30 March 2011

Cover your ears...

It is official: Copenhagen is coming out of its coma. I know it sounds crazy, but I had almost forgotten how sweet this season is. Is it that I see more, or that there is more to be seen? On the bicycle highway, also known as Nørrebrogade, this sign has been left hanging warning us about falling ice. Like we need a reminder that we just spend six months in the dungeon? Finally, someone put a twist on it:

Watch out for falling ice

Watch out for falling ice (spring edition).

And in the construction bonanza right across from the Parliament, this one caught my eye. I never noticed how the Danish word for control spelled backwards is "enough crap". Priceless.

Kon trol (lort nok)

Cargo mover

..and nobody even raises an eyebrow. What? The guy is moving a couch on his bike? Big deal.

But absolutely nothing beats this:

(cover your ears, my heart is about to explode)

28 March 2011

Letting go

About ten years ago I talked to a man who made a decision to relieve himself of all his belongings, keeping only the essentials, like a bed and the clothes on his back. He didn't attempt to sell his possessions or even give them away, he just put it all in a container in the street, and let the passers-by help themselves to it. He never looked back, and as far as I know only felt a huge sense of relief.

I was fascinated by his resolve, but at the same time convinced that this would never happen to me. Only now it is beginning to. I don't know if what I have started will eventually go that far, or if I will reach a point where it will be (less-) enough. But I never imagined feeling so detached from all this stuff that I for a lifetime have been seeking out and dragging home with me from all over the world. So far, I have stuffed and thrown out several garbage bags. Other bags have been donated to the local kids flea market. Next month another truckload (literally, ugh) will arrive from storage, and I will have to do it all over again. But eventually I plan to be free of it all. And even though I could use the money, I feel that I am getting paid in freedom just by getting it out of my life.

I would not describe myself as a minimalist (although I may be turning into one?), and I definitely love luxury. But more than anything I love the freedom of a simple life. Ultimately I just want to be happy, and clutter is not the recipe for that. A couple of years back I launched the small sticker project "do you speak Sandra"? This was the first:

Wanting more is getting old. It would seem I have been heading in this direction all along, it only took me another two years to realize. Life is way too short for this kind of reaction time!

Summer time

Oh, and summertime has arrived, so far only the clocks are affected.

27 March 2011

You've got mail

Someone has been busy last night attaching small colorful letters to trees, bushes and benches by the lakes. It is hard to tell the full extent of this happy project as you are encouraged to take the letters with you.

You've got mail

A gentleman never stays seated on a full bus without offering a lady a seat on his lap.

There are girls..

There are girls who find mini skirts indecent. Others have beautiful legs. (hahaha, my favorite)

Look at the sad state of that bench. The city clearly underestimates how much Copenhageners and Sunday visitors use this slice of nature. Especially on weekends people bring their to go cups of coffee, and the scarce and tiny garbage cans just can't keep up with the good intentions.

Pity, because it's such an easy fix, and it would keep a lot of junk from blowing into the lakes.

24 March 2011

Early signs

Although it is still creepy cold and today so windy that it might as well be fall, you feel that spring has arrived. Let me walk you through the early signs:

----- Itching to flash some skin again -----

Coffee on the rocks

----- Switching from hot coffee to iced (hello ritual) -----

----- The first soft ice -----

Vintergækker / spring announcers

----- Snow drops -----
----- Nail polish (Uslu by local designer Henrik Vibskov) -----

And then of course the need (if not the urge) to clean the house, take stock of the inventory and throw out all the unwanted stuff, which this time around seems to be... well, everything. Trying on the mysteriously shrinking wardrobe also known as last year's summer clothes, and perhaps shopping for a fresh supply of things ensuring that a year from now the cycle can be repeated. Ah, life.

What are your spring rituals?

22 March 2011

Out of sight

Most if not all cars made today look the same to me. Is it too much to ask that you be able to tell them apart? Perhaps they could come in more than three colors? It never made sense to me how they would discontinue the classics, or re-design them beyond recognition, when the originals still rule the world. Or mine at least. Anyway, I spotted this crazy cool underwater parking basement on Vesterbro the other day. The perfect place to get all these gassy monstrosities out of your sight (oh, now I am going to upset a whole new batch of readers, if I keep this up I will end up talking to myself, haha).

Concrete diver

Underwater parking in Copenhagen


Pier fishing

So many details, I can't stop...

