Category: Random Rants on Life

2 years ago today

Two years ago today I landed in LAX to start a new chapter in my life. More than a new chapter, in fact I’d go as far as calling it Act Three of my life. I was pretty satisfied with my life up until then; I’d gotten married to the most fantastic woman in the world two years before, I had a great, challenging job with wonderful coworkers, I was living in this great, big apartment in Copenhagen and I had a lot of things going for me.

But there was a voice calling for me from somewhere – I wanted something new, but I couldn’t decide what it was. It had been calling for me for a long time, and I’d tried to ignore it for a while, but it was getting stronger now. A couple of events occurred in early 2010 that helped push me towards the decision to leave it all behind, the strongest being that I lost my father early in the year. Although it didn’t really come as a surprise, since he had been weak for some time, it still had a major impact on me. Suddenly a huge part of my past was gone, and with that came a chance to reflect on his life, how it compared to mine and how I wanted to do a lot of things different from him. My father didn’t exactly have the best life imaginable, but he had great ambition throughout most of his life & he knew how to enjoy himself. Those are both virtues that I’ve inherited from him, but in the last year or so it seemed like the latter was getting more important than the first one. I had a sneaking feeling that life in Copenhagen was all about waiting for the next chance to get to enjoy myself. Waiting for the weekend during the week, waiting for the next long weekend where you could fly to Berlin or London, waiting for spring during the winter, waiting for the summer holiday, always waiting for the next opportunity to get away. When I first started working at Framfab in Copenhagen one of my new colleagues, a person I respect a lot, decided to quit his job and move on to a new position. At the time I found it hard to believe that you would want to work anywhere else, since Framfab was the place where we got to work on awesome stuff like NikeFootball, but he’d been there for five years, and he told me he felt five years was a decent amount of time to spend in the same place. After five years you would be so much into the routines of your everyday work that you would start to get maybe just a little bit too comfortable.

I think that happened to me as I approached the five year mark; I had accomplished a lot in the time I’d been there, I’d played an important role in many award winning campaigns, I’d learned a lot from the very talented people around me and I was in a position in the company where I’d become part of the everyday management and was the head of the technology department, managing several very talented developers and system architects. Yet somehow, that wasn’t really enough for me, or maybe it was enough at some point and now I wanted something else. There had been offers from other companies in Denmark, but somehow it felt like there wasn’t really anything interesting left for me to do in Denmark. That may sound very arrogant, but I think it has to do with the way you traditionally make your career in Denmark, regardless of business. Making your way to the top is traditionally a question of assuming a position where you have more and more people answering to you. I’d taken that route, first becoming the head of a small team of developers, then all front-end developers and finally the entire technology department. But the problem with that route is that more and more of your time is devoted to managing people, not with doing creative work for the clients, and the creative work is what drives me. I was definitely getting too comfortable, and it was starting to get to me.

Framfab (or LBi Copenhagen, at it had been renamed by then) had been through a challenging couple of years same as everyone else in the industry, but at the beginning of 2010 things had started to turn around with a recent merger with another digital agency in Copenhagen. I’d stuck with the company out of loyalty through the hard times and I felt like I’d played an important part in turning things around. But even though things were moving in the right direction for the company, I didn’t really feel like they were moving in the right direction for me. So that night in early April when I got an IM from an old colleague asking me if I wanted to come to Los Angeles and work, I was very, very intrigued.

The winter 2009/10 was absolutely horrible. It was cold, the streets were frozen and covered with snow for months. In fact it was still snowing in April the first time I had a video chat with the people from the ACNE Production office in LA. And in the background behind these people was a gorgeous blue sky and a palm tree. It’s really hard to compete with that. In fact later when they flew me to Stockholm to talk the ACNE Production people there, the head of ACNE Production listed the weather as three out of five reasons for why the office was in Los Angeles and not New York.

The job was incredibly appealing – from very early on I was given the opportunity to look at some of the work they were doing and some of the clients they were working with, and it all resonated with me. The creative was challenging, it was using technology in new, fascinating ways and the budgets were much bigger than I’d been used to.

So mentally I was very much ready to leave Denmark behind and continue my career far away. But I’m not the only one who gets to decide what happens in my life. I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to my wonderful wife, and when the equation suddenly contains two people instead of one, things get a lot more complicated. It just so happened that the timing was also very good with my wife. Her one year contract was coming to an end and she was ready to move on to the next thing. While I was in early negotiations with ACNE, she had applied for a very interesting position at a hospital in Denmark and she had been interviewed for it just a couple of days before I flew to Stockholm. If she were to get that job, I would put my dreams of moving abroad away for a couple of years and settle with something in Copenhagen. I very clearly remember the point of no return for us: I was in a taxi going back to the airport after the interview when she called me and asked me how my interview had gone. By then I had a lot of experience sitting at the other side of the table when interview promising candidates, so I felt pretty confident in saying that the interview went very well, and that it would probably be a matter of agreeing to the terms of a contract; the job was mine if I wanted it. She fell silent for a few moments and then proceeded to tell me that she’d just gotten a callback from her interview. She’d gotten very good feedback, but had not been offered the position. Another few moments of silence passed by and then I asked her if this was it: Should we go for it? And she said yes.

