Male Leather-Strutting Misplaced

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Here’s something you don’t see in the streets of the Chinese People’s Republic every day. However, if the Beijing police have anything to say about it, you won’t ever be seeing this type of thing again.

ABChine
What is going on? Is it perhaps a casting-call for a Chinese-studio remake of 300? No, as the accompanying RFI piece explains, this was a marketing stunt, by a Beijing restaurant called “Sweetie Salad” – a marketing stunt gone bad for those taking part, as the local police swiftly moved in and conveyed at least some of the make-believe Spartans to the slammer.

ABBeijing
On the other hand, it was a marketing stunt gone good for Sweetie Salad – if you take into account that old maxim that no publicity is bad publicity – which according to this RFI report generated enormous on-line buzz about itself within China and was punished only to the extent of feeling obliged to post this message:

We have humbly recognized that, as a start-up, we lack a certain experience in the organization of large-scale events.

Where did all those buff foreign males think that they were – Amsterdam? In fact, the timing couldn’t be better: all they need to do is get out of jail (those to whom that applies), scrape up the funds for a half-round-the-world flight and find a hotel (admittedly a challenging proposition at this late point), and they then can all enjoy themselves royally this upcoming weekend at the yearly Amsterdam Gay Pride celebrations. They’ll feel right at home there, walking around Amsterdam’s streets in their Spartan suits (I assure you, that sort of get-up often verges comparatively on the tame side); yet they might very well impress the locals enough to be invited to join a boat for the infamous Canal Parade that kicks off this upcoming Saturday (August 1) at 1.30 PM CET. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Charlie Hebdo in Amsterdam?

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Take a look at this distinguished elderly gentleman! Would someone with a grandfatherly face like that ever hurt even a flea?

Westergaard
Don’t worry: I won’t tell you that he has ever hurt anything, whether a flea or otherwise. On the other hand, he’s the target of many. This is Kurt Westergaard, one of the most “notorious” of those “Danish cartoonists” whose work back around 2005 touched off riots, death and general destruction around the world in support of the absurd notion that the Mohammed of Islam is something that is beyond criticism or ridicule. And of course Westergaard himself was the target of an attack back in 2010, where only the padlocked door to the “saferoom” he had established in his house enabled him to fend off the knife-wielding attentions of some sort of crazed fanatic or another.

Well, it turns out that Westergaard will be the featured speaker at the Vrije Woord (“Free Word”) Festival happening tonight at Amsterdam’s premier venue for that sort of public presentation, De Balie, right on the Leidseplein. De Balie officials only announced his presence this very morning, out of security considerations; previously there had only been talk of some “mystery speaker” and, somehow, the attendant possible necessity for the screening of attendees as they arrived.

That’s still a little less than a full 12 hours’ worth of notice, and as we have seen (as in the assassination on US Election Day, 2004, of the film-maker Theo Van Gogh), Amsterdam has plenty of Muslim fanatics. Can they get their act together in time to make Westergaard sorry he ever even considered visiting the Netherlands’ delightful (co-)capital? There will be security there in abundance, of course; indeed, usually De Balie is open seven days a week, if only for its cafe, but the building has been closed today and will only re-open when the Festival starts at 19.30.

This piece in the newspaper Het Parool notes that there has been no withdrawal from tonight’s festival by anyone who bought a ticket, although De Balie made that option available. Apparently some employees at De Balie have refused to work tonight, however, for whatever reason. Also, according to this other Parool article, the Netherlands chapter of international writers’ organization PEN got early confidential word at the end of March that Westergaard would be coming and withdrew its co-participation – the event had “become too big,” according to its chairwoman.

In a related story, you may have heard how around 150 writers are now protesting the intended awarding of the “Freedom of Expression Courage Award” to the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo at an upcoming gala put on by the American PEN. But really, now: what is it – among many other things – that Charlie Hebdo and that Kurt Westergaard are satirizing? It has to do with the very fact of all the fanatics out there that make it necessary to layer on the security, to make people fear for their lives, just to make the point that – exactly like the Christian God in, for example, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and countless other works of Art – the Muslim God and Mohammed are not to be immune to satire and ridicule, and that those for whom this is unacceptable had best start accepting it or move back to wherever it is they originally came from.

