Category Archives: Thoughts

Dark Comedy

I’ve been interested in dark comedy ever since I read Anthony Jeselnik‘s Tweet on September 11, 2011. Anthony wrote: Today is the 10th anniversary of my first 9/11 joke.

So with that in mind I started to come up with my own dark comedic punchlines to stories we all can relate to.

I have obviously put all of these in my vault but I wanted to share one:

When I was ten years old and the spring semester was just under way I remember that everybody in class talked about that the second Monday in January was the day of the year where most couples decided to break up. It was the day when married people decided to get a divorce.

This was of course very worrying for me as I had heard my parents argue a lot over Christmas. As I walked home from school my gut was filled with anxious butterflies and I was so nervous my hands were shaking. Perhaps it was paranoia, perhaps it was fear of the unexpected and unknown.

As I reach our house I can see through the window that my mother is sitting with a straight back on a chair at our kitchen table. I enter our house and silently take of my winter coat as I hear my mother call: “Sebastian, get in here, we need to talk!”.

“Oh no, they are getting a divorce”, I quickly think to myself as I move over to the kitchen.
“A very sad thing has come up”, says my mother. “Your dad has received the news that he has cancer”.
“Oh My God!”, I think to myself as tears are rapidly dripping down my tiny ten year old face. My father having cancer is even worse than my parents getting a divorce.

“But Mummy, what will happen now?”, I stutter as I continuously cry and soak down the kitchen table.
She looks me calmly in my wet eyes and says:
“You will have to talk to your dad about that, because we are getting a divorce”.

Nelson Mandela tributes from hell

Winston Churchill once said that “the greatest argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”.
If Winnie would have lived today he probably would’ve seen a decline in human kind. No moment in life showcase how stupid people are more than when a global celebrity dies.   Because during this 24 hour long spectrum people all over the globe gash out their deep condolences. Comedy comes through pain people so have a look at what some of your fellow human beings posted on the internets in honor of the late Nelson Mandela.

R.I.P. Mandela

Mandela#1

Geordie Shore superstar Gaz honor Nelson on Twitter

Nelson Mandelamandela thatcherCosby

To Tiger

It was late November in 2007 and the rain was falling down. My college soccer team Jacksonville University had just ended the season with a loss and Thanksgiving was only one week away. With the season coming to an end all players looked forward to enjoy a long weekend at home with their respective families. As international student athletes in the United States my Swedish friend Stefan and I were invited to our team-mate Jordan’s family home to celebrate Thanksgiving with him and his family – The Stantons. Jennifer, Dave, Jordan, Ross, Claire, and Anna embraced us with such hospitality and generosity. During that weekend we were really thankful for being able and invited to be there and to take part in this great American family tradition. It was a weekend of great fun and food. And friendship that would last for a lifetime.

It was the first time I got to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving and it was also the first time I met Merl McBee. Or as he later asked me to call him – Tiger.

Merl Jefferson McBee Jr. was a close friend to the Stanton Family and had coached Ross in debate and Jordan in soccer. Merl didn’t have a wife or any children but he played just as big part in the Stanton Family as Jennifer, Dave, Jordan, Ross, Claire, and Anna.

Merl took a liking to Stefan and I right away during that Thanksgiving weekend. He thought it was fun that we were from a place so far away. An avid globetrotter himself Merl had traveled the world many times but never made it to Scandinavia. That was about to change. He also enjoyed the fact that we were playing soccer (he refused to call it football) with his old friend and “brother” Jordan.

After that Thanksgiving weekend Merl and I kept in touch. We exchanged e-mails and being a senior citizen with plenty of time on his hands Merl was able to watch our team Jacksonville University play a few games during the season that was to follow.

A lot of people asked Jordan, Stefan, and I who this “old” man was and why we were friends with him. We explained the story behind it all, how we had met, and what a great person Merl was. Some people still thought it was weird and some thought it was funny. And perhaps it was. But you learn a lot from people that has lived for 70 odd years in comparison to the usual 20-something talking heads you have a dialogue with on a daily basis.

In 2008 we once again celebrated Thanksgiving in Kentucky with the Stanton family. Merl was of course present and I remember that we all visited his condo. He was so proud of his movie collection and his extremely huge television. To this day it is still the largest TV I have ever seen. I’ve been to movie theaters that had smaller screens than that one. We watched “I’m Not There” – the movie about Bob Dylan. Merl didn’t like Dylan. Nor did he like The Beatles or Springsteen. We really didn’t have that many popular culture references in common. Merl liked history. He was a very religious person and his favorite contemporary President was George W. Bush. In many ways we were each others complete opposites. But it didn’t matter. Our friendship continued and Merl kept sending those e-mails every week updating me on his life and I kept sending mine back. Not as long, not as detailed, but it was such a great tradition we had. A tradition that would last for over five years.

