Archive for February, 2009


Three Austrians meet after work to buy cheap shitty ice skates from their low budget. No question, the cheapest stuff is to be found at the Salvation Army. I have never been to a Salvation Army before.
The concept is simple: You give old stuff that you don’t need to the Salvation Army (for free), and they sell it cheaply to people who don’t have a lot of money to spend. The earned money is used for charity.

We get a little lost, so I ask a man in front of a mission. His index- and middle finger are grown together and he has some problems speaking and is very nice. Finally, we find the Salvation Army store on 1620 Rue Notre-Dame O, Montréal. It is a warehouse-styled, two story high store. Unfortunately, my camera is having intercourse with my apartment room and was therefore not available, so I have to describe what I see:
Long rows of clothing in the entrance area, tightly pushed together. There is no need to play the prestige of empty space here – just too many clothes to fit the available, large space. The store is about 100 meters long and 20 meters wide. First, there are shirts. Then Jeans. Jackets, suits, pants, coats follow. You go through a big, open door and come into a room where there are old TVs, stereo sets, golf clubs, swimming vests, ice hockey equipment and ice skates.

We discover that the ice skates are all made for little girls – typical female shape, and too small to even fit our hands inside the shoes.
“Look, those golf clubs. Must be really cheap.”
“Yeah, let’s go golfing!”
The only thing missing are golf outfits. Well, Salvation Army has them too.

Hat: 2$
Vest: 4$
Golf club: 5$
Golf balls: 2$
Paint leftovers from camera rape: pretty much no $
Golfing in deep snow on a Saturday at 9 in the morning: priceless.

.


to the right the painted balls, to the left my nose…

.


Customized balls for Austrian pimps in the colors of our flag. One of the many patriotic moments that I have abroad.


the reserve ammunition: walnuts, surrounded by splinters of red paint that fell off when we hit the golf balls


Chris eating his main nutritious supplement: Donuts. Stefan about to send another Austrian flag to Nirvana. The red color enables us to find some of the balls after they land under the thick snow blanket.


Le Messieurs du golf fanatstique: Chris, Stefan et Tobi Bond.

.

It’s on bitch – after a while our technique advances and actually hitting the ball with the club becomes a constant sight on our golf course at the foot of Mount Royal. The enemy is imminent and threatening, highly active at 9 in the morning with the sole purpose to destroy our culture of sleeping through until noon: The fucking joggers. One time, I make a too good shot and nearly hit one of them from a distance of 100 meters. That made me proud.

Basic golf rules: (at least that’s what we do)

  1. Stand sidewise to the shooting direction. Legs stretched. Take the golf club in both hands, and stretch the arm that is closer to the ball. Twist you upper body, swing and SMACK – hit one of these amateur joggers.
  2. If the ball is right in front of you, it will leave in a 20-degree-angle or so. The further you step to the side where you swing, the higher the ball will take off since it is hit later in the circular swinging motion. The further you sidestep in the shooting direction, the flatter the ball will take off. If you step too far, nothing will take off but the face of one of your fellow golfers.

The main problem of being an artist is usually that you love doing art, you love being creative and spontaneous, bold and intuitive – but you don’t like to waste your time thinking about money while you could produce more art. If money wouldnt exist and you could be artistic all the time, wouldn’t that be awesome…
Well, I do feel the same way. Money is nice and some people use it to enlarge their penises and boost their egos, others donate it and others buy useless trash or 25 different cars with it (to enlarge their penises) – but money doesn’t make anyone automatically happy. Money buys convenience, which can be a good .

.

Many artists feel the same way, they have no interest in money and see it as a problem. There are starving artists, who often live for years under a certain level of convenience until they either rise to fame or do something else. An artist and a business man, that doesn’t really fit together at first.
I am thinking often about what comes after my civil service, what comes after college, how shall I buy the convenience for my life? When I went Christmas shopping in the beginning of December, I discovered a small bookshop for used books – where I found this great book for three dollars (pretty cheap compared to the 38.95$ that it cost more than two decades ago).

