33 reasons 2016 wasn’t all bad

metronomy

I’ve collected my favourite songs from last year in a 2 hours and 8 minutes long playlist. That might sound long. But that’s before you start listening, here.

  1. Frida Hyvönen – Imponera på mig (First single and an immediate female empowerment classic from one of the best Swedish language albums in years.)
  2. Metronomy – Night Owl (2016’s best pop song from England’s most under-rated pop song masters.)
  3. Kanye West – Waves (Say what you will about his person, but his musical genius is undisputed. This is just one example from a brilliant album)
  4. Tindersticks – Second Chance Man (Perhaps last year’s most important song on a personal level, a brooding theme song for my own self reflection.)
  5. Snakeships, Anderson Paak – Money On Me (2016’s best argument to buy a convertible or move to the US West Coast.)
  6. Frank Ocean – Nikes (The musical universe on ‘Solo’ took a while to get into, but when Frank sings “I’ll let you guys prophesy, we’ve gone see the future first” it’s an apt metaphor for the level he is operating at.)
  7. Willie West – I’m Still A Man (Lord Have Mercy) (Released by a Finnish label (!) in the autumn on 2015 – with the instrumental version appearing in the trailer for the 2016 film Paterson – this minimalist soul jam about being left for another man, sung with verve by 78 year old Willie West, is retro soul at its absolute best.
  8. Blood Orange – Best to You (Perhaps 2016’s most immediate start to a song, which is then followed by Dev Hynes’ melodic and airy disco funk sounds.)
  9. Håkan Hellström – Pärlor (A shameless attempt by Sweden’s biggest artist to become Bruce Springsteen, but as an outcast anthem it’s impossible to discard.)
  10. Angel Olsen – Intern (She used to be a bit too brooding, but on her 2016 album Angel got the balance just right. “I don’t care what the papers say, it’s just another intern with a resume” is one of my favourite lines from last year.)
  11. Anderson Paak – Come Down (2016’s best Kendrick Lamar replacement.)
  12. Rae Sremmurd, Gucci Mane – Black Beatles (A frustratingly uneven duo, but when they get it right, as they did with this unexpected mega hit, they‘re addictive.)
  13. Parquet Courts – Human Performance (This arty Brooklyn post-punk orchestra keeps moving the needle forward in their own way, here with one of last year’s best guitar driven choruses.)
  14. Amanda Bergman – Blue Eyes (One of my favourite voices in music, this is a slow burner that seems ready made for driving at night.)
  15. Skepta – Shutdown (The definite London anthem of 2016 (even though it came out in 2015); an in your face aggressive and hilarious flag bearer for the current grime revival.)
  16. Nick Waterhouse (feat. Leon Bridges) – Katchi (unapologetically catchy retro rnb/funk from a ridiculously underrated artist.)
  17. Eleanor Friedberger – Open Season (Perfect 70s sounding easy listening rock, a playful nod to Neil Young’s masterpiece ‘On the Beach’.)
  18. Basia Bulat – Infamous (A perfectly crafted folk pop number with a strong chorus that I thought would (and should) become a hit.)
  19. The Comet is Coming – Space Carnival (Psychedelic jazz funk is not normally my cup of tea, but Space Carnival packs one of the catchiest trumpets I’ve ever heard. One of the most pleasant surprises last year.)
  20. Alexis Taylor – I’m ready (The Hot Chip singer’s album is a minimalistic gem that is about the most soothing thing to be released in 2016. Beautiful, understated and underrated.)
  21. Vince Staples – Pimp Hand (Perennially angry and publicly feuding West Coast rapper who continues to avoid melodies and catchy hooks, which is just fine with rap skills like these.)
  22. Maria Andersson – Lift Me Up (2016’s best build-up, it’s actually pretty much all build-up, wrapped around one repeated verse.)
  23. Pusha T – H.G.T.V. Freestyle (Dry beat, dry flow, ominous base, and that excellent rhyme “9 to 5 money is just as sweet as the grave shift / El presidenté, Blowbama, blow by ya /Chopper next to me in every picture, Osama”.)
  24. Klangstof – Hostage (Smooth. Ridiculously smooth.)
  25. Fekky, Giggs – Gossip (2016’s best siren/gunshot/cowbell grime tune.)
  26. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD” (It seemed too ambitious and convoluted at first, but the emotions that Bon Iver manage to evoke are simple and difficult to escape.)
  27. PARTYNEXTDOOR (feat. Drake ) – Come and See Me (Turns out that this year’s best Drake song was not made by Drake, although he did play his part in this relationship melodrama.)
  28. Lambchop – NIV (These alt country veterans deliver a surprisingly light and catchy gem with some brilliant synth hooks and unexpected auto tune.)
  29. Okkervil River – Okkervil River R.I.P. (What better way to return to form than with a lighter sound and an eulogy for your own band?)
  30. Peter Bjorn & John – Breakin’ Point (another lecture in pop song writing from my Swedish favourites.)
  31. Lee Fields & The Impressions – Never Be Another You (Lee Field’s old man soul continues to hit a nerve with his honesty, brilliant band and a voice that has lived.)
  32. Marlon Williams – Dark Child (Retro alt-country that makes the most of Marlon’s voice, an effortless croon that is difficult not to get caught up in.)

