Historien om Loveshop – Himmelflugt og Højdeskræk

Loveshop_bog

Det her er en særdeles partisk anmeldelse, da jeg jo mildest talt ikke kan siges at være neutral iagttager af fortællingen om Loveshop. Men i al mangel på ydmyghed forestiller jeg mig, at nogle af jer netop gerne vil vide, hvad jeg synes om bogen, fordi jeg selv var med på førstedelen af den færd, som bogen beskriver.

Lad mig bare starte med at sige, at det er en virkelig god bog. God på alle de forskellige måder, der er. Jens siger i indledningen:

“Det har været afgørende for mig, at det hele bliver leveret af en person, der fagligt står for seriøsitet og grundighed.”

Forfatteren Tommy Heisz, som jeg ikke kendte, før han interviewede mig, er både en dygtig og flittig researcher (det kan bibliotekar-Néné jo så godt lide) og en kompetent og indfølt skribent. Den kombination er desværre ikke særlig almindelig, og da slet ikke i portræt-genren. Det har været afgørende for både Tommy og Jens, at bogen blev en fortælling om hele bandet, ikke bare Jens’ udgave af Loveshops historie. Det er i den grad lykkedes, så vidt det nu er muligt, når de to af medlemmerne ikke er her længere til at udtale sig.

Ydermere har forlaget Turbine virkelig lagt sig i selen, så bogen også er grafisk lækker, indvendigt såvel som udvendigt. Bogens mange fotos er flot præsenteret, og til bogreceptionen sad alle vi gamle rotter og blev rørstrømske over de gamle billeder. Som udenforstående vil man næppe falde helt så meget i svime, men billedudvalget er omhyggeligt og gennemtænkt.

2015-10-09 18.54.56

Her kommer, hvad man vel kan kalde et meta-citat, for det er et citat fra bogen, der citerer mig (vi er i 1983 eller 84)…

Det eneste jeg vidste om ham, var, at han hed Hilmer og vist nok var lidt sær. Jeg græd af grin over det navn. Det lød som en eller anden fra en tegneserie. Men så tog Jesper (Siberg) mig med ud i butikken, og jeg kan huske, hvordan Hilmer sad der på trappen ned til kælderen og spillede på guitar. På den der Hilmer-måde. Det lød fuldstændig utroligt. Som om det kom fra en anden planet.

Bogen er et must for alle, der har været og/eller er vilde med Loveshop. Men den er så god, velskrevet og velresearchet, at også mange andre med tilknytning til musikmiljøet vil kunne have glæde af at læse den. Endelig er det også “bare” en god, omend tragisk fortælling om mødet mellem drømmene og den hårde virkelighed.

 

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Den fabelagtige Cecilia Bartoli

I sidste uge oprandt endelig dagen, hvor vi skulle ind og se og høre denne utrolige sangerinde. Jeg havde givet min mand billetterne (og damens seneste album) i julegave sidste år, så de havde hængt længe på køleskabet.

Jeg havde nok en forestilling om, at hun ikke live kunne leve op til pladerne. Men DET kunne hun, og så lidt til! Både hun og dirigenten, Diego Fasolis, besidder ikke så lidt showmanship, så vi fik masser af underholdning sammen med musikken. Det ledsagende ensemble I Barocchisti spillede selvfølgelig overdrevent godt – men det var jeg så ikke særlig overrasket over.

Koloratur, som Bartoli betjener sig meget af, tenderer jo mod det latterlige, og det er Bartoli fuldt ud klar over. Derfor laver hun også sjov med det – hvilken befrielse! Fasolis lignede fuldstændig en russisk mafioso, hvilket fik hans krumspring og store armbevægelser til at fremstå temmeligt barokke.

Da vi boede i England og gik til teater og ballet i London, tænkte jeg ofte over, hvor utroligt høj standarden er der. Men selvfølgelig tiltrækker London de allerbedste kunstnere, og teatrene må konstant levere topforestillinger, hvis publikum skal blive ved med at betale de helt eksorbitante priser. Jeg blev mindet om det ved denne koncert: Standarden var bare tårnhøj hele koncerten igennem, og vi fik virkelig valuta for pengene. I løbet af koncerten – der faktisk var ret lang – fik Bartoli publikum til både at gispe og grine. Det er altså flot!

