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Tag: Munich

Día de los Muertos

Monday, 2 November, 2015 0 Comments

There is a Mexican saying that we suffer three deaths: the first when we die, the second we are lowered into the earth and the third when our loved ones forget us. Día de los Muertos, which corresponds with today’s All Souls’ Day, is dedicated to ensuring that those who loved us will not be forgotten.

This morning, at 7 am in the Theatinerkirche in Munich, a special memorial mass was celebrated for the souls of Kit Fitzgerald ( 6 September 2015) and Mick Fitzgerald ( 2 April 2011) of Ballylanders, County Limerick, and Mary Walsh ( 27 December 2004) and Tom Walsh ( 12 June 2012) of Mullingar, County Westmeath. May they rest in peace.

Mammy praying on the road to Knock

“People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad.” — Marcel Proust


Swooping and soaring in elegant and joyful arcs

Monday, 16 March, 2015 0 Comments

Frei Otto, the recipient of this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize, was scheduled to accept the award in Miami in May, but he died on 9 March a few weeks short of his 90th birthday. His roofing concept for the Munich Olympic Park, which was the central stage for the 1972 Games, continues to impress and inspire.

Frei  Otto art

Frei stands for Freedom, as free and as liberating as a bird in flight, swooping and soaring in elegant and joyful arcs, unrestrained by the dogma of the past, and as compelling in its economy of line and in the improbability of its engineering as it is possible to imagine, giving the marriage of form and function the invisibility of the air we breathe, and the beauty we see in Nature.” Lord Peter Palumbo, Chair of the Jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.


The QR code piano man

Thursday, 18 December, 2014 0 Comments

Last Wednesday, the Swiss composer and performer Julian Layn tweeted, “I’m off on my end-of-year-tour starting today in #genova | tmw thursday #milano | friday #padova | saturday #munich | sunday #vienna.” It was a pleasure to see him perform in public on his QR-coded piano. The music is creative, classical and complex, which is inevitable given that Layn holdds a PhD in theoretical physics.

Julian Layn


The Neptune of Nymphenburg

Sunday, 18 May, 2014 0 Comments

“Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes: Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange. Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong Hark! now I hear them, — Ding-dong, bell.” William Shakespeare, The Tempest

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Walt Mossberg and the art of meeting people

Thursday, 19 December, 2013 0 Comments

“This is my last column for The Wall Street Journal, after 22 years of reviewing consumer technology products here.” So writes Walt Mossberg in a piece titled “Top Products in Two Decades of Tech Reviews.” The boots that he wore were so large that the Journal has picked four journalists to fill them. They are all fine writers and good people, no doubt, but it will be a while before they’ll be to bring to the table the ineffable thing that made Walt Mossberg so respected and, even, loved.

He was at the Macworld convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on 9 January 2007 when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, and after the presentation the Apple CEO handed the magical object of desire to the Wall Street Journal reviewer to get his impressions. Two weeks later, Walt Mossberg was in Munich at the annual DLD Conference and there I had the pleasure of shaking the hand that had used the first the iPhone. The most memorable thing about our short conversation was that right in the middle of it two Israeli entrepreneurs audaciously intervened with an elevator pitch about their web-based product. Mossberg took their chutzpah in his stride, and in between talking to me about the iPhone he asked the entrepreneurial pair a series of short, pertinent questions about their innovation. It was a bravura performance and everybody went away from the gathering with the feeling that they had benefitted from meeting the incredibly patient, polite and informed Walt Mossberg.

The iPhone is at number 9 in Mossberg’s list of the dozen influential personal-technology products he reviewed over the past two decades: “Apple electrified the tech world with this device — the first truly smart smartphone. It is an iPod, an Internet device and a phone combined in one small gadget. Its revolutionary multi-touch user interface is gradually replacing the PC’s graphical user interface on many devices.”

Walt Mossberg is not retiring. He’s said to be working on a new online venture and rumour has it that he’s been in talks with NBCUniversal, Bloomberg, Condé Nast, Cox and The Washington Post Company. Mossberg and Bezos? That would be a potent force. The patience of Walt would be needed, though, to make it work.

This just in: Business Insider is reporting that Mossberg and his business partner Kara Swisher have hired Kenneth Li, recently of Reuters, to be the managing editor of their new venture. “They reportedly have investment from NBCUniversal for the new site which launches next year.”

Walt Mossberg and Steve Jobs


The Hildebrandts: Gollum and Banksy

Monday, 18 November, 2013 0 Comments

In the legendarium of J. R. R. Tolkien, the figure of Gollum is one of the most memorable and frightening. Down through the centuries of his miserable existence, Gollum has come to love and loathe the Ring, just as he loves and despises himself. But the Ring, which Gollum calls “my precious”, brings him no joy because he’s torn between lust for it and a desire to be free of it. This is the tragedy of the hoarder.

There’s something of the Gollum in Cornelius Gurlitt, who stashed 1,280 paintings and drawings — masterworks believed to be worth more than $1 billion — in his Munich apartment. Speaking to Der Spiegel magazine last week, Gurlitt said he had not watched television since 1963 and had never gone online, but did talk to his pictures. He kept some of his favourites in a small suitcase that he would unpack each evening to admire and for more than half-century his only true friends were a huge collection of prized images created by Picasso, Chagall, Gauguin and a multitude of other modern masters. He inherited the works from his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, a Third Reich-era art dealer, partly Jewish, and one of just four people authorized by the Nazis to trade so-called degenerate art during their reign.

