31 August 2014

Baffled and proud

The seasonal transition is taking its toll. For a week straight it has been raining (last night we even had flooding), and days are getting measurably shorter. I am running around like a headless chicken, trying to catch a little bit of everything.

Wednesday I attended an embarrassingly small demonstration against fracking. The Government have allowed French frackers Total to drill for fossil fuels in Denmark. Fracking is banned in France, so they need to look elsewhere for uninformed or careless countries. Fracking is extracting shale gas from the ground, fracturing rock with water, chemicals and sand. An invasive and experimental procedure, tampering with our groundwater. It baffles me that people are not in the streets by the thousands to protest this.

A green transition without fracking

Oddly people seemed uncomfortable being photographed at this demo, I don’t see why. They should be so proud to stand up for the environment. Below the logo from the movement Skifergas nej tak, (Fracking no thanks). A throwback to the cherished Nuclear power, no thanks.

Fracking, no thanks

For now they are left with the problem in Frederikshavn in Jutland, but soon they plan to start test drilling uncomfortably close to Copenhagen. Not so green, huh?

(Moving on to a lighter subject)

For the past few days the city have been celebrating Copenhagen Pride, in support of gays and transgenders. This includes rainbow flags on buses and on the Stock Exchange, Børsen:


Copenhagen is proud, and I am proud of Copenhagen.

Gay pride in Copenhagen

Equal rights for everyone, please. I used to think this flag was purely ornamental, but it turns out there are still people out there who don't believe in these rights. Hello? Welcome to 2014.

Flying pig  

28 August 2014

Notes from Paris

As part of my new Paris ritual, I check up on the vertical garden by BHV. It seems only yesterday it was all seeds and aspirations (second checkup here, third here) and look at it now:

A beautiful vertical wilderness!

I want to climb up there and kiss it, stroke the leaves gently. Nothing strange about that, right?

We still need this in Copenhagen.

On the Seine, the bridge Pont des Arts is under attack. First time I crossed it years ago, a few locks were scattered along the railing as a demonstration of love. Over time this love has become destructive, the railings so burdened with "romantic" trash that parts of it falls into the Seine.

The city is pleading with tourists to stop, fencing off the crippled railing. And still they keep at it. I even witnessed someone mounting a lock, proudly documenting it. Utter morons!

I want to fix this problem so bad.

Later I spotted these in a side street to the Seine.

Perhaps a couple realised that their love was strong enough to survive, without destroying part of Paris. 

On the sunny side, for one month of the year, the Seine highway is closed for cars and transformed into a beach. A madly popular initiative.

It should be returned to the people permanently. Imagine making this an ice skating rink in the winter? Imagine markets lining the Seine? Fleas, flowers, food. Such a beautiful space.

By a busy square, the city of Paris set up a free and manned tap water bar, offering a choice of still or sparkling. The "Ouvrez un grand cru" campaign is running on its second year, educating citizens on the qualities of the water. A public service initiative as opposed to a short-lived PR stunt, designed for the media. PR stunts are so insincere, they creep me out.

So cool. Although not as tasty as Eau de Copenhague.

Select streets are still closed for cars on Sundays, between the hours of 10-19.30. Enforced, mind you: police officers guarding all entrances. Taking the safety of pedestrians and cyclists seriously.

With the bike parking problems we face in Copenhagen (insufficient/non existing parking), it was interesting to see the difference in Paris. There were plenty of parked bikes, but none blocking the sidewalks.

Well: duh! Copenhagen really need to get its priorities straight when it comes to parking space. It's a no-brainer, really: cars have to give. It just takes balls to implement.

Another example of what a street can look like, if you (gasp!) remove a few car parking spots. 

Tell me again, why are we clinging to the concept of metal taking up the majority of our public space?

And there is a politeness in Paris. No drunken yelling in the streets, bar owners put up signs in the window, asking smokers to use the ashtrays. In the buses signs are politely asking that you show consideration for your fellow passengers, and keep your phone conversations in a low voice. Little things like that, but everywhere.