The next couple of months were challenging, but fun. It’s not exactly easy to get a visa in the US, especially after ACNE’s immigration lawyer found out that I was Danish, not Swedish. This meant that although ACNE wanted to offer me a contract, they couldn’t guarantee that I would get the visa. And even if I could, it would take several months. Obviously I needed time to settle things in Denmark, since moving to another continent isn’t something you just do over the weekend, but the uncertain situation with the visa was tough to deal with. Quitting my job would be risky, since I could potentially be put in a situation where I would be out of a job and out of visa. I also needed letters of recommendation from some of the people I was working with, and that would probably have been an awkward thing to ask for if they didn’t know I was leaving. And since you have to give notice to the end of the following month I decided to risk it and texted my boss early in the morning on the last day of April, saying that I was quitting my job. Even though it was pretty early in the morning she immediately called me. She wasn’t happy that I wanted to go, but it was a great relief to her to learn that I was leaving for another continent and not for a competitor around the corner. In fact she was incredibly supportive having herself spent several years in the US. She even said that she would be willing to cancel my resignation should I find myself without a visa.

From then on it was a matter of getting everything settled in Copenhagen. I obviously had a job in Los Angeles, but we needed to make sure my wife had something to do. The visa we were getting for me wouldn’t allow her to work, but fortunately for us she could study which was a perfect opportunity for us. She is getting a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at an excellent graduate school of psychology and will soon surpass me in level of education. Summer came in May in Copenhagen and it was as beautiful as it had even been. My visa application was well under way, the immigration lawyer had assured me that it would go through and at the end of May we made a public announcement about our decision to go away, followed by a final approval of my visa on June 12.

Time goes by quickly when trying to deal with all the challenges of moving to another continent. But once you’ve made plans for how to deal with them, that day when you’re going away suddenly gets closer and closer. That’s when you start dealing with the heavy burden of leaving the family and the friends you love behind. I had a wonderful summer before leaving my wild youth behind, spending many a long night with good friends drinking beer, going to festivals and concerts, swimming in the canals of Copenhagen and watching the sun rise from the most beautiful locations imaginable. That’s the Copenhagen I want to preserve in my memory when things get a bit rough and even I get a bit homesick.

I have two small nieces from my twin sister that are the most lovely little creatures in the world. When I went away, one of them was just two years old and the other one hadn’t even been born yet. Watching them grow up over Skype is very painful, but at least modern technology gives me the chance to talk to them as well as the rest of the people I left behind. I’m at an age where you don’t really see the passage of time that much in your friends or your siblings but you really see it in their children, and that’s when the big picture really reveals itself which can be horrifying. That’s when you feel like you’re missing out on something. But you can’t have everything in life – at least not at once – and I decided to take the adventurous path when it was presented to me. I don’t want to look back at my life 20 or 30 years from now and regret the missed opportunities, I want to follow my ambition and do amazing work in a place like this. At ACNE Los Angeles I get to do the kind of work I longed to do in Copenhagen and really pursue my creative side. Always with a great idea at the core, always with rock solid creativity and always striving to do the perfect job. Most of the time that means leaving your comfort zone, but I left my comfort zone two years ago in Copenhagen. So the weather is good, the job is good and my wife loves getting her doctorate degree. Four and a half months ago our daughter Europa arrived as a new addition to my family, and with her I have everything I want in my life. For now …

Staging the End of the World in Pursuit of Happiness

The day of the Rapture came and went yesterday. We should be hiding from the fire raining from the sky in the remains of Los Angeles, pondering over whether to resort to cannibalism now that resources are slim or to eat the burned rats floating in the rivers of lava, but instead my wife is knitting on the balcony in the evening sun and I’m writing my thought on the end of world and what that does to my well being before going to the cinema later tonight.

