Christiania as the Great Equalizer

In ones life, as in many other things (which are invariably included in a life, whether you notice them or not), are indefinable moments. Moments that break beyond the human reality that you’ve become accustomed to seeing. Moments that make you feel like a small child who is looking at the world with fresh eyes. The feeling you get after meditating and reaching a new peak. The feeling that you get after reaching the summit of a tall mountain. The feeling when you finally look up to see the light after hitting rock bottom. The feeling of stillness, of peace….of complete unconditional love towards this gift of life that we’ve been given. It’s always hard for one to put a label on something so infinite. We may call it nirvana, heaven, peace, contentment, umami, the calm etc. etc. It is a moment to be cherished. Maybe you’ve never had a moment like that. Maybe some people only get one moment such as this when they pass on from this world to the next. And if you’re a person lacking in said moments, or just a person in general, I politely urge you to start walking towards Christiania. When your foot crosses over the border, you’ll know exactly why. It’s because the word Christiania is comparable, and belongs in the same class as those others….nirvana, heaven, peace….

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What is Christiania? It is an idea. It is a place. It is a work of art. It is not what it seems to be to outsiders. You can read the articles and look at pictures and think that Christiania is a chaotic commune of drug addict hippies in Copenhagen… but it is so much more. It is a token of warmth in this sometimes cold world. It’s so disorganized to ‘normal’ people that IT IS organized. So, don’t think to yourself ‘Oh that’s cool. I dig that. Maybe I’ll visit it one day after I see the wonders of the world’. No. Absolutely not. There are no other wonders that can compare to Christiania. It is the only wonder of the world worth visiting. It will expand your awareness exponentially. Your perspective will constantly shift. You will walk in facing east, but east will suddenly become west. And how can you find your way once the poles inside your mind have shifted? You’ll just have to turn north until it becomes south…..and this is BEFORE you smoke a joint or eat a space cake. Just as words cannot properly describe the depths of love, beauty or wisdom….my words are a pitiful attempt to describe the feelings that I had when wandering around Christiania. The feelings that I still have. The feelings that we can all have. And if we could just maintain a slice of that, a miniscule sliver…imagine what else we could see. Imagine how we could change ourselves and change the world.

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I went to Christiania thinking it would be a very cool destination to visit, one not to be missed. And, pat myself on the back, I scheduled my trip so as to attend the 43rd birthday party of the inception of Christiania (September 26th for any of you future travelers). I’d been to Tacheles in Berlin, which to my and many others’ disgust has been shut down, bought, sold and reworked under the guise of progress; so I thought I’d get a similar but not identical taste of complete and unbound artistic freedom. What I received, for no admission price might I add, was something similar yet completely different. Putting my artsy ramblings aside… Freetown Christiania is an autonomous community covering 84 acres of a former military compound in Copenhagen. It is a self-governed town with its own set of rules. Artists run wild. Spontaneous performances take place. You can visit an art gallery, grab a dish of the best organic, vegan food you’ll ever eat, have a drink at a bar, smoke some weed, paint a portrait, rave to techno or even go for a nice jog by the river. Anything goes…somewhat (they do have rules ya know….like don’t piss everywhere because you think it’s a big party).

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I watched. I ate. I drank. I sang. I peed on the grass (once, sorry). I watched some more. I cheered. I walked. I smoked. I raved. I saw the lines form. I saw the colors shake. I saw how important and necessary it is for this world to have something like Christiania. It’s as if God reached out his hand and said, ‘Here! I know that shit happens. I know that life can be sad and dark and miserable at times…and I wish I could fix it all. But here! Enjoy this! Right now. See what the world can be. See what you can be. See the facade behind the facade behind the facade. See the great movie as it is created and transpires right in front of your eyes’. It’s an experience. It’s a feeling. It’s not just a hippie town where drugs are legal that needs to be stamped out by the rational side of society. It’s Christiania. It is the great equalizer in a chaotic world. A reminder that control is not the way. That there is no such thing as control. Have you ever had a coincidence that was so strange you felt that the universe was winking at you? That’s Christiania. Have you ever felt what it’s like to be in love? Deep in love? That’s Christiania. Have you ever had a dream so peaceful and so real that when you woke up, you were free from stress or desire or thought? That’s Christiania.

