The startup millionaire asked surrounding passengers to trade seats so he could get work done with his business partner on a flight from Sweden to the United States. The passengers, who had already forked over more than $7,000 for the 9.5-hour ride, all declined his offer. One passenger said he wanted to be close to his family, while the other simply said “he was too comfortable to move,” according to a string of Facebook posts by Goldberg. Looks like when sitting in business class, Goldberg might need to up the ante on his offers.
At least a dozen train drivers in Sweden have taken to wearing skirts as they go about their job after their employer banned them from wearing shorts.
The men, who operate trains north of Stockholm, wanted to wear shorts during warmer weather but were forbidden from doing so after their train line was taken over by a new company this year. The drivers said they collectively decided to wear skirts once summer started because they were much more breathable than pants.
“The passengers stare at us but so far no one has said anything – well, not to me, anyway. And I don’t mind as it’s more about comfort,” one driver told the BBC.In an interesting twist, the company operating the train line has given the male conductors the green light to continue wearing the female attire. A representative explained the decision to a local newspaper, saying, “Our thinking is that one should look decent and proper when representing Arriva and the present uniforms do that. If the man only wants [to wear] a skirt then that is OK. To tell them to do something else would be discrimination.”
Nothing like stereotypes to really give you the feel of a country. It seems that a lot of people have a soft spot for anything that gives us an insider look – whether true or not – at Scandinavia. Why Scandinavian, and in particular Swedish culture, is of such interest is a bit beyond me, but there’s certainly an obsession with that country in the north that brought us flat-pack furniture and ABBA. People do love their Swedish videos.Wherever the interest in Sweden comes from, everyone from John Stewart to the Gevalia coffee guy like to give us a taste of it.
And now there’s a new video to give yet another look at Swedish culture. A little over the top, but if you have a thing for tongue-in-cheek sketches about Sweden, this one’s for you.
It’s titled “Swedishness” and, well … I’ll leave the rest up to you.
Launched in 1956, Eurovision is a Europe-wide music competition held every May under the auspices of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Participating countries select their representative songs over the course of the preceding winter and spring. Some countries – like Sweden – make their selections via televised heats held over several consecutive weeks. Others – like the U.K. (this year, at least) – make their selections by internal committee.
Eurovision is a major event in Europe, with a remarkable 125 million viewers.
Nowadays, Eurovision lasts for almost an entire week. With the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there are now so many participating countries – 39 this year; even more in recent years – that two semi-finals are required to winnow down contestants to a manageable tally for the grand final. After semifinals on Tuesday and Thursday, this year’s final will be held later today in Malmö, Sweden. (Sweden won Eurovision last year, and with its win came the right to host this year’s contest.)Eurovision is not generally considered to be a showcase for serious music, and few global stars emerge from it. One very notable exception is ABBA, who turned their 1974 win with “Waterloo” into enormous international success. In lieu of musical seriousness, the event unleashes a kind low-impact skirmish of muted patriotisms and a massive gay following.
For many countries, participation in Eurovision is a rite of passage, a sign of progress. An Israeli friend once told me that in the late 1970s her family would dress up to watch Eurovision in their living room. This symbolic appeal of Eurovision remains especially strong in some Eastern European countries and the Caucasus today.
All members of the European Broadcasting Union can participate in Eurovision. This fact explains Israel‘s participation. Other EBU members beyond the borders of Europe include Morocco (who participated just once, in 1980) and several countries that have never participated: Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia. True Eurovision nerds will tell you that Kazakhstan, Kosovo and Liechtenstein have all submitted applications for EBU membership.
So right, tonight. The odds have Denmark‘s Emmelie de Forest, Norway‘s Margaret Berger (with likely the strongest straight-up pop song, a little piece of driven magic titled “I Feed You My Love”), Ukraine‘s Zlata Ognevich, Azerbaijan‘s Farid Mammadov and Russia‘s Dina Garipova at the top of the pile.
In addition to these, Hungary, Romania and Greece have emerged as fan favorites. ByeAlex, the Hungarian entrant, sings a lush, quietly earnest song called “Kedvesem.” The singer looks like a quiet, earnest Mission District hipster; he distinguished himself in the press conference for the second semi-final winners on Thursday night by quoting Friedrich Nietzsche. Romania’s entry, sung by a countertenor opera singer named Cezar, is an instant Eurovision dance classic with a particularly over-the-top choreography. The Greek entry, by Koza Mostra featuring rebetiko singer Agathonas Iakovidis, combines folk, punk and rebetiko themes.
For those who follow Eurovision obsessively, the event itself is a kind of quasi-religious experience. The line between fandom and evangelism is imprecise for this tribe, many of whom attend Eurovision regularly. This week in Malmö, the Eurovision tribe is everywhere, sharing the gospel of playful but somehow meaningful pop music. The photo above, taken yesterday, gets at some of the gospel’s magic. It’s simple and interpersonal. Koza Mostra’s lead singer, Elias Kozas, has swapped flags with a German Eurovision fan. No negotiations. No conflict. No international frustrations. Just a snapshot of a moment within which flags don’t matter much.
The first piece of news is that if you’re an Iron Maiden fan, there’s now a beer for you. The second piece of news is that if you’re going to Sweden you won’t be able to drink it.
Trooper, the new beer for hardcore Iron Maiden fans, is now available in the U.K., and can also be bought online and distributed to a variety of E.U. countries – except Sweden. Why? The label is just too much.
The main representative for Systembolaget, the government-run store that is the only place to sell any liquor above 3.5% alcohol in Sweden, claims that the label doesn’t adhere to Swedish labeling laws, which regard the Trooper beer label too “aggressive” to be allowed into the Swedish market.
Want your Iron Maiden beer? Stick to the U.K. for now.