So all power and plaudits to Kurt Westergaard, and to Charlie Hebdo. But keep an ear out on your May Saturday night for word of the latest killings, this time in Amsterdam.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

A French Fry First – With Herb!

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Here’s something new that any of you who might be headed to Amsterdam will want to know about! It comes originally from the website of the local radio station AmsterdamFM.nl. The news is that, as of TODAY, one of the premier French fry (friets) stands in Amsterdam, Manneken Pis, has a new sauce flavor available – in the words of owner Albert van Beek, a “new tasty sauce with the unmistakable taste of marijuana” – wiet in Dutch (one way to say it).

More good news: it’s hard to miss Manneken Pis in Amsterdam, as it is right on the Damrak (which is that big street that all the trams run down, initially with the water off to the left side, as you leave Central Station), really the very first French fry stand you will encounter as you head into town towards the Dam. Just look for the “Teasers Cafe,” with the shapely waitresses in their skimpy costumes – it’s right past that. Something to keep in mind upon your arrival, if you’re eager to try this stuff out (I’m still referring here to the wietsaus, not Teasers).

Oh, and Manneken Pis also has three stands in Utrecht – yes, they also offer this special sauce, check their webpage in the unlikely event that you’ll be in Utrecht before you find yourself in Amsterdam. (That’s not the way to proceed, folks.)

But what is it like? I now yield the floor to the 24 Oranges blog, which is where I first found out about this: “. . . it is not the easiest thing to cook with or digest for that matter. Yes, it can provide a very decent, slow buzz, thanks for asking.”

If you’re curious, EuroSavant has never smoked the stuff, does not intend to – doesn’t care whether you believe him or not! – and doesn’t even intend to try out this new wiet-sauce, but mainly because he excised French fries from his diet long ago, one gets to an age where they’re just not very healthy anymore. Then again, he often patronized Manneken Pis back when he did indulge, and understands that they regularly win national awards for the quality of their fries.

UPDATE: A confession: In the back of my mind there was always the niggling question, “Is this some kind of fraud, a set-up?” And I admit that I published first, then asked questions later, but would plead that little more can be expected in the 21st century on-line media environment.

But OK, I had the chance today (FRI. 12 APR) to go by Manneken Pis. It’s right there at the bottom of their sauces-list, in big letters: “WEEDSAUCE.” In a spirit of truth-in-advertising they add right underneath that: “Zonder THC/Without THC,” which we are all aware is marijuana’s active narcotic ingredient, and that can make you wonder whether it really can have the effect that 24 Oranges claims that it has.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Church Disco in Amsterdam

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

This post deviates a bit from the beaten track to which EuroSavant readers are accustomed in that it does not take as its jumping-off point any sort of news article. Also, it has to do with something in Amsterdam, my home-base but nevertheless someplace to which I try not to give any special prominence on this site merely because of that fact.

No, it wasn’t a news article that got me thinking, but rather an e-mail from Vrij (Dutch: Free), which is basically one of the many party-impressario organizations in town – you know, they find someplace to hold a party, promote it, arrange for the equipment, DJ, security, bar staff to be there, and then make their money from tickets and drinks sold minus those costs. And the latest groovy venue they have found, for their party coming up on Friday evening, 14 September, happens to be the Oude Kerk or Old Church – Amsterdam’s oldest surviving building, dating from around 1306 and, well, basically a church.

I admit: this isn’t the first time they have done something like this. I recall receiving e-mailed tidings of at least two previous parties held in the Westerkerk – a different Amsterdam church, not as old of course, but still a plenty old church (1631, if you must know), with the city’s highest churchtower, where Rembrandt is buried (but anonymously, because he died indigent, so we don’t know exactly where), etc.

