Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'll Take Sweden...

-The Fleshtones present Stockholm Super Rock Weekend, February 12-13, 2010

"I'll Take Sweden -Ja Ja Ja" -Frankie Avalon, 1965

02/11/10 morning
Peter Ingvarsson met us at Arlanda Airport to drive us into town -snow-covered countryside, pine trees, congealing suburbs and then we're in the middle of it all -Stockholm the splendid, Stockholm the icy beautiful, it's golden-topped 17th and 18th century spires and palaces arrayed, Canada-like, across rocky islets and narrow inlets -one of Europe's most gorgeous cities. However I'm having trouble figuring out my new Olympus Fe46 pocket camera. I'll cover for the total lack of pictures by declaring that no photo could do the scene justice.
My internal jukebox was on continuous loop -selection: the theme to 'I'll Take Sweden' the 1965 Bob Hope/Tuesday Weld/Frankie Avalon romp -naturally filmed mostly amid the ersatz Scandinavian splendor of Arrowhead Lake, California (the kind of Hollywood shoddiness that infuriated me as a kid, but I now find reassuring. Besides what's the use of actually going all the way to Sweden when you can drive from Hollywood to Arrowhead Lake in a hour? They weren't exactly working on another '7th Seal' -in the end a good thing. Bergman's black comedy is widely misunderstood and thus over-rated. I've always preferred 'The Virgin Spring'). Avalon always did seem like an odd candidate to ship off to a celluloid Sweden, but the studio was casting about for new horizons for our beach-movie veteran (that in itself an odd juxtaposition -the diminutive Philly-born teen idol somehow coming to represent the sunny blondness of the southern Cali surf-scene) as well as for Hope. Hope does better, at least conceptually, in his next feature foray, when he gets to team up with Phillis Diller. Frankie had to wait until 1966 to beat the shit out of his perennial antagonist, the great Harvey Lembeck, when Avalon's roles took a dramatic (and ludicrous) turn in 'Fireball'. If you don't count Avalon, director Frank De Cordova didn't even take the trouble to 'Swede up' the cast of 'I'll Take Sweden' with conscripts from Hollywood's stock of professional Scandinavians. Greta Garbo had long since fled into seclusion. Too bad Warner Oland, the fine Swedish actor who had found fame via his uncanny portrayal of Charlie Chan on the silver screen (back then everyone knew that you couldn't cast actual Chinese actors to play themselves on screen -they just weren't believable) had died back in 1938. Today that wouldn't be a problem -just think of the spate of living /posthumous team-ups -recording duets with ghoulish videos to match. But who, in this day and age, would venture the financial backing necessary to digitally add Oland to 'I'll Take Sweden', and to what ends? 'Authenticity'? You'd think there'd be at least a few billion for that very purpose buried somewhere in last year's 'stimulus' package, but like a lot else we'll probably never know. The wonders that God, and Hollywood, hath wrought. Here I was walking the same slushy cobblestones that Frankie Avalon would have walked, if only he made it any closer to Stockholm than the studio back-lots that United Artists had rented out for the filming in LA. Imagine that. No, I actually wasn't imagining that, but like I said, Frankie's recording of 'I'll Take Sweden' was bouncing around in my head -"ja -ja -ja".

