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O My America: Escape to Copenhagen

July 4, 2015

by Lawrence Bush

[caption id=“attachment_37819” align=“alignright” width=“300”]COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 15: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark attends a celebratory service to mark her 40 years on the throne at Christiansborg Palace Chapel on January 15, 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Chris Jackson/WireImage) Queen Margrethe II of Denmark[/caption]

It was hard to be an American headed to Denmark on July 4th — don’t worry, Danes, I’m unarmed — when I was feeling so very patriotic about the achievement of marriage equality (but Denmark has it, too), and about the lowering of the Confederate flag, and about Obama’s “Amazing Grace” speech, and about the widespread revulsion at Donald Shmucko Trump’s racist candidacy announcement (Trump is the sole proof we need that wealthy people do not always get what they’ve got by dint of intelligence), and about that final phrase of the Declaration of Independence, “our sacred honor,” which always makes me weepy...

But here I am. Vacation time! My beloved has an international dance educators’ conference to attend in Copenhagen, and it’s our 36th wedding anniversary, our 41st year together, so I’m here with her. (And from here we go to the Netherlands to sail from town to town in our own little canal boat for a week...)

We’ve only just returned from our first five-hour jaunt in Copenhagen. The hotel concierge, who was so tall and Viking-like that I wanted to go down on one knee before him to ask if he had a map of the city, sent us, appropriately, to the tourist part of town — and as we turned the first corner we found a six-piece jazz band (the kind led by a four-string banjo and a trombone) playing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” (lyrics by Dorothy Fields), an American jazz import that our own little jazz band at home (me on guitar, Susan on bass) gleefully mangles at our weekly rehearsal. Apparently we’ve landed, unwittingly, into the middle of a jazz festival that includes Dr. John, Brad Mehldau, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, and lots of other Americans of the kind that make me feel patriotic. Happy Fourth of July!

There are so many tall people in Copenhagen that I wish I had platform shoes. But they deserve to be looked up to, these Danes: Their technology alone, from airport to hotel, is planet-loving — sleek, quiet, brilliantly energy-efficient. In our hotel room, you have to leave your card-key in a slot in the wall in order to get the air-conditioning and bathroom lights to function. None of that leaving-for-the-day-while-your-room-freezes-over stuff.

Plus, they are six hours ahead of us, at all times.

There were large crowds of handsome people seated everywhere in the city today, especially along the canals and waterfronts (we took a one-hour boat tour), looking sedately happy, without the extraneous noise, Muzak and hooplah that often accompanies crowd-scenes in American cities. A contented, sophisticated people, I would say, with a queen, Margrethe II, the first Danish female monarch since 1412, who has been sitting on her throne for two years longer than Susan has been sitting on my lap.

It all seems very sturdy, lovely and Leggo-ish. I’ll let you know if I get bored. Not tomorrow, though. Tomorrow we try to visit the Jewish Museum.

Lawrence Bush edits Jewish Currents and is often afraid to leave home, but the summer issue of the magazine hits the mail stream on July 6th so why not?