Wednesday, 27 October 2010

and i listened to

walking down the street i noticed that mulatu astatke was playing - the week after we left!

then, after seeing a copy of fear of a black planet in a shop, had a conversation with t's brother about the many reasons why chuck d must be foaming into his cornflakes. so you're wanting rap about something sked t's brother. you want to be listening to immortal technique (definitely nsfw or if the limits of your listening to rap are defined by fiddy/puffy or any of that lot)

which led to a lovely discussion around gil scott heron

back on the boat i managed some quiet time and lost myself in louis sclavis. revelational!

and sweden

began and ended with a mess of children with almost constant contact with t's new niece inbetween. this last few times we've really done nothing much except the family thing while we've been in stockholm and while thta may have left us a bit culturally lacking we've more than made up for it in terms of getting into the swedish, at least the stockholm version of it, society. (i should point out that we did plan a wee venture out to upsalla but the weather did that thing that makes it essential that you stay indoors, drink coffee and eat cake)

it must have been all that watching of wallander but despite the time it's been since we were last there my comprehension has come on leaps and bounds. true, my spoken swedish is still rubbish but even after ten days getting back to scotland both of us were having a bit of difficulty readjusting back to english for the daily pleasantries. i could even make jokes on the fishing trip!

ah yes, the fishing trip. being as sweden is some sort of valhalla for sport fishing it's inevitable that i spend at least one day out on a boat. that and the fact that my presence seems to have a synergistic effect on t's brother so that we always catch a bunch of fish! also the fact that i'm scottish is always a novelty for the locals as well as the fact that i fish in a notedly swedish style. i really should leave all my gear over there as i don't fish anywhere else!

in the interim myself and t had been riding the tunnelbana to see what the outskirts were like. one place we hadn't been was sodertalje 'where all the immigrants live' so it was a happy coincidence to be meeting the boat guy there. and i would've seen more had it not dropped about three inches of snow over night. usually it gets snowy in the north first. not that day! digging the boat out of the snow at the side of the lake was grim but the day turned out lovely. out round the archipelago on a boat is one of the best places to see that bit of sweden even if the cold is chewing the front of your face off!

one thing was is happening at the moment is some nut job is shooting immigrants in malmo. this, coupled with the election of the sweden democrats at the recent election is causing much exercise of swedish minds. it's easy, being a tourist in central stockholm, to imagine this as the country of blond, tall people. it'a only when you take the train to the outskirts, or maybe at seven in the morning when the workers are out, that a different reality is apparent. on our excursions it was very easy, once outside the centre, to be in a carriage full of immigrants. which of course is precisely what the sweden democrats are blethering about in their special incoherent way.

and not helped by the left for whom immigrants, it seems, are all brown people (obviously the sweden democrats have a special place for brown muslim people!). so where does that place 'my' family? we're chilean/argentinian/middle eastern/swedish/english/eastern european/korean. and now of course, scottish. so what do we look like in the park? like something beautiful!

childrens' parks in sweden are not like in the uk. they exist for one thing! but there are no fences and no cameras. children can run around. all the adults watch out for them. during the week it's mainly occupied by stay at home fathers and their kids. there are things for children to climb up, fall off - health and safety is no less prevalent here, just different.

you realise t's brother observes, that if you ever move over here, we'll be the worst sort of immigrants, the ones who bring across the rest of their families! sitting in the park polarises the issue for me. there has to be a better way of discussing the issues of immigration than 'them and us', something more like 'you and i' which migrates into 'we'.

on the last day we have a bunch of the kids round. the youngest (a proper little viking) likes being held upside down and chased and is finally silenced by a pippi longstocking video which has him entranced. the middle kids are outside playing with the cat. i make idiot faces thru the window. the oldest girl (7) is, at first the most withdrawn. she can speak english but doesn't - it's her parents 'secret' language - so i have to resort ot subterfuge. i get a bunch of them drawing. she has never seen drawing technique like mine. she can't help looking at it. a face emerges. flicka i say, pointing at her. her drawing is much more line based and leaves out the awkward fact of my glasses. pojke she writes. a bit of origami later and lack of shared language no longer matters. true i'll never compete against ice cream but in our funny little family situation i've become the rarely appearing eccentric farbror. and that'll do me.

in the end i'm glad to get home. i miss my books, i miss my bikes, i miss my ....everything but the first thing we do is buy a halloween outfit for the baby, for the party we won't be at. there are tears from t when we leave. and me? even i get a little danp eyed, just for a moment!


so while the whole swedish thing was basically a family visit we did manage some time off (esp as we were staying about two minnutes away) to get up to the moderna museet for a general wander about. or so we thought.

we were well impressed with the architecture museum the last time we were there so it didn't take much persuading, esp as i mumbled something about a craft exhibit, for t to go again. and so glad that we did. at last, some sort of arts and crafts that actually blends both the art and the craft! this was easily the best art and craft thing i've ever been to and, sadly, different to anything we see around here. loads to see and think about and a great springboard to enthuse us about projects we want to start over the winter.

on then to the moderna where, along with their permanent collection, they were showcasing 54 of the best in swedish art. sometimes that might make the heart sink a bit but not this time.again, it was fabulous. there was even video work i sat down and watched. and watched. and watched. to pick one work at random there was kajsa dahlberg's a thousand libraries which entailed going round all of sweden's libraries and photcopying any annotated pages of virginia woolf's a room of one's own, then presenting the lot as a limited edition artist's book which can now be found in most of the aforesaid libraries. obviously you'd think being able to read swedish would be an advantage but in the end really not as to be functionally illiterate was to be able to appreciate the emotions in the handwriting, the double underlinings, exclamations marks and other fulminations. it was both beguiling and intriguing.

after all that, the permanent collection was, to be honest, a bit drab although, to be fair, we were kind of hungry by that time and we have seen most of it many times before. i'm still liking the yves klein tho and they had a big display of rodchenko posters that was never going to do less than catch the eye

Saturday, 16 October 2010

if only offices looked like this....

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.

one post in october!

yes, it's true, i am a lax blogger.

and one who's off for a bit of swedish style family time so it could be that these are the sum total of october's efforts.

perhaps when i'm back and the nights are drawing in...

Friday, 1 October 2010

and the excitement is escalating

faster than an irish debt crisis!

yes, finally, the poetry bus magazine is on its way!

at last!