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clusterfuck

How Men Can Stop Street Harassment: my latest article in @VICE

Earlier this week I endured yet again an incident of street harassment. It happens almost every day. So much so, that it’s almost normalized as part of my daily routine. Get up, take a shower, grab a cuppa from Timmies, and tell some douchenozzle to go fuck himself.

This incident was different because a nice young couple came to my aid. I started thinking about all the ways men can be an ally to women to women when they observe street harassment. So many men, supposedly “nice guys,” will just ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening. BUT IT IS HAPPENING, and we need your support and solidarity.

Do you nice guys call out harassment when you see it? Or do you just stand there and watch whilst thinking about how nice you are?

So, with some encouragement from my editor, I wrote about it for VICE. Read it in full here. Enjoy!

And as always, you can visit the official Christine Estima dot com to read more of my published essays, op-eds, columns, short stories, travel writing, and much much more.


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The Hipster’s Guide to Vienna

Okay, I get it. I listen to strange music, I own two typewriters, I spend my days writing in rustic cafés, I down lattes like they were Smarties, I wear high-waisted jeans and I don’t give a fuck what you think. I may, in fact, be a hipster. Whatever. Most people spend years running away from who they really are. I’m comfortable in my hipsterdom.

I just got back from spending a month in Vienna (with an extra couple of weeks on the side to visit friends in London, Prague, Amsterdam and Brussels), and while I was in the planning stages of the trip, I was Googling fun, alternative, creative things to do in Vienna, but came up empty. Apart from doing the museum-clusterfuck, or the Stephansdom-two-step, the internet was not very forthcoming with activities for the lumberjack-suspenders-bowtie-red-lipstick-thick-eyebrows crowd. Last name FAIL, first name EPIC. No TripAdvisor, I do NOT want to jump on an obnoxious hop-on-hop-off bus painted the colour of communist China. Yes LonelyPlanet, there are other places to get free wifi besides the McDonalds on the Graben, thanks.

 

So I decided to make my own Viennese Hipster guide so no one has to suffer my fate again. If you’re headed to the Austrian capitol and want to be a total WIENER (haaaaaaaaaaaaa), I did all the artisanal legwork for you. I’ve crafted The Hipster’s Guide to Vienna for all your ironic needs.  included in this post are helpful tips on:

Accommodation
Shopping That Isn’t Bullshit
Activities That Aren’t Lame
Cafes that Aren’t Touristy
Cafes To Avoid Like Herpes
Souvenirs That Aren’t Made In China
Hunting Vienna’s Dark Past
Museums That Still Profit From Nazi-Looting

and

German Phrases You Will Deffo Need.

BITTE SCHOEN!

Accommodation & Where To Stay

See this above photo? That’s where I stayed. It was a palatial flat in the area of Meidling with high ceilings, massive windows, glass chandeliers, antique furniture, a record player, and two Snugglebum von Cuddletummies (cats). And I stayed here for free.

Housesitting, I was. As usual.

If you’re a hipster, you COULD pay for an overpriced Air Bn’B on the Ringstrasse,  you COULD Couchsurf on some uni student’s couch that smells of patchouli, OR you could stay for free in a place all to yourself in exchange for giving the Snugglebum von Cuddletummies some lurve. It’s up to you. If you do decide to stay in a hostel or hotel or some other huge mistake, do yourself a favour and stay outside of the touristy Maria-Hilfer strasse. It’s just too gross, too uncultured, too bullshit. Meidling was a great area because it was only 3 uBahn stops away from Westbahnhof station, and only 3 stops away on the Schnellverbindungen to the Quartier Belvedere, or 4 stops to Landstrasse Wien Mitte.


A video I made of riding the trams in Vienna. Definitely ride the trams!

I could get anywhere within minutes, and I was within walking distance of the Schonbrun Palace and Gardens. Also, the homeowner left me her metropass and her bicycle so all my travel was free. I never had to pay for expensive meals (unless I wanted to) because I went grocery shopping and cooked all my meals at home. Comforts of home! I cannot stress Housesitting enough, people. You should get on that.

Shopping That Isn’t Overpriced FUBAR

Vienna is famous for its expensive shopping districts like the Graben and on Kartnerstrasse. There are tons of expensive jewelers, high-end clothes and shoe shops, and antqiue boutiques. BUT why blow all your money on the high streets when you can spend a couple cents on the same items at….

The Naschmarkt!


During the week, the Naschmarkt is a regular farmers market located just outside of Kettenbruckengasse uBahn station, but on Saturday mornings, it also features an AMAZING fleamarket. It mostly features antiques like chandeliers, home furnishing, bric-a-brac, and kitchen supplies, but it also has other amazing finds like historic photographs, Jugendstil jewelry for a fraction of the price on the high street, mobile phones, vinyl records, wall art, and SO MUCH CLOTHES. Here are three examples of some of the things I procured on the fleamarket. The above photograph is of a love letter I bought on the Naschmarkt for €2. It’s dated 1940 and sent from Switzerland by a woman named Grete to Salzburg to a man named Wolf. It’s in German but I translated it, it’s your standard love letter, full of hopes, longing, expectation and desire. But what’s interesting is that postal sticker on the back. It says it was OPENED by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht before it reached its destination, and you can clearly see the Nazi eagle and swastika. The other interesting feature is that it is addressed to Salzburg, which as we all know is in Austria. BUT the letter is addressed to the “German Reich.” Remember, this is 1940, so because of the Anschluss, Austria as a country had ceased to exist.

This above love letter I bought for €3. It’s a rare find on a Viennese fleamarket because it’s in ENGLISH! It was sent in 1947 from Vienna to a woman in Southend-on-Sea, UK. As you can see from the first line, the Austrian soldier has just been released from a Russian POW camp and is looking for his lost love Annie whom he hasn’t seen since 1939 before the war. Annie’s last name is listed here as Reifmann, which sounds awfully German to me. Or perhaps, Jewish? Maybe she had family in Austria and that’s how they met? But if it was sent to the UK, why was it back in Vienna for me to find? As the envelope indicates, it was Return-To-Sender. So either Annie didn’t live there anymore, she died in the blitz (or worse), or she was like, “You were a German soldier so fuck you.”

This above document I bought for €5. It’s a “Persilschein.” These were documents issued by the occupying Allied forces after the war to citizens who had proved they hadn’t been Nazis et.al. before or during the war. The document is in German, English, French, and Russian. Persil is a type of washing liquid, and schein means shine, so if you had this document, it literally meant your past was squeaky clean.

I also bought photographs, necklaces, and other trinkets and tokens on the Naschmarkt, basically at cost. Highly recommended for your Saturday mornings!! And you walk away with gifts and finds you won’t get on the fucking Graben.

Activities That Aren’t as Lame as Your Gramps

Cool Museums

So Vienna is all about museums. They love that shit. They eat that shit up. But sometimes it feels like if you’ve seen one museum, you’ve seen them all. There’s only so much goddamned art one can take in before it all starts to look the same. So here’s a selection of the museums and galleries I liked that weren’t too much of a gaudy tourist trap.

WestLicht

Westlicht is an amazing photography gallery that has a wicked selection of the best photographs of the 20th and 21st century. The place also has it’s own cafe and bar, and a selection of great photography books for sale. Only €10 entry. Also, it’s located in a particularly grimy (but also charming) section of Westbahnstrasse so at least the affluent snobs from Kennebunkport won’t be there.

The MAK (free Tuesday nights!)

The museum of design is free every Tuesday night from like 6pm until closing, which is when I went, but I would have gladly paid the entry fee, it was amazing! These are pics I took inside. Look at this awesomeness!

There were video clips, light installations, and they gave you bubblegum to chew as part of the experiment! One section was a bicycle that needed to be pumped hard in order for the light installations to work! I loved it all. And of course, there were also the more refined design aspects, like art deco furniture and an entire wing dedicated to the evolution of the chair, hahaha.

The museum is on the Ringstrasse so it’s easy to find, but it wasn’t really patroned by tourists, rather by design students, so it felt like an edifying experience amongst people who genuinely care about this shit.

And and and! ThERE WERE KLIMTS!

Look at that gorgeous thing!!!

Mumok (I was only charged €6 for some reason)

The Museum of modern art was great because it was one of the few museums in the city that actively carried and promoted the works of women artists (more on this later). The exhibits were engaging and interesting. It’s in the middle of the Museum Quartier so it’s easy to find, but again, there weren’t very many tourists here, it was mostly students and locals. I liked that.

And when you’re done museum-ing, they have their own cupcake cafe inside!! Also the museum has free wifi and also a free app you can download on site for a free audioguide!

The price is supposed to be €11 but they only charged me €6 for some reason. Maybe I look like I’m under 27. BITCH I’M 35.

Wien Museum (free first Sunday of the month!)

I wouldn’t have necessarily paid the full entry for this museum if it hadn’t been free the first Sunday of the month, but I’m glad I went just for the Klimts! Did I mention I love Klimt and I eat that shit up? This here is a portrait of his longtime mistress Emilie Floge. It’s part of his gold leaf period and when his style was so unique and more two dimensional than the other portraits of the time that aimed to give the illusion of 3 dimensions. The Wien Museum also does like this history of the Stephansdom gargoyles and a whole bunch of other relics from Vienna’s past as a walled-city and such. They also had an exhibit on two really important artists from the pre and post war Vienna, detailing the sadness and atrocities happening around them that was highly stylized and super engaging. All in all, me likey, but glad me no pay full price.


Here’s another Klimt!


