Made a lightning trip to Vienna,
Eating choc’late cake in a bag.
– The Ballad of John and Yoko
I love this song. I love the bounce of the song, the simplicity of the instrumentation, the fact that the only Beatles playing all the instruments on the recording are John and Paul. The only place I had not been to in the song was Vienna. I imagined eating a lush Sacher Torte, the sticky jam and rich frosting getting on my fingers as I break off each piece out of a pristine white wax paper bag with the Emperor’s sigil emblazoned upon it, walking the streets of Vienna, maybe headed to the opera.
Unfortunately, eating chocolate cake out of a bag is not a cultural norm in Vienna. Most bakeries do not even carry chocolate cake (although they have many other delicious treats). Sacher Tortes seem to be mostly sold in fancy gift boxes for tourists except at the swankiest of of restaurants where I was quoted 12€ and would have needed to stand in line for a half hour. As it turns out, John is referencing “Bagism”, a concept he and Yoko presented to the world (in Vienna) as an ultimate form of communication, that by placing ourselves in a bag, we expect others to focus on our message instead of our race, religion, physical abilities or other outward indicators.
Needless to say, this was somewhat disappointing to me. I expected multiple vendors in public markets to have “Choc’late Cake In A Bag” stands. I expected to be covered in a slight hint of chocolate and apricot jam scent all week long. Instead I surprisingly got snow, sleet, and hail. The Viennese were also surprised as they had springtime weather before I arrived. I was labeled a harbinger of doom and had to settle for baked goods with other fillings.