In 2009 Merl visited Stockholm and Sweden. He spent ten days in Stockholm and he loved it. My brother and I took care of him during these days and Merl got to go to a lot of restaurants, meet many of our friends, spend time in museums, and visit the Royal Palace. Which he loved immensely. He even got interviewed by the largest daily newspaper in Sweden, Dagens Nyheter, about his time in Sweden. He said he liked it “but it was too expensive”.

Perhaps he was thinking about the dinner we had at TGI Friday’s. We were a gathering of around seven people and Merl, as the generous man he is, offered to pay the bill.
When the dinner was over and the bill came Merl looked extremely surprised. He was in shock. The bill of 2000 Swedish Kronors was in Merl’s mind a bill of 2000 American Dollars. Since he knew TGI Friday’s was an american restaurant he expected the bill to be in dollars. It was just the next day when he finally asked us that we could ease him down by saying: “Yeah Tiger, it was expensive, but not that expensive”.

During that week Merl was very specific that we were to call him Tiger when we spoke to him or called for him. The tiger was his favorite animal and he didn’t really have a liking for his name. He said it was okay to call him Merl but when we spoke directly to him he wanted to be called Tiger. Of course we all said. You are Tiger.

Tiger, sleep tight. I’m going to miss your e-mails, your phone-calls, your kind letters, your updates on Facebook, and everything you have done for me, my family, and my friends. But most of all I am going to miss you – a dear dear friend. Tiger and I

Merl Jefferson McBee Jr. passed away at 1.45 a.m. on August 21, 2013, in Prospect, Kentucky, USA.

Update: Here is a picture from Merl’s funeral with some of his friends wearing some of the many hats that he used to wear. A very beautiful photo. 

hats

All things must pass

George Harrison once said, and I quote, “It doesn’t take long from being 17 to 57. Forty years just goes like that. You know? Now I understand about 90 year old people who feel like teenagers. You know? ‘Cause nothing changes. It’s just the body that changes. The soul in the body is there at birth and is there at death. And the only thing that’s George Harrisonchanged is the bodily condition. So, you know? All this stuff, about where, you know, age-groups fit or don’t fit, or where the music belonging to age-groups fit or doesn’t fit is stupid. All it does is limit the potential of the marketplace or the audience.

I find this quote great from three different angles. First of all George sums up the extreme pace of time, and the fact that it flies. I can feel that it is extremely worrying that my own take on this is that each new year passes by faster than the one before. But at the same time I find a strong connection with him in the sense that I feel the same in the sense that I am the same person now as I was five, ten, or even fifteen years ago. Of course I’ve changed in bits here and there but I still carry the same dreams, hopes, and beliefs. Thirdly George attacks the people that appoint certain aspects of music to different age groups, may it be genres, bands, artists, or whatever. I can also interlink with this mindset and at times here in Stockholm when we have had Justin Bieber and Bruce Springsteen sell out three shows each within two weeks the topic is more than relevant. Of course each person that listens to music, and let’s be honest, any human being with a soul should have an interest in music, goes through phases. But I do not think it has anything to do with age, I think it has more to do with more important things that just a number.

Here are four songs that I always turn back to and listen to when I need a little bump on the shoulder, a boost up from the sofa, or just a quick fix in what we call life.
They are not my favorite songs, no, but listening to them will always make me feel good, even great.

Dire Straits – Walk Of Life
Just the synthesizer intro gives me the goose bumps. So simple, yet so great. And this version with Eric Clapton on the side. It’s from 1988 and the birthday party of Nelson Mandela. Speaking of a different kind of walk of life.

Patti Smith – People Have The Power Patti Smith
Any song which will highlight the small over the big, the people over the corps, or David over Goliath, always gives me hope of that anything can be reachable. During this epic anthem Patti Smith truly does so when proclaiming:
People have the power, the power to dream, to rule, to wrestle the Earth from fools but it’s decreed the people rule, but it’s decreed the people rule. Listen, I believe everything we dream can come to pass through our union, We can turn the world around, we can turn the Earth’s revolution

Oasis – Whatever
This song was never released on an actual album, however I reckon it’s one of their best ones. When those first chords ring out from the guitar a feeling of freedom washes over me in an awesome wave. When I listen to this song anything is possible. Every single dream I’ve ever had and aspired for can still happen. And it’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

George Harrison – What is Life
Most people would probably state Here comes the Sun as their favorite uplifting song penned by the late George Harrison. I don’t agree. His album All Things Must Pass released in 1970 holds an absolute gem in the truly great What is Life.

Happy 4th!

When I knew that I was going to move abroad after my final year of high-school I put duct tape over the lower bottom of my television screen in my one-bedroom apartment in Norrköping, Sweden. I did this to prevent myself from reading the subtitles. Needles to say the amount of people that wanted to attend weekly movie nights at my place drastically dropped. It didn’t really matter that much though. In my mind I was already somewhere else. Seeing new places, meeting new faces. I was moving to America.

When I arrived in the late summer of 2004 I fell in love right away. The conservative and religious Columbia, South Carolina was in many ways the complete opposite of the liberal and agnostic northern country I had spent my first 18 years of life in. I don’t know if I was in need of a change in milieu because I’m neither conservative nor believe in any God. But hospitality are the southerners great forte and I felt right at home.