Hotel Anno 1647: The Netherlands Embassy in the background

Shooting across numerous bridges, then thorough tunnels bored through the dark bedrock of the islands, we soon we arrived at our hotel. Contrary to what I've said about Scandinavian hotels being short on charm, Hotel Anno 1647 ( serves it up in spades. This 'boutique property' had caught my eye on my previous walks through Stockholm's old districts. Tucked down a narrow side-street right off of the busy Gotgaten, the 'Anno' is conveniently located near the Slussen Metro and within steps of The Netherlands embassy. Too bad I'm not Dutch. My passport is running out of space and I thought that it would be easier to have pages added to it at an American Embassy in a foreign capital rather than mailing it in and waiting weeks back in The States. I should have made my move in quiet Oslo. So instead of taking my cue from Bill Milhizer and visiting the (very interesting) Nobel Museum (yes, the gift-shop does sell dynamite-shaped licorice sticks) or even the City Of Stockholm Museum right next door, I figured I'd trek over to the other side of the city (lots of water in between) and avail myself of our country's crack diplomatic service. The Nobel Museum might have been more enticing if they had jazzed up the exhibit with life-sized wax figures of some of the prize's extraordinary recipients -say Al Gore or Bill Clinton. The desk clerk at Anno 1647 connected me to the American Embassy, or move specifically, their computerized telephone obstacle course. I finally gleaned that the passport services branch was open Mon, Wed, and Thursdays: hours (I think) 9:30AM to 2:30PM. The recording also teases callers with the possibility of reaching a real human being, rattling off another number and stating the hours when someone would actually answer the phone -being those same days (or was it only Monday and Wednesday?) from 1PM to 2PM. It was worth the call just to know that. I wasn't going to waste the afternoon, plus Skr40 each way for the ferry (not to mention a long walk on icy un-shoveled sidewalks) to be turned away by my own Embassy. Anyway, Anno 1647 is an extremely pleasant place to be awarded a bit of down time. There's a nice sidewalk cafe (summers!), you can catch a bit of 'Larry King Live' on CNN (Larry's focus was on Bill Clinton and his emergency heart surgery of the previous day -although he did not have Clinton on as a guest, he did interview a surgeon who sounded remarkably like the ex-president) and enjoy a Scandinavian-style breakfast buffet each morning while silent newsreel images of everyday life in Stockholm from the 50's go by on a large screen. As it is with most centuries-old urban structures, the hotel's guest rooms are quite tiny. You can say this does 'concentrate' the charm factor, but they are still tiny (we had to utilize a 'murphy bed' in our room). I could picture the rooms housing delegations of Lapps to the Royal Court in olden times.

That evening, we headed over to the rehearsal space of weekend co-hosts 'Stupidity' ( who would be lending us their back-line for the show as well, thanks guys -and gal! We don't often need to rehearse (we've been playing since 1976) but we did need to go over the songs we'd be doing on Saturday's 'horn night' with Magus, Stupidity's veteran tenor sax man and Tony, a young but enthusiastic trumpet player. Although an important part of our 'act' for many years, we haven't played with a brass section in over a decade (or more). It was fun to be able to play a lot of these songs again at full strength.

The Pelikan.
Although the posters graciously credited The Fleshtones with presenting Stockholm's first Super Rock Weekend, the whole affair was the brainchild and hard work of Peter Ingvarsson of ConnectPR ( Since the venue was going to provide us with dinner on the next two nights when we'd be performing, tonight Peter was going to take us to the 'Pelikan' ( for some old-fashioned Swedish home-cooking. Occupying a succession of locations since the 1600's, the Pelikan settled into a bastion-like structure in the heart of the 'Sodermalm' district at the previous turn of the century. There's a large, hall-like 'jugend' style dining room with soaring 18 foot-high ceilings, while the adjacent bar/lounge offers a more contemporary ambience with dark blue walls and the soft glow of crystal chandeliers. Stuck to the dining room ceiling amid the paintings of frolicking monkeys there's a king of hearts. How the card got there is the subject of much conjecture, but it's been there a very long time. We conjectured over what to order: herring? -manditory, and the best excuse to drink aquavit; grilled arctic char with 'creamed cépe' -SKr218; thin-sliced, 12-hour-roasted elk with pickled chantarelles and potato au gratin -SKr232 or other typically Scandinavian fare. Peter 'I' ordered meatballs -always a wise choice. I always go for the most basic dish of all, 'pyttipanna' -SKr140 -a hearty, one-skillet dose of meat, potatoes and onions topped with a fried egg. Mix in the accompanying beets and you've got our red-flannel hash. Of course, you could always have the lasagna -Skr198. Too bad no one had room for the cloudberry parfait in waffle-cone -SKr88 for dessert. My notes recorded that there was a 'good wine list' and of course lots of aquavit, although the stylish crowd in the lounge will have none of that.
Afterward, we hit some nightspots for some last-minute 'spreading the word' about the impending Super Rock Weekend. First, we took an elevator up to the glass-walled Och Himlen Dantill ( an ultra-contemporary, glass-walled bar with panoramic views from the 25th floor of one of the city's tallest buildings; then nightcap(s) at former biker bar -the highly aromatic Broderna Olssons (Olsson Brothers) -'a kitchen full of garlic & a bar loaded with 101 shots' ( As much as I love garlic, I steered clear of the infused shots.