Beware the fallen mind

beware-the-fallen-mind

“He’s going to hold this against you for a long time you know,” she said from the backseat as she curved her small body into a ball on the backseat. The grey Catalonian clouds were hanging low across the mountains and our rental car.

“I know, I know,” I said as I clenched the steering wheel while my cheeks turned red. I observed her failed attempts at trying to block out the daylight that filtered through the thick clouds. The collective hangover was unmistakeable in the car.

For weeks I had thought about what to say at my friend’s extravagantly planned birthday party outside Barcelona, which had featured a number of confusing spread sheets and transport arrangements in the run-up. This was aligned with my expectations since my sentimental and nostalgic friend was well known for his limited abilities to stay calm and not overdo things. It is somewhat of an ironic trait since he’s easily the most frequent traveller I know.

There was little doubt that – regardless of how confusing the lead up to the party was – I was expected give a speech at some point during the weekend. I had previously delivered presentations at various festivities he had organised, and even at one of his friend’s birthday party in Washington DC, which I unexpectedly ended up at in the spring. So not only did he expect a speech (without ever telling me so), it also needed to be funny, meaningful, sentimental while conveying an interesting aspect of our relationship that could provide valuable insight for a wider audience.

Normally I looked forward to such a task. I enjoyed the process, which tended to come easily to me once I planted the thought in my head and started writing. The pen tended to do the rest, and at some point a thought or line of thinking would emerge that was good enough to build on. So when I first started to think about what to say I wasn’t concerned. This was something I had the necessary skills to do, it’s not as if I was in the running to write for Saturday Night Live or anything like that, but something would pop out of my mind if I just gave it some thought.

I began pondering various angles, trying to consider my friend’s characteristics and our experiences together. There were certainly stories available. Unfortunately I became increasingly busy at work and when I found the time to think about my speech the only reoccurring thought was that I missed having him around. And while that might be worth pointing out to reaffirm and appease my friend’s melodramatic and nostalgic side, I knew it wasn’t sustainable premise for an amusing speech.

I also thought about how impressed I was that he had managed to settle in Washington DC and land the highflying job he now occupied. But professional respect and admiration is the main ingredient for the majority of failed Oscar’s speeches, so also that was discarded as a base for my presentation. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as straightforward as I had hoped… but I still had time.

As the party edged closer I became increasingly anxious. My inability to make a start became an appendix to my work stress, which evoked an acute sense of disappointment in my failure to deliver what I knew I was capable of. I knew I should just sit down and write, but somehow it felt beyond my abilities.

With only a few days to go I started thinking I could do what I always recommended against, and which very few people can pull off; I’d wing it. I would just stand up, and the words would come to me. After all, I had so many words in my head; surely a few of them would come out and play nicely to form sentences of adequate quality that a drunken audience might mistake for actual speech writing skills?

When the first evening of the weekend-long party finally arrived my friend’s sister expectedly introduced the first activity: everyone would hold a short speech and give a toast to my friend throughout the dinner. As expected no one volunteered, so she held the first one, which was as sentimental and sweet as one would expect. I started to feel uneasy and counted the number of people that separated my friend’s sister and me in mild panic: five.

Would I manage to come up with something in five speeches? I finished my beer and asked for another one, even though I knew that more alcohol would be of no help at that point. The speeches continued until a natural break in between courses provided a short break where I could leave the table to check on my girlfriend who had gone to bed early due to a cold.

