Perhaps encouraged by the overwhelming reception of Cykelslangen bike bridge (the Bicycle Snake), pedestrian and cyclist bridges are popping up all along the Copenhagen harbor, at warp speed. One of those is the Circle Bridge, designed by Ice Watch artist Olafur Eliasson. It is a relatively short bridge, but saves you a bumpy detour on cobblestones (cyclists know what a treat that can be). Meanwhile, the boat community is not amused with all the new canal bridges, arguing that they are being fenced in, and that the canal-spirit will suffocate. It is not easy keeping everyone happy.
Last week the internet started buzzing with the Circle Bridge, as the pieces were being put in place. For some reason the harbor side feels like a party I am not invited to. Crammed with high-end real estate and corporate headquarters of steel and glass, in a big and uninviting scale. But when you have blog business to do, you suck it up.
View from Langebro bridge. Circles on the ship to the right, ready for installment.
I moved around, to get a better look. An obstacle course like you wouldn’t believe, absolutely everything in Copenhagen is under construction and off limits building sites. By the Royal Library known as the Black Diamond, I got it.
So far, so good. The bridge is about 32 meters long and slides open, but is tall enough for smaller boats to pass under.
At this point it looks pretty cool and simple. The aspiration however, is artistic landmark, so the finished bridge will be topped with wires, resembling lit up Christmastrees. Not convinced about that part, but hey: it's not my dime, Nordea bank is picking up the tab on this one.
Shot this with my back turned to the Black Diamond. Looking up.
I want to familiarize myself with this area, but it is so damn unwelcoming. Maybe the bridges will do the trick? Stay tuned for part two and the Circle Bridge test run, you know it's coming...
Update from Copenhagen, snapshot style. The New Nørreport Station is all done, but
there is still clutter left that I would rather keep out of the frame, so the big post will follow later. Here's a night shot, with a cameo by the worlds coolest beehive.
Another addition to the New Nørreport Station: police standing guard with machine guns. What is really crazy, is how fast you get used to them.
Following the Copenhagen shooting, politicians whipped up a "terror package", that among other things skip all rights of privacy, allowing police to wiretap citizens without a warrant. We have past the point of "slippery slope".
What affects us the most is not the shooting itself, but the response. Every time something like this happens, they tighten the screw, and take just a little bit more of our privacy.
A hack on a vintage street sign, reminding drivers to watch out for the kids. Like a really cool version of our flag Dannebrog.
And lastly a messy seagull, scattering garbage by high-end food establishment Torvehallerne. The not-so-farmers-market, where they chopped down all the big trees. Nope, still haven't forgiven them for that. F*ckers!
Dumpster diving. Pick and scatter, eat and repeat. Leave the mess. Ha. In five minutes this bird had crapped up the entire sidewalk, taking small breaks on people's cars.
Fascinating creatures, seagulls. And helpful too, I mean: who is the real pig here? People who throw away delicious food, or the bird who makes sure it doesn't go to waste?
I have been holding out on you. But only because I don’t know where to begin. About two years ago, I crashed an outdoor flea market with some friends and a small pop-up stall. I used to love the fleas passionately, but as owning things lost its importance, so did the chase. Now, it is about something else entirely: salvaging, recycling and reducing waste. The chase is fun again.
With the pop-up stall, I realized how much I had missed the feeling. Exchanging stories and knowledge about the odd little things. The process of matching unwanted things with the perfect owner, and seeing them light up with excitement over the newfound treasure, there is nothing like it. I can’t even begin to explain how much sense it makes to me. I try to book a flea market stall at least once a month, now.
Things have a way of finding me. Sometimes attics are cleared, and boxes of unwanted stuff is thrown out into the street. I can’t bear the idea of things that could be used, going to waste. It kills me. Sometimes I will find something that is broken, and fix it, or just make it into something different. Sometimes all it needs is a good cleaning, and a nice presentation. The important thing is that it gets a new life.
If something is of no use to me or anyone I know, I make sure it is
forwarded to a recycling centre. Key is to discard only of what is
completely useless. Broken does not necessarily qualify as useless, good
quality can usually be repaired. The worst offender is things and
clothes made in recent time, nobody wants that. Which should make us
reconsider our shopping pattern. There is so much good stuff out there,
and so much of it is going to waste, you wouldn't believe what I have
rescued from the incinerator.
A few weeks ago I passed a large container on Østerbro,
filled with the estate of an old Copenhagen photographer. The people
loading it, invited me to take what I could use, and I grabbed a bag
worth of old photographs, wrapped in paper. It was only when I got home and unpacked them, I realised that I should have taken more, oh.
One of the small packages read "children", and turned out to be vintage
black and white photographs of young Danes, dating back to the
All these photograps are by Henning Nielsen. From the tender moments captured, and the way the subjects (on all his pictures) respond, you can tell he was a good man. I wish I could have met him.
Focus... bike... go!
Some things never change.
And the portraits, so many, so good.
I haven't been able to figure out the exact location of this, yet.
By now, you have probably heard about the shootings in Copenhagen. On
Saturday afternoon, an armed man tried to gain entrance to a public
debate on free speech, attended by a Swedish cartoonist and the French
ambassador. The shooter fired his automatic weapon in the foyer, killing
an innocent bystander, film maker Finn Nørgaard, and wounding three police officers. He managed to escape, but reappeared later at the Copenhagen synagogue, where one civilian and two police officers
stood guard over a Bar Mitzvah. The two officers were wounded and the
civilian paid with his life, but they managed to keep the 80 guests inside, safe. Central Copenhagen was locked down, and the manhunt ended at
5AM, where he opened fire on the police, and was shot to death.