You can always learn something new.

Kagelbanan Mosebacke & Sonda Teatern, Stockholm.

Peter had decided upon an unusual venue for The Super Rock Weekend -the 'Kagelbanen Mosebacke' -a classic example of cast-iron architecture that's chiseled into a stone hillside underneath (and is part of) the old Sodra Theatre complex ( The next day, after a lengthy but painless sound-check, we climbed a snowy iron staircase to the upper terrace, then up some more narrow flights of stairs in the main theatre building to the 'Mosebeacke establissement' ( -a 'cabaré' and intimate dining room with fantastic harbor/city views. The walls in the bar were covered with 8X10's of the stars of Swedish stage and screen that have, and continue to, perform here. The club also hosts various music and dance events like 'Studio Blacknuss Night'. On the small stage they were setting up for a 'punk' show -but we would have other fish to fry that night. We did have time for a cocktail. There amid the rows of small bottles of mixers behind the bar, I spotted something called 'Russian Water'. Noticing me curiously eyeing the bottle, the smartly turned-out bartender obligingly opened one for me (good bartender!) to sample. Hmmm, faintly pear and perhaps quinine flavored -and clear, like tonic water. Later, I found out the the Schweppes version is pink. The bartender explained it was an essential component of a 'Vodka Russian', a standard drink everywhere in Scandinavia. How that fact escaped me in our many trips to this part of the world is beyond me. Naturally, I tried one. Then it was time for The Super Rock Weekend to get underway.

Swedish rock & roll paragons The Nomads receive the Super Rock 'lifetime achivement' Award. photo: Vibeke Saugestad

A lot happened. Besides The Fleshtones and Stupidity playing both nights, Friday included performances by Kilroy and 'action rock' progenitors 'The Nomads'. History of sorts was made on stage when we presented The Nomads with the (over 1kg of solid brass) Super Rock Life-time Achivement Award -the only other band besides ourselves ever to be so honored. The event was duly noted in the morning papers (actually, Caroline Andersen and Morten Henrikssen had purchased the award from the guys at the dump in Moss for NKr100 on the condition that we use it to convince The Nomads to play the House Of Rock -which I hope we did). Magnus Carlson of The Weeping Willows joined us for 'Girl From Baltimore' and 'Screaming Skull'.

The Cocktail Slippers: Off-stage...

...and on.

Alhambra kicked off Saturday night's action, The Cocktail Slippers popped over from Norway and we backed Karin Wistland of 80's Swedish rock sensation 'Lolita Pop' on 'Born To Be Wild' as well as Eddie Cochran's ever appropriate 'Come On Everybody' (the first time we'd ever played either song). Between 'sets' DJs Robert Johnson of The Punchdrunks and Måns Månsson of The Maggots kept the music coming, assisted by Brock from Copenhagen's Mau Mau Club. There were even screenings of Geoffrey Barbier's Fleshtones documentary 'Pardon Us For Living'. Again, thanks to Peter Ingvarsson, and a lot of others including ticket-holders who came from as far away as Italy and yes, even Britain. I was worried about 'over-exposure', but even the Saturday matinee to benefit the international foundation 'Fountain House' was a blast -check out their good work on their website (www.fountainhouse) and help them out if you can.