And this is an interesting story tied in with Klimt. This is a portrait of Arnold Schoenberg, the famous composer. The portrait was painted by Richard Gerstl who was having an affair with Schoenberg’s wife Mathilde. She briefly left her husband for Gerstl but returned a few months later for the children. When that happened, Gerstl hung himself. He was never famous or well known in his own time, but after the war he became so popular and now I’ve found his works in every major museum and gallery in Vienna. Below is his self portrait. Anyway, the reason this is super interesting and tied in with Klimt is because, over 100 years later, Schoenberg’s grandson Randy, a lawyer in Los Angeles, was hired to represent Maria Altmann in her Supreme Court case versus the country of Austria. Why was she suing them? They were holding on to Klimt’s famed portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, considered the Mona Lisa of Austria, and Altmann was the heir to the painting. It was looted from her family home by the Nazis and never returned. SIX DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON. I found it rather fitting that the Klimts and the Gerstl portraits were hanging side by side. It’s like, hey guys, do you have any idea how much shit your heirs are gonna stir?

Also, they have works by Egon Schiele, whom I didn’t like 10 years ago, but I feel like he’s grown on me and I appreciate his stylized pain a lot more than Klimt now. Here’s him in a self-portrait, flashing us his west-side gang signs.

Resistance Museum (free forever!)

Now let’s not mince words. It’s not as if Austrians put up much of a resistance. When the Anschluss happened, the white anglo-saxon Austrians welcomed Shitler with flowers and a huge parade. They cheered him in the streets, the church bells rang out and the bakeries gave out free sweets. They welcomed it. They weren’t the “first victims of WWII” as they like to paint themselves. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few conscious objectors. Individuals did indeed resist and attempt to circumvent the Nazis, but there wasn’t exactly a cohesive, organized resistance movement. The only real official resistance in all of Europe that was organized and widespread (although quickly quashed) was the tram-workers strike in Amsterdam in 1941. No one in Europe was able to mount a large, organized resistance (although major props to the Polish for putting up a good fight too). Anyway, the resistance museum is free for obvious reasons (as are all Concentration Camps memorial sites throughout Austria and Germany, and the like…) and their displays have really interesting artifacts from individual’s resistance attempts. I was super engrossed in it. Worth the visit. I like bad-ass rebels.

Space Invader Hunting, and other street art hunting!


If you’re an actual hipster and not some tourist, then you know who Space Invader is. Also, if you read this blog often, then you know who he is. If not, what exactly are you doing here? Anyway, by now you should have already downloaded his Flash Invader app and have flashed at least one of his thousands of pieces erected around the world in dozens of cities. And if you have, then you know, that there are many of his pieces up in Vienna from his visits in 2006 and 2008. I flashed 23 of them.


Like this gem.


And this one.


And this one at street-level. The great thing about hunting Space Invaders when you’re new to a city is it is a free activity that allows you to get to know the layout of the city better. I found all my ‘Vaders in my first week in Vienna. After that, I could walk around the city without a map, because I knew each quartier and platz from him. “Oh I know this area because I found a ‘Vader here.” OR I knew that something wasn’t far off because I had already walked the distance to find him. Sometimes I would go hunting and the ‘Vader was long gone, but you could still see the imprint from the tiles in the wall or building or bridge. That would suck, but at least I discovered a new area of the city through it. Hunting ‘Vaders brings you to new areas of the city that you wouldn’t ordinarily get to otherwise. Sure he puts things up in touristy areas, but he also goes to the quiet, dead corners of the suburbs as well. Those are always awesome.

And Vienna is great for hunting the works of other great street artists. This is a Roa someone had the gaul to partly cover!

I call this one, “Neeeeeeaaaaarrrrr…….. faaaaaaaaaaaarrrr!”

Ah, the women of Sonke. I love Sonke’s oeuvre so hard. Oeuvre on fleek.

You’re beautiful. It’s society that’s fucked. I KNOW RIGHT.


My German is so good now, I can read this without having to resort to google translate! When I found this I was like… FINISH THE SENTENCE, I’M BREATHLESS WITH ANTICIPATION!!!


…was the best/worst thing that ever happened to you.

Bike-Share Rentals & Bicycle Paths


Vienna has the same city bike-share program as other major cities like London, Paris, Toronto, Montreal and NYC. You can find the stands located outside almost every major attraction or uBahn stop.  You register with a credit card right there at the terminal and use the same pin number each time you want to take out a bike. They have large baskets, adjustable seats and 3 gears. And they’re super cheap compared to other cities! The first hour is free!  After that, it’s like one euro for the next hour and it goes up incrementally after that but I think four hours is like less than latte. AND if you put it back before the first hour is up, then wait 15 minutes, you can withdraw another bike and get another hour free! Renting bikes from a shop is for suckers and not a hipster like you. I used these bikes a lot. There are excellent bike paths all throughout Vienna.  One day I cycled from Meidling, along the canals, through the city, across the Ringstrasse, across the Danube, and up to the Prater, and that only took me 45 minutes! No traffic! Bike lanes are well-maintained and clearly marked. I felt super safe the entire time.

I also recommend you cycle along the Danube canal to check out some of the great murals and street art along the water. Great activity on a sunny Viennese day.

Before Sunrise film locations

Everyone’s favourite 1995 indie summer thinking-woman’s cult hit was filmed in its entirety in Vienna and after a month of being in Vienna, I would be walking down a small alley on the Molkerbastei, or I’d be at the Arena complex near Erdberg, and I’d be like, waaaaaait a minute….
Anyway, I found almost every location where they filmed their infamous scenes….

…from the bridge where they meet the dudes putting on the play about the cow…


…to the Riesenrad ferris wheel where they have their first kiss at sunset…

…to the street where they dance to the harpsichord then take mental photographs of each other.
I even found the record shop where they listen to that record in the listening booth. And Cafe Sperl where they pretend to speak on the phone to their friends…

…more on this place later!

Grave-spotting

It’s crazy to think how many famous people have come from Vienna. In fact, it’s crazy to think how many famous people were living in Vienna at the exact same time. Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Sigmund Freud, Adele Bloch-Bauer, Arnold Schoenberg, Gustav Mahler, Alma Mahler and ADOLF SHITLER were all living in Vienna at the same time. I like to think that if Klimt had passed Shitler on the street when Shitler was a starving artist, lugging his colours and palettes and brushes around and hoping to get into the art academy, Klimt probably would have felt sorry for Shitler. He probably would have given him a shilling out of pity. Anyway, with so many stars, it stands to reason their graves are here too. This is another free activity to do in Vienna that will get you exploring different areas, and you can enjoy the amazingly-scenic tram rides to get there. Also, don’t forget to Instagram them, you hipster douche.
First grave I found was the most important to me.

Luckily his grave was within walking distance from where I was staying. I found him pretty easily, and was pleased to see that the Jewish tradition of putting stones on the grave was being employed here. Klimt wasn’t Jewish, he was Catholic (yet he did some rather unCatholic things like fathering dozens of illegitimate children to poverty-striken young women), but many of his patrons were Jewish, and he wasn’t one of the many anti-semites running around the Austro-Hungarian empire at the time. He didn’t care, he socialized (and slept) with everyone. And perhaps his most famous patron was also buried in Vienna…

Well I say buried, but this is actually a crematorium wall, so I’m assuming her cistern is inside the wall. I must say, I am so glad Bloch-Bauer and Klimt passed away before the second World War. I can’t bear to think what might have happened to them had they lived…. Had they witnessed the destruction of civilized society, the murders and beatings on the street, their friends throwing themselves out of windows rather than be taken by the Nazis, their entire property be seized and then being forced into exile. Or worse, being deported to a camp. I’m glad they died of natural causes. I’m glad they have no idea what came next. But perhaps they did have a tiny inkling that their legacies would cause a massive shit-stir one day and turn the world on its head. Here’s hoping that thought gave them comfort.

Mozart was actually buried in an unmarked mass grave and it took decades for them to go in and try to find his remains. What lies in this grave could be Mozart, it may not be. But this was a super quiet experience, the cemetery was empty and I was the only one there. I told Mozart quietly that I enjoyed the marriage of figaro and the magic flute and his requiem and most of all, his piano concerto no.23 in a major k488. Grazie, Maestro!


Beethoven’s remains have been moved three times, but here he finally rests. Roll over! Haaaaaaa.

Photo-boothing

Using those old-fashioned photobooths is a HUGE thing in Austria and Germany (and France too, really). You’ll find the classic booths in most uBahn stations and places of interests. I found one inside the Museums Quartier. They’re only €2 for 4 photographs, and they come out looking super stylized in black and white. I love mine. It’s hanging on my wall right now.

Burgtheater Tour


For €7 you can have a tour of the imperial, ornate, illustrious Burgtheater near Schottentor, across the street from the Rathaus. If you like live theatre at all, backstage stories, and fresco paintings by Klimt before he was famous, then this is super fucking righteous and totally engaging (I majored in Theatre in university, so this was like a wet-dream for a hipster-shit like me). And if you’re lucky like me, you will be the only one to show up for the English-language tour, and instead of the tour being just an hour, you’ll be there for 3 hours and the staff won’t know you’re still there and they’ll turn the lights off on you and the guide and you have to find your way out of there by feeling the walls. It was super fucking cool and interesting, highly recommended!

The stage is set. The curtain rises.

Stolpersteines

I’ve found stolpersteines (which literally translates as “stumbling blocks”) all over Europe and of course they are here in Vienna too. This is another activity that is free and also loaded with meaning, heart, sadness, mourning, healing, hope, and all that other good stuff. If you walk around the city, pay attention to the ground. A German artist began installing these gold bricks into the ground, marking the spot where a person who was persecuted by the Nazi’s once lived. More of then than not, the person in question was killed, but sometimes the stolpersteine will note that the person survived. Most of these people were murdered in concentration camps or died in transit. So when you’re walking through beautiful and regal Vienna, and you find one of these stones, you immediately know the names of the people who once called that spot home and they were forcibly ripped from their homes and their families, then slaughtered like cattle. Don’t ever forget that every street, every corner, and every house has a dark and sad history to go with the good.