The thing is, I feel pretty good. And a big reason for that is that the world didn’t end yesterday, and that made me really happy. We didn’t make a big thing of it my wife and I, but we did go outside on the balcony a minute before 6pm to see the skies crack open (or whatever was supposed to happen), and when that didn’t happen we toasted in a glass of excellent red wine and went on in our fabulous Saturday night. I know intellectually that of course the world wasn’t going to end, but the whole Rapture thing has stirred quite a bit of excitement around me the last couple of weeks. Harold Camping and his posse of Christian cultists definitely did a fine PR job, since everybody and their mother knew the Rapture was supposed to happen yesterday. I shared in the excitement – not the hysteria – and yesterday when the world didn’t end, I felt quite good about it. And I’m not even a believer, but what I did was allow myself to feel happy about it. It other words I staged a situation where the fact that the world didn’t end at 6pm led to me feeling happy and it worked. I had a great night last night.

There is this American principle of the right to pursue happiness. That’s pretty abstract to me, but I believe I’ve found an interpretation that works for me: It’s all about staging situations in your life that will eventually lead to a feeling of happiness. I can’t actually take credit for this idea, I got it from Danish stage director Peter Langdal in 1998. He was giving a guest lecture at the University of Copenhagen where I was studying to be bachelor of Theatre Science at the time. I honestly don’t remember what the lecture was about, but I remember his description of how he staged situations in his everyday life that would lead to intense feelings of happiness. As an example he explained how he would tell his children – I’m guessing they were 5-6 years old at the time – to wait behind for a while as he would walk up the driveway of his allotment house. He would then turn around to look at his children and tell them to run towards him. The sight of his two beloved children running towards him up the driveway would lead to an intense feeling of happiness, and that was all staged. I loved the idea back then and I’ve tried my best to set things up in a way so that I can do myself that favour as often as possible.

My wedding is a great example of such a staged event on a very large scale and the end of the world is an example on a very small scale. I know the real end of the world is a big thing, but since this was an imaginary end of the world, it was simply a matter of setting it up in my mind so that I would be relieved by the world not ending.

Another example is the diet my wife and I have started following this last month. I will not bore you with the details about the actual diet, suffice to say that it is a low carb / high protein diet. The important element in the context of this post is the Cheat Day. Every Saturday my wife and I are allowed to eat and drink whatever we want to. It works wonders for us. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed food and drink as much as I do on my cheat day. And we don’t even eat anything terribly out of the ordinary, it’s just a matter of eating the things we can’t (and don’t) eat on the normal days. Behold our breakfast from yesterday:

It’s really simple and it’s completely staged by yours truly, but it makes me feel really good.

So maybe Harold Camping was really out to do us all a gigantic favour announcing the end of the world. In realising the world didn’t end yesterday hopefully we all learned to appreciate it more. I’m thinking he’s got plenty of money from contributions, and I guess he can always blame it on a mis-interpretation of the Book of Job (again) and pull out his holy calculator to predict the next end of the world. But next time he should try to place it on a bank holiday weekend so that all of his followers have an extra day to make it back to the mid west to square things out with the job they quit to go to California to be in the front rows of the Apocalypse.

Happy afterlife, everybody …

Audiences in Nightclubs

>heard me a radio commercial for a club in London. Girls get in for free until 1AM, 1£ after that, guys 10£ all night. Age limit for girls 18 years, 21 for guys. Now that really got me thinking: What kind of an audience does an offer like that attract? And aren’t we getting awfully close to prostitution? So the message to the girls is: Come to this lovely place where we let you in for free, all the guys are older than you AND they’ve probably got money, since they forked out 10£ to get in. And for the boys: Come to this lovely place where the girls are all younger than you and come here because YOU’ve got money.

I guess that business model works, since they have it – or maybe they’re just trying it out? I’ve always avoided night clubs that charge you differently based on your sex, same as I avoid restaurants where they have waiters in the street trying to get you inside, but these places always seem to have a crowd, so maybe I’m missing out on all the fun …

I have felt very discriminated occasionally when going out in London. If you’re with 3 other guys you’ll often have a VERY hard time getting into a lot of places, where I don’t have any problems at all when I’m out with my wife. Maybe the guy/girl ratio in London is just tipped too far towards the men? I guess it’s because men in London never really reach an age where they stop going out, which is quite unique – and I kinda like that. But I guess it works against us. But isn’t it the men who spend the most money in the bar anyway? Well, I guess it’s a delicate balance where you want just the right ratio of men inside to buy cocktails for all the (underage) girls, but no so many that they’re just buying for themselves because there are no ladies to charm.

Then again it also be because men – especially between 18 and 21 – tend to start fights, drive while drunk, do drugs, rape, loot and pillage.

Anyway, I think that club from the radio commercial should go all in, pay the girls 20£ to get in, charge the guys 100£ and up the age limit for guys to 35. At least that way it’s honest. Can’t wait until I turn 35 so I can get into these places …

What’s the Deal with Sports in America?