.

.

The Business of Graphic Design –
A Sensible Approach

written by Ed Gold

Amazon Link

.

Sensible, very sensible. This book should be the declared bible of every graphic designer who wants to learn the business side of creative trades. It is written by a genius named Ed Gold, and even if you haven’t heard of him yet (I didn’t), he knows exactly what you want. Or at least, he knew what I wanted.
“Business of Graphic Design” is divided in two main parts: The business theory part, and the industry leaders part. Both enriched my horizons of graphic design and art business in general enormously.

The business theory part
Ed introduces a possible approach to make a living as a graphic designer: Founding your own company, founding something that outgrows your status as a freelancer. This is basically an introduction to company leadership, legal issues, forms of companies, managing techniques for people, materials, projects and jobs.
You learn how to estimate a price with different methods, the advantages and disadvantages of these estimation techniques.
What to do before you found a business. How to find clients, how to manage your office. How to interact and counsel customers. How profit in graphic design works, what kind of people you need. How to hire and fire people, how to grow the company, how to compete against others, the importance of niches, how to set up and manage contracts. The planning involved in design business, presentations and prospective client interaction – the list is as good as endless.

Bottom point: This half of the book is teaching you in detail how to rise from an employee or a freelancer to a company founder, how to manage this transformation, and how to become successful with it. I like the fact that there is absolutely nothing said about how to design – the same way that in design books usually nothing is said about how to make a living with designing.

The design principal part
Imagine, some artist would go up to the founders of the most prominent design firms of the country. Stop imagining now, instead read Ed’s book – because he did exactly that. “The Business of Graphic Design” features 21 design firm principals – those guys who founded the industry leading companies. Each and every of these extremely successful designers tell you:

  • How they started out
  • Why they founded a company
  • The problems they encountered
  • How they handle clients
  • How they grew their companies
  • What they would do different if they could do it all over

The basic statement to the last point, “What I would do different if I could do it again” is: I would found my own company earlier, I would get an accountant, banker, lawyer and insurance agent as early as possible, and I would put a stronger focus on getting bigger clients earlier.

It is funny to read that book 24 years after it was written – statements like “We actually purchased one computer last hear, and we do the accounting with it… it is worth the investment” seem to come from another world. Also, the business of graphic design changed drastically with the computerized revolution, and nowadays every jerk can draw a perfect circle in Photoshop or layout an annual report in MS Word.

Apart from those technology-based differences, the principles of graphic design business stay the same. It is amazing to read the principals’s statements and to see examples of their work, to understand how their companies got successful, to learn that founding a company is quite a big deal but not a monstrosity, and that fear of the unknown can be taken away by knowledge.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what that book does: It gives you knowledge about the business side of creating art, it takes away the fear to found a company. A must-read for every artist.

.

(At least, read a similar book, maybe a more modern one. I am in graphic design since 5 years now, and this is the first time I actually read a book about how to make money with my artistic abilities…)

This happens at the end of the day. During the afternoon I was at Fete des Neiges.

One thing you will notice about Montreal, are the large subway stations, not just in the underground city. Far off anything that looks like downtown, there are subways stations that could be cathedrals. Every station is concepted by a different architect, and so you will find a wide variety of architectural designs through all the subway stations.


Subway station “Namur” in the Northwest of the subway system

The reason that I am so far out is a Film Group Meetup. The movie title is “Frozen River“, and the whole thing is organized as usual by David. The cinema is called “Dollar Cinema” and offers movie tickets for 2$. Including tax, that makes 2,30$. Add the 2,50$ that I paid for the frozen maple syrup, and you arrive at 4,80$ for a whole day of entertainment…


The shopping center. Enter, straight ahead, up the escalators/stairs, and all the way back and discover…


Dollar Cinema. Cheapest cinema ever, with huge screen.


