Friday, December 14, 2007

Hamlet: I Heart You




Hamlet I heard you: No not really.

I am staying in the town of Kokkedal right now on the northern coast of Zealand about 25 kilometers outside of Kobenhavn. Its gray most of the day (perpetually overcast) and the temperature hovers between 2-6 Centigrade.
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We are about 16 kilometers outside of Helsignor, the town where Shakespeare attributes the play of Hamlet to the castle of Elsinore (see the resemblance).

I rode my bike there yesterday along the winding coast. It was a great day for a ride, with a cool breeze keeping me from overheating in my biking attire (jeans and sweatshirt).

The medieval town has changed little over the past few centuries. The streets are still cobblestone, the tourists are still Swedish and the castle remains standing century after century.

I decided to not travel into the actual castle, tickets are 75kr (15 bucks), but I walked around the moat and castle to observe that it looks like most castles (old and dreary). Instead I opted to visit a local bar at around 1 in the afternoon.

Surrounded by local pensioners I devoured my first Danish beer: Wiibroe. After a week of staying out here, yesterday was the first time that I actually had anything to drink. At 14kr a piece it was well worth the wait.

Wanting to stay warm before my ride back to Kokkedal I walked over to the local mall. I was lucky enough to catch the Santa Lucia "winter lights festival". Its a song carried out by the local girls to celebrate the dark days of winter and the light that comes from family (I think thats about right). Anyway, its a beautiful song to hear and it was great that through happenstance I was able to catch the a Santa Lucia song in action.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This Content is Currently Not Available


Plucked out of New York I find myself at some crossroads. Luckily I brought my trusty laptop along for the ride to Denmark.

Each day there is a limited amount of sunlight, which translates to some minor constraints of lifestyle. I have to wake up early enough catch the first rays of light and be home by 4 pm in order to not get lost trying to find my way back. But once I do arrive home there is this big question surrounding "What do I do for the next seven hours?". I could read books, cook elaborate dinners, blog or construct the world's largest gingerbread home. I've decided to catch up on American television series that I don't have time to watch during the work week.

Two days ago I received my beta invite to Hulu, that new social video website, hosted by NBC U, News Corp and now CBS. Its supposed to help revolutionize how we view television content online. Well, as pleased as I was to finally receive my invite (it was requested a month ago), I was unable to access any of the content. Why? Probably because I am in Europe right now.

I attempted to access Joost, which gave me similar not working responses. However, I was able to access their TKO (Technical Knock Out Network) and the Sports Illustrated Network via Joost. Access to National Geographic via Joost was non-existent.

How am I supposed to become a dedicated user of these services when they do not function half the time? I find myself in a rural village in Northern Zealand, Denmark with access to weird Danish television series and all I want to do is watch Heroes. Yes, I should be soaking up the culture and that I am, but there is still some downtime and until I understand all the subtitles it will be worthwhile for me to have access to American programming.

I don't care if its packaged with local danish advertisements, but there should be some way for me to access this content. I have resorted to bit torrents and recently finished watching Kid Nation. 40 Kids, 40 Days, No adults and the New Mexico desert. We should try this out with politicians. 40 politicians, 40 days, No adults and the New Mexico desert.

I tried accessing Kid Nation from Veoh, but just like CBS.com, Hulu.com and Joost I was unable to access this content overseas. Stupid considering that I can just download them from bit torrents. These damn studios are shooting themselves in the foot by not providing content easily. Instead of getting some advertising revenues through legitimate means, they are getting zero revenues from me and anyone else in Europe or beyond who just downloads them from a competing service.

We live in a global economy. The internet should be the first place where laws, revenue shares and content distribution are being set up for mass global consumerism. I realize this is "uncharted" territory, but in the interest of companies responsible for content generation (which I respect and am willing to pay for) I say get with the times and make JV's/partnership deals with the rest of the world, so the US is not so far behind in the digital sphere.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Upside Down and Inside Out

Greetings to all from Kobenhavn, Danmark.

I made it here without any broken bones or scary stories. Just a smooth flight on SAS Airlines and a distant cousin awaiting me at the airport.

Its been raining on and off the last two days, but its nothing a New Yorker can not handle. In fact, its a bit warmer here than in NYC. It has not snowed yet and the temperature is hovering in the mid-40s.

After assembling my bike on Sunday morning I took myself out for a 5 hour ride around the town. Kobenhavn is a beautiful place to be situated and has been constructed to allow bike riders the greatest convenience possible. Unlike Montreal, which I visited two weeks ago, Kobenhavn has bike lanes on EVERY single street. Car, Bike and Pedestrian make up each rode (both ways).

The fact that there are up to six lanes of possible movement per rode makes for some interesting traffic. Not only do I worry about hitting pedestrians, but also bike riders (who are old ladies, moms, children, the elderly, etc.), cars and people entering and exiting from buses. Motorcyclists also share the biking lanes, so there is seldom a dull moment.

The bike lanes are just wide enough to fit two riders comfortably. Passing is a bit crazy, since a quarter of the bike riders are also casually talking on their cellphones (hmmm sounds familiar to car drivers). On top of the forward progression, there is also the need to abide by all traffic laws. For once I am actually taking the time to stop at each red light. Considering that this country "gets it" about biking I feel its only right for me to follow their rules. Everytime I come to a stoplight I practice my track stands. They are getting pretty good, so who knows, maybe next spring I'll win an event at one of these alleycats.

There appears to be two main bike messenger services in town: The Green Messengers and those guys who wear black. The Green Messengers have green spandex racing outfits, which is pretty neat. I think they have customized Ortlieb weatherproof backpacks as well.

Monday I cruised around town with Lis, my retired psychiatrist cousin. We bought a styrofoam sword for her 7 year old grandson. This shop, Faraos Cigar, reminded me of nerdville. It was stocked with plastic swords, shields and Dungeons & Dragons gear. Most of this stuff is made in Germany. The only people I see wearing/carrying chain mail nowadays are the bums in the East Village and those Goth kids. Apparently its a cool thing out here.

Having seen Christiania I was not really too impressed. This area is near the harbor and composed of old military barracks that have been taken over by hippies and vagrants. The area sees high levels of drug abuse/sales and is tatooed by oft grotesque graffiti. Punk kids and artsy types hang around the spot hocking "Bevar Christiania" (Save Christiania) wares.

It reminded me of Berkeley and Haight Street in San Francisco. A bunch of free loaders, doped up and fighting against "the man". In Christiania they refuse to pay taxes or rent (from what I have been told), although I saw many with satellite dishes. Hippies need to watch football.

Today, Tuesday, December 11th I spent the greater part of my day exploring the Glyptotek Museum. It was originally founded by the Carlsberg Brewing Company and now houses an exceptional collection of Greek and Roman sculptures. In addition there are sections devoted to French Art and Sculpture and Danish Arts.

More to follow...