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Friday, January 31, 2014

Sightseeing. By John von Daler

                    The #pensioners followed the colored lines on the floor. None of them could see very well so they followed them with their heads bent down, their gaits hesitant. They looked a lot like ostriches hunting for food, what with their white feathery hair and their backs all bent.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Taking the Cake. By John von Daler

                         It was ten o'clock. The kids were safely in bed and fast asleep. It was Saturday night. We had decided to celebrate the end of the week by eating some hash cookies.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My book. By John von Daler

                My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing).

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Grand Pause. By John von Daler

                     In music they call it the Grand Pause. Not all composers have used it. You have to want to clear the air of notes, to take a break from sound. It is like being at a big party where you leave the large, crowded, noisy salon and go out onto a balcony overlooking a garden. You close the door behind you and enjoy the view for a moment in deep silence.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Honor Among Thieves. By John von Daler

                         I had recently finished a recording session with a famous writer-composer/musician-singer duo. Their songs were and are very popular in Denmark not only because of the quality of the music and lyrics, but also because of the remarkable, special way the troubadour sings. People loved the subdued humor of this pair of geniuses. I felt lucky that they had hired me as one of six or seven musicians to participate on their next record.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Staying Abreast. By John von Daler

               My older friend had been born in Copenhagen, but had moved to the provinces to become a general practitioner in a medium-sized town on a medium-sized island. Here he learned to know the whole little society and it him. He had saved the lives of the people there, heard their troubles, kept their secrets and could walk in anywhere and be greeted with both respect and familiarity.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Simplicity. By John von Daler

                 The young actor wanted to make the best of the few words he was allowed to say:
                "Coffee will be served in the lounge, Gentlemen. If the Ladies would please follow me..."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Country matters, right? By John von Daler

         First the chickens. They looked, well, Danish. Plump, pale, blond, satisfied with the life they had lived until recently. Now they were headless in Funen, stretched out on the counter in the kitchen of the old summer house.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Omniscient Author. By John von Daler

                        First the elevator opened on the second floor while I was on my way up to the sixth to the dentist's office. In walks this little guy, all pale-like, you know, with glasses, not dirty I guess, but sort of grungy, like he hadn't bathed in a while. His shirt was half untucked and buttoned in the wrong buttonholes. His hair was kind of greasy too...and well, that's all I can remember.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Propriety. By John von Daler

                Harald had smuggled a beer out of the back of the garage and positioned it behind the apple tree. He could take a swig every five minutes or so if he kept a watchful eye on his wife. Erna had him in her sights. She knew his ways and tried to wedge herself between her husband and himself as often as she could. But cleaning the house often kept her down on the floor, away from the windows.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Imagine that! By John von Daler

              The small business man strides up and down our hallway talking importantly on our cell phone. He pokes a new number out and in a long strand of gibberish and guesswork gets something started with his call, talking seriously with no one about some non-existent job. His short legs pound the floor with authority until on one side something slides out of place and he reaches down with his available hand and hitches up his diaper.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

In a state. By John von Daler

                 In my time in Denmark I almost always have lived in a part of town populated with a great number of old ladies. Frederiksberg, as it is called, houses these hatted and haughty ships of state in large, bourgeois apartment complexes. On their way to stores, doctors, or civic offices these matrons sail down the broad streets snarling and griping. Most people steer clear of them almost as if they were drunken sailors on leave.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Vows: an introduction. By John von Daler

                        The white clown, Pjerrot, spoke. All the others,  Harlequin, Columbine, the queen and the dancers listened. Formal meetings were new to them. Here in the dressing room with its mirrors and lights only gossip and inuendo had ever been expressed before.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Disbelief. By John von Daler

                      Warm, still summer nights in Denmark are beloved because they are rare but long. The sun only disappears behind the edge of the globe for a few hours and reappears as often as not just when things are getting fun.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The #Groove. By John von Daler

                     Find the groove. Stay there, a jazz musician will tell you. Do not count. Do not even think. Stay down in your comfortable trough and enjoy the pulse.
                Easy enough, you say. But how often do you find a groove?

