29 January 2011

Words vs. action

As much as I love words, they are no substitute for action. Maybe this is why I am not especially moved by poetry in the printed form, in most cases I even find it annoying. Words are cheap, and I learned early on that the people who would throw the word love around, were not the ones who showed you what it meant. My grandparents on both sides belonged to a generation that almost never used that word "love", I am not even sure they ever told me how much they loved me in those words, but I never doubted for a second that it was so.

For many years I feared that something was wrong with me for not getting mushy from reading poetry, and for not crying at weddings. Now I know better of course, and I see poetry everywhere, it just speaks to me in a different language that's all.

The hangover (today's was a small price I was happy to pay for yesterday's record breaking fun night out).

And the old ambulance from the other day, with a whole story to tell:

Look at that perfect clay like grey, all alone in the back alley kissing the wall.

Inviting you closer.

Mmm, the colors and the textures, dirty but at the same time creamy. 

...and the all important but so underrated second look.

Beautiful imperfections.

This weekend the Experimentarium is hosting a big soap bubble festival with bubble experts from all over the world. By sheer chance I came by a couple of them yesterday, as they were giving a free show in the streets of Copenhagen. Is there anything more poetic than fragile glassy bubbles the size of baby elephants floating into the sunset, bursting into fountains of soap mid air? I think not.

Sterling Johnson, The Bubblesmith from San Francisco working his magic.

Heart of soap, beautiful but short lived. To be enjoyed while it lasts.

28 January 2011

A stroke of genius

If the Copenhageners look grumpy these days, here is a fair explanation why: imagine spending all day, for weeks in a row wearing sandblasted goggles in a refrigerated basement. This typical Danish weather may be why we are so determined to seek out the sun wherever and whenever we can. At sunset there are a few popular spots that are always crowded. Like the corner of the lake by Queen Louises Bridge, right behind The Nile. On sunny days, even in the winter time, people will gather here and suck up the last rays, sitting side by side next to complete strangers on the rounding bench. 

In the summertime the last couple of years the sunset side of the bridge itself have also been a magnet, with people bringing music and drinks, sitting on the edge of the bridge or on the ground. When they began widening the bicycle lanes on the bridge, I noticed something fantastic: the sidewalks were widened too, and by some city planning stroke of genius they have placed three benches in the middle, right where the sun hits. I can tell you right now these benches are going to be popular. I got you these pictures on a particularly breathtaking day a while back, before the snow hit and this side of the bridge was about ready:

It was the strangest thing, as I sat down to take in the new spot, it was like seeing the beautiful lamps for the first time.

This city makes my heart swell at the most unexpected times, I tell you.

25 January 2011

Clean-up time

It may not be spring yet, but I feel the early signs anyway. Still no sun to speak of, but the days are getting just a little bit longer, the tulips have arrived and I have begun the spring cleaning. This exercise is not just about mopping the floors, but also about taking stock of life and getting rid of what does not work. Last night I had the first tasty meal in ages, and a good night's sleep. That is something I will never take for granted again, let me tell you.

On my safari the other day I realised that Copenhagen street art seems to be taking a rest, and I find it very symptomatic of the state of things here that creativity is halted like that. We do, however, have random shootings in the streets and turf wars blossoming again. The politicians want this nonsense to stop, we all do, so they dispatch more police. But I think we have a bigger problem at hand here.

Lost soul, the classic decapitated bottomless chicken-man by Basco5

There are large groups of people being squeezed by the unsolidaric political system in Denmark. It is cut out in a way so that if you are invited to the party/have a decent income and own your own home (only about 51% of the Danes are home owners), you have the rare luxury of a nice and affordable place to live, and you can pay for things like better alternatives in education and health care. But so many are not, and their needs are being ignored. If you rob people of a chance to be a part of community, it is no big mystery that we see a spike in crime and vandalism. The frustration is understandable, and I feel it too. 

