27 February 2011

Alive and kicking

For some reason the highest concentration of original and cool street signs in Copenhagen are found in Pisserenden (the pissing gutter). The district that in a fancy touristy term is also named "the latin quarter" is located in the centre of the city, but it has its very own down to earth flavor with lots of small bars and secondhand stores. Unlike the rest of central Copenhagen, there is a lot of people living here, including small families with children, and it keeps the area alive when the rest of the "inner city" closes down at 17.30 (sharp). Sometimes I will make a detour on my way through town just to keep an eye on the latest development. It's the signs that keeps me coming back:

A mix of two classics: the barber shop candy stripes on the cobblers boot. How crazy cool is this!?

The optician (well duh, the trademark of a good sign is that it needs no translation, haha).

Nostalgic overload: the vintage dairy cow Mathilde still hanging in. Last one standing?

My new home / mit nye hjem
Recent addition Mit Nye Hjem (my new home) the headquarters of Hvass & Hannibal and friends.

L'education Nationale
L'education Nationale, the classic French kitchen.

See what I mean about the signs? 

Floss girl
Floss, the bar staying true to its roots since the beginning. 

Nothing but respect!

Pisserenden is also the place of the real deal (sigh, the colors on that day..) and where they offer to pierce your tires for free (or ship them off to Poland) if you park your ride in the wrong place. Pisserenden is  your proof that a city is only alive when people live there. Otherwise it's just a theme park.

23 February 2011

Not In My Backyard

At a recent local community meeting someone suggested that the many fenced off backyards in the city be made public. Right now most of them are only accessible to those living in the adjoining buildings, and mostly used for drying laundry, bicycle parking, kids play and summer barbecues. Some backyards are the size of a football field, others are just a small patch of grass and a couple of benches, but they are all someones responsibility and most of them very well taken care of. And while the concept of opening up the private backyards to the public sounds like a fine idea, it works quite the opposite.

The moment someone forgets to lock the back door, burglaries and vandalism escalates, and in some areas junkies will sneak in and leave used needles behind. When something becomes everybody's property, nobody seems to take responsibility anymore. Just like in public, no one will come after you (other than me) if you litter in the streets, or vandalize a statue. It would be so much nicer if there were small community gardens placed around the city that people would care about and look after. But is it even doable anymore? Will it just be a trash station for café latte to-go-cups (everywhere) and soaked pizza boxes? I see people getting away with acting like pigs on the street every day, in ways that would earn them a good hosing in anyone's backyard.

And here is another reason why a locked backyard is not a bad idea. I can think of no other circumstances under which this beautiful piece would have survived the past 10 years in one of Copenhagen's most colorful neighborhoods.

Mural patchwork(hard to get, but totally worth the effort)

Green fairy
Pink angel
KARM A ONE 2001 mural detail

 What are the chances this masterpiece would have survived on the outside? Do I hear a "slim"?

(haha, I amuse myself, but then it's getting late..)

22 February 2011

The Holy Grail

Nothing kicks the blues like getting a whiff of the Holy Grail. My version of that would be the Brooklyn Street Art blog. I don't even know what possessed me to send them this one, except it sort of hits the spot with what is going on in the world right now. It surely hit mine, my happy fists was in the air after I shot it, and that is always a good sign (lots of happy fists in the air today, I can tell you, haha). It is not the first time street art has come to my rescue, just looking for it makes me feel alive, but the reward of spotting something good, however small, is the ultimate high:

The piece that made it to the Holy Grail: Coexisting in Copenhagen on BSA (click)

The ash-hole, sweetened by Copenhagen Street Animators.

A ladybug. Extra points for making good use of the location! (I won't tell you what I had to touch with the tip of my shoes to get a "clean" shot..) I have a feeling it could be by the same person responsible for this one (spotted last summer, were you around for that?)

The classic yellow Copenhagen bus.

It may be snowing again in Copenhagen, but all of the sudden my heart is no longer as blue.
Follow your ♥
Follow your ().

Street art, I owe you big!

20 February 2011

The big blue

When the sun is finally out and the sky is this blue and filled with hot air balloons, and you still feel like crap you know you are not in a good place (dammit). I am out of words at the moment, but not pictures.


