saabism

I wrote a letter to a friend in Frankfurt. It was about SAAB, the car brand that inspires more feelings than any other. In fact, a recent study confirmed to show that SAAB owners have the highest level of psychological involvement with their cars.
[My friend is in the market for a Porsche, but having secret desires for SAAB, and so…]

“… it confirms all my longstanding beliefs in the magic of SAAB. As you well know, I cut my teeth in SAABs. The first one was a green 99 Combi Coupe, with the edgy black sunrack on the rear window. I drove the wheels off it. Literally. First snow + summer tires + no fear = inevitable doom/badaboom.
The next one was a black 900 EMS. Went some too, pumping out about 122 hp… well, it was enough to put down long single lines of rubber residue on the Karis tarmac.
Looking back to youth, I did far from appreciate the quirkiness of SAAB. The understeer was so heavy it gave me wrinkles. The handbrake braked the front wheels, making cool handbrake manouvres completely impossible. What’s worse, I found the SAABs utterly ugly and boring and ancient, not something for a hot young thing to be seen in. Such are the matters only too important when you’re young.
Soon, I graduated to a Fiat 600. The chicks dug it.

But, that special SAAB feeling never left me. In those childhood years, I formed a bond with the brand, one I’m absolutely sure would not have happened, had I ran around in a brown Datsun Cherry with filthy cigarette burns in the back seat. These days, whenever I see a particularly well-kept SAAB, I salute the driver. It makes me smile fondly when I think about them searching for reverse to get the key out…

I’ll leave the GM period out here. When you talk about SAAB, you think of Stig Blomqvist hustling his 99 into the corners of the Swedish Rally. If you’re older than me, Erik Carlsson pÃ¥ taket would spring to your mind. And does the word, I mean code, ‘Turbo’ means anything to you? By the gods, Sonny Crockett should’ve sported a white 900 Turbo in Miami Vice in 1987!

Having been raised on SAAB, there are odd side effects that will stay with you for life, one being that you absolutely must hate archrival Volvo. If you have been a SAAB driver, going to Volvo makes you a traitor of highest mark, and the penalty for such treason is no less than death.
Obviously, when you have SAAB in your blood, you also have an obligation of being hip, creative, and a bit mad, with Artek furniture in your home… a bit of a polo-neck image, sure, but in the best of ways.

Is the 96 the coolest car out there at the moment? Having grown up, it is no longer the joke it appeared to me when I was a kid. It is a classic, if there ever was an image to define the word. You can still pick them up for next to nothing here – but I’ve noticed that the prices are skybound in Germany. In any case, I think you’d be the toast of town in Frankfurt. Among all those generically black or silver Audis, Beemers and Mercs, an orange 96 is the allmighty!

If you succumb to the charms of SAAB, the car will be your friend unlike anything. A Porsche is a Porsche, they fill you with huge lust and gleaming eyes. SAAB is an unknown entity for the unsympathetic and the unschooled. But those in the know, they will wink and say good on ya. So will I.”

life is local

By the votes of 9-8, the disgraceful HUS management is closing down the Ekenäs/Tammisaari maternity hospital. HUS is a powerful hospital conglomerate of Southern Finland, and the Ekenäs maternity hospital is under their “jurisdiction”, so to speak. The man(agement) has been trying to do this since the 1990s, and the only reason it took them so long, is that the Ekenäs BB, as we like to call it here, is commonly known as the very best maternity hospital in Finland.

Ekenäs BB was the first in the country to receive the status of Baby Friendly by the World Health Organization. The lovely women of Ekenäs BB have long worked hard to develop innovative quality and family values. The hospital is known for giving breast feeding top priority, and they have advanced views on non-medical painrelief. It is a place to feel safe in. They not only welcome the mother-to-be, but the whole family to stay for the whole experience, and they do not just throw the mother out the following day. Their reputation preceeds borders, as rich Russians and Baltic families come here to give birth.

On a personal level, I was born at the Ekenäs BB. My brothers were born here. My friends were born here. The children of my friends were born here. Even though my daughter Scarlett was born in a private hospital in another country, it was my wish for her to be born here.

The dark question remains – why did they close it down, when it so clearly should have been treasured and awarded instead? If the reasons remain fuzzy to me, it is probably because they are. Who gives a fuck about economy when the well-being of children is at hand? To go and destroy this precious baby culture, built by lots and lots of love over a long period of time, makes my blood boil.

You don’t have to look hard to find rampant jealousy. The hidden rage many Finnish people harbour for the swedish-speaking minority, for one, as the Ekenäs BB was one of the few places left were you were treated to both official mother tongues.
The Ekenäs BB was run by women for women, which also certainly helps to explain why it was so dearly loved. The male majority of HUS, it appears, on some level, were unable to come to terms with this.

The little people have been fucked over again. There is simply something inherently wrong with the world, if you have to run it like a business.

Thieves.

punk doll

Sure’s cool when there is enough hair on the bopping mop to make a mohawk! Say, is that the new member of the New York Dolls?

“Coz I’m a punkrocker, yes I am!”

o summer, where did you go

You blink, and the leaves are yellow. But you can always delve and dive inside your brain to find the sunshine again. Yes, ooh there, that’s a good spot…

The beginning of my vacation was the opposite of what I had been expecting; a combination of a wet slap in my face and a deep stab in my back – but begone, it went all beautiful from there.
My little family of three had the loveliest-dovliest time in the glittering archipelago. The very best friends have come and gone, we’ve travelled, we’ve partied, we’ve picked blueberries in the forest underneath the seagulls that go ka-kaa, ka-kaa. We’ve smoked a lot of fish, we’ve sweated in the sauna, we’ve been swimming and surfing and disappearing along the twisty roads to the thrum of the Ducati twin and the rush of the wind. Oh, so long sweet summer, sorely missed already in September.

