Thursday, December 22, 2016

Den vådliga vådan av jul och alkohol

Skriver inte ofta på svenska men detta irriterar mig. Läser just nu jag vet inte hur  många ledare i svenska media om hur hemskt det är med julfirande och alkohol, hur våldet minsann genast kryper in på nåt sätt.

Så funkar det inte, i min erfarenhet. Julen innebär för många en paus då mycket kommer till ytan i relationer och samtidigt ett sorts tryck av traditioner. Jag tänker inte förneka att alkohol kan spela en roll men folk blir inte plötsligt våldsamma bara för att dom dricker nåt annat än julmust under julfirandet. Det finns nog andra problem först i sådana fall.

Om jag fixar till julmaten med ett glas rödvin, glögg eller whisky i näven innebär det inte att jag efter det först går och slår frugan och sen jagar barnen. Inte heller somnar jag brakfull på soffan senare. Igår delade frugan och en flaska vitt på restarungen. Kan inte minnas att vi vare sig slog varandra eller barnen efteråt. Eller grälade.

Gräla under jultid kan man göra av många orsaker som sagt men skyll inte allt på glögg, vin, öl, snaps osv.

Människor reagerar helt enkelt olika på både alkohol, stress och "äntligen ledig". Jag har en god vän jag en gång fick lyfta ut ur huset då han blev helt oregerlig. Det var inte det faktum att vi hade delat några glas, det var nåt annat som brast i honom. En annan god vän (hans son faktiskt) faller i sömn efter typ 3 öl. Det hanterar vi genom att visa honom gästsängen (han vet var den är) men inte genom att säga "hallå där, ingen öl för dig minsann). Själv kan jag utan större bekymmer snutta i mig en flaska whiskey under en ledig dag som denna utan att nån egentligen märker nån större skillnad så länge jag inte behöver klättra upp på taket eller nåt.

Med andra ord anser jag att det är personligt. Att ta en drink av nåt för att slappna av eller helt enkelt njuta av hur gott rött vin, champagne, whisky, cognac, öl osv smakar skapar inte våld och julmust, cocacola mm begränsar det inte.

Det är vad som finns i personen just då det rör sig om. Och att ta julen som vad det skall vara: avkoppling och för dom som är religiösa att fira Jesu födelse. Ta det lugnt. Om nu nåt med julklapparna, granen och julmaten inte blev som det "skall vara", ta det som det kommer. Skratta åt att granen är lätt bedrövlig och lutar (min), acceptera att man inte kan köpa allt man vill ha, ge fanken i skinkan om du inte orkar fixa till den. Köp en färdiglagad eller strunta i den helt enkelt.

Och med det säger jag God Jul till er alla

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Sidetrack 2

It seems to be the year of dying. But as a writer of obituaries pointed out: a lot of famous people are actually old so expect more of it.

In any case, it might surprise some of my friends that over the years I have become a fan of boxing. This as I, at least I hope, is known for my stance of non-violence. And whatever you say of boxing, non-violent it is not.

You can argue forever (and believe you me people do) who was the best boxer ever and so on. Mike Tyson had a punch like noone else, the Klivenko brothers were (are, they still alive) simply massive. Rocky Marciano. And so on.

But Muhammad Ali will be remembered as "The Greatest". For his style, his attitude, his political choice of rather going to jail than to fight in Vietnam. His comebacks. If you can, find "When we were Kings" and watch it and you get an idea.

He then fought with Parkinsons for many years. But still, shaking and with slurry speach, managed to appear at various functions. A true fighter to the end.

And yesterday I read about the passing away of someone else I admired. Some of you may never have heard of Freddie Wadling, a singer from Goteborg, Sweden. We moved in the same circles for a while and  I have quite a few CD where he sings. And boy could he sing.

He was odd, different. And to be honest always looked frail. He was known to, at least years ago, believe in magic and his flat was full of odd objects.

I would never have thought that he would become what you might call popular, to me he was too on the fringes for that. But somehow he did. In truth he could sing anything, out of that frail body came anything from a raging roar to a whisper. Or (and have I been looking for a recording of that) when he suddenly during a concert started singing "Mackie the Knife" in the best version I have ever heard. He did things like that, suddenly changed and confused whatever band he was performing with.