Good Guys Don't Wear White: Keith Streng guests with Stupidity -photo: Vibeke Saugestad.

Now I'm looking out my window back in Greenpoint. By God, it's snowing -again. This weekend we'll be heading up to Lakeville, CT to celebrate our son Sergei's birthday with a few of his friends. He's turning teenager. I'll never forget the dread that that word struck me with when I was a little kid -'teenager...'
The Fleshtones will be touring (France plus) starting next week with the fabulous Bellrays. Here's where we'll be:

Fri March 5 St Nazaire, France -L'Escale
Sat March 6 La Rochelle, France -MJC
Sun March 7 France Bergerac, France -Roxanne
Mon March 8 Lyon, France -CCO
Tues March 9 Marseille, France - Cabaret Sauvage
Wed March 10 Dijon, France -La Vapeur
Thu March 11 Reims, France -La Cartonnerie
Fri March 12 Calais, France -Salle Gerard Philippe
Sat March 13 St. Germain en Laye, France -La Clef
Sun March 14 Ghent, Belgium  -Domocrazy
Mon March 15 Hamburg, Germany -Hafenklang
Wed March 17 Eindhoven, The Netherlands -Effeenar

Hope you can make it!
-Peter Zaremba

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Top Of the World, Ma!" (well, almost...)

James Cagney, White Heat -Warner Bros, 1949

02/05/10 Norway
It was pitch dark by the time our almost two hour flight north from Oslo landed in Tromsø, Norway. Too bad, surrounded by magnificent snow covered mountains (this time of year) the approach is quite a sight. The first time we landed here, nearly two years ago, it was a brilliantly clear autumn day. I could see farms clinging to the shores of a maze of long-armed fiords with translucent, almost Caribbean-looking waters -I say almost. I don't know why, but I was surprised to see trees, although the tree-line was extremely low -they abruptly thinned out and disappeared just above the town.
We weren't going to get to spend as much time here as we would have liked (although due to unexpected snow it almost wound up being a lot more than planned). Lovers of way-out places, the band had already fallen in love with Norway's ninth largest city on our first visit -in fact we fell in love with the very idea of it even before we got there. Then despite Tromsø's outlandish location over 350km north of the Arctic Circle, instead of Ice Station Zebra, we had discovered a fine old city. In remembrance of the city's role as jumping off point during the heroic 19th -early 20th century age of polar exploration, a statue of Norwegian conqueror of the South Pole, Rould Amundsen, proudly surveys the main shopping street. Tromsø boasts many 'northern-mosts': northern-most university, and more importantly, northern most brewery -'Mack ( ' -producing pilsener, dark beer and the appropriately-named 'Arctic' brand in cans. The brewery complex also includes Tromsø's oldest pub, a fine, oaky place decorated with stuffed polar bears, which residents will proudly tell you opens at 9AM by special license (well, they do make the stuff...). I was also told there was a thousand year old church across the fiord. If so, it almost dated to the same age of violent expansion that propelled the Vikings across the Atlantic's unknown vastness to Iceland, Greenland and North America (which known as 'Markland', was included in the Norwegian king's title as one of his realms in medieval times).
After being picked up at the airport by Egon Holstad of the Blå Rock Café ( , we barely had time to soundcheck and grab one of Blå Rock's famous burgers, then over to The Viking Hotel ( for a quick wash up before playing. Typical of nordic hotels, The Viking doesn't offer much in the way of charm, but unlike the town's more upscale lodgings (like the local Scandic, which is quite outside the city center), it is right around the corner from the Blå Rock, as well as a stone's throw from the Mack Brewery, the town's shopping district, harbor and tourist attractions like Polaria (live bearded seals, etc).
When we got back to Blå Rock, it was even more crowded than the first time we played there. It's always a thrill playing to a sweaty, packed house, even if that does mean about 125 people. Compact and multi-level, The Blå Rock is one of the world's outstanding music clubs and a favorite place to play. In this of all places, I noted that they not only stocked 'Frothee' ('a perfect whiskey sour every time') but 'Ratzeputz', the fiery Saxon ginger digestif. This is a good bar. We met two Polish tourists who had spent the past two nights marveling at the aurora borealis, although locals said that compared to other years, this year's northern lights were a dud. At any rate, that night the sky was quite overcast -a light snow was beginning to fall. From here there's still a good deal of north left in Norway -someone flew down for the show from Hammerfest (about a half hour flight further north). We've got our sights set on playing in Svalbard, more commonly known as Spitzbergen, a scant 660 miles shy of the North Pole. You hear stories about folks staggering home after pub-crawls getting mauled by polar bears, a hazard I can't personally verify -yet.



