Thursday, April 5, 2007
Fritz & Joanna in Europe, Day 7
Fritz wants to take a mini walk through the neighborhood. Each street is lined with small patches for those who live in the buildings who want to adopt it for gardening. Someone decided to turn a bathtub and washbasin into garden fixtures.
We end up at a plaza called Mexikoplatz. It is a plaza built on the Danube River and is dedicated to Mexico, the only nation in the world to stand up and officially say "this is not right!" before anyone could even imagine the horror of World War II.
When Hitler's Germany made its first conquest, the hostile take over of the Austrian government, Mexico stood up and protested. But Mexico's voice fell upon the deaf ears of the world. Mexico has a strong tie to Austria, for a time Mexico was under Austrian rule. I recognize the connection: to me, there is an influence of the waltz in the dancing to some Mexican tunes.
We head to the subway. Mariahilferstrasse is the next stop of the day.
It's a major shopping street where locals go to shop in the 6th district.
There is a headshop down one of the side streets that is just amazing, nothing like I ever saw in Manhattan even in the Sixties. Besides paraphernalia, they sell seeds and all the equipment to grow your own. It's legal to grow marijuana in Austria. But they draw the line at allowing the plant to flower. Then it become illegal.
We enter the bright red storefront of Totem, the 7th district store of Mr. Stench, aka Alex Wank, drummer and founder of Austria's finest death metal band, Pungent Stench. Pungent has a worldwide following, though it is a specialized fan base in the United States. Inside the store's walls are painted black, with items for sale hanging above the stacks of death metal CDs, DVDs, clothing and paraphernalia.
Alex poses with me while I wear my first Pungent Stench T-shirt, covering their 2005 Ampeauty tour. The back of the black T-shirt lists all their tour stops, the front is controversial, with a young woman "Justice" with an amputated arm. I figure, if this is how our young boys and girls soldiers are coming home from Iraq, the shirt might be uncomfortable, but is more like a reality.
Fritz and I decided to go our separate ways. Martin was having a friend over so I took a cab to hang with them while Fritz visited with Alex and had Austrian guy talk. They went to a restaurant where the locals eat. A dog was chasing his tail in the middle of the room.
They had authentic Austrian dishes. Alex is a vegetarian and had creamed spinach, fried egg and potato dumpling. Fritz had a cordon bleu schnitzel with a phenomenal breading. He said the potato dumpling was out of this world.
Fritz and Alex had a great time talking in Austrian slang. The waiter recorded the moment for history.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we wait for Fritz. The good part was that hanging with Martin was fun. I got to learn a lot about him. He is a lot like Fritz. They both know what type of music that I like and play it for me. Martin's going to college, majoring in Latin so he can study its literature. He says his English isn't good, but he's totally underestimating his grasp of the language. In fact, that's been common of all Austrians I have met on this trip so far. They all say shyly, "My English is not so good," then break out into an advanced English. If only my German were so "not so good"!
Martin's been a great host. We disrupted his life and he hasn't complained once. In this picture that Fritz took before we went home, the sad truth is that Martin's really sleeping, I'm just playing up to Fritz's camera.