This family died in Auschwitz.

This family died in Auschwitz, Gurs, and Chelmno

Last Residences of Famous People

The internet is full of the former addresses of famous people. Sometimes their former residencies have been turned into museums, like Freud’s has above. Or sometimes there’s just a marker, like Kafka and Beethoven’s below. But more often than not, I would find an address, and there was no marker. Someone wonderful lived here and called it home, but no one who lives there now knows about it. Still, it was a free activity and it kept me exploring and full of wonder, so this was an A+ activity for a frugal hipster like me.

I made sure I found the homes of: Maria Altmann, Milena Jesenska, Adele Bloch-Bauer, and Klimt. Do you have some favourite celebs from Vienna? Maybe Michael Hanneke (you will only know who he is if you’re a hipster anyway)? Christoph Waltz? Google their addresses and go searching for them, you hipster-fuck.

Cafés That Aren’t Touristy Bullshit

A hipster without a cafe in which to drink and write is a hipster close to death. What would we do without our cafes? I DON’T EVEN WANT TO THINK ABOUT THE HORROR. Here’s my ultimate list of A+ cafes that featured zero tourists, only locals, and whose decor and drinks were top notch. I’m not including links here because I’m a carpal-tunnel hipster but all you have to do is google “Vienna + the cafe’s name” and you’ll find them easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Liebling: good-looking people, rustic wooden tables great for writing, vintage furnishings, cheap lattes, a bit too smokey. Free wifi.

Café Nil: a kind of Marrakesh decor coupled with a 1950s green tile design. Adorable retro stands next to the tables carry the sugar, salt & pepper. Nice servers. Lots of natural light. Free wifi.

Café Pruckel: has been around for 100 years, and hasn’t changed it’s decor for 60. Unlike other massive centenarian cafes, this is populated solely with locals. Lots of newspapers on the wooden racks to read, free wifi, really good looking people abound.

Café Siebenstern

The above photograph is of a communal fridge inside Siebenstern cafe, where locals can put their unwanted food, and anyone is invited to take it, although I mostly saw the homeless and refugees taking advantage. Free wifi, large communal tables, open late for food and drinks, good-looking servers who speak English.

Phil

This is what it looks like. Cafe plus bookstore plus vinyl shop plus good-looking people. The wifi password is clapyourhands. You’re welcome! I came here so many times, I loved it. Great for writing and people watching.

Vollpension: designed like your grandmother’s sitting room, free wifi and lotsa communal tables but so difficult to snag a spot, this place is super busy. Brunch on weekends needs to be reserved in advance.

The Breakfast Club: only open until 2pm, great food, almost no place to sit. No wifi but you can mooch off of Vollpension next door if you already have their wifi password.

Café inside Leopold Museum (separate entrance): you don’t need to pay to enter the museum to visit this cafe. Free wifi, really nice view of the Museumplein, gorgeous long-bar, newspapers to read, open late, separate smoking area, gorgeous tattooed guy behind the bar. I WANTED TO HAVE HIS ABORTION.

Café inside the Kunsthistorische Museum (must pay entry): You have to the entry fee of the museum to gain access to the cafe but THIS PIC BELOW IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. It’s like a bloody Russian novel up in hurr. Free wifi, and I chatted with a super rich grandmother and her grandson from NYC who sat next to me. They were charming in a myopic sort of way. The servers were marveled by how quickly I can type on my iPad. #hipsterproblems

Café Ulrich: free wifi, decent lattes, serves food and the tables after 5pm are reserved for diners. Creepy dudes can populate the long-bar, but in general, I liked this place.

Café Europa: I took the following photo inside Cafe Europa. Mirrors everywhere. Smoking section not properly secured, free wifi, decent lattes, lovely tall windows.

Supersense (EXTRA HIPSTER POINTS):

Okay this one I’ll link to because HOLY MOTHER OF GOD THIS IS THE GRAND PUBA OF HIPSTER. I wish I had discovered this place earlier in my stay (found it days before I left) because I instantly fell in love. Gorgeous Jugendstil Art Deco furnishings and large wooden high tables and stools, and free wifi. But the crowning jewel of this place was the attached shop that was a CORNUCOPIA of hipster shit that gave me an ironic stroke. There was an old wooden birdcage elevator upcycled into a recording booth that records you for 90 seconds and puts it on vinyl! They had wax and envelope stamps. There was a machine that put your thoughts/wishes/recipes/whatever on a scroll and sealed it in an antique bottle! I WAS ENCHANTED.

Kleines Café:

Also featured in Before Sunrise (the palm reader scene), it’s super small but is very charming and there’s lots of newspapers on the rack to read. No wifi but that’s good for writing.

Café Jelinek: early 20th century red velvet decor and lush window drapings, oddly shaped tables, free wifi, cheap lattes, a log fire, and lots of space. Surly and ornery servers but who cares. I’m just as surly. Hey! Surly only cares about one person. SURLY.

Hmm. Sorry Surly.

Shut up.

(Hipster points for knowing what I’m referring to.)

Café & Bar Warning

Even though the rest of Europe, and lo, the rest of the civilized world, has banned smoking in public establishments, Vienna is still behind the times. Technically there is some kinda no-smoking law, but it is either not enforced, or won’t really go into effect until 2017 (depending on who you ask). Thus, people will smoke in your face all day long in the cafes and no matter what kind of dirty looks you throw them, it won’t stop them. Some cafés have a smoking section (haaaaa! Remember Smoking Sections??!!) but staff rarely close the fucking doors to the smoking section, so all the smoke wafts over into the non-smoking section. You will walk out of every café or bar one minute closer to death and smelling like arsenic.

Cafés That Will Kibosh Your Buzz (aka AVOID)

Café Central: long-lineups, all tourists, loud, jerk waiters. I walked in to photograph the unusual inverted ceiling and then left.

Café Schwarzenberg: if you go here after peak hours, then it’s fine & kinda nice. Otherwise, it’s a shitshow.

Alt Wien: where 19-year-old university frat-holes go to piss on the floor

Skybar: just because you have a nice view of the Stephansdom doesn’t mean you’re cool. Also, FULL OF YUPPIES.

Café inside the Belvedere: €6 for a latte? Go fuck yourself, how about that.

Souvenirs That Aren’t Postcards or Tshirts

I wanted to get myself something that was quintessentially Viennese but that no one else would have. Something you can’t buy at those overpriced souvenir shops on KarntnerRing. I was reading a lot about Vienna and I came across the works of Secession artist and Wiener Werkstatte founder Koloman Moser. Aside from being an internationally acclaimed visual artist and member of Vienna’s intelligentsia of the early 20th century, he was also adept at the fine art of the Ex Libris.

For those hipsters not aware of the literati-snob practice of owning your own Ex Libris, let me explain:

Ex Libris is latin, and translates to, “Out of the library of,” or “Out of the book of.” It is a stamp, almost kind of like a Standard or a Coat of Arms, that indicates to whom a book belongs. You see, the socialites and intelligentsia of era’s past would of course own their own vast private libraries in their homes, and they liked to lend them out to their friends. But to keep track of all the books they had loaned and shared, they would stamp the inside cover with their own custom Ex Libris. As time went on, the design of the Ex Libris went from being a simple stamp with someone’s name on it, to a fashionable artistic expression of the person. And Koloman Moser was the go-to Ex Libris designer of 1900 Vienna. He fashioned them for everyone from Sigmund Freud to Adele Bloch-Bauer. Here are some examples of his work.


Pretty fucking sweet, right? So I was like, I WANT MY OWN EX LIBRIS! I’m a writer, I’m a literature-snob, I love Viennese-shit, and I’m a ridiculous hipster.

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

So I found this shop on Siebensternegasse that only fashions stamps. That’s all they make! Nothing but stamps! I couldn’t believe something like that actually existed. That’s like having a milkman or a blacksmith. It’s so quaint! A stamp man! I walked in and asked if he could make me an Ex Libris. He asked if I had a design in mind, and I showed him the screencaps I had taken of Koloman Moser’s work. I asked if he could just take one design and plug my name in there. He said “keine problem” as they say in German, and 2 days and €35 later, I owned MY OWN FUCKING EX LIBRIS!

KNEEL BEFORE YOUR HIPSTER-QUEEN, BABYLON!!!

So if you want your own Viennese souvenir that wasn’t made in China or unravels in the wash, get thee to an Ex-Librisy (or something).

Hunting Vienna’s Dark Past

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having dark fascinations, like looking at photos of dead bodies, or collecting Nazi junk. Our fascinations aren’t inherently good or bad. It’s what we do with these fascinations that’s important. Using these mementos of humanity’s past to remind ourselves of what is good and evil, to remind us of history so as not to repeat it, I think, is a good thing. And Vienna is one of those cities that is responsible for a lot of shit. Namely: Shitler.

Of course you won’t find a single place in Germany or Austria that marks a place where Shitler lived or worked or was born or hung out. Obvi. Once you mark it, it’s turns into a place of pilgrimage. So not only are none of his former places of residence in Vienna marked, I betcha the current residents don’t even know. The internet is good for this type of thing (like I mentioned above in the Former Residences of Famous People section), so it wasn’t long before I found the site of Shitler’s first flat when he moved to Vienna from Linz circa 1906. It’s just around the corner from the Westbahnhof. The building itself is rather unassuming, kinda dank and under-maintained. However, when I found it one night when it was cold and windy out, I realized I needed to be discrete and respectful to the current residents. First of all, you don’t want to make a big fuss, and also, you don’t want to glorify things. So I looked at the place from across the street, I didn’t take any photos, I stared for a bit, then left. I don’t know what I was expecting to see or find, but it felt similar to when I’ve visited concentration camps. You reflect, you think, you move forward.