Maybe I didn’t take a close look at those Vrij communications back then. Anyway, the latest e-mail about the Oude Kerk 14 September event can really take you aback. (Its content is repeated exactly on a webpage on the Vrij site – in Dutch only, of course). (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Wet Decadence

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Today is once again the climax of the Amsterdam Gay Pride festival, namely the infamous Canal Parade. And now it has a dedicated YouTube channel, so anyone from elsewhere who was not already aware can gauge the depths to which our Western Civilization has fallen. Or maybe it’s just a bunch of people having some flamboyant fun:

Yes, those guys there in uniform on one of the floats towards the end waving to the crowds were police officers – you noticed them?

Keep in mind, though, that this short clip was the teaser – so to speak – for the live broadcast of this year’s/today’s Canal Parade planned by the Dutch media organization AVRO, i.e. it shows a parade from some past year. For this year, some of you out there might be pleased to hear that festivities have been repeatedly interrupted by heavy downpours, accompanied occasionally by thunder and lightning! Make of that what you will.

Prague takes its turn at this sort of thing next weekend – meaning a Gay Pride festival, and actually for the very first time. Should be interesting! I mean, how will society there react to events like this? No canals there though – just a river, and it’s too wide for any such aquatic parade.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Hans Brinker’s Crazy-House

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Are you as afflicted by the ice-cold January weather as we are here in the Netherlands? Those of you dear readers living in the Southern Hemisphere – my statistics tell me that there are a few – I exclude from the get-go, but otherwise a story-book January does seem to be in effect in Europe, North America, and throughout Asia.

Love that or hate it (I’m not so enthusastic, to tell you the truth), there will always be winners emerging from this situation. Among these are clearly Holland’s ice-skate sellers, as we see from an article in Het Parool (Gekkenhuis [“Crazy-House”] at ice-skate factories).

The unnamed reporter from the Dutch news agency ANP sought out for his/her story the firms “Viking” in Almere and “Zandstra” in Joure (a city in Friesland, the Dutch province especially known for its ice-skating ardor). They’re likely not the only ones in the Netherlands, but provided some good material nonetheless. Normally, says Viking director Jaap Havekotte, they sell around 20,000 pairs of skates per year; this year they are on track for 50,000 or 60,000 pairs. “Our skates are flying out the door,” says the Dutchman. (Yes, that’s really the quote: Onze schaatsen vliegen de deur uit.) Zandstra spokesman Marco Vlap doesn’t want to reveal exact numbers, but confirms that his firm is also working like mad but probably won’t be able to keep up with this year’s demand.

Actually, points out Havekotte, last winter in December (2008) we also had a bit of a cold spell that set people to skating and so brought with it elevated sales figures. He doesn’t have to explicitly say it, but in most Dutch minds it had yet another effect: raising hopes for the holding of the Elfstedentocht, an eleven-city race over the frozen streams and canals of Friesland that occupies an honored and central place in Frisian and Dutch culture and is held whenever ice conditions permit – which they last did only back in January of 1997! Think of the Super Bowl – to come up with an American cultural equivalent – but one strictly subject to the weather year after year for its happening at all! (You can check it out at the Elfstedentocht website, including the race-route, but the text is available only in Dutch or Frisian!) The cold didn’t last long enough then for that, but maybe it will this time, in which case you can expect some tenths-of-a-percentage point to be shaved from the 2010 GDP in the blizzard of sick-days taken as people flock up to Friesland and/or in front of their TV sets.

While you’re waiting to see if that happens, this article in English (“Amsterdam prepares canals for ice skating fun”) tells of our fine city’s preparations for letting people skate on certain of the historic canals, should the cold weather indeed continue. Personally, I sincerely hope that it won’t, but nonetheless those measures now being undertaken are mainly banning boat traffic on certain of the canals to protect the forming ice. You can peruse a map here showing to which stretches of which canal that ban applies, as well as the accompanying detailed list.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Short Anne Frank Movie On-Line

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

The Flemish Gazet van Antwerpen reminds us today that the Anne Frank House Foundation recently set up an Official Anne Frank Channel on YouTube.

