Recently I visited the cozy urban confines of Oslo, Norway to chew through research for my coming book on punk rock’s development outside the U.K. & U.S. (thanks, crowd funding). I found the people friendly, the food exquisite, and the water pressure in most bathrooms adequate. Here are a few images from my journey with the requisite commentary.
The bucolic Norwegian countryside as seen from your plane as it soars into Oslo. Unless my geography is total excrement, that body of water is the Vorma (Warm) River.
The days are long during Scandinavian Summer. Some argue they never really end. This photo was taken at three in the morning in downtown Oslo. My internal clock was definitely thrown by the lack of dark. I ended up sleeping in shifts of three or four hours throughout my stay.
Oslo’s Grand Hotel, where they award the Nobel Peace Prize. You would be surprised how close this esteemed building is to a T.G.I.Friday’s. I looked at the menu; they have the same Jack Daniels-battered crap as the T.G.I.F.s here. It all probably tastes better in Norway though since they have such strict regulations against preservatives and chemicals.
A group of teenage-looking guards at Norway's Royal Palace. There’s a whole protocol to be sure but it seems less intense than guard situations in England or the U.S. Getting a decent picture of the palace and its impressive surrounding vegetation is a little difficult—at least it is if you're me, a real not professional photo-taking guy.
Concrete proof they have more than one car in Norway. Let me also take this opportunity to dispel the myth that Norwegian money is wooden. It is not. It is paper and coins just like everywhere else.
My go-to breakfast spot on this trip was Kaffe Brenneriet, where you can get many a delectable item (like this ham sammy). They have a few locations around Oslo and their staff is quite pleasant enough I must say!
Indeed, we all demand den beste pølsa (the best icing) for our hot dogs. Your guess is as good as mine regarding the contents of this grocery store item. Not pictured: the Heinz brand American Hamburger Sauce.
Vibrant trees in Grønlandspark Botsparken, a recreation area just behind Oslo Prison. It’s the country’s largest prison but they only house three hundred fifty inmates. Might as well be an elementary school. America’s largest prison, Louisiana State Penn, is home to five thousand.
Everybody speaks English in Norway, as evidenced by this hilarious graffiti.
The fountain that anchors Sørli plass, a nice little area for reflection that rests near the intersection of several traffic arteries. Only the adrenalin junkies on mopeds gave me any kind of pause.
There’s a great three story record shop in Oslo called Råkk og Rålls and it’s the only place I’ve ever seen this beautiful piece of crap on vinyl. Didn’t buy it because I needed a concrete reason to return.
My complimentary copy of Kings Of Rock, the Gluecifer best of/rarities collection, finally arrived the other day. It was delivered by Odin himself, who took the form of my perpetually hungover Mexican landlord. I thanked the powerful Norse God by promising a blót in his honor, but he just rolled his eyes and walked away, muttering.
One of my goals when I decided to get into this writing thing for real was to someday pen the liner notes for some really awesome band’s greatest hits CD. That I achieved this goal so early in my career is sort of mind-boggling. I mean, this kind of thing is usually reserved for established “names,” right? Who am I? I’m not David Fricke or Kurt Loder or anybody. I’m the complete yutz who couldn’t even get a book about Star Wars published.*
I feared Kings Of Rock would completely fall through somehow, like the CD would get canceled or the members of Gluecifer wouldn’t like what I wrote and go with another scribe. I’d be the Pete Best of Norwegian rock band liner notes. That sad fact would drive me to become the hopeless alcoholic I always knew I could be. I’d die penniless, alone, and reeking of the cheapest liquors on the market. They’d toss my body into the East River and call it an art installation. It would be a sickening end to a sad life.
But lo, Kings Of Rock came to pass. There’s what I wrote four or five months ago, splashed across a few small glossy pages with a handful of photos for accent. They (Gluecifer & Epic/Sony) did an awesome job putting this set together. The black and gold color scheme is classy as hell. Truly regal.
The song selection? Ace. The twenty tunes on the first disc are without question the best twenty in the Gluecifer catalog. Not a damn clunker among them. The rarities disc is unfortunately a little bit shorter and omits a few true lost classics (no “Lard Ass Hagen?” WTF!!), but goddamn if the boys didn’t pull out some incredible shit I didn’t even know existed. “Plastic Hand” makes me want to wrestle an alligator while skydiving over Fort Knox with no parachute and a vial of nitroglycerin in my pocket. It’s just…that…good.
I’m flattered, honored, and extremely proud to be involved with Gluecifer’s Kings Of Rock. This is going to be the big brag until I get a book published or film some talking head crap for a goofy basic cable retrospective show. It sucks that this CD won’t be available outside Norway until the middle of Summer, but that should give you all the more reason to finally book that trip to Oslo you’ve been thinking about taking for some time now.
No? Oh, alright. I’ll just remind you when Kings Of Rock finally does land on the shores of all the countries not currently governed by Jens Stoltenberg. If you can’t wait that long, if you absolutely must have the Gluecifer greatest hits CD as soon as possible and you don’t have three grand to drop on a plane ticket, learn Norwegian and order it here.
Endless thanks to the guys in Gluecifer—Poon, Biff, Stu, Raldo, & Danny—for asking/allowing me to do this. You’ve saved me from decades of self-loathing and a Peppermint Schnapps-related death.
* I shall expand upon that hilarious and heartbreaking story another time.
The good news: Kings Of Rock, the two-disc Gluecifer best of/rarities collection that has absolutely nothing to do with Run-D.M.C. and features liner notes penned by yours truly, was officially released last week.
The bad news: It’s only available in Norway right now. The rest of the world has to wait two whole months before access to this seemingly final Glue product is granted. Sure, you could try ordering it here, but unless you’re fluent in Norwegian, you’re going to have a tough time working out the finer details (and I’m really not sure if they even accept currency other than “Krs”). At least you can peep the track listing.
Don’t feel bad, two other people in America who like Gluecifer. I haven’t even received my promo copy yet, and I wrote the goddamn liner notes! I mean, what the hell! I didn’t spend ten agonizing minutes cobbling that text together so Sony/BMG could drag their feet sending me my free copy! Jesus H. Lebowski! I’m an American! I have rights!
But I kid the massive corporate machine that’s simultaneously distributing excellent rock n’ roll and providing me with some much needed exposure. As soon as I get my complimentary Kings Of Rock, I’ll letcha know what I think of it (I’ll be honest—if something about it sucks, I’ll say so!).