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Friday, June 1, 2012

Surviving Hurricane Pop Culture

This past week something unprecedented happened here in Oslo.  Four, major North American icons descended upon town (Not to mention the 50,000 crazed Norwegians that packed Valle-Hovin for a Metallica show on the preceding Wednesday).  Kanye West, Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, and Hillary Rodham Clinton (yes, she still counts as an icon).  To make matters even crazier, Oslo was the epicenter for one of the most widespread public sector strikes in years which saw "over 300 police officers" pulled.  That may not seem like such a high number, by its self, but, when put in perspective (there's only 11,000 employees in the Police Service... for the WHOLE COUNTRY), it's downright staggering.

So yes... things were a little crazy here.

Oslo had a severe case of Bieber Fever

Here's a quick, run back to how it all went down.

MONDAY


While those of you back in the US celebrated Memorial Day (Or, as it should be known in Europe, "You're welcome" Day... Joking! Joking!  Calm down), here in Oslo, Watch the Throne day fell on the state church holiday of "Pentecost".  Things were relatively quiet around town as people took advantage of the three day weekend and splendid weather to go to their cabins in the country-side or down to the beaches in the Oslo Fjord.  Norwegians love for getting out into nature combined with the advantageous concert location (Telenor Arena... located in the Fornebu region of Greater Oslo.  Which is as close to the heart of the city like Fed Ex Field is to downtown DC, Candlestick Park is to downtown San Francisco) lead to a relatively non-influenced day.  There was extra traffic and people congestion down by the National Theatre area as it was tipped off that that's where the two stars were staying in a hotel there (maybe the two floors of blocked out rooms was a giveaway).  There concert went off without much incident (No excessive repetition of songs) and they were able to get out of town.  Which, as it turned out, would be for the best

TUESDAY


Maybe I'm out of touch with popular culture (ok... I am out of touch with popular culture), but I had NO idea just how big Justin Bieber had become, especially here in Norway.  Before his plane could touch down at Oslo International (Gardermoen is not exactly JFK or Dulles), thousands were camped out waiting to just get a view of their idol.  Things only got more nuts as the day continued.  My bus had to go through the heart of the Bieberness (Jerbanetorget... the central station and right next to the hotel the Biebs was staying).  What was normally a 20 minute ride was rendered into an hour slog as an inordinate number of people and cars were literally parked out on the streets around the area hoping to see Bieber.  How bad was the situation?  Bieber had to be airlifted from the hotel to a floating stage behind the Opera house in the harbor where he was to perform.  Were there a lot of fans there waiting?



Yes.


Things only got more bananas after the show, when young Justin tried to move through the streets toward a scheduled press conference and all hell broke loose amongst the thousands of excited, teenage girls


Now, besides the fact that there are quite a few guys chasing the cars, the shocking lack of police cannot be overstated.  They underestimated well... everything.  The result were over 45 people injured in the melee and one cancelled press conference.  Oh, by the way, when I was attempting to come home well after this whole scene at around 11pm, it still took nearly double the normal time.  Bieber FTW.

FRIDAY


Well, Hillary seems happy to be here.  I asked a handful of people through the street and around the Royal Palace what their thoughts were about the Secretary of State coming through (she was handing out "thanks a lot!" for NATO support, as opposed to other countries who didn't contribute as much as others *cough* Germany *cough*).  The answers I got were really insightful:

"She's here?  Like now?"
"I wish it was her husband instead."
"Is Obama coming, too?  No? Oh..."

That's right, world... Oslo has taken your best shot from the celebrity world and, like a erstwhile, British orphan, they're asking for some more.  Bring on the POTUS!  Norway is ready...

Alt for Norge


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