Archive for October, 2010


Halloween With Lasers

As fun as the Halloween party was, it’s far from over for me and my flatmates as the insane amount of cans, the horrid condition of all surfaces and an amputee mannequin all require our urgent attention. I’m sure we’ll get around to cleaning everything up in the very near future but for the time being, I think some well deserved rest is in order.

 

Sooner or later, I will have to deal with this though.

 

The one good thing about Halloween here is that most people made at least some kind of an effort to dress up for the festivities and many were creative (and terrifyingly meticulous) with their outfits. The last item I bought for my Joker costume, a maroon vest, set me back 190 DKK which is, admittedly, a bit too much for something I won’t in all likelihood ever wear again. Nevertheless, Halloween is only once a year and it truly was all well worth the effort. The Danes know how to have fun and the party managed to generate some seriously good vibes, as well as some truly horrifying ideas. To be fair, when you’re talking about brain surgery and rocket science, the conversation will inevitably steer towards ideas of how to put brains into rockets and, somewhat less reasonably, how to put rockets into brains. The result however, will always be pure awesomeness:

 

"Sharktopus"?

 

To speak of costumes and clothing in general, I’m quite fond of the shop I found my vest at. It was “Kobenhavn K”, on Studiestrade – a second hand shop of a more expensive variety but one that boasts an excellent selection of stylish items.

 

Another thing that I’m quite taken by is Danish music. Specifically, there’s two tracks I can’t get out of my head and I see these songs forming a core part of my experience here in Copenhagen. The first of these is “Alla Som Inte Dansar” by Maskinen (admittedly a Swedish band, not a Danish one):

 

 

The chorus “Alla Som Inte Dansar Är Valdtäktsmän” is a clear signal that this band doesn’t screw around, as the main message seems to be that everybody who doesn’t dance is a rapist. While I’m in no way a trained rapist-spotter, I do find this method for exposing one as somewhat unsustainable.

 

The other song however, takes things into Lady GaGa territory with, uh, this:

 

 

I think Fagget Fairys are a lesbian duo (I wonder what gave me that idea) and it was explained to me yesterday, in no uncertain terms, what the main line “feed the horse yum yum” means. Seriously, just think about this for one second. Really, just think. Think hard.

 

Aaaand…

 

…Yeeaah! Honestly, knowing what it means makes the song just so much better. For a certain demographic though, the title has to be the most deceptive since “Puff, The Magic Dragon”.

 

P.S.

 

This is my serious face:

 

Also, it's virtually indistinguishable from my drunken face.

 

On a more practical note – how do you get mascara off? Like seriously, I need to go out tomorrow.

 

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You can really go two ways when organizing events on Facebook – either nobody comes or you wake up at 2 PM the next day to find a donkey in your living room.

 

Last night I luckily chose the ideal mix as the anthropology party at the CSS Katedralen proved to be a fun evening with the music levels allowing for communication without excessive gesturing (and the moderate attendance actually leaving room for gesturing). Personally I was planning on dropping by for just a moment before going to a friend’s place in Christianshavn but the sight of three cases of 3 DKK beer was something I simply could not eliminate from the equation. So it was that I found myself trying to cycle home at 1 AM all the while trying desperately not to crash into other bikes, cars, sign posts, trash cans, walls and whatever else looked to me like something asking to be annihilated.

 

Tonight’s gonna be harder as we’re having a Halloween party at our place. Facebook claims there won’t be any trouble as there’s only fifty attendees, but we’re secretly preparing for at least a hundred. With this many people crammed into the apartment, sleeping is not gonna be an option and we’ll have no choice but to burn through the night straight till morning.

 

On the bright side, I finally have my costume. I won’t say what it is but I will give a hint. So, without giving too much away:

 

 

Why so ser… ah, fuck it.

 

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Epistemology Now

For the past few weeks I’ve been struggling to keep myself motivated for my courses, with “Anthropology of Sciences” being the main culprit in my gradually declining will to prepare myself in any way for my classes.

 

That particular course has everything to do with the “how to’s” in anthropology, while seemingly never getting to the actual “do’s” – a problem not entirely absent in contemporary anthropology [citation needed?]. The lecturers, a whopping two per thirty people, are top-notch and their charisma is almost enough to turn even the most menial of epistemological discussions into something interesting. But for the past two weeks the classes have been cancelled and I have been actively ignoring the formidable reading list because really, reading about the various and nuanced approaches that question whether, say, scientific expertise and lay knowledge should be viewed as equals is about as close as anthropology gets to being banned under the Geneva condition as a weapon of death by dullness and redundancy. As for today’s lecture, I didn’t even bother attending.

 

And yet, there is a ray of hope, seems as at the last minute a new course has been added to the Copenhagen Uni’s catalogue. It’s “Anthropology of Post-Socialist Countries” – a course that I might actually benefit from in the future. I’m even tempted to try and claim authority in that field by virtue of myself coming from one such country (har har).

