Saturday, April 30, 2005

Is it the Weather? 

Another arrest in the hash war story.

I'm gonna do this translation without resorting to my dictionary or my wife just to see how quickly I can knock it off (intensifying practice for my Prøve i Dansk 3 test in just three weeks).


Endnu en anholdt for skuddrama på Christiania
Af Jan Søgaard

Kæresten til en kendt hash-handler fra Christiania sigtes for at have deltaget i skyderiet i Pusher Street i sidste uge, hvor den 26-årige Morten Holmberg blev dræbt og fem kvæstet.

Den 23-årige mand meldte sig selv til politiet i går, men under et lukket retsmøde i Københavns dommervagt fik han kun anholdelsen opretholdt i tre døgn. Det betyder, at politiets materiale er ret spinkelt. Han nægter sig skyldig.
Politiet mener, at den 23-årige spiller en rolle i skudepisoden i »Abegrotten« aftenen før det voldsomme skyderi i Pusher Street.

Skød efter indvandrer

I »Abegrotten« blev der skudt efter en indvandrer og politiet mener, at dét blev hævnet i Pusher Street dagen efter, da en gruppe maskerede indvandrere åbnede ild mod tilfældige mennesker med tre skydevåben, blandt andet en maskinpistol. Politiet undersøger, om det var den 23-årige anholdte, der blev skudt efter i »Abegrotten«.

»Vi mener, han spiller en rolle ved episoden i »Abegrotten«, siger kriminalinspektør Ove Dahl.

På mandag tager politiet stilling til om den 23-årige skal løslades eller kræves varetægtsfængslet.

Slapfra politiet

Den 23-årige er kæreste med en kvinde, der er kendt som aktiv hash-handler i »Abegrotten«. Men hun slap væk, da politiet slog til mod Pusher Street den 16. marts sidste år.

Allerede i efteråret 2001 forsøgte en gruppe indvandrere på Nørrebro at komme ind på hash-markedet på Christiania ved at omgå reglen om, at man skal bo på Christiania og have borgerkort for at sælge hash. De lejede dengang kvindens bopæl på Christiania, men beboerne i Fristaden fik stoppet forsøget at trænge ind på hashmarkedet.



Another Arrest from the Shooting Drama in Christiania
By Jan Søgaard

The lover of a known hash-dealer from Christiania is being charged with participation in last week's Pusher Street shootout, where the 26-year-old Morten Homberg was killed and five were wounded.

The 23-year man turned himself in to police yesterday, but under a closed court meeting in Copenhagen's nightcourt he only got sentenced to three days' confinement. That means the police's case is very thin. He denies his guilt. The police believe that the 23-year-old played a role in the shooting episode at "Abegrotten" the evening before the violent shootout on Pusher Street.

[Note to my musician friends (especially youse guys): can't you make a song out of "Shootout on Pusher Street?" Bluesy ballad thing? Seems right up your alley.]

Shot at Immigrant

There was shooting at an immigrant in "Abegrotten" and the police believe that it was avengend on Pusher Street the day after, when a group of masked immigrants opened fire toward random people with three firearms, including a machinegun. The police are investigating whether it was the 23-year-old in custody that was shot at in "Abegrotten."

"We think he played a role in the 'Abegrotten' episode," says Chief Inspector Ove Dahl.

On Monday the police will have to decide whether the 23-year-old should be released or be held in custody.

Slip from the Police

The 23-year-old is the lover of a woman who's known as an active hash-dealer in "Abegrotten." But she got away when police the police raided Pusher Street on March 16 of last year.

A group of immigrants in Nørrebro [a neighborhood in northwest Copenhagen with a large immigrant population] tried to get into the hash-market in Christiania as early as the fall of 2001 by going around the rule that one has to live in Christiania and have a citizen's card to sell hash. They played this strategy out with the woman's citizen-status in Christiania, but the inhabitants of the Free State stopped this attempt to break into the hash-market.

Heh. "The inhabitants of the Free State" busted these guys because they didn't have Christiania ID cards. "Sorry, man, you can't be part of our freedom and equality and not-letting-the-man-keep-us-down, because you're not one of us. If you want to be one of us, you'll have to join the waiting list established by the Christiania Immigration Committee."

Oh, yeah, man, anarchy and brotherhood are so cool!

And still no word on Jaguar, the Sudanese Slayer...

* * *

On Saturday night, according to Politiken, three guys in a nightclub starting throwing a hand grenade around. This had an unsettling effect on the patrons and police were called in. By the time they'd arrived the men were gone, but a routine patrol saw and arrested the men half an hour later. They no longer had the grenade with them. Police sealed off the area for several hours and brought in explosive-sniffing dogs to locate the missing grenade, which eventually turned up under a chair. It was apparently a "Yugoslavian" hand grenade with a missing detonator, so it never did pose any real threat. The three men were "already familiar to the police."

