Saturday, 29 August 2009

Aschehoug's Garden Party

For Norwegian culture vultures Aschehoug's garden party has an almost mythical ring to it. An arena for the country's cultural elite to meet and chat, fight and fool around...

Consequently, I felt quite honoured when I in my capacity as a literary debutant was invited to this year's party in sir William's garden. The party happened on Thursday night, and it was quite a memorable experience. Among the guests you'd find several distinguished politicians and well-known authors, as well as various other artists, media workers and people in the trade. Plus me. (Wonder why the press photographers didn't shoot when I entered?)

The party was no doubt a nirvana for culture bearers on an ascending and free white wine intoxication. And by all means, it was interesting watching the posh people at display. Being "a writer of current interest" I may have been expected to mingle, network and promote my amazing publication. But unfortunately, that kind of stuff isn't in my genes. Sorry, marketing department. Still, it was an interesting experience! :-)

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Pump Up The Volume!

Smiley-Face.gif Smiley-Face. image by sylvi2909
At a Chinese hotel room I recently came across a J-pop-video on one of the local music channels: a song called "Positiv E Loop" [sic]. It occured to me that I probably havent't heard a song with an "E" in its title since 1992...

Lately I've been reading the book Generation Ecstasy by the British music journalist Simon Reynolds (Routledge, 1999). It gives a thorough account of the development of the house and techno culture in the late 80s and beyond. Personally, I've always been in the periphery of this movement. For instance, during the "Second Summer of Love" in 1988 - rave culture's real breakthrough - I spent what seemed to be the hottest summer of all times tidying up the welfare office's warehouse at my army camp. And while blissed-out ravers were popping smiley pills and dancing to acid house, I had to make do with flat beer at tacky discos with "Living Next Door To Alice" as the musical highlight...

But although I've never been to crazy raves, it still seems like I've got the gist of some of the music. True, as electronic dance music has gradually split into more and more specialized subgenres, it's all got rather complex for an outsider. (Until recently I had no idea of the difference between, say, bleep-and-bass, hardcore, darkcore and gabba...) In this respect, however, Reynolds' book gives a good introduction into the various varieties and their features. And although 90 percent of the artists that the book refers to are totally unknown to someone like me, it's easy to get a sample via the internet.

All the same, it turns out that the artists and genres I already knew, still are the ones I prefer. During most of the second half of the '90s, for instance, I particularly identified with the trip hop sound. Most of the time I've also been into genres like big beat, electronica and the more melodious varieties of drum'n'bass. And I already knew that the hardest nosebleed techno wasn't my cup of tea. With the "blackest" house and the "whitest" techno as the extremes, I guess I prefer the grey area somewhere in between (black + white = grey). But I still find gaining a better insight into rave culture's many subgenres quite interesting.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Friends - At All Costs?

As always, I'd planned to get slightly more sociable during the summer holiday than what everyday life usually allows. And as always these plans went down the drain. But typically: During the last few days of the holiday I suddenly had three different nice get-togethers with various good friends. :-)

Again and again I notice the importance of friendships. A brief chat with an acquaintance is often enough to save the day. And should it take too long between each social stimulus, I tend to end up feeling miserable. You can do without a house, a car or a lover. But without friends? I don't think so.

All the same: Here (as always) I tend to prefer quality to quantity. I'd much rather have a few, good friends than lots of crappy ones! And to be honest, there are certain people in my circle of acquaintances I guess I could do without. People I actually don't really care that much about - and who probably don't care that much about me, either.

Is there any point in spending time with people with whom you hardly have anything in common? People you basically find more annoying than stimulating? Such relationships may not hurt, but they probably don't do much good, either. As my friend the gardener says: To make the flowers blossom, you need to get rid of the weed!

PS. To those of my (sligtly paranoid) friends who might be reading this post and start wondering if I might be referring to
them: Take it easy. The people I'm thinking of are so full of themselves they wouldn't read their friends' blogs anyway. :-)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Crescendo of the Elements

Ok, so maybe I'm slightly bonkers. When it starts raining, I tend to get this uncontrollable urge to get out and splash in the pools.

Last week I was in downtown Oslo, enjoying an ice cream with three balls and chocolate sauce. Gradually the sky got ominously grey, and soon huge, heavy raindrops were falling down on the street. Most people hurried home, but I suddenly decided that I wanted to experience sea spray and green-glistening foliage. So, I took the bus to the coast and started pottering along a forest path towards the beach.

I had imagined this could be quite cosy, but soon the rain was trickling down my back in a really unpleasant manner, and soon after I was soaking wet. Then it wasn't that nice at all any more. During the next, stormy hours one ship was to go down with all hands, and another to run aground and pollute the south coast with its oil.

Still I walked towards the sea. The madman within me got an urge to swim in the grey, cresty waves. I hadn't brought any trunks with me, so I sought out the nudist area. Not that it really mattered. There was no sign of life anywhere (except some seagulls that had gone ashore because of the heavy sea. Sissies!).

I was soaking wet in any case, and throwing away the clothes and diving into the salty waves was just wonderfully refreshing. The waves were foaming, the wind was whining, and in the distance you could hear threatening thunderclaps. It was truly an amazing late summer afternoon, when heaven, earth, sea and thunderbolts all met in a crescendo of the elements. The happiest moment of a madman.