Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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DemonBox - maj 2001

A smiling gal is dancing inside to KRS-One and opens the door after I join her dancing from outside. Who do you know? It's an important question, but not the basis for exclusion. What else would I be doing at an old carpenter's office in a Stockholm suburb late at night, carrying luggage and looking for hip-hop?

I would be looking for DemonBox, where knowing one friend brings you into the periphery of a group of eclectic media-makers wiring up Northern Europe

index.html Evenings sitting on wooden chairs around a wooden table in the kitchen. A long-term boyfriend/visitor Raph brought a card game Jungle Speed from France, which involves competitive pattern recognition and gymnastic grabbing. Playing Jungle Speed before bed is not relaxing.

index.html The first night and then after, I fall in with Linda, fond of staying up past 4am most days. She's a sharp tongue with a haughty way of holding her chin and nose. Swiftly exasperated with both english as a second language and my jovial behaviour, she responds by speaking rapid fire Swedish at me or cocking her head and giving me dirty looks. Beneath her gruff manner there's an attractive bemusement.

In Adam's room, wake up and find Mountains and Rivers without End Gary Snyder's book of poetry sitting next to me. Then I notice a giant TV, beneath the bookshelves.

Adjacent to the three storey house is a one storey office. You can come in from the outside, or walk through the basement connecting the two buildings. There are five or six networked PCs in here; visitors and residents stop in to check their email, surf the web, download sound files and manage the mail order media business part of DemonBox.

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Across from the computers rest extensive silk-screening facilities. index.html Mostly this equipment serves Akayism, a newly-minted ideology merging Punk culture, kitsch, radical overtones and self-promotion. Alexander can be seen in here most days screenprinting posters, t-shirts, the most prolific of the media-product makers at DemonBox. Amber is visiting from Seattle. She saw some Akayism online, started an email arguement with him about art and commerce, and took three weeks and her savings to explore the discussion first-hand.

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Akayism: poster and t-shirt production.

Most evenings, someone in the house has the appointed duty of cooking dinner. Round about seven, something like pasta and salad are served to ten or twelve people, residents and guests. index.html Monday night, there's a delicous mung bean dip for toast at dinner; it's soon gone. I begin to scrape the bowl with my knife, savoring the last remaining bits of paste for my thin toast. Assi leans over to quietly remind me, two people here have tinnitus, so we don't scrape our cutlery against pottery - the sharp noise of metal on ceramic can lodge in their heads and cause them much sadness and anxiety.

I'd never met anyone with tinnatus, let alone shared a house with two of them. The gentle sound consciousness pervades the place - you are chided for slamming doors, clanging pots and pans. Eating becomes very deliberate when you have to observe what kind of contact your spoon makes with your bowl. Elle the teacher turns to me; we don't scrape our silverware against our plates, this is how we can talk with twelve people in a room.

Monday evening activities: Exploring gender roles.
The four women in the house went to the basement to practice wrestling and self defense, and the eight men in the house paired off on couches and mattresses in the library. Each of us was to give our man partner a foot massage as we talked about our mother. What did we like about our mother? How was she feminine? Did she talk to us about gender roles? Was she oppressed? How did she relate to other women and men?

It was a moving moment - spending twenty minutes talking about my Mom while giving good foot love was a bit wrenching, for both of us. We don't think about our mothers for that kind of sustained time (unless you're in therapy, I guess), and combined with the intimate act of caressing feet, it keeps your hands busy and builds a kind of intimate connection with Henrik I wasn't expecting, but I didn't mind. Nice guy.

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index.html It's about 8 men and four women here. Still there aren't a lot of ribald masculine moments, as best I can tell. Most all the men seem to favor a bald head. Combine that with vegetarianism and all the books everywhere, it seems more like a meditative cult than a sausage party.

While I was there, Elle, Raph, and Svante got their hair cut down. I didn't join them because I wanted to keep my TV taping consistent.

index.html All around the house are books. In the bathrooms, stacked up under the stairs, lying on tables in the kitchen, lining the walls of the library. Some, like Days of War, Nights of Love, are published by DemonBox. Others, like Do or Die or The Art & Science of Billboard Improvement aren't published by them yet, but stack up into a serious pile of provocative literature that causes reconsidering your place in productive society.

They love KRS-One here - more classic hip-hop jams with a conscience than I've heard in the states since I left college. In the office during postermaking, in the house late at night, in the early afternoon waking me up. But alongside this reverence for modern black speech, there's an undercurrent of traditional Sweden in this house. Playing kulning for Linda in the office late at night, she has a clear reverence for this aged music of herding folk up north, and she sings it herself (though not in quiet suburban settings). Also small stream of old Sweden runs quietly through the torrent of modern music on David's album.

index.html Wednesday, Victoria brings by her newly-purchased $1500 Mercedes Diesel truck for some repairs and ideas. She's planning to make the back of the truck a living space, like the four other trucks parked in the white gravel driveway. Then a whole group of other folks come over, and the gravel driveway outside the house turns into a studio for small truck home-making and auto repair.

index.html This is a purifying place - completely vegetarian, and mostly vegan. Not much alcohol is consumed, and people seem to work and support each other. Still they have their vices. Without the cigarettes and coffee, I relish their stimulation: looking out from the darkened office at 2.30am and seeing people talking, gesturing by candlelight in the kitchen. My last day, Demonbox takes delivery on a large machine from "West Germany," a paper cutter for making stickers and flyers.

Activism, media-production, punk rock; lively spirits dance in the DemonBox.


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