Sunday sky

every day:

The beak

The pinch


17 February 2011

For better or for worse

Without a doubt this is the "for worse" part of the relationship with Copenhagen. But you can't have the "for better" if you are not around full time. Not really. We must endure it together, and my need for something larger than life, pink coats and what not.. that's just not a Copenhagen thing. And it is unfair to expect it too. We have different qualities here, like bicycling everywhere, and the art of not going nuts (especially these days) is understanding what they are and focusing on them. Or just get out of town, anywhere, for even the shortest period of time just to regain your perspective. Or get drunk on a weeknight and let your mind escape. Or do as my downstairs neighbor and invest in a sound system that must surely be the size of a car, and have the boys over for a shouting match. Every night of the week, yay!

After having this talk with myself about unrealistic expectations (and a nice drunken weeknight), I adjusted my outlook, and it was like the reward was instantaneous:

Someone's supermarket

Someones supermarket 

Someones supermarket

Today's special: food for thought.

The Copenhagen bench

A hijacked classic Copenhagen bench. I wonder if The Liberators are making a comeback?

Classic Copenhagen w. a twist

Now all I need to do is get out of town, just for a couple of days. Berlin?

Once the search is in progress

15 February 2011

Apologies to Prince Knud

On top of swan-gate, support demo's and toxic household items I don't have the heart to nag about the issue of public space, although I am all fired up. It really is time I treat you to something nice and easy. This weekend we had another big indoor flea market in Forum, and for some reason it was slightly better this time around, at least as far as the prices go. Anyway, I don't really go to buy stuff as much as to take pictures and daydream, let myself get seduced and sometimes not even understand the attraction myself. That's the fun part. 

Did I say the flea market was big? It's huge. I still remember the pre-ban smoking days, when you returned from this market feeling like you licked an ashtray.

Here's a good example of an attraction I can't explain...

..leaving this pileup behind was not easy.

A suitcase of 1950s prints of movie stars. Sophia Loren is still the most beautiful woman who ever walked the earth.

Prince Knud with the bike. The only thing I ever heard about this guy is the old saying "we will run it one more time for Prince Knud", and because of that I always assumed he was... eh, slow. But as it turns out, it was not so. Back in 1958 the Prince and Princess was watching a ballet from the Royal balcony, and when asked how they liked a certain part of the play, the couple responded that this had not been visible from the Royal vantage point. This caused the ensemble to play the scene all over again just for the two and a single newspaper reporter. The incident made the papers of course, and the annual cabaret picked up on it, and made it sound like the Prince was not the sharpest tool in the shed. (End of history lesson, are you still awake?) I feel a little embarrassed that I have been subscribing to this tale without even looking into the background... 

And then there was vinyl.. I miss everything about vinyl, and have decided to rekindle our relationship. Leaving these small pieces of art for the sake of CD's was plain wrong, how could I have been so mislead? But vinyl was having the last laugh this weekend, because while it is slowly making its way back, everybody was practically giving away their CD's for free. And suddenly the world makes just a little more sense again.

 This one I spotted in Lille at the monster fleas, dirty in every way, haha.

12 February 2011

Lights out

After nearly 30 years on duty, the Copenhagen street lamp is going into retirement. The replacement lamp is a semi-transparent update of the classic, equipped for the nightmarish new energy saving lightbulbs, and as the transition is happening gradually leaving the old and the new side by side, the difference is apparent. As of last year the incandescent lightbulbs have been discontinued in Denmark, and the only alternative is the energy saving bulbs. I am all for environmental considerations, but this light is just creepy.

My problems with the new bulb, other than the fact that I am forced to use it (once my stash of incandescent light bulbs runs out), are not just how toxic they are. So toxic in fact that the official guidelines is to keep your distance when it's lit, and leave the room for thirty minutes if one should break, avoid vacuuming, remove it wearing rubber gloves and dispose of it as toxic waste. My biggest problem with this little sucker is the light itself, flickering, cold and white. Just to give you a comparison the rendition of colors by daylight is 100%, by incandescent lightbulbs 99%, and by energy saving bulbs 80%. Who needs reds anyway, right? For an indoor population in a country with such sparse daylight, this is pretty devastating news. Not for the ones who can't tell the difference, or don't consider it a problem (how can you not, I wonder?), but certainly for me and people who enjoy the full use of all their senses. 