Also, I found out that after a couple years of living in flats in Vienna, and after being rejected twice from the Vienna Arts Academy, Shitler’s living allowance ran out and he became a homeless crazy beggar on the streets. He had to move into the homeless shelter in Meidling. I WAS HOUSESITTING IN MEIDLING. That was a total mindfuck for me because not only was the building I was living in pre-war, almost all of Meidling escaped Allied bombings, which means the streets and facades of Meidling probably looked exactly the same when Shitler was begging on the streets there. He probably knew my area well. When I would walk home at night, it gave the area an extra kind of layer of sadness and horror.

I also found out about one particularly sad detail of Cafe Sperl, seen in this picture I took below:

I mentioned Cafe Sperl above in the Before Sunrise section because this is where they filmed that scene where they pretend to talk on the phone. Cafe Sperl has been around for over a century and pretty much looks the same as it did then. In the early half of the 20th Century, Cafe Sperl was usually occupied by artists, both successful and starving. They had a practice where they would give starving artists a cup of coffee in exchange for one of their drawings or paintings.

One of those starving artists was — you guessed it — Adolf Shitler.

Naturally, Cafe Sperl doesn’t like to advertise this fact, so when you visit, just be mindful.

Just think of how different the last 100 years would have been if Shitler had just been accepted into the Art Academy. Talk about lack of foresight.

Another place to visit is the former location of the Hotel Metropole, which, after the Anschluss, was taken over by the Gestapo and became their headquarters. I found this place by accident because I found a Space Invader in the Morzinplatz (see! Hunting ‘Vaders leads to other discoveries!), and I noticed a huge empty green space with a large memorial stone atop it. People would disappear into the Metropole and would never be seen again. Interrogated, tortured, shipped off to a camp, never heard from again. The Hotel is long gone but being in that spot which overlooks a nice section of the Danube canal was a bewildering but meaningful experience.

Speaking of Vienna’s Nazi past that still haunts the present day….

Museums That Still Carry Nazi-Looted Art & Refuse to Give It Back Because They’re Blood-Profiteering Shitbags

I have mentioned many times in this post the infamous case of Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and the fight to have her returned to her rightful heir. Last year in NYC I stood in line for 90 minutes to run inside the Neue Gallerie and stare at the portrait for an hour before closing. I’ve always loved the haunting portrait. It’s so famous, they even made a movie about it last year starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. It’s not a very good film, to be honest, but it gives you a good understanding of the legal battle (less about Adele herself). Actually, if you want an excellently-written study of Adele, her portrait, the cityscape of Vienna during Klimt and Adele’s time, and during the Nazi years, I would highly recommend reading Anne-Marie O’Connor’s book “The Lady In Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.” I bought this book while I was in Vienna and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. MY HIPSTER BRAIN BLEW THROUGH CHAPTERS LIKE SOME PEOPLE BLOW COKE UP THEIR NOSE. Such a good read.

Anyway, the book goes into great detail about how Vienna and the German Reich systematically looted art from persecuted Jewish families in the city. Then, after the war, the very Nazis who had looted it were now in charge of restitution!! Many exiled Austrians didn’t want to return to Vienna for obvious reasons, but they wanted their paintings back. For this, they would need exit permits and visas for the paintings. Did they Austrians give them the permits? DID THEY FUCK. Of course they didn’t. Most of the time, the authorities wouldn’t even acknowledge that the paintings belonged to the families in the first place. They would fabricate or alter documents to claim the paintings had been “donated,” or “sold” to the state or to the galleries before the war.

Why? Because art is lucrative, and Nazis like to live like the prosperous despots they are.

Since Maria Altmann’s epic court case, where Austria had its ass handed to them on a global scale, they’ve tried to quash further legal battles with other heirs to paintings stolen by Nazis. They still don’t want to give up their paintings, even though they don’t own them, AND they’re profitting from the paintings. Here are just some of the museums that profit from Nazi-looted art and won’t give them back. Yes, I paid entry into these museums. Yes, I hate myself for it. Yes, I wanted to see the paintings. Yes, I sorta yelled at some museum attendants for having this art. Yes, I was almost thrown out. Whatever.

The Belvedere

The Belvedere is perhaps the most well known (and most fucking expensive) museum and gallery in Vienna. I paid TWENTY FUCKING EUROS for a ticket to both the upper and lower Belvedere. This is the very same gallery that had the Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait for almost 70 years before they had to give it back. Do they still have Nazi-looted art on their walls? YOU BETCHA.


Right next to Klimt’s famous The Kiss painting hangs another of his portraits. It’s an unfinished portrait of a young woman named Amalie Zuckerkandl. I found it rather interesting that the Belvedere’s audioguide had NO audio or information on this piece. HOW INTERESTING. I wonder why? Because they don’t own the piece and it was stolen by the Nazi’s, that’s why.

As the lawyer who represented Altmann in court, Randy Schoenberg, writes in this piece for MSNBC, the piece actually belonged to Adele Bloch-Bauer’s husband! The very man who owned the portraits of Adele! The very man who willed them to Maria Altmann!  The Nazis stole it, and sold it illegally to the Belvedere. The Belvedere doesn’t mention this anywhere on the plaque or in any documentation or guides, NOR does it mention that Amalie Zuckerkandl DIED IN BELZEC CONCENTRATION CAMP along with her daughter.

But the Belvedere DOES sell postcards, pins, books, bookmarks, magnets, and other capitalist bullshit with Zuckerkandl’s face on it. I need a moment to let the class wash over me.

Vienna Secession

The Vienna Secession began during La Belle Epoque to showcase works and artists who weren’t interested in the classical ways of painting dominating Viennese society. Klimt and Koloman Moser were founding members of it in the Wiener Werkstatte. In fact, the building was the place where Klimt’s famous Beethovenfries was first ever exhibited. The piece was meant to be temporary and torn down and destroyed, but someone convinced the Lederers (who were one of Klimt’s major patrons) to buy it. They cut it down and kept it. The Secession building was later destroyed during the war but rebuilt, and the Lederer’s art collection was stolen by the Nazis and they themselves were killed. Most of the Lederer’s collection burned in a fire, but not the Frieze. Erich Lederer, heir to the Lederer estate, and a Jew in exile, tried in vain after the war to get an exit permit and visa for the Frieze. Authorities said no, but they did acknowledge that it belonged to him, so they forced him to pay for its storage in a cellar underneath the Belvedere, where flooding  from the war had caused water damage to the Frieze. Unable to get it out of the country, he sold it in 1956 to the founder of the Leopold museum for a mere$1150. He would have gotten more if he could have gotten it out of the country, but he couldn’t and he needed the money.

The Secession building was rebuilt and the Frieze now hangs there. I took this below photo of it. You’re not allowed to take photos inside the Secession but THUG LIFE THUG RULES. I took this pic and I got yelled at. HAAAAAA.

Now the Lederer heirs are suing Austria to try and get their Frieze back, and I hope they do. The audioguide of the Secession literally makes no mention whatsoever of what happened to the Frieze during or after the war. They lie and say it was donated. It was not, you liars.

The Leopold (Although at least they acknowledge it!)

Inside the Leopold you will find a lot of Klimts and Schieles, perhaps the largest collection of Schieles that anyone owns. Like this famous Klimt of Death and Life…

and this self portrait of Schiele…

One of the Schieles on the wall is a portrait of his longtime lover and supporter Wally, a ginger beaut with fat red lips. The plaque next to the portrait acknowledges that the portrait was looted by the Nazis and hung in the Leopold for decades before the heirs of it’s rightful owner, a Jewish woman who had died long before, sued the museum and the country when the portrait was on show in the USA. Because of such ownership disputes, the USA seized the portrait until the case could be resolved. The heirs won their case. They sold the piece, got what they were owed, and now it’s back in the fucking Leopold. I’m not sure if the Leopold was the buyer or if they convinced the buyer to loan it, but still….sneaky fucks.

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Another fancy-schmancy museum, another looted piece worth millions that they won’t give back because who cares about Jews and persecution when there’s all that money, right? This is a painting by the grand Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. It’s called the Artist in his Studio. So basically, a self portrait. I took these pics inside the gallery.

This painting was owned by a man named Czernin who wasn’t Jewish himself, but married to one, so he and his family faced the same persecution. He sold the painting under duress. Guess who was the buyer?

ADOLF SHITLER HIMSELF.

He sold the painting under fucking duress the butcher of the 20th century. Does the audioguide of the Kunsthistorichemuseum make note of that? Nope. This piece hung in Shitler’s own private estate until after the war when Austria took it and placed it in the museum. Czernin and his heirs sued for restitution but where denied. Why?

Because Czernin’s wife was only one quarter Jewish,” aka they don’t believe he actually faced persecution and that he wasn’t under any duress.

That is some bullshit right there. The entry fee for the Kunsthistorische museum is €15 too! Super expensive. So they profit from Nazi-looted art with the ticket price, and then they sell kitsch with the Vermeer on it in the gift shop, AND to add insult to injury, they don’t even acknowledge that this was stolen by Shitler in the first place!!

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.

Subheader: Women Artists Need Not Apply Because Vagina

One glaring omission slapping everyone in the face who visits these museums is the lack of women artists on the walls of The Belvedere, the Leopold, the Secession, and the Kunsthistorische. There are literally no women artists on their walls at all. NONE. But! They do have a lot of paintings of naked women! Naked women in various unnatural, idealized, fantasy poses. There’s even Klimt and Schiele paintings of masturbating women! FUN. And what does the audioguide to these dehumanizing naked portraits say? “Look at the natural way in which the female form has been painted….” I’m sorry, but no woman’s boobs look like two upright cantaloupes with pink nubbins for nipples. What the fuck man. I understand that at the time these were painted, women’s sexuality was believed not to exist at all, so this was perhaps an act of rebellion. But was it also an act of objectification and exploitation? Yup. It was all those things. So listen up, women artists. The only way to get inside the Belvedere is to be naked. You’re not getting in there otherwise. Sorry, but… you know…. vagina.

