DAILY BRIEFING
Beer, Swedes, Journalism, Taxes

Oct. 14 - There was an article in yesterday's New York Times (registration required) entitled "Something Cheap in the State of Denmark: Liquor."

It caught my eye. It was like seeing an articled entitled "Something Dry in the Atlantic Ocean: Water."

The article explains how beer is cheaper in Denmark than in Sweden, how Swedes believe they drink more beer than Danes, and how Swedes therefore take the ferry to Elsinore to load up on cheap beer.

Saying liquor is cheap in Denmark because beer costs less here than in Sweden is like saying that coffee is cheap in New York because tea costs less there than in Tokyo. That is, it makes no sense.

Danish liquor prices did drop earlier this month, as I mentioned in a previous blog, but it's still going to cost you about five or six bucks to get a pint of Carlsberg or Tuborg at the average pub, and the hard stuff still costs about four dollars a tablespoon. (They measure their pours here, since there's no tipping and they therefore have nothing to gain by giving you a little extra.)

In Sweden, God save them, beer and liquor are even more expensive. So of course they hustle down to Denmark to load up on Carlsberg, the same way my friends and I, growing up in Massachusetts, used to take little road trips up to New Hampshire for Budweiser.

A proper headline for the Times article might have been, "To avoid their own government's usurous taxes, Swedes buy slightly cheaper beer in Denmark." But that would suggest that maybe Swedes weren't entirely thrilled with their own obscene taxes, which probably doesn't fit in with the Times's current editorial position.

Anyway, it doesn't end in Elsinore. Danes go to Germany all the time to load up on still cheaper beer—even their own Carlsberg, brewed about a mile from my apartment, is cheaper in Germany than at the grocery store around the corner.

Germans, of course, can dash off to any one of several bordering countries where the beer is so cheap they probably use it to water their lawns.

But getting back to my original point, beer is not cheap in Denmark. Liquor is even less cheap. And if you're a Swede, the only country in the world where things will be more expensive than your own country—is Norway.

If Swedes could hop on a forty-five minute ferry to midtown Manhattan, they'd swarm Fifth Avenue to take advantage of all those "low" prices.

Cheap liquor in Denmark. I mean, really...

* * *

The metro station around the corner opened successfully on Sunday. I missed the ceremony, but I did manage to arrive in time for some free sandwiches and a little blueberry muffin.

I'd never been to the opening of a subway station before, so I didn't know what to expect. I guess if someone had asked, I'd have said, "well, there'll probably a marching band, and some dancing girls, and local politicians, and maybe free coffee."

At least I was right about the coffee. Otherwise, it was just an open station. Not like when they opened the Frederiksberg station over the summer. The queen actually came out for that one. But that was Frederiksberg. This is, apparently, Solbjerg—at least that's the name they've given the station. I don't know what Solbjerg is. I live in Frederiksberg, there's no Solbjergvej in the neighborhood, and I've never heard of a local hero or anything named Solbjerg. There's just a big yellow house next to where they built this new station, and on the house it says in big letters, "Solbjerg House" (it says it in Danish, but all those italics are starting to get on my nerves). There's a little bodega on the ground floor, and a hair salon, but otherwise it's just a normal house.

The station is actually very lovely—they've done a great job of keeping all their stations light and airy. It's not like New York, where it's easy to feel like a rat scuttling around under the mistaken impression that there's cheese to be found, or Chicago, whose elevated platforms are fine but whose underground stations seem to have embraced the aromatic motif of the Wrigley Field men's rooms...

Which reminds me that we could still be heading toward a Cubs - Red Sox series. Less likely than it seemed on Friday morning, but there's still a chance. So I'll cut myself off on that hopeful note.

* * *

On this day in 1944, Field Marshal Rommel of Germany was visited by two of Hitler's personal staff. They informed him that he was suspected of involvement in the July 20th plot to assassinate the Fuhrer and that he would therefore be required either to stand trial and die or to just die. They brought some poison along to facilitate his decision.

It was 56 years ago today that American pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a rocket-powered airplane. Yeager insisted it was already broken and consequently refused to repair it despite repeated admonitions by his mother. It remains broken to this day.

(The sound barrier should not be confused with the Long Island Sound barrier, sometimes referred to as the Throg's Neck Bridge.)

On October 14, 1651, Massachusetts passed laws prohibiting the poor from dressing excessively. It was felt that persons of limited means should save their money and learn to get by with simple vinaigrettes.

The German spy Mata Hari, a Dutchwoman named Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, was executed by the French on October 14, 1917. There wasn't much actual evidence of espionage, but she had been seen naked with German officers and the French considered this distasteful enough to kill her.

Today's birthday celebrants include Harry Anderson (1952), Ralph Lauren (1939), Roger Moore (1927), Lillian Gish (1896), e.e. cummings (1894), Dwight Eisenhower (1890), and William Penn (1644).

My friend Lisa turns 40 today. I don't normally mention friends' birthdays, but forty seems worth noting, and she's the only one of my friends with an actual website (that I'm aware of.... anyone else?).

It's Flag Day in Madagascar and Republic Day in Yemen.

Happy Tuesday

© 2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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