April '98

Drama in Denmark!!!  Oh sure, you say?  That comfortable clean & 
cozy little bastion of safety and security?  Aw, come on! 

But Really, REALLY--we've got a national general strike going on 
in the peaceful easy-going laid-back little land of Dk, the labor 
unions have shut down the country until their demands are met, 
and this means that most transport is affected one way or another: 
truck traffic is blockaded, the airports are closed, busses not 
running, sanitation services out of action, and there is no more 
fuel being delivered to the gas stations, which have begun to run 

There are quite a few ramifications to having transport shut down: 
food cannot get to supermarkets, the post office has run out of 
gas, large institutions are shutting down because of lack of 
maintenance, people can't get to work, and businesses with 
spoilable goods (like food & flowers) are going to lose their 

The strike started last Monday, and last weekend there was a run 
on the supermarkets for all the fresh food that was going to be 
unavailable: milk, meat, bread, etc.  Hoarding Fever swept across 
the land, and when Marianne and I went shopping Saturday there 
were already only empty shelves to chose from. 

It was hysteria--Danes are really hooked on a very high living 
standard, threaten that and they react like it's World War III.  
There's been an outcry against the hoarding, because there's 
enough food to go around for weeks...unless everyone starts 
hoarding.  Those who could were spending thousands of kroner and 
buying 20-30 liters of milk, hundreds of kilos of meat, and those 
who didn't have that kind of ready cash on hand were not able to 
buy more than normal, and when they get their next check, maybe 
next week, there will be no food left to buy.  Pretty antisocial 
behavior for one of the world's most successful Socialist 
countries.  Every family for themself!

But nobody's really complaining about it all, they're all sort 
of enjoying this drama break in their everyday ho-hum lives, "Oh 
wow, what's going to happen next?"  Uncharted waters, adventure, 
hone those mighty hunter hoarding skills, outsmart the rest of 
the herd in the hunt for the next (maybe last) tank of gas.

And let me mention what the Danish workers are craving, for which 
this great strike is being held: they want another week of 
vacation, which is to say, 6 weeks instead of a measely 5.  That 
must seem pretty extravagant to Americans.

There's already no more gasoline to be found, and the city 
traffic has thinned out quite nicely--except for bicycles, that 
traffic is growing.  My van runs on diesel, which we can probably 
still get for a couple of days more...when that's gone, well I 
guess I'll get a few days off.  

I still have lots of work, even though the airport is closed, 
because we keep getting calls from companies who need special 
errands run here and now due to the strike.  Freja is not 
striking, but we're slowed down by blockades, and when the fuel 
is gone we'll grind to a halt along with everyone else.  I don't 
have the van at home now since several colleagues are using it 
to commute with now that gasoline cars are unusable.

But things aren't really so bad--yet--the trains are running, as 
well as the ferries to and from Sweden, some busses anyway, and 
food is showing up in the stores again (I even found some ground 
beef today!).  And the weather suddenly got good: bicycling is a 
t-shirt pleasure instead a rainstorm torture session.

Tomorrow is the 1st of May, the big Workers's Day in Europe (like 
Labor Day), when they usually have big outdoor festivals.  Here 
in København there's always a big May Day happening in 
Fælledparken (Copenhagen's "Central Park"), with entertainment, 
music, socialistic speeches, hot dogs and beer, etc. 

But this time there's no transportation for the tents, the bands, 
the hot dogs, or--worst of all!--the beer.  We'll see what 
happens.  It's usually kind of fun though, sort of like a rock 
festival, so I'll go if I get off work early enough (pretty 

As for the impact of all this on family & friends: Marianne has 
been away from it all, she's been on "Koloni" with her 
kindergarten kids, up north in a beach house for 4 days, but she 
comes back to the big city today.  Mads lives in a world of
teenage parties and computer games, he won't notice what's going 
on until we can't buy any food, and then he might focus in.  My 
Malaysian friend, William, just flew back from visiting his 
family on Borneo, not knowing of the strike, and his jumbo jet 
had to land in Amsterdam instead of København and 400 passengers 
were shuttled to Kbh (think what that must cost SAS).  