Important German Phrases You Will Need

Ein milchkaffee bitte. A latte, please.

Kleine, bitte/Grosse, bitte. A small one, please/a big one, please.

Kann ich die zucker haben? Can I have the sugar?

Was ist das passwort fur das Wlan? What’s the wifi password?

Es gibt Wlan? Is there wifi?

Ist das Wlan kaput? Is the wifi not working?

Wo sind die Toiletten? Where’s the toilets?

Wo ist der schlussel fur die Toiletten? Where’s the key for the toilets?

Kann ich zahlen bitte? Can I pay please?

Wie viel kostet das? How much does that cost?

Nein, das ist zu teuer! No, that’s too expensive!

Kann ich die Rechnung haben, bitte? Can I have the receipt please?

Danke schoen! Thanks a lot.

Vielen danke fur deine hilfe! Many thanks for your help!

Das ist mein einziger Mantel und mein Reisverschluss ist kaput! This is my only coat and my zipper has broken! (I had to figure this out really quickly one day when this exact scenario happened to me on the street and when I finally found a tailor around the corner, he spoke no English. Also learned: tailor = SCHNEIDER!)

Schoen tag! Have a nice day!

Schoen abend! Have a nice evening!

Ich mochte ein Termin bitte. I’d like an appointment please (great for when you need a haircut or whatever)

Ich kann nur wenig Deutsch Sprechen. I can only speak German a little.

Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut. My German is not very good.

Ich verstehe nicht. I don’t understand.

Sprechen Sie Englische? Do you speak English?

Sprechen Sie Franzosiche? Do you speak French?

Genau. Exactly.

Naturlich. Naturally.

Ja. Yes

Ausgezeichnet. Excellent.

Ich lerne Deutsch! I’m learning German!

Kartoffeln. Potatoes.

Das ist ein schoenen, perfekten Schwanze.   Nice dick, bro.

** I have omitted the umlauts from almost everything in this post because….reasons. 

I hope this Hipster Guide to Vienna has been somewhat helpful for your future visits to the Austrian capitol of cool. If you link to this post, or repost, please remember to give a sistah some credit. I took all these photographs myself and it was a lot of work putting this post together.

Just don’t be a ding-dong. Do the right thing.

AUF WIEDERSEHEN, MEIN LIEBLINGS!


MERRY CHRIST(ine esti)MAS: 2015 Year In Review

The essence of drama is conflict. I had a lot of both in the past few years, but 2015 was oddly light and serene. I hustled my ass off, pulled every string, worked and LIVED, and received very little flack from the universe. 2015 was THE YEAR.

I started the year in New York City where I was housesitting. On a chance invite from a friend, I attended a Moth Storytelling event. I had been listening to the Moth podcast for years, and this was a story-slam event, meaning I could put my name in a hat and possibly be called up on stage. I threw my hat in the ring, decided what I would say while I was waiting in line to get into the venue, and wouldn’t you know it….

SPOKEN WORD

Live Storytelling and Spoken Word means a lot to me and I continued to do it back home in Toronto at Raconteurs:

Storytelling is an extension of writing to me. It feeds my need to tell stories and also to be a ham. I also discovered that working out ideas on stage proved excellent for cultivating written story ideas. 2015 was also the year of–

Chris Writes All The Things

Editors this year were like, “Hey Chris, do you want to publish stuff? HERE, HAVE ALL THE PUBLICATIONS YOU LIKE.”

It was like payback for many years of only publishing maybe one or two pieces every 6 months.

Of course, this wasn’t by fluke. I busted my ass, I submitted and submitted and submitted, and got rejection after rejection, but my acceptance rate kind of skyrocketed this year. I actually found myself in the odd position SEVERAL TIMES this year where I had to reject one publication because another had already bought my piece. I was selling pieces so quick, in some instances, I had to turn people down! I ALMOST sent them the lame boilerplate rejections they had sent me for years, but nahhhhhhh.

SELLING STORIES

 

The first piece I sold this year was actually an academic essay which I sold to Palaver Journal based out of a southern University. I finished my Masters Degree ten years ago, but I can still flex my chops when I need to.

Then I sold my first piece to VICE, which was really exciting because I had been reading them since 1998 and am a huge fan, so it was great to see my pieces go across the VICE network and do really well.


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Then I sold them another piece
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And then another
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And then a bajillion more…
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I found out one of my short stories made the long-list for the prestigious CBC Canada Writes Creative Nonfiction Prize, and they profiled me on the CBC website!
IMG_7218 cbc canada writes

Then I sold a short story to GRAIN when they wanted to buy another story of mine, but I had to turn them down because another journal had already bought it, so they asked for anything else I had, and snapped up this piece right away!
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And then I cold-pitched METRO News Canada and they printed my piece in the centrefold:
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And then EVENT published one of my Nonfiction stories in this issue:
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My bio is a BOSS-ASS BITCH
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Then I sold a travel writing piece to VERGE Magazine:
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And just a couple weeks ago, another one of my serious essays about sexual harassment and the experience of reporting it to the police was published by my old friends at AufBau:

And this isn’t even all of my publications! Just a cross-section! I also sold three more stories whose publication dates are imminent, like TOUTE SUITE, dropping in a few weeks soon! So expect to read more from me in the new year!

Speaking of HouseSitting

This year, I did back…

…to back

…to back

…to back

…to back

…to back housesitting gigs.

These pictures aren’t even all of them. In total in 2015 I did ELEVEN housesits in 12 months. Considering that 4 of them lasted more than a month, and one of them lasted almost 3 months, that’s a lot of housesitting with snugglecats and dogs and not having to pay rent.

Last name Win, first name Epic.

And it’s not over yet. I’ve been housesitting for years and years now, so why stop in 2016. Starting in January, I will be housesitting in VIENNA!!

I haven’t been to Vienna since that first European clusterfuck trip in 2005 (here are some posts about that trip…. gosh this blog is old). I was last in Austria in 2012 for my Eurail Extravaganza, but I missed out on Vienna, so I’m super excited to spend a lot of time there this Winter.

I want to to everything Viennese, like eating strudel served by Michael Haneke on a harpsichord.

I’ll also be swinging through London, Prague, and Amsterdam, so the great tapestry of adventures I’m trying to build can continue!

Hey, You Never Know

One of my main mantra’s of 2015 was “Ask and you shall receive.” In the past I’ve refrained from asking for what I wanted because I assumed the answer would be no, or, more likely, I felt pretentious for even asking. Like, who the fuck are you Christine? You got some balls asking for that.  That changed this year, when I realized that the worst thing that could happen was they’d say No. And if that’s the worst-case-scenario, it’s pretty surmountable. So with that in mind, I figured no-guts-no-glory. I’m a writer, so my income is limited (obvi). The amount of funds I can allocate to quality of life (movies, music, theatre, concerts, performances, dance, festivals, etc) is extremely limited. So what did I do when I wanted to go to an event but couldn’t afford it?

I asked for free tickets.

And I got them.

BOOM.

This year, just because I asked, I gained free entry to the following:

Once: The Musical
-National Ballet of Canada performance of Sleeping Beauty
Deadmouse: The Musical 
Basquiat exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario
-secret alt-J concert
-the Stars of the Lid concert at the Unsound Festival
Joel Plaskett Emergency concert
Bettroffenheit theatrical play
-several Toronto International Film Festival movies, including
Homesick,
Disorder/Maryland,
Bang Gang,
Summertime,
Son of Saul.

If It Ain’t Broke…

Everyone knows I’m a huge flea market person (and this year I joined the super secret but now highly coveted collective of BUNZ Trading) so this year I procured a lot of fantastic antiques at bargain prices, and sometimes, for a few tokens or a bottle of wine.

I already had a typewriter, but I still went ahead and got myself a second one. Because reasons.


My two bee-yoots, side-by-side

And then I got a rotary phone. It’s a necessity in the modern world.

And then I finally hooked up speakers to my record player, so I went on a vinyl-buying binge, and got some gems like Duke Ellington (click the little volume button in the bottom right of the vid to listen!):

and the master Django Reinhard!

With these new gadgets, I am now able to open a sassy new office… in 1979.

Speaking of Music


I went to some kick-ass concerts this year. In years past I had grown a bit tiresome of concerts (I had been a music critic for about 5 years and now I have a touch of tinnitus…) but, I guess… YOLO

This year saw me at:

-Kiasmos
-alt-J
-Chilly Gonzales
-Stars of the Lid
-Hauschka
-Joel Plaskett Emergency

alt-J!!

alt-J!

I want to stuff Kiasmos into a bong and smoke them.

 

And, my, the new music I discovered this year!

FAV SINGLES OF 2015 include:

-“Emotion” by BORNS

-“Carry On” by Coeur de Pirate
-“Landfill” by Daughter

-all tracks by Tycho
-“All Clear” by Aidan Knight
-“Let it go” by Saint Saviour

-“Black to Gold” by Dear Rouge
-“Them” by Nils Frahm

-“Pretty Pimpin” by Kurt Vile

And the Oscar Goes To…


I saw a lot of films this year, and even reviewed some during TIFF for VICE. Here are the ones that haunted me long after the credits rolled:

-VICTORIA

-The Daughter

-Son of Saul

-Homesick

-CitizenFour

-Disorder/Maryland

As you can see from this list, I am not really a mainstream/Hollywood/wide-release film person. I prefer indie cinema, the ones that make the festival circuit. They usually have no money behind them and therefore can take more risks or tell stories we don’t normally see. So you can take your Chris Nolan/JJ Abrahms/Michael Bay clusterfuck and order it on DVD. Yawn.

