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.

Brasserie de Silly

This past month I had the good fortune to visit Brasserie de Silly in Silly, Belgium. Yes….Silly is a real place, just like Fucking, Austria. Silly Fucking Europe! Craziness indeed. The brewery is a little out of the way for train takers… but the beer is just as good, if not better, than lots of the Belgian beers I’ve tried whilst overseas. If you’re a beer enthusiast, a brewer or just a regular dude or dudette who likes cool things…I highly recommend visiting this brewery. Now, when I say brewery, I mean the breweries cafe, which is attached to the actual brewery. The brewery only does tours for large groups so unless you’re with 20 friends…you’re gonna have to just drink at the cafe.

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My friend and I arrived in Silly not really knowing what to expect. When we walked in the doors it kind of looked like one of those random cafes you see in a European city that you don’t want to go into. Ya know, it’s dark, there’s two quiet guys in the corner and one person in the back. It’s pretty empty…..and they don’t speak your language. Not too inviting. (If only I were blacked out drunk to access my fluent French speaking part of the brain!!) So we figured, hey let’s just get a beer and then split. The prices were super cheap….about 1.80 euros to 3.50 euros for a beer. And 2 cheeseburgers were 4 euro. Sweet!! After our first drink the bartender asked us if we were American, we reluctantly said ‘yes’ not knowing what the French speaking Belgians thought of us Yankees. But it turned out that one of those ‘quiet’ guys that we saw earlier was Bernard, the brewer, and he wanted to buy us a round of drinks. Rock on! So there we were, chatting with the brewer and drinking some really amazing beer. What more could we ask for?

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Well…….after about 7 drinks, plus the free ones, some cheeseburgers and a few hours of hanging out……we asked for the bill. Now, previous to this visit I was in Scandinavia so….I was just expecting a normal bill as if we were out drinking in New York. It was 14 euros and 10 cents. What!?! That’s so cheap!! Silly, Belgium man. Silly Fucking Belgium. I mean, it was a small town….and hopefully if Brasserie de Silly gets more popular in the coming years, they’ll raise the prices a little for the oncoming tourists. But hey, for now…..what an amazing deal! Now, I’m no beer guru (when I drink I tend to like ‘crappy’ American beers such as ‘Miller High Life’, ‘Busch’ and ‘PBR’, though I really appreciate and prefer good beers) but I’ll give a quick rundown of a few of the beers I tried.

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Let’s start with the best one. La Cré Tonnerre. Holy crap. Drink this immediately. Next up is Abbaye de Forest. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. (Hey I said I wasn’t a beer guru) Silly Pils was great as well. A nice, simple pils. Pink Killer is the only one I heard about before visiting Silly….and it wasn’t bad. It’s a fruity beer. Not my style, necessarily…but good. And the last one I had was La Divine. Good beer. Good, good beer. I also tried the Scotch Silly which is very nice. I’m well aware that this paragraph was neither eloquent nor detailed….but do you really need details all the time when it comes to beer? Sometimes, you just need to know if it’s good. I don’t care what type of beer you like. The beer in Silly is good. And most importantly….IT’S FUCKING CALLED SILLY!!!!!! Yes….that’s a sophomoric statement….but come on man. It’s SILLY!!! For those of you that would like a more detailed description of the beers in Belgium I’ll provide a link to my friend Rob’s blog when he posts it.

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Overall….I had an awesome experience in a cool brewery in Silly, Belgium. The head brewer was welcoming and really friendly. The beers were great AND CHEAP. And I’m sure if you visited, you’d have a similar experience…..unless you’re a loud mouth douchebag…. Ya never know.

Thanks for reading. As always. Take care of yourself. Take care of your clan. Be good to animals. And follow The Golden Rule as best as you can.