Drowned bicycle

Octopus vs. diver

One more and that's it:


21 March 2011

The Weather Girls

These girls make me swallow my words about Town Hall Square. I can't think of a cooler or more appropriate way to tell the weather than this. The only reason I completely missed them up until today is because I always chase through that spot like I am on fire. From now on I am going to slow down and rest my eyes on The Weather Girls. The rotating girls were made in 1936 by sculptor Einar Utzon-Frank, and the concept is so simple: in sunny weather the golden girl on the bicycle is out, and in rainy and cloudy weather the golden girl with the umbrella is walking her dog. In mixed weather you get a peek of both. How fantastic is that? Well played Town Hall Square.

The Weather Girls

The Copenhagen Weather Girls

If you look at the picture with the big construction site and the men in orange in this post (the one with all the Bert's), you can spot the girls in the corner building across from the other construction site "Industriens Hus". I had them in my sight, I went to school just around the corner and still it was not until today that I finally saw them. I can't get over that.

18 March 2011

Heads and tales

Here's an observation fresh from the bicycle lanes of Copenhagen. It has to do with the old question of the hen and the egg: which came first? Is it that people who wear Styrofoam padded plastic hats are transformed into rotten bicyclists, either by riding recklessly and showing blatant disregard for fellow bicyclists, or by turning insecure and wobbly? Or is it that these hats just attract that kind of bicyclists?

You want numbers to back that up? Nine out of ten times the bell is used on the Copenhagen bicycle lanes, it is by someone wearing a helmet. And nine out of ten times for no good reason. Eight out of ten bicyclists I have seen crossing red lights are wearing helmets. Half of those cross several in a row. Entitlement is the word, really. And here is where it gets weird: they even wear their hats in the supermarkets. It is almost like this little piece of overpriced plastic empowers them. The entitlement you sense from them on the lanes transforms seamlessly to the great indoors. "Out of my way, I need milk"! I am not kidding you. They will aggressively bump their cart into you, perhaps for no other reason than you are being such a suicidal ignorant not wearing a plastic hat when shopping for lethal and skull fracturing groceries.

Half of the time I feel sad for them. The other half I just want to smack them on the damn plastic hat and tell them to snap out of it. I have been riding a bicycle since I was about four years old, going from three wheels to two. Naturally over the years I have fallen off my bike a couple of times, and I have seen people fall off their bikes too. What happens? You put your foot down, you bruise a knee or a hand. But I have never in all my time on a bike fallen on my head, nor have I seen anyone do so. Any collision that may occur is unlikely to involve the head at all (I am not saying it is impossible to be torpedoed by a car, but are we really at the point where we should dress for that?). So how did the manufacturers succeed in scaring everybody into these ridiculous hats?

Scientific studies suggest the helmets don't work, unless you count the overwhelming effect they have in discouraging people from riding bikes in the first place. With the fresh label of being dangerous, and all. Studies even show that you may be worse off by wearing a helmet. On the off chance you do have an accident involving your helmeted head, it is more likely to get caught and twisted. Not to mention that drivers buying into the false sense of security are reported to take less precautions around helmet-heads. 

And the strangest thing about the helmets is that they just seemed to appear overnight. Ten years ago, before the Copenhagen infrastructure was nowhere near as bicycle friendly as it is today, no one wore helmets. But along the way the nation have been bullied into believing that the most natural thing in the world that we have been doing for hundreds of years, is suddenly dangerous. Why was this such an easy sell? I still don't buy it.

It's that simple.

If you want to educate yourself on the subject of bicycle helmets, try:
 Cyclehelmets.org for the English version
 Cykelhjelm.org for the Danish version

15 March 2011

Man down

As of yesterday we are back to living in a visitation zone. A couple of days ago someone fired shots outside the city, and when that happens you know there will be retaliations. Apparently it is not important who goes down, so long as it is on the other gang's turf, and this time a 19 year old high school student paid with his life in Blågårdsgade. Right where I buy my vegetables every day. It just makes me so mad. I refuse to be bullied out of my own neighborhood by gangs, events or heavy police presence. I think it is important to maintain an everyday life here, and not let evil win. So I stopped by the spot to take pictures of all the sweet notes and flowers left behind. 

