Notes From Abroad

Vienna, September 19th —

As it was last time we were here, Vienna — unlike so many other European cities — still manages to maintain its European character, at least in its more affluent districts (I should note that we have not moved around the city much this trip, and have only been inside the Ring and in our daughter’s neighborhood in a quiet section in the Third District, near the Hundertwasser House.) There is a growing sense of entropy, and more graffiti and little signs of decay each year, but it is still… well, still Vienna. Disorder has never been well-tolerated here, and it still isn’t. The place remains distinctly and proudly Austrian.

Tomorrow we are off to Prague for two nights. As with the other former Iron Curtain nations, Czechia is not going gently into that good night. We’ve never been to Prague before, so I can’t compare it to how it was, but I expect it, like Vienna, to be a distinct, and heartening, contrast to places like Paris, London, or Amsterdam.

One thing I can say: it’s been a blessing to be distracted from the news. I understand that the Norks keep launching missiles, that Mr. Trump made a speech at the U.N., that Hillary Clinton still won’t go away, and that there have been further eruptions of barbarism in St. Louis and elsewhere (oh, and this), but that’s really about all I know. I can’t really see how I’m any the worse off for my inattention.

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  1. Whitewall says

    Malcolm, you haven’t missed anything really. Antifa seems to be having identity problems, Hillary…well, the Left is berating their Congressional leadership and now they are having a nervous breakdown over Trump’s UN speech. So, back here, everything is SNAFU.

    I haven’t been to Prague since 1972. Back then it was all communist and such with groups of Red Army officers walking around the city.

    Posted September 20, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink
  2. Jason says

    I really like your writing here on Vienna, and look forward to what you have to say about Praha. Normally I wouldn’t like something as radical as Hundertwasser, but I’ll confess I have a soft spot for it.

    Posted September 20, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says


    I have actually become very fond of Hundertwasser’s architecture and design. Hardly traditional, but there is an organic freedom and playfulness about it that I find very appealing.

    Posted September 20, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink
  4. The one eyed man says

    The struthious life, these days, is indeed blessed. Things suck. It’s not just President Wide Load, although he seems to be doing his level best to eliminate the last vestiges of basic decency from American life. Nobody seems happy about anything. And then there’s the asshole problem: there’s too damn many of them. Robert Sutton, author of The Asshole Survival Guide, speculates that we live in the age of Peak Asshole:

    As the woman in the Total cereal ad asked: what’s a mother to do? Might as well keep your head in the sand. (Of course, a Struthio camelus doesn’t actually bury its head in sand, or it would die. That’s fake news.)

    Posted September 21, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink