Thursday, May 26, 2005

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Well, let's hear it for Industrial Age Pin-up art: Ridgid

(contest: See how many references to sex, and male sexual organs, you can actually find in this picture...)
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Saturday, May 21, 2005

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Went and saw Star Wars episode III "Revenge of the Sith"
The concluding finale to George Lucas' epic story which began 28 years ago.

As a Star Wars fan I'm sad to see the legend stop, where will we go now for that special blend of innocence, heroism, Eastern philosophy (the Californian translation) and the greatest special effects seen on the screen?

The jokes always sucked in Star Wars, the acting could definitely be better at times, and the story itself was basically just about the good guys fighting the baddies until they (of course) win, but It was the only Sci-fi movie that could really deliver when it came to what every Sci-fi fan wanted to see most of all: Big, epic, intergalactic battles - that realism was unprecedented.

In "Revenge of the Sith" everybody fulfill their destiny so the story can some full circle: Darth Vader joins the dark side, the Republic becomes The Empire (like in many dictatorships, it explains its own creation as a necessary phase to better fight off outside enemies...) power crazed politician Palpatine becomes the evil Emperor, Yoda and Obi Wan go into exile to protect the newly born Luke and Leia Skywalker, etc, etc, piece by piece the scene is set for the beginning of the legend as seen in the original 1977 Star Wars movie.

This last episode is by all means a worthy epitaph, with plenty of bang for your buck and memorable scenes, but when the end is reached it feels so strange, like old personal friends have died - Yoda, Chewbacca, Obi Wan, Luke Skywalker.

Well, who needs heroes anyway.

May the force be with you.
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Friday, May 20, 2005

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Let's finish Art-Week here at the blog with Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) and his "cottages among a clump of large trees" done in 1653.
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Thursday, May 19, 2005

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Ian Curtis died 25 years ago yesterday, May 18 (in the photo with his daugther Natalie)

A singer with the British band Joy Division he was in my opinion one of the most important artists of the 80's.

A great poet with lyrics mainly delivering precise and chilling descriptions of the modern individual dealing with experiences of alienation, isolation, dysfunctionality and the search for a new hope.

The movie "24 hour party people" about the Factory record company (and many other things!), features the story of Ian Curtis and Joy Division.

A movie about Ian Curtis directed by Anton Corbijn is in preparation.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

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Raymond Pettibon is one of the world's leading artists, and one of the few gallery and museum artists working with the media of drawing.

He began his career making covers, posters and flyers for the L.A punk scene, mainly working with BLACK FLAG.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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Well, why not make this "Art-Week" and jump into the spandex pants of John Sex.

Sporting a 20" blonde hairdo he placed himself somewhere between traditional gay campness and pop art which went down well with the revitalized art- and club scenes in New York in the 1980's

Defining himself as a singer and performer he had music videos done that really stand out for their use of the technological possibilities at the time while also making fun of the media itself and popculture in general.

Watch "Rock your Body"

Or see John performing with the sweetness of "I want to be in the Jet Set"

(if you're not using a Macintosh you´ll need QuickTime on your computer)

Like many other great figures of the era, John Sex became a victim of AIDS and passed away in 1989.
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Monday, May 16, 2005

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While in Berlin I managed to catch End of The Century, a great documentary about The Ramones, required viewing for anyone interested in something outside the contemporary spectre of shallow pretence, power crazed egotism and materialism as a drug.
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Saturday, May 14, 2005

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Romantisch!

Well, back in the DK and no posting yesterday due to maintenance at Blogger, but here are some more pictures from Berlin:



Many places in East Berlin has a strange ghost-town like atmosphere.



Impossible to translate, but this word is a combination of "zu viel" (too much) and "zivilisation" (civilization)



Need to take a leak, but not in the mood for that special odor of pee and disinfectant familiar with most city urinals? (not to mention wondering about the lifes of the elderly men and women who manage them) - Kein problem! in Berlin a mere 0.50 € will gain you entry to one of these fully automated toilets which are not only automatically cleaned after use, but also plays music while your're at it!
Schön!



