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April 17, 2014

Rare Medieval coins excavated in Utrecht

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 10:58 pm

20140417 Vroegmiddeleeuwse muntvondst Domplein  (11)

The ongoing excavations under the Dom Church of Utrecht have led to the finding of gold copies of tremisses, of the Madelinus type, issued from Dorestad, a large settlement of the province of Utrecht and an international trade hub of Northern Europe from the 7th to the mid 9th century. Also found at the same spot were silver sceattas, minted in England, Frisia (Friesland) and Jutland (Denmark) also around that period.

The coins denote a turbulent period in Dutch history when the Frisians and the Franks were trying to control the strategically located city of Utrecht.

The coins will be on display as of Friday 18 April at the Centraal Museum Utrecht.

(Link and photo: www.cultureelerfgoed.nl)

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April 12, 2014

‘Occupied’ an unwelcome word during first King’s Day

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 10:19 am

bezet-martijn-van-exel

The Amsterdam district Centrum has declared the word ‘bezet’ (Dutch for occupied) a verbum non gratum, an unwelcome word for King’s Day.

During the Dutch national holiday, the whole country turns into a single large flea market. Citizens often chalk or tape a rectangle on the pavement the night or even days before to ensure themselves of the best spots and write the word ‘bezet’ in the middle for good measure. Parool reports that the district feels the word would be in bad taste so close to Remembrance of the Dead (4 May). To me that suggests (tongue firmly in cheek) a minor victory for the Nazis almost 70 years after they were chased out of the country by Canadian, British and American troops.

Saturday 26 April will be the first King’s Day ever. In 1885 a newspaper editor in Utrecht organised a Princess Day to celebrate the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, which evolved into Queen’s Day when Wilhelmina ascended the throne. Since then the Netherlands has only had queens, but last year King Willem Alexander took over from his mother during Queen’s Day. King’s Day is celebrated on the king’s birthday, 27 April, except when that date is on a Sunday—then the holiday will be moved to Saturday. This year that happens to be the case.

(Photo by Martijn van Exel, some rights reserved)

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April 10, 2014

The Anne Frank tree in Amsterdam is branching out

Filed under: History,Nature by Orangemaster @ 10:08 am
kastanjeboom

Back in 2010 the world famous Anne Frank chestnut tree had blown over and broke. In an effort to save something of this tree mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary, branches were take in order to try and grow saplings.

Today, one of the saplings is big enough to be planted, and its prestigious destination will be the Capitol in Washington, DC, the seat of the United States Congress. This is not the first time the United States has planted saplings from the Anne Frank tree; in fact 11 have already been planted throughout the country.

The sapling will be planted on the Capitol’s west front lawn on April 30.

(Link: www.miamiherald.com, Photo: annefranktree.com)

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March 30, 2014

The bloody testament of Willem Frederik

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 7:42 pm

bloody-testament-willem-frederik

This is a scrap of the testament of Prince Willem Frederik, stadtholder of Friesland, and the blood on it is his as he wrote it with a gun wound to the head.

Until fairly recently Willem Frederik was known to be a bit of a schmuck and the story of his death did nothing to lessen that reputation. During the hunt one of his pistols refused to fire and when Willem Frederik wanted to clean it back home, it went off. The bullet went through his chin and jaw, making it so he couldn’t speak for a week—and then he died.

In the week before his death on 31 October 1664 Willem Frederik was no longer able to speak and he used notes to communicate. In the note above, which is kept at the Tresoar in Leeuwarden, he asks that his ‘hofmeester’ (head of the household) stay with his wife and children.

Willem Frederik shot himself with a wheellock gun, an invention attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. It was improvement on previous pistols because it could be carried around while loaded. That made it a perfect gun for assassins—William of Orange was killed with one—and for less careful members of the house of Nassau alike.

(Link and photo: mediaevalfragments.wordpress.com)

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February 19, 2014

North Korean hostesses cover traditional Dutch song

Filed under: Food & Drink,History,Music by Orangemaster @ 5:29 pm

Two years ago, a North Korean restaurant (now closed) in the West of Amsterdam had caused quite the commotion having been accused of spreading propaganda and all that jazz. But at least there was after dinner singing.

