Saturday, May 28, 2005

Popaganda Concert 2005

Saturday was Popaganda, a free summer concert in Stockholm. All the bands were Swedish and I hadn't heard of ANY of them. There are some good Swedish bands too like The Sounds, The Hives, Concrete, Cardigans, etc, but I guess they were all busy.

The guards wouldn't let us bring alcohol into the concert grounds. They sold little cans of beer inside for 30 Kronors which is kind of a lot so we had a picnic outside the gates where we could see the stage and Linda and Johan and Anna and Max and Osama (not bin Laden) and I drank 6 bottles of wine and feasted on bread and brie and pasta salad and stuff while we watched Ana Brun, a little Norwegian girl with a big voice.

As an American I thought it was funny that security guards were everywhere telling us where we could and could not sit to watch the concert from outside the gates. For instance we could not sit on a wall (which afforded the best view), and very strangely we could not sit on a bench... but sitting on the grass we perfectly acceptable. They didn't seem to care at all that we were using the University's grounds as an open bar. I must remind the European readers that in America its illegal to drink alcoholic beverages in public unless they are in paper bags(!) and even then its touch and go depending on what city you're in and what color your skin is and how many days you've gone without shaving and what mood the cop is in.

Ahem, so as soon as we finished the wine we went inside and the heavens opened up and it rained hard for the next four hours and the only thing I really got to see was a spoken word performance by an African Swede who looked and sounded very serious (if you feel bad for Africans in other non-African countries, imagine them in Sweden where some people have yet to see or talk to one on in real life). Still, overly serious people really annoy me and I cannot get too much out a spoken word performance in Swedish so I made frequent trips as usual to the beer tent even though the event was warm and dry under a tent.

Then it started raining even harder the temperature dropped 20 degrees and everyone went crazy running home and I lost Linda in the shuffle. I couldn't call her because my cell phone got waterlogged... so I went to Gamlastan to a pub I know with 50 Kronor pints of Guinness. USA versus England was on. I normally don't watch football unless the USA is playing because there is something perverse about watching the USA do something they are even worse at than foreign policy.

USA lost 2-1 but the fish and chips and Guinness were excellent.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Swedish Lessons

I started taking Swedish lessons on Tuesday at the Folksuniversitet in downtown Stockholm. The course costs money but is attended by professionals instead of migrants like the SFI courses (which I can't get into until late August because everyone takes the summer off in Sweden). So far the course I am taking is good. The SFI course is funded by the government but is supposed to be appalling and the school is located out in Hagalund, which is Swedish for bumfuck nowhere.

I decided to take the course because I have been meeting a lot of Americans that have lived here for many years and still don't know basic Swedish. I know that sounds unreasonable but it really isn't.

The thing that bothers me is that they are so damn defensive about it.

"There is no need for me to speak Swedish. Everyone speaks English here."

"I speak English in the workplace and my wife is from the States. So speaking Swedish is out of the question."

"English is the international language. Just count yourself lucky you don't have to speak Swedish."

"My girlfriend and I spoke English for three years in America before we moved here. So why change now?"

I feel the truth is more like this:

"I tried speaking Swedish once but I couldn't. I sounded like an bumbling immigrant."

I admit its nice to be amongst Europeans versus Americans at the Folksuniversitet. Some of the students only plan on being in Sweden for a few months in total... and they are still taking classes. All of them speak their own language (duh) , English and at least another one like French or German. So that renders the Americans excuses null and void.

Why won't Americans learn languages? What the hell is wrong with us? Are we a bunch of xenophobes? I guess that answer to that is obvious.

Friday, May 13, 2005

10 Things I Don't Understand About Americans

1. Lying

Lying is weird in America. It used to be a HUGE problem for you until Richard Nixon came into office. Perversely, now its okay to lie given the following 2 circumstances:

A. You never admit you were wrong in the first place.
B. You are rich and/or powerful.

2. War

War is weird also in America. They teach you war is a last option and that war is fundamentally wrong. But then they do it all the time. And there doesn't really have to be a reason. If a butterfly sneezes in China, we can invade Mexico. Get it? Neither did Central America, Yugoslavia, or Iraq. Hopefully North Korea and the rest of the Middle East will get it soon. Not to mention Mexico.

