Turister

Problemet med storbydestinationer er skandinaver, specielt svenskere.

Overalt støder man ind i disse tørklædeflagrende, Instagram-flashende, SLR-bærende, skinny jeans-droner. De er selvfølgelig for gode til ‘turistattraktioner’ og kaster sig istedet imod alt der lugter lidt af ‘street art’ og ‘flea market’. Som lemminger med fast arbejde/studie.

Det er efterhånden ikke til at komme til på mit lokale blomstermarked, fordi Johan fra Stockholm lige skal have et close-up af liljerne til bloggen (‘STHLM Urbanism’ eller et lignende idiotisk navn udtalt på svengelsk), mens gadesælgeren på sit fineste cockney råber “that won’t feed my children!”

Hvorfor er det at disse markeder med letfordærvelige ting – kød, blomster, frugt, grøntsager – tiltrækker folk, der suger næring gennem en telelinse de alligevel ikke kender funktionaliteten af. Borough, Broadway, Williamsburg, La Boqueria. Du tager sgu da aldrig dit Canon med ned i Fakta for at forevige dåserne med tun?

Kunne vi ikke vende tilbage til en verden, hvor turister var turister med hang til turistattraktioner, turistplaner, turisttøj, keramikudgaver af Eiffeltårnet, mavetasker og bobby hats lavet af plastik? En verden hvor turister var andet end Sodermalms/Vesterbros/skovmandsskjorte-vibskov-kusmi-lands forlængede tentakler?

Mest af alt gør det ondt, fordi jeg nok selv er en af dem. Fy fan!

Posted in General No Comments

Artist envy

I think most office-bound workers have a desire, sometimes at least, to get out there and do something, well, a little more creative. If it weren’t for my lack of skills in these departments, I would love to do something similar, in spirit, to these two friends:

Klaus Thymann went with his camera and photographed these talented parkour artists / refugee camp athletes in the unlikeliest of destinations, war torn Gaza. Have a look at the magnificent photos, beautifully merging politics, athleticism and aesthetics, on the New York Times Style Magazine website.

Mateus Alves is a humble physicist turned double bass player and composer, studying at London’s Royal College of Music. His work, the Two Seasons of Brazil’s Northeast, merges conventional and Brazilian rhythms to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Go you!

Posted in Music, Sportish 1 Comment

Banksy has left the building…

Up until three weeks ago, this thought-provoking piece of art – Very Little Helps – decorated a wall on Essex Road. Arts students and tourists travelling from afar would gather around it, take pictures and exchange knowledgeable glances.

When it was put up in 2008, it was interpreted as showing Banksy’s support of a ban on plastic bags. In retrospect, something tells me this was more a criticism of Tesco than plastic bags…

Three weeks ago someone decided to unscrew the protective plastic membrane and deface the mural. I talked to the guy in the pharmacy, whose wall was graced with the stencil. He told me that the perpetrator left a message of warning/explanation in silver letters across the road, but I have been unable to find out what that message was.

Oh well, the legacy of Cap lives on…

Posted in Urban 2 Comments

Get s.uffed

There is a shop nearby, a shop to which nobody pays attention during the day. A green, slightly run down facade, a letter missing from the sign, windows covered by black metal grids. At night, however, when the lights come on, it is a different story. I have seen people marveling for 10s of minutes at the bizarre sight of lions, bats, sharks and penguins, all conveniently gathered in one tiny room in North London.

I have never seen any living creature inside the shop, it is by appointment only. According to the stickers inside, there is apparently a strict no pictures policy in place. In other words, this post constitutes a breach of sorts. My apologies.

Remind me to take you there next time you visit.

PS. They do not make websites like that anymore.
PPS. The story gets better; they deal in human remains, too.

Posted in Urban 1 Comment

What I rant about when I rant about running

Allow me to tell you a thing or two about running marathons. It is limp-like-a-gangsta days for me, having just returned from Boston, where, I believe, the healthy bits of my legs are now scattered finely across the roads. They are nowhere to be found around here.

Given that it is one of the few races for which you have to qualify, Boston Marathon is the pinnacle of achievement for amateur runners. It is also the oldest annual marathon in the universe and part of the World Marathon Majors, the premier league of the running world.

All of the Majors sell out every year, so the organisers use various filtering mechanisms to keep numbers manageable. Boston recognises merit (how fast you can run), whereas London is primarily interested in the value you represent (how much money you can raise for charity), making it the planet’s biggest fundraising event.

This is obviously a great idea.

But having been born and bred in a country where the state provides most of the things that charities do here, I find it deeply embarrassing to ask friends, family, colleagues and (yikes!) clients to sponsor me to do something I really enjoy doing. On the other hand, I will never pay £2,000 out of my own pocket to run 42.2 km in the streets of my hometown. This is not going to earn me the Nobel Prize, but I find arbitrary ‘charity taxation’ slightly odd. Why not apply the same principles to child births, driving or travelling abroad? I hope the British charity bug does not spread to the other great races, Berlin, New York, Chicago and Boston.

Filtering mechanisms aside, running marathons has become a staple part of the global white middle-class self-fulfillment repertoire. The fastest runners are from Kenya and the rest reside in altogether different socio-demographic categories. Marathons are indeed made of the stuff white people like.

