Wednesday 6 August 2008

Fleeing the past

I've just read a remarkable article about some children of nazis who have converted to Judaism and gone to live in Israel. It culminates in a frank conversation with a relative of Hitler, who is probably the only one of the converts who freely discusses his family's nazi past. He describes his feelings on arriving in Israel in the seventies:

"I felt at home. I was no longer living in a conflict. I didn't have to reject the older generation."
Interestingly enough, there is some suggestion that his family's past has taken on a different face, in the following generation:
"Two of my sons are chauvinists and one of them is even partially racist. I can't listen to fascistic discourse. I don't suffer that."

Read it here.

Sunday 3 August 2008

I had a couple of hula hoops in Copenhagen

and two pairs of fuckoff four wheeler rollerskates, one pair of which I sold to a Dutch couple in my short-lived clothes shop, for lots of kroner, the best sale I made in that place, except for the red leather stiletto heeled boots that got sold the first day I put them out. Amazing what women will buy, sometimes. Like me, for instance, who bought them in the first place. I wore them once, on a snowy day in Dublin, on the way to the Project Arts Centre, where I was working on some theatre experiment. I remember the challenge of the stiletto meeting slush, while looking elegant. Jesus.

I had exchanged the skates for a pair of bright orange Björn Borg puffa moon boots, with a chick who had a stall in the huge twice yearly loppemarked, or flea market, in Blågårdsplads, the same street where I had my shop a few months later. We were both happy with the trade. I had been looking for a pair of four wheeler rollerskates for months before that day, and then found two pairs on the same day, within minutes of each other.

I've just been reminded of the hula hoops by a cartoon in the New Yorker, on the same page as an article about Emily Dickinson's 24- year correspondence with a man she barely met in all that time. I'm still reading it, just broke away to write this.

One of the hula hoops was large and yellow: I gave this one to my friend Helle. I got a smaller green one at another loppemarked, one I was actually selling at also, up on Nørrebrogade, at Stefan's Kirke. At some point my friend Anders came along and was sent up to the bell tower of the church to blast his trumpet out onto the street. Unfortunately, the wind was not with him that day and no one could hear, but I'm sure he was paid anyway. They're good at that sort of thing in Denmark. It's really unheard of for people not to get paid for playing music there. A place like Kulkafeen of course, a great place run by two friends of mine, with a lovely little stage above a candlelit bar, is the kind of joint you can book informally for free, and if you get a crowd and charge a couple of bucks on the door that's your only way of making any money there. But kul kaf is just a great place to show some interesting stuff in an intimate setting. I loved that place. For the most part, when you play in Denmark, you're getting paid decently for it, whether it's your own stuff or standards.

Tangent. I can so easily go off on tangents about musicians and artists getting paid or not and how in various countries. Well, it's just so different in New York city... anyway, back to the loppemarked at Stefan's Kirke. The woman I bought the hula hoop from also had a really fucking ace kind of wine coloured jumpsuit, clearly from the actual seventies and thus really not very actually hip at all at the time, certainly. It was really clingy and made me giggle out loud when I tried it on in the church's loo. It was totally fabulous, but she was really pushing the price at 85 crowns (bit over a tenner: yeah the price bar at loppemarkeds is low), so I didn't buy it. But I bought the hula hoop from her. I think she made me pay 15 crowns, a princely sum. It was green and not so wide. Good for someone who hadn't hooped since she was 12 (tho a serious hooper at 12).

Later that year in the bloody cold of winter, I sang in the same church, at a funeral of a young man prematurely dead of boozing, to a small crowd of his family and a couple of friends. About 30 people saw him off the face of life. White coffin. I sang over it. We were told what to play: Tears from Heaven, the Eric Clapton song about his dead 2 year old son. Well, it was this man in the coffin's favourite song when he was alive, apparently. I kept the lyrics on a stand in front of me, kept my eyes closed as much as I could. Bloody hard gig. No applause that day. But we got paid. His sister said we did a nice job.

So I chucked everything I had when I left Copenhagen, more or less. Just brought what I could carry in a couple of suitcases. Chucked, sold and gave away. The hula hoops went, as did most of the stock left over from my shop, except the Christian Louboutin red suede stiletto pumps and the beaver hat from the 20's and a few things like that that I sold to another vintage shop owner who drove a brutally hard bargain. When you move around a lot, you learn to live lightly, in terms of luggage and possessions, and you learn to throw away too, because you have to. It's a good skill to learn, easily forgotten, too, if it's not used much. But that really is the luxury of having your own home: the facility of having unnecessary stuff hanging around, without needing to throw it away because you're moving country every couple of months, or because your space is so cramped you've got to. Still, all this moving around has been very interesting. And continues to be.

So in my first week in New York last summer I found a pair of fuckoff white four wheel roller skates with pastel rainbow laces and hubba-bubba pink wheels, in the window of a thrift store on McDougal street and went in and bought them, along with a pure silk blue layer-dress that I haven't worn yet, inexplicably, in the style that's all over the place like a rash this year (probably why). The nice chick behind the counter gave me the dress for free, and a cool pink shoulder bag too, that I use quite a bit lately.

I met a couple of gals last week, in the Plaça del Diamant in Gracia, one of whom had a pair of battered old leather fourwheelers she had had for 20 years, she said. She was taking her 4 year old son around, showing him the skatin' ropes. She didn't have any stoppers on them: I asked her how she stopped, she showed me. It's a spin, very delicately executed. I want to practise that, get ready for the inevitability of falling, train my body into relaxed falling. I still haven't taken the skates out, dude. They're still in Brooklyn, waiting for me. Unless of course they have been skated away by clutches of liberated cockroaches, experiencing brute natural joy for the first time in their species history because they have abandoned the rules.

And you know, I wish them the best of luck.