Native Americans

It is hard for me to think of America, the country that I live in, without recalling all that I’ve learned over the years about the Native American people and what we as “Americans” have done to them. Sure, in elementary and high school we are given a broad overview, which doesn’t necessarily highlight the heinous crimes committed, just as young little Germans are given a broad overview of who Hitler was. (To support that last sentence, while spending time in Germany in an adult education course, my instructor, as we discussed WW2, was playing down the atrocities and then told me that ‘Hitler was an Austrian you know’. So, that shows you how instructors are taught to kind of….’brush over’ that little smudge on their countries reputation.) In fact, Adolf Hitler is known to have studied what the United States did to the Native Americans when planning his own genocide. He used it as inspiration. Hmmm….curious. And we’re the good guys. You sure?

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How many Native Americans did our government actually murder, whether directly or indirectly? There’s a wide gap in the estimates that you will find. Some scholars say around 10 million and some people even say upwards of 100 million. I’m apt the believe that the official number is somewhere in the middle of those two. Why? Well because if you have any common sense, you’ll know that history is written by the conquerors. OF COURSE the US Government would play down the official death toll for its beloved citizens. “Oh hunny….we only killed 1 million people. That’s not THAT many. Let’s buy this 500 acre plot of land for .50 cents and open a farm! Yay!’. Either way….we killed tens of millions of native inhabitants just so we could have a home. That’s defined as theft right? And yes, disease, smallpox and plague played into lots of the deaths as well, but those are diseases that Europeans brought with them.

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It’s a difficult topic to research and find solid information on because so much of that information has been buried. Also, Native Americans have an oral tradition so it’s very possible that a lot of the history and knowledge from many past elders has faded with time. Of course, you can do a quick google search on this topic… but there are some very good Native American authors that I’d urge you to read, including Joseph Marshall III and David E. Stannard (though he’s not Native American). Why am I writing about this and why do I even care, being that I’m not Native American? Well….I live in this country. As a citizen I’d like to know the history of the place I call my home. I find the Native American culture fascinating and I believe that their wisdom and teachings are tantamount to succeeding as a person and as a country. I hope to see a day where the U.S. Government and the U.S. President will actually openly apologize to the Native Americans, rather than giving them a cheap and underhanded whiff. Ya know? A real apology…with fanfare, tv specials, ceremonies, charities and large reparations, with suitable and sustainable parcels of their homeland given back to them, with reasonable subsidies given to their families so they can thrive, revive their culture, religion and way of life and not become poverty stricken alcoholics. Our American ancestors were thieves and murderers. We killed their culture, raped and murdered their people, displaced them and destroyed their way of life….for HUNDREDS OF YEARS. We could at least acknowledge it, properly educate ourselves about it and give the remaining Native Americans a large slice of the pie that we’ve been eating for the past 400 years. After all….we stole that pie from them. You might say, ‘Hey…but they’ve got their casino land and are wealthy now….so we’re even’. Come on now hypothetical guy who said that….don’t be foolish.

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I wasn’t there during the colonization of America. I wasn’t involved in the killing of the natives. I didn’t rape and scalp Indians and then murder thousands of buffalos just so the Native Americans would starve. I’m sorry for it. But I wasn’t there. And now….. I enjoy the life that I’ve been raised in and have become accustomed to as an ‘American’. I’m not saying we should demolish all our houses and revert back to the ways that the Native Americans lived (though some of the things that existed in their former lifestyles are very attractive). For one, those of us who come from other countries, however far back the genealogy goes, are not ‘natives’ in America. And two…..once you put milk in the coffee….it’s kind of hard to get it out. So, we can’t just go backwards and change history, however horrible it may be, and live in a world of ‘what if’s’. But what is essential… is to remember what our ancestors did…..understand it, accept it, formulate a better and more respectful way to live…..and move on. Otherwise, we’re doomed to continue dealing with corrupt politicians, a pure profit driven society, oppression, war, famine, a highly stressed out populace and an under educated, short attention spanned, reality-show obsessed culture. Maybe if we had some Native American leaders in political office….things would get better. Philosophies could change. Who knows? It’s worth a shot because as many pro’s as ‘America’ has….the list of con’s has been steadily growing.