Among the film-clips on display is one showing the only time Anne Frank was captured on video, as she watched from her family’s balcony the departure of the neighboring girl to her wedding. Naturally, this is before the Frank family had to go into hiding. In fact it is a little less than a year before they did so, and so the scene is at the apartment house elsewhere in Amsterdam where they lived a normal family life up to and a couple years into the German occupation, before moving to the famous achterhuis on the Prinsengracht to try to disappear and so evade a call-up from the occupation authorities for relocation to a “work camp” (which more often turned out to amount to transportation to a death camp in Eastern Europe; it was only Anne’s elder sister, Margot, who received this notice, but that was enough to drive the whole family into hiding).

The brief Gazet van Antwerpen article (no by-line) notes that another clip gives a video-tour of the achterhuis and was put on-line in celebration of the Anne Frank House Museum’s fiftieth anniversary, but it also seems that the entire YouTube channel was created only recently.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Technological Doping

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

How about that Michael Phelps, hey? And the rest of his teammates on the American swim-team, too: not only is gold raining down on them, but an incredible number of swimming world-records are being broken at these Beijing Olympics as well. It’s phenomenal! The Olympic Games have not seen anything like this since . . . well, perhaps since the Winter Games of 1998 in Nagano, Japan, which occurred in the period when clap skates were coming into widespread use for the first time, and as a result “long track” speed-skating records were broken wholesale. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Model for the Future

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

OK, let’s talk about the Olympics, then. But not the 2008 Beijing Olympics – rather, the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics! Yes, we pride ourselves here at EuroSavant on our solipsism, but the immediate motive for this nostalgic look 80 years backward is the excellent recent article in the Dutch newspaper Trouw by Haro Hielkema, Amsterdam: Example for the Rest, which is itself largely derived from the book Model voor de toekomst – Amsterdam, Olympische Spelen 1928 by Ruud Paauw and Jaap Visser (which was itself only published a few weeks ago, that is, just before the opening of the Beijing Games – which I bet will not surprise you at all). (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Chinese Christian Community Under Pressure

Friday, August 8th, 2008

The Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad is somewhat of an outlier in the European media sphere, as it is expressly a Christian newspaper. You can see right there in its logo, written at the top: Christelijk betrokken, or “Engaged in a Christian manner” (“Christianly engaged,” if you like). Surf to the paper’s website on Sunday and you’ll find nothing: that’s the Lord’s day of rest, after all.

It’s not alone, though: the Reformatorisch Dagblad, or “Reformed Daily,” is similar, although that website does stay open on Sundays. People should not confuse the allegedly “anything goes” atmosphere of cosmopolitan cities like Amsterdam (see this weblog’s recent coverage of the famous yearly Gay Pride parade there, for example) with Dutch culture as a whole, which in fact features some enclaves which can easily hold their own in the Christian piety department with any of the American Amish communities.

The Nederlands Dagblad reports today, as the 2008 Olympic Games open in Beijing, that the Chinese church leader Zhang Mingxuan was recently arrested by the authorities in his hometown in the province of Henan, along with his wife and another associate, and brought to an office of the “security services” in that province’s capital, Zhengzhou. This follows Zhang’s being driven out of his Beijing by the authorities at the beginning of last month, and then out of the city itself two weeks ago.

The Stichting De Ondergrondse Kerk (a Dutch name, of course: “Foundation of the Underground Church”) has issued a call to make these opening days of the Olympic Games days of prayer on behalf of the persecuted Christians in China.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Everybody On Board for the Parade!

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

I don’t like to talk about local affairs here except on rare occasions; this is hardly intended to be any sort of “Amsterdam blog.” One of the few things I’ll make an exception for is the “Gay Pride” festival occurring here every first week of August. It is known world-wide, to a considerable extent takes over the city, and features a unique “parade” on the Saturday (today!) that makes its way along the city’s canals (actually, mainly the Prinsengracht), not its streets.