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I’m a weird guy. I know that. But we’re all a little weird aren’t we? Even if you’re a fellow artist, or a cop or a fitness instructor or hell even Barack Obama. We’re all looking for the same thing. A little bit of peace. A little quiet. A little happiness. A few moments of perfection. Just a few. We’re simple creatures with extraordinarily complex minds. We’re little universes bouncing around at incredible speeds inside of an even more infinite universe. But still, we’re human. We have ups. We have downs. And Christiania is an up that you need to explore. It is an up so high that it’s as if you never knew what up was. And if you can’t get there right now….find little Christiania’s elsewhere, because they have to exist. But go you must. One step at a time. Towards a small country called Denmark. To a city called Copenhagen. To another dimension called Christiania. Adventure can be a scary prospect…but it is the only way. Why do I even bother writing this blog given the fact that my words cannot possibly convey what I feel towards Christiania? Because I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity….I’m so in awe of what exists in this life….that I drop to my knees like Joe in Joe vs. The Volcano and say, ‘Dear whatever you are. Thank you. I thought I knew. But I didn’t know anything’. And I’m so passionate about it that I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a feeling that is so amazing that I want you to feel it too. And I want you to find the same spark that I caught a glimpse of. You’ll probably find something entirely different, unique to your own experience, but I know you’ll be able to see behind the curtain. And that’s what we all need. The great truth revealed. Christiania. The moment where time stands still.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.AV.B.L.O.G. as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. There are tons of cheap flights available to Copenhagen, Denmark and even more reasonable hostels, hotels and Pensions there. Take a risk. Take a chance. I hope you do. As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Be good to animals. Even plants and rocks. And follow The Golden Rule as best as you can. Have a great day.

Sympathy and Width

Who is Temperit Linson?

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‘Sympathy and Width’ is a science fiction e-book that follows the life of Jonathan Robert and Temperit Linson, the brightest light to shine above drones. Stephen King. The Matrix. Star Wars. Twelve Monkeys. Fight Club. Chuck Palahniuk. Stanley Kubrick. Blade Runner. American Psycho. If you liked any of the things I just mentioned, you’ll probably like ‘Sympathy and Width’. Open the door…..find out who he is. It’s only a buck 13. $1.13

Art: Kierstan Holine

Howdy. Another post!!… yes….I know. I’ve had all these backlogged for the last week and haven’t had time for proofreading and grammar fixes….Anywho…. I just wanted to send out a mavblog in support of a fellow artist. Do I know her? No, not at all. But I came across her youtube videos of cover songs about a year ago….and man is this girl talented!! As far as I can tell from her website, she’s still pretty independent. No major label. No huge sales. Just a regular girl with an amazing voice doin’ her thing. And that’s awesome.

Why am I writing about her? Because you gotta support the indies….someday they’ll be HUGE…or they’ll just stay small. But Beyonce doesn’t need the money. Kierstan does! Either way, ya gotta give credit where credit is due. She’s got a wide range of cover songs available on her youtube channel and I think she’s just ducky. You can watch all of her videos for free on youtube, and she’s got stuff on bandcamp and iTunes that you can purchase. I do hope that the girl finds commercial or financial success in her career because she seems like a genuine person and she has great talent. I’m no music executive, but I think she has ‘it’.

If you’re into acoustic, folk type music and covers….check her out. It’ll be worth your time. Thanks for reading about Kierstan Holine. And I’ll shorten my closing (since this is a short mavblog). Be nice. Be good to yourself. Show respect. Have a nice day.

Art: Farewell Tacheles

Tacheles. One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been in my life. And a place that I may never see again. Close your eyes for me….well, you can’t. This is a blog. Ok, close your eyes after you read this. Imagine an art gallery as large as a building. In each room, a different artist; living and creating. Graffiti covering the walls. A faint smell of urine and stale beer as if there’d been thousands of parties on top of parties. You walk up the stairs and go into a video exhibition. Around the next corner is a small, underground bar filled with artists and locals. You have a drink and then go outside into a dusty backyard, littered with busted trailers and metal sculptures. You’re not sure if it’s a war zone or the greatest place on earth. Around every corner is something new. Something so unique you haven’t even thought it could exist. Grunge. Graffiti. Poverty. Community. This is art. This is what art is supposed to be. For some reason you feel freer than you’ve ever felt before. There’s something special about this place.

Tacheles is the last remaining part of a department store complex built at the beginning of the 20th century. It was heavily damaged by aerial bombs in World War II and the East Berlin authority had much of it torn down in the 1980s.’ -The end of an Era

In short, Tacheles was a squat. But a squat that turned into a haven for artists from around the world. A giant abandoned building that Berliners made into an artists utopia, which then turned into a must see tourist destination by foreigners and locals alike.

