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Category: Sweden is different than America (page 1 of 4)

“Do we really want to change America into Sweden?”

“Do we really want to change America into Sweden?” –Bill O’Reilly


It’s cinnamon bun day in Sweden!


One of Stockholm’s filthy, disgusting, dangerous subway stations.

My Old Kentucky Home


Five years ago

Five years ago I was a candidate for Kentucky’s State Senate.

Scenes from My Real Job

Sometimes at my job at Bonnier Magazines I design giant refrigerator magnets for our magnetic conference room.

Sometimes we have after-work parties at the office with beer and tacos. Any time Mexican food surfaces in Sweden is okay with me.


Sometimes some mariachi singers show up. ¡Fan vad bueno! These guys are more rare than the food!


Weekly stampede at the socialist liquor store

Every Saturday afternoon at around 2:30 the state-run liquor stores are jam-packed with people. At 3:00 on Saturday, they close until Monday morning. On weekdays they close at 7:00 every evening.

Historic Stockholm Imagery

I have recently become addicted to a website called Stockholms Källan.

The site is an amazing treasure trove of historical images of Stockholm. You can search by names or locations to find old photos and documents relating to whatever you’re interested in.

This image is from a 1960’s short film called “Ditt Stockholm” (“Your Stockholm”). It is a melodramatic public service film made to discourage people from littering and vandalizing in the city.

I found it wildly entertaining, not just because of the old timey views of the city and the people, but from the perspective of Swedish filmmaking and its characteristic qualities of sparse timing and minimalism.

Here’s the film. Enjoy!

Good morning, Vasastan.

Good morning, Vasastan.

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore really gets into her roles. She learned Swedish for this L’Oreal advertisement.

Warning on Swedish cigarettes

“Find help to quit smoking: ask your doctor, the pharmacist, or the Stop Smoking line 020-84 00 00.”

In Bloom

American Party

“Dress Like an American” Party at Iida and Erik’s in Haninge. This was easy for me.

Pancakes and pea soup? Must be Thursday!

A week ago, it was Thanksgiving in America. Here in Sweden it was just another Thursday.

But every Thursday in Sweden brings with it a tradition many times older than Thanksgiving. It’s even many times older than the United States. Thursday in Sweden means one thing: pancakes and pea soup.

Swedish pancakes are very thin, unlike American pancakes. They are more doughy than crêpes but thin enough to be folded. They’re served with whipped cream and fruit preserves; typically strawberry, raspberry, blueberry or cloudberry.

The pea soup that accompanies them is not necessarily green. It is sometimes made with yellow peas. The pea soup in Sweden almost always has pork or ham in it, so a lot of people like to season it with mustard. Because I’m vegetarian, I skip over the pea soup on Thursdays and go straight to a double serving of pancakes.

The tradition of eating pancakes and pea soup on Thursdays goes back hundreds of years to when Sweden was more heavily populated with Catholics. I’m talking like more than 500 years ago.

Back when the Catholics were running the show and they were fasting on Fridays, the day before required a big, hearty meal. A large serving of meaty pea soup topped with a heavy dessert of sweet pancakes and even sweeter toppings was just the trick to fill up those Swedish bellies for the long haul through to Saturday morning.

After the country’s modern borders with Denmark were drawn and the Protestant Reformation took hold, the Catholic religion was largely pushed outside the borders. Today, most religions would find Sweden to be a really hard place to find followers. However, the tradition of pancakes and pea soup has survived.

Most restaurants in Stockholm have pancakes and pea soup on the lunch menu every Thursday. This meal is also still served to members of the Swedish military each week. (What? Sweden has a military?) Yes, and the country also has a king. In fact, the official name of the country is “Kingdom of Sweden.” (Sure it is.)

This dietary tradition has even claimed a notable victim. In 1577, the 43-year-old King Erik XIV, a Lutheran (gasp!) died after eating a bowl of pea soup tainted with arsenic.

Personally, I haven’t tasted any poison in my Thursday meals, but I did just now get a kick out of using the word “tainted.” Sheesh, I’d want to die, too, if someone did that to my soup. Ew.

My co-worker Fredrik is seen photographing his Swedish pancakes while sporting a traditional Scandinavian fisherman’s sweater (popularized by Pippi Longstocking, so it is sometimes called by her name “Pippi-sweater”)

Scaffolding 2

The scaffolding across the street has completely surrounded the building and is now going over the top.

This is a sequel to my previous action-packed report: Scaffolding.

Garbage chute instructions

A handsome, vintage, framed note in the hallway of this apartment building provides pointers on how to properly use the garbage chute.


Today’s Big Story in Sweden: US Election

Here’s a sampling of what’s on the national news websites in Sweden tonight, as voting is underway in the United States.

From Dagens Nyheter (“The Daily News”)

Headline: Obama or Romney? – now the question is decided

“Polling is in high gear, campaign workers are sprinting and the presidential candidates are making lightning-fast visits to as many states as possible … it’s Election Day. Some people say Obama will safely remain, while many others say that the outcome is quite uncertain. has continuous reporting.”


From Svenska Dagbladet a.k.a. SvD (“Swedish Daily Paper”)

Headline: Follow SvD’s election coverage – all day

“The score between the candidates, the final sprint and unexpected happenings – Svenska Dagbladet’s reporters report all day.”

On the righthand side there is a box where you can “ask a question” of one of the reporters they have covering the election in Washington, Chicago and here in Stockholm.

The latest report says that voters are now at the polls in Arlington, Virginia. It mentions that Arlington neighbors Washington, DC, and is home to Arlington National Cemetery where many soldiers are buried, “the brothers John F. and Robert Kennedy and boxer Joe Louis.”


