As the evening wore on, the blonde haired hero sobered up just enough to tell me more about what he did for a living. His job was to walk the streets of Copenhagen looking for homeless people; anyone on the streets. He would go to them and talk to them to make sure that they were ok and that they knew that the Danish government would happily step in and take care of them, give them a home, healthcare. That no one in this city had to sleep on the streets."But some of them, they just want to sit on the streets anyway. You know? They've chosen it, to be anarchists or whatever. Just remember, when you see them, they're choosing to be there. Don't feel sorry for them. Don't give them any money."
"So, what do you do when you talk to them about their options and they don't want to accept any help?"
"Nothing. You can't help anyone that doesn't want help. I just let them sit there."
Nicholas was staying in my hostel. He was German but he had been living in Australia for over a year. He spoke German with a strange Aussie accent. It was impossible to tell where he was actually from when he spoke. He told us heaps of stories about his wild adventures in Australia. If even half of what he told us was true, then Nicholas is easily one of the craziest people I've ever met.
"I mean, I never thought it would work but my friend just kept telling me to do it, 'They'll never know, man! They won't know anything about Belgium, just go for it."
Nicholas had been pretending to be the Prince of Belgium. He was cocky enough that people actually believed him, or, believed him enough to get him in heaps of trouble.
"I have been seeing this girl, and you know, I am thinking she is the one for me. We will probably get married. But, she is, you know, she is not here now, right? So I am going to go talk to that girl that's dancing over there."
I was horrified and thoroughly amused.
Standing outside the bar an ex-employee of IBM was groaning over the homeless man across the street.
"It makes me so angry to see that. I really want to apologize for it. I don't want you to get the wrong impression of our city. There are no homeless people in Copenhagen. These people just choose to live this way."
I walked along rivers and canals and glossy sex toy boutiques in the main shopping district and an amusement park called Tivoli with rides that induce as much g-force as a space shuttle launch and a small community that had declared its independence from the rest of the world decades ago. Aging hippies still live there selling pot on the streets. It's called Fristaden Christiania and it's apparently easier to just let it exist than to try and clean it up. There seems to be an understanding with the residents of the area and the police that as long as the hard drugs stay off the street, they can do what they like. The neighborhood self regulates the drug trade as a survival mechanism. Photography here was strictly discouraged.
Copenhagen reminded me immensely of Brooklyn. I could see myself living here in the endless sun of summer and the endless nights of winter. Maybe. Probably. I don't know. It is a wonderful place; a dirty city full of beautiful people. Sharp, jagged edges wrapped with foam and silk sheets.