Underhay Fever Dream

We are on day ten of our European odyssey, and we’ve already cycled in three countries.

Lisa and I used the Malmö city bike scheme to make a run to the art supply store; in Copenhagen we rented bicycles for three of us to ride from the city centre to the Experimentarium science museum; here in Hilversum we rented bikes for three days to commute to and from the printing studio (a plan that contracted yesterday when we woke up to driving rain and no rain gear, and took a cab instead).

In all three cities the infrastructure for bicyclists is awe-inspiring by Charlottetown standards: near-universal completely separate lanes for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians; bicycle parking everywhere; plenty of bicycle repair shops; a sharing and yielding system that appears to work like a ballet.

In each city I achieved a sort of Borg-like flow state as I cycled symphonically in a community of cyclists. I cannot help but think of the late Josh Underday’s dream for an interconnected network of bicycle routes crisscrossing Charlottetown.

It’s easy to get ground down by public (works) intransigence and imagine the dream to be impossible; until you see the dream functioning, in city after city, and realize it simply takes imagination, courage, and tenacity to achieve.

Sibyl Cutcliffe

I was sad to hear of the recent death of Sibyl Cutcliffe.While Sibyl was known for many things, including her service on Charlottetown City Council, I knew her as an early web pioneer.

Sibyl acquired a WebTV in the late 1990s—the device was essentially an “Internet terminal” that used a television for display—and used it as her gateway to the web for many years, with a sometimes-tenacious determination that it was all she really needed.

Sibyl was also a kind and open conversationalist who taught me a lot about the city and its history, one of those people along the way who extended a hand toward my acclimation to the Island and its ways.

Supper at Cofoco

In 2005, on the closing night my first Reboot conference, I had supper at Cofoco. It was, in a number of ways, life-changing:

Halfway through reboot, I decided that, fuck it, I had to just jump off. Pretend I wasn’t terrified, and see what played out.

I went down to the “sign up for dinner out with the people you’ve met” list by the door, choose a group at random, and put down my name (previous plan: cower back to my hotel). Then I figured out a way to get a ride to dinner, and even hung out with some rebootkins before dinner by pulling up a chair and chiming in. I even sat down for a brief chat with Scoble.

Much to my complete surprise, it worked.

I ended up at Cofoco with a great group of people: Nikolaj, Mark, Dragos, Bernhard, Thomas, Felix, Stefan, Henriette, and a whole other bunch of people down the other end of the table.

And I didn’t explode or die or (I think) make a fool of myself. It was fun. I learned a lot (and had a great meal).

Back then, the restaurant had been open for just a year. Tonight, 19 years later, we’ve just returned from a lovely meal there.

What was once a single restaurant is now a group of 17, plus a hotel (where we happen to be staying for the next three nights).

This trip is not all a trip down memory lane, but it’s also not not about revisiting people and places that are important to me. Copenhagen is one of them. 

Posted up in Malmö

Six years ago, the same neighbourhood. Olivia and I took an Uber to the railway station, on a rainy morning, and caught the train to Berlin. I didn’t know then that I wouldn’t return to Malmö for an eternity of topsy turvy.

At supper the other night I told Olle and Luisa that I’d been afraid, returning here, that all my perceived growth in the years since would disappear into a cloud of self-delusion once I stepped away from home and in front of the mirror of distant friends long not seen.

It hasn’t.

I am me, the very same me.

But a very different me also.

When I look at photos of that 2018 trip, I see a heaviness now that I wasn’t aware of then: it’s as if I was held together with iron bands of the sort used to contain crumbling concrete.

Those bands, I’ve long since removed. But I remain bruised. It’s weird to realize that I am him, and me, at the same time.

We are here in Europe for a month. What a luxury that is. I am hoping for a rest, a renewal. And a rapprochement with this place, long a respite from, as I shift into a life from which I no longer need dramatic respite.

At cocktails at Luisa and Olle’s flat last night, I spotted my 2020 letterpress construction, with the final zero replaced with my Sally Forth print.



The night I invented the Dirty Caper Martini. 3 parts vodka, 1 part vermouth, a splash of caper brine, shaken and filtered. Finish with a few capers. The things one is forced to do when the olives have run out.