We’re in April. I’ve learned that April is a VERY important month for sports in the US. The baseball season starts, there are the playoffs in basketball and there is draft in the NFL.

Today is April 21st and it just happens to be the day when FC Copenhagen became the earliest ever champions of the Danish football league in history. Yesterday featured the second of four El Clasicos between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona with Real Madrid being the victorious side in this won and there are two wonderful Champions League semi finals waiting just around the corner. So I guess I also like April for sports reasons this year.

So thus far I can agree with the Americans. But I find it really, really difficult to appreciate the 3 great sports over here – in part because you have to be a mutant and/or ruin your body to be really good at any of them, in part because they’re all completely ruined by commercial interests.

Let me start with the last element – I learned by listening to the radio the other day that the basketball team Sacramento Kings will leave Sacramento and go to Orange County and be the … Orange County Orangutangs or whatever. Now the fact that a team can just pick up their stuff and leave for another city is just a big mystery to me – and how can you ever be a fan of your local team if you know that at any given time they can just decide to leave because another city gives them a better offer? I know that the odds of this happening to some of the bigger iconic teams in all three sports are 1 : astronomical, but still? In Europe we have lots of traditions of football teams merging to become a bigger team, but they’re still tied to a specific region, so they never lose that regional tie that justifies fan culture in the first place – after all, aren’t sports supposed to be the modern substitute for going to war? We get to fight another city/region/country and hopefully win bragging rights, but when it’s all over, nobody dies and we can all be friends again – except in Italy and Serbia of course. But that whole thing about being a fan to support your region rests on a commercial foundation in the US, and at any given time this foundation can be torn away from underneath “your” team, and you just have to settle with it or perhaps find a new team to support?

I’m not saying there isn’t commercial factors in football. In fact, they’re insane, like when Real Madrid spends hundreds of millions of Euros on buying the best players in the world, but the commercial interests aren’t changing the core game. They’re not allowing TV networks to introduce more and more breaks in the game and they’re not changing the rules to allow for more goals.

And then there is the mutant / ruining your body-factor. To be a good basketball player, you HAVE to be at least 2 meters in height. Now with football there is room for all heights – of course you have to be fit, but there is room for people of any height on a football field. It’s not like basketball where children hit puberty and some of them grow up to be tall enough to at least still have a dream of going pro and others just have to give it up, even though they have the skills, because they’re simply not tall enough.

To be a good American football player you HAVE to weigh 125 kilos and smash your head against somebody else’s head countless times with insane injuries to follow. Of course football has injuries too, and some of them are pretty bad, but that doesn’t come from playing the game right, that comes from when things go wrong on the field. In American Football smashing your head into your opponents head and physically taking them down in very rough ways is the right way to play the game, and that just encourages injuries.

And the pitch element in baseball is soooo bad for shoulder and elbow you wouldn’t believe it. Again, by playing the game right you enforce injuries to your body. And what’s with the pajamas in baseball?

I guess I could learn to like hockey if I had to. It still seems to be the purest of the American sports. And of the big 3 basketball seems to be the one the least bad, as at least you’re not wrecking your body by playing it right.

But I certainly miss football in Europe these days – especially watching the big games at the right time of the day instead of getting up at 8 in the morning on a Saturday to watch my team play. I’ve tried, but it’s REALLY hard to drink beer at 8 in the morning, and I do miss going to the games live something fierce. Maybe I should try to check out LA Galaxy …

Thursday was a Sad Day …

>Yesterday wasn’t exactly the best day I can remember. Coachella was announced sold out, and I didn’t get tickets in time, Love Shop lost Henrik Hall and Denmark lost Tøger Seidenfaden.

It was a very emotionally intense day to get through. I had worked until 1.30 AM on Monday and had to be at the office again at 9 AM for a client review, so I wasn’t exactly well rested. This might be the reason why I was so struck by the news of Tøger’s death, but nevertheless I have to say that I’m sharing the sense of loss felt by a lot of people in Denmark these days. It reminds me of the descriptions I’ve read of the way a lot of people felt when Lady Diana passed away in 1997 – how they felt a personal loss, even though they had never met the woman and she didn’t even know they existed.

I’m a pretty young person, and I’ve been fortunate enough not to have any of my friends die. But yesterday one of my good friends passed away, and even though he didn’t know he was my friend, I still feel a great loss. Tøger was exactly what a good friend should be: a constant source of inspiration, a voice of morale and reason, someone who could make you laugh or make you angry, and first of all someone you always wanted to listen to, when he had something to say – which he very often had.

RIP Tøger and condolences to the nation you left behind – a much poorer place with you gone.

Where is My Home?

