Hotel Munch


Art critic Peter Schjeldahl once compared looking at Edvard Munch’s paintings to “listening to an album of a certain blues or rock song that, once upon a time, changed my life. I can’t hear the songs, as I can’t see the Munch images, without recalling earlier states of my soul, as if to listen or to look were, beyond nostalgia, an exercise in autobiography. Each song, each image, reminds me of myself.” I was thinking about this around 4 a.m. on a recent Saturday morning as I walked back to the Hotel Munch after an evening out in Oslo. I’d met some lovely people who’d taken me to a country music club to listen to a band called the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, and then to a rock club where a heavy metal cover band played Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” for its last number, with everyone totally singing along. By then, it was late, or early, and I had to wake up in a few hours to meet some liquor industry people for a tasting. As I walked home, past lines of people waiting for kebabs and hot dogs, the sky was that amazing shade of dark blue it only turns during a Nordic summer, when the sun never quite goes away.

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