I noticed this old woman stopping in front of a tree, and pushing back displaced rubble, before moving on. She clearly considered it a shared responsibility to keep the city nice. I agree, of course.

The city of Paris returns the favor by not spamming its citizens with advertising, on every single surface. In Copenhagen a scaffolding is seen as an opportunity to visually pollute with spam, in Paris it is used to pay tribute to street art.

Scaffold cover street art

By Nemo, Jérôme Mesnager (l'Homme en blanc) and Mosko & Associes.

Scaffold cover

Oh, Paris.

25 August 2014

From Paris with love

My eyes have been licking the walls of Paris. I needed that so much, a break from it all. Of course once you start the hunt for street art, it is a little bit like going to work. Walking on blistered feet, in the wrong shoes (when will I ever learn?). You almost get to the point of "f*ckit, it isn't worth it", when you strike gold. And then it is. Totally. I am going to start with the best, my first Kashink spotting. It was love a first sight.

Izo-Kashink, Paris 
My heart was racing, this is right up there with German street artists Various and Gould, to me. 

Izo-Kashink, Paris

In a collaboration with IZO.

Izo-Kashink, Paris

From that moment on, all I wanted was to find more Kashink. Nothing else mattered.


Here is a collaboration with Bault, in another part of town. I read up on Kashink, a female French street artist painting fat, gay men. Humorous and colorful in support of the basic human rights for gays, like marriage. In the Bastille area I spotted some of "The Johns", paste up heads with small messages.

A John by Kashink

Oh come on dude!

Detail of a John by Kashink

A John detail, by Kashink.

It turns out she was just interviewed by Jaime of the Brooklyn Street Art Blog, isn't that classic? Like surfing the same wave, oceans apart. Another yummy discovery was AMOUR. Psychedelic stuff.


With something that I consider a pretty accurate street art portrait of me. Ha.


A lot of these were caught in Vitry sur Seine, as the writing on the wall there says:

The city is an open air museum

The city is an open air museum.

It was only once I started researching the artists, to be able to credit them properly that I realised how many of my favorites were female. So varied, so raw and so wild. It makes me oddly happy. Here is a piece by Céleste Java.

Céleste Java, Paris
  Céleste Java, Paris

Céleste Java, Paris

Konny Steding below. 

Konny Steding

Tell me about your fears. Tell me what you want.

It was not until I saw all this that I fully realized what we miss in Copenhagen. Street art have become so scarce here, perhaps because it thrives in quarters with mixed income inhabitants. The poor and low income households have so much to offer a city, but they are systematically being cleaned out. The currency they pay in, is not accepted or appreciated in Copenhagen, by those in charge.

They don't know what they are killing, by overlooking this. Street art is a sign of a healthy and creative city, the total absence of it should be a cause for concern.

Street art of Paris

Bikes in street art. I can't make out the signature, let me know if you recognize the artist!

Street art of Paris

And a big, wild one by Belgian ROA, oh!



A toad in his natural habitat.

So much to learn from Paris, and more to come. I just need to breathe before I go to work on the next one.

Link fest:

An urbanist's guide to Copenhagen

Hey, guess what I completely forgot to mention? I was blogger of the week at Guardian Cities, doing the urbanist's guide to Copenhagen. The good and the ugly, as always. Have a look here: link.


Consider my glitch proof that I really needed that vacation..

17 August 2014

Silent Sunday, good vibrations

Mercedes Benz
 Good vibrations
  Cute butts

09 August 2014

Costa del Lakes

Like someone hit a switch, we went from high summer to something that closely resembles fall. Daylight is fading, evenings are turning slightly colder and denial is in the air. We have got that part down to a fine art. The sunset side of the lakes is right next to a busy road, heavy with congested traffic, noise and exhaust fumes you can almost taste. But turn your back to all that and it's Costa del Lakes. Paradise on earth.

Costa del Lakes

I love the resilience of Copenhageners!


See how easy it is to pretend you don't have cars speeding by at 50 kilometres per hour? If getting your beverages from the cafe across the road, means having to play dare with traffic, so be it.


We are reclaiming the public space inch by inch.