I told her about the speeches downstairs but she told me not to worry about it. Unfortunately not worrying was not an option: I knew I wouldn’t be able to deliver; my mind drew a complete blank. If I stood up at that moment, not only would I not be funny, I wouldn’t even make sense.

So, rather than manning up, I told my friend that I’d do it tomorrow, which he accepted with a smile and a look that said: I have no problem giving you another day because I know it will be great. This didn’t make me feel better in any way, so I proceeded to drink seven different kinds of alcohol.

When I woke up at 11am the day after, I briefly wondered why someone insisted on stabbing my head with a pointed knife, before I realised that this was a seven different kinds of alcohol hangover. I had a quick breakfast before I ill-advisedly drove down to town to pick up my friend’s birthday cake. The Spanish winter sun burned my hangover eyes. I tried to get myself together by ordering a double espresso in an establishment in the small town, which seemed to struggle to decide if it wanted to be a US style diner or a Catalan tapas place. It didn’t help.

I picked up the birthday cake together with my girlfriend before driving back up to the house. Later in the day I watched Barcelona – Real Madrid, which helped me take my mind off my failed speech. Afterwards it was time for dinner and the people who did not hold speeches during the first night did, which meant that eventually I was the only friend of his who had not said anything. I felt completely drained of energy and kept a low profile before eventually going to bed at twelve, too tired and drunk to be concerned about my lack of presentation.

By the last morning it was all over. There was a point before we all said our goodbyes where I could have grasped the last straw to say something, even if it wasn’t a proper speech. It could at least have been some kind of summary of what had taken place over the weekend. But I didn’t even do that, and in the end all that was left was to say goodbye and start the journey back. Which is where we were when my friend curled up in the back seat and brought up the fact that my lack of a speech was not only something internal to me.

I drove in silence on empty Catalonian roads with my three hung-over and half asleep passengers, listening to Teenage Fanclub’s With You:

Who knows what we will see

Who know what we might find

Step over the fallen tree

And beware the fallen mind

A couple of weeks later, back in London, I read an interview in the FT with Zadie Smith where she quoted Salman Rushdie: “our lives teach us who we are”.

And even though I was still disappointed by my own inability to deliver the speech, I also concluded that it was a failure I needed to accept. That disappointment in oneself is part of life. But as I drove in silence towards the Monastery of Montserrat, the redness of my cheeks was entirely built on self-loathing.

The expectedness of Williamsburg with a cold

2016-03-25 16.52.30

I’m in Williamsburg with a cold, which makes me think of the famous Esquire article Frank Sinatra has a cold. It’s one of these heavy colds that hover above your eyelids like an IPA hangover. I’m in Williamsburg, with a tote bag I bought at a modern art museum in St. Petersburg. That may seem self conscious, but you tell me where I’m supposed to store my expensively assembled cold medication?

 

My gaze is filled with a hazy shimmer, as if I’ve spent the last few hours staring into the sun through a filter of Williamsburg dust. But all I did before I came here was to lie passed out in an apartment on the Upper West side that I’ve borrowed from a friend’s sister.

 

People might look at me and think I’m yet another local trying to cure a hangover with an afternoon stroll in the sunshine. But I am just another Swedish visitor. With a chronic cold and a tote bag filled with American strength cold medication. It dawns on me that cold medication is the least sexy medication there is. I don’t know what to make of that realisation, so I discard it in a trash can together with a snot filled kleenex. There are way more trash cans in New York than in London.

At least I look the part of a Williamsburg local, in my ten year old tweed jacket, washed out t-shirt and worn out brown leather shoes. Wait a minute, these shoes are Ecco’s, designed for old people who pay a premium for comfort. I look down at my shoes. Except for the faded leather, which gives them a lived in and well-travelled aura, there is an unmistakable conflict between them and Williamsburg’s hipster hangover atmosphere.

 

But what am I supposed to do, find a store and buy a new pair of shoes? I look around, but trying on shoes with this cold is not an option. That I even consider buying new shoes just to blend in is too discomforting to consider in my current state, but I know I need to confront it at some point.

 

In the end I feel ok walking around in Williamsburg like this, with a cold that just as easily could come across as a hangover to the untrained eye. Perhaps everyone here has colds, which would explain the area’s fashion street photography kind jadedness.

