29 July 2010

Give me a break

In the absence of the vacation I so badly need, I turn to my camera and my city for a make believe break. And yesterday it came in the shape of cut out animals hanging out in the streets. First I spotted the monkey, and I was particularly happy with the tail action, improvising the way a live monkey would. And as I got ready to part with him, I spotted the next, and the next, I tell you it was like a safari. The kind where you have to look for a while before the animals reveal themselves to you. When I moved real close, I realised they were all meticulously handpainted with colored pencils on smaller pieces of paper, cut out and pasted together to create the long images. Can you imagine the time and the effort that goes into that?  This I would surely have missed had I been lounging on some tropical beach with Mr. Taking His Sweet Time To Get Here...

If you are tempted to subscribe to the Classic Copenhagen feed by email, here is the place.

27 July 2010

Get out of town, part two

I have been struggling to come up with something that describes the second part of my day trip out of Copenhagen. It was the annual Gilleleje Harbour Festival, a 5 day family oriented thing complete with an amusement park, tents and an outdoor stage for the sing-along festivities. As I was sorting through the pictures from that night to post, it dawned on me exactly how I felt: alone. From looking at the pictures it even seems that way, there is no telling that the place was packed with families and strollers and fries and beer. It is not my first time of feeling like a zebra, with no sense of belonging, and it is never a good thing. And it has nothing to do with feeling superior, a man like our Prime Minister blended right in. Were it not for the tall and handsome men in the dark suits guarding him, I would not even have noticed the chubby little man in the green sweater. I can't explain it any better, but I do know that as I returned to Copenhagen that night I was breathing easier.

Free the beach jackpot (I should have asked...)

Speedy's sausage bar. The number one lookout post for the giant seagulls. 

Do not feed the seagulls. They are quite capable of taking care of that themselves, thank you very much.

Logo of the chopped liver Stryhns.

Detail from the Easyriders Bike Show carnival ride (believe it or not).

The grill, a.k.a. the smiling sausage.

House of horrors...

25 July 2010

Get out of town, part one

I am a big city girl to the bone, but I still don't get out of town often enough. When I do leave Copenhagen behind it is rarely to explore my own country, but yesterday I had a long overdue taste of the countryside. A lot of Danes keep a summer house. Some are lucky to have one in the family, some can afford their own, but a lot can not (or they just don't care to). The other way of getting your hit of nature is the small patches of land called allotment gardens. Less expensive, smaller and closer to the city than the summer houses, where you are allowed to build a small house. But until yesterday I had not heard about the trailer park option. The long term camping solution, that basically is like having a summer house on wheels, only it is not going anywhere. It is a small community, very organised and very cosy, and when you cross paths with a stranger you are greeted with a smile and a hello, something unheard of in the city. We should really take that up, it feels so good. And it brought back memories of my childhood summers, spend at my grandparents house in the north of Denmark, where they speak with a funny accent and eat dinner for lunch. Oh, how I miss those times.

A place where strange stones are falling from the sky:

Even if it was only a short day trip, it still demands two separate posts. Stay tuned for the Gilleleje harbour festival. I was so out of my galaxy that I might as well have brought my passport...

22 July 2010

The soft core

There is something going on in the streets that I for lack of a better expression can only describe as soft core street art. It stands out from the rest in a couple of ways. Most importantly it is non invasive, it is not about destroying what is underneath, and another thing that really appeals to me is that it is not about self promotion or marking a territory. In many ways it is the exact opposite of advertising. These anonymous contributions shows up in the most unexpected places, and I imagine this is what an American easter egg hunt must feel like.

The yarn bombing/knit graffiti movement is one variety of soft core street art. First I spotted a woman on a knitted bike (well almost), and once my focus was on the yarn it seemed to pop up everywhere. Shortly after that I spotted a political knitted piece by the Parliament, and as I began to research, I discovered this amazing art project that I completely missed back in 2006, when Danish artist Marianne Jørgensen as a comment on the war in Iraq covered a tank in pink crocheted squares. In my defence it was before I started blogging about Copenhagen, but still, how did I miss a pink tank in the streets?

But soft does not have to mean knitted, this one of the bottlenecked guys came to me on a particularly crappy day, making it instantly better. It really was the next best thing to a hug.

