An Ark has stranded

An Ark has stranded in Tomteboda. Most Stockholmers have probably noticed it already. The new head office "Arken" for Swedish Posten was inaugurated in 2003. It’s an amazing box, a "think-tank" made of steel and glass. Lots of glass. Tens of thousands of square meters, as a matter of fact. An entire career for a window-cleaner!

Eye-catching from the outside, fascinating on the inside, the view over Stockholm from the office of CEO Erik Olsson on the tenth floor is magnificent. This complex actually contains two "buildings" with connecting footbridges and hanging conference cocoons (!) from which you can gaze down into a canyon between the lower floors. Unless, of course, heights make you feel dizzy in which case you might prefer to concentrate on something else… Seriously, a few employees had difficulties upon moving into Arken. Their training included visiting places like Katarinahissen.

Members of the art club Konstföreningen Stockholm were invited on April 27 to a presentation and a walk through Arken. The building has been decorated with hundreds of items. Interestingly, no new art was purchased. Instead, Posten decided to preserve and move pieces of art from other locations which have been abandoned, such as the old main post office on Vasagatan.

Fortunately, Arken is partly open for the public. This includes all three restaurants. Take the subway to Västra Skogen followed by a ten minute walk. But hurry or you’ll miss the wood anemones! Only time will tell whether Arken remains a success. Meanwhile, anyone interested in new Swedish architecture should pay a visit.


Thieves United

Fare-dodgers in Stockholm “cannot choose to walk 5 kilometers if it does not suit us to pay the fare”. How thoughtful! Is the concept limited to stealing public transportation or does the philosophy include taking just about anything rather than paying for it? Since the anarchists are part of this organization I suppose that answers the question. 

Meanwhile, honest citizens have to pay 600 SEK for a 30-day travel-card in order to pay for trains, buses and salaries as well as replacing equipment that has been vandalized. And, on top of all this, paying for those who won't.

As if this outrage wasn't enough we're having a pseudo-debate on whether or not ticket inspectors in Stockholm are too tough. Violence has occurred when fare-dodgers won't stop and identify themselves. This, we're told, is the ticket-inspectors' fault.


Let’s have a ball

Live from Kiev, the Eurovision Song Contest! Who would have believed that? Habitual EU-bashers, kindly explain how you would have brought all these people together in no time at all after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Without the Union? Yeah right. 

This year it’s once again time for Sweden. Singer-dancer Martin Stenmarck will sweep Kiev and sufficiently large parts of the continent off their feet to bring home Sweden’s fifth victory in ESC.

Let’s have a ball 
The winner takes it all 

Good luck, Martin!


This won’t do, Fredrik

This winter has seen a shift in the political opinion polls. The socialists are no longer comfortably controlling the electorate. September 2006 could be the most uncertain Swedish election since 1991. The recently launched Feminist Initiative could help by further weakening the left. 

Still. The political blocks are almost equal in size. After a winter when practically everything has gone disastrously wrong for the Labor party, the left is still supported by 48%. In 2006 the right-wing Alliance will have a tough time with the media, being carefully (and rightfully) scrutinized as an alleged governing alternative. Meanwhile the Labor party will roll out their big guns in an unrivaled campaign machinery. Going into this fight opposition leader Reinfeldt would need a significant lead. 50-48 won’t do.


Cosmic music takes me home

”Anyone mentioning Grieg and Sibelius should also include Lundsten.” 

This generous statement was made when Swedish composer Ralph Lundsten was awarded in Germany a few years ago. 

Lundsten has created heavenly music for decades in his intriguing Andromeda studio south of Stockholm. He was among the pioneers of Swedish electronic music in the sixties. Many of his fellow composers turned inwards, cultivating electronic music as a highly introvert form of expression. Lundsten’s music is inclusive, embracing the contemporary as well as traditional themes. 

My personal favorites are his seven Nordic Symphonies. Wherever I go in this world, Lundsten’s harmonies conjure images of the Nordic seasons and take me right back home.


Winds of change

There’s something in the air. The Union has grown to include 25 member states with even more waiting at the doorstep. There is true hope for peace and stability in this war-torn corner of the world. Traveling across borders is no big deal. Yesterday’s enemy could become your best trading-partner. As usual, changes are met with reluctance. What if my favorite sausage becomes more expensive? Why can’t we just keep our old traditional coins forever? What if my job is moved off-shore? One of the most important tasks for our national leadership will be to explain the realities of globalization, stay the course when the winds of change blow stronger and encourage people to research, study and become more competitive to make use of our new possibilities. Prime Minister Persson hasn’t even tried. Our next leadership will have to.