September schmeptember. Let’s party like it’s June and July. Here’s Scarlett. She might be growing as fast as Jimmy The Giant, and singing as loud as Maria Callas, and crawling at the speed of Usain Bolt, but she still fits into a tiny tub of water.

And the same from a bird’s – or dad’s – perspective. Ho ho hoo. I must smile. Because I love my little troll.

Verily, verily, verily. So long sweet summer, sorely missed already in September.

the hangover

Do you like to laugh? Do you like to laugh until it hurts? Go see, go see. The Hangover is the funniest film of the year!

The movie takes place in Vegas – of course. Vegas is the capital of the world, the ne plus ultra of excess, the oasis of the everyday. Lay rest to your I-would-if-I-could and go to Vegas, man. I know I want to. They even arrange Hangover packages at Ceasar’s Palace now… I’m this close – you can’t see it, but it is very close – to booking a trip. The only thing holding me back right now, is that, amidst inevitable debauchery, I’m afraid I’d end up marrying a skanky stripper. In the movie, she is Heather Graham, but in my documentary, she probably would not be…

No stranger to bad hangovers and big blackouts, I can all too easily relate to this movie. I never stole Mike Tyson’s tiger, though… well, less said is more to be watched, go on, get out of here, get into a theater.

Before you go, wear a diaper. It is so funny, you might piss in your pants.

1958-2009

They call him the king of pop. Maybe, maybe not. Michael Jackson created a mere three good albums, and of these three albums, only about half the songs were tremendous. Can you really utter his name with the same royal breath you use for the king of rock? Then again, Elvis was crap when he was off, and was so off he was nowhere to be seen for a great part of his career. But so what? Let’s focus. When they were on, in charge & ruling, they made sounds that had sex with your ear and then married your brain.

I’m so damn old I still remember when Thriller came out. At school, in class, during one of those Friday bring-something-from-home-hour, a scrawny mullet-haired kid put the cassette up the player. We all sort of thought we knew what was coming, we had heard about it along the grapevine, but still… it was an event… perhaps even a liberation from the everyday bullies and bitches that clutter space around us.
Back then, I regrettably didn’t dig Jackson that much. That came later. Nonetheless, the whole class was moonwalking that day. In fact, so was the rest of the world.

Possibly, that defines the impact of Jackson. He was a force that made a whole world moonwalk. Obviously we all looked like idiots doing it, but that was to be expected – only one person on the planet had that divine control of body and soul. It was almost like he had to grip his crotch once in awhile to keep it all together.

It’s a shame most people don’t think about music when they talk about Jackson. The gift of geniuity is a motherfucker. There just is no way you get to be only incredible. The law of balance makes sure that most of us are mediocre, while the few that get to be incredible, are by rule, also ultracreepy.

You be your own judge and jury. As for me, Billy Jean is on level eleven, and I’m just about to don my white glove.

on duck and mouse

There are always two – not three or more – sorts of people: dog and cat people, Elvis and Beatles people… and Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse people.

I’m Donald Duck people.

Go to Disneyland in the States, and you will notice that Donald is just another character among the others, while Mickey towers above the rest. USA is Mickey Mouse country, Finland is all Donald Duck.
Obviously, the Americans love a winner; the mouse is irritatingly cheery, always optimistic, and superclever. He stands for pioneering spirits, small but fearless, quick on his feet, ever-adapting as detective, journalist, explorer, adventurer.
Donald, on the other hand, well, he’s forever on the brink of success, but eternally eluded. Just when he’s about to win big and get rich quick, he blows it. The duck is plagued by bad luck – no one ever bit the dust like Donald. That’s why we like him in Finland, that’s why I’m the defender of the luckless one. He is just like me and you – and mostly like me.

See, Mickey gets into mysteries straight away, but always comes out on top. The end is always happy. Mickey is never down and depressed. Hey, Mickey does not know life. As a hero, he’s one-dimensional, thin.
Donald, he’s full of attitude, a brilliant braggart, with the biggest of egos. That is also why Disney must bring him down to the ground. He has to be humiliated, because he is a loser and his personality is flawed. What most Americans don’t understand is that those flaws are the reason as to why he continues to fascinate me in glorious fashion. Compared to Mickey, Donald is real as rye bread. In my book, he wins when he loses.

Americans automatically distance themselves from losers. They also don’t come to terms with the fact that Huey, Dewey and Louie can be more resourceful than an adult authority.

And don’t you just hate the way Mickey steamrolls over Goofy with his superior intellect? Come on – Goofy exists only to confirm – and to show off – how bloody smart that little mouse is.
Besides, Mickey is incredibly violent. I bet he has brass knuckles underneath his gloves, because he can beat the shit out of much larger guys. In the war against terrorism, Mickey is the role model. Mickey is Obama. They are both black, and won’t back down.
Donald, well, he shouts and screams, but his shotgun will always explode in his face. After which he will fall off a steep cliff. Full body cast in the last scene.

I love Donald. We both go through life. I mean, through. We don’t glide on top of the surface of it like the mouse. To have something to say, you need to fall off a cliff once in awhile. You gotta curse and brag and be full of it. Without salt, life is a straitjacket.

Since 1980, Donald has visited me every week. He’s the link to the little boy in me, without which the world would be a considerably less memorable place. Here’s to you, Mr Duck. Your most loyal student still considers it an honor and privilege to follow your school of bad behaviour.

I owe you all, Walt.

I hope my daughter Scarlett will see the same magic I’ve always seen. She is only 6 months now, but the comics already appear in the mailbox in her own fair name…