My favorite places in the world are those which transport me to eras of history that I am inspired by or curious about — in the case of Café Odeon, it is where my artistic heroes spun great works and rulers caffeinated their power. Odeon has seen the faces and heard the voices of history’s famed intellectuals, political revolutionaries, world leaders from the 20th century; writers, musicians, artists… to be a fly on that wall might make it worth getting swatted by a few newspapers.
I sat at a street-side table on Limmatquai with my writing book before me and files from art school parading through my brain — then I started to imagine those artists, my heroes, walking through the door, one by one. First the Dadaists — the kings of absurdity who challenged conformity and class – painter Hans Richter, writer Tristan Tzara who penned the second DADA manifesto, playwright Hugo Ball. The intellectuals, the musicians, the wordsmiths — Albert Einstein, Franz Lehar, and James Joyce who lived in Zurich while in exile. My heroes!
Vladmir Lenin frequented Odeon prior to WWI — somewhat of an odd choice for a man that didn’t smoke or drink and didn’t like to listen to music. ‘I cannot listen to music too often … it makes me want to say kind, stupid things, and pat the heads of people. But now you have to beat them on the head, beat them without mercy.” Mussolini favored Odeon prior to WWII — he also didn’t drink. Surely they went for the conversation and moderately priced coffee that Odeon is so famous for. (For the record, I wouldn’t exactly call Lenin and Mussolini my heroes.) Heroes or not, I had the opportunity to share a glass of rosé with each of them.