Anyway, that's what's going on in Wonderful Copenhagen (driving 
tourists are advised to tank up in Germany BEFORE they come into 
Denmark, hungry tourists should bring a lunch, those coming for 
Tivoli should maybe do Euro Disney instead), the question being: 
for how long will it go on?  Wow, what Drama!



May '98
Ok, the Strike is over.  It only lasted 10 days, during which all 
the gas stations ran out of gas, so traffic thinned out quite 
nicely, except for the kilometer-long lines of cars at the few 
independant stations which had a few drops of gas left.  Many 
items, like bread, yeast, milk, disappeared from the stores and 
still aren't quite back to normal supplies.  

I worked all through it...we weren't striking, although we were 
affected by the airport being closed and the lack of fuel.  I 
was down to my last 25-liter jug of diesel, hoping to get a 
couple of days off when I couldn't drive any more.

But it never really got down to the nitty-gritty.  It was 
inconvenient, exciting at first, but mostly just unhandy after 
a bit.  This is Denmark, nobody is really going to suffer here.  
The government stepped in and cancelled the strike when the 
hospitals & schools began to shut down. They got the workers an 
extra conditional 3 days, a compromise that pissed off the 
unions and relieved the rest of us.

This document is based upon letters I sent to friends while the 
strike was going on.  American friends, from "the land of the 
free", were surprised that anyone could hope for more than 2 
weeks of vacation.  Among those friends are Ron & Kippy, who 
live in Chiapas, Mexico--where the Zapatistas are currently in 
revolution against the Mexican government.  Kippy sent me an 
e-mail which put the Dramatic Danish Strike into a world 

"Finally managed to steal a moment in cyberspace to let you know 
that I have "survived" your comic book, (AQ) and here I am, 
pondering THE COSMIC JOKE as 46,000 HECTARES of Chiapas burn 
(not to mention the rest of Mexico) in its worst drought, in the 
middle of a mean war that has the very poorest and noblest 
pitted against the very richest and cruelest. I wish it were a 
comic book, but people are dying, as they struggle for their 
basic human rights. It is mean and hard and sad.  In the midst 
of this, we are here, carrying on.

We are making music for children's feet: "Para Estos Pies Que 
Aún Caminarán Mucho".  Food for refugees, clothes, livelihood 
projects.  There are 11,000 homeless in our neighborhood.

Armageddonquest is in my heart: never give up!!! This is ALL, 
after all, temoporary.  The rains (absent now since December) 
WILL return.

So, we can't travel the roads, or they'll jail us. We can't 
speak, or they'll deport us. We can't act, outright. All we can 
do is make music, which we do. And plant seeds also.

Today we travel north to give a workshop (Ron) on planting seeds, 
restoring fertility, preventing erosion, and the like. I go 
along to take pictures, make drawings, make friends.  We are 
practicing Buddhadharma, applied, anthropology, applied, and 
feeding people in a big way. We are happy, even in the face of, 
in spite of, the Mexicans destroying Mexico.

How are the Danes doing with their national strike for their 
12th week of paid vacations?  Can you see the sky there?  Is it 
still blue?"
So: ought the Danes be ashamed of their demand for such a luxurious commodity as More Freedom? Or ridiculed for striking and throwing a whole country into chaos for so unserious a cause when there are people fighting and dying for their very survival? Are Danes so spoiled and pampered here that they can't appreciate how good they have it? Naw, the Danes are all right. The shame is that of the Mexican government--they don't have to do what they're doing. It's a rich country, the problem being that all the profit is skimmed off the top for those few Spanish families who run the show and will never share the wealth. Denmark actually puts into perspective a social standard that CAN be achieved, and without exploiting their own people (or anyone else) to do it. The whole world COULD be sharing such standards instead of those inflicted upon Mexicans/Africans/Armenians/Indonesians/etc. The Danes weren't given what they have: they had to get it by organizing the workers, by striking, by enduring enemy occupation in WWII, by forming a fair and socially responsible government. A process that Mexico, and places like it, need to go through yet. Buena suerte.