In one of his last videos he sings about depression and getting out of it (I will put a link, even if you don't understand the language). In English the title is something like "Now we get up from the floor" and the banner at the end says "We need to be open about it".

Ships, Blue For Two

Eye of a Storm

Nu lyfter vi från marken

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sidetrack no 1

I am becoming more and more convinced that it is the sidetracks in life that are really important. It is not all those plans you make (it is good to make them to give a direction but they never really work out) but it is the sidetracks. The unexpected. The funny or shocking. Those are the ones you will remember.

So here is a slight sidetrack. For whatever reason our youngest son has taken an interest in Egyptian mythology. I think it started with the Sphinx but I am not sure and to be honest I don't care. Any interest in anything not being watching TV is good from my point of view.

So we have a cat named Scruff (as she looked a bit scruffy when we more or less catnapped her from a friend) that is, well, kind of special. I guess most cat lovers say that. And (sidetrack) I was not really a cat lover before Scruff.

Now I am having long discussions with Eric over Bastet, the cat goddess of the ancient Egypt. I claim Scruff is Bastet in reincarnation and Eric, rather naturally, claims she is not an Egyptian Goddess.

Verdict still out there.

Sidetracks. There will be more to come

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Internet life is sometimes strange and take you places

Since internet really started taking off with first email (I remember when I had an account and in the area of like 5 people to email to), mailing lists, then blogs and now "social" networks you occasionally get some really strange "path crossings". Just like in that thing we on internet call "IRL" (in real life, case you did not know).

I have since around 1998 been a member of a somewhat loosely knitted community of "Swedes living abroad". It is kind of amazing, I remember a very odd event when I was locked in an office with a person who was trying to pretend he was from the police. The rest of the staff had gone to fetch a proper police officer. Being the one I am I was online and chatting and immediately got posts like "I can call the Embassy, do you need help, are you OK".

It also gave me the opportunity of celebrating the famous new year 2000 in Australia, hours ahead of most of my friends. And in good company for sure.

But to get to the point, we discuss all sorts of stuff between us. And somehow (this was years ago) I got into a discussion with a lady about a certain Lindsay Kemp who taught David Bowie miming and dancing around 1967.

To which I get the reply "yes I knew them both in those days, used to visit the place they lived quite often. Lindsay was so in love he tried to commit suicide when David left". Well hit me with a hammer or something. OK I was 6 years old or so at the time when that happened and Kemp was more famous than Bowie (am not even sure he had changed his surname yet) but even so.

And now Kemp has confirmed that story:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The many joys of travelling

I can safely tell you that it is not fun to sit for over 1 hour at Harare airport and wait for what is clearly a delayed flight to Beira and then on to Maputo in Mozambique.

But I can tell you that following that delay sitting in Beira transit for over an hour and waiting for a connecting flight is even more boring. OK, you talk to people (at least if you are me) but there is nothing to eat or drink, there is not a shred of information as to when you might be leaving.

Then on top of it, once we arrived in Maputo my airport transport had left and to really finish it off I had a run in with the local police threatening me with huge fines for not carrying my passport after going for a very late meal.

Let's just say it was a long day. But sometimes clouds have a little silver lining.

Given my boys are now basically both teenagers and so to speak live in their own world I had kind of forgot that I am actually quite good with kids. And I think I can say that with some confidence actually. So once we finally board in Beira this little girl (say she was 8 or so) carrying that envelope that states "unaccompanied passenger" gets the seat next to me.

We start talking and to my surprise she speaks very good English (after all we are in Mozambique, right). I had a feeling she had never really been on a plane before so I explain how the safety belt works (and for sure she did not know), how the reading lights work, the cooling fan. Then how the propellers will fire up and so on.

About 15 minutes after take off I have a little sleeping head leaning on me and the kid curled up in her seat. And there she slept. She rescued my day, basically.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The birds

It is kind of strange to feel sorry for a bird. But on our grounds we have plenty, everything from hummingbirds (they make our cat produce some really weird noises when she spots them in the palmtree outside the window) to the very common african, a woodpecker and at least one owl.