 

In short, I’ve decided to drop the science course in favor of something more tangible. The timing couldn’t have been better because, thanks to the Copenhagen Uni’s new portfolio essay system, I would’ve had to write five 2-3 page essays by next Friday. And after my portfolio essays for the “Migration I” course, the last thing I want to do is busy myself with writing five more short, disjointed and superficial pieces of scrap-anthropology.

 

To be fair, the lecturers here share our skepticism of the new assessment system and perhaps the whole thing will be reviewed and improved before the next batch of Erasmus students arrives. For the time being, I have to retreat to the more comfortable field (and more comfortable conditions) of post-socialism studies.

 

So how am I gonna celebrate this godsend? By going on a road trip to Berlin, Poznan and Prague. Hopefully. Unless something goes horribly wrong.

 

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Meatmarketing

“Oh you mean the hipster place?” Corey asked when I expressed my excitement over finding the renowned “Jolene” bar. With a glassy stare and a quivering lip, I pointed to a lone barrel fire at a posh club front. “It’s ironic,” he said.

 

I hadn’t planned on going out this Saturday and had in fact turned down an invitation to an Erasmus karaoke party earlier that day. But as the night drew closer, as the apartment filled up with people and as my hangover gave way to a feelgood-mood, I found myself once again heading out into the ever-so rainy Copenhagen to rock some places, or at least to die in an attempt to do so. A flatmate came up with the plan of going to the “Karriere” club and, unaware of it being situated at the infamous meat-packing district, I unenthusiastically decided to tag along, seems as it was supposedly just on the way to an acid rave in Valby.

 

The acid rave was actually the main reason I decided to go out on Saturday, as a friend of mine encouraged me to join her there. She described it as a “really crazy underground scene party” and I, always up for something new and/or hilarious, accepted the invite. I was undeterred even when she threw me a link with the kind of music one should expect at a psy-dark trance-something rave. I will post the link here but for the love of god, view at your own risk.

 

If you clicked on the previous link, chances are you have just woken up from a coma and it’s actually been several hours since you first started reading this entry. You will probably not remember what the video was about but whatever you do, do not click on it again.

 

As entertaining as it would have been to see a bunch of hippies in tie-dye shirts dancing spastically to two hundred beats per minute tracks, the truth is that we never made it past the meat-packing district. We never made it, not because the party was so good, but because we all felt a sudden urge to escape to the comforting walls of our own homes after witnessing things no mortal men should witness.

 

So, what is this “Karriere” club? For starters, it’s something that’s called a 23+ bar, meaning that you have to be at least twenty three years of age to get in. Then idea behind this set up is that twenty three year old’s can enjoy the company of their contemporaries. The reality of the idea however was that the bar was full of forty-something men awkwardly mingling with forty-something cougars, leaving you stranded in a cesspool of bygone youths, separated from those friends of yours that just didn’t make the bill. The DJ kept rotating the same four songs because apparently “The Hardest Button To Button” and “Jump Around” is exactly what you want to listen to over and over again as you’re ramming your dignity into the dancefloor and watching eternal shame take its place.

 

We actually never set foot inside “Jolene” as the place was completely packed. It’s a little bit sad, because it just might have been a decent place, seems as poking at the guests’ eyes quickly verified that they were indeed wearing their thick rimmed glasses because of their impaired vision, and not at all because they were raging dickheads. That said, I did however spot one wacky sweater and at least two pairs of Converse Allstars.

 

We actually quite liked the third bar in the district, but the unfavorable seat-to-guest ratio and the 50 DKK Tuborg’s quickly chased us back to the shameful, yet cheaper embrace of “Karriere”. I also learned a crucial lesson about the Danish drinking culture – you get smashed before you go out. Unless you’re forty and wealthy and consequently, and somewhat inevitably, doomed to a life of wearing tucked shirts to nightclubs in a fruitless chase of girls who invariably insist on calling you “daddy“.

 

This “getting smashed at home” thing is something I’ve yet to master seems as for me there is a fine line between being intoxicated with joy and being intoxicated to the point of “fuck-you-I’m-not-leaving-this-couch.

 

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The Culture Night (With Guns)

Ah, the Culture Night. Over 900 places to visit, not to mention the free S-train service. So where should we go? The National Gallery? The Opera House? Amalienborg castle? Any place which displays fine works of art, both old and new? Or did we just spend the night fooling around in armored fighting vehicles?

 

Is that even a question?

 

 

To be fair, we were limited in our options as all the good places had long lines of people queuing up to get in. So it was that we spent the first hour of the Culture Night on mapping out our route, the second hour in the Danish Knight’s Templar lodge and the third (and most probably the fourth) waiting in line to get in to the old prison.

 

Now, for some reason, it seemed to me like a damn fun idea to visit the Freemason’s lodge and walk around in it with a canny look and giggle at the abundant masonic symbols. The reality however saw us sitting through a lecture on the history of the Danish lodge (in Danish, of course) and me losing my command.

 

The prison was up next and as expected it turned out to be much more exhilarating than the boremasons temple of crap, as the police were more than willing to let us play with their riot gear and mace canisters.