The majestic buildings at Tempelhof airport

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

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Well, no picture today, something went wrong, technical problems - in Tchermany?!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Monday, May 09, 2005

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60'Th anniversary of the victory of the Glorius Red Army over the Hitlerite murderers.

LONG LIVE THE GLORIOUS RED ARMY!
LONG LIVE THE PARTISAN HEROES!
LONG LIVE THE GREAT VICTORY!

URRAH!
URRAH!
URRAH!

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

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WWII in Europe ended sixty years ago today.

At 2.41 AM at the Allied headquarters in Rheims, France - Colonel-General Alfred Jodl signed the document which certified the unconditional surrender of all German forces in Europe. The surrender was to take effect from 11.01 PM.

The bloodiest conflict in European history had been put to an end.

The Russians demanded a second signing in Berlin the next day to make sure nothing was kept from them by the Western Allies, thus making May 8 1945 the official "Victory-In-Europe" day and May 9 the official "Victory Day of the Great Patriotic War" for the Russian forces.


Total deaths, civilian and military:

Soviet-Russia - 25,568,000
Germany - 7,060,000
Poland - 6,850,000
Yugoslavia - 1,700,000
France - 985,000
Austria - 525,000
Italy - 410,000
Great Britain - 388,000
USA - 295,000

A total of around 40,000,000 people were killed in Europe in the war, the large majority of them in Eastern Europe.

Now that the war was over the soldiers could return to their homes, but to very different realities.

The Soviet-Union had carried the heaviest burden in terms of deaths and destruction, and the racial element in the German war in the East - against the "sub-human" Slavic races - had led to millions of civilian deaths.
The fighting and the widespread use of "scorched-earth" tactics by both the retreating Germans and Russians alike had totally destroyed the infrastructure and major cities in most of the western part of the country.
On top of that the Russians returned to the dictatorship of Stalin who had forgotten all about his own mistakes and defeats of 1941, but remembered to put returning prisoners of war into new prison camps on the grounds that If you were taken prisoner, you hadn't fought hard enough.

The German soldiers returned to an equally destroyed country, ravaged by years of concentrated allied bombing and occupied by the armies they had fought against for almost six years.
The Nazi dictatorship was gone, but the country would be divided into two political systems, the old provinces of Eastern-Prussia would cease to exist (they became part of Poland and Russia) and on top of that the German people was now not only associated with starting the war and the occupation but also the horror and shame of the Holocaust.

The British soldiers returned to a country, which had seen the horrors of modern war, being attacked by both the German airplanes and their V1 and V2 rockets.
Britain and their Prime Minister Winston Churchill had become a symbol of resistance when all of Europe had surrendered to German forces and Russia and the US were not yet involved in the war.
All the British had shared the experiences of the war and now that it was finished they demanded a more equal society away from the rigid framework of class.

The French soldiers returned to a country deeply wounded and frustrated by the war. The defeat in 1940 had created a national trauma, which in turn had lead to widespread collaboration with the German occupiers by many French people. Now that Germany had lost the war, the tables were turned once more and the whole experience would remain a painful and unresolved part of French life for many years to come.

The American soldiers would return to the most powerful nation in the world. The economic crisis of the 30's was put to an end by the huge demands for war time production, the US would soon be the only country in the world who possessed the most advanced weapon known to man - the Atom bomb - and the American soldiers with their easy manner, optimism, wealth and Swing music, came to represent a vision of a greater future to many Europeans raised on potatoes, polka, and second-hand clothes.
If WWII had a winner it was the USA.

Just as WWI had changed the map of Europe, WWII was no different. Out of it came The Cold War with the unstable equilibrium of "the terror balance".
Two massive superpowers that both possessed enough military power to blow up the entire world would spend the next forty years battling for world dominance.

WWII is by far the most written about, talked about, analysed, and filmed war of all time. To many people it still stands as "the good war", good because it was a clear-cut case of fighting the evil of the Nazi state and its leader Adolf Hitler.