Any moron with a grudge can abuse the trust shown in him, by society.
It is the healing process that takes effort. Like when Charlie Hebdo was attacked in Paris, we mourn, we talk, we comfort each other and
try to make sense of it all. We remind each other how important it is, not to blame a large
group of people for the actions of one disturbed man. We know how
important it is to pull together now, across religious and political
Interestingly, shootings as a tool to scare citizens, have proven ineffective. Danes are sad, but unafraid, and the response to these attacks has been an outpour of love and compassion.
Flowers for Dan Uzan, civilian guard of the Copenhagen synagogue.
If there is one thing I have learned in recent years, it is that the change we want in society, must come from the people. Not the politicians. Here is an example of how they work: In an attempt to reclaim soda sales from across the border, the Danish government cancelled the sugar tax. As predicted, sales went up (on both sides of the border) and consumption increased by more than ten percent. Now all the masterminds have to do, is sit back and await the backlash: obesity, diabetes and dental decay.
So, we ask, with this tool available, why not lower the tax on organic and healthy food? Ah, but that is not doable, sorry. Never mind the overwhelming public interest in eating healthy and minimizing the use of medication and toxins in farming. That’s a different bottom line.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for the politicians: One of the biggest supermarket chains in Denmark, COOP has taken matters into their own hands. On the 25th anniversary of the organic mark “Ø”, they have pledged to boost the organic supply in the Irma stores. The goal is to double the sales and selection, over the next ten years. This is done by reducing the markup on organic food, making it accessible to more people. An in-house process that does not affect the suppliers, other than increase the demand for their product.
They began implementing this in January 2015, and already the organic sales in Irma stores have gone up by forty percent. Whoa? Imagine what could be done, if our politicians had similar guts and vision?
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Ø”, they messed with the Irma chicken, by the lakes. As you can imagine I was not amused, the Irma chicken is untouchable!
(Pardon the blur, I was in a state, haha)
However, “Ørma” has reassured me that it is a temporary thing, mounted on top of the old. It is going to look like this for the next year, maybe two. I am sucking it up in the name of Ø. And because, you know: I love Irma. More than ever.
Back in 2012 we all had a good laugh about the stalker seagull by the rooftop apartment, around the corner. Remember that one? I had seen the big bird peeping through the window, and immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion. Because as it turns out, it is not a stalker, but a friend. Oh.
Now my eyes always seek out this spot, from the moment I turn the corner. When it is there (and it almost always is), it is like winning the seagull bingo. The reward is this odd reassuring feeling that the world is in order and everything is alright. And, for days when one just won't do, you get two.
But only on special occasions. (November 2013)
Masters of the stare just know when you are looking at them. Six stories down you get it right back, along with a clear message: "can I help you?".
The senseless attack of Charlie Hebdo in Paris brings back the Mohammad crisis, and once again I am shocked that such a violent response can be triggered by a cartoon. In Denmark we are back to discussing: what is appropriate? Some argue that it is a senseless provocation, and that just because we can, we shouldn’t draw the prophet. But the point is, we can’t, which is the very reason we must. As long as a cartoonist in Denmark for ten years running, need police protection over a single drawing, we all have a problem.
To make matters worse, the politicians seize the opportunity to implement total surveillance, stripping us of our privacy. And, since this is election year, they further promise to tighten the screw on immigrants. It is all very counterproductive. Manipulators thrive on fear and division, it works for big corporations and politicians and it works for terrorists. Unfortunately for them, it comes with a backlash: I now feel increased compassion for the majority of Muslims, who simply want to coexist, and whose lives have been made more difficult by the extremists.
On the subject of satire, I recently found a Copenhagen magazine “Punch”, from 1887. Mocking men, women, children, politicians, poets and preachers. By the pen, animals take the place of people, and politicians take the shape of children. Some of the points are hard to decipher, the language and spelling have changed over time, and some puns are lost, as the story the tell are long since forgotten. Others are sadly relevant today (scene below from outside the restaurant in the Danish Parliament).
(For the Danes:) Det stakkels Dyr af Kulde og Nød * Forvist vil faa en ynkelig Død, *Saa man vil begravet det finde; *For det vil en morderlig Tid vist ta’e, * Forinden de Herrer kan faa snakket a’, *Som sidde og vrøvle derinde.
(Reads:) The poor animal cold and in need of help is left to die, one will find it buried, as it will surely take the babbling gentlemen a murderous time to come up with a solution.
Others mock the church:
Don’t ask me what is going on here, something to do with alcohol. Keep in mind this was the year 1887, long before Hitler hijacked the 12.000 year old symbol of the sun. The original point of the cartoon is not clear, but today 127 years later it resurfaces with another: nothing and no one is above ridicule. Not then, not now, not ever.
We love Copenhagen so expect us to be biased. We hug trees, and we love street art, flea markets, old cars and new ideas. We go everywhere by bike, and nowhere without a camera. We worship freedom of speech and believe in democracy, but we have long since lost faith in our politicians. Me and my big mouth.