Saturday, August 30, 2008

Grayed May Pole

As you likely know, it’s a Bavarian tradition to set up May Poles in Bavaria. This is the scene generally of great celebration, pageantry, and community work to erect the poles; and Munich likely has 20-30 of them around town. Despite this May pole being launched with much fanfare, it was vandalized a week later. The May pole was themed with gay symbols, rather than those of various work groups. It was the city’s first Gay themed May pole. Officials said they were not certain if the act was one against gays or simply a youth prank. At the time, it was unclear whether artists Robert Rore and Michael Borio would re paint the themes. It's been a while so let me know if anyone has any updates.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bogenhaus – and Then Some

In the Northeast section of Munich is one of Munich’s largest neighborhoods, which stretches from Prinzregentenstrasse to the ring road. It’s known for its large hotel and business complex at Arabella, as well as neighboring the English Gardens. But more than anything, Bogenhausen is equated with glamour and Munich’s jet set crowd. Ostentatious streets are lined with ornate villas (as this photo displays), and this part of town oozes wealth. As well as the Austrian and Polish general consulates, the Federal Finance Court is also housed in Bogenhausen. The building is steeped in history and is situated in an 18,000 square metre park. It was acquired by the then Bavarian Minister of State Freiherr Maximilian von Montgelas. The so-called Treaty of Bogenhausen was agreed in his ‘Gartenhaus Bogenhausen’ in 1805. This secret treaty established an alliance between Bavaria and France against Austria and Russia, their allies at the time, and allowed Napoleon to march into Bavaria with his troops. In return, Bavaria could realign its boundaries, and Elector Max IV. Joseph of Bavaria received royal dignity.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Facing A Dark Past

We’ve talked many times here about the conflicting personalities of Germans, and Bavarians alike. An exhibit at the Alte Pinakothek looks at this contrast by depicting the social elite of the 19th century. Unlike the celebratory paintings of the French during this time – colorful scenes by the lake side, lunch at the boat house, etc – this particular exhibit shows a very dark view of this time in Germany. Aptly called “A hell of Sociability,” the exhibit profiles the “petty bourgeois idylls, cosy country life, and merry making of wine drinkers – which are so far removed from the harsh reality or the cosmopolitan flair of French Impressionists.” This photo was actually not part of the exhibit, but rather in front of the Alte Pinakothek museum, and seemed to fit the mood of the exhibit. You can find all 20 or so of the exhibits here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Playground Graffiti

Throughout Munich, in nearly every park, is a small section devoted to children playing. You can find play structures in nearly every green patch, in between any given two buildings. Germans, in general, are good at ensuring kids have great ways to explore and build confidence on their own. Take places like the Deutches Museum, which encourages individual thought and exploration through its kids club. Take the high percentage of beer gardens that have an accompanying play area. Finally, take incredible number of inside and outside swimming pools – to delight children of any age. In the end, they all end up boosting creativity and development. And provide a great way to express yourself –much like today’s photos.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Altstadt Arrests

Well they aren’t exactly arrests. So before you start hearing “Bad boys, bad boys, what cha going to do…what cha going to do when they come for you” (that is the theme of the early popular reality TV show “COPS") know that the local Munich Police are really cracking down on bicyclist through the old town. That means walk your bike through those pedestrian ways. I suppose everything is relative. Munich has its share of crime, but it’s been classified as (for lack of a better term) a “Toytown.” That was the thinking and the context for one of the most popular websites in Munich – an English speaking community site. The original portal was created with the emphasis that Munich is like no other place it the world - no real crime, pristine streets. Not sure I buy all that, but it is generally quite safe.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Here we Go Again!