Københavnerlampen / the Copenhagen Lamp

I will miss you.

Next gen.

On the bright side, the retired Copenhagen Lamp is still working its magic, by ways of recycling. Butik Stranden (The Beach Shop) is the shop of a group home for young people with psychological and social problems, and the careful restoration of the lamps taking them apart, cleaning, painting and reassembling them is all part of a nonprofit job training program. If you want a little part of Copenhagen history it is offered to you in five different colors for 1850 dkr, or for 2000 dkr you can even order a custom color.

Københavnerlampen, The Copenhagen Lamp, designed by the City Architect in the 1970s and put into production by Philips. A big boy measuring 47 cm in diameter and 33 cm tall. (image borrowed from Butik Stranden)

Butik Stranden, the shop. In Danish only, but you still get the picture.
The group home Stranden. In Danish only.

The shop:
Butik Stranden
Århusgade 20
2100 Copenhagen Ø

Opening hours:
wednesday, thursday and friday 11-18 (11am-6pm)
saturday 11-16 (11am-4pm)

10 February 2011

Clingy little monsters

Here is a small update from the basement, grey and rainy as ever. Never have I longed more for color, light and a reason to get out of bed. For a feeling that it even makes a difference if I do. I long for life in a city where the stores are open after 5:30 pm, where spontaneous plans occur and where the pink leather coat is not condemned to the back of my closet. What happened to the coat queen (that would be me)? I want her back! Along with a little drama, please, and perhaps some giant street art installations? 

Were it not for the fact that I see everything through a magnifying glass (something that may apply to my misery as well?), I would have gone nuts long time ago. My city is doing its best to cheer me up with little pieces of driftwood in the big, grey ocean:

Copenhagen school mural

Pollution themed school mural

Pollution school mural with three eyed smoking polar bear, caught on a sunny day, ah.

By the way, did you notice how I have gone XL on the pictures? If you get this by feed, I hope I am not crapping up your mailbox with all the corrections I had to go back and make (apologies if you are and I did, truly). I just need the extravagance. Don't you?


Knit bombing

Blød Lykke (soft happiness) is back! Right next to what we call a "brown bar". Possibly named so after the nicotine stained interior, it is the opposite of a designer/lifestyle/hip-spot, complete with the original clientele and affordable beers, and as such by definition hip again. Hip will always find a way, such is the nature of the clingy little monster.


Okay, actually Copenhagen, when you put it like that you make me look downright ungrateful. Trying to look pretty for the house guests, are we?

07 February 2011

Death on the lakes

In the past week about 20 swans have died mysteriously on the lakes, not counting the three I spotted today. Out of only 50 that is an unusually high percentage, and the numbers are climbing. This has put me in a Sherlock mode: I want to know what is being done. The information has been contradicting at times, and scattered ranging from "maybe they are just taking a nap," to "it is only natural that the weak succumb". 

Taking a nap..

My concern for the water birds started already last winter, when I got in touch with the animal control lady to hear what I could do to help. And it turned out that there is a useful set of guidelines, but allow me to introduce you to the City's politics: the decision is made on the highest level that these guidelines not be made available to the general public. On the grounds that advising on feeding would only encourage more feeding, and the best thing for the birds would be to leave the lakes altogether during winter. But there are also no signs discouraging feeding. No information available whatsoever, and I find that so incredibly idiotic! Since when was knowledge a bad thing? And why are we being treated like children? The animal control lady, employed by the City, was not willing to admit that this may not have been the ideal approach. She did, however, share some of the hush-hush information.

