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Watch my super short documentary on Sweden!

As many subscribers to my YouTube channel already know, I like to make short documentaries about my travel adventures. I’ve made really popular short and snappy films about Peru, Thailand & Cambodia, Mexico, Guatemala & Belize, India, and even places closer to home like Montreal and New York.

In any case, seeing as how I just spent a few weeks in Sweden, I thought I might try to capture the essence of Swedish metropolitan culture and blend it with my personal journey there to find simple joys and pleasures in unlikely places.

This is the result! A very short and quick watch. Only 2  minutes and 45 seconds. It will take you longer to finish a cup of coffee.

It kinda plays like SWEDEN! THE MUSICAL haha. I guess I just like making creative, visual pieces out of things that happen in my life. Enjoy!

I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. Especially since it took me 12 straight hours to edit less than 3 minutes worth of film. How do professionals do this?

Don’t forget to check out the official Christine Estima dot com for more of my short documentaries, my published works, my TV interviews, and more!

 


Check out my @VICE interview with #TIFF16 film director Alice Lowe

vice-prevenge

The Toronto International Film Festival was amazing this year, I saw so many films (as documented by this round-up I wrote for VICE last week), and the fest is always such an electric time to be on the streets of Toronto. Everything is alive.

Speaking of life, the film PREVENGE is about a pregnant woman whose fetus tells her to kill people. So OF COURSE I had to interview the director/writer/performer Alice Lowe. Check out what she had to tell me about women in the film industry and pregnancy stigmas over here on VICE.

Fun fact: I had first seen Alice Lowe in an episode of Sherlock (season 3 episode “Sign of Three“) and the whole time we were talking, her voice was just reminding me of one of her lines from Sherlock, “A GHOST, MR HOLMES!” and then a drunk Watson saying to her, “He’s clueing for looks.”

I am a gigantic nerd.

Check out the official Christine Estima dot com for more of my VICE essays and articles, and much more.

NewWEbSite!

 


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.


vicecanada

Then I sold them another piece
vicesecond1

And then another
vicethird

And then a bajillion more…
fhritpheader

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!
grain1

And then I cold-pitched METRO News Canada and they printed my piece in the centrefold:
metro

And then EVENT published one of my Nonfiction stories in this issue:
event

My bio is a BOSS-ASS BITCH
event2 (2)

Then I sold a travel writing piece to VERGE Magazine:
vergesnippet

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!


Video: Get Rich or Die Mayan

Get Rich or Die Mayan: Mexico, Guatemala & Belize from christine estima on Vimeo.

 

I’m back from my latest adventure across Mexico, Guatemala & Belize. I made this quick-paced short film to give you an idea of everything I saw, experienced & enjoyed. There were pyramids, hiking, jungle walks, cave canoeing, cave diving, swimming, snorkelling with sting rays and sharks, mosquito bites, and lots and lots of adventure! I think this short 3 minute piece gives you a good idea of what I saw, felt, smelled, touched and heard. Also, I edited it so that most shots are only a second long (we all have short attention spans, don’t we) so it moves quickly and at a fun pace! Please watch and let me know what you think!

I took some great photos as well, most of which you can see here on my Instagram, but here’s a short selection!

Get rich or die Mayan.

A post shared by Chris (@cestima) on

But my favourite photo isn’t digital or staged or even featuring me. I brought a waterproof disposable camera with me because I knew I would be exploring some cenotes whilst I was away. I took this pic with the disposable camera and I just developed it yesterday. I have no idea how a disposable camera was able to capture such a great composition and a scene loaded with so much meaning, but there you go. Digital isn’t always better.

mex9a

I’ve had some amazing adventures in my short life…. PeruThailand & Cambodia …. IndiaVancouver & WhistlerLondon…. NYC…. Montreal… and so much Europe over and over….and so many more! I hope to make more films about my adventures, and I hope the adventures never run low.

I already have some new adventures planned for the new year, more on that for another post. Also, I have more publications forthcoming in a few literary magazines and cultural journals. So stay tuned, there’s always something in the works with this-here pipsqueak.


Leaving Las London

In two days, on May 1st, I am leaving London permanently. I’ve been living here on-and-off for the past seven years, and it’s finally time to move on. I will spend a couple days in my old stompin’ grounds of Brussels (SO EXCITED) and Amsterdam (ZOMG), and then will spend about a month in Copenhagen before settling in Berlin in June. This route is almost the EXACT same route I took in 2006 when I was backpacking around Europe (I’m skipping Luxembourg… because, ew).

