Monday, November 03, 2008

I caught the Stockholm syndrome

I've spent the past week in Stockholm and I got to say I liked it very much.  Before going there all I knew about the Swedes was that they were blond, peaceful, and they named their children after IKEA furniture.  OK, maybe it's the other way around, but honestly what sane person names their child Tjörn? 


I found Stockholm to be a lovely city.  The people are educated, laid back and terribly attractive.  One thing that surprised me about the country was how design conscious everyone seemed to be.  There's a minimalistic aesthetic to the buildings and interior design in Stockholm that is a delight for my Japanese eyes.  I have no idea what the term "post-modern" actually means but that's how I would describe it:  "Post-modern". 

One of the things I did while I was in Stockholm was visit the city's Army museum.  This was probably the most gruesome museum I had ever gone to.  The museum is laid out in chronological order and started with an exhibit of wild monkeys tearing each other apart.  The tag-line was "War is natural.  Even monkeys go to war".  Honestly, a bit surprising from a country that hasn't been in a major war for close to a hundred years.  The first section of the museum that focused on Viking plunderers and the great Northern war were action packed with bloody wax figures depicting Medieval battles and tales of sickness and disease.  Awesome.  If you visit the Army museum in Stockholm (and I recommend you do) know that it is quite front loaded.  This is probably one of the most peaceful nations on earth after all.  The final exhibit in this museum of war feature (I kid you not) Swedes sitting on a couch watching Americans fighting the Vietnam on CNN. 

The other exciting thing I did in Stockholm was to visit the Nobel museum.  My childhood hero was the great inventor Thomas Edison partly partly because he was from New Jersey.   If I grew up in Europe, I may have been an Alfred Nobel fan.  Here is a certified genius who had over 300 patents including one for dynamite which he discovered after a year or so after exploding his brother during an experiment with Nitroglycerin.  He made a fortune on the stuff but couldn't translate any of it to gettin' with the ladies.  The closest thing he to a wife was an unrequited 20 year crush on an impoverished Austrian heiress.  Nobel died alone, without children, family or friends and wrote his last will and testament himself (as most scholars believe) as a big "F-You" to his heirs and lawyers who'd otherwise get his gigantic stack of cash.  That's the story of the Nobel prize - a socially inept eccentric genius with a penchant for blowing people up.  Gangster.

On a completely unrelated note, the Nobel museum sells these really awesome chocolate gold coins that look like Nobel prizes.  They're delicious because they're priceless.  Pics of my time in Sweden can be found on my Flickr page.  Enjoy!