Publikum var i øvrigt mestendels sure gråhætter. Det er mig en gåde, hvordan man kan optræde så gnavent, når man skal ind og høre en kunstner, som man har set frem til at opleve i næsten et år!? Jeg kom fx til at træde ind foran tre damer, der stod i kø. Jeg opdagede med det samme min fejltagelse og trådte tilbage, smilede til dem og undskyldte. Alle tre stirrede bare rasende på mig.

Videoklippet er en piratoptagelse fra en af de andre koncerter på den samme tour. Hun sang også den sang for os og havde endda den samme kjole på…

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Music

used to be my life. I guess it’s more words now. But I’m still a “music person” at heart. Some people find that I have “posh” musical taste, but when music is your job, your life, I think you hear it differently. Actually, I find my taste to be very eclectic – I like music in almost all genres, maybe with the exceptions of musicals, some types of jazz and R&B. I also truly dislike the kind of pop music featured on shows like X-Factor. They all look and sound exactly the same.

Here’s a run-down of my musical background for those of my readers who haven’t known me that long (that would be 30 years+, ha): I started with the recorder and piano like all other nice little middle class girls and then went on to the more sociable instrument, the violin. As soon as I was good enough I started playing in a local youth orchestra and relatively shortly progressed to the Danish Radio’s Youth Orchestra. I loved playing in an orchestra and we toured and played concerts and generally had a fantastic time. It is still so that, when I hear specific orchestral works, like e.g. Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, I swoon and am again 15… I switched to the viola at some point, because I so enjoyed being a team player. Was of course contemplating a professional career, but was not quite talented enough and, what’s probably more important, too lazy. Also, already then, standing up was hard on my back and when practising the violin/viola, you stand up!

Took a college degree in music and got to know people who were into pop music. You’ll have to picture me at 18 not knowing the difference between Sweet and Slade… At this point in time I owned a nice, if small, collection of classical LPs and two 7″ singles, Me & Bobby McGee and Hey Joe. My new friends liked King Crimson, Brian Eno, Genesis, etc. and I was slowly introduced to this new world. At this point in time I also met a girl who had the biggest record collection in living memory and she gradually introduced me to all the music I’d missed and to practically every new album that was released, because she spent every penny on music.

The first real turning point in my musical life came when my friend from college came and said, “Hey, you gotta come see this guy at work, he’s out of this world”. His work was in a music shop and “this guy” was a shy youngster with the most awful Sweet-hairdo and a guitar glued to his hands. My friend and I were equally stunned – I think it was the first time any of us experienced such raw, unpolished talent. The youngster was Hilmer Hassig, who, I’m so sorry to say, is no longer with us. I wrote him a eulogy.

The two of them formed a band and quickly I was drawn in by the whole thing and joined the independent record company Irmgardz…, that eventually published their debut album. Band’s name was Scatterbrain. They sang in English and their music was a kind of synth-pop and it was A FIRST in Denmark.

Irmgardz… and later Garden Records became my life up until we went belly-up in 1992. They were fantastic years and we produced some pretty good albums, if I may say so myself. We also arranged concerts, so have heard and met quite a few of the Indie icons of the era. Some were a lot of fun and great musical experiences, but a lot are best forgotten.

I have a weakness for lists and some years ago I made a Top Three of the best concerts in my life. I thought a lot about it and the result is a bit surprising – it was surprising to myself at the time. But looking back now, I’m quite sure they were really the best! I even paid good Danish money for one of them – something I otherwise never did back then.

1. Violent Femmes (this would have been in the mid-eighties) at Montmartre – a legendary Danish jazz club, which doesn’t exist any more. It was a band I really liked (from Milwaukee of all places), I had their albums and listened to them often. Seeing them live was absolutely fabulous. Sometimes during the concert you could hear a penny drop on a carpeted floor. I’ve just finished The Timetravelers Wife where one of the key moments in the book is a concert with Violent Femmes in Chicago. I knew exactly what it was like, could hum every tune…

2. Tom Waits in the Falkoner Centre on his Rain Dogs tour (1985). It was a sit-down concert, something very unusual at the time. Waits traipsed around between his little settings and played a very low-key, but super intense set. Fantastic!!! I still like Tom Waits a lot and throw money at every new album on Itunes.

3. U2 at Roskilde Festival (1982) following the release of their second album October. I was in complete awe of Bono, who did things with the audience that were very unusual at the time and who had a really remarkable voice, but similarly of The Edge, who really did something different with that guitar and had such a distinct tone!