>I’m sitting here on a Monday morning enjoying my last full day in Copenhagen. The city I called home for 12 years before leaving for Los Angeles 6 months ago and also the city where I’ve spent most of my life, where I got my education, where I got my first job and the city where I met and married the love of my life.

A few nights before leaving Copenhagen back in July I took a head dive with a couple of good friends at 4 in the morning from one of the bridges in Christianshavn into the lovely canals – if I tried to do the same thing now I would break my neck on the thick ice covering all the canals and lakes in Copenhagen. Right now the sun is shining outside the windows of my mothers apartment, but in just a few hours it will be dark again. Darkness and freezing temperatures serve as constant reminders of why my wife and I wanted to leave this country in the first place and take our chances in another part of the world.
In the few hours of daylight it is extremely beautiful here, but that doesn’t change the fact that depression has been sneaking up on me from constant underexposure to sunlight. And from having to deal with the fact that this place is no longer my home, a fact that didn’t really strike me until coming here for Christmas. I haven’t really felt homesick at any point while living in Los Angeles, but my wife has, and we’ve had many conversations about coming back “home” and what it would be like to meet family and friends once again, but I wasn’t really prepared for the emotional impact of it. One of the first days in Copenhagen my grandmother came to visit us in my mothers apartment. She told a lot of stories from back in the days, one of them being of Uncle Jens who left for America a long, long time ago. He only visited Denmark once after leaving for America, and he didn’t come back until after his mother had passed away. When he originally left Denmark his mother had looked so sad standing on the pier as he sailed away, and he couldn’t bear to have to witness that again.
Today the world is a lot smaller and hopefully my own mother won’t look as sad as Jens’ mother when I leave knowing that she will come to LA to visit us in the spring. Also the wonder of Skype gives us many an opportunity to speak face to face to friends and family and Denmark. My twin sister finally has a decent webcam so I can get to say hello to my 2 adorable nieces from time to time. I met the youngest one Ida for the first time in real life, and the 2 year old Sif was unbelievably adorable when she kissed me goodbye yesterday. When we left in the summer she refused to kiss her uncle when her mother asked her to, but this time she did it without being asked to do it. Way to melt the heart of Uncle America …
So being back here has meant a lot to me. I have new memories to take back with me and I have finally realized that my new home is all the way across the Atlantic ocean and the American continent. A good friend of mine who has a lot of experience in moving around the world told me, that it typically takes a good 6 months before you settle into a new place, and I guess that’s the truth. With just 1 day left in Copenhagen my wife and I can’t wait to go back home. I came to Copenhagen with a vague idea that I was coming home, but I realize now that I came as a tourist, and I will be leaving a tourist to go home tomorrow.

Biking in LA

>”You bike here from Santa Monica?” – a question spoken in disbelief from our new flatmate Jack when I arrived home one day from work wearing my trusty Italian helmet and shoes. A very common reaction from every single American I’ve met so far when they realize I bike to and from work, a trip of around 13 km or 8 miles. I’m reminded of a quote from “American Beauty”, when the daughter of the protagonist announces to her friend Angela that she intends to walk home from school: “You’re gonna walk? That’s like … a mile!” It’s a prejudice I brought with me from home; Americans will only travel from A to B in automobiles, and that has certainly proven to be true. Perhaps this is one explanation why this country is so fat?! In Denmark a lot of people use their bike as a means of transportation, thus turning transportation into exercise instead of having to go to a gym or go running to burn calories – another explanation is right here, but I just enjoy and take pride in the fact that I burn 1200-1300 calories every day (according to my new best friend Cyclemeter). Also I’m saving money and taking my part in preventing global warming.

So what’s the deal with biking in LA? People who know me from back home know that I insist on taking my bike everywhere no matter how rough the conditions are as long as the distance is less than 30km and my bike doesn’t suffer from a mechanical problem I can’t immediately fix. Therefore I started studying the city maps of LA even before coming here to find out where I could live in LA if I wanted to bike to work every day. I’ve heard the horror stories from a lot of people about how it is absolutely impossible to go anywhere in LA without a car, and I’ve also been to big cities in Brazil where it was physically impossible to go to certain places without a car. But it’s actually pretty good over here – for one thing the weather makes it possible for people even less insane than me to go by bike all year long. And they actually have bike lanes – miles and miles of wonderful bike lanes. Living where I live right now, I can actually take Santa Monica Boulevard all the way from my home to my work, and it works out perfectly. So I though I’d take the opportunity to share some of my experiences with whomever might be interested in knowing what it is like to Bike in LA.

Once again courtesy of Cyclemeter I give you my route to work. The route back is almost the same, although I tend to take a couple of detours if the sun has set, since parts of Santa Monica are a bit unsafe after sunset. Not because you get mugged, but simply because it can be hard to spot the giant holes in the road where the road is poorly lit. But check out the map in the link and I’ll run you through my route to tell you what it’s like – the route is marked with milestones, and I’ll use those as reference.

