Monday, July 25, 2005

London Not Terrorized

Well London is still here and looks more or less the same since my last visit two years ago. London is fucking massive. You forget that when you are away for a while. The the city seems to go on in all directions endlessly. Things do seem a little more tense, although people aren't running around paranoid and screaming as you might expect. The Underground is emptier than usual however, which is not too surprising.

The paler Londoners have taken to cycling. The less pale Londoners are starting to wonder who is to fear most, the terrorists or the government. The shooting of a Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, by plainclothes officers took everyone by surprise and remains a highly baffling incident. Unlike the USA where killings are hardly news anymore, in the UK it's a big thing and there have been mass apologies all around. When have the police in the USA apologized for anything? I don't think they even know how to do that.

Why did the poor guy run? Well maybe you would run too if you were in a foreign country under a terrorist alert and burly guys with shaved heads and vengeful bad cop karma were chasing you with guns, right? I mean the poor guy must have thought he was trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone. True, his visa was expired expired but the choice between death and a free plane trip to Brazil seems an easy one. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Anyway, I am staying in Cadogan Square in Chelsea and spending my days walking around window shopping, revisiting my old haunts and hanging out with old friends. Unfortunately one of my oldest friends Svenja from Paris is not around. It would have bee great to see her :(

Lat night was drinks with my Welsh friend Dafydd who is a writer for the Music section of the London Times and has his own music blog which is quite good. Check it out.

The best part about being back in London is the pubs: excellent and cheap lagers and ales, comfy chairs, perfect decor, decent food, friendly people, and smoker-friendly. The pubs are what I miss most and are the most compelling reason to move back to London. Last night we went to three around Hampstead and none disappointed although I didn't remember too much about the last one.

Monday, July 18, 2005

LL Bean in Sweden -- Thanks Mom

My mother is obsessed for some reason with buying all my presents lately from L.L. Bean. I think everything I have gotten in the past 2 or 3 years has been from them.

I can't figure this out. Does she think LL Bean is a hip place to shop? Does she think I think LL Bean is a hip place to shop? I haven't worn flannel since 1993.

My birthday isn't even for two months and she has been nagging at me to pick something out of the LL Bean catalog for the past couple months already. She not too spontaneous. She is the kind of person who knows what she's doing a year from now. So she is getting rather panicky.

I looked in the LL Bean catalog and didn't see anything I wanted. Maybe some flannel underwear? Moccasins? Mom, if you're reading this I hate the Great Outdoors. I live in a city. Remember you even taught me the rule, "Don't wear brown in town." The one Dad always breaks. Now is not the time to forget that valuable lesson you taught me. I need money Mom. Please send me money for alcohol for my birthday. I promise I will buy you something from LL Bean for Christmas after I get a job.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Weekend in Malmö & Copenhagen

Carlsberg factory, yum!

Just spent a four day weekend in Malmö and Copenhagen. We took a six hour train ride from Stockholm to Malmö and commenced to spend the rest of the very hot day drinking Carlsberg in beer gardens.

We stayed with Peter and Marlen, our very appropriately for the occasion Danish/Swedish friends. Peter is pretty fun to hang out with. He is a thirty something former rock musician who now pops nicotine pills instead of chain smoking. Every time I see him he mysteriously claims that Danes, unlike Swedes, can drink responsibly, and then proceeds to lay out an assortment of drinks that scares even me. When we got home from the bar we went through a case of beer, three bottles of wine, and a bottle of scotch. I actually wanted to stop and get to bed but he was determined to get to the bottom of every topic on the planet and every bottle of alcohol in the apartment.

The next morning the girls left early to go to a horse show (thankfully we men were spared) and we got to sleep in late. Every half hour I heard wretching noise coming from the toilet and that was of course Peter the responsibly drinking Dane. At eleven o'clock I scraped myself off the floor and took a shower, cracked the last remaining beer and started watching the Tour de France.

Michael Rasmussen, a Dane, was in a solo breakaway. Suddenly Peter comes in moaning about a stomach virus but excited about Rasmussen. Stomach virus? Yeah I hear there is one going around, I say.

We watch the breakaway and Rasmussen gets a few more points in the King of the Mountain competition and then we head into Copenhagen. We take the new Oresend Bridge across the bay... the one that is 10 miles long and costs umpteen billion Kronors and is special because the Danes and Swedes couldn't agree whether to make it a tunnel or a bridge so they built a hybrid of both... the Swedish half is a bridge and the Danish half is a tunnel. Somehow it works and looks cool.

It was my first trip to Copenhagen and the city is very continental unlike Sweden. The streets are a sardine sea of tourists, freaks, drunks, shirtless partying youth. This seems a much easier place to have fun than Stockholm. We spent the rest of the time exploring Malmö and Copenhagen, going to the beach, drinking, eating out, and visiting long lost friends. Thanks for Peter, Marlen, and Ann-Marie for putting us up and for buying us so many rounds.

Note to To the Danes--> I am sorry your government had to waste 100 million Kronors providing security for Bush. However, I feel it's a small price to pay for the worldwide proliferation of terrorism ;)

Danes generally hate him

Monday, July 04, 2005

Coat Check Blues at Kvarnen in Sodermalm

Friday night we had some friends over for Mexican food. I made brie and apple quesadillas and some veggie fajitas because they are vegetarians. I used to be veggie for seven years but I gave it when I stopped taking so much ecstasy. I think the drug allows you to feel the pain of the barnyard and it was too much to take. But ecstasy fucks with your head after a while, so it was either my brain or my drugs and I chose the former.

Since then I have mostly switched to cigarrettes and alcohol as my weapons of choice and they sure don't make you feel empathy for shit so I am back on the burger bandwagon and happy about it. Animals would eat me if they had a chance, I reckon, so why not the other way around? Especially if the animals were drunk.

Well after a lovely dinner by the lake we decided to do a couple more tequila shots and go out. Johan and Anna (I can use their real names because there are probably a million couples in Stockholm named Johan and Anna) wanted to go to Kvarnum which is bar in Sodermalm, the bohemian, artsy part of Stockholm.

We got their and queued up for 20 minutes. Once inside it was like a Finnish sauna. People always complain about the lack of oxygen due to smoking in clubs but I swear with 500 drunk people crammed in a room and no walking space the air is just as bad smokeless as it would be if it were smoky.

Anyway, I walk in with Johan and Anna and Linda are nowhere to be seen. We get a beer and drink it and still they don't show up so Johan calls Anna and apparently the bouncers physically threw Linda out of the club for calling the coat check guy a cockhead in Swedish even though she didn't call him a cockhead and he obviously was one.

I was hesitant to approach him because by this time I had drunk about a half a bottle of tequila and a bottle of red wine, some shots of snaps surprisingly still leftover from Midsummer, and a couple beers. Plus I did not witness the event so Johan advised to leave it to the Police. I talked to the guy anyway and boy was he a cockhead. He must have a little internal voice that says "cockhead" to himself over and over again. On the outside the guy had a Tom Cruise cool, a guy who thought he could do anything to anybody.

Well the Police finally showed up a few hours later and interviewed the witnesses and the guy. Despite my advice, no one even got a case number or the guy's name at the bar.

The Police report is supposed to be mailed to us this week and so we'll see what happens. Thanks to the all the witnesses who stayed around until 3 in the morning to give testimony. People are sick of goons. Send them to Iraq, I say. Then we'll see how cool and tough they are when they get their heads chopped off.