Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

They still exist, these little inns, bars or – as the customers refer to these places – dens in Vienna, Austria, where time seems to have stopped. If you pass by, you hear loud laughter through the half open door – and only very few walk in. Too often, these places appear in the media with reports of a fight or a stabbing between friends over a misunderstanding during one of their drinking sessions. For many customers, these are the only places they find somebody to talk to. Most of the time, the whole bar takes part in one conversation. These are substitute families with their own daily rituals. Barter trades flourish and people take care of each other; small circles you can only join after a certain probation time. But once you’ve joined the family, you stick together and you drink together – all day, every day... The furnishings often date from the 1960s, and some customers have been coming for as long. The only sign betraying the ravages of time, is people dying. And with them, these drinking dens.

Klaus Pichler (photos) and Clemens Marschall (text) chose not to walk by, but to walk in those places, in order to document these parallel universes. Pichler took photos of the guests, the daily grind, craziness and high drama of it all; Marschall interviewed the owners to get their perspective. ‚Golden days before they end‘ aims to find, document and explore the last of these refuges for a dying drinking generation. The project is a swan song for these bars that have shaped their customers’ existences for decades, places that are soon to disappear forever.

https://www.editionpatrickfrey.com/en/books/golden-days-they-end-german-edition-clemens-marshall-klaus-pichler

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

Photo Book, 2016; Klaus Pichler: Photos, Clemens Marschall: Text, EDITION PATRICK FREY N° 205 / N° 206, Release Date: June 7th, 2016, First Edition 2016,

Hardcover, 250 pages, 120 color images 28 × 22 cm € 52,-

https://www.editionpatrickfrey.com/en/books/golden-days-they-end-german-edition-clemens-marshall-klaus-pichler

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

This place is like the first stop to a madhouse. (Maria Uitz, Schmauswaberl)

You’ve got to treat your patients well. (Hans, Salzamt)

People don’t just come here to have fun; they come to drown their sorrows too. (Jara, Espresso Jara)

The jukebox stood over there. One day, somebody yelled, “What’s that racket?!” – shot it, then… silence. (Toni, Hühnerstall)

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

Oh yeah, we had this farmer in here last week, he was already pretty wasted when he said to a workmate, “Hey, you… I’ve decided to sell you those two cows after all.” He’d run out of money, so he sold his cows to pay for another drink. (Daniel Kerner, Schweden Espresso)

We have a policeman who comes in here who’ll drink for three months straight, then stay sober for the next three or four months. He comes in and says, “It’s my birthday today!” Two days later, he’s in here again saying, “It’s my birthday, let’s have a drink!” “Oh really?” I say. “Another birthday!” That pantomime will go on for weeks, until he decides to take another break. (Hubert Pesata, Café Blackout)

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

One of my customers knows his brain is shrinking from all his boozing, but that doesn’t stop him. And to be honest, if I was him, maybe I wouldn’t stop either. He’s divorced, he’s got two children he never sees, the state’s cheated him out of his sickness benefits after an accident he had at work and he’s a man without a country. He’s frustrated. And on top of that, he’s not the brightest and a severe alcoholic. But still, he’s a nice guy. He doesn’t have much money. He drinks cheap rotgut at home, then comes down here to talk crap. You can see the damage he’s done to himself by the way he rolls his eyes and in his funny walk. Even after just one or two beers, he can’t stand up straight. But that doesn’t make him stop drinking. It’s his choice. (Heinz, Manuela’s Pub)

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

I don’t let everyone in. In fact, I hardly let anyone in! There’s a strict door policy. I can leave my gun just lying around here, like this; my customers don’t get aggressive. The only aggressive person in here is me! Yeah, somebody has to call the shots… (Diana Gabor, Zur Tränke)

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

Have I ever been attacked? You think I was born with this harelip? You can’t win every battle. That’s how it works with street fighters! We have a sign that says: ‘Spitting on the floor is strictly prohibited’. One woman went ahead and did it anyway. She was a 16-stone lard-arse. And then… well, I don’t know… The police said her breastbone got crushed. “Never happened here”, is what all my customers told them. Pfff, it couldn’t have been that bad, she could still walk. She spat on my floor – you just don’t do that. (Diana Gabor, Zur Tränke)

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

It’s like a family, of course! You get to find out everything there is to know about your regulars. If someone gets divorced and has to move, we’ll help get them all the furniture they need. Or, if they’ve just come out of prison, we’ll help them out with cigarettes, free food and drinks. These things happen to the best of us. And people don’t usually forget what you’ve done for them, so they keep coming back forever. (Vanessa Weigert, Ottos Kneipp Stüberl(

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

Since I started working here, and that’s 40 years ago now, 128 of our regulars have died. It’s only April and in just those four months, three regulars have passed away already. (Hermine Horacek, Weinstube Stumpergasse)

It’s sad, but over the last few years I’ve had to attend one funeral after another for my customers. I don’t know where the media get their statistics from, but they’re not dying at 80 or 90 years old, the average age is 55. (Werner Kantor, Espresso Braustüberl)

Golden days before they end
Golden days before they end

The previous owner of Café Dincer used to let a lot of antisocial people in – real scum. He had to tell one guy, who owed him a lot of money, “If you want another drink, you’ll have to pay me first!” The customer, a big guy, replied, “Come on, Dincer, just one more beer, one for the road.” The boss answered, “Give me a blowjob and you can have your beer.” So off they went, into the bathroom. That creep sucked the owner’s dick and said, “I don’t give a flying fuck, as long as I get my beer.” (Manuela, Manuela’s Pub)

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