 

I got off the subway from Manhattan at Bedford Avenue and slowly walked down 6th street, heading towards Music Hall of Williamsburg. I needed a target for my fake hangover walk and I’ve always liked the term “music hall”. There is something democratic and communal about it, unpretentious and unassuming compared to the pompous “theatre”, the impersonal “concert venue” or even worse, “arena”.

 

It was also supposed to be in the same direction as a second hand shop I found after one minute of googling things to do in Williamsburg. I used to buy second hand clothes but now I only browse the stores, as if trying to reconnect with a younger self by swiping my hands over second hand flannel shirts and corduroy trousers. I don’t need you to tell me there is a sadness in that.

 

Now I’m standing outside the Music Hall of Williamsburg, which is partly covered in street art that feel as expected and fleeting as a Snapchat message. I consider sending one to some friends, but I can’t figure out how to convey the feeling of fleetingness and it’s relationship to that medium. I put my phone down and take a right on Wythe Avenue.

 

Before I left London one of my colleagues told me I had to see Brooklyn Brewery. Since I need a target, and the map on my phone says it’s only a couple of blocks away, I figure why not? I blow my nose and throw away another tissue in another trash can. God, I love how many trash cans there are here. Who is in charge of these trash cans? I want to write a letter to the responsible party and thank them. In London I’ve walked absurd distances with banana peels, tissues and other discardable objects in search for one. The convenience makes me happy, which I suspect explains the comfortable shoes on my feet.

 

I reach the brewery after a couple of minutes. Just as I imagined it consists of a brick building in an area filled with venues brandishing exposed walls  and industrial light fixtures. I consider having a beer but end up opting for another pill from my totebag. I remain on the street outside the brewery where I take a photo of the exterior, in case I need to prove to my colleague that I was actually there. “Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer” – Henry Lawson. That is what is says on the wall I’m taking a picture of. In cool black font of course. There are few surprises in Williamsburg.

 

There is a hotel across the street from the brewery. The entrance is on a diagonal corner of a multi story brick building and above it a sign that says hotel crawls up the facade. Two blond Norwegian girls in their 20s are taking pictures of it. A shit load of pictures. How I know they are Norwegian? I’m Swedish, I can tell these things. The Norwegians stand there, with their toned bodies, dressed in matching black outfits. I also want to take a photo, but it feels silly to take the same picture as these Norwegians, they make it feel banal. Why do I think like this?

 

I need a coffee, a positive sign since I never drink coffee when I have a cold. I swallow another red pill from my tote bag. The pharmacist who sold me the drugs I carry around told me when to take what pill. There was some kind of sequence to it all. But I kept nodding as she tried to explain the interrelatedness of the pills, as if it was a complex physiological process. I wished she would stop talking and just let me out of the store. When I finally made my escape, together with my pills and a shockingly large bill, I had forgotten everything she said. So I decided to randomly choose one pill from my bag every hour and hope for the best.

 

I walk down 12th street, past McCarren park, and up on Driggs Avenue where I see a tea shop called Tea Bar. According to the sign, which is handwritten in white chalk, they also sell coffee. When I enter I feel overheated and sweaty. For the past few hours the sun has been attacking my tweed like chlorine based detergent attacks colour.

 

The girl behind the counter looks healthy, not only physically, like the Norwegians, but mentally, as if she’s just returned from a yoga retreat. It makes me conscious of my cold and I almost walk out the door again. But I’m too tired to look for another place and it doesn’t seem fair to blame her for my cold-induced insecurity. I order a flat white and ask if I can use the bathroom. She says of course and hands me a key that is attached to a long wooden stick. It’s the first unexpected thing I’ve encountered in Williamsburg.

 

In the bathroom I look at myself in the mirror. Then I urinate and leave, demoralised by the distance between my actual appearance and the slightly hungover local I imagined myself to look like. I pay for my coffee and walk back to McCarren Park, where I sit down on a bench and watch some teenage girls play softball. Behind the strike zone a large man, who might be their coach, or just a man with a giant soundsystem, puts on an N*Sync hit. Some of the girls in the outfield starts dancing. At first I assume it’s ironic, but I quickly realise it isn’t. I make a note that it’s a sign of the times, that teenage girls in Williamsburg now dance to N*Sync. Perhaps they always did? Soon after I learn that extra strong lemon cough drops and artisanal coffee do not go well together. I throw away my coffee and a used tissue in yet another trash can.