3. Food

Smorgasbord may be a Swedish word, and buffet may be a (gasp) French word but America has put its own spin on the "all-you-can-eat" special. You see them everywhere. Let me put it this way... people should not eat "all-they-can-eat" for many reasons. And especially not more than once a week. Why not? Let me count the reasons: constipation, smelly farts, becoming fat, need I go on? Eating, while very entertaining, should not be a sense of comfort. Get some Valium or some wine for chrissakes.

4. Gay Bashing

A hole is a hole. An orgasm is an orgasm. Gay people are gay from birth (or else they are fat, bald, ugly men who can't find a woman). In either case they are just like straight people and deserve all the same rights. Think gay people never died in a war (a real war) to protect your rights? Think again. George Washington actually crossed the Delaware to get with his blond haired page. And then he forgot to tip him so he threw a quarter across it. And even when Georgie was a boy he chopped down the cherry tree to fight his castration anxiety from an abusive father. And he made dressing in a wig and velvet suits fashionable again... oh hell.

5. Superiority Complex

One of my favorite lines from any movie is Chris Rocks's Head of State when the president says "God Bless America and no place else." This is a dig at Bush and the neocons. America is up its own ass. It has never been anything more than a bunch of hicks dragging themselves along by clutching at the heels of the entrepreneurial and intellectual minority. If that makes me sound like a twat then I apologize butt I feel its true. Otherwise all America would be like Arkansas.

6. Pop Culture

Popular culture in America seems an wholehearted attempt to be as vapid and superficial as possible. Any redeeming or human qualities are instantly noxious to the formula. Brittany Spears, Puff Daddy, Christina, and all the others you are no better than mental prostitutes walking the streets looking to spread VD to our children.

7. Hicks

These people live in the woods, fuck their sisters, love Jesus, drink Busch, vote Bush, and watch NASCAR. Who needs 'em? We should have let them secede from the union back in the 1800's. The Kerry would be President and they would be fighting Iraq with tractors and pitch forks.

8. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

Okay in America there is an agency called the ATF and god knows what they actually do besides shoot people in the ass while they drink Budweiser and smoke cigars. In America you have to be 21 to drink. Why? It's the only country in the world that does this. Cigarettes can kill you but you should be all you can be and join the Army. Go figure. I'll stick to cigarettes and alcohol, thank you. You can keep the firearms.

9. 2.1 Million in Jail

America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Higher than China. Higher than Russia. Higher than anywhere. There are 35,000 murders a year. There are more black males in prison than in college. And it's not getting better. It's getting worse.

10. Intellectual is a Bad Word

Presidents and other politicians lose races not because they are less intelligent but because they are more intelligent. We learn in Philosophy that knowledge can stop the decision process, but when lives are on the line, maybe its okay to stop and think a little bit. What's lost on the current administration is that just because one CAN do something doesn't necessarily mean on SHOULD do it. Clinton had to pretend to be a bubba to become President. Then it turned out he was a black man. This is the equivalent of Einstein pretending to have Down Syndrome to get into Junior College.


11. Religion

The Bible is a stupid, evil, book full of bad stories. For a country that prides itself on the separation of Church and State, why do politicians have to mention God in every speech? Because the masses will vote for the religious man over the atheist every time. There is some popular myth that the atheist cannot make moral decisions. Why then does the opposite almost always happen?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

10 Things I Don't Understand About Swedes

1. Salty Licorice (holy ammonia chloride, Batman)

Salty Licorice is strong black licorice laced with ammonia chloride, the stuff you use to clean your bathroom. I'm not fucking kidding its hideous. But in my mind I can't stop eating it because my find is not prepared to deal with its reality. Eventually I'll probably get to like it. It costs about $.10 a kilo and Swedes will eat anything that's cheap.