Nazism, and the other nationalistic movements seen all over Europe was however a result of the complex economic and political situation of the 1920's and 30's
Hitler represented a reaction to the collapse of the "old world" which had existed before WWI. Nazism represented a longing for fundamental and "eternal" values (as opposed to the confusion of the modern world and its new ideas), a sense of belonging to a strong people or tribe (as opposed to the destruction of the ties with family and class represented by women's liberation and socialism). But Nazism also represented a change and new opportunities (like paid holidays and a car like the VW), which appealed to the growing middle classes.

Hitler's solution was war, which would bring his chosen people - the Germans, all they needed: Land, wealth, restoration of their honour and national unity, and a position as revered world leaders.
His war didn't bring Germany that, but that didn't mean others would not reap from what was sowed. Russia and the USA had only committed to the war when they were drawn into it, but they ended up as the two new superpowers that would dominate world politics for the remainder of the century.
Russian troops stayed in Eastern Europe until the Perestroika of the 1990's and US troops are still stationed in Germany and other European countries.

WWII created a civil war like situation in many European countries, both during and after the German occupation. In the early part of the war - 1939 to ca. 1943, most people accepted that Germany would win the war and be the most powerful nation in the world. Governments acted accordingly, signing treaties and agreements with Germany and tried to make their relationship with the undisputed rulers of Europe as congenial as possible.
Then things changed. And the major change was that the German armies began to loose battles. Now most people and governments could see that perhaps Germany would loose the war andwhat was now known as the Allied nations would be the new rulers of the world.

Some had taken side from the very beginning, like Churchill who never believed Hitler could be trusted, or the European communists who had often fought against the equally combative extreme right.
Some had embraced the arrival of German troops as liberation from other oppressive systems, which was the case in some parts of Soviet-Russia. The same happened in countries where ethnic groups had battled each other for centuries and the Nazis had been clever at exploiting this for their own ends.

The end of WWII didn't mean the end of fascism or strong nationalism. Governments which incorporated ideas borrowed from the Nazi state could be found in Spain, Greece, Portugal and in many counties in South-America (the Peron government in Argentina even became a safe haven for prominent Nazis who were brought in to train both the Army and the secret police)

In Germany the Allied occupation forces launched the Nuremberg Trials, which brought the most prominent members of the Nazi state to trial and sentenced them to death or long prison terms for crimes against humanity.

The problem was however that in the lower echelons of society little was done about de-nazification, in many towns and cities it was still the old members of the Nazi party who sat in offices and handled the civil administration.
Nazism had ruled Germany for more than twelve years and the Nazis had themselves put away all capable persons who didn't agree with them.
Nazi's or not, they could make the country function again and besides: What else to do - arrest the whole goddamn country?..

If WWII was perhaps not the "good war" it was certainly "the peoples war"
The nations most committed to the war had to mobilize the entire population to have a chance at winning. Unlike WWI where soldiers volunteered for duty, WWII meant the Government called you up for service. Your wife didn't stay at home, but got a job at an airplane factory making the planes your younger brother was trained to fly.
Your mother and sister didn't sit at home waiting for you to return, because that home was destroyed in a bombing raid and the two women were busy manning an anti-aircraft gun, while you were attacking a village full of other civilians.

Both the Soviet state and the Nazi state had to appeal to the patriotic spirit of their people and play down on the ideological rhetoric. In 1941 when German forces were within miles of Moscow, Stalin appealed to the Russian people to fight for "mother Russia" not he Soviet State. Banners, posters and movies reminded Russians of their glorious defence against Napoleon's armies in the 19’Th century or the Teutonic knights during the middle ages. Even the soldier's uniforms where changed from the drab "workers shirt" of the revolutionary Red Army to incorporate insignia and designs from the Czarist era.
In the last months of the war the Nazi propaganda cleverly exploited the (justifiable) fear of Russian retaliations now that the Red armies were entering Germany itself. The "Red animals" came to rape, loot, kill, and torture so was it not in fact better to die fighting them?