Anyway, I’ve had quite the journey here in London in the last year, and here are my greatest hits! These are experiences that I couldn’t have had anywhere else in the world. They are unique to London, are very London-centric, and I am all the more richer for having been a part of them:

#1 Obviously, being cast in a TV show

I beat out over 14,000 other applicants from across the UK to appear in the massively-popular documentary series First Dates on Channel 4. I was featured in the premiere episode which millions of people tuned in to see, and was also in the commercial advert for the show:

Read my blog post about my experience here!

But here’s something I haven’t really talked about on here… I was cast in a movie too. I can’t give you any details, but here’s a jolly photograph of me in full costume.

I had to sit in the makeup chair every day for an hour. That’s not a wig, it’s my hair. They curled it, teased it, sprayed it and pinned it, and then had to stitch that hat to my hair. Also, I had to be sewn into that dress. 16th century MADNESS.

When it comes out next year, I’ll let you know.

#2 Getting to climb atop the O2 Arena for free and singing Christmas carols with an entire choir at the summit!

Normally, the “Up at the O2” climb is a pretty expensive adventure activity, but I was asked to do it by the organizers of a social media website, so I got to climb to the summit for free!  And the view of London from up there was spectacular! I felt like I was had literally just climbed on top of the world. I had to look down to see heaven. Read my blog post about that experience here!

#3 Speaking at the inaugural Best of Spark London live-storytelling event


(Up on stage at Spark London! I’m 3rd from the right.)

I was invited by the organizers of Spark London, a weekly event here in London where people tell true stories live in front of an audience, to speak at their very first Best of Spark London event! It was a huge honour and I was so glad to take part! You can listen to my story on their podcast of the night here. I’m the first speaker in the podcast, so you don’t have to scroll through the audio to find me! You can read my blog post about that event here.

#4 Seeing the London Symphony Orchestra perform live at Royal Albert Hall on New Years!

The Artist Live in Concert at Royal Albert Hall, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra from christine estima on Vimeo.

I won a contest (huzzah!), and was treated to tickets to see the amazing London Symphony Orchestra in concert as they performed the soundtrack to The Artist live as the film played in the background at the sumptuously-ornate institution of the Royal Albert Hall. Oh the things I get to do for free…. That crossed off three things on my bucket list: seeing the LSO in concert, attending a performance at the RAH, and doing something spectacular in London for New Years! Read my blog post about that incomparable experience here.

#5 Participating in the Inside/Out Project at Somerset House, and meeting street-art-superstar JR!

As you all know by now, street art is MY JAM. I love that shit. I eat that shit up. And I’ve been photographing the work of French artist-superstar JR for years around the world with his Inside-Out Project. So when I heard it was coming to Somerset House, I had to take part! I stood in line for 2 hours to get my photo taken, and it was then pasted down on the Somerset House grounds. When I noticed JR just chilling nearby, I went over, and we had a lovely chat. He was totally humble and cool!

Read my blog post about that experience here!

#6 Dining at the super-secret Gingerline nomadic restaurant!

Here’s something I haven’t talked about at all on here, because Gingerline is SO SUPER SECRETIVE that they ban you from talking about it on social media for at least a month after you have attended the experience. Well, I attended the Gingerline in February, so I think I’m good to go now.

So, last year I read on Londonist.com about the Gingerline, a dining experience that is so secretive, you don’t even really know what you get for the ticket price. All I knew was that they were fully booked for months, so I bought my ticket FIVE MONTHS in advance!

Here’s how it works: You buy a ticket, not knowing where the restaurant is or what you will experience when you get there. On the night of the event around 6pm, you have to make sure you are at one of the stations on the London Overground line (the name “Gingerline” refers to the Overground, as it is coloured ginger on the tube map). At 6pm, and not a minute before, they text you the location of the event. You have exactly one hour to hop on the Overground and get to the location, as they lock the doors at 7pm!

I got there on time, and this is what I walked in to…


This basement in a non-descript empty building in the Haggerston area had been transformed into a spaceship with super-sexy-1960s flight attendants with ginger hair from the planet Gingerline!

ZOMG BRAIN-SPLOSION.

There was a huge piece of ginger root in that centre display there. APROPOS.


My table looked like a Star Trek console!


Torture chamber?


Nah, it’s where the flight attendants would inject you with ALCOHOL.


TV panels advised us of our “flight status” and ‘takeoff’ and “landing” hahahah.


They handed us our meals through the port-holes above our heads!


Here was the awesome menu!


And of course, the whole experience had to be seen through 3D glasses.


I met some awesome people there too!


This was their take on the in-flight safety manual!

