it was twenty years ago today...
Well, maybe not exactly today...but some time in June 1988, I moved into the villa on the above photo - Hortensiavej 18, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen.
And so did most of my friends.
Our small group of neo-dadaists/ brats on welfare had previously found a common cause around various bands and other artistic outlets in the town of Roskilde, twenty miles from Copenhagen. Some of us had already lived in Copenhagen on and off (my own experiences covered previously on this blog) but the time had come to move on to something better - For real...share our lives, hone our creative skills, laugh in the face of oppression, fight the bourgeoisie. And party.
The first month we stayed there really was like one long party - In my memory - Long nights exploring our combined pool of records, stoned - Bicycling around Copenhagen, stoned - Talking about life/ art/ women, stoned.
Or just getting,
One night we wanted to find a name for the place - Our Ark amidst the flood of Danish mediocrity and economic recession...and eventually we came up with:
Not easy to translate but a possibility could be "BUTT MANOR" (as in cigarette butt), Castle Butt or maybe BUTTBURG...
"Skod" was the Danish word for a cigarette butt but also a derogatory term for something (or someone) used up/ worn out or just generally useless.
The name reflected the self-depreciating humour and dismal mood of the era quite well - The place was shabby back then and kids on welfare and the dole don't nesceceraly generate a high level of self-esteem (today the villa is restored to the prevailing "Millennium" standards, and is probably worth a fortune...)
The people who owned it let us rent it for two years only, after that we would acquire some expanded renters' rights and they didn't want to be bothered with that.
This was common practice in those days, Copenhagen had many run down apartments, villas and backyard houses you could rent cheaply.
That is, if you didn't mind the absence of hot running water, bathing facilities and double glazing (pasting plastic disposal bags onto the inside of your windows was a recurring ritual come winter tyme - Cheap building insolation...)
This was after all the time of the major post-war recession in Denmark - 1988-91 - if you were young there was not much being offered in terms of jobs or education. For my group of friends and me it meant going on welfare or "the dole" and spending our time being creative - Why not be an artist? there's nothing better to do...
We also found ourselves in the final stages of the Iron Curtain/ Cold War era (three of us visited Berlin when the wall was still there) The threat of global nuclear war had been repeated so often in the media that we had practically become numb to it - "Oh, wow, yeah - The world is gonna blow up...if I'm stoned I can trip out on the colours of the explosions..."
Yep, I was stoned much of the time...
and if you are the type who regards cannabis smoking as the anti-social loser thing to do, remember this:
It was cheap.
Going to a bar or club cost money, and getting drunk at these placed cost (a lot of) money too...
So did, paint, canvasses, guitar strings, video tapes, food.
Going to Christiana, buying and sharing a gram of hashish would secure a whole evening of highs - Even if you were a group of five or six people...
After smoking you didn't need a club, talking or bicycling around was fun enough,
At least for me it was.
Gazing at a speck on your toilet wall could be fun...
(unless you OD'd, which I frequently did...then you'd spend some time in cannabis purgatory - Nasty...)
Yeah, it wasn't all about doom and gloom and the crumbling welfare state - Just look at the place! A villa on a quiet street, smack in the middle of Copenhagen! if my generation was spoiled rotten or completely fucked in a very subtle way I will never know...maybe we were both...
maybe just me.
And we had plenty of space there! Each person could have his/ her own room and there were even special rooms in the basement for rehearsing with bands/ getting stoned and a room for watching TV/ getting stoned...
At a point some of us began watching the British 80's comedy show The Young Ones The quality of the desperate and off-beat humour plus the obvious parallels between the world of the show and our own existence were too much to resist and our enthusiasm for the show evolved to a point where we would quote the dialogue continuously, driving our visiting friends mad and greatly alienated.
I could go on...
Thanks a lot, all:
YouTube: The Young Ones - University challenge
Retro babe "...yeah, you got it, sweets - Caravan - that's a great tune..."
Panzer Sdkfz 251/1, Ausf A
Brilliant pre-WWII photo of the early version of the 251.
Judging from the body language of the mechanic you might suspect it wasn't all "spit and polish" around the car pools of the Wehrmacht...
(unfortunately) Also my people
(regrettably) Also my war