Friday Slide Scan #22 is two pictures from 1990, Zürich at dusk and old stones in Yvoire. I have some history with Zürich.

Old Swiss joke: “What do you call 300,000 boring people by a lake in the middle of Europe?” “Zürich.” Indeed, there are funkier places and it’s too expensive and you don’t want to ask too many questions about where the money came from that’s buying those beautiful things on display in the Bahnofstrasse windows.

On the other hand, the transit is efficient, they’ve got first-rate universities, and the food is good. There’s this incredibly civilized custom where, in the traditional restaurants, they bring your main course and then after you’ve eaten it, they bring you seconds. Also they have the best desserts in the world.

Rösti are OK by me but I don’t see why raclettes have to exist.

The river Limmat in Zürich, at dusk

The picture above is looking down (and across) the river Limmat towards Lake Zürich. We’re standing on the expensive side, behind that row of brightly lit buildings on the other side is Niederdorf Strasse, which is full of bars and restaurants and and often worth a stroll.

Starting in 1990, the then very young Open Text was doing quite a bit of business in Switzerland, in part because Gaston Gonnet, one of our co-founders, was a professor at ETH. So I went there a lot.

I saw the last days of the infamous Needle Park junkie infestation and the insides of some very nice bankers’ offices. One afternoon I was walking among anonymous office buildings with a young banker; he pointed at one without any bank logos and said “that’s where the gold is”. In the fifth basement down, he said, stored partially under water.

Sometime later that trip, this appeared in my notebook.

Flurstrasse

The streets of Zürich writhe in rain,
torn by cranes, bleeding junkies.

Here, gold walks in the sun —
the women’s showcased breasts and dense bright hair.
Crones’ bags bulge with bread, with charms,
with braids of eaten babies’ locks.
The dirty poor wear long sleeves here, even in summer.

The hills, yes, the hills rise green,
green above the lake.
Bright balloons caress the crags.
Snow-white houses nestle there —
windows with begonia bibs
smile redly down on grey and gold.

Ah, the gold.
One of many soft grey streets
holds a dark five-story building
with (the junior banker said)
five floors below the five above.
People fill one, microfilm one,
two contain computers.

At the bottom
always hidden square bright anchor,
bathed in Alp-fresh runoff water,
at the bottom is the gold.

Another Swiss business trip took us to Geneva; we had a Saturday off and decided to drive east along the south shore of Lake Geneva. This takes you through a bunch of charming places, including Evian, where the water comes from. Yvoire is a teeny tiny little village famous for being pretty, and indeed it is.

Yvoire, France

Images in the Friday Slide Scans are from 35mm slides taken between 1953 and 2003 by (in rough chronological order) Bill Bray, Jean Bray, Tim Bray, Cath Bray, and Lauren Wood; when I know exactly who took one, I’ll say; in this case, Tim Bray. Most but not all of the slides were on Kodachrome; they were digitized using a Nikon CoolScan 4000 ED scanner and cleaned up by a combination of the Nikon scanning software and PhotoShop Elements.


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February 10, 2006
· The World (126 fragments)
· · Places
· · · France (5 more)
· · · Switzerland
· Arts (11 fragments)
· · Photos (966 more)

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