F*ck your $ by Spyo

The financial crisis was caused by greed and those living in the fast lane,  but we are all left with the bill. And just today our Prime minister announced another cut that affects those who are weakest once again. In the spirit of spring cleaning, I think it is time we take it to the Parliament. My fingers are crossed that after the upcoming election things will turn around again.

  To the politicians of Copenhagen
when I go out in the city
I often see homeless people
I think it is terrible to see
people lying on the street
can you give them a home 
and a little money?

This piece have been around for what seems like forever. I really like that when you look close you can tell that the owners of this fence paint over all the tags, but allow this one to live. The hype notwithstanding, Nansensgade is still a good street at heart.

Spring... is that you?

23 January 2011

Murder by coolness

Hahaha, I can't wait to show you this one. Of all the pictures I took today, this is the crown jewel! I remember showing you a driving pillow before, you know the cross stitched traffic pillow that have come out of the shadows of shame, and are now collectible (it's right here). But this one takes it to the next level (seriously, I am still laughing). Look at that bad boy:

Murder by coolness

Keep your distance

Keep your distance!


But how can we possibly be expected to obey? It's murder by coolness.

22 January 2011

Copenhagen French

It stresses me out that I have been neglecting things here, but I had to take a couple of days out for my work (I'll have to tell you about it sometime). The sun was out today, the sky was blue and the colors jumped at you from all angles. After this long in the dungeon, it was almost like Nirvana. With the improved light conditions I immediately jumped on my bike to re-shoot the yummy piece of Bert from the other day... can you believe someone already stole it? It is such a disappointing mentality. This piece was placed so that everybody passing it (and almost half of Copenhagen do at this spot) would be a little happier just looking at it. But even if you don't care about everybody else, if you so admire the artist, how can you live with yourself if you steal his work? This is the number one reason I have never succumbed to kidnapping one of the Bert nipples I so love. Shame on that petty person, really.

I also found my crappy old seat cover missing this morning, it is amazing what some people will steal just because they can. I am considering tying some of my unwanted hall clutter to my bike just to see how fast it goes. I'll keep you posted on that of course.

Anyway, here is a glimpse of the fantastic light, the only people who take pictures of this are the tourists. My bike was parked nearby, and when I looked up I was reminded of the... shall we say misleading segment on Denmark, by the CBS show 60 minutes, claiming that all Danes live in a fairytale. All you need to sell this misrepresentation is throw in a picture like this:

Welcome to the land of milk and honey, haha. Aren't you happy that you know better?

And welcome to the real world:

F*ck bicycle helmets. This shot made it to a cool post on the Copenhagenize blog. We really need to wake up and respond to the growing number of crazy laws imposed on us here. Like the proposed mandatory helmet law. Or the ban on music for bicyclists.. seriously? It is hard to believe that so few of us speak up about this, and this protest right here is one of the reasons why I love street art. Misa and his ever present greeting comes with tailor made messages that I somehow almost always agree with. Here's another:

F*ck narrow-mindedness. (His French, not mine, so I don't have to beg for pardon do I?)

And while we are on signs, I bumped into this one the other day:

The official sign states that you are allowed to enter only if you have an errand here. And as dictated by the street this now includes love. I sort of like that. 

(I can't tell you how ready I am for spring!)

17 January 2011

Surviving January

After unloading my misery on you the other day, I feel like I at least owe you a short update on things. When I turned my friend in, the repair guy offered me a 99 percent chance that my hard disc was wiped clean. But one percent is still a shot, so I splurged on a double check and was rewarded with a back up of something resembling my hard disc. I shall not bore you with how all the pictures was magically multiplied by eight, because that would surely have me come off as a whiner, and first and foremost I am just happy that they were rescued.

This time last year we had snow, clear skies and direct sun and I got through it a lot easier than usual. But this time around we are put to the test, and a lot of us are failing miserably. Not seeing the blue sky or getting even a ray of direct sun for weeks in a row will do that to you. What you need is to consult your list of Things That Makes Me Happy, and go through it religiously. Here are some of mine:
Little handmade airplanes suspended from trees. (reads:) Higher ground. So good.