I think it's unusual to see machine-guns and hand-grenades at play in Copenhagen within a week of each other... and just a few weeks after a chainsaw dismemberment murder.

The weather better turn around soon, or God knows what else we'll see...

Friday, April 29, 2005

Exploding Toads 

Have I mentioned the exploding toads? I don't think I have.

Here's the deal: in two lakes, one in Hamburg and one in southern Jutland, hundreds or thousands of toads are exploding for no known reason.

They come out of the water, up onto land, swell, and explode. Their insides, according to some witnesses, can go several meters in the air when they burst.

Naturally, one early hypothesis blamed the hole in the Ozone layer (which I discussed in a previous post about tanning). That's since been discredited. Other theories? Something about their eggs and deydration. The newest involves crows pecking holes in the toads' chests to suck out their delicious livers, which leaves the toads alive but doomed to imminent explosion for some reason. The scientific community is far from unanimous. It still safely be called a mystery, as most instances of exploding amphibians are bound to be.

(Can you tell the difference between a frog and a toad? This might help. But they're going to have to add one more distinction: sometimes toads explode.)

There's been considerable English-language coverage of the phenomenon, so you don't have to take my word for it. (Or you can do a Google News search on "exploding toads" to get the most recent stories.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hash Out 

It's the end of an era: no more smoking dope in Christiania. Copenhagen police are finally calling bullshit on the long-running social experiment in which almost the entire nation of Denmark was prohibited from doing something that a tiny subset of the population was permitted to do on a tract of government property in the heart of Copenhagen.

She'll be disappointed.

Instead of legalizing hash and marijuana throughout Denmark, which would require a change of law, the police have apparently decided to crack down on their illegal use in Christiania. People are getting arrested just for firing up a blunt. Twenty-two people were arrested in this way yesterday alone.

I support the legalization, or at least decriminalization, of hashish, marijuana, and maybe even a certainly friendly species of mushroom. This stuff grows in nature anyway, so it'd be virtually impossible to eradicate. But I'm also a supporter of basic common sense in government. If you're going to have laws, enforce them or drop them. Denmark, like most developed countries of the world, has opted not to drop their laws against pot and hash.

I'm not bothered that tourists will no longer be able to toke on the lovely winding paths of Christiania, or that ageing hippies and hip-hop entrepreneurs will no longer be able to openly market controlled substances from their kitschy booths on Pusher Street. The law is the law. Denmark's a democracy. You don't like the laws, change them. If you can't, you're outnumbered. That's life.

Astonishing Superfluity 

From yesterday's Copenhagen Post, the most superfluous scientific advice I've ever seen: the Danish Meteorological Institute is recommending limited sunbathing in Denmark this year due to increased ultraviolet radiation.

If I had subathed on every sunnable day last summer, I would have had ten days' worth of tanning.

Color me unintimidated.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

"Vores Babyer" 

In honor of the forthcoming prince or princess, B.T. started a feature yesterday in which they're assembling online albums of Denmark's recent babies. Molli's in the second batch ("Vores babyer 2"), right here (she was #28 of 38 at the time I posted this). The accompanying text is mine, alas, and contains three grammatical or usage errors. That's what I get for trying to write in a hurry right before going to bed...

Anyway, lots of cute Danish babies to look at it, if you're into that kind of thing. It's annoying to see how just how unoriginal the "baby picture" genre can be. Actually, that's not annoying—what's annoying is seeing how uncreative my contributions to the baby genre have been. I've got to start pushing the envelope, man...

And talk about homogeneity—half these kids are wearing the same clothes, playing with the same toys, lounging in the same linens, propped up against the same baby cushions and supporters.

BabySam couldn't have bought better product placement.

Which makes me wonder... Do you think there'll be official corporate sponsors of the royal pregnancy? "Heir to the Danish throne, Week 25! Brought to you by Carlsberg!"

And, on a more serious note, how public will this pregnancy be? Will we get to see the ultrasounds? Hear the heart beat? Because frankly I think the idea of a public pregnancy is repugnant. That's private stuff and it ought to be kept private.

You know... like Molli was.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Mary Er Gravid 

That's the sudden news all over Denmark (and Australia): Princess Mary is pregnant. The baby is expected in October.

Here's coverage from: B.T., Dansk Radio, Politiken, and Berligske Tidende.

I won't bother to translate, because Anglophones can get it all from Australian sources like The Australian.

I guess the royals got tired of H.C. Andersen getting all the attention this year.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Get Smarter Watching Get Smart? 