Five months after the mayoral election, Munich residents are heading back to the polls Sept 28th, this time to elect a new state parliament. Political posters are all over the city, including some that are socially charged. Personally, I liked the propaganda-ish feel to this one, and the view of the men and women walking in Suits in the background towards the Eon Energy building. Lots of powerful images. I’m not sure if the designers of this poster realized that the image was originally from “Rosie the Riveter” which was done for the American forces in their quest to defeat Germany in WWII. It turns out that the poster, when released, had limited feel and it wasn’t until feminist values peaked after the war that this image became a powerful icon.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

If you Brew it, they will Come

With less than one month to go before the annual Octoberfest celebration in Munich, the tents are already in full swing at Theriesenwiese (as you can see from the Spatenbrau tent being built), the fairgrounds that host the Octoberfest celebration every year. There are more than a dozen of these tents and each one accommodates approx 5000 revelers. That’s not to mention the hundreds of rides and eating joints. I have only been in the tents once before, and the thing that struck me (aside from the massive beers, the buffed waitresses, and the continuous songs of “New York, New York” and the Chicken Dance; is that everyone is in a festive mood. With so many people, in such close proximity, with so much beer – this is amazing. And for those hoping for a just a pinch of history, the story goes like this. The first October fest was a celebration of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildberghausen in 1810. The celebration became official in 1819, and since then they’ve moved the dates forward to take advantage of good weather in September, and also to celebrate the coming harvest which traditionally began in October. Despite its name, the celebration generally ends the first week of October.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Border Patrol

With Munich so close to Italy, you see all kinds of these Piaggio scooters, but this is the first I’ve ever seen one with the Italian Flag colors painted across its front side. But then the juxtaposition of the Italian scooter with the very Bavarian Pretzels, was too good to pass up. Talk about a real culture clash. I suppose the way to think about it, is that Bavarians are somewhere between Germans and Italians. For centuries they’ve been crafting their own personality – one that merges laid back Mediterranean lifestyle with true German efficiency.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Homes Without Neighborhoods

In what’s being described as a new model for city living, more than 17,000 new homes are being built in an 8 kilometer stretch along the train tracks between the central train station and Nymphenburg/Laim. Apartment building after apartment building are taking over where rails and train containers once ruled the land. On the surface, what’s not to like – deluxe apartments a stone throw away from the center of town and built literally on top of great transportation. And the development has resulted in great additions like the Sportpark, but there still seems to be something missing. What they forget is that every community needs a center –whether that be for shopping or gathering or practicing religion. And none of that exists – for the 17,000 homes and possibly 40,000 people who will live in this area. It results into a commuter lifestyle, that unfortunately has been described as without a soul.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fun at the Getränkemarkt

With only one month before the annual Octoberfest kicks off, I thought we should warm up with a trip to the local drink market. Whether you are a beer enthusiast or not, going to the drink market can be a Munich cultural experience in itself. First of all, it’s not like buying beer in the US, where you pick it up at the supermarket. This is not one-stop shopping. Getranke Markets offer only drinks, and almost all of it beer. They are in every neighborhood in Munich, and they are often packed and overflowing with beer. The photo shows some of the big names around Munich, but you will also find quite a few obscure local breweries. I make a habit of going in with my granny cart, and picking 1-2 of just about everything I can find. It's amazing because each of these huge beers are generally about 70 cents. It’s a great way to experiment and learn more about the local brews. By now, the owners love it, and often throw in one or two extras for me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cracken On

Nutcrackers in the form of wooden carvings of soldiers, knights, kings and other professions have existed since the 15th century from England, France & Italy. These decorative devices became popular in Bavaria in the 1800s as part of a cottage industry, primarily in forested rural areas. Many of the best Nutcrackers come from Sonneberg in Thuringia (which is also considered the center of doll making) and from the Ore Mountains. The “NussKnacker” evolved throughout the years, but continues to be very popular in places like the recreated “Bavarian Village in Levenworth, Washingotn at the Nutcracker Museum

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gateway to Italy

The Sendlinger Gate, one of the three remaining gates in Munich, once led to the lucrative trade route to Italy. The oldest of the remaining gates, was first mentioned in 1318, and represented the outer city wall. Once, the gate supported a main tower in the middle, which was destroyed at the beginning of the 19th century, but two hexagonal side towers and walls were restored in 1850. Another substantial change was the removal of three arches and creation of one large arch – which was made in 1906. Some around Munich, argue that there is a fourth gate – which is the Siegestor (or Victory) gate, which is at the intersection of Leopod and Ludwig Strasse, and seperates Schwabing with Maxvorstadt. Despite its likeness to the other three (Isartor, Karlstor, and Sendlinger), it is the only one that did not represent the original city walls.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shades of Grey