Coffee. I would never have been able to survive without coffee. And also I owe you this sign because it is part of the Irma strip. Only at the time the whole thing was stuck, the eggs were frozen and the coffee sign asleep (this was one of the rescued shots I fretted about loosing).

Coffee Ape

And more coffee. There is much to be grateful for here, on camera: happy guy (you gotta love a happy guy) with the coolest decorated little coffee Ape. And off camera: I was blocking the bicycle lane (narrow from snowfall), and not one bicyclist gave me hell about it. Every little thing counts.

Seasonal pleasures like freshly harvested stone free clementines with leaves. And squeezing the peels into the air (or on the skin) for the yummy citrus fragrance high.

Street art, the ultimate pick-me-up, this one is a Bert as you can probably tell. With a rare backdrop of blue sky, appearing just before sunset (you little tease!). It was almost too dark to shoot, but with Bert's you have to catch them while you can.

Getting lost in the details. There is no such thing as too much of a good thing.

Grab each other's hands, stenciled on a concrete planter. More than anything you need your friends.

16 January 2011

Made in Denmark

The next Copenhagen fashion week is in early February, and I am hearing rumors that some of the usual visitors are considering not going. There could be so many reasons for that, like economy or how there are nearly identical fashion fairs in pretty much every capital in Europe, with many repeat exhibitors. If you want the customers you need to stand out and offer something they cannot find anywhere else. It doesn't have to be flashy so long as it is inspiring, original and maybe comes with a story. 

I passed this window the other day, it is located in a side street to the pedestrian area next to a bar, and there is no shop behind it, it is just a display. Over time I have seen quite a few window displays there, but this one was different. I recognised the little guy from a flea market last year, where I fell in love with him (here he is, vintage mannequins are a not so secret love of mine, always crazy cool and individual). As I approached I read the sign and that was it: I was sold. Andersen & Andersen is a small company making and selling only this one sailors sweater, it is unisex, comes in four colors and ...it is made in Denmark. How cool is that? The window is a "link" to the web page, with an option to buy the sweater online and have it shipped worldwide.

This window also proves my point that advertising don't have to be loud, ugly and condescending to work. If we started to produce more locally, I bet we would have the numbers in fashion fair visitors climbing in no time. 

(sign reads:) The worlds best sailors sweater is knitted in Denmark. 100% pure new wool. Unisex. Can be worn both backwards and forwards. Pearl stitched. Strong and durable texture. Navy Blue, Hunting Green, Off White and Black. Online. Selected stores. Suggested retail 1200 crowns. www.andersen-andersen.com (+list of sales points, nicely picked).

I am on a permanent lookout for quality items made in Denmark, but they are getting increasingly harder to come by. In the "Cph links" section there is a small list that I am hoping to expand over time. The way I see it there is nothing sexier or more sustainable than in-sourcing. Go Andersen & Andersen!

12 January 2011

Rage against the machine

So, remember the worst case scenario scare from my trying trip to Paris last fall? The one who turned out to be a false alarm? Well, yesterday it came true only on my brand new six weeks old mac book. On the very same day I was finally going to get the time machine back up device, it dies taking everything with it. Including all the nice pictures I have been saving for you, and a couple of posts I was so looking forward to sharing.

Despite the fact that this came on top of yet another sleepless night, I was trying to take it like an adult, and after the discouraging telephone support from Apple, I went to take a shower before bringing my departed friend to the fixer. And hey: this would be the day they turned off the hot water in the building. At one point you start taking things personally, you know? Leave the house and right on the doorstep  a dog owner has seen fit to empty his dog. Like my favorite creatures really need that kind of bad publicity?!