I’ve had a look through my Itunes and here’s a completely random and nowhere near exhaustive list of albums that have made a lasting impression on me. I don’t always know why, but just know that something about that album changed me a little bit.

  • Anouar Brahem: Le Pas du Chat Noir (latest addition, thanks to Gabs)
  • Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline
  • The Costello Show: King of America
  • Del Amitri: Twisted
  • Echo and the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain
  • Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball
  • Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  • The Jesus & Mary Chain: Psychocandy
  • New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies
  • Paul Simon: Graceland
  • Portishead: Dummy
  • Prince: Parade
  • R.E.M.: Automatic for the People
  • Ry Cooder: Paris, Texas Soundtrack
  • Tricky: Maxinquaye
  • U2: War
  • John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy
  • George Michael: Older
  • Depeche Mode: Violator
  • The The: Soul Mining
  • Blondie: Parallel Lines
  • Keith Jarret: The Carnegie Hall Concert
  • The Go-Betweens: Before Hollywood

Most of you will have Spotify, but if you don’t, go here and listen to some of the albums you don’t already know. There could be a song to change you too?

Only a few Danish albums (that we didn’t produce ourselves…) spring to mind, the most memorable ones being Kliché’s Supertanker and Sort Sol’s Dagger & Guitar.

Classical music will have to be another day…

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Like walking in water

is what my intellectual life has felt like lately. I’ve read a lot of very inspiring stuff but felt completely incapable of commenting on it in a way suitable for publication. But then I read how a children’s author found the courage to start writing: After decades of reading all the masters of both adult and children’s fiction, she’d built up a sizeable inferiority complex and felt incapable of writing anything of substance. But then she got the idea of approaching it the other way round. She went to the library and borrowed some really cr** children’s books and went home and read them. And then she read some more. And suddenly the writer’s block was gone  – ‘cause anyone could write prose more engaging and interesting than what she’d just been reading.

So – after having read stuff by some of the world’s leading journalists and writers over the summer in Vanity Fair, Sunday Times, Wired etc., I’ve now stumbled around a bit and read some bits and bobs by more inferior writers and got my courage up :-)

I’ve been following the debate around Free. The debate started long before Chris Anderson’s book*, but it really took off after. And News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch has certainly stirred the pot with his claim that he’s very close to creating a pay-wall around his empire. What to think about all this? I’m still in doubt. I’m against downloading music without paying for it, but I happily use Grooveshark and Spotify to stream music. And I’m the first to say that the music industry has only itself to thank for its current predicament. I can still recall how my bosses in the Danish music industry laughed at me when I – in the very early 90ties – came home from a seminar in New York and told them that music was about to become digital and how that might have implications for copyright protection…

Would I pay for content? Yes, I think I would gladly pay for some content, if it were of high quality and delivered to me in a convenient and tailored format. I’m having news from BBC, Times of London, New York Times, The Guardian and Washington Post among others delivered to my computer and/or my phone on a daily basis. What if these could be tailored even more specifically to my needs and delivered in more reader friendly ways? Personally, I think micro-payment, as practised on Itunes and in the App store, is on the up and that our future credit card statements/phone bills will be full of miniature payments for all sorts of things, not only songs and apps, but news stories, TV-programmes, films, parking, bus tickets etc.

Anyway, if you haven’t followed the debate, here’s a few important articles on the subject: Anderson himself, Malcolm Gladwell’s dismissal of the idea, Murdoch’s vow to install a pay-wall, Andrew Keen’s treatment of Pirate Bay and finally a summary on The Guardian’s tech pages (the best place to follow this debate, the Guardian’s online presence is by far the best on the web).

Another Big Story that I’ve been following over the summer is the story about the greatest swindler of them all, Bernie Madoff. Incredibly interesting and intriguing stuff! Vanity Fair is best for this story. Just go to their site and type in Madoff in the search field. The Guardian has collected everything about Madoff very neatly in one place if your time is too short for 3-4 VF articles…

Of course I’ve also been following the development in Iran – mostly via Twitter – and the situation in Afghanistan, which seems to deteriorate on a daily basis.

And then there’s the Birther movement and the “If Stephen Hawking had been English, he’d be dead” debate in the US. I absolutely love the latter – isn’t it just exceptional how the American right can get away with blatant lies. How can the people who work on Fox News and a whole host of other media spreading these insane rumours call themselves journalists? (Oh well, people who write about the latest shenanigans of 3rd rate TV stars also call themselves journalists – so much for that).

