1. The Weimar All Stars are a wonderful cast of characters in a central square of the German city of Weimar on a Sunday night - tango dancers, rumbunctious children, skateboarders, teenagers, refugees. Each group is busy doing their own thing, but all are aware of the people around them. It is the night of Germany’s defeat by Mexico in the country’s first game of the 2018 Soccer World Cup. The people present in this film seem to have other interests than does the soccer-obsessed majority of the nation who at this moment in time are very disappointed if not depressed. There is a limp German flag in the picture which we can take to represent the nation in its current deflated state. The greatness of German culture is represented by the statues of Goethe and Schiller, revered national poets and humanists who lived in Weimar in the early nineteenth century. There is a large building on the left just outside the frame, the Weimar national theatre, which is where Germany’s first democratic constitution was drawn up in 1919 - in force until 1933 when Hitler came to power. It is a warm night, and we are in a traffic-free zone. So much for the physical setting.

    At first glance this video may seem to be about tango-dancing couples on Theaterplatz, the name of the square. They clearly steal the show, but they are not the only characters that matter. The owner of the Italian restaurant from where I’m shooting the video tells a group of Dutch guests that every Sunday night is tango night on Theaterplatz - adding (I imagine tongue in cheek) “it’s a catastrophe”. The real life action - spontaneous, unrehearsed, and brutal - occurs in the background. A group of young kids constantly on the move are enacting scenes of violence - of course you could say, how cute, look at them play. But they’re playing war, confrontation, violence - preparing themselves for the life ahead of them. Unwittingly, the kids seem to be the realists in the overall picture, while the adults are performing a sublime mating dance. But, clearly, both groups are enjoying themselves. There are two or three young men on skateboards, honing their skills in a different kind of dance, mostly for recognition, but also as a show of male prowess. Theirs is a mix of the elegance of the dance and the physicality of the children’s games. On the sidelines, making no noise or attempts to draw attention to themselves, are four young male refugees, the first two African, the other two Arab. They stay to watch, observers of a society to which they don’t yet fully belong. Full of bluster and self-confidence, five young women enter the scene, two carrying open bottles of beer, and proceed to settle down in the restaurant. They own this town. Two other teenagers have been sitting right below the Goethe/Schiller monument, both closely observing the dancers, she with beer in hand, he looking at a couple dancing with amusement and sympathy. At the back of the square, at a table with chidren’s toys are two teenage mothers. While they’ve just entered the mating game, they’re already saddled with maternal responsibilities. Finally, licking their ice cream cones with gusto are group of three senior adults, probably in a post-mating phase of their lives when priority is given to the enjoyment of food.

    What I see is a sort of social harmony, a kind of social integration, in which different types of people pursue some of their favourite activities in the same space, without any signs of aggression towards others, in fact a minimal sympathy for and recognition of others who in so many ways are clearly not like themselves. The picture would quickly change if a group of neo-Nazis were to enter the scene, with their various signs of aggression, hatred, and violence. The effect on the other groups would be immediate, and any sense of harmony or laissez-faire would quickly dissipate. That night, thankfully, they were elsewhere.

    # vimeo.com/275786084 Uploaded 10 Plays 0 Comments
  2. Erfurt is a German city, home to about 200,000 people. It is the capital of the state of Thuringia. Unlike most other German cities during World War II, Erfurt sustained relatively little damage. It is an architectural jewel, with buildings from the middle ages (including a 14th century synagogue), the Renaissance, and subsequent centuries, including the famous Plattenbauten from the Communist period.

    Another video in the series Sidewalk Cafe dedicated to providing you with a glimpse of the people passing by as you sip your coffee. Get a sense of the people in a city you don't know, or haven't been to in a while. Are urban people becoming globalized, looking and behaving much the same regardless of what big city we are talking about? The answer is yes and no. Which is not particularly helpful. So see for yourself.
    Filmed in June 2018.