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Mirror Man. By John von Daler

                        Thousands of people met the Mirror Man every day in #Tivoli. He stood in front of the #Pantomime Theater and rented out mostly to small children his long boxes with mirrors at each end. With these periscopes they could see #Pjerrot, #Harlequin and #Cassander over the heads, hats and coats of the grown-ups in front of them.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What to know. By John von Daler

               The apprentice had studied and worked for almost four years. His teacher, a sculptor of great fame and ability, had trained him in the secrets of their trade. At the age of sixteen, the boy now could fashion graceful statues that when finished reminded one of a wet piece of soap, smooth and shapely and allusive. He had followed every rule and command the old man had demanded of him. Now he was to sculpt his first major work.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The hole story. By John von Daler

                 There was once a little café on a broad Parisian street in Copenhagen. The café looked more like a home than a place of business. You could sit pleasantly either at mahogany tables covered with white damask clothes or in antique sofas with wooden arms and antimacassars.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Breaking Away. By John von Daler

                           Wooden floors. Smooth from the touch of hands and feet. Solid, thick ropes. Sliding beams for exercising. Walls filled with rows of bars. Windows close to the ceiling, for light and air but not for seeing in or out. High above everything on the back wall an indoors balcony connected to an apartment on the next floor. The old lady used to come out quietly to watch the class exercising. She would give you a sly nod if you looked up and noticed her.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Foursome. By John von Daler

                 We arrived unfashionably early even for Denmark: about 5:30 p.m. The owner and his lean, swarthy Italian waiters were in the middle of setting tables and filling bread baskets. This restaurant had embraced every cliché from empty chianti bottles used as candle-holders, to checkered tablecloths draped askew on wooden tables, and to the scent of garlic and parsley being fried in olive oil. Then we came in and set off yet another symbolic ritual.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Poetry and Pandemonium. By John von Daler

                     A poet and writer I knew on Langeland in the sixties used to come calling in a taxi, afraid as he was of anything and everything. He just drank himself a little cock-eyed, hired a car and went visiting. On these visits if the people he encountered did not suit him, his eyes would darken and he would mutter bitter words under his breath.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fussy Fiddling. By John von Daler

                   I have perfect pitch. How lucky for me! But sometimes it gets in my way. I turn into a bit of a pedantic schoolteacher because my ears cannot stand to hear other notes than those that are supported by western, tonal music. It is no fun being a prude when everyone else is having fun.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wide-eyed and wordless. By John von Daler

                        I was a child once, believe it or not. It was not a situation I had any desire to prolong or repeat - until I reached adulthood almost intact and turned around to survey the damage. Then and there nostalgia struck me like a large glove from the little hand of Toulouse #Lautrec, that most childlike of men, challenging me to a sentimental duel just for old times' sake. I declined, admitting to a certain cowardice, but the thought stuck with me: there is something about childhood that needs repetition.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Believing in #Blixen. By John von Daler

                          We are in #Brahms country, Baden-Baden to be exact. This being Karen #Blixen, one would suppose that the many roads through this landscape would be posted with signs reading, Symbols Ahead! or Watch Out: Falling Metaphors!, but alas we are on our own and must negotiate these byways without help.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Leaf of Grass. By John von Daler

            We were on our way to #Aarhus to hear Jean-Luc #Ponty. My girlfriend and I had pooled our resources and deposited most of them in the back pocket of her jeans; enough to pay for a ferry ticket to Samsø (an island halfway to Århus), a ticket the rest of the way to Aarhus, and enough again to pay for Jean-Luc's concert. I pocketed the rest to pay for our stay on #Samsø.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sleeping Snakes. By John von Daler

             Sometimes you hear the screams before they explode, like a warp on some kind of audiotape or a film with a soundtrack out of sync. You know it in your gut already before it happens, the sensitive part of your brain scrutinizing the reptilian part, feeling the fear coming on, preparing for the screech of agony and angst.

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