salzburg, and a very hot wedding.

The bride

Moritz rocks his air guitar

Palin: wrong woman, wrong message

Thank you again, Yill, for forwarding this fantastic Gloria Steinem piece on Sarah Palin.


Palin: wrong woman, wrong message

Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.
By Gloria Steinem

September 4, 2008

Here’s the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing — the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party — are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women — and to many men too — who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the “white-male-only” sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won’t work. This isn’t the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere. It’s not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It’s about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton’s candidacy stood for — and that Barack Obama’s still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, “Somebody stole my shoes, so I’ll amputate my legs.”

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can’t do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn’t say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden’s 37 years’ experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn’t know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, “I still can’t answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?” When asked about Iraq, she said, “I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.”

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she’s won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain’s campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn’t know it’s about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate’s views on “God, guns and gays” ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let’s be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can’t tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin’s value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women’s wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves “abstinence-only” programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers’ millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn’t spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I don’t doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn’t just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn’t just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn’t just echo McCain’s pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, “women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership,” so he may be voting for Palin’s husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can’t appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can’t be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

This could be huge.

The Devil Wears Lipstick

I just attempted to watch Sarah Palin’s speech and surprisingly was able to endure fifteen minutes and thirty-six seconds of her acerbic invective.

Here are some of the lines that particuarly made my stomach turn:

“You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick.” Besides not being a sentence, what does that even mean? Hockey moms are prone attacking children and have problems with salivation?

“I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.” Classy.

“In small towns we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they’re listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening.” Which reminds me of a picture Yill kindly forwarded to me:

And one other thing: why was everyone in the audience white? Scary.

Dancing Queen

While commemorating Nicky’s last hurrah  in singleton at Take Five in Salbzurg this weekend, we found ourselves assailed by a group of overly confident underage boys who desperately needed a crash course in club etiquette. Though I doubt that my blog audience fits this demographic profile, I think everyone could benefit from the James Brown dance course I found on youtube: