Los Angeles, CA
The Simpys in Danish
Out of all the places I traveled, Copenhagen in 2008 was the only trip where I purposely spent a significant time inside my hotel room. I never do that. I'm an active traveler. But that trip had unique circumstances.
Denmark in February is miserable, dour, and depressing. The winter of discontent. I fought off a head cold and bogged down in a bad funk at the time caught up in one of those cycles when I hated everything to do with poker. I never should have gone and probably would not have, but Nicky had an assignment covering a poker tournament in Copenhagen. The plan was that I'd visit her in Denmark and crashed in her free hotel room.
I figured that I'd put in a couple of hours at the tournament every day and gather enough material for a magazine column. Heh, that never happened. I just couldn't bring myself to hang out and watch Scandis play poker.
Copenhagen was a last minute trip. I was in New York City for an extended time visiting my brother and family. I found a super cheap round trip flight from JFK to Amsterdam and an even cheaper round trip flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen. Total cost was around $400. I decided... what the heck? I flew to Amsterdam for a couple of days to rage solo before continuing onto Copenhagen. I thought that I was going to edit a dozen chapters of the previous incarnation of Lost Vegas (back then it was called the Untitled Las Vegas Book). That never happened. Instead, I wrote a bunch, smoked a shit load, and ate mushrooms.
When I arrived in Copenhagen, I avoided the poker tournament and spent the mornings wandering around the city. Dreary. Overcast. Light rain. I felt like a walking version of a Sylvia Plath poem. I hung out with all the junkies in Christiana aka Free Town. I wandered around the mile long shopping street. I went to find the Little Mermaid. I took a bunch of photos and ate a lot of fast food because the local cuisine was brutal. The Danes made the Brits look like culinary experts. The beer was top notch, but the local food was... barely edible.
I spent my afternoons holed up in Nicky's hotel room and smoking a shit ton of weed. Danish TV aired a biathlon championship event and women team handball. When I wasn't watching odd Nordic sports, I spent the rest of the time watching The Simpsons with Danish subtitles.
I only checked out the tournament once. I blew it off the rest of the time. Plus, I never wrote an article for my column. That was the first and only time that I dropped the ball with a story. I came home story-less.
Technically, I didn't fuck up my column because I have the (rare) freedom to write whatever I want every month. I had pitched my editor a story about Scandi poker. After the trip, I attempted to write my article but quickly veered off topic and I spent a few rambling pages describing the volatile race relations in Denmark at the time. Copenhagen and other cities were riddled with riots between police and young immigrants of Arabic descent. Denmark was a volcano. Who cared about poker? Let's not forget that Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, nearly ignited an all out jihad in late 2005 when they published a series of political cartoon depicting Muhammad in a manner which deeply offended the Islamic world.
Anyway... I thought my article was way off topic for a "poker" magazine so I did not submit it. I feel as though that I failed as a writer and blew the assignment because I was not able to relay my sentiments about freedom of speech, religious tolerance, and immigration and weave that into the fabric of the Scandinavian Poker Championship. Instead, I emailed my editor an article about playing poker with degenerate gamblers in a casino in New Zealand.
Since I barely hung out at the tournament in Copenhagen, I knew that my editor would not want to pay me to write about why the drug dealers in Christiana wear masks and why you don't want you to photograph them otherwise risk getting stabbed, or how I spent most of my time smoking weed in my hotel room and watching biathlon on TV. It's just a bunch of Scandis in tights ski, then shoot, then ski, the shoot, then ski, then shoot, then ski.
Why am I writing about Denmark?
The Vancouver Olympics are in full swing and on Sunday afternoon, I got a flashback to two years ago when I did the same exact thing -- smoking weed while watching a bunch of Scandis in tights ski, then shoot, then ski, the shoot, then ski, then shoot, then ski.