 

With grave consequences.

 

In retrospect it should be said that beating each other with nightsticks formed the core experience of the visit, as did the sense of dread for many students as it was announced that the prison’s corridors would be patrolled by narcotics dogs. The toilets then became the main attraction of the place.

 

Apparently because people had forgiven me the failed trip to the Freemasons lodge, they cautiously agreed to on join me for a visit to the Rosenborg castle where, according to the Culture Night booklet, the Danish air force was displaying an F-16 fighter jet. And you know how culture goes right out the window when guys hear the word “fighter jet”. Upon our arrival however, we discovered that we must have missed the fine print in the brochure that said “F-16 represented only by a mock engine“. Because posing next to a stripped jet engine is retarded, we quickly turned our attention to the other goodies the Danish military had dragged out – namely guns and APC’s.

 

We honestly had the intention of joining the girls at the botanical garden after the jet show, but when confronted with the choice between “brightly lit palm trees” and “thermal imaging scopes“, the gender difference becomes apparent. So it was that we didn’t see anybody else from our original group until a rendezvous at the zoo two hours later.

 

I will say at the offset that the animals looked pissed. Their keepers had apparently kicked them out of their dens and chased them into the freezing night for us to make fun of, as the look on the polar bear’s face seemed to communicate nothing but hate. The snakes too were having none of our tomfoolery and had coiled up to put on their best murder face.

 

The fake turtles looked happy though.

 

 

Nonetheless, the lions seemed quite pleased with the extra carcass their caretakers had thrown in to compensate for the extended working hours. Also, I must admit that the zoo looked quite charming and the animals quite content, as opposed to the animals in Tallinn who look like they’ve been sentenced to prison for life for a crime they most likely did not commit.

 

"Kill me now!"

 

Because it was already midnight when we left the zoo, most culture venues had already closed. But us, yearning for more culture, namely the drinking kind, were unsatisfied with the prospect of going home to sleep and thus we responded with utmost enthusiasm to Fanny’s call for taking the night train to Roskilde.

 

As with all plans conceived at the spur of the moment, this one fell apart quite quickly and we ended up taking the first train to wherever. And where did we go? The place where all incapacitated students unconcerned with common sense go – Farum. If you’ve never been to Farum, it sort of looks something like this:

 

I suspect the local residents had, in anticipation of drunken students roaming around the greater Copenhagen area, barricaded themselves in and thus it took us a while to encounter the first Farum native. Still, as the case with Erasmus program is, it’s not about the places you visit – it’s who you visit them with. And soon enough we were already having our very own Farum street rave together with some mad techno beats, an improvised stroboscope and shopping cart rides. After all, if the culture won’t come to you, you must go to the culture – and kick it in the dick.

 

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“Or do you only know the Disney version?” asked the lecturer when introducing us to the religious motifs in “The Little Mermaid”. I shook my head faintly and then turned my head in shame.

 

I left the lecture with my thoughts still with the foxy fish woman and headed to the old Amager campus to catch the 4 o’clock happy hour (15 DKK beers anyone?) and discuss the plans for the cheap dinner night in Christiania as well as the upcoming Culture Night. As the Culture Night takes place today we bought our “culture kits” at the campus bar. Costing 85 DKK, the kit included a booklet with all the events, a city map full of lies (the Little Mermaid is in China and inviting the disabled to a robot dance workshop is just mean), a pin and an event pass. The pass itself grants you free use of the metro and the S-trains, aside from functioning as a ticket to all of the 900-odd events in the programme. Maria’s kit included all of the above times two, which made me somewhat jealous. The programme, I discovered much to my dismay, was all in Danish.

 

Thus I’m not sure what 85 DKK will get me but I think getting to “feed the carnivores at the zoo” and “tank rampage at the army base” were implied.

 

 

This is both the face of confusion and exuberance.

 

With the happy hour coming to an end we proceeded straight to Christiania for some general merriment before the 20 DKK dinner at Loppen. We also linked up with my former flatmate Ivo and after discussing the lack of dinosaurs in the modern era (it made sense at the time) we headed for the dinner.

 

We arrived a bit late and found ourselves at the back of a long queue. Maria decided to stay put but Ivo and I, slowly starving to death, embarked on a mini-burger hunt in the city. After some initial trouble we ended up in Irma and somehow managed to explain to the clerk what it is that we’re after. She sent us to Dogn Netto and, after getting lost in the aisles there, we emerged triumphant with a pack of mini-burgers each. For 14 DKK, it is both the tastiest as well as the most shameful midnight snack in Copenhagen. The make-believe dinner had enough juice though to keep us going through a quick concert at the Operaen and a rock gig at Drone later on.

 

Also, yesterday I found a puzzling and a downright sadistic sign near the new Amager campus:

 

 

The Danes would call it “keeping things tidy”, but I would call it “genocide”. In either case, congratulations Copenhagen, for you’ve clearly managed to starve the poor ducks to death.

 

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