And I’ve been away on holiday – will not use the word st**cation – some of my Twitterfriends get sick when they hear the word – on the Sussex coast. We had a lovely totally holidayish time, kiting, crabbing, touring, playing Monopoly and Canasta, reading reading reading. Best book I read was Turbulence by Giles Foden. Absolutely brilliant – a must read. I’ll never badmouth the meteorologists again, promise! Above pictures are from holiday, inspired by Turbulence.

Finally, a recommendation. Youngest son Dane has been busy with scissors and glue since we came back. See the rather surprising results of his endeavours here.

* A funny aberdabei about Anderson’s book Free, is that it’s actually only free in the US. Over here we have to pay for it. So much for Free!

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Wonders of the world

It will never cease to amaze me how many fantastic people have spoken at the TED conferences over the years. I’ve seen quite a lot of them, but they keep releasing more and there keep coming new fantastic, eye-opening ones. Like this one about classical music. How is your relationship with classical music? Are you indifferent or do you hate it? I’ll ask you, since you’ve already done me the favour of visiting my blog, to also indulge me and see this video. It is 20 minutes long. If you’re touched by it, like I was, let me know. If you’re not, explain why, but please let me know that too!

The speaker is conductor and motivational speaker Benjamin Zander:

I don’t have much to add today, it’s just one of those days when I prefer to let others do the talking. I’ve posted this on my blog before, but it’s my all time favourite TED talk, so here it comes again. If you haven’t heard it before and if you found the above one inspiring, you’ll adore this one. It gives you faith in humanity. Something that’s much needed.

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Music festival for the convenience generation (that's me)

Many months ago I got newsletter from RHS Wisley, which is right around the corner from where we live, so we go there all the time – sometimes just for coffee & cake. This newsletter announced the yearly music festival. My inclination was to go for Katherine Jenkins (despite fear of repertoire of musical hits), but I knew Dane would find that utterly boring, so suggested to husband that we indulge the little one (a huge Abba fan) and buy tickets for Abba/Queen tribute night. He agreed and I bought the tickets. The concert was sold out a few days later.

Abba
'Abba'
Queen
'Queen'

So, Saturday night was the night. Luckily the weather was quite warm, if not dry. We packed a basket full of munchies, wine and coffee and set off. Lots of people of all ages and really lovely ambience. Every police officer I saw had a huge smile on his/her face!

Having spent a considerable part of my adult life in the more forward part of the (Danish) music business, I’m not a huge fan of copy bands and never was much of a Queen fan. It’s different with Abba – as a Scandinavian they were just THERE – all the time. You could not NOT know their songs, unless you lived as a hermit. I’ve disliked most music festivals I’ve been to except the Roskilde Festival, which I think I visited 17 years in a stretch. Because of being in the biz, I always had privileges, so didn’t have to queue for hours to visit yucky toilets. At Wisley nobody had to queue for toilets and they were ever so neat! And nobody stumbled around half unconscious with drink and drugs and the music was not loud at all. Actually, it was so muted that I wondered whether I’m just simply going deaf!

‘Abba’ wasn’t that good, although not bad either. Worst bit was ‘Björn’ trying to be funny with applied Swedish accent. Arrgghhh. ‘Queen’ really was rather good – so much like the real thing. Very entertaining.

Also entertaining was of course people watching. He. I can’t decide whether I find it hilarious or exhilarating to see middle aged chunky women (like yours truly) going crazy to Abba? I would possibly go crazy to a different kind of concert – who knows (Erasure – wouldn’t that be fun?). But this left me more amused than anything else and I rarely got out of my comfy chair… Next to us was the funniest family. 50ty-something parents, gaunt dad with long curly (uni-professor style) hair and steel-rimmed glasses, mum very overweight and eh, motherly, two pre-teens, a girl who looked like a boy and a boy who looked like he’d much rather be doing math course work. Both kids sat slumped in their chairs throughout the evening without saying one word to their parents or each other. Parents were singing and dancing, but didn’t seem to share the experience as much as living it separately… Their picnic consisted solely of “food” out of foil bags.

As you can see from the pictures, Dane enjoyed it very much and blabbered on for at least an hour after coming home about this that and the other he’d observed at the concert. So it was definitely worth it!

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What makes you happy? I know and you don't…

Had nice Mother’s Day with flowers – hand-picked at real florist by young son – and womenly presents. It was an incredibly beautiful day, so we went to Box Hill, the highest vantage point here in Surrey bringing a picnic. We had a lovely time and even got some much-needed exercise walking up and down the hill.