 

I’m in Williamsburg and life feels sideways. Fortunately the man with the giant soundsystem puts on a Clipse track I really like. I tell myself that the cold will pass, but by then I will be back in London and all I will take with me from Williamsburg are these poorly written notes that I’ve written next to a man in a leather jacket who just finished an entire full-sized bag of crisps in one sitting.

 

Also that was unexpected.

The Paris Review 209 (p. 83)

I read too much news and not enough fiction for a while. It wasn’t good for my soul. 

The Paris Review 209

“…young people now used their appearances as a means of shocking or disturbing others: he himself – and he was sure the same was true for all of us – had seen hairstyles far more extreme than the one Marielle described, not to mention tattoos and piercings of sometimes apparently violent nature, which all the same said nothing whatever about their owners, who were often people of the greatest sweetness and docility. It had taken him a long time to accept this fact, for he was predisposed to be judgmental and to find the meaning of a thing commensurate with its appearance, and also to be frightened of what he didn’t understand…”

The chilli plant

Chili plant

Yesterday at a dinner with some people; I told an old friend of mine I had bought a chilli plant. “Is that it?” he asked me. “Is that the whole story?” The people around the table laughed and I admitted that it was indeed the end of my story. I tried to save the awkward situation by explaining it’s the reason I write, since my stories make more sense in writing. “Well you should write a blog post then, or send us all an email,” my friend (what a dick!) said.

Challenge accepted:

The mistimed stand-up

“I bought a chili plant.”

“Don’t try and change the conversation”, she said, looking straight into my eyes as if she was a teacher talking to a child in a classroom. I didn’t understand what she was talking about; there hadn’t been a conversation before. Perhaps she interpreted the silent stares we had exchanged during the ceremony as a conversation. They had shifted from neutral to angry disappointment without any of us realising how, or why. Ok, that last part is not entirely true.

“I just don’t know how often I should water it; the peppers keep getting deeper and deeper red. I read somewhere that it makes them spicier. I got to do something with my chilli plant. Now that I have a chilli plant.”

She looked out of the large café windows, as if she had given up on me and was now bracing herself for another distracting and irrelevant side-track to what was really going on. She had kicked off her high heels and was slowly rubbing her ankle. As if that would help.

I noticed the wrinkle running across her forehead, it used to just only come out when she was upset, but it was now a permanent feature. Our relationship had a similar feel, the occasional disagreements and arguments that used to come and go now felt like permanent features, lingering just below the surface, ready to jump at any time.

I loosened my tie and took a sip of my double espresso. It had already gone cold and the bitter taste made me cringe. I always forget that espressos need to be consumed as a shot; quick and aggressively. But as the chilli-plant conversation petered out in the airy afternoon bar, and our well-dressed appearances had since long lost their straight lines, the idea of doing anything the right way, including watering a chilli plant, felt like wishful thinking.

I had another look on the invite I had put in my coat pocket. My ex-girlfriend was now married, despite the fact that I stood up at the part where the priest asks if anyone has any objections, and just stood there, not knowing what to say, feeling how my girlfriend’s hand slowly slipped out of my grip.

“But I bought a chilli plant for us, so we could have something together”, I tried again. But she had already started reading The Sunday Times, and it was not so she could read the garden section and look for watering instructions for chilli plants.

Yes (this is another feeble attempt at putting a philosophical perspective on another workday)

Outlook flags

May 1st is a holiday in many countries to mark the International Workers’ Day. In the UK we just work. It is problematic when most of your colleagues are in the let’s-get-drunk-cause-it’s-the-weekend part of the world. Or are just in the wrong time zone. My in-box looks eerie as I wait for urgent help from someone in Costa Mesa, California. Is it still urgent if the answer won’t arrive in at least five hours? Or is urgency something only attributed to a question, and not to the potential time frame of the problem solving?

Yes, this is another feeble attempt at putting a philosophical perspective on another workday that has the vitality of a really damp cloth (read: if you don’t know how to read it, I won’t help, because I’m not getting any answers to MY questions, am I?). I am waiting. I’m not patiently waiting. I’m involuntarily angrily waiting. Time is running out. Soon I’ll activate another out of office reply on my work email and escape to what some would call “a very random place”. My options are becoming limited, the time to solve my urgent issues almost gone. I look at the time but it doesn’t look back. I’m invisible to time. I have my needs you know, I have red flags all over my in-box, things need to move, I’ve got other things to do, I tell my Outlook. What I about my deadlines, I cry. No answer.