From Dagens Nyheter

Headline: How the US election is determined

“How many Electoral votes each state has.”

I really enjoy this graphical representation of the Electoral Map. The geography of the country doesn’t matter as much to Swedes, so it is graphically less important than the number of Electoral votes.

You can probably figure out the rest… “Safe win for Obama” is solid blue, “Leaning toward Obama” is shaded blue, et cetera. In grey are the “scale master states,” that is, the states that can tip the scale in either direction.


From SVT (Swedish Television, state-run public television network)

Headline: Right now: Romney has landed in Ohio

“ is reporting minute by minute: Voting is underway in the US. Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan are continuing their campaign.”

The smaller headlines under the photos at the bottom are, left to right:

Follow the election on SVT! (Reporter Claes Elfsberg is pictured; “Ask the experts about the election!”)

“The Boss is important” (Bruce Springsteen is pictured with Obama; “Economists say vote for Obama”)

How the election is decided (“The important states; All swing states; If the election ends undecided…?”)

TV: The world on the election (SVT’s correspondents are reporting opinions from around the world; “Obama perfume in Kenya”) Yep, that what it says!

Stockholm has one Halloween store

As we’ve discussed in previous years, Halloween in Sweden is not what it is in America. But it’s getting there. (See Halloween in Sweden, 27 October 2009)

I’ve noticed an increase in the excitement and decorations for Halloween just within the three autumns I’ve been living in Stockholm.

The city has one main store where people go to get costumes and supplies. The store, located centrally on Drottninggatan, is called Butterick’s.

Butterick’s opened there in 1903 and is now a 3-story complex which begins at street level and goes down two more floors.

The place is a madhouse in the weeks leading up to Halloween and even has a line queued up outside. A guard at the door lets more people in as other people leave.

A line of people waiting to get into Butterick’s on 30 October 2012

The terrifying ghost above Drottninggatan in front of Butterick’s

Julia + hot toddy

My soon-to-be wife has her first Kentucky bourbon hot toddy, while looking as cinematic as ever.

Miss Holsclaw was at lunch

“Well, Miss Holsclaw was at lunch so I just give Tammy a roll of dimes and she run to the libary and just use they mimeograph for the struction sheets.”

Blog Awards

In a cab after the Swedish Blog Awards, on the way to the afterparty with my friend, documentary filmmaker Moa Junström.


My co-worder Fredrik Vindelälv and I gambled on the outcome of Vecko Revyn magazine’s annual Blog Awards.

He scored 50% correct, which is pretty impressive since the awards are voted on by internet readers and there’s really no telling what people think.

Fredrik and I both guessed correctly that Sofia “PT-Fia” Sjöström would take home the prize for Health and Exercise Blog of the Year. I liked her because her picture is on my Special K cereal box and I designed her blog header.

In the photo above you see my other co-worker, Linnea Isaksson (of Vecko Revyn) on the left awarding the prize to PT-Fia on the right.

Standing in the middle is Maria Montazami, the hostess of the Blog Awards, who rose to fame in Sweden a few years ago from starring in a reality TV show about Swedish women who are married to men in Hollywood.

All in one lifetime

All in one lifetime: member of the Teamsters and the Swedish Journalists’ Union.

Oh, and one time I bought Claire Danes a bourbon and Coke.

And I ran for senate in Kentucky. And this other time I was a newspaper photographer in a film that was nominated for Best Picture.

Oh I almost forgot about the time Annika Norlin looked at me.

Wait, did I mention that I saw Steve Jobs in 2003 and his assistant stopped me from showing him my Apple tattoo? Right. That.

All in one lifetime.

And I played over 100 shows in Europe with my band. Yep.

And when I was a kid I met Robert Crippen, commander of the first Space Shuttle flight.

And Mr T.

And I saw Nirvana in concert.

And Liberace.

And Jerry Lee Lewis five times.

And Johnny Cash twice.

Yeah, so the point is, I’m in the Swedish Journalists’ Union now.

10,000 kronor on Cissi Wallin

I’m putting 10,000 kr on Cissi Wallin in the Snackis category in the Swedish Blog Awards.

My co-worker Fredrik Oinonen and I are enjoying an after work beer while doing some betting. We both agree that PT-Fia is a sure bet for Hälso- och Träningsblogg.

Okay, honestly, there’s no money exchanging hands. This is just friendly wagering.


Ran into Liv Ullman and Max Von Sydow in the subway near Filmstaden.

Swedish Royal Institute of Technology

Today I’m talkin’ to kids at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) about independent publishing on the iPad and the *massive* audiences available for publishers who interview their friends and non-famous people.

Tre Portar 25 årsfest

I’m at a party at Moa Junström‘s house which is a collective where basically everybody who lives in this apartment building is drinking and dancing and the DJ is playing Siouxsie and the Banshees and there’s a bar and you can buy food with an SMS.

Moa hanging at one of the apartments set up as theme bars for her collective apartment building’s 25th anniversary.

This apartment bar obviously has a German theme. They are selling all German beers and snacks.

Dance party in the cafeteria!


This is the building I live in. The tallest building in all of Gubbängen!

It’s 8 stories tall. That would be 9 stories in America. The ground floor in Europe is typically numbered 0 instead of 1.



The world’s smallest margaritas. Only $16 each at Urban Deli here in Stockholm.

It sounds expensive, but the price includes health care, bilingual training and college education for everyone in the restaurant. It also comes with clean, safe streets. There’s also very little tipping in Swedish restaurants because people get paid a living wage.

The price also includes salt and a slice of lime.

…and cut