LOL at “interphalangial.”


Of course we started a conga-line… which involved a lot of “slut-dropping.” If you don’t know what a “slut-drop” is … just … never you mind.


You go girl.


The artificial gravity unit was operational for me, thank fuck.


Yes, Intergalactic Ginger Mom.

Anyway, it was a great experience, and even though the tickets were £50, which is really too rich for my blood (and out of my budget, ahh!), I decided that even poor lasses like me deserve some kind of quality of life. So this was my one and only splurge for February. I can live with that, and I feel like I got my money’s worth! Highly-recommended if you love the thrill of a surprise!

So there you have it, munchkins! My wonderful life in London is coming to a close, but I know that my adventures in Copenhagen and Berlin will be just as wonderful and splendid and exciting. Because life is unpredictable . . . and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are so many reasons to love London, but life is too short to spend it all in one place.

As one last parting glance at my London home, here is a short film that I made about London’s thrilling street art and graffiti scene.

Onward ho!

Goodbye London.

I hope I never fucking see you again.


Man up’t and vanished like a fart in the wind


Ah, Graffiti Shawshank Redemption… eases the pain….


The SituAsian: Thailand & Cambodia 2012 (video)

 

Check out this fun short film I made about my adventures this past October and November through Thailand & Cambodia! I call it the “SituAsian” (see what I did there?) and it’s a fun little romp through Asia as I experienced it. Places visited include Bangkok, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Pai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, the Full Moon Party, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. Also, there are a few shots of street art and graffiti from New York City and London before and after the trip. See if you can spot the Banksy’s and the Hanksy! Enjoy!


Les Deux Moulins

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Any trip to Montmartre is not complete without getting a café au lait and writing in your journal in Amelie’s café.
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Elle a jamais renversé un verre.
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Je suis la bête de personne.
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Eurail day 22: In Bruges

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My first full day in Bruges and it was breathtaking, ornate, sumptuous, glorious… Each inhalation was like the best 2 or 3 seconds of my life.
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Side note not related to this photo: outside my Couchsurfing hosts window right now is a long line of students who I think we’re just being told in Flemish some ghost story about this building. Because when I appeared in the window, they saw me and got all perturbed. So I waved hello and they screamed in sheer terror. Cool! I am like the ghost haunting your nightmare.

Pretty sure some ex boyfriends would agree with that description.

Okay, back to the photosplosion.
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I cycled around Bruges all day. Koen, my Couchsurfing host, lent me his old-timey bike. It was great! I saw so many small spots and alleys and “alcoves and nooks and crannies” of Bruges that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
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I always say that bike riding is the perfect way to explore a city. Sometimes walking is too slow, and taking the bus is too fast. Plus, cycling connects you to the environment and you burn off all those Belgian chocolates.
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The swans are in freezing cold water but they keep warm by Bruges’ warm, glowing, warming-glow.
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The only suggestion worth spray-painting.
20121210-194327.jpgWhatever this means, I like it.

Okay, enough of this touristy stuff, let’s visit some filming locations from the movie In Bruges!

Warning: strong language in this post in the form of quoting the movie In Bruges. I have tried to write all the swear words phonetically as if an Irish person was saying them, but you will probably be able to figure them out. Apologies for any offence caused.

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The vismarkt is the fish market. You see it very briefly but pivotally in the end of the film when Harry finds Ray and starts chasing him through the streets. Ray runs through the fish market.
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Koen was telling me that the fish market is actually really old, like hundreds. That makes sense, now fish markets are erected on plastic collapsible stands. This is a portico-columned stone market!
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So glad there were no smelly fish guts about when I visited!
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They film a few scenes here in the Koningin Astrid Park, and talk about it quite a lot. Ken almost kills Ray here, then they have a chat, and Yuri talks about all the “alcoves” here when Ken and Harry each try to buy guns here.
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A great day this has turned out to be. I’m suicidal, me mate tries to kill me, me gun gets nicked and we’re still in fookin’ Bruges!”
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Yuri: There are a lot of alcoves in the Astridpark. You use this word, alcoves?
Ken: Alcoves, yes. Sometimes.
Yuri: Are you sure this is the right word, alcoves?
Ken: Alcoves, yes. It’s kind of like nooks and crannies.
Yuri: Nooks and crannies, yes! Perhaps this would be more accurate. Nooks and crannies rather than alcoves. Yeah!

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20121210-202246.jpgThis hotel is the place where Ken and Ray stay for the two weeks in Bruges, along with the owner Marie.