2. Strange Fellowship with Berries

Swedes spend entire days picking them by the bucket. This obviously goes back to the day when Swedes were poor and didn't have supermarkets. I don't know why they still do it... but it must really annoy the birds and squirrels.

3. System Bolaget

All liquor stores here are owned by Mother Sweden. They are open from 9 to 5 and if you want spirits, wine, or beer over 3.5 percent alcohol you must go there. They are never open when you need them, and they are very sparsely located. The prices are designed to scare you sober. The cheapest bottle of vodka costs $30 and there are no six-packs. You have to pay full price for six separate beers. Being the lazy bastard I am, I buy the 3.5 beer from the supermarket. It's relatively cheap and 6 of them will give you a buzz.

4. Pancakes, bacon, and fried eggs are not breakfast foods.

A Swedish friend named Johan (what else) told me that English people are so ugly by the time they turn 40 because they eat sausages and grease for breakfast. Maybe he's right but at least they get sausages for breakfast.

5. Smoking is gross but snuff is de rigeur...

Smoking will be banned indoors from Sweden starting June 1st, 2005. Which is okay because no one smokes here... they all use snuff. Which my mom used to find in my pants pocket as a kid and I eventually stopped using in favor of smoking because girls thought it was gross. No one thinks it's gross here and everyone claims it's safer than smoking... and it gives you a buzz close to shooting a speedball. So I guess I'll get used to it.

6. No Fat Bastards

You can't buy pants larger than 34 inches in most stores. Even fat Swedes have little waists ans huge bellies. Thankfully I am losing weight due to the System Bolaget and constantly eating muesli instead of sausage for breakfast.

7. Mexican Food Sucks Here

Nachos here means ten corn chips with tomato sauce and creme fraiche poured on top. Expect to pay 70 kronors ($10) for this. If you complain they will think you are insane. Fajitas cost $30 and are not even half the normal American portion. So now I make Mexican at home. Negro Modelo is not to be found even in my closest System Bolaget.

8. Learning Swedish is Difficult

Nobody (except my sweetie Linda of course) will speak to me in Swedish once they find out I am American and hear my awful Swedish. How am I supposed to learn?

9. Free Language Lessons?

In Sweden its the right of all immigrants to get free language lessons. Most are in the daytime, although they don't pay you to take them so supposedly you're supposed to starve to death and live outside. Also, it's acceptable to start SFI classes six months after you get here. I'll know freakin Swedish by then.

10. Why am I living in Huvudsta?

Apartment rent prices in Stockholm are easily affordable... but there are exactly 0 apartments avaialble to rent in Stockholm. So if you want an apartment you have to live in another town, buy a place, or get a second-hand contract which you cost you twice as much as the apartment is supposed to cost.

Okay that was unfair and possibly unfunny. But next time I'm gonna do 10 Things I Don't Understand About Americans. That will be even more unfair and more unfunny.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Job Interview for Sloth

It's been a month and I now have a legitimate job interview coming up. I must say I am excited.

The job is for a Webmaster position with some Swedish dot com which I will not mention at least until I get the job maybe.

I want to get a job because honestly its little boring sitting around all day with no money to spend on Playstation or a new Gaming PC.

It would be different if I were writing like made finishing TLDDGH (my new novel) or working on my third novel (Stabbing at the Heart of Paris) or even my short story, oddly enough called Floccinaucinihilipilification, but I'm not.

I spent Sunday hungover and Ingrid took a picture of me passed out on the Tunnelbahna. In my defense it was 3:00 a.m. and the fucking trains only run once per hour.... so what was I supposed to do? I hate always being the drunkest one at a party but I am pretty much socially a wallflower without the booze so I end up being the entertainment. And everyone knows being entertaining is tiring. If you look closely at the picture you can see the wine stain on my pants. I must have spilled my last glass.

The last two days I was on a mission to walk from Downtown to my apartment in Huvudsta. Its far by most people's standards but I managed to do it today. Yesterday (and all the other days) I kept getting lost and ending up on the opposite side of the city. As the Swedish say when they are happy... hurrah hurrah.