Bottoms Up! Enjoy the “Golden Days Before They End”

Have you ever had a night out that you never wanted to end, so you hopped from place to place hoping they’d stay open ‘til you ran out of steam? Have you ever had a day that turned into a weekend? Or maybe even a week? What is the day became a lifestyle? Then where would you go? These are important questions, people.

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Vienna knows this. They know it well. Well enough to give a name to it: Branntweiner. It’s a dive bar, and it’s ready to go. Some spots open at 5 in the morning for their clientele. Others open at 9, and still others that don’t get going until later on, but what they all have in common is their willingness to provide 24-hour service to the folks who love themselves some alcohol. Because at a certain point, there comes a turn, and that’s when the liquor takes first place and it won’t ever come down. And that when things take on a grim cast, but, still, the party continues on.

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Photographer Klaus Pichler and journalist Clemens Marschall entered into this alternate universe, where time stands still like the depths of a Vegas casino. Here, in this curious, hermetic world, we see a cast of characters who have sound their solace in Vienna’s version of an old school opium den. There’s a mellifluous high punctured by the brutal truth that makes Golden days before they end (Edition Patrick Frey) an incredible collection of work.

Look, most of us have been there, in some shape or form, that murky, slushy state that comes at the bottom of the glass that never seems to empty no matter how much you drink. Many of us have tried to wash it all away in the abject void that is alcohol, the feeling that none of it matters so long as the glass is half full. The eternal optimist—until it’s too late. Then, hope turns to dust and you pay with the furies of fate.

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Golden days before they end is told with tremendous tenderness and empathy. In the hands of less sensitive souls, it would be easy to mock and deride, or objectify the freakishness that so frequently occurs. But instead, the authors take us in hand on this once-in-a-lifetime tour. Pichler’s photographs capture the character of the Branntweiners themselves. The décor, like the people, go back in time to the late-twentieth century when future was full of promise and possibility. But time has passed and what remains has faded away, but for the layer of yellow that hangs in the air like a permanent stain.

Yet there is nothing but love here in this world, in a place where the older generation has found itself in the camaraderie of the bar, of the fact that everyone knows your name, and quite frankly, you are who you are. Golden days before they end is a story of last days, for once these folks die, there will be no patrons left. But until that happens, it is what it is.

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All photos: © Klaus Pichler, Clemens Marschall, “Golden days before they end”, Edition Patrick Frey, 2016.

Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.