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Why do I say we as a people and a country would be doomed? Well….look at it this way. When two people in a marriage have a problem, it gets better and/or goes away once it’s brought out into the open, discussed, and then resolved. When the problem is ignored….or the other persons opinion is rejected or passed over….the problem gets worse, and worse and worse….until there’s a HUGE FIGHT. We’re connected to the Native Americans, whether we think we are or not. And if ‘we’ (the US government….and it’s citizens) don’t fix the problem that ‘we’ created…..it’s going to continue to be a problem. It will be this underlying, spiteful, festering anger…(no matter if another 500 years pass’s before anything proper is done). Call it a Native American curse, call it karma, call it whatever you want….but ya know….fixing the problem….that’s called LOGIC. Maybe our country and even our world is a such a disaster, filled with hatred and injustice, because we can’t mend our root problems? Maybe…just maybe?

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Hey….I’m just a regular white guy with a blog…..but I hope that I’ve struck a chord in some way and have encouraged you to learn more about the Native American people (through books or films or museum visits), to join their cause and/or to amend your attitude about them. They’re a great people with a rich history, in each and every one of their tribes, and they deserve the utmost respect.

Thanks for reading this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. As always….do your best. Be as kind as you can. Follow the Golden Rule. And have a great night.

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Woody Allen

Woody Allen. Love him. Hate him. Either way….he’s made some great films. Two in particular, which is why I really respect him as a filmmaker. When the man makes a ridiculous film, he does it really well. This is why I applaud him for his recent film To Rome With Love (2012). I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it yet, but it’s outrageous, hysterical and his crowning achievement of the films made in his twilight years. It’s got Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz and Roberto Benigni. We all remember Roberto Benigni’s amazing speech about banging pumpkins right? (It was from the film Night on Earth (1991) ) Well if you saw that film, imagine a performance that tops it.

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His other film that I feel is on par with the amount of ridiculousness in ‘To Rome With Love’ is Sleeper (1973). A story about a guy who is thawed out after being in cryostasis for 200 years. It’s funny. It’s outrageous. If you’re a Woody Allen fan I’m sure you know about it. If not, please go see it. ‘That’s a big chicken’

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If you’re into silly films and feel a need to watch something outrageous and ridiculous, please see ‘Sleeper’ and ‘To Rome With Love’. I haven’t seen all of Woody Allen’s films but on the whole I do enjoy his movies. I’m sure he’s had some stinkers….but I applaud his work. I hope you’ve enjoyed this short M.A.V.B.L.O.G. today. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Have a great day.

Love: A Very Merry Christmas All Life Long

‘Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.’
-Calvin Coolidge

December 25th. A special day for Christians and traditionalists alike. A special day for many others too. Whether you are the kindest person, a bad-ass biker, the softest soul, a disenfranchised misanthrope, a heavy metal rocker, an angry militant, a drunken sailor, a depressed fledgling, a happy go lucky clown or a combination of all of those….you can allow the Christmas spirit into your heart and have it all your life long. This is where some of you call me a softie or a wimp, but that’s not the case. This is what I’m saying. (Click link and watch)

Christmas is not just a time for Santa Clause and superficial shopping. It is a time for giving. And you can give a present to your loved ones. You can give a hug. You can donate some money to the poor. You can buy a homeless person a sandwich. You can call up an old friend just to say ‘hi’ (and I just received a nice call from a great friend I haven’t heard from in a while). You can give a gift to an old friend or enemy of yours and say, ‘I love you. It’s Christmas’.

Look, we’re all human. We’ve all had hard times. We’ve all had bad experiences. We’ve all burned bridges. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all failed. We’re all lovers and haters. We all, at times, feel helpless and powerless. That’s the point of life. To have ups and downs. But once you learn, practice and change your perspective, you can have more ups than downs. And no matter how much of a Mr. Scrooge you are, your heart can be warmed by the Christmas Spirit. What is the Christmas Spirit to you?