The route
0-2 km: The first couple of kilometers have a bike lane, so this part goes pretty fast. There is always a lot of traffic in the morning, and this makes it possible to actually pass through some of the stoplights, even if it’s red as cars are blocking the intersection in the direction I’m going. This particular stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard is also the home of a long strip of gay bars, making it a very fun and colourful ride if you take it after dark.

As I cross the 2 km milestone I enter Beverly Hills and the spot for the first regular: “Homeless sleeping on Lawn guy”. The Beverly Hills stretch has a very well kept lawn of front, and this regular guest likes to sleep here when I pass it in the morning. I guess he knows the schedule for the sprinklers that constantly irrigates this lawn making it very green and healthy looking for this very dry part of the world …

2-5 km: The next stretch can be a little bit more challenging, as the bike lane ends. But again, traffic is pretty heavy in the morning, so I’m simply passing by the cars on the inside. Only challenge is avoiding the grates in the road that show up occasionally – you have to make sure to go around those, as the holes in the grill are pretty big, and I don’t want to put the very slim wheels of my road bike down there.

5 km is also the spot of one of the regulars I meet on my route. I call him “Homeless sleeping in camping chair by his shopping cart guy”. He’s been there every single morning, and he has all his worldly belongings in his shopping cart and sleeps sitting in a plastic chair beneath a parasol. He’s always tugged in nicely in a big jacket with his head bent forward in a very awkward looking position and his hands in his pockets. I guess there is a lot of shade in this particular spot.

5-8 km: The next couple of kilometers take me through Westwood on yet another lovely stretch of really fast bike lane. This is the fastest stretch on the way, and it takes me past the very grim looking Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint. The picture in the link was taken in full sunlight, but going past this place at night, especially on a gloomy night, can be pretty intimidating. The architecture reminds me of the Lenin Mausoleum – I wonder if this was done intentionally?

Around the 8km milestone is where we find the next regular: “The Preacher”. This is yet another lovely homeless guy wearing a green raincoat. And where the first 2 regulars have been sleeping, this guy is very much awake. For the last couple of days he has been relatively calm, but I’ve gone past the guys a number of times where he is either blessing the passing traffic or throwing horrible curses at us. He also seems to have some pretty intense arguments with all the voices. But perhaps his medicine has started to kick in lately, as he seems to have calmed down some.

The 405 Freeway is passed at 8.5 km. This is the most annoying part of the route, as there are a lot of traffic lights where I can’t seem to find the rhythm, so I always end up stopping at red lights at all of them. The more daring cyclists exploit the pattern that allows a brave cyclist to cross the Sepulveda intersection right between the point where the crossing traffic is stopped and the approaching traffic taking a left turn north on Sepulveda are let through on a green left arrow, but while recognizing this pattern I also find it pretty disrespectful to everybody else in the traffic; I’m on a mission to introduce cycling culture in LA, and this kind of behaviour isn’t really earning us the respect of the automobiles and their drivers.

8.5-10 km takes me down the last part of Santa Monica Boulevard for my morning and afternoon commute. This stretch doesn’t have a bike lane, but parking in the left lane is prohibited in the morning hours leaving plenty of room for me and my fellow cyclists. At Brockton / Santa Monica I make my way into the “go left” lane of the road and take a left down Ohio to take me onto Broadway. It is actually legal to use the car left lanes in the road, and while this can be pretty intimidating at first, especially in the very large intersections, it actually saves you a lot of time. You have to be quick though, as the green left arrow isn’t there for long, and you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of a giant intersection because you’re taking to long to click into your pedal.

10-goal take me down Broadway, where the city of Santa Monica have been nice enough to include yet another wonderful bike lane. There are a couple of 4-way stop intersections in the beginning of that section, and while it takes a little getting used to the “First come, first served” system they use in these intersections in America, it’s actually pretty convenient when on a bike, as you’re almost always first served, since you’re not waiting in line behind a row of cars.

The trip home is pretty much the same, although I sometimes take the parallel road of “Civic Center Drive” some of the way, as this has a lot less traffic and a better lit stretch of road with fewer holes in it than the parallel part of Santa Monica Boulevard. I also don’t meet any regulars on my way home, which makes it a bit less entertaining.

But all in all I really enjoy commuting to work this way. Let me list a couple of advantages. Besides the obvious advantage of the hours of exercise I get every week I also enjoy a much more stable means of transportation than going by car: No matter how heavy the traffic is, it always take me roughly the same time to get to and from work, and the tempo is completely up to me, not to the traffic jams on the 405, the accidents on the 10 and the closed lanes on Santa Monica.