The House Of Rock (Moss, Norway)

After almost getting snowed into Tromsø, it was a relief to arrive back in Oslo for our drive to Moss, a small city about an hour to the south. We were playing a 'house party' - a triple birthday bash for singer Vibeke Saugestad, Norwegian film star Caroline Andersen and garage-pop-mover Morten Henriksen. In the living room not one but two bands were on tap, the festivities to be kicked off by Norwegian girl-rockers The Cocktail Slippers (who have a new 'release' on Little Steven Van Zandt's 'Wicked Cool' record label
I first met Morten many years ago when I was assistant engineer on a recording project for his group The Vikings at Coyote Studios in Northside, Williamsburg (long gone -man, how THAT area has changed). Now from Moss he lords over a pantheon of Nordic rock & rollers including The Yum Yums, The Twistaroos (, and a budding recording career for Caroline (
The entire evening was a reminder of how great it is to play house parties -the natural element of rock &roll, or at least of The Fleshtones, who began our band-life this very way back in Whitestone and Flushing 34 years ago. The music and refreshments flowed -Ringnes Beer (Norway's top brand) and Marques di Monistrol 2004 reserva privada -quite good but you wonder how 'private' can this stuff be if they sell it in the supermarket? It was our third time playing at Morten and Caroline's a.k.a. The House Of Rock. I'm always surprised the neighbors don't call the police.
Actually, we ran into one of the neighbors at the supermarket the next day, and she was very nice -in fact quite pleased to meet us (maybe the cake that Caroline baked for her helped). As it was, our next show in Oslo wasn't until Wednesday, so for the next few days we went domestic with Caroline and Morten -going to the supermarket, visiting thrift shops (got a stylish pair of black sunglasses for only NKr25, a deal topped by another shop where I got not only a classic pair of shades, the lady tossed in a 'lackerol' for only NKr10!). One night we watched the Super Bowl minus the commercials (but with Norwegian commentary) until 4:30AM, another night we watched 'Tropic Thunder' and at all times enjoyed great music from Morten's collection. We also (successfully) searched for epoxy glue to repair his collection of 50's modern 'black African beauty' (made in Norway) wall sculptures that were accidently smashed by drunken guests during HOR performances. After walking along a snowy nature trail and visiting the somewhat belligerent swans at the totally frozen beach (which I'm told is very popular during summer, whatever day that is) we stopped for hot cocoa with rum at Riis (, a cafe in one of the city's old rehabilitated water-powered factories. The city's current main employer? You won't be in town long before you can guess that it's a paper mill, which imparts an unmistakable cabbage-like aroma that's famous across Norway.