Get Busy Livin’

As I said, I started the year in New York (housesitting). I also traveled to my hometown of Montreal (housesitting), and just recently I went to Miami (housesitting). But I really wanted to exercise my passport, so I bounced down to Mexico, Guatemala and Belize for a Mayan Adventure!

I made a short film about my experiences, I figured it was more fun than posting a bunch of touristy photos. I call it GET RICH OR DIE MAYAN. Enjoy!

To thine own selfie be true

I’ll end this post with the one thing everyone really wants to see:
BEST SELFIES OF 2015


I don’t really post selfies anymore, but I do take them from time to time. Here are the ones I took and never posted!

Remember, you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Happy New Year 2016, munchkins.

SEE YOU IN VIENNA!

Check Out My official website

Don’t forget to visit ChristineEstima.com for more!


My latest VICE essay: Germany’s flea markets have a dirty little secret

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You guys know I’m a huge flea market nut. I’ve blogged about the stuff I’ve found before. But the flea markets I used to patron in Germany when I lived there (specifically Cologne and Berlin) all carried lots of Nazi junk, which for a Canadian, is not something you ever get used to seeing. In this piece, I talk about the disturbing nature of these pieces, and also how they have affected me.

I feel like our morbid interests aren’t inherently good or bad. It’s what we do with those interests that’s important … I think learning from this stuff is a positive thing.

Click here or on the above photo to read it.

I took all of the photographs featured in the piece. The one of the framed monochrome photographs on a mantle is actually in my bedroom. Those couples just look so happy!

If you missed it, read my last VICE essay about my stint on reality TV, or my first VICE piece about my wicked-awesome eyebrows.

Fanks for reading, munchkins.


Confessions of a Reality TV Whore: A Cautionary Tale

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Check out my latest essay in VICE, about the clusterfuck that is reality TV, and how I shit-talked my way onto not one, but two of ’em. Click the above image or click here to read.

If you missed it, here’s my VICE essay from last week about my bushy fucking demon-eyebrows.

Like last week, my essay is one of the most popular on the Vice network.

mostpopularvice

 

Fanks for reading, munchkins!


One day in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

In my life, I have visited two concentration camps: Auschwitz (which I decided at the time not to post my pictures) and Dachau (which I decided not to blog about at all). I have always believed, however, that if you are in the area, you really should make an effort to go to them. So, being stationed in Berlin for the time being, I knew I had to go to Sachsenhausen.

I don’t want to say very much in this post. Jeff and I spent six hours at the camp, and walked out of there drained. So I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

This I will speak about, because this is such rivetting history, and new things are being discovered all the time at these places. In 2003, a construction worker at the Sachsenhausen visitors centre was taking down a partition wall when he heard a crinkle and a smash within the wall. Inside the wall, he found a bottle hanging from a wire, with a note inside. As he had smashed through the wall, he had smashed the bottle, so the note was now accessible. It had been written and left there in 1944 by two Sachsenhausen inmates! They had probably been able to leave this message in a bottle because, in all likelihood, they had been assigned to build the wall. The note was written by two guys who were both political prisoners and had been there for years, even before the war started. One guy, Anton Engermann, was from Cologne and lived on Severinstrasse! I know that street! He wrote  that he had been there since 1937 and said “When will I see my love in Frechen, Cologne once more? But my spirit is unbroken.  Things must get better soon.”

The great thing about this story is both men survived the camp and the war. Engermann lived to the ripe old age of 82, but died in 1983, well before this note was found. The other man, Tadeusz Witkowski, supposedly emigrated to Canada, but no one knows of his whereabouts or if he’s still living, they haven’t tracked him down. If he’s still alive (unlikely but possible), it would be cool to ask him questions about how and why the men left this note.


As a final note, if any of you have seen the Oscar-winning film The Counterfeiters, it takes place at Sachsenhausen. I saw the film earlier this year and had forgotten this is where it takes place. Upon visiting Sachsenhausen, and being able to see some of the forged British pound notes they created, it really brought the whole thing together. Highly recommend you watch the film.


Mannschaft

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Berlin is so hungover.

What a great night, and what a great time to be in Germany. Last night the Brandenburg Gate exploded in cheers, fireworks, chants, spotlights, and an outpouring of joy. The night sky burned brighter than the day.

How often does a gal get to be in Germany when Germany wins the World Cup? An epic experience indeed. Last night I was a witness to history.

Berlin is a place that, beyond all reason and dark history, resurrects one’s soul.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun is shining, and the city awaits this little Canadian lass.


Just another brick in the Berlin Wall

This will be a sombre, solemn post. I thought when I decided to spend the summer in Berlin that I’d be more fascinated with WWII history (and believe me, I am), but I was unprepared for just how much Cold War history would really affect me.

Throughout the 20th century, Germans have been REALLY good at building walls. First they built walls to create Jewish Ghettos, then they built walls around concentration camps, then they built walls to separate their own people. If you just so happened to be living in the wrong part of Berlin, you were suddenly forbidden to visit your family and friends on the other side of town. You couldn’t even wave across the wall, or they would blind you with reflecting mirrors. The Soviets wanted to prevent people from moving freely from one side to the other, so they built a wall, and would kill if you dared cross. THEY WOULD KILL YOU. And this isn’t ancient history, people were being killed in 1989 for trying to cross the wall. IN 1989.

And I find the sections where the Berlin wall is still standing especially haunting. Because, really, the wall isn’t that high. It wasn’t really the wall but the kill zone in between East and West Germany that is horrific.


This is a photograph of 18 year old Peter Fechter. He was an apprentice bricklayer.


And this is the last photograph ever taken of Peter Fechter as he lay dying from a gunshot wound to the stomach when he tried to cross the wall in 1962. The East Germans shot him and left him there for over an hour to die.


This marks the spot where he died.

You know, my pictures of this murder don’t do the horror of this event justice. Here is a short film about the erection of the Berlin Wall and the murder of Peter Fechter (I know no one likes watching videos, but it’s only 9 minutes long, and it’s actually really good. The voice-over feels a bit dated, but I would highly encourage you guys to watch this. There is footage of Peter Fechter being carried off as he dies, and other footage of people trying to jump the wall, or even jumping out of buildings just to get to the West.).

What you’re looking at here is a preserved section of the wall and the kill zone, with an intact guard tower. You can see the Berlin TV tower near Alexanderplatz (in the West) in the background. If you lived here on Bernauerstrasse in the 1960s, you could see into the west, you could hear the rumble of the trams and S-bahn, you could even hear their voices. But, for over 40 years, you wouldn’t have been able to see your family living there.

It’s obscene how recent this history is.

As you saw in the video above, if you lived on a building facing the West, before the wall was built you could just jump through your window and run to the West with all your things.


But then they started to build the wall, first with barbed wire, then with bricks.


Even the East German guards were swept up in the wall-crossing fever. You have all seen this photograph before. His name is Conrad Schumann.

Schumann was a young East German guard, overseeing the border when it was just barbed wire. As the story goes, on the West was a van full of West German guards who called out to him, and said, “Come on, join us!” So when the moment was right, he hopped the wire, dropped his gun, and dashed into the waiting van which drove off. The East German police scrambled to grab his gun, and then all hell broke loose.

Here is a short video (put it on mute, there’s some obnoxious voiceover on it) of that moment. Some lucky bastard had his camera rolling at that exact moment, and caught it all on tape.

Schumann became a posterboy for West Germany. The sad thing – he was petrified his entire life that the Stasi would arrest him or seek retribution for his act. Even after the wall fell and Germany was reunified, he lived in constant fear. He committed suicide in 1998, by hanging himself from a tree.

Here’s another guard tower around the corner from Potsdamer Platz. The wall was so ridiculous, it literally cut the city in two via asinine regulations. For 28 years, nobody was able to pass through the Brandenburg Tor, because it was situated in the killzone between the East and the West. Now, the Brandenburg Tor is a huge tourist draw and everyone passes through it. If you tried to do that in 1984, for example, you would have been shot.

When the wall finally fell and the East Germans walked into the West, they said it felt like “madness.” This above photograph I took last week.

And I took the exact same photograph eight years ago, as you can see from my 2006 post. Notice the wear and tear?

Here’s something new. In 2006, this is what a section of the wall near Wilhelmstrasse looked like. I took this picture back then.

This is what that exact same wall looked like last week.

The trees are gone, and they paved over most of the cobblestones in favour of asphalt.

Why?

Because on the other side of the wall, they have put in an open-air museum called Topographie Des Terrors, as that is the location of a former Gestapo prison. The ruins of the prison cells are down there.


Now the former border is either marked by cobblestones in the road, or by these beams.

Or, the best way to commemorate a political travesty…

STREET ART!

Welcome to the East Side Gallery! The stretch of the Berlin Wall that had such provocative street art, it encouraged the revolution of the people, and the destruction of the DDR. It now is a protected wall, and these original murals from the late 80s serve as a reminder to the power of the people, and a people torn apart.

I’ll let these images speak for themselves, shall I?


The caption says “My God, help me to overcome this deadly love.”
This is a satirical depiction of a famous moment when Erich Honecker (leader of the DDR) kissed Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev. This is perhaps the most recognizable image from the East Side Gallery.


This says, “He who wants the world to remain as it is, doesn’t want it to remain at all.”


Why is that Thierry Noir? I FINK SO!


In fact, it is the wall which made Noir famous. He put up these infamous faces in the 80s, and they became a symbol of the people separated. Along with the Honecker kiss above, it is one of the most recognizable symbols of the wall.


A touch of home! There’s a 2009 mural here that is captioned “Je Me Souviens” which is the slogan of Quebec! And underneath it references the student protests in Quebec. It has the red square that was the symbol of the protestors, and it says Fuck Charest, Fuck Harper.