A Musical Journey Back to the Late Eighties

>This weekend my colleague Stevie and I had decided to go the Sunset Strip Music Festival. A jolly music festival where a large portion of the Sunset Strip had been blocked to host 2 outdoor stages. A number of the clubs along the strip were also part of the party, including the legendary Whiskey a Go Go. Headlining the festival were a number of acts from very small to huge international names – the one thing they all had in common was they weren’t exactly the most contemporary of artists.

My main reason for going there was Smashing Pumpkins who closed down the bigger of the 2 outdoor stages at 8.20 pm. It’s never been my fortune to see them live before, and although I wouldn’t claim to be a fan of theirs I have to admit I’d simply forgotten how incredibly powerful their music really is. It was a walk down memory lane with a band led by a Billy Corgan who was really on fire that evening. He was charming and fun, and even played his guitar with his teeth at one point. I managed to record him giving a speech listing his musical inspirations followed by one of their many great rock songs “Cherub”.

We actually missed some of the other big acts in the street like Common, Slash & Kid Cudi, but that wasn’t too important, as the big thing was Smashing Pumpkins, and that concert in itself was well worth the $65 dollar entry.

After the concert we went to a couple of the bars along the way, starting with a double Jack Daniels on Whiskey a Go Go, enjoying a show by the Greek/American rock vocalist Electra and band. That performance seemed to set the theme for the night, as it featured a geeky band with a really slutty lead singer doing late 80′s metal with high pitched screaming and singing. It was very hard to say for sure if they were for real or not, but it was certainly great fun. The lead singer and the band all were excellent musicians, but it sure was tacky …

We went next door to the Cat Club, which consisted mainly of a scene where you could get really close to the artists. We saw the end of the concert with Dirty Sweet, and they were actually pretty good – although the lead singer did use quite a large amount of time explaining how they really couldn’t stick around after the concert, as they were moving on to play a charity gig at some church.

Next up was Prohibition Rose, and the fun was starting to peak, as the slutte lead singer / geeky band combo was taken to a whole new level. Unfortunately I had a computer crash today, and my iPhoto images weren’t recovered with Time Machine, so I can’t document it, but the lead singer certainly compensated for her lack of vocal skills in her sexy and scantily clad performance on stage. Stevie and I were all the way up front during the beginning of their show, and it got pretty intense at points, especially since Stevie insisted her mom was in the audience. This time I’m pretty sure the band was dead serious about their attitude, so I simply have to admit I don’t get it.

The next band were simply too cool to be true. Diamond Lane have the coolest hair, the coolest late 80′s heavy rock and the coolest logo. Not to mention their on stage attitude, which was absolutely hilarious.

They even had a their own crew of groupies with enormous tits and goth makeup directly in front of stage. At the end of the concert, one of the guitar players threw his plectrum out into the crowd. I found that kind of funny, wince it’s impossible to see a plectrum in a dark concert hall. When a drummer throws out his drumsticks, you can at least see it, but how can you ever hope to catch a plectrum? Nonetheless I held out my hand, and the plectrum landed in my hand – a perfect 2 year wedding anniversary gift for my wife the next day.

After that amazing show we went back to Whiskey a Go Go. There were a huge crowd gathered at the time to listen to some Guns n’ Roses cover. I really hate cover bands, but after having listened to this for a while I had to admit that they were doing a pretty fucking amazing job at covering Guns n’ Roses – being the GnR ignorant that I am I was soon to learn the reason for that. The cover band were Adler’s Appetite led by former Guns n’ Roses drummer Steven Adler, and they did a fine job. I did actually go after one of the drumsticks this time, since that would be legendary, but the fight proved too much.

An incredibly funny journey back to the late eighties and early nineties was completed with a killer version of “Welcome to the Jungle”, and I have to say that the music scene in Los Angeles is certainly proving itself. I love it. Next up is (hopefully) Big Boi, House of Pain and Eminem at the Epicenter Festival in late september.

I’m Once Again a Complete Person

>Today I picked up my wife from LAX. She has finished her work in Denmark and has joined me in California to begin our new life together. With her here I feel whole again and we can now begin slowly building our lives in California together.

She has been on a long flight – I picked her up around 5 pm, which would be around 2 am in her head, and she was very exhausted from the flight. While I’m writing this I’ve allowed her to take a 2 hour nap before we go out to have something to eat. Fighting jetlag can be tough but my strategy when I arrived was to stay up till 11pm local time and get a good nights sleep after that. It worked like a charm and I will do my best to have her follow the same strategy. That way the jetlag should be over in a day or two.

