Just before the German train pulled into Kolding I looked out the window and saw bright sun light beaming down on burgeoning fields. It brought to mind a Salem Cigarette ad in my film archive in which two beautiful young people c.1964 light a cigarette and winter instantly turns into spring. Just in the last ten years I have seen a sea change in regard to smoking in Europe and beyond. Once smokey bars are now smoke free. Even in Italy and France smoking is now banned in most indoor public places. The train I am on had smoking areas just five years ago.
I am looking forward to some warm weather. This morning in Kiel I turned the corner and was hit by what felt like an arctic wind. I hunkered further down into my overcoat and strode purposely toward the train station. The last time I had made this exact walk, in November 2010, it had been through snow and ice. Back then I just made it to the station in time to catch my train. This time I arrived ten minutes early. I bought an International Herald Tribune and went to the platform. The shoulder strap broke on the Coach bag that I use for my computer case. It is the old style of military brief case with a flop over cover with a brass clasp. My wife Anne gave it to me several years ago. I got out a needle and thread and sewed it back together while waiting for the train. Having a needle and thread is a requisite for happy traveling.
It would take three trains to get me to Copenhagen. The first one was a local. On the great trestle in Rendsburg I noticed a least a hundrd workers putting a new bridge surface on the track next to the one we were on. In America the tracks are in such disrepair that speeds are limited for all the passenger trains that are capable of going much faster.
There I changed to a very nice German ICE Train. It had been a brand new design just a few years ago with tasteful wood wall panels and tables and comfortable chairs. When my ticket was checked I was given a voucher for free coffee and a snack in the dining car. Ah, this is living. Or as Phil Shallat once wrote as a line in the play Born to Maximize, “It’s almost like being alive.” I got a coffee and for the snack was offered either a croissant or a chocolate bar. I chose a king size Snickers bar. Next time I’ll get the croissant. Sitting in my compartment with my coffee, candy and Trib, I watched four serious looking German policemen pass by on the aisle. I wonder what they were looking for? maybe Springtime.
The train station at Fredericia used to be a dreary place. The underground passage to the platforms was dark, musty and cave like. Now it is dry and bright and even has art on the newly tiled walls. The store in the main lobby is now a 7-11. I was later told 7-11 has the contract to supply the stores for all the train stations in Denmark. I guess that isn’t as bad as when (it could still be the case for all I know) MacDonalds got the contract to supply all the restaurants on the toll road from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. At Fredericia I changed to a German IC train, It was also a recent design very much like the nice Danish white trains. There I found coffee, crackers and fruit. I also remembered I had a banana in my bag. Blue skies and sunshine kept being the order of the day.
Jack Stevenson met me at the Copenhagen station. I was really glad to see him. I’d first met Jack in Seattle 199o when he was living in Boston and driving around the country with films in the trunk of his car. It felt good being again in Copenhagen. I wished I could stay for a month. We walked first to the hotel where I left what little stuff I had brought with me, taking only the films to be shown , and we walked to the theater. Husets Biograf is an art theater that has been in business over thirty years. For most of that time Borge Nielsen was the heart and soul of the place. he also had a film distribution company. He finally got tired of the struggle and now Jack runs the place. It looked to me to be the same as ever but Jack pointed out some new chairs against one wall. A good crowd showed up to watch Subversive Animation. They gave me a very nice round of applause after my opening remarks. After the show a bunch of them lingered in the lobby to ask me questions. A nice time was had by all.
After the show we went to a nearby American theme restaurant where I had a really good half pounder bacon cheese burger. Hamburgers quit being a regular part of my diet a long time ago, which might explain why this one tasted so good. It even had the very correct char broiled taste that is darned hard to achieve in a standard kitchen.
In my hotel room the lights wouldn’t go on. I took the five flights of stairs down to find out why. If you could see the extremely small elevator you’d understand why. It was a claustrophobist nightmare. At the counter I had to wait behind half dozen people checking in. I was then told that the card that came with my key needed to be put in a slot inside the door in order to turn on the electricity. I suppose that saves money when every time you leave with the key all the lights go out. I am grateful I wasn’t packing around a portable refrigerator full of beer and ice cream. I walked back up the stairs toward the light. Oddly, that sort of thing is very old fashioned. In the old days of gaslight it was common for poor people to have a meter in their house they had to put nickels in to keep the gas going.