Now in the East part of town restaurant Haedanghwa features North Korean food with traditional after dinner songs sung by North Korean girls in traditional garb. The fun part is, they sing their rendition of the Dutch standard ‘Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten’ (roughly, At the Canals of Amsterdam) that they apparently worked very hard not only to sing, but to understand. They practiced for a few weeks and now you can enjoy the video.

(Link: www.vice.com, Photo of Pyongyang restaurant by Comicbase, some rights reserved)

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February 11, 2014

Colonialism and cannibals: deconstructing a Dutch tourist attraction

Filed under: History,Music by Orangemaster @ 9:30 am

The brouhaha starts with the pot calling the kettle black: although she had a great time with her kids, an American journalist managed to find fault with a Dutch amusement park ride from De Efteling called ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ (yes, that’s French, explanation coming up) that features an African cannibal-like character with a bone through his nose by calling it ‘a racist throwback’. America’s Disney is already a cesspool of throwbacks, which dilutes the journalist’s comment as much as a useless homeopathic remedy.

The ride has been around since 1988 and regardless of what people think of it (‘racist throwback’ vs. ‘mythical character’), taking issue with it now is very lame, especially making a totally unproven connection between the offensive character and Dutch colonialism just to drive a point.

And it gets more odd at least for me.

A few years ago, there was an advert on Dutch telly with small children dancing around a room to the song ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ by Sacha Distel. I couldn’t understand why a song about a cannibal was deemed fitting for dancing kiddies. My co-blogger pointed out that the Dutch knew this song from De Efteling.

Problem is Distel’s song is about a man captured in Africa by cannibals who thought he was a spy, trying to politely plead the head cannibal (hence addressing him as Monsieur) not to eat him, but negotiates his way out of it by offering him porno magazines. The head cannibal laughs, brings the guy back to his harem for a week after which the guy lose 20 kilos, refuses to leave and wants to stay with the harem, which we can easily assume are a whole bunch of naked, ready to go women.

You can imagine my surprise at seeing dancing children associated with trading porno magazines, something I bet most of you didn’t know. Well, now you know and you won’t be able to unknow it, just like me.

And if you want some French-style throwback, watch how Sacha pulls the side of his eyes to designate speaking Chinese in the video at 0:25 for starters.

(Link: www.nltimes.nl, Photo of an Efteling dragon by Jeroen Kransen, some rights reserved)

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February 8, 2014

‘Gay threat’ makes Belgium and Netherlands rethink shared border

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 11:37 pm

eijsden-openstreetmap

Big Think writes:

A combination of sex and drugs (and possibly rock ‘n’ roll) is forcing two governments to change the border that divides them. The Presqu’ile de l’Islal, a small Belgian peninsula stranded on the Dutch bank of the river Meuse, is to change hands to eliminate a zone that is, to all practical effects, quite literally beyond the law.

Due to its political status, the uninhabited peninsula is off limits to the Dutch police. And because of its geographic isolation, it is out of reach for their Belgian colleagues. These circumstances conspire to make the peninsula a sanctuary for unlicensed sunbathing, loud bacchanalia and unrestricted drug dealing.

In parts of Limburg the border is formed by the river Meuse. Over time gravel extraction has led the river to change its course, creating tracts of land that the Belgian police can only reach by taking a long detour over Dutch territory. Binnenlands Bestuur explained in 2001: “The peninsulas have become popular as a gay meeting ground. [...] In the summer the beach is popular with youths. [...] Recently there have been indications that the gays have been bothering the youths. These allegations cannot be verified because the Dutch authorities have no legal status in the area and the Belgian authorities cannot act there because,” and here the author cranks up the dramatic background score to eleven, “they would have to invade our country through the town of Eijsden!”