For those of you who don’t know, Charest was the premier of Quebec, and Harper is our stupid Prime Minister.


Jodie Foster from Taxi Driver. I saw this wheatpaste in London, must be new.

The dust of walls torn down has settled in the hearts of men. How will you keep them from rising again?


This is all fun and stuff, but let’s not forget that people died. People were terrorized. And this is a reminder of all-too-recent history.


#FirstDates: That’s a wrap!


As I previously blogged, the second season of First Dates has come to an end, and the entire cast was on hand this past weekend to celebrate it in full-London style at Café de Paris in the heart of Piccadilly Circus. It was such a trip to have been cast in this television show. I found out recently that over 14,000 people applied to be on the show this year, and I was one of 50-some-odd people to make the final cast. That really is humbling. And also, a small source of pride:)

Here are some photos of me bonding with the rest of the cast from the omni-shambolic clusterfuck that was the all-night Wrap Party! In the above photo, it’s me and my harem of bearded men. Jonathan, Ralph, my date Paul, and Steve. I’m sure all of you have already seen my episode (the premiere episode, of course!), but if you want to see the rest of the series starring these lovely lads, be sure to watch them on 4oD!

Me and date Paul. You see, people? Despite what some audiences thought when they watched our date, Paul and I actually got on like gang-busters. We are great mates and we have nothing but love and high-fives for each other. I’m not gonna lie, throughout the wrap party, there may or may not have been some crotch-grabbing on our parts. YOU HEARD ME.

Of course, it wouldn’t have been a party unless Paul and Steve rubbed their beards ALL UP IN MY GRILL.

Here’s Mo (who was also in the premiere episode with me) and Corinne, who was featured in 3 episodes and, memorably, was reduced to tears by the infamous Rajan. Mo is such a great guy, we had such a great time getting to know each other at the party. We’re both Middle Eastern so having this experience was important to us, to show that not all Arabs are terrorists! We can be LUVAS too, ya know. As for Corinne, there was a bit of drama at the party, which I won’t get into here, so that’s probably why in this and the below photo, she’s pulling quite odd and awkward faces.

Uh…. yeah.


Back to the party! There’s Chloe, who also was featured in the premiere episode with me. Remember her dog Bentley? Aw bless. The doggie stole the show.


And there’s Saniya. Who could ever forget her hilarious comment about Mo and, uh, spaghetti. I’m still not sure I understand it.

SNOGGING STEVE. My life is complete.

Sarah Jayne, as you’ll remember from the First Dates commercial, was looking for her Prince Charming. Jonathan, the Alan Carr doppleganger, was on the hunt for a more ‘seasoned’ lady. They were such fun at the party 🙂

And that’s a wrap, people! Thank you for watching and for your support! It was quite  an unforgettable experience, and it reminded me that life is always full of surprises, as long as you keep allowing them in. There is never, ever, any excuse in this life to be bored. This chapter is closed. Onto the next!

And let me tell you, from what I’ve got planned, the next chapter in my life is going to be something else.

Just you wait.


Belgian Catfish

Time for a photo-dump! I’ve taken hundreds of street art pics in the past two months since I arrived in Brussels, and haven’t done all that much blogging.

I’ve had this blog for eight years but and have lovingly updated it frequently (dedication + tenacity), but while I sort things out in my life, please excuse the quietude around here.

Also, before I get to the pictures, I would like to state something for the record: Twice now (or at least twice THAT I KNOW ABOUT), I have been the victim of a Catfish, in that someone has ripped my photos off of here (or my Twitter or Instagram), and created fake profiles with them. The first time happened with a fake Twitter account a few years ago, and last year it was a fake Facebook account (both of which I had successfully shut down by contacting both Twitter HQ and Facebook HQ). Now, I have been informed someone has created an OkCupid profile using my photos. FOR THE RECORD, I am NOT on OkCupid nor am I on any dating website! So if you ever see my face or my photos on ANY dating website, you can rest assured that it is fake! Please report them!

When I was alerted to the fake OkCupid profile, the guy who found it confronted the pathetic loser, who was using the username SweetTea (eww), and they immediately freaked and deleted the account. But that doesn’t mean they won’t create another one using my pics.

Seriously what kind of sad, pathetic person uses someone else’s photos like that? IT’S CREEPY, and just like the people who are fooled, I feel violated.

STOP USING MY PHOTOS. I’M SURE YOU LOOK FINE IN YOUR PHOTOS, USE THEM

Anyway, you Catfishes should know that I’m well-connected on the internet, and all your thievery will get back to me. Duncecaps.

Anyway, here’s the photo dump I promised!

First, MORE SPACE INVADER!

I invade Bruxelles!

This is the same colour scheme as the Belgian flag 🙂


This one was in Ghent 🙂


Another peeing ‘Vader.

Check out my Space Invader category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!

Next – ROA!


Roa is from Belgium (Ghent, to be specific), so I have been searching really hard for his work, but so far have come up with only this one, and another I found in Ghent! WHERE ARE ALL THE ROA’S?


This is the Ghent Roa I found. I thought I’d find many more there! Gutted!

Check out my Roa category for more of his work I’ve photographed around the world!

Next – Sonke!


These were next to the Roa up above!

Check out my Sonke category!

And now some randoms:


This says, “le chemin de bonheur n’est pas une autoroute,” which translates to “the road to happiness is not a highway.”


A Jef Aerosol… beyond those doors is his exhibition, but I didn’t both to go in.


PAC MAN NOM NOM NOM.


People keep naming streets after me.


That’s a small but very noticeable Shepard Fairey (aka Obey)


This was in Ghent.


Ghent


ha! yeah right.

One of my favs.


This is the end.


A Winged Victory for the Sullen

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This is where I’ll be living for the next little while, at least until mid-September. I’m house sitting and catsitting for some friends of mine in Belgium. I have this place all to myself.
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Six bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms (I know, I counted… Twice), a grand piano and a pool. I’ve never lived in a gated community before but this is the perfect environment for me to work on my writing and shut out the 21st century.
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So much space, I don’t really know what to do with all this space to myself.
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If only I knew how to play that piano. I would love to invite a post-classical pianist to dinner in exchange for some tunes. Can anyone put me in touch with A Winged Victory For The Sullen?
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The days here are warm and balmy, the evenings are fragrant with fresh rain mingling with chopped pine and grass.
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The view of the pool from the main bedroom.
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Did I mention they bought me a bike right before they left? So lightweight and fun and easy to handle. Life isn’t complete without daily rides through forests, cornfields and wheat husks.
20130728-200011.jpgSay hello Annie. This is my ward. She’s diabetic so I have to give her insulin injections twice daily. She’s not bothered by it at all, she’s used to it and purrs whilst I do it.

I’m the one crying.

When I return to civilization in September, at least I will have the first draft of my second novel done. This lovely house and that blessed accomplishment are my severance pay … a winged victory for the sullen.

(PS: Knock loud, I’m home.)


The Great Ferris Wheel of Nancy

We rode on this Ferris Wheel one night in Nancy, France, and I still haven’t recovered. I love Ferris Wheels but I’m afraid of heights!

We’re too high, lemme off. I’m asking you nicely.

This is me, making nice.

THIS IS ME FREAKING OUT.

LOOK AT MY STUPID FACE.

STOP LAUGHING YOU GUYS.


Phewf. Glad that’s over.


Meanwhile, in Germany …


Why yes, this is indeed a veritable pussywagon.

Look ladies, it’s a Ford Fiesta!

EVERYBODY WET YOUR PANTIES.


Layla Mansor, the lying pharmacist from Edmonton

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Do the photos on this Facebook profile look familiar to you? They should, BECAUSE THEY’RE MINE. I was alerted tonight to this Facebook profile who not only stole all the photos of me that I posted on Twitter and my blog, but she also stole the biography I wrote on the upper right hand side of this blog and is passing it all off as her own! Except she added in the bio that she’s a pharmacist, and changed “atheist” to “catholic.” FIGURES!

She probably found me because she’s from Lebanon originally and now lives in Edmonton, and my ethnicity is half Lebanese.

Layla Mansor, girl, you got some ‘splaining to do.

This is really alarming and distressing to me, as it infringes on my privacy and my person. It is fraud, and it is the behaviour one would expect from an immature cretin of the lowest order.

Layla, honey, you are not me.

But you wish you were.

If everyone could go to her profile and report her for abuse ( the widget is next to the “add as a friend/message” button) that would be greatly appreciated!

This is literally my worst nightmare AND ITS WHY I ALWAYS WATERMARK MY PICS ON HERE, but she stole older pics of me before I started watermarking. This took some serious digging on her part, the pathetic wimp.

Seriously Layla, live your own life, as lame as it may be, because you cannot live mine.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, oddly enough. In 2010 I had a twitter imposter who operated as me for 6 months before I found out AND HAD THEM SHUT DOWN.

Anyone see the movie Catfish?

Someone get Nev Schulman on the phone.


A photographic journey through The Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Halloween 2012

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Ontario Court of Justice=Ontario Court of Profanity

This year I have spent way to much time in court houses! Earlier this year I was called in for jury duty for a First Degree Murder Trial (which I blogged about here, and subsequently broke the internet. Hello traffic!), and today I attended traffic court to fight a ticket I received in 2010. Speedy trial, eh? Two years later, I get my court date! That’s justice for you.

Anyway, I won my trial. I went to traffic court once before, about 10 years ago, and the officer didn’t show up so my case was dismissed. This time, the officer showed, so I had to go to trial. I was the only person who had to go to trial at this session, so I watched all the other cases go before the judge and what not, and was the last person to be called forward.

