Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for October, 2009

Stockholm Halloween: Better than in Boston ;-)

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Halloween in Stockholm blows away Halloween in Boston.

OK, before anyone gets too worked up with indignation, rolls up sleeves and lashes back,  let me make that more precise.  Trick-or-treating for kids on Halloween (well, we did it last night on the eve) on my street in northern Stockholm was better than what I could have imagined my kids could experience in Watertown had I brought them there to try it out.

My childhood memory of dressing up and going around the neighborhood conjures powerful emotional ties. If I reflect on days gone by growing up outside of Boston, there is no better memory than getting dressed up in costume and coming home with a pillowcase full of candy (well, snow days and late night sledding before the snowplows came compete for top billing.)

That fuzzy warm nostalgia had made me seriously consider crossing the pond purely to expose the kids to a Halloween night of trick-or-treating, American style.  But for cost, time and pragmatic reasons I tried to give it a go with my street’s neighbors.

I put in the legwork (which included knocking on every door to ask if people would want to join in) got every kid on the street to sign up and even imported some friends’ kids to fill up the street.

It was truly magical. Nearly every neighbor was eager to be a part of it. More than half of them carved a pumpkin or lit candles to signal the festivity. Some of them were to so generous that they gave out small bags of candy to each child. It warmed my heart to witness the enthusiasm, hospitality and kindness of my Swedish neighbors.

And so many English-speaking non-Swedes out there think Swedes are so cold, unapproachable and boring. Ha. You haven’t been to my hood. We ROCK!

Happy Halloween to all out there, wherever you may be. And I hope you have as good a Halloween as we’ve had.

The neighbor's efforts to greet us

The neighbor's efforts to greet us

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Stockholm art collection: Mine.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I’ve officially become a collector of Stockholm art.

Well, ok. That is obviously a rather overblown proclamation. To date my “collection” stands at one piece.  Maybe I ought to be saying, “I’ve officially become the owner of a Stockholm motif acrylic painting on canvas.”

Ah, screw that. I like the ironic pomposity of calling myself a Stockholm art collector. And after all, every collection must begin a first piece.

Here is my first:

Somewhere in Stockholm

Viewer's challenge: Where in Stockholm is this?

I can’t say when or if  there will be a second piece to add to and complement my fledgling collection. Truth be told, I’ve been trying to start the collection for over a decade.  However, the harmonizing of the right scene, a style that suits my taste and price range which doesn’t offend my sense of sensibility is tricky business.

So can you name that Stockholm scene?

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New trends taking off: High flying jeans.

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

My flight attendant on the trip back to Stockholm Bromma had on jeans.  I found it odd and interesting simultaneously. The boisterous guy in the seat across the aisle thought so too as he pointed it out to his  buddies. He ended up flirting with her on and off throughout the hour flight.  I think it was part of his boisterousness persona.

I think the jeans were a part of her flight attendant’s uniform. Sweden is ahead of the times on the dress-down trends of the world. Maybe little Kullaflyg (servicing Ängelholm, Visby, Mora and Bromma) is a global trendsetter.

Today was my business travel debut. For most of you that’s old hat, I know. But when you’re your own boss and your customer base is local, the closest you get to business travel is writing off business-related trips on your tax forms. Today was my first free ride.

The metropolis I visited today

The grand adventure brought me across Sweden to the northwest corner of Skåne, to Höganäs, home of Sweden’s traditional stoneware pottery (well, birthplace more like, today the pottery is owned by KostaBoda in Småland.)  Skåne is one of my favorite regions of Sweden. It is Sweden’s “breadbasket” with rolling farmland and quaint farmhouses with a very long enveloping coastline. The great tease that this trip was, I didn’t see much of it.

The metropolis I visited today

But I did very much enjoy having a flight attendant in jeans. More new trends Kullaflyg.

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Chako Paul, The Local and P3: “Blond Swedish lesbians running around in the woods”

Monday, October 19th, 2009

The Local’s article, an attempt to debunk a myth about a female-only city in northern Sweden published and spread throughout China, has given life to a new myth  in the West that Chinese men are swamping Swedish tourism bodies to book their trips to Sweden in a spurt of bizarre sex tourism.

And if you’ve gotten a bright idea to try to capitalize on it, you’re slow out of the blocks. The .com,  .se, .org, and  .net domains for chakopaul are already snapped up. (Though as of this publishing the and .eu were still available and if you throw in a hyphen only the .com has been spoken for –act quick!.)  Heck, merchandise (a very cheesy t-shirt and cap)  is already for sale for the low, low price of $29.95 plus shipping for this limited edition (that was hard to write with a straight face.)

This isn’t Chaka Paul merchandise. Well, not yet.
This isn't Chaka Paul merchandise. Well, not yet.

I think The Local’s journalist, David Landes,  said it best when interviewed on P3 radio   about the Swedish mythical women-only city, Chako Paul,

“Anytime you’re talking about lesbians running around in the Swedish woods, it’s going to raise some eyebrows, true or not true…” Sveriges Radio P3, Oct. 18, 2009 -download the program here -it starts at minute 39 but most of it is in Swedish.

I wrote about this in Blond babes, bikes and Blatte when it first came out.  No surprises here that the world goes gaga when you start talking about Swedish women especially when you tie in the tag lesbians.

Now we just need to come up with some Swedish-influenced souvenirs to sell. Wouldn’t that be a twist to find a DalaLesbian in China marked, “Made in Sweden.”