I spent some time in Berlin and was lucky enough to enjoy a few days at Tacheles. I wish that we could go back in time so that we all could see this gem. But unfortunately, all things must end. To use a Johnny Depp quote from Pirates of the Carribean, ‘(The) World’s still the same. There’s just less in it.’

There is talk that the city of Berlin will step in and declare this a historical site, at the urging of Tacheles supporters…..but there’s big money involved and politics. For the worlds sake, I hope that Tacheles survives. I understand the situation from both sides; artists want their home and big business wants to make money and gentrify the city. But come on, money can be made anywhere. My vote is with Tacheles. It is a dirty, cold mess……but it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve seen.

You can do a quick google search or youtube search to learn more about Tacheles. I suggest that you take a little time out of your day and watch a video or read some articles. It’s beautiful.

 

Art: Alexander Rutsch

For my first ‘art’ post, I’d like to highlight an artist that I was lucky enough to know as a child. Alexander Rutsch.

“My dreams are color and life. They soar in my head like millions of symphonies. I can never stop building dreams.” – Alexander Rutsch

Being a 2nd generation-er, my family had a wide background and I grew up around an eclectic mix of Europeans and Russians. Alexander was married to my mother’s first cousin and our family gatherings were always an opportunity for me to wander off into his sculpture garden or inspect his studio of unfinished paintings. At the time I didn’t know what a professional artist was…I just knew that he was a kind, intelligent man, who played chess with my grandfather, spoke various languages with my relatives, told great stories and was a bit misunderstood.

One day while walking with Alex in his sculpture garden, he asked me to help name one of his sculptures. I must have been 9 or 10 at the time…and I froze. Me? A kid? I didn’t know anything about sculpture. How could I help name a piece of art made by a master? Alex rattled off a few names and then I blurted out something. I don’t remember what…..but I remember it wasn’t that good. I just wanted to impress the kind, artist elder in my family.

As I got  a little older and became more educated, I started to recognize the characters in his stories. His friends and colleagues were Salvadore Dali, Pablo Picasso…..Gods of the art world. Alexander even did a portrait of Pope John Paul II. And yet there he was, sitting with my family eating BLT’s, asking for scraps of paper and shoe polish so he could draw outside at the pool and telling wonderful stories to whoever would listen.

I’m no art historian. I studied art throughout my life and memorized the texts at one time, but I’m no walking encyclopedia of styles and methods. What I do know rings truer in my ears than anything I learned in a textbook. A humble, kind, gentle man….produced simple, calming and impressive artwork. His character shone straight through into his art. And as my memories of this great man fade since his death in 1997, my appreciation for him grows stronger. Perhaps one day his pieces of art will be as prominent as a Van Gogh or Dali. To some people they already are.

I’ve had many artistic influences in my life, direct and indirect, and I do credit Alexander as one of the reasons why I followed my family’s artistic roots. I had influences from actors, musicians, artists and businessmen on one side….and on the other athletes, policemen, military and blue collars. Maybe Alex saw the misunderstood artist within me when he asked me to name his sculpture years ago. I like to think so.

If you’d like to learn more about Alexander Rutsch you can visit-www.alexanderrutsch.com

The first post of Joseph McConnell

Hi there. This is my first post on wordpress. I’ll try to keep it short and simple. I’ve started this web blog as a place for you to learn about me, my films and my books. So what shall I say in my first post so you can relate to me?

I’ve been high and I’ve been low, just like you. Just gotta do the best with the hand that life deals you…and no matter how bad things can be….make the best of it.

So, I always strive to just be a regular guy. I do stupid stuff. And I do really smart stuff. Always trying to keep a fine balance. For example, reading ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ during the day and then at night, crapping in a bag and lighting it on fire on someones doorstep. I’m experienced enough to know that it’s important to always be yourself. To be nice to people. To love as hard as you can. And to try harder even when people tell you to stop, whether it be in your job, your parenting, your relationships, your health….or that new annoying video game!! You never know when your lights are gonna go out for good, so make your life meaningful….to you of course.

Well….I hope you enjoy my future blogs about movies, art, video games, backpacking, love, outrageousness and god. And if you dig my style check out some of my books, look at some of my artwork and watch some of my movies. I love my life. I love movies. And I love the fact that if I want to I can get drunk, cook a bunch of pasta, put it in a plastic bag….and throw it at my neighbors door. Why not!?! There are so many options!!!

There’s a great quote from the movie ‘The Way’ (2010) that we can all learn from….”You don’t choose a life, dad. You live one.”