"Shh, der spares" Hush, somebody's cutting costs by Knitit
Parked in public back in 2006. Photo borrowed from the site of Marianne Jørgensen

19 July 2010

Post it

The Danish Post is constantly complaining, the main beef being that we send less letters. I would be willing to bet that we would send more if the rates were not obscene, like the highest in the world. At least twice a year they turn the knob, raising the prices on every single service. The latest rate for sending a letter is going to be 8 dkr. That is $1.30, or €1.07. They even tried to get away with shaving a day of the week, as in keeping mondays delivery free, but that suggestion was fortunately laid to rest by the government. 

And the latest turn of the knob made it to the news today: the fee for paying a bill at the post office has gone up to 25 dkr ($4.30 or €3.30), a raise of 67% over the last 16 months. Just imagine what a handful of those will cost you, if you are in the group of people not connected to a computer? Like the elderly and those with low income. I wish I could write something more affectionate about The Post, because deep down I still think of them in a romantic way. I love the classic red mailboxes and the instantly recognisable mustard yellow bikes and cars. But we are approaching enough here. Really, Post Danmark?!

A classic Copenhagen sight, staying in this shape since 1870 when it was designed by the founding father of the Social Democrats Louis Pio.

Somebody has a sense of humor, painting his vintage Porsche the trademark Post DK mustard yellow.

Not a Post Danmark vehicle. Although it would explain a lot.

18 July 2010

Cutwork riddle

I sympathise with the people in this house, who have to go through this hot and beautiful summer wrapped in plastic! As I sympathise with anyone subjected to the insane noise only scaffolding workers can produce. I swear they must take a special class in how to wake up the most people at the earliest hour possible... The cutwork on this plastic wrap has me in knots, I just can't make it out. Lie, love, something?

15 July 2010

Calculate that

In the age of the number crunchers quality overall has suffered. Corners are cut, most of them on another continent entirely, and profit is the highest priority. I see this not as a sign of healthy and forward thinking, but more of a way of wetting your pants: nice and warm as long as you can sell the product in the name of the quality that used to be. But this move, should it prove unprofitable in the long term, is not as easily reversed. Once discounted there is no instant restoring of the value that in some cases took generations to build.

Lately I have learned that customers are starting to inquire about the story behind what they are buying. In the world of fashion accessories, to stay in my own backyard, if something is hand made by a small designer, then people are willing to pay a little more. And judging from the speed with which quality bakeries are popping up everywhere right now, this is not an isolated case. We may be in the middle of a financial crisis, but it would seem that what we want to invest in is quality. I can not wait to see the number crunchers try and calculate their way out of that.

Speaking of quality, say hello to the undisputed King of cake: La Glace. Still serving the legendary hot chocolate (using the word "cocoa" will earn you a spanking, this chocolate is made from the real deal) with whipped cream and a slice of heavenly cake.

Cakes, art and love removes all difficulties.

12 July 2010

Welcome New York Times readers*

... sure is cool here ikke/don't you think? Much like myself, the City has a way of starting a project, and then just letting it sit. I guess it was only a matter of time before a street artist addressed it. Bert uses construction sites for a canvas, and his graphic and humorous style really takes the mess to another level. The first time I got wind of him was when he planted giant nipples on the Kings New Square. And now I find myself looking for his work every time I pass a construction site. Fighting the urge to bring a screwdriver, and take it with me home...

Suzanne Bjerrehuus: Danish TV personality famous for being famous. 

*Copenhagen is currently 5th on the New York Times list of 31 places to go in 2010.

11 July 2010

Greetings from a boiled brain

We are in the middle of a heat wave here, and it is seriously affecting my ability to think straight. It is too hot for words, and I wonder if it is also too hot for reading blogs? Is there anyone still out there? On my way to the beach yesterday, I stopped by the flea market. It was not a pleasant experience in this punishing heat, but like any religion it must be attended to come rain or come shine. I got an old bleached photo album with family photographs dating back to 1912, that turns out to be from a former Danish minister of defence. I was too overheated to learn which, but his entire journey was there in pictures, private and official. It made me think about how he probably at the time must have felt like a part of history, that his legacy would live on. And now his childhood photographs is for sale a stone throw from his former kingdom. Life is cruel. But also good.

Birger, Carsten and Arne, Tisvilde 1914
(double click for an extra large view)