    # vimeo.com/274829021 Uploaded 20 Plays 0 Comments
  3. This cafe was not dug out from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 that preserved a whole city under a thick layer of volcanic ashes while killing most of the population. Of course it is a unique treat to walk the streets as they were over 2000 years ago and get a sense of the size and the urban structure of Pompei. And a morbid fascination with the replica of dead corpses at the moment of their death. As modern people, we are less impressed by entire cities being wiped out, think Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Or slowed bombed to shreds as in Syria. But there is usually not much left to see but ruins, and part of the population survives. To be sure, the buildings of ancient Pompei were not preserved in their original state, but as shells they can be viewed as making up a whole city. Still, there is something ghostly and removed about the place. It is not the absence of people: while Pompei had around 20,000 inhabitants when Vesuvius blew, millions of tourists nowadays wander through its streets every year. In that sense, it feels a bit like the Louvre in Paris - keen tourists from all over the world wielding cell phones, sticks, and cameras to document their personal visit of a sacred place. To be sure, it is a lot of work and exhausting, especially in the summer when numbers and temperatures rise. Which is where the Sidewalk Cafe Pompei comes in. The video gives you a sense of place, though a sense you get in most any tourist attraction around the world where we global tourists encounter each other. Here the locals serve as guides or serve you coffee and ice cream in the only restaurant in ancient Pompei. There the mood is upbeat, with refreshment and fortification available for successfully completing the visit. In this sense, the current video is an exception, kind of an oddity, in the series Sidewalk Cafe, which tries to document both similarities and differences among the peoples of the world. The global tourist, on the other hand, slight national variations not withstanding, is basically one type.

    # vimeo.com/269475607 Uploaded 60 Plays 0 Comments
  4. Sanitá is a neighborhood in Naples that was a burial place in Roman and Hellenistic times and has Paleo-Christian catacombs. Originally established as a residential area for the nobility, Sanitá eventually turned into one of the most infamous and degraded sections of Naples. The streets are narrow and bustling, noisy and full of interesting people. Check it out in this instalment of Sidewalk Cafe. It features a different slice of Neapolitan life than the Sunday afternoon promenading you can see in a previous Sidewalk Cafe in the same city. vimeo.com/267652741
    Another video in the series Sidewalk Cafe dedicated to providing you with a glimpse of the people passing by as you sip your coffee. Get a sense of the people in a city you don't know, or haven't been to in a while. Are urban people becoming globalized, looking and behaving much the same regardless of what big city we are talking about? The answer is yes and no. Which is not particularly helpful. So see for yourself.

    # vimeo.com/268619115 Uploaded 28 Plays 0 Comments
  5. May 1, 2018, a holiday in Italy as in most European countries. Labour day. Many Neapolitans have come out to stroll along the seaside by the Castel dell'Ovo, the Castle of the Egg, to which an old story about a real egg is attached. Well, you can look it up. We're more interested in the people passing by to get an idea of what the locals are like. An exercise in people watching.
    Another video in the series Sidewalk Cafe - dedicated to providing you with a glimpse of the people passing by as you sip your coffee. Get a sense of the people in a city you don't know, or haven't been to in a while. Are urban people becoming globalized, looking and behaving much the same regardless of what big city we are talking about? The answer is yes and no. Which is not particularly helpful. So see for yourself.

    # vimeo.com/267652741 Uploaded 39 Plays 0 Comments

Sidewalk Cafe

Nunca Silva Plus

Sidewalk Cafe is a series of videos giving viewers an opportunity to experience virtually what it's like in a particular city they are interested in but may not have a chance to see any time soon. "People watching" is a basic human need, part of our social…


+ More

Sidewalk Cafe is a series of videos giving viewers an opportunity to experience virtually what it's like in a particular city they are interested in but may not have a chance to see any time soon. "People watching" is a basic human need, part of our social nature. Of course in a "natural" (non-virtual) setting, as viewer you are also seen by those you're watching. It is therefore not the same as the real thing, but this is hardly exceptional in the multimedia age. One of the purposes of this series is to allow the viewer to observe people from other places. An underlying question is whether in the global age we are all becoming alike, at least in big global cities. It is clearly true to some extent, but just as clearly significant differences remain even at this superficial level of external appearance. Part of external appearance are people’s faces. If you pay close attention, you may see that there are facial expressions and body postures that you may not have seen in your own home city. The same may be true for the physical environment, means of transportation, etc. Ultimately, you are the judge if you decide to spend a bit of time in the Sidewalk Cafe.

Browse This Channel

Shout Box

Heads up: the shoutbox will be retiring soon. It’s tired of working, and can’t wait to relax. You can still send a message to the channel owner, though!

Channels are a simple, beautiful way to showcase and watch videos. Browse more Channels.