There were about fifteen mourners gathered around the spot when the police pulled up in a big van, five uniformed officers moving alongside approaching the crowd. I tried to figure out what they hoped to gain by this because tension only escalated. One yelled: "you should know that this is only considered a provocation on your part". Another went on with a harder rhetoric: "we are not afraid to die". "You will be sorry for this". Followed by the sound of a couple of heavy stones hitting the police van (uncool!). From bad to ugly in less than five minutes.

I hold the gangs (both sides) responsible for this crap! And I wish they had not succeeded in marking this street as their turf. Poor Blågårdsgade and poor Nørrebro. And my deepest condolences go out to the father who just lost his only son and relative.

You hear about these shootings in the news from time to time, but it was not until I saw all the notes and flowers that the extent of the tragedy fully dawned on me.

So much love from friends and neighbors.

(the break-it-up-guys approach. Not quite fitting for a memorial sight..)

14 March 2011

Eyes only

If it wasn't for the unexpected turn of events, the biannual outdoor flea market yesterday in Ravnsborggade would have been somewhat of a disappointment. First off I had no idea that Kim Antons the cool antique store on the corner had a 400 square meter basement. Twenty years ago this street was all antique shops, and people came here from all over the world to scoop up the crown jewels. In the end it wasn't even affordable to the locals, so when they slowly started going out of business it didn't feel like the greatest loss. Later came the fashion stores, and then the bars and the brewery. Funny thing is that with a few exceptions these places are not so crowded with locals either. The brewery even take their customers in big tourist buses (oh, they run like scared mice from the bus to make it to safety because this is Nørrebro you know, with the guns). Now I wish we could go back to the crazy antique dealing days. Never a dull moment.

Anyway, back to the basement: stepping into it was like entering a play in a theatre, roaming fire in the open fireplace, candle lights and more antique toys, stuffed animals, furniture, signs and paintings than you can imagine. One of the guys there saw my excitement and told me that I hadn't seen nothing yet. "There is a secret warehouse not far from here full of old uniforms, mannequins and props we rent out for movie productions". "Would you like to see it"? Hm.. let me think. My camera tried to keep up, but the time was short and the light was tricky so this is not my best work, but I hope you get the picture anyway. I still can't quite believe that there are places like that around in Copenhagen (three levels, balconies and crazy windows). I could totally live there.


Tub action

The great outdoors. See that vintage telephone booth in the corner?

I am going to try and adopt this girl, arms or no arms she clearly wants to live in my house.


12 March 2011

Sexy back

Every once in a while I let my bike take me where it wants to. Really all I do is pedal, and I can't explain how I ended up in this place. But when I spotted the rotting couch I knew I was in heaven. I have this thing for abandoned couches. And beautiful decay (ah, and beautiful garbage!). And details. I have a thing for yellow too, used in the right context it's damn near porn. Meet the sexiest back yard in Copenhagen:

Copenhagen lamp

Kama seatra

Beautiful garbage

Mirror image

Yellow arrow

Wavy roof

Plywood patchwork


Rotting white leather couch

Was it good for you too?

10 March 2011

Heart of the hood

In Denmark you are not allowed to carry a weapon, or anything that can be used as one (and that even includes box cutters). But with the borders opening up guns are flooding the streets, and Nørrebro feel this more than any other borough in Copenhagen. During spikes in shootings and violence, police are granted "visitation zones", allowing them to stop any citizen and pad him down.

The police are not mind readers, and the assignment is ungrateful by nature. We all want the guns off the street, but you also get the frustration of the innocent suffering the humiliation of being singled out and padded down just because they look "wrong". But I still prefer this to the craziness of easily manipulated gun-toting losers, spreading terror in my neighborhood. The trials of our borough are reflected on the walls, tunnels, roofs and streets, where everyone from artists to schoolchildren express their concern.

Nørrebro's hjerte / The Heart of Nørrebro

Heart of guns detail

The Heart Of Nørrebro, sculpture by artist Bjørn Nørgaard made from firearms collected during a "turn in your gun" program (I don't even know the correct word for that.. everything gun related is still so Hollywood to me). The heart is raised high on a pedestal, inscribed in ten different languages stating "we want to live together".

F*ck cops

Frustration by Spyo

Watch yourself

It ain't rocket science

End all wars immediately!!!

And a window decorated by the children's drawing class of Rådmandsgades school:

Stop war.

(the other war)

I am touched by how much they care, but at the same time it is sad that children should even have to worry about this, don't you think? And it just now strikes me how most Danish street artists and even the children communicate in English. It's almost like they know that you are watching...