Young son admiring view from Box Hill, Surrey
Young son admiring view from Box Hill, Surrey

In the morning I favourited a huge number of tweets and bookmarked an even bigger number of news from my weekly dosage of science news. All at your disposal.

Politics:

This is really good news: The US is completely reviewing and changing its policy towards the poppy-growers in Afghanistan. Lead came from @howardsend, who generally tweets very interestingly.

The populist blah blah blah about youth today and elevated murder and crime rates is just that. When the real pros dive into the statistics, a totally calming result emerges. But that doesn’t sell one single copy of the Daily Mail and doesn’t win over voters.

Happiness:

They don’t make us happy. A study shows that people with children aren’t happier than people without them. Personally, I think that the moments of utter happiness we have with and because of our children are offset by the colossal amount of worry they also give us. I’m guessing that people without children don’t suffer the same extremes – or at least not as often as we poor parents do…

A stranger is better at predicting what makes us happy than we are ourselves. See that’s interesting! The study was led by one of my heroes, Dan Gilbert. I’m always trying to get people to read his book.

Botox hinders happiness… Ah, well, sort of. If you don’t show your disgust over something but try to hold it in, the disgusted feeling will stay with you longer. People who’ve been botoxed can’t show disgust – or any other emotion for that matter.

Tech:

Stephen Fry is one of the most popular celebs on Twitter. I’m not following him myself, but I see the occasional ReTweet and I have also visited his page. He is funny, there’s no way around it. He’s given an interview to BBC’s Radio 4 about why he looooves the web. It’s good. He says things some of us dare not say, we just think it. That’s a relief!

Here’s a quick run-through of a panel discussion about the future of the music bizz held at SXSW. These bizz people were clearly well chosen, because here’s people thinking out of the box and not shooting at everything that moves from copyright trenches.

Tips for Facebook power users. There’s even a tip that tells you how to return your Facebook page to the old look and feel before THE CHANGE. If you so wish.

Twitterer Lulu has made this cute little Twictionary over the strange words you encounter once you’ve entered the realm of Twitter (AKA the Twitterverse).

Speed up Firefox. Wauw, I needed that piece of info! Thanks to The G Man.

An interesting list of influential people in the tech world. Nothing to do with money, I should add. Link from Sheamus Bennett.

Science:

A huge study (from the US) seems to have proven that blacks actually get cancer more than whites. Even if I can see that they’ve done a lot to eliminate other factors, I still wonder if this would also be true if the comparison had been made between white Americans and Africans (in Africa) with same demographic and social characteristics.

The language of music is now proven to be universal. Must admit that I would have been more surprised if it wasn’t.

Here’s a really odd one – of the archeological sort. A study of 500 year old teeth reveal which bodies in a gravesite on La Isabela belonged to sailors brought there by Columbus and the interesting fact that some of the people buried there were almost certainly from Africa!

Health:

The fatter the parent the less he/she is able to see a weight problem in own offspring. Maybe not surprising, but still? How can you fail to notice that your daughter’s legs are twice as big as the other girls’? And that your son needs shirts for grown-ups even when he’s same height as the other boys in his class?

My father-in-law (80, super-fit, very healthy) has been eating after the GI diet principles for many years (1/2 plate: veg, 1/4 plate meat/fish, 1/4 plate rice/pasta/pot./etc.). Apparently one of the reasons it works is because a diet low on GI will make you feel more full. Makes good sense. Am trying to buy more veg and less meat already, inspired by Mark Bittman.

My husband sometimes angers me by salting his food before he’s even tasted it. I’m showing him this article about how a very slight reduction in daily salt intake significantly reduces your risk of heart deceases.

IQ:

More evidence that it’s highly hereditary.

Children:

Parents grossly underestimate the influence their children have on them when grocery shopping. Well, I don’t. Which is why I generally avoid having any of them with me when shopping. The 20-year old is worse than the 7-year old!

Viva music! The combination of children and music is good. Always. Never underestimate it. I’ve written about it before, here and here. And now there’s a new American study, showing that children who learn music also enhance their cognitive skills.

Psychology:

It pays off to be nice. Not just in the afterlife…

On a much related note: It’s harmful, particularly to men, to be angry and aggressive.

