24 August 2010

In Vino Veritas - Bicycle Poetry


After posting the previous translated text from 1934, I remembered some footage I have from a summer street party a couple of years ago. My friend Henrik grabbed my camera and was walking around interviewing people, asking them "What's the best thing about the bicycle?"

He filmed one chap, rather late in the evening with all the inebriation that involves, and the result is one I've never quite forgotten. A chap fires off a volley of urban poetry completely from the hip. In vino veritas indeed.

He starts in English and then hops over into Danish at 0:48 in the film. Poetry/urban ramblings are difficult to translate, but I gave it a shot, below. It reminded me of Storm P.'s irony.

Actually, it's Jørgen Leth meets Storm P. in a smoke-filled bar over several bottles of wine. (A cultural reference for the Danes...) It's much better in Danish, this vowel movement. The flow is pure and unrestricted. It's quite fantastic.

Anyway: Danish monologue translated from 0:48:

"It's... it's Copenhagen.

People are so fantastically ridiculous when it comes to bicycles that they don't have any identity about it. But nevertheless they are so subconsciously graceful with their bicycles that they don't understand what they're doing when they do it and these days they've become so agressive on their bicycles because they can't afford that car - all to do with finances and stocks - and they actually understand Copenhagen without actually understanding, 100%, what they're doing.

Because Copenhagen is a happy city. In Copenhagen there is tolerance. And in Copenhagen there are cool people. That's what Copenhagen is all about. In Copenhagen we have a surplus so that even when there's cloud cover we don't get clouded by it. We cover our women, we have children but we stay the same because we ride bicycles. And bicycles are wheels, tires, rubber. It keeps us in contact with the ground, keeps us grounded. There's actually a shred of truth to it. I mean... how can you get angry with a cyclist? He's riding a bicycle! So there's a limit. There's nothing that can boil over or under... he's cycling.

So there is actually an aim – not aiming high or low – he's riding a bicycle. And cycling is fantastic. It's all about him and there's a reason he does it. It's not something poor prostitutes do, or something kids born later than their siblings do or something people in the future do... it's all about riding a bicycle."

Beautiful...

"Yeah, I doubt it. I had a televison named after me. It should have been a bicycle.
(pause)
The bicycle exists between us. Period."

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well one man's urban poetry is another man's pretentious balony methinks :-) But I like the way he sounds in Danish.

edward said...

All over mi Babylon , dats all over mi
All over mi Babylon dats all over mi.
Dem no ramp wid me, I strictly sen-si
All over mi Babylon, it's all over mi

ER said...

wish I was there to shoot the shit with you guys...