I put my blue coat on and take a walk; I buy an overpriced fruit smoothie. I look at uninspiring clothes in an uninspiring store. Some rain falls on my head. Slow lazy rain, doesn’t even make my hair wet. Useless rain. Rain that makes me think about my in-box. I check my in-box on my phone, hoping it is less inefficient than the London rain. But it is as eerie as before, and my flags are not going anywhere. Damn those flags, I tell no one. All my colleagues are gone when I return to my desk. Where is everyone? Then I realise they are in the all-day meeting I was supposed to attend. Instead I am sitting here waiting for answers. Come on answers.

I try sending a couple of emails, to instil a feeling of productivity. I tell myself it is a cornerstone of what a good employee should be; productive. Out of office replies bounce in my face. I open a PowerPoint document and stare at all large gaping holes where I don’t have enough information to proceed. I add a picture I don’t like to one of the slides. I change a headline I don’t like. I wonder if the new headline is even worse. I stare at the blinking cursor in the PowerPoint presentation (I wonder if it is the cursor or I that blink). All I see are symbols of wasted time.

I sit here in the office, waiting to be set free, to finalise things. For a couple of minutes I forget about my inbox, I’m filled with a misplaced attitude of can do. I feel like I’m in a Nike commercial, like I am running across the soft office carpet with a sense of liberation, I’m flying, I’m KLM, I have wings, I have Nick Cave quotes in my head. Soon after; I have no answers, I am a Swizz cheese.

I blink. And my in-box looks at me; no new emails. I walk to the bathroom, the TV in the lobby shows riots from somewhere in the Ukraine. But all I can think about is my in-box.

The potential calming effect of too much order (sleep deprived notes from Frankfurt)

Frankfurt

Impressions from a recent visit to Frankfurt: The stewardess on my Lufthansa flight efficiently distributes drinks in the cabin. Do I write efficiently because she is German? I’ve had 4,5 hours of sleep. Late last night I stood in my hotel room on the 31st floor; looking out over Frankfurt’s bank building skyline in my underwear, with that misplaced self-esteem a couple of drinks and a good view tend to bring.

At a restaurant next to Frankfurt’s beautiful opera house someone said she thought the service was patchy. She also thought I was from New Zeeland, which clearly undermines her observational credibility. I took a run by the river Main, it was Sunday and the lawns that track the river were filled with people. It was sunny and warm and made me think of summer. When I got back to my room there were drops of sweat on my glasses. I looked up the weather in London on my phone; when I saw that it was raining I was relieved, as if it was an achievement to happen to be in a place with sunshine. Then I realised I had forgotten my cufflinks in London and something turned cloudy.

When I arrived at Frankfurt’s airport, which is just as nice as you would expect Frankfurt airport to be, I took the train to the city. It was very silent, even more silent than you would expect a silent train in Germany to be. Across from me a man sat hunched over a black rug sack where he was hiding a beer. Even he was silent. Despite the empty Sunday streets everyone stopped for red traffic lights. Not me, I kept on walking like a rushed Londoner.

In an outdoor restaurant near Lokalbanhof, south of the river, I met a Texan man. He told me I was the first Swedish person he’d ever met. He didn’t seem too bothered by the fact that he wasn’t the first Texan I had met, or he just hid it well with his mouth full of chewing tobacco.  He told me I had to try the Frankfurter schnitzel, “it’s fantastic”. I know there are few words Americans overuse more than fantastic. But I order the schnitzel, with a side of sauerkraut, since I like outsourcing my decision-making.

Later the same evening I leaned forward slightly as walked back to the hotel, due to the size of the portion. A colleague told me she thought the city was beautiful. “And a bit boring perhaps”, I added. Although one evening a stressed cab driver, who missed his turn and kept repeating “scheisse” to himself, left us in the city’s red light district. We walked past a couple of harmless looking teenagers smoking weed on a street corner. I don’t know why I thought Frankfurt seemed less boring after having seen the red light district and people smoking weed. Perhaps it made me think of Amsterdam; a non-boring city with the same attributes.

But now, when I think about it, even the junkies and prostitutes we passed on our way to the restaurant, where some people found the service to be patchy, had an aura of unobtrusiveness; as if Frankfurt’s great skyscrapers had a sedating influence over the city. The potential calming effect of too much order.