The entry area of Dollar Cinema. Standing to the left, in red as always, David.

.

The movie is depressing by the way. It’s a true story – frozen river is about a mother whose husband left her, whose job cannot pay for the children – but smuggling immigrants over the American border seems to be lucrative…

It was a long, long way until here, but finally the work of former Gedenkdieners is transferred on the new bling-bling system Joomla. Joomla is a free, Open-Source content management system (CMS) that enables people with limited web scripting knowledge (HTML, is that a school form? CSS, this is the new Christian Salvation Society … right?) to edit and extend content-rich and complex websites.

.

When I proposed to Naomi, director of the KFF, to transfer our complete website to a joomla-based framework, I had a certain purpose. I knew there were other Gedenkdieners coming in the future. Gedenkdieners, who were not lucky enough to be a computer freak when they were fourteen. Not lucky enough to be interested in programming online interfaces instead of picking up girls.
The job of a Gedenkdiener at the KFF consists of expanding the online education material and presentations as well as public speaking in high school and college classes. Through transferring the system, the job gets more accessible to a wider range of people.

Il presente, the new version of the KFF!

http://www.kffeducation.org

.

“Fete” is a French and German word for party. In Montreal, during the coldest winter times, people develop thick furs on their bodies which enables them to continue the party mania that they started in the summer. When I first arrived in Montreal, I had no idea what the city was like, and how people were. Now I am sure that the number one reason of choosing Montreal as a city to live in is the culturally embedded party culture.

While in Vienna, the city sometimes organizes festivals and shows in a quite lively climate zone, people in Montreal go out and party at temperatures where your breath crystallizes in mid-air. Stefan, man of the hour and Gedenkdiener at the MHMC, is my companion in exploring the wicked French party culture that settled this time on the Île Sainte-Hélène. That’s the island where the entertainment park La Ronde is located as well.

Shortly after arriving, my theories come true: The Montrealais actually DO grow a fur to survive the winter time:


This hairy man was playing ice hockey, the Canadian national sport. Everybody does it. If you don’t, shame on you.

After walking around a bit we encounter genius snow sculptures which mark the exit area of a mini-sledding hill. It seems to be common that there is no random sledding down a hill (like in Austria), but organized sledding lanes with a lift that brings you up the hill (for a ridiculous price of 8$ and a similarly ridiculous long line at minus 20 degrees). Great coincidence that I forgot my gloves at home on the warm radiator, so that I improvise and wrap the end of my sweater sleeves around my fists while taking photographs. Of course, we don’t pay so much money to go sledding.

Snow sculpures on the baby sledding hill. This one, surprisingly, has no lift and doesn’t cost 8$ to enter.


These scultures are all made of snow. Not the normal kind of snow, the hard-as-concrete one.


In the large crowds of French Canadians that seemingly never are too old or too young to party, we encounter little trash bags that a couple of people drag behind them. On the closer look, you see that it’s actually a stroller-sled mixture that contains a little child. “You see that everywhere on the sidewalks”, says Stefan. “They never clear the side walks, so people drag their kids in those little bags behind them”


If you think about joining law enforcement because you want to maintain a staus symbol, then join the Montreal police: They have quad bikes that are fast as shit and guarantee a penis enlargement up to 700%.

.

On the way to the waterfront, we find a barricade, guarded by some security. No way to get to the waterfront. “You have to rent ice skates to get to the river”, says the lady that appears to have indulged too much maple syrup. “Is there any other way, like to go around?”
“No. Pardon.”, she smiles and the maple syrup wobbles around her cheeks.
OF course there must be a way around. We find people in brown, red and yellow colored costumes made of rags, who all look like miniature Hagrids. They supervise a competition that appears to be taken from Mother-Daughter Father-Son camps: Adults pushing their chilrden in a wooden sled along parallel tracks, competing against each other. There is one couple that doesn’t really fit there: Stefan and me. Stefans fat ass is taking the sled to a stability test, and my shoes keep slipping in the snow. I lose against a woman.