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Twitter and more on online safety for children

After months of hesitation and no-saying to Twitter I’ve given in. As I understand it, Twitter can be more useful than Facebook when you want to promote your blog and/or other writings to a larger crowd. And of course I want that – otherwise I wouldn’t be writing, would I? I’ve read up on Twitter recently, here and here. There are a few things that irritate me about Facebook, although it’s also fantastic to re-connect with old friends and acquaintances. Funny how some people who used to be mere acquaintances are now candidates for friendship and how some who used to be friends, now have come off the radar, somehow.

If you want to follow my Twitter feed, my screen name is labeet.

On Boing Boing I just read this great little story about how to monitor you child’s online presence. Here’s a Dad who takes his responsibilities as a parent seriously and at the same time realises that we can’t use the same template for our children that our parents used for us. The world has changed and we must change with it. But we should also remember that it’s mostly the outer world that’s changed. The world of feelings, morality and right vs wrong hasn’t changed half as much. A good deed is still a good deed and love, indifference, arrogance or selfrighteousness are still the same feelings they used to be. But you knew that, of course…

Completely unrelated – I’m happy that Slumdog Millionaire (which we accidentally saw Saturday afternoon!) won lots of Oscars – it’s a great film. Happiest I think I am for the music score Oscar, since I particularly liked that. Very original and very in-your-face without obscuring the film. Also it’s great that Anthony Dod Mantle, who’s a little bit Danish, haha, won an Oscar for the cinematography. He is good.

Oh, and just read this. What are we to think? Was he a terrorist all along or did Guantanamo make him one? I think four years there could have made me one…

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Anticipation

Tonight my friend Irina Lankova plays Beethoven’s 3rd piano concert at the Royal Holloway. I’m so excited and also nervous on her behalf.

While waiting to be picked up for an afternoon out with my sister-in-law before the concert, I checked Boing Boing. Should do that more often. Always some hilarious postings. Check this about Obamania in Japan and this about yet another corny American museum.

Not so funny is this post by historian and liberal blogger Igor Volsky about how misinformed you are if your only news source is Fox News.

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Random kindness and other kindnesses and randomnesses

I subscribe to a rather charming newsletter about digital photography and related subjects called Photojojo, recommended to me by a family member, who owns this site. Today the Photojojo newsletter had a very cheerful and Fridayish story. A geek who’d left his computer behind and had gone hiking found a Sony digital camera at the bottom of a river. It was completely rusted, but the (self-confessed) geek took it home to see if he could rescue the memory-card and thus maybe return the photographs to their rightful owner. He made a blog about it and after only one week, the rightful owner was found. See that’s a nice story. There are actually kind and considerate people out there, isn’t that nice to know? It turns out that there (why didn’t we just guess that?) is a website dedicated to finding the owners of lost cameras/photos. See it here and make use of it if you ever find a camera or buy a “new” memory-card with pictures on it, as apparently a number of people have tried.

Another random note comes here: A really good search tip, which as an almost-information pro I should have known, is that you can use Google’s superior search to find stuff on large websites with less superior search functions. Read about it here in PC World. I WARMLY recommend it. I quickly tried to do a search on PC World itself both ways. It works miraculously!

Here’s a story from Financial Times. I don’t know whether it should make you laugh or cry. It’s about a host of abandoned luxury cars in Dubai’s international airport with keys in the ignitions and maxed out credit cards in the glove compartments… The pointer came from Marginal Revolution.

As I’ve mentioned previously Alex Tabarrok from Marginal Revolution is a TED speaker this year. He tells about his experience and also brags a little (I would too!!!!!!) about having met and talked to Peter Gabriel. He recommends Gabriel’s website, which empowers the powerless, Witness.

One of the three TED prize winners was a person and a project that I’ve previously written about here. José Antonio Abreu and his El Sistema. Briefly explained, El Sistema uses music to drag poor children out of poverty. It originated in Venezuela, but has since been succesfully exported to other countries. I can only approve. LOUDLY! Viva Music!

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Good bye old friend

Last night a very dear old friend of mine died in a traffic accident. Hilmer Hassig. To you English-speakers the name probably means nothing, but to all Danes with a love of music, the name is also a sound. The sound of a guitar, so completely its own. Before I met Hilmer, guitar solos to me were just the sound of musical bragging, only slightly less annoying than drum solos. But Hilmer’s solos were different. He didn’t show off. He showed us a little bit of his soul – the soul he otherwise liked to pretend he didn’t have. His guitar playing was melodious, but never honeyed, deeply original, but always respectful of the song and always, always innovative.