After posting today's Moron's Almanac on the subject of "TV-Turnoff Week 2005," I stumbled across a piece from yesterday's New York Times that I wish I'd read for additional ammunition.

It's called "Watching TV Makes You Smarter," and seems to do a pretty good job of making that case.

(I didn't see anything about TV making you skinnier or healthier, so I'll stand by the bulk of my almanac.) The author seems to think most of our major new technologies (including my beloved but lately neglected X-Box) make us smarter. It's his particular theory. According to the Times article cited above, "His book Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, from which this article is adapted, will be published next month."

So quit your snickering about my work for Io Interactive. I'm educating the masses, dammit!

(Disclaimer: Use of the phrase "the masses" was tongue-in-cheek, and should not be construed as a contradiction to my recent declaration that I don't trust people who earnestly proclaim their love of, or sympathy for, "the masses." At least people who speak of "the rabble" or "the great unwashed" aren't pretending to admire the group they're insulting. Damn, I could extend this parenthetic observation for pages and pages, but this just isn't the time...)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Come Out of the Bush! 

A couple of interesting developments on the Christiania Hash War Murder today.

First, an arrest. The headline is "Car Owner Charged with Christiania Killing." (I'm going to continue translating "drab" as "killing" and "mord" as "murder".) The 25-year old man was arrested Sunday afternoon. Inspector Ove Dahl explains that the suspect is being charged "broadly"—for homicide, attempted homicide, and participation in the shooting—because "the roles of those involved are still unknown to us."

Inspector Dahl wouldn't comment on how the suspect is pleading to the charges.

The suspect is the owner of the blue Audi 6 that was the original getaway car (before the guys hijacked the red Skoda in Amager).

More interesting, I think, is this B.T. piece on the frustration police have been experiencing from the peace-loving folk of Christiania. The headline and lead paragraph are fun in their own right:

Politiet: Kom ud af busken og snak!
Banden, der skød 26-årige Morten Holmberg på Christiania, får hjælp af tavsheden på Christiania.

Police: Come out of the Bush and Talk!
The gang that shot 26-year-old Morten Holmberg in Christiania are being helped by the silence in Christiania.

Inspector Dahl is in rare form. Listen to him here:

»Vi hører anonyme brudstykker hist og pist. Men jeg er ikke i tvivl om, at flere ved meget mere end de fortæller os. Hvis de virkelig ønsker denne sag opklaret må de se at komme ud af busken,« siger kriminalinspektør Ove Dahl, drabsafdelingen.

"We're hearing anonymous bits here and there. But I have no doubt that plenty of people know more than they're telling us. If they really want this case cleared up they're going to have to come out of the bush," says Inspector Dahl, homicide.

At komme ud af busken ("to come out of the bush") is a common idiom and seldom intended literally. But it's an especially felicitous euphemism when talking about verdant Christiania. Visualizations arise unbidden. Among his other qualities, I think Inspector Dahl has a stellar sense of humor.

He's also left the "second-generation immigrant" nonsense behind, which endears him to me a little more:

»Vi er nu ganske sikre på, at der var et skyderi i »Abegrotten« i onsdags. En araber blev beskudt. Vi ved ikke, hvem der skød eller hvorfor, men lidt senere myldrede der en snes arabere ud i »Abegrotten«, måske for at hævne sig. Men de forsvandt igen inden politiet kom og det kan meget vel være samme gruppe, der kom tilbage og hævnede sig i torsdags,« siger Ove Dahl.

"We're pretty sure now that there was a shooting in 'Abegrotten' on Wednesday. An Arab was shot. We don't know who did the shooting, or why, but a little later a score of Arabs swarmed 'Abegrotten,' maybe for revenge. But they disappeared again before the police came and it could well be the same group that came back and avenged themselves on Thursday," says Ove Dahl.

I suppose this helps crystallize why I find this case so interesting: it's the underworld version of the same drama that's being played out in the broader Danish society—and we all know that bullets make powerful analogies. Basically you've got a bunch of Danes hanging out and doing their thing year after year, until along come a bunch of Arab immigrants seeking a piece of the action. Neither side is inclined to compromise, and next thing you know the bullets are flying.

I keep thinking about the important points made by Bertolt Brecht, probably in spite of himself, in The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui. The play could easily be adapted around (a highly stylized and exaggerated version of) the events in Christiania.

But the events in Christiania also seem to be an allegory in their own right—an allegory that, like all good allegories, can tell the story however you want to hear it. Whether you're pro- or anti-immigration, pro- or anti-hash, pro- or anti-Christiania, pro- or anti-guns, your narrative is in there somewhere, just waiting for you to tease it out.

Me, I'm just rooting for Inspector Dahl.

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