And this pair that have lived here "forever". Have no idea what they are called. Large, colourful with a plume and pretty noisy. Think large parrots though that is not what they are.

A couple of weeks ago one was found dead on the driveway. And now I hear the other one calling and calling, day in and out. I assume it may be one of those species that "bond for life".

Which is why I actually feel a bit sad on behalf of a bird.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Starman has left us

"There's a Starman waiting in the sky, he'd like to come and meet us but he thinks he'd blow our minds"

Yes David Bowie, you truly blew our minds. 

I well remember hearing your music for the first time and that was Ziggy Stardust. Sitting in a classmate's bedroom, playing vinyl on whatever equipment a kid of 13 had in 1973-4. Somehow I scraped together money to buy Diamond Dogs when it was released in 1974. And played it on an old "mobile" mono gramophone or, when I got the chance, my parents stereo.

We tried to look like you, we tried to dress (well not the more outrageous styles) like you. I dyed my hair red using henna (Mom was not impressed) and somehow persuaded my parents to buy me plateau boots. Still don't know how I managed that. Apparently I share that experience with Madonna. She has shared her experience of climbing out the window (having been grounded by parents) to go watch her first ever concert, being David Bowie. And "it was not all that easy as I was wearing plateau boots".

To me it was never the bisexual, genderbending part that was interesting. I did not put on any makeup (quite a few of my friends did) but it was the music. And to some extent I guess the "breaking the frame" part. There was a time when I saw photos of officials in London neatly dressed in a costume - only with a skirt instead of trousers. No, I am not making it up. Not kilt but skirt. With a bowler hat. But you made it "cool" to come out with whatever style or sexual orientation and I am reading so many "thanks you saved my life" stories that it is almost unbelievable.

Then came the "plastic soul" era where I was wondering what the heck was going on. Followed by a druginfused "Thin White Duke" 1976 that happened to be the first time you perfomed in Gothenburg and I could see you live. To open a concert with a surrealistic short black and white movie made by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali...

We camped outside the hotel after the concert hoping to catch a glimpse, with no luck. The next day I went to school and my classmate "Flaskan" (The Bottle) who I will forever not forgive skived school and went to the hotel. Strutted in and asked if he could see David Bowie. Which he did. For like an hour in his hotel room. That is another side of Bowie that was well known - he was kind, took time to talk to fans and try and help younger artists. "Flaskan" came out with signed posters, albums and whatnot. I never forgave him for not telling me his plans.

Did I mention that during these years he produced Lou Reed "Transformer" album with the classic "Walk On The Wild Side"? And reviving Mott The Hoople with the song "All the Young Dudes"? And kept visiting Iggy Pop (after producing Raw Power in 1973) who was in a mental institution following heavy drug abuse, later to move to Berlin together with Iggy in 1976 and out of that came the famous "Low", "Heroes" and "Lodger" albums. And for Iggy - well Bowie basically wrote and produced his comeback album "The Idiot" at the same time. 

Phew. And somewhere during all that acting as Thomas Jerome Newton in the movie "The Man Who Fell To Earth" (that was before Berlin), considered a minor classic in science fiction. 

Then came "Scary Monsters" followed by years of relative quiet. Apart from the movie lead song "Cat People" and the collaboration with Queen "Under Pressure" he seemed to focuse on movies and art. And yes, Bowie also painted.

More or less out of the blue came his biggest commercial hit album: Let's Dance. A somewhat superblond and tanned Bowie had suddenly decided to go "pop" and did so. I saw the "Moonlight" tour in Gothenburg, it was simply awesome. The following "Tonight" he later admitted himself he did not get right - simply not used to follow up on a megahit. But "Blue Jean" is still a great song and video. Or "Loving the Alien".

Bowie then decided it was time to be just a band member and became the singer in "Tin Machine". Probably a bit underrated I think he simply had too much persona to be just a singer. He met and married Iman and went on to release "Black Tie White Noise" with what can only be described as a love song to Iman on it.