the beach, Moss

-Lingon' and swingin'
Forget the herring (that's Sweden anyway), for the next few days we were well fed on Norwegian specialties, including one of my favorites -'brown' cheese, which comes in blocks (about the size of a pound of butter) made of either goat or cow milk, or a combination of both. It's tangy, somewhat sweet and reminiscent of dulce de leche -okay, caramel (although putting it that way lessens its appeal somewhat). After performing I went on an almost unstoppable binge of eating pølse -extra-long hot dogs wrapped in tortilla-like lompa (hot-dogs with waffles are also a Moss speciality). We also enjoyed finbiff -reindeer in sour cream sauce with mashed turnips and lingonberry, and a new one on me- røkt lammelår -a whole smoked leg of lamb (a veritable 'lamb ham') complete with roast fingerling potatoes and lingonberries, lapskaus -a thick soup made with root vegetables in rich meat-stock, in our case lots of the left-over 'lamb-ham' -good with a dab of lingonberry...which needless to say is good on your bread or svele (thick pancakes) and topping off a hunk of pikekyss -a huge whipped cream-filled meringue cake.
The bags of trash from the party in Morten's van were starting to compete with the smell of the paper mill (in all honesty, you can only smell the mill at certain times in certain places) so we all drove out to the municipal recycling/ site -transfer station/ dump. It unexpectedly closed early, so we had to return the next day. Although Morten spotted the police check point ahead and quickly snapped on his safety belt, the cops had advance observers in position and we were pulled over anyway. Morten's 'ID' was checked and he was given a 'breathalyzer' test (at 3 in the afternoon) by an extremely cheerful policeman, who none-the-less wrote him a NKr1,500 summons for not wearing his safety belt (I told you Norway was expensive). We still had about a dozen huge bags of empty beer bottles and cans from the party, so we stopped at the supermarket to redeem the deposits. Like in The States, the recycling machines will give you a receipt to bring to the cashier, but in Norway they can also 'make it interesting' for you -you can hit a button and bet your refund on a chance to win a NKr2,000,000 prize. More altruistically, you can also automatically donate your proceeds to The Norwegian Red Cross. Somehow we ran out of time to visit Otto down at the plant, where he had invited Bill Milhizer to test drive some of the new models of self-propelled wheelchairs.
Verdict? There is just too much to do in Moss.

Caroline at the dump, Moss

Feb. 10, 2010
On Wednesday afternoon we made a sunny drive to Oslo (those sunglasses came in handy), with dark pines and granite outcroppings peering out from under a brilliant mantle of snow -white expanses where you'll see dozens of lakes in a few months. Oslo, by far Norway's' largest city (pop. 570,000) and capital, is never the less compact and quite walkable. After 3 days in Moss, I almost found myself wandering around slack-jawed, staring at all the tall buildings. The aesthetic experience of strolling this busy jumble of new and old, however, is diminished somewhat by the numerous junkies one encounters. Ah, forget about that, if you're not attuned to that sort of thing you probably won't even notice. I'd recommend a hoof to the Royal Palace, then beyond to the famous Vigelandsparken Museum & Sculpture Garden. You'll need to take a public bus or taxi if you want to visit the Viking Ships Museum (worth it!).
Speaking of tall buildings, Caroline and I dropped in on DJ Young Danny, who was kind enough to invite us to join him during his broadcast over Radio Tango 105.8FM. The top-floor studios offer a panoramic view of the entire city and it's environs. I noticed that Oslo must be one of the few urban centers with not one but two ski-jumps within city limits. Then a dash to Elm Street ( for soundcheck and another burger (we were beginning to wonder where the Scandinavians were hiding all the meatballs). I don't think any of the not more than 85 people regretted being there later that night, but the narrow bar concentrated the audience (and their energy) to good effect. The Cocktail Slippers, with the addition of their keyboard player, were even better than at HOR (House Of Rock). Afterwards, the nordic-modern Thon Hotel Astoria (www.thonjotels.noastoria) across the street provided a super-convenient retreat. It was also a mere 3 minute walk to Oslo's main train terminal where the next morning we caught the express train to Gardermoen International Airport (20 minutes, NKr 170) for the SAS flight to Stockholm and our Super Rock Weekend.
-Peter Zaremba


next: 'I'll Take Sweden' -The Fleshtone's Stockholm Super Rock Weekend

Thursday, February 4, 2010


02/04/10 7AM SAS910 (meal service, see zaremblog) arrival: dark... snow...