All in the name of Art. Students at the Academy of Fine Art prepare for one of their upcoming shows. I am not sure of the theme, but you regularly see interactive exhibits of one kind or another at the Academy. This photo was taken from the new building, which opened in 2005, which opened directly next to the schools original home built in 1887. It’s an interesting contrast to see the Venetian Renaissance style of the Academy, next to the modern extension. And as you can see by the photo, you will regularly find contrasts between the traditional and very modern.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Eric Clapton Rocks the Kings Place

Konigsplatz was transformed today into an open-air concert hall as Eric Clapton rocked the entire neighborhood. Hundreds of people descended to the surrounding neighborhood to listen to the concert from outside the grounds. This picture shows the scene across the street at the Konigsplatz U-bahn station. The setting was actually quite nice here and at the music school on the other side of the concert. Many people brought bottles of wine and sat anywhere they could for a make shift picnic. No doubt the event was much nicer inside the concert venue (despite the rain) between the two museums – but it was amazing how many people happened to stumble across the concert, heard Eric play, and stayed for a while.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Reuse Muse

Like most of Western Europe, Germany is big on recycling. Also like many Western European countries, Germany claims to lead as a way to fight against their 30M tons of garbage annually. Yet this lifestyle of environmental consciousness does come with a bit of work on your part - more than you would think, as a matter of fact. Paper items are generally collected at your home, many plastics are collected at the large supermarkets, and most other recyclable materials are placed individually in these large bins placed across town (as shown in this photo – I actually took it because I had never seen these bins so clean). Finally, many businesses are required to take back the cartons for any products purchased at their stores. You will see large bins for cardboard outside IKEA and like retailers. In all of this, I miss the program in the US where most items (short of glass) are placed in a single bin at your home. I think the German program requires a lot of toting items around. If the program is convenient, most people will use it. I suppose you can take some pride in just figuring out the German system, but if you’re doing something wrong know that someone will certainly tell you so.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ahhhh. The English Gardens

One of the world largest urban public parks, at 3.7 square KM and reaching from the heart of Munich all the way to its Northeastern limits. You can ride directly from Odeonsplatz out to the forest without ever crossing a street of cars. That’s one of the many things that makes Munich unique and keeps it rooted in nature. And in the park, there’s something for everyone, with the Chinese Tower and several lesser known beergardens, Japenese Teehaus, surfing on the Eisbach, the Apollo Temple, and of course nude sunbathing. This is Germany afterall. (Thank you guest photographer)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Which Way is That?

One of the more confusing intersections in Munich. Generally the signage and directions are quite straight-forward, but this is the plight of being between so many interesting cities. One of the things you have to watch out for are the airport signs. For some reason they are always listed quite small, like in this example, so even though they are marked – you can sometimes miss them. Ironically, at the same time you will see signs for the Messe, or the exhibition center, just about all over town. That’s the new exhibition center that was built on the site of the former airport in Riem. It’s pretty strange when there is better signage to the old airport than to the new one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Joy Ride

If you have to go, go in style. This photo shows some of the everyday contrast within Munich. Some people choose to drive, others choose to ride. Some people choose the company car, and others choose to splurge. One interesting point of contrast with the US. Much of the car “status” from the US doesn’t exist in many places in Europe (present photo excepted, of course). In the US, there is so much tied up into which car you drive. Everyone worries about the image their car portrays. When we were in Paris, there was very little value around the car you drive. If there was any status, it was around having a small car, so Minis and Smart Cars were quite popular. In addition, most people in the city take public transit. In Munich, an overwhelming number of people have company cars, and those are generally German made – BMW, Volkswagen, Audi or Mercedes. So these luxury cars become the great equalizer in Munich. Think of that…a Mercedes as common as a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Radish Reality

