DAILY BRIEFING
Cinco de Mayo in Copenhagen

May 5 - Okay, I guess today is Liberation Day in Denmark and Norway.

I was at an office downtown this morning when air raid sirens began wailing across the city.

"Air raid sirens," said the guy I was talking to. "You only hear them once a year now. They ran them every week when I was a kid."

The guy's a little younger than me. I didn't know how much younger. "Cold war stuff?" I asked.

"Cold war," he nodded.

"Did you have to do anything when you heard the sirens?" I asked.

"I suppose we were probably supposed to do something. Nobody ever did. Everyone knew it was just a drill."

I remembered the occassional air raid sirens from my own high school years, up in Marblehead, Massachusetts. At least, I assume they were air raid sirens. They went off now and again, apparently for no particular reason. We didn't do anything either. We also knew it was only a drill.

So here's my prediction: someday, somewhere, someone sets off an air raid siren for real. Everyone keeps going about their business wondering when they'll turn that damn siren off. Then an actual air raid begins and thousands of people are killed. Tens of thousands, maybe.

In other words, our conditioned response to air raid sirens is to ignore them. What's the point of having anything to which the conditioned response is indifference?

I'm wondering about that.

* * *

Today is Cinco de Mayo ("The Fourth of July") in Mexico. It doesn't appear to be a significant holiday here in Denmark, which may have something to do with the lack of Mexican nationals here. Denmark is so quick to honor every holiday that drifts by, however, that I suspect there may be sinister forces at play in their uncharacteristic snub of Cinco de Mayo. Maybe they still object to Mexican Independence. Maybe they believe that if the Habsburgs had held on to Mexico just a little longer, Austria wouldn't have been eclipsed by Prussia and Schleswig-Holstein never would have been ceded to Bismarck.

Who knows?

The lack of Mexicans here has other unfortunate side effects, such as a shortage of Mexican restaurants in Copenhagen. I haven't seen a can of refried beans at any store I've been to—even the American store downtown. Most grocery stores have a shelf or two of "Mexican" food in their ethnic food section, but this rarely amounts to much more than taco shells, tortillas, prefabricated salsas of various strengths and colors, and a variety of seasoning packets.

(Paging Goya Foods! Market of 455 million available just across the Atlantic...)

Latin culture in general seems underrepresented here in the north countries. I don't know why I find that surprising, except that I'd become accustomed to seeing tremendous Latin cultures in northern climes back in the states. Boston, New York, and Chicago have great Mexican food—why can't Copenhagen?

* * *

It's Karl Marx's birthday (1818). Other celebrants include Tina Yothers (1973), Tammy Wynette (1942), and Tyrone Power (1913).

Besides Liberation Day in Denmark and Norway, it's also Europa Day in the EU, Children's Day in Japan, Mother's Day in Lithuania, Senior Citizens' Day in Palau, and Coronation Day in Thailand.

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

[close window]
[Daily Briefing Archive]