view from the Absalon Hotel, Copenhagen

I'm sitting in my room at the Absalon Hotel (doubles from DK805, ), a serviceable enough place a few blocks from Copenhagen's main train station that offers a good 'morgenmad' (breakfast) -breads, yogurt, fruit, cheeses, cold cuts, pickled herring, the whole Scandinavian works. It's cold out, the promotion we've come a day early to do isn't happening and I've got exactly one and a half Danish crowns. So I'm catching up on some writing and thinking about my first trip to Denmark while sitting on my narrow berth-like bed (narrower the better, I wind up thrashing around in a big empty bed). Maybe that's why I like boats. The hum of the engines also helps me sleep. And if hanging around a bar in the middle of the day is a good way to find interesting (and unexpected) conversation, a voyage can combine all the possibilities of a bar, combined with the inducements of the seemingly endless features of sea -with expansive results. Just look at Moby Dick.
I took my first 'international cruise' in 1972 while returning from Newfoundland with my old friends from Maspeth Bobby-O and 'Doy'. We were taking the day-long ferry across the Bay Of Fundy from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Bar Harbor, Maine (a mere 23 years earlier, before Newfoundland joined the Canadian Confederation, the ferry there from Nova Scotia would also have been an international voyage). After weeks of wintery mid-June gloom and rain in the Maritimes, we were enjoying the sun on deck when a Nova Scotian Scot introduced himself and his family. Apparently he thought that three long-haired, teenage boys flying on LSD would make appropriate companions for his 13 year old daughter during the voyage. Very thin and somewhat anorexic, with long thick dark hair and eye-brows, her name was Heather -a pretty, very Scottish name indeed. Conversation proceeded awkwardly enough as it would between teens of the opposite sex, when she suggested we play rummy. Spades and hearts, diamonds and clubs were literally dancing across my hand when her father reappeared and offered us all thick, home-made lobster sandwiches. Incessant English propaganda to the contrary, I've never met a Scot who was anything but generous -sometimes grave, but always generous. Neither my friends or I had any appetite, but eating these luxurious sandwiches, even to be polite, was out of the question. Besides, the great chunks of shocking electric-vermillion lobster were slathered in gleaming white mayonnaise. Ever since my childhood I've found mayonnaise completely repulsive. Why would someone do such a thing to lobster? On we sailed for what seemed to be an eternity, me shifting the sandwich here and there, not wanting to appear to be an ingrate, trying to make some sense of the unrecognizable and ever-shifting patterns on the cards in my hand. "Don't you remember this game?" Heather would occasionally say as she reached over to pluck a card right out of my hand. It was with a mixture of sadness and relief that the silhouette of Mt. Desert, which I'm sure never will look more majestic, came into view, signaling the imminent end of our voyage.
The first time I visited Denmark was with The Fleshtones in the mid-eighties. We arrived by sea, the best way to arrive anywhere for the first time. We took the ferry down from Oslo, Norway to Copenhagen. I found myself a spot at one of the long formica tables in the ship's near-empty cafeteria. As we slid down Oslo's long fjord towards the open sea, an elderly man sat down opposite me. Perhaps he noticed me watching the passing shore, so he began to point out the various old shore fortifications as we steamed along. Being somewhat familiar with the story of Germany's 1940 sea-borne invasion of the country, I listened with some interest. It was going to be a long float anyway. As we passed through a narrow point in the fjord, he showed me the spot where a Norwegian battery had managed a direct hit, sinking a German cruiser -I believe the 'Hippler' (actually, it was the Blücher -PZ). "Good for them" I somewhat absent-mindedly commented, almost immediately realizing my mistake. "Good?" my companion corrected "they were only boys -like you, doing their duty!" I realized he was German, himself possibly a veteran of that invasion. Bygones are bygones, however, and he continued his discourse, bringing me right up to the current world situation. The old Soviet Union was then still very much alive and he warned the world was still fraught with danger. "Keep the powder dry" he advised me, bringing his fist firmly down on the table "-keep the powder dry!"
We arrived in Copenhagen very early the next morning. It was our first time there, so even though we were only 'in transit' and had a boat to England to catch on the other side of Denmark, Bill and I took off to find the famous 'Tivoli Gardens' which being extremely early (and out of season) were of course closed. We then went to see the changing of the King's Guard. They wore big bear-fur hats just like the guards at Buckingham Palace, only their tunics were blue instead of scarlet and they smirked during inspection.
By the time we made it back to the van, the whole band was waiting on us, so we jumped in and began a mad race across the country to catch our ferry on Denmark's west coast. It seemed like we were doomed to miss it, but to my intense relief, we arrived just as the last vehicles were being loaded on the ship. "See, we had plenty of time!"
The ferry was big enough to have a disco, so rather than retire to our miniscule cabin buried somewhere in the iron bowels of the ship, we got right into liberally taking advantage of the cheap drink prices. As a particularly inky dark night fell, we sailed straight into one of those rightfully-feared North Sea storms. In the disco, The Bee Gees and Brit pop like 'Wham' was still blasting. The loquacious English DJ babbled on over the music as gigantic waves slammed repeatedly into the ship, sending drinks and dancers flying. In hindsight (the only kind, it seems) it was foolish that our bassist Marek and I went up to the top deck to drunkenly enjoy the thrill of being buffeted by the gale. We hung on to the rail for dear life as the ship slammed down into the void after riding over each colossal swell, sending the cold sea crashing over the bow. Through the darkness and pelting rain I could swear I could see the back of a woman's figure, the fierce wind tearing at her hooded cape. With water hitting us full-force in the face, we watched in disbelief as she stood there staring off into the fatal blackness of the storm. Suddenly she turned and walked directly towards us. Like in a dream, I was riveted to the spot, unable to move as she came face to face with me, her nose within an inch of mine. There was an insane wildness in her eyes. "I love it when it's like this" she said. By the time we could collect ourselves, she had disappeared.
This time we're flying. Here's where we'll be:
02/04 Copenhagen,Denmark: Råhuset
02/05 Trømso, Norway: Blå (Blue) Rock
02/06 Moss, Norway: House Of Rock w/The Cocktail Slippers
02/10 Oslo, Norway: Elm Street w/ The Cocktail Slippers
02/12 Stockholm, Sweden w/ Stupidity and special guests The Nomads
02/13 Stockholm, Sweden w/ Stupidity and special guests The Cocktail Slippers
We'll also being doing a special afternoon performance at The Fountain House in Stockholm on the 13th.