I captured this photo because I’m amazed at how often the people around markets transform to somehow match their surroundings. I can’t explain why, but it just seems to be the case. I remember a photo of a very serious and stoic Russian woman standing over her matryoshka doll collection. And in this photo, taken at the Viktualien Market, the man in the background somehow seems to twist like the Radishes. Even the flaws in the radish resemble the material curves in his jacket. Radishes are a Bavarian delicacy, and Munich’s markets leave no shortage of interesting images to explore.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Local Color

A view of one of the many clubs (I would tell you how many, but I’m not sure anyone knows) located at Kultfabrik, the one-time warehouse district turned club scene. In fact, it claims to be one of the biggest club areas in Europe. Each of the clubs has its unique theme and unique style. Generally with one admission, you can go from club to club and experiment with it all. Being old warehouses, the true form is quite casual. Don’t show up with your best clothes. It’s not Schicki-Micki, posh place. It is the exact opposite. A place of debauchery like we all enjoy from time to time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

House of Kunst or Contrast

Built as the third Reich’s first monumental propaganda building, the Haus der Kunst or House of German Art has gone from showcasing Germany’s “approved” art, to some of the most outlandish and extreme modern art of our time. From its opening exhibition, it was used to condemn modern art and show the “proper” type of art, which was very traditional. The buildings original purpose can still be seen by the swastika-motif mosaics, and the large donor sign, which has some of Germany’s most well known companies – including BMW, Volkswagan and Siemens. After the war, the museum began showcasing works from Munich’s art galleries that had been destroyed during the war – and it’s has kept that Savoir Faire attitude ever since – as seen here from the exhibits by British contemporary society photographer, Martin Parr and American artist Robert Rauschenberg. Today, the museum even houses a nightclub called P1, Munich’s famous high-society hang out. The folks at Toytown say they can’t vouch for the club, because they’ve never even been able to get in.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friendly Neighborhood/Funny Name

Not many people outside of Munich know about Au. It’s a residential district just as the Wittelsbacher bridge crosses the Isar River from the Altstadt. Its original name, Awe ze Gysingen, means “Land on Water. It was incorporated into Munich in 1854, but has history as a municipality back to 1340. Its access to the parks lining the Isar make it a desirable area of town. A few interesting tid-bits about the neighborhood. It holds the largest annual market in Munich, the Auer Dult three times per year. Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, a 1974 World Cup champion has operated a stationery shop in Au for over 20 years. Given its position along the Isar, more than half of the homes in Au were destroyed during WWII (allied aerial troops used the Isar River as a guide at night before turning off to target the Altstadt). It also houses the Deutches Museum and the Paulaner brewery. Long known as a hub for craftsmen, smallmanufacturing, workers and Tagelöhner at the edge of the city, today it houses a more cosmopolitan crowd with more than 25% of the district as Foreigners.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Streetcar Named Desire

A streetcar passes the National Theatre in Munich as an evening performance lets out. The historic 1750 building hosts both the state opera and ballet and is an amazing venue to see a performance with its tiered balconies. The building was commissioned by King Maximilian 1st of Bavaria and opened in 1818. It was destroyed by fire only 5 years later, but re-opened 2 years later. The theatre was host to many great performers, including Wagner during his early years – until he built a theatres to spec in Bayreuth. Richard Straus also made his mark on the theatre, where he was the principal conductor.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Onion Domes

Typical of Munich’s architecture are beautiful onion shaped domes on roofs. Although often associated with the Kreml in Moscow, these sites are quite common, including the most visible building in the city – the frauenkirche which is capped with two beautiful domes. And like many things in Munich, the style is prevalent throughout Bavaria – especially on churches and rathauses. Buildings started having this notable feature in Bavaria back in the 16th century. This particular vegetable shaped roof is located in Haidhausen, just across from the parks that line the Isar.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Beemer Gleamer