The hush-hush information:
White bread is for birds what popcorn is to humans: empty fillings that pass through the digestive system very fast. The best diet is whole grains, preferably served on the rocks (as on the icy part of the lake), and not directly in the water, as this could lead to bacteria in the water and suck out the oxygen. The bad thing about feeding the swans during the winter is the fear that it will attract the weaker birds not strong enough to make it on their own, and that they would transmit diseases to the healthy ones. Classic in-the-wild swan behavior allows for switching to the slow burner, lying completely still and not spending energy chasing food, but simply tapping from the reserves for at period of up to two months. (End of hush-hush information)

The reality:
Switching to the slow burner is not an option for the city swans. People walk on the ice, we continue our feeding and on occasions like New Years Evening we have insane fireworks and other stressful activities. There is no place to rest and save the batteries. Feeding must be kept up or cut off entirely.

The lake in the end near the Osterbro side is separated from the others. And because the nearby hospital filters out water here it is warmer than the other lakes, and that has not gone unnoticed with the water birds. The water holes are bigger, and since they have been fed all year, staying put is not necessarily a symptom of weakness. The birds have simply gathered in the warmest and friendliest water in Copenhagen. What kind of survivor leaves that behind?

Attack mode, the itchy beak

The swans last year at this time.

Off the record, a.k.a. the truth:
I have talked to several experts by now, and none of them wants to go on record with their opinions, as quite a few of them contradict that of the City's. Not having signs with guidelines is not surprisingly one of them. In the lakes outside the city where the swans do switch to the slow burner, people throw rocks and sticks at them, and send out dogs (I know, people are idiots sometimes, the more reason to educate them), to check if the swans are still alive. A simple sign advising them not to would fix that. We have been told repeatedly that feeding the swans is not a great idea, so more (including me) have stopped. And now the swans are starving, and several of them are underweight. I can't tell you how fast I ran to feed them once I learned about this. 

The survivors


White bread, formerly accused of being popcorn, is far better than nothing because it will get them through the winter, and later they can seek out the minerals and other things they need to balance the diet. We should feed them white bread and rye bread (this coming from an expert and non-city payee, mind you).

Death on the lakes:
Several ministries are involved by now. One have autopsied a number of the dead swans to successfully rule out the bird flu. Another department is currently looking into other causes. I wanted to know if well-meaning civilians could have fed the birds something to cause this, but short of poison there is nothing we can feed them that will kill off so many birds at once. So far the mystery remains, and just today I spotted another three dead swans. At this pace there may not be any feeding signs necessary by next winter. That, my dear Watson is elementary.


05 February 2011

Moving on

I can't believe that we have come to this point, but here we are... at the end of a three day fashion week that might as well have been a lecture on the latest development in farming equipment. It is like the lips are moving, but they are not talking to me, and neither of us care to make the effort to understand one another.

It is not that I don't still appreciate a good cut, mad colors, proportions and above all the accessories. Maybe it just have to do with the fact that I am not a stick woman with a million dollar clothing budget, I am not a lady who lunch and I don't care to dress like one either. I do, however, get a rush from hunting for clothes, preferably vintage and at a price that will still allow me to eat well and travel as often as possible. There is something magical about bringing home a newly discovered piece that will fit into the "family" and stay until it falls apart. The long-term relationship. I am not above buying something regrettable just because I need the fix, but the really good pieces, somehow always a case of love at first sight, come at their own pace.

Fortunately for the good people of the Copenhagen Fashion Week there is no shortage of people who would give their right arm to report on the latest thing. Not dragging myself through it like I am having my teeth pulled is the kindest thing I can do for everybody involved, trust me. Anyway, for some reason I really feel how short life is at the moment, and I only want to fill mine with what touches my heart. And my eyes:

The tease

Tell me if you have ever seen a sexier saddle?

Extinction express

-or a finer use of medium and negative space? 

Love the city at night

Love the city at night. (I do)

That's a kindergarten in the background with all the stuffed animals in the window, in case you were wondering. This may sound strange, but I find this bench really inviting. Except for the fact that I took this shot with my back turned to four dead swans on the lake, but that heartbreak is for another post. 

God hearts you

God loves you. Bench therapy for the religiophobic (hi).

Bench poem

(reads:) He makes patterns on the ground with the tip of his shoe. No space disappears with growth and development: the global will not replace the local.