And so it goes on and on. My nasty childhood stalker have discovered my blog, and in his delusion he seems to think we have fond memories, and that everything I write here is for him. Increasing his unwanted attention with creepy emails. Not taking a hint from my plus 20 years of screaming on the cell- or door phone, or the fact that up until yesterday when I was finally forced to threaten police action that not once have I responded to any letters. It would seem like my mother's poor parenting skills allowing her children to be exposed to sick and twisted individuals is just the gift that keeps on giving.

After surviving Christmas/jul and new years I foolishly expected things to turn around. I may not subscribe to any religion, but that does not mean I don't have faith. Only right now it is being tested. Bear with me just a little longer, I will be back with better news I promise.


09 January 2011

250 birdhouses

All these years I have been wondering what this was about... and now I finally know. It is not exactly breaking news, as my first birdhouse spotting was back in 2008, but as is the case of all truly brilliant ideas, it is still good. One of the birdhouse shots I dug out of my archives:

There were no clues to why or what it was about, it apperared to be a mystery. And some people got really destructive, vandalising them and tearing them down. What kind of person does that I wonder. A tiny one? Anyway, my sleepless nights are paying off because I finally stumbled upon the birdhouses. It is a one man project by Thomas Winther aka. Dambo, and to my delight it is not just about fun and games (although that would have been just fine with me too), there is a deeper meaning. He even made a small video about the project:

I wonder if the birds ever moved in? Watching the video it hurts to realise how I missed this big tree with the serious cluster of houses. But in my defence it was in my Amsterdam year, and you can only cover so much ground... no, doesn't work, it still bugs me. I was never lucky enough to encounter one of the magnet wood souvenirs with the link (aaahh, how brilliant is that?), so the images below are borrowed from the 250 birdhouses' site.

3 of the 1000 magnetic birds:

Hereby rewarded with a Classic Copenhagen Award for Outstanding Effort. 

(Better late than never, I hope you agree?)

Visit the 250 birdhouses on myspace (link).

07 January 2011

In memoriam

One thing that has the sure potential to make me cry is the kindness of strangers. How weird is that? It does not even have to be an act toward me, I can witness something and still get mushy. Like yesterday. The City of Copenhagen have not been keeping up with the snow clearing lately, especially not so in my neighbourhood (the lowest of priorities when it comes to everything, really), and I have deemed it not worth the risk making it to the bigger roads by bike. So I walk, making small detours in my own neighbourhood, and yesterday I passed this. I instantly recognised it as a shrine, and once I read the note I was a pile on the ground. Imagine making such an impression on your surroundings. I hope he somehow knows.


Dear Kalle

Our old sailor Kalle
The early riser and angel of us all
friend of the children and the dogs
passed away quietly this morning
on December 20th after a brief illness

We miss you our dearest Kalle!

Mourning wreath

05 January 2011

True love

Oh Lego, my first true love. I can't tell you how many hours I spend assembling Lego bricks, and the rush it was every single time when the pieces clicked together perfectly. Being one of the biggest export successes we have ever had, it seems strange that we had to wait this long for it, but now it is finally here: the flagship Lego store.

I found myself filling a bucket of Lego, completely ignoring the inner voice asking me why? Because they are pink, don't you see? And some of them have eyes, and there are antenna's... shut up. Okay so I am actually slightly embarrassed to admit I bought (myself) a box of Lego. But I did. So there.

True love never dies.

The Lego bicycles, of course. It is Copenhagen after all.

See that big dragon worming its way through the walls? I'm not so giddy about the box-sets lining the walls all the way down the long, but narrow space. But when you reach the end, you get to fill the buckets, like in a candy store. Only better.

(Seriously: I could easily go and fill another bucket right now, haha)

The Lego store:
Vimmelskaftet 37
Mon-Thurs 10-18 (10am-6pm)
Friday 10-19 (10am-7pm)
Saturday 10-16 (10am-4pm)

and first Sunday of the month 12-16 (12pm-4pm)