From the Olympiadorf tower, you can see the lifeblood of BMW – which includes its headquarters, innovative showcase museum, and production facilities. Bavarian Motor Works has facilities in more than 150 countries, but their heart & soul is in the northern end of Munich. There are rumors that highway 9, which leads out of the city, goes immediately to no speed limit because of its proximity to the BMW plant. BMW is as much a leading employer as it is a culture and fashion maker in this part of Munich. It started production of aircraft engines here in 1912, but was forced to cease aircraft manufacturing as part of the Versailles Armistice treaty. So the company shifted to motorcycle production, and expanded from there. It owns other popular brands, including Mini and Rolls Royce. Today it produces more than 1.5M vehicles per year – 900,000 in Germany.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Looking up to Max Von Montgelas

A quick glance of a woman in Promenadeplatz checking out the statue of Maximillian Von Montgelas, a 20th Century diplomat in Bavaria that oversaw Bavaria becoming a kingdom in 1806. Promenadeplatz was for some time the salt market in Munich, and now is a lush green space surrounded by some of the nicest hotels in town – including the Bayerishe Hof which was build in the former Palais Montgelas and the Kleine Kornodie, a popular theater. The building was almost completely rebuilt in 1971-72. I like this photo (thank you guest photographer) because of her glance at the aluminum statesman.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bavarian Posh

This may look like some scene out of Octoberfest, but believe me, you can find locals dressed up in traditional dress every day of the week. This particular photo was from a celebration taking place in the Viktualienmarket, but could be any place in Munich. Think of the Irish wearing Kilts for weddings, business events, etc. It’s the same with Bavarian attire. Apparently, dressing in Dirndls and Lederhosen went out of fashion in the 70s and 80s, but that’s anything but the case today – as locals and visitors get into the spirit. Three sure bets for traditional garb include Octoberfest, Starkbierfest ('Strong Beer' festival in March) and, perhaps, for a local Folksfest (seasonal neighborhood festival). Expats have recently joined in on the fun. Apparently, the best shops to pick up your bit of Bavaria include Angermaier and Bayerwari Dirndl-Eck.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Moment in Time

A color sun dial displays on the facade of the Bavarian National Museum on Prinzregentenstrasse, one of the four royal roads in Munich. I am told that the museum holds one of the most important and cultural history collections in Europe, although I have not been through to confirm. The museum was founded by king Mazimillian in 1855. It houses a large collection of European artifacts from the Middle Ages until early 20th century. From the beginning the collection has been divided into two main groups: the art historical collection and the folklore collection. With a specific focus on Bavaria, the museum houses art from the middle ages to the Jugendstil or art Neouveau period. This is one of many sun dials that you will find throughout Munich. Use of Sundials stretches back to antiquity in Europe, with the main purpose initially to show the times of prayer. This was critical, as the hours were only measured at first during hours of daylight (which changed during the course of the year). Around the 14th century, time was measured using equal hour length and whether light or dark. Southern Germany and Austria is where you will find many of the early versions of sun dials.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Here's Looking at You, Kid

A couple “strikes a pose” in front of the historic Lenbach house and its tranquil garden escape. The building is an Italian villa right in the middle of the Maxvorstadt neighborhood, and it’s an appropriate pose as the building is used as an art gallery. The exterior of the building is quite impressive, but the interior may be even better because at any time there may be up to 10 different exhibits showing at any given time. The common theme is modern art, but that leaves a lot of ground to work with. Currently, for example, there are several collections of abstract painting, a video collection of urban art, an exhibit focused on Secession, and the premier of the movie “1972”, the Sarah Morris documentary of the Munich Massacre at the Olympic Games, and the botched attempts by local law enforcement during the crisis.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Twisted Metal

The Daily Photo Blog theme day for Aug. 1 is “Metal” and I couldn’t help sharing this image of a sea of twisted metal in this Theatinerhof café. The Theatinerhof is directly behind the Theatiner Church, and is a peaceful refuge off the always busy Odeonsplatz. You will find endless archways, and a wash of Italian Baroque Orange colors surrounding you. This particular spot, Café Arzmiller, views itself as one of the last traditional Munich coffee houses, and in hopes of addressing all the senses – owner Oscar Arzmiller promotes changing exhibitions from local artists. You can see a 360 degree view of the Theatinerhof here.