Which brings us to the ultimate Canadian way of happiness: Maple syrup.
Maple syrup with pancakes.
Maple Syrup with moose meat.
Maple Syrup with toast.
With rice cakes, with chicken, ham, cheese, wine, baguette … or just plain maple syrup.

Or, if you are part of the so-called creme de la creme, then all you eat is frozen maple syrup.


Frozen maple syrup counter. The peeing stains are actually realy tasty – snow soaked with syrup d’ rable.


Stefan and Tobias Maplefreezus. 2.50$ each.


After 30 seconds of drooling a line of maple syrup in the snow, the syrup gets so cold that it becomes a sticky solid. Licking or sucking it creates great, long strings of syrup which dangle in the wind. I believe when mixing it with snow or water before pouring it into the snow would make it a clittle crispier and better – I will conduct some experiments on that.

All the people who work at Fete des Neiges are volunteers. There are fake native Canadians with Tipi tents, clowns, mascots in fury costumes, and oh, there is the ice skating course, with no guards and no barriers. Finally, we come to the riverside.
While I run closer to the shore, I recognize a Rotzglocke, “Snot bell” dangling down my nose. In German, we are quite inventive with naming our body fluids and the way of getting rid of them. There is a term called Bauernschneuzer, “Farmer’s nose blow”, where you press one side of your nose, bend forward, and blow the snot on the other side out. Sounds quite convenient, doesn’t it?

Well … it is, if performed professionally. I bend forward, blow, and while the snot is following my nasal acceleration, I see that there is something blocking the way between my nose and the ground: My camera. FLATCH. The snot lands on my camera and starts freezing on it. I nearly gag but manage to wipe the biggest portion of snot onto my pants instead of exposing the camera electronics to my nasal feces. Stefan laughs at me, and it must be a funny picture:
A young man with two hoodies on his head, wearing with sneakers in the knee deep snow, a fat piece of snot attached to his thigh, too chaotic to think about bringing gloves, and a camera with a misguidedly spray colored lens.


That is how snot on jeans looks like.


That’s the place where this one gay guy twisted my ears. Now there are pieces of ice swimming down the half-frozen river.


Montreal, in front the frozen St. Laurenz river

After twenty minutes, the snot has become solid ice, and i simply tear it off my pants, leaving nothing but a wet stain. We decide to go to the Montreal environment museum, the Biosphere. It is a gigantic geodesic dome, constructed by a futurist architect named Buckminister Fuller.


If you seriously think you’re better at cooking KRAFT dinner than me, I’ll challenge you to a swimming competition in there


Montreal Biospehere as seen from the distance


The Biosphere looks much bigger from the inside


A pretty futuristic water fountain which fountains only warm water.

The exhibit is more expensive than ten dollars (about 4kg of bread), so we decide to do something cheaper, There is a line of little children who want to get photographed for free in a canoeing surrounding. We get in line too.


Canoeing at minus twenty degrees.

There is a last thing to see on the next island, one more product of the Expo 67 (like the Biosphere): The Montreal Casino. The Mekka of all gambling addicts and architecture fetishists. The place where buses unload people with the distinct “DING, CLING” sound of hard metal dollars when they shatter down to release the jackpot. I see those people walking from the bus through the outside waiting area, warmed nicely by heating lamps, into the open mouth of the casino. Once swiped over the red carpet tongue of the monstrum, they are rushed down the golden shimmering throat, only to let their money being digested deep down in the intestines of this casino monstrum, between rumbling slot machines and swirling roulette wheels. It is so sad to see them enter this self-chosen hell with a smile of excitement, and to leave it with a frown of disgust.

Most of the people we see walking in are people who you usually never meet: They are in their fourties and fities, sometimes wearing expensive furs with cheap make up, people with not much of a past and not much of future expectations – people who want to either double or half their mid-life crisis. People, who gamble with their hard earned money.