We met almost 30 years ago through a mutual friend. We came from totally different worlds, but had music as a common denominator. Over the next decade we “made music together”. I.e. he made the music and I/we (the record company) did all the easy bits – like trying to stretch the hardly existing funds, getting an acceptable album cover together, trying to plead with him about his infamous 8 hour snare drum sound checks etc. etc. On a night which should have been triumphant, Loveshop (Hilmer & Jens) were angry with me (it was always money) and I didn’t get to share their moment, when they got a Danish Grammy Award for that year’s best pop album. But a few weeks later they did something that has only happened to me that one time in all my years in the music bizz. They came and apologised. And gave me their Grammy. It has had pride of place wherever I’ve lived and still has. Not because it’s a Grammy, but because of the unique circumstances under which it was given to me.

Hilmer taught me lots and humbly I believe I taught him a bit too. Just not about the same things…

Not very long ago we became Facebook friends and Hilmer sweetly asked me if I’d share a cup of coffee one day – it had been more than a year, maybe two since we last met. He hadn’t heard that I don’t live in the country any more. I’m sorry that we never got to share that cup of coffee.

It’s unbearable that he’s not here any longer. But as a friend wrote on Facebook, the all stars band up there in Heaven just keeps getting better and better.

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British telly & music

In between seemingly endless news sessions about the US election (which will not be mentioned any more today…), I’ve also watched other stuff. I accidentally stumbled over a show that has had me in stitches several times and had Dane asking me what’s so funny. The show’s called “The Most Annoying Pop Song We Love to Hate” and it’s just hilarious. As anybody who can remember the eighties will testify to, there’s plenty of really horrible songs from that period to “re-discover”, but also wonderful “period pieces” to reminisce over. In between the actual songs there are comments from a mixture of people including critics, (former) popstars, music bizz pros etc. Yesterday I was reminded of Whigfield, the Danish One-Hit-Wonder who laid Ibiza bare and then went on to conquer the world. And the horrible Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. And, and, and… In these wonderful www-times, you can still watch some of the episodes on the BBC I-Player even in Denmark or wherever you are. Highly recommended – the older you are the better, up to a point.

Gemma Arterton as Tess
Gemma Arterton as Tess

I’ve also watched two typical BBC drama series, both with beautiful young actresses. One’s just finished, it was Tess of the D’urbervilles. I remember this book particularly well, since it was the very first book I read in English. There are loads and loads of tears flowing in every episode – the last one has the most tears of course – but I remember crying over the book too. I’m guessing that many modern people (men?) will find Thomas Hardy a bit too touchy-feely, but I love it. And on a bit of a serious note, there really are people out there who, like Tess, don’t seem to have any luck at all in their lives. I even know or knew some of them. My heart goes out to you!

The other series is still on, it’s DickensLittle Dorrit. I’ve never read this

Claire Foy as Little Dorrit
Claire Foy as Little Dorrit

one, so the story is new, although with Dickens, you sort of know the story-line if you’ve read another one of his. The protagonist, Little Dorrit, is played by a lovely actress by the name of Claire Foy.

Back to music before I move on to the chores of the day: A month ago or so you could, if you bought the Times every day for a week, get some fantastic memory-evoking CD’s for free. So I collected the tokens and sent them in. A few days ago I received The Jesus & Mary Chain: PsychoCandy, Echo & the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain, New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies and Joy Division: Closer in the post. I’ve never gotten around to buying these albums on CD and thus haven’t heard them for a long, long time. I maintain that these four records are and will remain classics. It’s just fantastic to hear them again!

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Music

When I was a child and a teenager I was seriously teased at school. It was a pain to go there and I can still recall the sense of relief every afternoon when I got off the bus and was finally away from my tormentors. Music was my relief. Since I was around 10-11 I played (first the violin, later the viola) in a youth symphony orchestra every week and often in the weekends as well. We also went on tours in Europe. Nobody teased me there and the fantastic feeling of creating the music together gave me a feeling I cannot put into words. But I’m certain that “music saved my life”.

Picture of Julian Lloyd Webber as a child – from DLWP.com

I was reminded of that when I read about a new initiative taken by Julian Lloyd Webber, the cellist (not the musical composer, that’s his brother). Read about it here. More here. It’s about taking music to deprived children in a project named In Harmony. It has been done with incredible success in Venezuela and other places in a project called El Sistema.

