And Other Observations from Legoland
by Michael Standaert
- Scene One: A funny in Arhus, Denmark
"You know, it's funny," the unknown American artist Mark McFall said to me while we sat canalside in Arhus, soaking sun and blinding the locals with our Hawaiian shirts, "public drunkenness is not looked down upon that much here. Actually, if it is a day like this, it is kind of expected. If it was gray and rainy, well, that's a different story."
Dribbling past us, or drooling, drowning, or whatever were a gaggle of drunken Danes, white as snowblindness, morgue specimens obscured from the sun by months of earth tilting arrogance by those Australians walkabouting, who thus change the angle of the earth on about the same time every year. Ah, but that best of all gods, the mighty sun was out, and the tendency to sideline reserved Protestant gloom melted away. One of the Old Danes cracked a bottle over the head of a New Dane, an elderly Vietnamese man who, strangely enough, was collecting bottles. Now he had to withdraw emerald pieces of Turborg brand beer glass from his head, but at least he was allowed to keep what he retained. All for a good cause though, a case of Danish hospitality for newcomers, foreigners, immigrants, asylum seekers, or "New Danes" as they like to name them, a mere five percent of the population, or about an influx of 20,000 a year to this semi-homogenous land of the long lost Vikings.
"You know, it's funny," McFall said to me once again, "I once had a strange thing happen to me here. Got called in for a job interview for painting houses, just some regular work, and when I came into the guy's office, he breathed a large sigh of relief, and shaking my hand and letting me know I had the job, said he just wanted to see me first. He knew I was American, he said, but just didn't know 'what kind' of American I was. He said he wanted to see if I was black."
Ah, yes, funny. But not to get too down on the Danes, they aren't all racist thugs yearning for the Reich to return from southern absence, they are in fact a very tolerant people as long as you assimilate, speak Danish, and eat brown bread and mackerel for lunch every day. Ah, raise your Tuborg, your Carlsberg, your Ceres to the New Danes fleeing their wretched South! Raise them to the Somalis, Turks and Moroccans! To the Bosnians, Indonesians and Chinese! Where else can you get asylum, have a sex change and enter into a homosexual marriage arrangement (or all three)? Are these New Danes such a burden on the system of social welfare, one of the highest tax levels in the world? No, they are not. A miniscule five percent. You are pointing the herring in the wrong direction. What is the problem?
Act One - Scene Two: A sudden loss of reason
The unknown American artist Mark McFall with the lovely Danish wife, upon being denied half-price beer at the Café Arthur where he was displaying his artwork for the sole purpose of being able to get half-price beer, became enraged and threatened to remove his artwork from the walls of the hallowed Arhus pub. The young barman, new to the establishment and never having seen McFall before, and who didn't know of the agreement McFall had with the owner, threatened to call that very owner.
"By all means, call the owner," said McFall, who was also asked to produce an ID declaring he was in fact, McFall. This made him even more angry and thus he began his redecoration of the walls. The barman called the owner and told him what was transpiring and that very owner said, no, McFall could not have any more half-price beer, and yes, as far as he was concerned, McFall could take his paintings and leave.
"Fine, great, fine," said McFall, and he continued to remove his paintings; one of his black cat Bob looking out a Dutch window; another a painting of his wife, who was standing next to me in shocked awe, and her friend drinking coffee; one of a lewd dragon gawking at a princess; also one of the black cat casting no shadow sitting next to a couch (which I mistook as a piano, sorry McFall); and even one which McFall called "A Portrait of Jesus" which in fact was an old burlap coffee sack, with the word GUATEMALA printed across it, hung in a frame. We gathered the paintings and took them off to his studio, where he told me his idea of a new exhibit of sports related art, but the twist was that you could not enter the gallery unless you were naked. Later, we drank into the night and I though don't recall much of what happened, I do know that the conversations were less then spectacular and that the beer was rather warm.
Act One - Scene Three: God Save the King! (please?)
One thing I have been confronted with here is the fact that my president seems to think that there are no other countries or peoples in the world besides the God fearing U.S of Amerika. It is not rampant Anti-Americanism per se, and I have only been thrown out of three villages, but it is somewhat irritating when all I can speak is nasally Midwestern American English and not hide my cornfed roots, so to say. First it was the rejection of Kyoto (where there is a strange collection of Korean ears buried, sources tell me, but that is between the Japanese and their former colonies), and the Agreement, which is an oxymoron, because there never really was an agreement, was there? Roll in the Missile Defense Shield, rejection of the International Criminal Court, loss of the seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission and back payments to that overburdened and lackluster body, and other small time dealings like Echelon, slight misplacements of not so important documents in the Tim "I'm Not the Unibomber" McVeigh case and his impending (at the time of writing) execution, some bumping of toys with China, oil below the caribou (can't we just turn them into oil too?), unilateral enlightened self-interested capitalism, Jerry Springer on TV, etc….and it appears to give this Mississippi mud Illowa boy an arrogant nationality. But then I voted for Nader. Which was a vote for Bush. Right? Sorry. My bad.
But this is all small change compared with the cultural wash the Euros receive from our beloved states. On my TV, I can watch Riki Lake, The Fresh Prince, Will and Grace, and other wonders of our media establishment every evening. Don't forget Oprah either. It almost feels like home. I just wish I could get Cubbies games, then I would never leave.
Act One - Scene Four: Have you tried a nice Danish pastry?
When we last left the unknown American artist Mark McFall, he was passed out in his own fluids on a couch somewhere in Little Manchester, a community of exiled Manchurians fleeing from the dreaded Foot and Mouth (or was it Hoof and Tooth?) after hours of refer madness, spontaneous poetic exclamations, frazzled guitar renditions of "You are My Sunshine," and bellow voiced nationalistic Queen saving hymnals sung by rugby washouts and reformed soccer (football) hooligans.
Now, clean and bright except for the bruise on his left eye received from a softball thrown by a Dane who was not raised with the game, McFall was lecturing me on the delicate relations with members of the Danish female persuasion.
"It's funny," (it always is), "the girls here are not really big on relationships, but they are big into one night stands."
Well, what a relief.
So I went out and got myself a one night stand, and it turned into a relationship, if you call being handcuffed to a bed in Copenhagen for a week a relationship. But I didn't mind, was well sexed and fed, received generous supplies of coffee, cigarettes, croissants, and strawberry jam.
But alas, as you read this I have fled the country to the warmer climes of Brussels, Paris or London, leaving my Danish behind. Am I worried she will be unfaithful, hesitant, or wary of her American beau and search instead for a Viking mate? Well, considering that at least half the young men here could pass as stand-ins for the Travis Bickel character from Taxi Driver, I think my chances may be slightly better than average.
WAR! || BROKEN NEWS || CRITIQUES & REVIEWS || CYBER BAG || EC CHAIR || FICCIONES
THE FOREIGN DESK || GALLERY || LETTERS || POESY || SERIALS || STAGE & SCREEN || ZOUNDS
Exquisite Corpse - If you experience difficulties with this site, please
contact the webmistress.