Hopefully war on the scale of WWII is a thing of the past. Today’s armies command much more firepower than those of WWII, but the nature of global conflict has swung back to the good old days of colonialism where vastly superior imperial armies go out to suppress smaller or larger groups of "bandits" stirring up trouble on the outer rims of the empire.

Well, a toast to those who had to live through WWII, and also an opportunity to post the last Panzer (I've had enough, I guess!)

All wars should end like this, in spring...
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Friday, May 06, 2005

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Found some old singles, including The End from the Apocalypse Now soundtrack.

This was the first vinyl record I ever bought (I had to place it as a special order at the local radioshop)

I marked the day I received it on the sleeve: "may 6 1980"

A quarter of a century ago today.
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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

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Denmark was liberated (from German occupation...) sixty years ago today.
The German forces in Noth-Western Germany, Holland, Norway and Denmark had surrendered to the British Field Marshall Montgomery and after five years of occupation Denmark was free again.

The photo shows my grandfather Haubert Nielsen who was with the resistance. He didn't blow up any trains or shoot any Germans, but like many other resistance groups his squad were to wait for the German surrender and then secure law and order, arrest Danish collaborators and await the arrival of Allied forces.
As members of the Social-Democratic Party they were also instructed to prevent members of the Communist resistance from taking control of Denmark when the German forces left.

In the evening of May 4'th his squad arrested a Danish HIPO-man and took him with them for interrogation. HIPO was short for HIlfs POlizei and was an auxiliary police force of Danes who served under the Germans and were notorious for their extreme brutality.

While they were driving in their car the HIPO-man grabbed the steering wheel and the car crashed into a tree. My grandfather managed to shoot and kill the HIPO-man just before the crash, but he always claimed the gun went off by accident.

My grandfather was knocked unconscious by the crash and the photo was taken for the Social Democratic Newspaper the day after when he woke up in a hospital.

The hospital was operated by nuns and when my grandfather woke up and found himself in a white room surrounded by nuns, he thought he had died and gone to heaven.

The young man besides the bed owed his life to my grandfather. Like many members of the resistance he wanted to ride on the outside of the car, standing on the broad fenders which looked very cool and "ready-for-action" like. My grandfather, who was the squad leader, had ordered him to stay inside with the others, this of course saved the man from dying in the car crash.

Some 3-400 people were killed in Denmark during the first weeks after the liberation, mainly collaborators like the HIPO-men and SS-volunteers, but sometimes also black-marketeers and other people who had made themselves unpopular with members of the now very well-armed resistance.

My grandfather never really talked about the war, this story was told to me by my father (his son-in-law) The gun he carried during the war for protection (a Belgian FN) hung in his study together with some photos and the resistance-fighter's armband he's also wearing in the photo.
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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

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I just ignored the junkies taking their fix in the laundrette, I've been using that place for ten years.

In the old days I tried to listen to their sad stories.
Then I tried to reason with them, make them keep their voices down, and stop getting in other people's way.

Then I got mad at them and they generously retorted by crapping outside my front door.

I just ignored the junkies, until this immigrant women with her little son came in to collect her laundry.
She really looked scared.
It made me mad again, but I didn't say anything while the junkies sang that good ol' song: "excuse us for the mess we've made, we'll be back again tomorrow"

They left, and I tried to look at the woman in an apolegic way, building bridges.
She looked at me too:

You're all bums, you white people.
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Monday, May 02, 2005

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Berlin surrendered to Soviet forces sixty years ago today and Yevgeny Khaldei took his famous photo of the Soviet flag on the roof of the Reichstag.

Officially the photo was taken when the Reichstag fell on April 30'th.

A special order had been issued to the Russian troops in front of the Reichstag, that the Red flag of the Soviet Union was to fly over it on May 1'st, regardless of the cost.
This of course had great symbolic meaning to the Soviet state with May 1'st being the international workers day.

The Reichstag was heavily defended by the remains of Hitlers personal SS-guard, even after he committed suicide on April 29'th, so in fact fighting inside the building continued untill May 2.

If you look closely at the photo you can see people walking around casually in front of the building so the photo was probably taken a few days after the fighting ended.
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