Marathon running is possibly the sport with the biggest gap between elite and mainstream practitioners, so the recent surge in popularity may not change this picture in the foreseeable future. Utrecht Marathon tried to promote ‘local’ winners by offering only 1/100 of the prize money if a foreigner (i.e. a Kenyan) took the first spot, a blatantly stupid move, offset ever so slightly by means of private intervention by a Dutch businessman.

Speaking of money, your average marathon runner has lots of disposable income.

This is reflected in the never-ending stream of kit, coaching and ‘nutrition’ products directly targeting runners. Colourful liquids (with fancy indicative names such as ‘hydro power recovery booster’, ‘space shuttle energiser’ and ‘enriched muscle power fountain’), compression bands for every imaginable body part, titanium discs that will take away any pain before it appears (click here for further inspiration) and, the big thing at the moment, barefoot running shoes (see the irony) at prices that would otherwise land you a small island, to name just a few. People love this stuff.

I highly recommend the PeBuPaPa diet, developed by neuro-biologists at Bordeaux University and scientists from the MIT biotech cluster/Harvard. This tried and tested pre-race combo consists of Peanut Buttered Pancakes and Painkillers (PeBuPaPa). They are working on a shoe made of uranium enriched organic peanut butter and stem cells, so watch this space.

While I consider running a most enjoyable activity, I have little desire to join the ‘running community’. People who get excited about the concept of a ‘pasta party’ – WHILE wearing a track suit indoors AND listening to loud ‘motivational’ music from the 90s – arouse suspicion in me. No offense, but I am just not that much into it…

What I do like, however, is the thrill of the race itself. Few things in this world stand up to passing through the Wellesley Scream Tunnel, allegedly the only (wo)man-made structure that can be heard from the moon, or running down monumental Unter den Linden in Berlin.

Talking to other runners, I am not the only one to have experienced brain tickles – like someone pouring small amounts of cold water directly onto your brain – when going through said tunnel or eyeing the finish line. This phenomenon, usually occurring well into the race, must have a medical classification that I am not aware of. While others will run for beer, I will continue pursuing that feeling. Right until the candle burns up my arm.


My annoying brother, who does not need to train to run long and fast.

Posted in Sportish 3 Comments

Blackberry-free zone

Regent’s Canal, connecting Paddington with Limehouse since 1820. I spend 80 kilometres of my time there every week, so I decided to bring along a camera. I never understood why some people get bored when they run, there is just too much to think about, too many things to look at. Hipsters, hippies and hamsters, to name but a few…

Posted in Picture posts, Sportish, Urban No Comments

In case you ever wondered…

…now you know what the meat market in Vilnius looks like.

Posted in Picture posts, Travel No Comments

But they said it would open doors

Recent times have been pretty tough for those with advanced degrees:

Stein Bagger – Danish business man with a PhD and an MBA from “San Francisco Technical University”, yet so much professional turbulence.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg – German Defence Minister with a PhD from the University of Bayreuth, yet so much spare time.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi – Dictator in the making with a PhD from the LSE, yet so little public backing.

Posted in Academic No Comments

A Guy Ritchie movie in the making?

Two crooks decide to rob hundreds of unsuspecting people of thousands of £s by charging a hefty entry fee to enter a Lapland fantasy Christmas park that turns out to be more of a “Crapland”. Yesterday they were found guilty of misleading advertising.

Sad? Yes. Wrong? Yes. A little bit comical, too? Indeed! Details below:

…on arrival at the park, down a poorly signposted, potholed lane, visitors were greeted by a large concrete expanse and a traffic cone on which a sign had been perched reading “Lapland Way In”. Instead of being greeted by an elf, as promised on the website, visitors had to give their tickets to a security guard in fluorescent tabard who, according to contemporary news reports, made a point of telling those coming in that they were being ripped off and later quit after a customer punched him in the head.

Once inside, instead of a “tunnel of light”, guests found a short row of fir trees that had been lightly sprayed with fake snow and draped with a string of fairy lights. In a muddy corner of the site a few huskies were chained to pegs, “howling, yapping and generally looking unhappy”, according to one visitor; a solitary reindeer suffered the same unhappy fate.

[…] The park went into liquidation four days after it opened, when bank support helping to fund the attraction was pulled amid a storm of negative publicity. By the time it shut its doors, according to press reports at the time, three elves had been assaulted by irate guests while Father Christmas himself received a punch on the nose by a father who had been queueing for four hours only to be told that his children couldn’t sit in Santa’s lap.

(source).

Never trust a Finn.

Posted in Peculiarities No Comments

Tales of how we live

Presumably these films were made to showcase ‘Denmark’ at the 2010 World Expo in China. I’m not sure to what extent a film can ever represent a country let alone its people, but to me they are awe-inspiring pieces of art, bringing back a sense of belonging in all their aesthetic naivety.

My favourite is ‘Water city’. It is essential that you watch them in full screen mode.

EXPO Water city from martin de thurah on Vimeo.

EXPO bicycle city from martin de thurah on Vimeo.

EXPO family city from martin de thurah on Vimeo.

Posted in Dansk, Design No Comments