‘Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.’
-Mother Teresa

If you’re reading this m.a.v.b.l.o.g. post, I love you. And regardless of what God you believe in (if any), I wish you a Merry Christmas. You don’t actually need to be religious to find the miracle of Christmas. It’s about being good, to yourself and others, it’s about forgiving yourself, forgiving others, making amends, spreading joy however you can, being charitable, realizing that you can do good in this world, however large or small, and transforming your life for the better. I keep this poem by my desk and look at it each day. I think it’s something we all would benefit from reading and applying in our lives.

Think what you will, but to me Christmas is a special time where anything is possible. It is a time when dreams can come true. Miracles can happen. Love can break any walls down. And any man or woman, can tap into the Christmas Spirit and utilize it to help them change their lives for the better. My heart has been warmed and cooled and burned and frozen over the years from experiences in my life…….but each Christmas my heart grows and grows and grows. I wish you the very best on this Christmas and for the rest of your life.

‘I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.’ -Charles Dickens

Love: Wesley Willis’s Joyrides

For my first post in the ‘Love’ category I will highlight a great man who was a very bright soul in this often-times cruel and dark world…..Wesley Willis. As well as, and more importantly, a great documentary that tells the tale of his life, his artwork and his foray in the music industry; Wesley Willis’s Joyrides.

Some of you may remember Wesley Willis from when he surfaced in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, playing his unique brand of music in small and large clubs across the country. Some of his hilarious and outrageous song titles included, ‘Suck a Caribou’s Ass’, ‘Rock n Roll McDonald’s’, ‘My Mother Smokes Crack Rocks’, ‘Suck a Pitbull’s Dick’ and the ever popular ‘Cut the Mullet’. I was a young teenager when Wesley surfaced and to me he was hysterical. Everytime I heard his songs, I laughed…….and to this day I laugh. But there was a lot more to the man than him saying things like, ‘Suck a wooly mammoths rotten booty hole’.

Wesley was born into poverty in Chicago, IL. At the age of 26 he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I won’t go into the mans complete biography, you can look that up online. But despite the mans shortcomings, he was a genius artist, a genuine person and a headstrong musician. You can’t help but laugh when you see him talk, sing or interact with people. And it’s not a laughter from cruelty……it’s a laughter from joy, happiness and hilarity.

Unfortunately for myself, I didn’t get to experience his live performances where he would play music, then greet some fans and head-butt you repeatedly if he liked you. But fortunately, I saw a screening of Joyrides at the Florida Film Festival and learned that Wesley Willis was much more than a crazy musician who had a potty mouth. Yes….this is an age of miniscule attention spans and instant gratification…..but please, do yourself a favor. Sit down and watch Joyrides. It will change your life.

I have so much to say about Wesley……though I don’t want to ruin it with a long winded mavblog post. I love the guy…..and I didn’t even know him. Any man who can make you laugh until you’re slapping your knee, make you envious of his unfortunate life circumstances, put you in awe with his artistic abilities….and then go sing songs about termites while head-butting fans…..is ‘ok’ in my book. Here’s to you Wesley Willis…..may your bright soul shine above us and guide us all to be better people.

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You can find ‘Wesley Willis’s Joyrides’ online to watch for free or you can purchase the film here, which I highly recommend. I met the filmmakers and they’re really great people. To learn more about Wesley you can check out his website (not sure who maintains it since his passing). And oh yeah, do yourself another favor and listen to his music. Just check out a few songs on youtube. ‘Suck My Dogs Dick’, ‘Cut The Mullet’, ‘Suck A Caribou’s Ass’. If you’re not laughing after listening to those…..there’s either something wrong with you and/or you think you’re way too important or superior and you need to relax.