Soon after the end of the Second World War, Hildebrand Gurlitt was questioned by members of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit of the United States military, the group of historians, curators and soldiers entrusted with safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage. In his statements to investigators, he emphasized his anti-Nazi sentiments and claimed that he had never handled stolen art, and that the works in his possession were mostly “the personal property of my family or myself.” The Monuments Men concluded that he was not a key player in the art trade and later returned to him paintings, drawings and other fine art objects. After his death in 1956, his son Cornelius inherited the family treasures and kept them, and most of the art world, in the dark for another five decades. His precious.

Unlike his Gollum-like son, Hildebrand Gurlitt was a worldly figure, a true opportunist and a totally amoral individual. His assistant, Karl Heinz Hering, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that his boss knew how to satisfy those post-war customers with large wallets, zero taste and a longing for a little Heimat on their walls. “Well-off hunters used to come to the gallery, but most of the paintings on offer were by French artists, who were inspired mainly by the atmospheric aspects of landscapes. No hunting animals or familiar fauna, in other words. But Gurlitt was clever and he didn’t want to see the disciples of art going home empty handed so he’d find someone who could insert an imposing stag in a grove or a copse.”

This sounds a bit like Banksy, who bought a kitsch painting for $50 in New York last month and added a Nazi officer enjoying the bucolic Bavarianish landscape. It would be Hitler’s idea of perfect art, so Bansky titled it “The Banality of the Banality of Evil”. It was sold for $615,000 with the money going to the homeless charity Housing Works. Unlike Banksy, however, Cornelius Gurlitt isn’t giving anything away.

Banksy


Where’s the European GAFAT?

Thursday, 17 October, 2013 0 Comments

A rum lot of politicians and publishers have gathered in Munich for the annual Medientage talk fest. They’re being aided and abetted in their deliberations by the bureaucrats of Germany’s media apparatus, who intone the yearly incantations about the vital role that newspapers and state broadcasters play in preserving democracy. That these pieties are nothing but a tawdry appeal for protectionism against the inroads being made by the new media is lost on no one, but they must be uttered to ward off the dark shadows being cast by GAFA. That’s Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, by the way. Europe’s total failure to produce its own GAFA is never openly discussed at events like the Munich Medientage for fear that it might expose how dependent the continent’s media industry is now on the kindness of more innovative strangers.

And when it comes to the future of journalism, the shape of things to come won’t be defined in Europe, either. Yesterday’s announcement by Pierre Omidyar that he was “in the very early stages of creating a new mass media organization… that will be independent of my other organizations” suggests that it won’t be paper based or based in Omidyar’s native France, for that matter. He made his money by founding eBay and now lives in Honolulu.

Then there’s the agora, that space in which democracies conduct open discussion. According to the Munich media apparatchiks, state gatekeepers are best placed to take care of that. In the real world, however, the critical service for the well-being of the global public sphere is going to be Twitter. So, make that GAFAT.

This just in: The International Journalism Festival, set to take place in April 2014 in Perugia, has been cancelled. Reason? The thing that’s said to be the root of all evil. In this case, the lack of it. The organizers should have asked @pierre for a few dollars. He’s got them and he’s hot on journalism. Major fail, that, Europe.


The great Oktoberfest clearance sale

Sunday, 6 October, 2013 0 Comments

This evening in Munich, the 180th Oktoberfest ends. The organizers are very pleased with the statistics: 6.4 million drinkers and 6.7 million Maß beer drunk. And then there’s the business of Tracht, the traditional attire that was worn by peasants in the Alpine regions during the 18th century. Back in August, in an article titled […]

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Life without air-con

Thursday, 25 July, 2013 0 Comments

On Sunday, in Munich, the temperature is predicted to reach 38C, and it might even touch 40C. Because Germans regard air-conditioning as “American” and, therefore, depraved, unnecessary suffering will be widespread; especially hard hit will be helpless patients in many of the city’s clinics and hospitals.

There was a time, however, on the other side of the Atlantic when air-conditioning was unknown and Arthur Miller captured the hardship of summer in Manhattan beautifully in “Before air-conditioning,” which was first published in the New Yorker in June 1998. Snippet:

“People on West 110th Street, where I lived, were a little too bourgeois to sit out on their fire escapes, but around the corner on 111th and farther uptown mattresses were put out as night fell, and whole families lay on those iron balconies in their underwear.

Even through the nights, the pall of heat never broke. With a couple of other kids, I would go across 110th to the Park and walk among the hundreds of people, singles and families, who slept on the grass, next to their big alarm clocks, which set up a mild cacophony of the seconds passing, one clock’s ticks syncopating with another’s.”

On the other hand, the Bavarians might be justified in their rejection of air conditioning because as Garrison Keillor once noted: “It was luxuries like air conditioning that brought down the Roman Empire. With air conditioning their windows were shut, they couldn’t hear the barbarians coming.”

Munich weather


Short story: The first of the day

Friday, 28 June, 2013 0 Comments

“Morning, Bill.”
“The usual, Sir?”
“That’s right. And lots of Hendricks.”

Is there a word in English, or any other language for that matter, that describes the sensation of anticipation felt on the top lip deemed to be the recipient of gin, tonic and lime.

“Here you are, Sir,” said Bill.

The silver liquid flows, courses, sluices through his system.
Outside, it’s a hot pulsing city morning, but inside, he is all cool silver and steel.
Whether in Mumbai, Mombasa, Madrid, Munich or while watching the masses stroll around St. Mark’s, it always tasted just right.

“Thanks, Bill.”
And he left a note on the counter before heading out.

“See you at lunch time, Sir,” said Bill

G&T


A meshugener in the Haus der Kunst

Sunday, 14 April, 2013 0 Comments

When the Nazis decided to erect a monument, one that would glorify the concept of art as propaganda and venerate their Aryan supremacist ideology, they chose Munich, the “Capital of the Movement”, as the location. The Haus der Kunst (House of Art) “) at Prinzregentenstrasse 1 opened on 18 July 1937 with the Große Deutsche […]

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