There are lots of things we need to do over here – My employer pays for our housing and a rental car until August 20, and by then we need to find a rental and hopefully a car. Depending on where we end up we might not need a car to begin with. I love to ride my bike to work and I’ve done it a number of times already, but if we’re more than 15 km away from my office we will most likely need a car. But to get a car I need a California Drivers License, and to get a Drivers License I need a Social Security Number, which should be arriving sometime next week – oh, and I also need to pass a traffic rules test and a driving test. That should be fun :)

Driving here is funny – most cars have automatic transmission, so it’s like driving a gocart. It’s also kinda boring not to do the shifting yourself but since you’re spending most of your time in stop and go queuing it’s less annoying to have automatic transmission. I still haven’t found out what to do with my left foot and my right hand – most people solve this problem by texting away on their cellphones while driving, but I’m not a big fan of that …

Yesterday I drove up in the Hollywood Hills to visit a friend of mine in one of the most scenic locations I’ve ever visited. His view was like the view Robert de Niro has from his house in HEAT – like a living ocean of lights before your eyes. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. I tried to take a picture, which doesn’t do the view any justice, but check it out below. To get a better feeling check out HEAT in HD on a big screen – or even better: Come to Hollywood and visit me.

Tomorrow is Sunday where I haven’t made any plans. The love of my live will decide what she wants to do and I will make sure she feels welcome from the start of her new life in California.

Back from San Francisco

>Now we’re talking …

We went to San Francisco for a 2 day workshop session with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and I just got back a little while ago. Tuesday we were awarded a fantastic project doing [super secret amazing project] on [super secret kickass technology] for [super secret world wide brand client], and Wednesday morning we flew out to start concepting with the client and to meet with the vendor supplying the [super secret kickass technology].

As some might be aware I’ve never even been to the US before starting to work in Los Angeles – my first period here has been somewhat chaotic, as I landed in the middle of wrapping up a really complicated data visualization for [not so secret client] in Australia. I helped wrap up the final details on the implementation and also liaison between various parties in the project. With out team and the agency at the Pacific, the backend team in Stockholm and the client in Australia this made for a couple of busy days spent cursing over time differences and doing 2 AM conference calls. I was pretty beat after doing this, and the morning after it was all done we were on a flight to San Francisco.

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited, and I only got to visit a small part of it – but I’m so in love already. The streets are amazing, and driving into the city is a blast + they have some madass taxi drivers. Ours was named Big Dog, and he drove like a maniac. I found myself looking for his “Like” button, but since I didn’t actually dare trying to tap him, I’m just gonna say his praise here. Check out how the clouds seem to roll down the mountains like an avalanche – view from being stuck on the freeway.

We’re doing a killer project, and working with a mastodon like Goodby, Silverstein and Partners is going to be so much fun. I actually found myself admitting to the agency that I couldn’t believe I’m getting paid to have this much fun – and fun it will be. The Acne team is fucking awesome to work with, and we supplement each other really well. And it’s been interesting to see how things work over here – there is definitely more approval work and more layers of approval than I’ve been used to. I’ve sort of moved a step down the food chain, since we’re not working directly with the clients, so that obviously adds 1 extra layer of approval, but even within the agencies there are layers to go through – but whatever, we’re just gonna roll with it, and to be honest it really doesn’t bother me that much – that’s what the business is like I guess.

I can’t really share any of the work until we actually release it, but I promise you it will be über-cool and one of the coolest projects I’ve ever worked with.

We went out with the client after the first day had ended. Had a great dinner at a place called Gitane where everything was so “cute” according to the Goodby EP and my boss.

It was a great dinner ending a cool kickoff session. I’m truly pleased with how easy it is to get into conversation with everybody over here, and this dinner with a bunch of people I’ve never met before really proved that. I’m once again looking for the “Like” button. And this morning demonstrated yet another weather phenomenon me likes:

And my wife is arriving Saturday – just two more days. Can’t wait to see her. She had a big farewell party at a friends flat tonight, and I skyped with them during our lunch break, where they were already pretty junk. They put a bunch of stuff on display for the webcam – stuff that I’ll miss over here. Like a can of Tuborg, a can of Carlsberg and a bowl of ham salad which they then proceeded to drop into the keyboard of the computer holding the webcam. That was absolutely hilarious, but I had to get off the call soon after that, as I was having it in the agency office, and the drunks on the other end of the wire were starting to get me in trouble being inappropriate on my display.

Tomorrow will be spend with half a day off while I clean up my flat and do laundry before my wife arrives Saturday. And tonight I’ll have a full nights sleep for the first time in a while. Looking forward to it and pressing the “Like” button for the third time this evening.