It also enjoys a rather high level of public support. That was perhaps the main point of the article from Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza that I covered here on Tuesday, which noted that, for the first time, a national cabinet minister will be officially present in the parade (namely Ronald Plasterk, of Education, Culture, and Science) as well as an official boat from the police. But it turns out that Gazeta didn’t know the half of it (and probably did not want to know the half of it, in any case): this whole new politician phenomenon has mushroomed so rapidly that not only have plenty other national Dutch lawmakers scrambled to find a place for themselves for today on a Gay Pride boat, but questioning eyebrows are even being raised in the direction of politicians who will not be present. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Gay Pride Parade in Polish Eyes

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Coming up this very next weekend: Gay Pride Amsterdam! What’s in it for you if you’re not gay? Well, the parade of boats through the city’s canals – actually, basically the Prinsengracht – is the highlight of the whole weekend and attracts 350,000 spectators, or so the above-linked website claims, so it’s something to consider going and watching, as long as you also realize that the “entertainment” on the passing boats verges into outright nudity not infrequently and into sheer camp always. Plus, there will be gay street parties all over the place from Friday to Sunday. Amsterdam is generally a big enough party-place on a summer weekend for one to be able to find a suitable heterosexual vibe somewhere, if that is more your thing – and meanwhile just think of all the sales- and tax-revenue those hundreds of thousands of visitors are bringing to the city! (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Zanzibarred!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

One of Amsterdam’s less-known but worthwhile tourist attractions is the Tropenmuseum, or Museum of the Tropics, housed in a magnificent late-19th-century building way over on the east side of the city, generally outside the radius within which most tourists venture. True, its original purpose was as a storage and display point mostly for what the Dutch colonial authorities were looting out of the lands where their authority held sway (the same could be said of the British Museum, or indeed the Louvre), but time has moved on since then and the facility is now known simply as an interesting museum for non-Western cultures – even if what is contained within still probably originated as loot from those non-Western areas where Dutch colonial authority once held sway.

The museum’s sister-institution, installed in its eastern wing, is the Tropentheater (English version unfortunately not yet available), which offers a platform for the staging of usually non-Western-related musical and drama productions. And coming up this week at the Tropentheater (starting tomorrow) we had an interesting affair called the “Zanzibara Festival”: a festival of music and films about the Swahili culture of East Africa, predominately in Kenya, Tanzania, and yes, Zanzibar. At the center of the festivities was the Kilimani Qusida Group from that Indian Ocean island, a group of Islamic musicians specializing in Sufi music (Sufism is essentially Islamic mysticism), scheduled to travel out of Zanzibar for the first time in their lives to come play in Amsterdam. I’ve seen posters for this Zanzibara festival all over town – I even saw them on a visit to Antwerp a few weeks ago. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Sensitive Matter Requiring Your Urgent Attention!

Monday, July 19th, 2004

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am fine today, and how are you? I hope this weblog entry finds you in the best of health. I am Prince MAO Kawanza, chairman of the West African Expatriate Legal Defence Fund, an institution established under the late Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha, for the provision of legal assistance to travellers from West African states ensnared in difficulties with foreign criminal justice systems. General Abacha chose to fund our laudable institution by means of a special tax on revenues from the Nigerian petroleum sector, which revenues are estimated to total more than USD 45 billion yearly. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Holland’s Houses

Wednesday, September 17th, 2003

Today is Holland Day at EuroSavant! The good reason for that is that yesterday was Prinsjesdag, or the third Tuesday in September, which is when every year the Dutch Queen Beatrix rides an elaborate, old-fashioned coach to the Binnenhof in the Hague, the Dutch house of parliament, to read out a speech which the current government provides her with, which lays out that government’s program for the year. It probably comes as no surprise to you that this year’s government program has already provoked much wailing and gnashing of teeth: €10 billion to be saved this fiscal year, €7 billion the next, and so cut-backs in all sorts of government programs and services held dear by Dutch society.

Given that good reason to make today “Holland Day,” though, I’m going to ignore it – too boring, and too specific to Dutch conditions. If you don’t live here, why would you want to know about that? In fact, you’ve already discovered everything you would want and need to know in my two sentences above.

No, if it’s to be “Holland Day,” let’s devote our attention to something a bit more interesting, to a phenomenon out of Dutch society that does pique the interest even of those who are not native Hollanders: bordellos. Does it come as a surprise to you that, recently, even the municipal authorities of Rotterdam have gotten themselves in to the business of setting up a bawdy house? (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)