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Harry: Number One, why aren’t you in when I fookin told you to be in? Number Two, why doesn’t this hotel have phones with fookin voicemail and not have to leave messages with the fookin receptionist? Number Three, you better fookin be in tomorrow night when I fookin call again or there’ll be fookin hell to pay. I’m fookin telling you – Harry.
Ray: Jeez, he swears a lot, doesn’t he?
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I’m almost 100% sure this is the door for Raamstraat 17 (an address that doesn’t actually exist) where Yuri lives….almost sure.
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This is the restaurant where Ray and Chloe go on their first date and then Ray punches out the Canadian couple. I asked the bartender which seats they sat in and he graciously showed me, but they rearranged the seats and stuff since then.
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Canadian Guy: I don’t care if this is the smoking section, she directed right into my face! I don’t wanna die just because of your fookin arrogance!
Ray: [thinking the tourist is American] Uh huh, is that what the Vietnamese used to say?

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“What’s Belgium famous for? Chocolates and child abuse. And they only invented the chocolates to get to the kids.”
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The Belfry tower, which was constructed back in 1280! This features prominently in the film. Ray encounters the fat American tourists here, Ken encounters the ornery Tower ticket officer here, Ken is shot and later dies here, and they film a lot of scenes in the main square in front of the tower. I climbed the tower today. FOR THE RECORD, Ray was right, the view is rubbish and the ticket officer in real life is a mean old fart! He was very snippy with me. I almost said to him, “Happy in your work?” But that would have been just too rich.
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Overweight Man: Been to the top of the tower?
Ray: Yeah… yeah, it’s rubbish.
Overweight Man: It is? The guide book says it’s a must see.
Ray: Well you lot ain’t going up there.
Overweight Man: Pardon me? Why?
Ray: I mean, it’s all winding stairs. I’m not being funny.
Overweight Man: What exactly are you trying to say?
Ray: What exactly am I trying to say? You’s a bunch of fookin’ elephants.
[overweight man attempts to chase Ray around but quickly grows tired]
Ray: Come on, leave it fatty!

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Ken: Coming up?
Ray: What’s up there?
Ken: The view.
Ray: The view of what? The view of down here? I can see that down here.
Ken: Ray, you are about the worst tourist in the whole world.
Ray: Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.

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Entry is €5.
Come on man, it’s only 10 cents.
Entry is €5.
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Ken: [Harry shoots Ken in the leg] Fookin coont!
Harry: Like I’m not going to do nothing to you just because you’re standing about like Robert fookin Powell.
Ken: Like who?
Harry: Like Robert fookin Powell out of Jesus of fookin Nazareth.
Share this quote
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I think I’m gonna die now.
20121210-203149.jpgAnd that was my day In Bruges and in Bruges.

Here’s how I spent my money today! Having a surplus in Western Europe is really saving my bum! Good thing I had enough good sense to start this journey in Eastern Europe! Check out my Eurail 2012 category for more posts about my Eurail.com journey thus far!20121210-204812.jpg


Eurail day 21: Cologne to Bruges!

Warning: strong language in this post in the form of quoting the movie In Bruges. I have tried to write all the swear words phonetically as if an Irish person was saying them, but you will probably be able to figure them out. Apologies for any offence caused.

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Today was a bit of a blur — visually as the scenery German countryside slowly dissolved into Flemish, but also emotionally. I had a great time in Cologne, but then again, I’ve had a great time in every city. This trip has meant that I have to essentially love em and leave em for both the places I visit and the people I encounter. The life of a nomadic wanderer. Papa was a rolling stone, and all that jazz.
20121209-210345.jpgI had to take three trains to get from Cologne to Bruges, and this stopover had an amazing train station! It was like something out of the Jetsons!

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AND NOW IM IN BRUGES! Just like Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes! Remember this blog post I wrote some time ago about the movie In Bruges? Yeah, I’ve been saying the lines from the movie all day in my head.
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“Ken, I’m from Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me. But I didn’t. So it doesn’t. “
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“well you lot aren’t going up there…you’re a bunch of fookin’ elephants! Leave it fatty!”
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“YOU’RE AN INANIMATE FOOKIN OBJECT!”
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“I was on a lot of horse tranquilizers, I wasn’t waving to anybody … Except maybe to a horse.”
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“There’s gonna be a war man. I can see it. Between the black midgets and the white midgets.”
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“He pauses even though he should just hit the coont, and he repeats YES I AM TALKING TO YOU.”
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“YOU RETRACT THAT BIT ABOUT MY COONT FOOKIN KIDS!”
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“One gay beer for my gay friend, one normal beer for me because I am normal. This is the life.”
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“it’s the Gruuthuusmuseum.”
“God they all have funny names, don’t they?”
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“They’re filming midgets!”
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“You don’t know the kind of shyte I’ve had to take offa black midgets man.”
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“Back off shorty!”
“You don’t know karat—-OW!!!”
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“Do you use this word, alcoves?”
“Yes alcoves. Also nooks and crannies.”
“Nooks and crannies! Yeah!”
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“What’s Belgium famous for? Chocolates and child abuse. And they only invented the chocolates to get to the kids.”
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“Don’t be stupid. This is the shoot out.”
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“Of course you can’t fookin see, I just shot a blank in your fookin eye.”
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“That’s for John Lennon ya Yankee fookin coont.”
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“You heeet the Canadian?”
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“The little boy….”
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“What’s a lollipop man doing knowing fookin karate?!”