I wish the project best of luck – I’m sure it will help in getting some children off the streets and give them joy and maybe even a purpose in life.

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What does my musical taste say about me?

Low self esteem, not very hard-working, kind or generous. However, creative. Indie.

High self-esteem, very creative, hard-working and at ease with myself, but not very kind or generous. Rock’n’roll.

High self-esteem, creative and at ease with myself, but not outgoing. Classical.

High self-esteem, creative, gentle. Opera.

I actually found this on DR’s homepage (Danish National Television), but here’s links to the Independent and BBC, who’ve both run the story. A team of psychologists at the Heriot-Watt University in Scotland are behind a study linking people’s personality and their taste in music. I can’t really tell what I like most of the above four categories of music, though I guess opera is my favourite.

From the above I can deduce that I’m certainly not hardworking. Hm. Giggle. Creative. Not really, you know! Not very kind? Oh my, and I thought I was such a kind person… Not outgoing. Hm, I know people who’d dispute that. And so on and so forth. Also, I can think of a couple of people, mad about indie music and really, really hardworking!

Another news story from Denmark can probably not be found in any British media, because it tells of a sentence passed by a Danish court.  Two women were accused of pirating – copying music files via the Internet. And they were aquitted, because the prosecution couldn’t prove that it was these two particular women, who’d done it – could have been anybody in their household, or even somebody hacking into their network.

Great, great, great!

I totally agree with Lawrence Lessig (law professor at Stanford and Internet evangelist) that the music industry must find itself another leg to stand on, because the sharing of music on the Internet is the future and not even an army of lawyers will be able to stop it.

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A little Obama and a lot of other stuff

Slate, New York Times, The American Prospect, Megan McArdle and a lot of sites that they’re linking to discuss the Obama speech. They seem to agree that it was a good speech, but not fantastic. He is an oratory master and has made so many good speeches during his brief career, that he’s made it difficult for himself. But see for yourself! While looking around all the politics sites, interesting news popped up – John McCain’s most unusual choice of veep candidate – the completely inexperienced, but young and female Sarah Palin. Check Wikipedia as the article is probably developing as we speak (or whatever it is we’re doing). Oh, how I love Wikipedia!

After one of my neighbours told me that I was not alone in experiencing faulty Internet here in our convent (thick, thick walls) and also was kind enough to tell me what he’d done to remedy it, I’ve become the very happy owner of three HomePlugs. OK, not exactly another step towards the wireless home – but oh, my Internet just works wonderfully – at full speed now. It’s like a big plug –  into the mains, one connects to the router with an ethernet cable and the others connect from the mains to my computer wherever I want to work. No installation whatsoever, just plug’n’play! Lovely, lovely, lovely!

So naturally I’ve been surfing around all day long and found lots of lovely stuff out there:

On happiness I’ve found a couple of good posts. They are both lists of things to do to be happier and not exactly groundbreaking science. But I still think they’re good and absolutely worth reading and maybe even memorizing. It’s Gretchen from The Happiness Project, but writing on another blog. And it’s from Pick the Brain about happy people’s habits. Btw Gretchen has a post on how to spot when you’re boring people…

On the TED blog I had to pick a few or the rest of the day would go with watching all these incredible people tell about their dreams and achievements. So this Indian guy with his hole-in-the-wall project took pride of place – he has put computers (with Internet) in holes-in-walls in remote places in India and discovered that any child between 5 – 14 can teach him- or herself and loads of other kids to use a computer in a few months. They even teach themselves basic English to do so. He quotes someone for saying “if a teacher can be replaced by a computer – replace him”. True! If the teacher can’t be better and more emphatic and inspiring than a computer, why have one?

When I started my origami craze I had no idea that it had somehow become “modern“. But clearly it has and I find that quite funny. Here’s a math professor who’s taken origami to a whole new sphere – using his math skills to do so. It’s downright incredible!

On the Long Now blog there’s a post by Brian Eno, who’s new album with David Byrne is on my to-buy list. It’s got absolutely raving reviews in the papers here and I am looking forward to hearing it. The post is about what happens to a society when it’s united in and committed to a very long-term project.

Jeff Jarvis writes about Paulo Coelho’s online presence. I must admit, I didn’t know about it and I’ve never read a book of his, although it’s probably about time that I read The Alchemist, which has apparently inspired many people. I’ve certainly noticed his books in prominent places in the bookshops. His website is very professional and informative and – where he differs from most other authors – there’s lots to read and download for free.

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