And thus Feeled Recordings stepped into the global arena as I departed the United States.
Norwegian Airlines: Not For The Thrifty of Heart
I arrived in Copenhagen after approximately 10 hours on a Norwegian Air flight that did not include water or any food. It was like being in a flying prison that I elected to be trapped in, but that also had okay movies to watch. The flight was long. My beard grew to great lengths, I forgot my name and history. Indeed, I was air-born for so long that I could not remember where the flight was going in the first place.
“Manxico?” I mused. “Was that it? Is that a place?”
But eventually the plane descended and the PA announced we had arrived in Copenhagen (Kopenhavn as I would learn) and my purpose came rushing back. I claimed my bags, easily strolled through a cheerful passport control and boarded the train toward town.
After arriving in and using the effortless public transportation to make my way to the home of my hosts, (who were amazing humans and may warrant their own piece) I spent all day walking around taking in the sights and sounds.
99% of the sights and sounds that can be taken in within Copenhagen (or CPH as the kidz call it) are related to bicycles. Bicycles are everywhere. Bicycles are so ubiquitous that it’s absurd and borders on unsettling. There are so many bicycles that the city has literally transcended the required infrastructure to support them. They don’t even bother to use bike racks. People just lean them against walls, against houses, in alleys, or even at the bottom of lakes. Yes, there are so many bikes that you could genuinely easily pluck one from the shallow lakes near the part of town where the hipsters and immigrants hang out called Nørrebro. (Some people call it The Nørrebronx). I don’t really know anything about the Bronx, but they tell me it makes sense. Apparently because hipsters and immigrants.
Anyway, bicycle usage is so all-encompassing that I’m not sure most people even lock their bikes up. They just lean them against any solid object in the area. The abundance of bikes makes the acoustics of the city highly enjoyable. One can actually walk and hear ambient sounds that are not car honks and engines:
CPH Ambience Near City Center, at Night
They ride down beautifully maintained bike lanes that look so much like sidewalks that you’ll feel totally at-home strolling down one. Then you will see dozens of cyclists heading toward you and you will have to make a face and pretend that you knew you were walking in the bike-lane, and you totally meant to be, and then you do your best to look like you’re casually strolling to get out of their way, but no big deal either way. Secretly, inside, you are terrified.
Ride And/Or Die
And with great bicycle comes great responsibility, I suppose. As with any social contracts, if they are going to maintain order at high-volumes, there are going to be rules that must be obeyed. The little red bicycle light means you stop. The green one means you go. This is not some third world free-for-all where you can hop on the back of a friend’s bike and just cruise. I know this because I attempted to hop on the back of a friend’s bike and just cruise, mostly to escape the rain and get through a boring part of town full of giant socialist housing apartment blocks. Within 10 minutes the police rolled up along side us flashing lights and gesturing. And, if you’re also from the US, you might have had the same reaction as me: fear and anxiety, plus guilt for the fact that you were not going to be able to pay for your half of whatever this giant Danish fine was going to be.
I hopped off the back of the bike, ready to take my lashings or ticket or whatever my punishment would be (at least a non-english tirade) but they just kept driving. I was truly baffled to find that they were able to restore order by driving by a crime, gesturing for the crime to end, and then cruising away. The system works.
I have yet to set foot to pedal in Copenhagen, and probably won’t. I am self-conscious about sticking out. I bought a falafel to go from a shop in town and then as I walked out the door I wondered if the Danes would look at me like some kind of disgusting American Monster, ravaging that poor pita as I clumsily stumbled down the street. I resorted to eating the pita in back alleys where no one could judge me during my abhorrent gutter-feast.
And thus has been Copenhagen: watching the beautiful Danes gliding hither and thither, wiping sauce from my face as I cower in the the darkest of corners. Bike on.