The underground arrival area. One of the buses says “Only for employees”

Stefan and me are not even allowed inside. There is no dress code, but it is not allowed to take a camera or a coat inside. We wear both, so the fat security guard in his sixties ignores us. We actually just want to see the outside. After a couple of minutes of standing next to him and getting answers like “Nobody can see the outside, haha” “Not during the winter, it’s not possible”, we decide to let him fuck himself and find a staircase that leads us to the outside fassade.


Casino people are the happiest I’ve seen in a while. Photographing the inside is strictly prohibited, so I go to the window on the outside, adjust the aperature and exposure time by feeling, turn around, clash the lens against the glass, click, and run away before this young hipster of a security guard can go after me.


Whoever built that casino had some money left to place this beautiful sculpture next to it.


A revolting sight of an abused Mustang in front of the casino. Poor car.


A pimpy version of the common fan: a heating lamp! As soon as i pulled out the camera, the girl tried to run away, but realized that she was trapped behind the counter.

There has never been such a blasphemic, anti-american movie as the 2007 production of Uwe Boll, titled “Postal“.

A poor jobless guy who is married to the American dream – living in a trailer park with his adorable 600-pound-wife – is looking for a job. The only thing he gets is more of the American dream, namely working for a relentless company that keeps its slaves typying and calculating on strictly aligned little tables while singing the company hymn.

Through that, he decides to join his uncle, who successfully created a scientology-hippie hybrid cult that adores their sexually highly active leader, prophet and god. The IRS is not far from uncovering some tax frauds of the cult, and as the Taliban become involved, the world gets out of hand.

.

If you are a mother, nurse, politically correct or psychologically sane … then don’t watch this movie, you don’t want to get screwed up. Mom, if you read this, this applies to you too: Better watch Gandhi another time.
Uwe Boll seems to use the Hitchcock-tactic of first becoming a famous director to then prove the own acting skills by starring in short roles somewhere during the movie. Mr. Boll has, adding to the shock effect of this movie, a bigger gap between his teeth than me or Arnie Governator.

Postal is full of blood, corpses, Nazis, rednecks and trailers, terrorists, pitch black dark humor, Osama, George W. Bush, Uwe Boll and a lot of hot, half-naked chicks. I sense that by mentioning the latter I got your full attention, dear male reader. Yes, you are going to see tits. Yes, you are going to see stuff that you were forbidden to see before you turned 25 and moved out of your parents’ place. You are going to see Uwe Boll at his best. And European prejudices of American culture at its climax. If you liked Team America: World Police, then you are going to melt in love for Postal. It has the same Southpark-ish humor which shows no respect for anything whatsoever.

These infidels at imdb.com seriously rated this movie with 4/10 stars, but simply the sex scenes with this wobbly monster of a wife are worth seven out of ten stars. Adding the Nazi-midget scene, we reach 8.6 stars on a scale from 0 to 10. This may be the perfect next Christmas present for the 96-year old woman that you just married – if you want to cash out pretty soon and move to the Bahamas.

Looking for outdoor sports during the hard winters in Canada, I found this. Amazing.


Yukkunn’s movie screening in our apartment. Note the shoes on top of the window.

Our apartment consists of an Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servant and general artist (a title that seems to not be a possible company to the first one), two Frenchmen who are sport fanatics and full of wine, cheese and baguette, and to the last a Japanese who cooks rice like a whole village in India and makes movies.

Camouflaging his movie screening as a house party, Yukkunn successfully tricked us into the living room and set up the TV. The movie is one of these alternative ones which I sometimes believe I just don’t have the brain or patience for – I never get the point. Doesn’t matter, the colors are great, and the still life compositions seen in the beginning, alignments of candles, Mexican fruits and vegetables of various shades and tints, are undoubtly great. There is a phrase he says somewhere in the movie:

Twenty-six years ago, I got my ticket for life.

Some people say, life sucks. Other people say, Disneyland sucks. Life is like Disneyland, but you get the ticket for free.