Aaaaaaaand, I’m spent! Another full day In Bruges, I can’t wait!
Here’s how I spent my money today! I cannot believe how I have been able to save over €140 during this budget trip across Europe! This just goes to show that if you plan ahead and stick to your daily €15/day restrictions, you can still relish the joys of travel without breaking the bank! I am going to do this from now on, whenever I travel!
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Check out my Eurail 2012 category for more posts on my a Eurail.com adventure!


Read my film review of 2 Days in New York

Click here to read my latest Exclaim film review of 2 Days in New York, starring Julie Delpy and Chris Rock. I really enjoyed it, and think you will too:)

Sorry for not blogging all week, I’ve been in Montreal seeing family (and doing some graff hunting of course!) so expect regular blogging to resume next week!

Happy weekend, hombres.


We Move Lightly

 I had some leftover footage after making this short film so I thought I would make a little short about the tiny moments one can have in NYC, that one should never overlook, no matter how small. Enjoy!


Loud Pipes

if you missed it this week, check out this short film i made, documenting the street art i found all over new york. it’s set to a wicked track and it’s peppy, snappy, and fun.

occupy street walls!


New York Street Art 2012

Today, my delicious little munchkins, there will be fewer posts because I spent hours yesterday making this short film. I didn’t tell anybody, but whilst I was photographing all the amazing graffiti and street art in New York, I was also filming it so I could make something more visceral for the viewers…. it’s like being there with me on the streets of Queens and Brooklyn!

Enjoy!

 Places filmed include LES, Alphabet City, Soho, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Greenpoint, Astoria and 5Pointz.

Some of the street artists include:

Chris Veng Robots Who Kill
Miyok
Fitschen
JR’s Inside Out Project
Enx
Kobra
Curtis Kulig
Alec
Nick Walker
Space Invader
Hanksy
Spud
Jimmy Cochrane
Paul Richard
Swoon
Gilf
Rene Gagnon
Sheryo
Stormie Mills
Roa
TMNK (Art is my Weapon)


Check out my film review of To Rome With Love, directed by Woody Allen

I haven’t been much of a film reviewer this year because I was uber busy with other projects (hello finishing my novel!). But I like to freshen up my critiquing skills every now and then. Click here to read my review of To Rome With Love, directed by Woody Allen and featuring an all-star cast (Allen, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni).

Little trivia for you: did you know that Penelope Cruz learned how to speak Italian for her role in Don’t Move? I saw that film when it came out and found it highly leotarded. But hey, she can still rock the tongue!

Film opens today! Enjoy!


Marlene and Edith

someone in Toronto with a spray can loves Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf


mon manège à moi, c’est toi
sung by edith piaf, translates (roughly) to “you’re a carousel to me.”


de la tête aux pieds, je suis faite pour l’aimer

those lyrics were sung in Marlene Dietrich’s “The Blue Angel” movie, and again, roughly translate to “from head to feet, i am made to love him.” (although the song was later recorded in English by The Beatles as “Falling in Love Again.”)

i am a huge fan of music and movies from the 1930s (It Happened One Night=fav movie ever!) yet i love graffiti …. turns out i’m not alone.

there are so few of us, y’know.


we need to talk about kevin


 

Eva: Why didn’t you kill me?

Kevin: You don’t want to kill your audience.


more sex please, we’re french

bon fin semaine, mes ’tis choufleurs!


Chile Estyle

My friend Pablo is a film maker from Montreal, and he’s behind this wicked cool film about Chilean graffiti, which everyone should check out. Here’s the trailer below:

Join the Chile Estyle facebook page for more info and updates:)

He’s also behind the feature-length film Next: a Primer on Urban Painting. Check out the website for screenings near you:)