I didn’t end up in South Carolina, but I stayed in America for almost five years. When I moved back to Sweden in 2009 I didn’t know then – but I think I do now – I had just experienced the best years of my life.

I will not reminisce about it – not further more anyway. But on a day like this, on a day like the 4th of July I really wish I was there again. In a place where everything is bigger. In a place where people bell out the national anthem like it’s the final song they’ll ever sing. In a place where you walk inside with your shoes on. In a place where the first thing you are asked when you enter someone’s home is: “can I get you something to drink?”. In a place where people tailgate. In a place where people always pick either or. In a place where everyone believe they are going places. In a place where refills are always for free.

In 2012 I was able to spend the 4th of July in Newport Beach, CA, with some of my best friends. Our host Mike wanted to start the day accordingly. We had a pretty good time.

Today I have unfortunately not been able to really grasp the 4th of July atmosphere being inside an office in Stockholm for most of the day. But you can experience a great 4th of July even here in Sweden. I remember in 2008 when Bruce Springsteen came for a visit.

When talking about America it’s obviously a fair thing to say that there are always two sides to every coin.America Fuck Yeah However I will only look at one. At least today. I am also certain I would’ve posted something like this on Midsummer about my great love of Sweden if I still lived in the States. That’s how I am. The grass is greener…

The sun also rises

With lovely music flowing through my ears and the fresh taste of vanilla and chocolate ice-cream blending together perfectly in my mouth I gaze out over a green field of grass. Children play, young adults kick about a ball dreaming to be the next Zlatan Ibrahimović, and others just grasp the pure moment of relaxation in the sun. I realize how much happier I am during these summer months. Behind these sunglasses I close my eyes and think to myself; life ain’t that bad after all. Everything will work out well.
The sun also rises
As I open my eyes after a solid second of joy a chilly wind flows through my hair. It makes me contemplate. I look up to the sky. In the far horizon clouds are gathering. I think the same thoughts I always do this time a year. And I hate myself for it. September is less than three months away. Winter’s always coming around the corner. Then I shake my head. I won’t be having this negative approach. At least not today. I take a second bite of the ice cream. It tastes great. It’s a Saturday and I’m going out with friends. Life can’t be better. These are the days that never end. Enjoy them.

Vasaparken, Stockholm, Sweden. June 8, 2013. 

A Graceless Journey

This journey starts on a rainy summer day in 2011. I was locked inside, laying in bed, slightly hungover, watching the world outside my room through my Twitter-feed, while listening to damp heavy raindrops dripping down the window. Suddenly I come across a link to a video with what to me was a completely new band called Sulk.

What I then hear when I press play are John Squire-esque guitars, Suede-choirs, a deep bass over a heavy hitting drum, and an overall sound that could be taken straight outta Nowhere by Ride. It was a mash-up of everything I loved. Mixed together it felt new and fresh. I was mesmerized.  The song I was listening to was called Wishes. And I kept listening to it while the leaves switched colour, and those raindrops turned into snowflakes.

The more I listened to Wishes the heavier became my addiction. I needed more, and I needed stronger dosage. I told my friends about this new band and when I realized that they too loved them, the stronger became our friendship. And the stronger became my eagerness to hear more from Sulk. A while after Wishes was released second single Back In Bloom hit the shelves. And me oh my, this was just as good. I bought both singles on 7 vinyl and I even got one of them signed by all band members, as a gift from a lovely lady I saw at the time. Everyone in my circle of trustees knew I was hooked, and there was really no way out but to keep the consumption flow going. Wishes and Back In Bloom

I started searching the net for material. I listened to remixes of the songs, read article after article, followed the band on Facebook and Twitter, watched all the videos I could find from gigs and also from the earlier constellation of the line-up when the band was called The Ruling Class.

Days, weeks, and months went by and all while I was waiting for Sulk to release their long awaited debut album, life happened.
Liam Sulk I started to question why no record label had picked them up. Is the music I prefer and listen to that dead? I started questioning my own musical taste. Was I wrong? But how could I be since not only did all my friends love them (the ones which have a musical taste I agree with), they also got the approval from my other peers. Not the ones I have a pint and listen to music with, but the ones that write the music I listen to while I have a pint. Mani and Jon

But as 2012 became 2013 Sulk announced that their debut album, titled Graceless, would be released on April 15. My feelings to this surprised me. I did not feel the happiness and relief I had believed I would. Rather I felt a feeling of emptiness and fear. Is this it? Is the journey over now? And what if the record is shit? Obviously I pre-ordered the record, both on vinyl and CD, and when I came home after work on Monday, April 15, postman Pat had delivered it to me. I opened the same window I had been staring out of when I first heard the band in the summer of 2011, almost 20 months ago. This time the sun was shining. I pressed play. Sulk Graceless

So was it any good? Well, that you’re gonna have to figure out for yourselves. But I will tell you this, it was well worth the journey getting there.
Johnny Marr and Sulk