Hope to see you there!
Peter Zaremba

Danish Addenda

If you're ready to drop a lot more crowns for style, you could consider staying at Nimb Hotel, a white-white-white ultra-contemperary boutique property on the 'right' side of the tracks (main railroad terminal). A member of the elite Small Luxury Hotel group, it's in easy walking distance to everything, in fact its back door opens directly into Tivoli Gardens. (dbls from DK 2,500 breakfast NOT included,
Before the show we ate at Cafe Mandela (, part of the same renovated old industrial complex as the Råhuset. Hip without trying too hard, Mandela's most interesting dish is the African Stew -antelope in traditional tomato/onion sauce seasoned with cumin and almonds, served with mashed sweet potato -DK165, or feast on the Mandela Burger (I was joking but they actually have one), the real whopper of 200g of lean (less that 5% fat) beef, chedder cheese, salsa, jalapeños and french fries, DK125. Yeah, everything is expensive. Wait 'till you get to Norway.
And even if you don't arrive by the super-easy quick train from the airport, take time to admire the amazing vaulted roof of Copenhagen's main railway terminal, supported entirely by immense, broad arches of finely worked wood. Oh yeah, the debut of Rådhuset was lots of fun, a situation greatly aided by our friends from The Mau Mau Club and opening band David Peter and the Wilde Sect (, they're kind of like The Swinging Blue Jeans only young and Danish.

Råhuset, Copeenhagen