.

.

The house party dies down at twelve o’ clock, but I can say proudly that I made the best out of this time.
Note that the underlying writing is supposed to be pronounced in a pretty flat way, and is the western letter writing of Japanese words. If you try this on a girl, I take no guarantee for the future of your family planning, as your reproduction organs may be chopped into pieces by a Katana in an instant.

THE LITTLE JAPANESE DICTIONARY FOR MEN

  • Ohio.
    Good Morning.
  • Ohio Gosei mas.
    Have a very good morning (polite & politically correct)
  • Ko Nichi Wa!
    Good day.
  • Ko Ma Wa!
    Good evening.
  • Ye ra so mi.
    Good night.
  • Ya ra selo!
    I’m going to fuck you.
  • Kawaii!
    You are cute. (that’s for cowards)
  • Kiero!!
    bye-bye (commonly used by a woman if your sophisticated pickup lines didn’t work on her)
  • Ore no chinko na mete!
    My-penis-you lick please (note the politeness in this sentence)
  • Chin-chin
    Pipi(word used by children who don’t want to say the P-word that ends with -enis)

One more case where a little notebook can save lives (or a dying party).  The party nearly over, suddenly two couchsurfers come in and I fall into a sophisticated discussion ranging from the middle eastern conflict all the way to global warming and get to go to bed at five o’clock.

Montreal is basically bombarded with snow. Last winter was one of the snow-richest ones, this year is one of the coldest winters in the last twenty years.
In good ol’ Vienna, they come with mediocre trucks and pile the minimal load of snow somewhere on the side of the street. Here, it is not uncommon to see huge exapmples of the Canadian hit show “Pimp my Excavator”.

These excavators, usually used to dig earth, are modified in that sense that to the huge arm there is a plow attached, transforming the engineering vehicle into a snow plow. Usually in the morning or the night, these roaring monsters of snow management go through major streets and push the fast falling snow aside. One may ask: Where do they push the snow?
Well, on the sidewalk there should be enough space to walk, and pushing the snow into parked cars is usually not a good idea either. The solution: Into trucks. Trucks filled with the precious white good, operating at times when people are snoring and don’t care what happens to the beautiful winter wonder land.

.

Naomi, Chris and me go to another high school presentation; this time, it is an all-jewish high school.

The school is in the North of Montreal, and as we arrive there, I see where the snow goes: To huge empty spaces that get gradually filled up. I witness trucks arriving every minute at this huge parking-lot like venue, which has two snow-plows/excavators pushing the freshly unloaded snow up a three-story high, 100m long, 30m deep hill. Maybe it was bigger. Every single minute a new truck loaded to the very top with brownish snow. It’s fascinating to watch the hill grow.

Back to the school: These kids are already well-informed about Holocaust and Second World War, so our main focus is on media influence in identity building. We show the kids disgusting pictures of female body builders and magazines propagating this is the way to be a fit, strong and sexy woman. We show them pictures from the Austrian National Day where the army presents itself in a glorious manner on the Viennese Heldenplatz. We show them podcasts offered by the United States Army. Weight loss magazines. And neonazi homepages.

At the end, we get interesting questions, I’ll list those I got in the recent past and stayed in my memories:

  • Were your grandparents involved / did they tell you about it?
  • Are you proud to be Austrian after everything that happened in your country?
  • What is being taught in Austrian schools / do they try to cover something up in education?
  • What made you go abroad and choose this kind of service?
  • Do you miss Austria? Do you like Canada / North America?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • I heard the following about Hitler: […] – is this true?
  • How is Austria like?
  • How about black people in the Holocaust?
  • How is the life of Jewish people in Austria/Germany nowadays?

These kids actually put a video camera in the room, so probably we will get a version of the take, and of course it will be available on this blog.

.


Tobias Deml and Chris Schauer documented with an iphone holding their Fact, Fiction, Propaganda presentation.