When I was called forward, the prosecutor (a spindly, sour-faced, fraction of a woman whose antic disposition was written in the huge crevices of her face) asked me if the parking officer and I had shared our information and evidence. I said no, so the three of us (the prosecutor, the officer, and myself) stepped aside while court was in session to go over each others evidence.

The parking officer was a bit hyper and kept interrupting me, so I said, “I’d like to finish my thought, you’re not letting me finish my thought.”

The prosecutor then said to me, I kid you not,

“Clearly you’re not going to shut up so let’s go back into the court room.”

WHILE COURT WAS IN SESSION, this green-pants-suit prosecutor hurled profanity and abusive language at me.

Shocked and appalled, I looked at her and literally said, “Did you just tell me to shut up? It’s inappropriate for you to speak to me that way and I find your language offensive.”

She then addressed the judge and said that I was interrupting court proceedings. ME!

Yeah, because I’m the one hurling obscenities while court was in session.

There are signs posted outside and inside that court room which say that abusive language will not be tolerated, yet the court prosecutor hurled abusive language at me (which at best was inappropriate and at worst was offensive) and NO ONE disciplined her.

I won my court case because the parking officer was a bit scattered and contradicted herself on the stand, so the case was dismissed and thrown out. Yay!

But after I left the court room, the parking officer came up to me and said that she found the prosecutor to be “rude and out of order” and that she felt sorry for me when the prosecutor spoke to me that way. Other people in the area, who witnessed her speaking to me that way, also came up to me to express their disgust about her language.

Amazing.

Clearly this prosecutor thinks all people are stupider than her and beneath her, and she has the right to speak to me that way. Everyone is an idiot, right lady? Who cares how you speak to them? You’re a PROSECUTOR!

Well, you may think being a prosecutor means you’re in the upper echelons of society, but really, all it confirms is that you’re a liar, a cheat, a swindler, a hustler, and untrustworthy. And tantamount to that, you’re also filthy-mouthed and lack proper manners.

And let’s not forget, I won my case!

So I’ve sent a complaint to the Attorney General.

Remember, citizens, no one has the right to speak to you that way, especially in a court of law.

Fight the power! Stand up for yourself!

Did I mention I won my court case?

WINNING!

(* above artwork by Deadboy, ‘natch)

EDIT: I’ve also sent a complaint to the Toronto Prosecution Services, and to the Law Society of Upper Canada


Justin Bieber and I are doing the nasty


i stupidly tweeted this on saturday night.


which resulted in this guy (the one with over 21,000,000 followers) retweeting me.


see?

(click to enlarge)

….and because of this, it resulted in me being bombarded by those fucking Beliebers. I could not keep up with the thousands of Belieber tweets, RTs, favourites, and follows being directed my way PER SECOND, that STILL hasn’t properly let up yet. Now my twitter feed stinks of the most horrifying thing in the world — puberty. I wouldn’t wish this kind of attention on any other 31 year old woman.  He’s a 16 year old boy! What the fuck does he know about anything, other than X-box and masturbation? So why do SO MANY Beliebers treat him like a religious experience? He looks like a moderately powerful pokemon. He’s only famous because he repeated the word BABY more than any other human being in a 3 minute period…. like an autistic child in a maternity ward. That’s not musical talent, that’s a mental illness.

AND his voice sounds like a fox fucking a bagpipe.

Those Beliebers are TERRIFYING! They look like the sort of people you’d find in a Maury Povich holding pen. I betcha if Justin told them to go fuck themselves, they’d give it a shot.

Now from what the Beliebers tell me, there are millions of girls who would kill to get an RT from Justin…. like I should be grateful that I was noticed by a boy who was a ZYGOTE when i was in junior high. If that’s true, then millions of girls need to aspire to greater things in life.

Look Justin, fanks for the RT and all, but you have cursed me with the burden of your crazy hormonal tween fans who would kick the face off a badger to get your attention …  and by extension, now my attention.

I will never buy your music, nor will I go to one of your concerts. The only thing that would ruin a Justin Bieber concert would be if my gun jammed.


blacking out March 2012

I pushed the wrong button while logged into my photo storage service and accidentally made most of the photographs posted on here in March unavailable. They haven’t been deleted, they just have new co-ordinants. I can’t be arsed to go post-by-post and re-insert the pics. So just remember, if you’re browsing my March 2012 archive and see a lot of this:

 

please note that it’s because i occasionally have brain farts.

If there’s really something in that archive that you wanna see, let me know, and i’ll do my best to refashion that post into something pleasing again.

some of those posts contained excellent street art finds and really glorious photographic work…. including my birfday post! aw, sadness.

stupid brain, imma stab you wif a Q-tip now.


have a happy birfday MOTHER FUCKER

my birfday clusterfuck was a success! first, it started off with this:

LeVar has always been my homeboy, love that man to bits. Such a nice man and so supportive.

After receiving a whopping 200+ facebook well-wishes and 100+ twitter well-wishes (you guys are the apple of my eye), it was time to make my milkshake bring all the boys to the yard.

aw yeeeeah. blue steel.

andrew is great because he knew next to nobody at this party other than me and quickly became the life of it. he’s pretty chill when it comes to working a room and making everyone lurve him.

i honestly don’t mind getting older, in fact, i rather enjoy it. Life feels more immediate. I’m taking nothing for granted, and i don’t sweat the small stuff.

Yaw is another one of those characters that everyone quickly and easily loves. And he is, as my friend teresa would say, a “4 B.” What’s a 4 B?

NEVER YOU MIND.

I think I am more nervous than I care to admit, because right before the party, I was having a little hissy-girly-wank-fest-fit. I became all cranky and moody because I received like 20 messages from people saying they were bailing on my party. I really need to grow thicker skin and a stiff upper lip. As soon as the room filled with my lovelies, all those ornery thoughts were shoved out of the way.

rob, dave, and trevor are the NEW charlie’s angels … rob can be farrah fawcett. HA!

shasheena brought me a gorgeous orchid! i was in awe of its beauty. i am notoriously horrid with plant-care, i never know how much light or water to give them, but i am going to put in my grade-A effort to keep this wild orchid reaching for the sky.

oh for the love of…

i adore my wife SO HARD. she’s so kind and so giving and so selfless.

and she’s got a butt that won’t quit.

hashtag WINNING.

sacha was clearly looking in the wrong direction when this photo was taken.

aw bless.

i can’t remember exactly what was being said here that i found so hilarious …. but it was clearly hella-funny. maybe we were talking about how my child-bearing years are now over. FUNNY. oh hai brennan!

chris is such a good photographer because he butters you up right before he snaps your photo, and makes you feel beautiful even if you have chocolate cake in your teeth and eye-makeup-goop in the corner of your eye. right before he snapped my pic, he said “christine you don’t have a bad angle, i never have to retouch your photos.” aw shucks, what a manufactured lie, but i will believe anything you tell me as long as it’s a compliment!

go team!

teresa is one of the few people still in my life from high school, i shaved the rest of ’em out years ago. she makes the cut because she’s kind and brave and sweet and is too nice for her own good. her laugh is infectious and she never has a mean thing to say about the people she loves. oh and because she’s known me for so long, not only has she seen me change, she has LET me change. that’s the greatest thing a friend can do.

palm to palm is holy palmers kiss.

andrew and sofi are now each other’s back-up. in ten years time, expect to see little PapDonalds running around.

woah dave! was this taken at my party, or is it your official headshot for Ocean’s 14?

Scarbage high school girls unite! And we bring the street cred. The only people who spend FIVE YEARS in a Scarborough high school and make it out ALIVE are the tough-as-nails ones.

Andrew and Allegra are the new A-team.

see what I did there?

Shannon‘s a talented lass, she is.

Yaw can’t stop attracting da laydeez.

maybe when the timing is right, ashley and yaw will get married and their children will run the country on a platform of red-lipped smiles and huge biceps for everyone.

*this* close to seeing up allegra’s skirt. dammit.

laugh now, but one day, we’ll be in charge.

this photo is all lips and locks.

yes, it’s true. i gave in to peer pressure and took a sip of champagne.

EVERYBODY SHIT THEMSELVES.

This is probably my favourite photo of the night.

i refuse to have a party without hot men peppering the crowd.

“so i says to mable, i says…”

two men and a lil’ lady.

 i supplied my own birfday cake and that sounds kinda sad, but i was rather chuffed with the results. choco cake with almond-milk frosting! i do good work.

reg was so funny. she’s lighting the candles, and  because the match burns her skin, she ends up dropping the candle aflame onto the cake. so to prevent the cake from catching fire, she blows out all the candles. WIFEY STOLE MY BIRFDAY CANDLE WISH!

Porno for pyros.

“happy birfday to meee!”

as many of you know, i am full of hot air.

my mouth is huge.

hey fellas! use your imagination!

one year older, one year wiser.

I had a divine birfday weekend, fanks to all my lovely friends for coming out and blessing me with your presence!

You are the people i admire, i appreciate, i adore, i love …. and that i would (separately, at one time or another) like to smack the shit out of.

see you at next year’s birfday piss-up!

(additional photography by Chris Lukhardt, fanks guy!)


Happy Birfday to meeeeeeeeeeeee!

it’s my birfday today!

I’M OLD! GIMME GIMME GIMME!

i shant reveal my age here (a lady never does), but i will say that i am still younger than Jesus.

PAR-TAY!

I won’t be blogging until next week because this weekend i’m having a clusterfuck-shitstorm-extravaganza to kibosh all previous birfdays. if you’re a friend of mine, not an asshole, and live in the greater toronto area, you can come along.

let’s celebrate the day of my birth, aka the last time i saw female genitalia.
but hey, the night is young ….

also celebrating a birfday today: jon bon jovi, daniel craig, bryce dallas howard, dr seuss, jessica biel, and chris martin.

you wish you were born on this day now. ADMIT IT.

BIRFDAY BEATS, POSTE HASTE!