There was also the soundtrack to "Buddha of Suburbia". And I almost forgot "Absolute Beginners", another soundtrack but where he also acted. 

He then reunited with Brian Eno (the Berlin Trilogy) to release the industry/electronic rock "1.Outside". It was meant to, again, be one of 3 albums but according to some notes and statements Bowie decided that making music about the future was pointless as the future "was already here". It kicked off his co-work with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, touring together and Trent reworking "I'm Afraid of Americans" while Bowie performed "Hurt" (as did later Johnny Cash in one of his final videos).

So having abandoned the trilogy concept he instead made "Earthling", an album he said was "just a bunch of rock guys trying to play jungle". I love it though I don't play it that often.

Suddenly, and now more "as usual changing" he released the rather mellow "Hours". It could not be more different from the 2 albums preceding it.

After a few years of quiet came "Heathen". I remember driving around in Maputo, Mozambique, in a rented car playing it at full blast. To me personally that was a comeback like no other. Pete Townsend of The Who blasting away the guitar in "Slow Burn" is just a total classic. As is the quiet "Everyone says Hi". 

Bowie then released "Reality" that many think was a personal reaction to the Twin Towers attack in New York where he lived. He went on tour and in 2004 suffered a mild heartattack on stage. After that he basically went quiet and only made a few appareances to support "up and coming" bands and some charities. 

I, as most, thought he had chosen to retire and spend his remaining days raising his daughter. And why not? I have not even mentioned his off-Broadway acting career as "The Elephant Man", those other movies where his last was as Nikolas Tesla, when he did the narrator of "Peter and The Wolf" or and so on. Or the Bowienet ISP or being basically the first artist to trade in his future rights. Or predicting that internet would kill off copyright "music will be like water from a tap". Or the "David Bowie IS" exhibition that toured the world based on his outfits and fashion. Or the 2 classic music symphonies written by Philip Glass around the "Low" and "Heroes" albums.

I should perhaps also mention that in 1999, Bowie was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music the same year.He declined the royal honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000, and turned down a knighthood in 2003. Bowie explained his reluctance, saying: “I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don’t know what it’s for. It’s not what I spent my life working for.” 

So he was laughing at us or just getting restless, who knows. Roping in his old band and his long time friend and producer Tony Visconti he spent almost 2 years to in all secrecy record "The Next Day" and release it on his 66 birthday. To me the best songs are "Where Are We Now" and "The Stars Are Out Tonight", especially with the brilliant video of him and Tilda Swindon as an ageing couple in "The Stars...". 

He refused to give interviews after that, leaving it to Tony Visconti mainly. One thing was made clear: there would be no more live concerts or tours. He was awarded the "Brits Awards" and sent supermodel Kate Moss to collect the price. He was also appointed "the best dressed man in British history" but, in style, did not appear to pick up the price.

One of those "best of all remixes" collections after that did not really impress me but on it came hints of what was going to come. The, mildly put, experimental "Sue, or in a season of crime" pointed to what whould be his last album.

Instead of tried and trusted he chose to partner with a freeform jazzband someone had told him about. Tony said the whole idea was to get a jazzband to play rock. Well, if the first version "Sue.." was an Ornette Coleman Trio thing he did get them to play something that was perhaps not rock but certainly not jazz either later. 

So shortly before his 69th birthday came the single "Blackstar" with a video so haunting some tinfoilhat thought it predicted Earth about to be hit by an invisible planet in our solar system. Followed by the now really spooky video "Lazarus". Also connected to an off-Broadway play he was involved in about - what else - the Man Who Fell To Earth. In Lazarus (brilliantly made by Johan Renck from Sweden who I guess will suffer forever "will I ever do anything so poignant again" syndrome) video Bowie slips out of a wardrobe to watch himself in a hospitalbed. Then to make a few dancemoves like his 70-style "Alladin Sane (A Lad Insane) shows. Then goes back in and closes the wardrobe. Some days later I woke up to the news of his death.

The opening line of Lazarus:
"Look up here, I'm in Heaven"

Yes David, if there is a Heaven the Starman belongs there