I was thinking of a sculpture where the woman is painted in the darlacarlian tradition, but this will have to do to spark your imagination

I was thinking of a sculpture where the woman is painted in the darlacarlian tradition, but this will have to do to spark your imagination

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Burn bunny burn. Bunnybio energy fueling international attention

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Swedes are many things and on that list you’ll find are pragmatic and hunters. So there’s not too much hoopla kicked up in Sweden over the unconventional practice of culling nuisance rabbits in downtown Stockholm and making good use of them in Karlskoga.

There will always be bunny-hugging (in the case literal) animal activists who would rather find an alternative to picking off the rabbits by sharp shooters hired by Stockholm City. As a form of animal control they have some of my sympathy and partial support (if they can make it a practical reality rather than a nice rhetorical debate I’m all ears.) But once you have the carcasses of thousands of bunnies you have a practical pr0blem to solve.

The Local reported on the solution Stockholm City employs (article). In essence the bunnies are converted into heat. Not in the form of rabbit stew and fur coats, but fodder for the fire. An incinerator in Karlskoga converts the carcasses to calories for keeping residents comfy on the couch.

The topic is apparently fueling interest around the world. The BBC just published a piece interviewing The Local’s very own James Savage, Managing Editor to comment on Sweden’s take on the burning of bunnies. The international community just love the contradiction of the lovable, cuddly bunny and feeding the flames of domestic heating.

But returning to that short list of Swedish attributes: pragmatic and hunters. I think most Swedes are just fine with the idea.  I am not a hunter, but having been fortunate enough to enjoy the sumptuous goodness and butter texture of wild deer and moose thanks to the generosity of hunting friends I can’t get too misty-eyed over a cull.

Weeeee're hunting waaabbit

Weeeee're hunting waaabbit

After all, the bunnies lived happy lives until it was time to turn up the heat.

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Stockholm commuters: When left is right and right is wrong.

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Swedes walk on the wrong side and there’s nothing wild about it.  Ambulatory Swedes and their rail traffic follow antiquity in motion on the wrong side of the tracks. Not the expression but the literal wrong side of the tracks. Rail traffic and pedestrians scurrying along underground passages  beneath Stockholm’s Central Station follow left-hand traffic.  You know, like how they drive in Britain.

Now before all you subjects of Her Majesty get in a huff and take us back to the knights mounting steeds with long, sheathed swords to defend your stalwart determination to stick to what you know (heck, we Americans flat out refuse to let go of the Imperial system that you guys have all but abandoned by the wayside) let me point out that Swedish road traffic crossed over from left to right  in 1967.

1967:The moment left-hand traffic went right in Stockholm. Most famous picture of Kungsgatan

1967:The moment left-hand traffic went right in Stockholm. Most famous picture of Kungsgatan

Today, 16 years after my move to Sweden and 42 years after road traffic changed sides, the course of people heading to and from trains under Stockholm’s Central Station, the directional traffic is left-handed.  I can sympathize that rail traffic infrastructure is more difficult to reroute and relatively irrelevant, but why do people still carry on the anomaly?  And to date, I’ve only truly witnessed it at the Central Station, so why there?

Some habits die hard. I still follow right-hand traffic under there. Fewer people to dodge.

And the ones I do, I meet head on.

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Blond babes, bikes and Blatte

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Swedish women closest fulfill the living  myth of nearly every modern man’s wet dream. None of the fantasy has to be true of course.  That’s what myth, mystique and men’s fantasies share in common. Yes, I’m grossly generalizing. But I’m not really far off.

There will always be the guy who says he isn’t into the classic Swedish beauty; the blond hair, the blue eyes, the long slim legs. There is always the guy who says he isn’t very turned on by large breasts. Between you and me, I don’t believe him. Ever.

Seems the average Chinese man or at least his media is convinced of the same rousing power of the Scandinavian bombshell.  The Local has reported on (link to story) the piqued interest in the Chinese media tantalized by an enchanting Swedish town in northern Sweden which goes by the name “Chako Paul City”, population 25,000: All female and hot and horny as a direct result. This has got to be the furthest stretch of the male imagination I have come across to date. I can imagine the plane loads of Chinese men all asking for directions at Arlanda for Chacko Paul City.

That goes a bit above and beyond what I generally attribute to the average man’s vivid imagination of the Swedish woman.  I think a lot of men quickly conjure up the image of The Swedish Bikini Team.

Recently I posted a comment on Facebook that a Swedish female motorcyclist must be every healthy man’s fantasy after seeing pictures of a friend’s motorcycling pictures. There was quite a response from most of my guy friends. As a female friend pointed out, “Guys hear Swedish, then female biker and then they stop listening.”The Swedish blond biker babe is steamy imaging. (This is where I’d post a picture of my friend with her golden locks on her slick motorbike but I don’t have her permission…sorry boys)

I don't know these women, but you get the picture

I don't know these women, but you get the picture

I can’t help but realize that I let men down when they hear I live in Sweden and I show up with a black head of hair.

That ought to make me exotic. Ironic that it doesn’t.

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Getting (SL) Access: Finally with it.

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Stockholm-technology-wise I’m a little behind the times these days. I just acquired, loaded and used for passage my first SL (Stockholm’s public transit authority) Access card at a terminal.

Where I stood and loaded

Where I stood and loaded

Mine is red.

An array of colors

An array of colors

I felt so technologically smooth and clumsy at the same time needing to read the instructions closely.

And this has got to be my fastest post ever. Pulling into Centralen (Stockholm Central Station) now.

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