Oh the horror! The voice of sanity is one Johan Lahaye speaking for the town of Eijsden who told Trouw shortly after: “There is no gay beach there. We’ve had the grand sum of exactly one complaint.” By that time however the Dutch parliament had started to study the issue and the Minister of the Interior had promised to make the border correction a priority. Last year De Limburger reported on a border committee that had visited the area and was ready to send a report to the capitals of both nations.

The border correction is expected to take place in a year or two. Gentlemen, start your engines.

The last time the Netherlands changed its borders was in 2010 when it gained 3 volcanoes (a number which had been 0 since 1945) and its highest point became 887 metres (formerly 323 metres)—three of the Dutch Antilles became a part of the country.

(Map by OpenStreetMap contributors, some rights reserved; the big purple line is the border)

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February 5, 2014

Tourist film about the Dutch keeps it white and cheesy

Filed under: Art,Film,Food & Drink,History by Orangemaster @ 2:49 pm

The tourist video ‘Going Dutch’ premiered in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam last November and yes, it is well shot. I very much like the voiceover with its impeccable pronunciation, as it has the right tone for that in-flight video feel. In fact, if you wanted to convince some friends and family abroad to visit the country this video wouldn’t be a bad place to start. The film does focus heavily on Amsterdam, which is often the first place people visit and then unfortunately associate with the entire country. Although you may learn something, I mostly saw stereotypes being reinforced like a dam with a leak in it.

Some 5 minutes into the film when basking in the past glory of Dutch football accomplishments, they actually mention that ‘women’s football has been given a boost in recent years’ although let’s face it, nobody here gives a rat’s ass about it. At about 7 minutes in we get into Dutch art, which again relies on the classics, but that is to be expected.

We continue on to 10 minutes in and ‘Dutch craftsmanship’ pushes top Dutch brands Philips and Bols — music and booze if you will. About two minutes later at 12 odd minutes, the ‘Dutch water’ bit focuses on in and around Rotterdam, with dams and shipping containers. At around 15 minutes, it’s about Dutch food and it shows herring and haute cuisine side by side, which doesn’t reflect reality at all. However, the cheese tour makes up for it and the white blonde Dutch narrator dares call himself a ‘cheese head’.

The testosterone-induced business atmosphere of the Zuidas, where a few wannabee skyscrapers are clustered, doesn’t work for me at all, but then it is often forced into every business film to make it look like we have a proper financial district. Speaking of getting down to business, Dutch music gets its bit at 20 odd minutes in after having used a picture of internationally famous singer Caro Emerald but completely ignoring her and skipping to classical music on the one hand and Dutch dance DJs (all men) on the other. By then I’ve seen three visual references to Tiësto, then finally a female DJ is on screen, but oh no, she starts praising the success of her male colleagues abroad.

In the end, the narrator is in what I think – and I am guessing here — Monnickendam, giving two blonde women passing by a badly acted once-over, as he says “come see for yourself what the Netherlands has to offer.” [Insert facepalm here].

Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t be writing this blog if we didn’t think the Netherlands (the entire country, not just Amsterdam) had tons to offer, but giving the impression to foreigners that everything is mostly done by white men in 2013 is scary and unrealistic. The only time ethnic minorities are shown on screen is when they plug the tolerance cliché and the muliticulti one (filmed in Amsterdam) because ethnic minorities don’t seem to be of any use otherwise, not even in the food part.

It’s safe to say that history is basically repeating itself.

(Link: www.rtvnh.nl)

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January 31, 2014

Amsterdam’s new street names will be named after women

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 11:05 am

Local TV station AT5 tells us that only 7% of street names in Amsterdam are named after women, and that the mayor has promised to change that in the future. Of course, Amsterdam’s streets are named after a whole bunch of other things like bridges and canals, but we do live in 2014 and it wouldn’t kill the city to make this kind of upgrade.

A Master’s thesis by Rob Koolos on Street names in Noord-Brabant and Holland — this includes Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague — explains the situation when it comes to streets named after women:

Except for the Royal Family (and the wives of William of Orange), before the Second World War, streets named after women were very, very scarce. Aagje Deken and Betje Wolff (writers) and Thérèse Schwartze (painter) were the only women that appeared in more than one of the researched cities. [...] After the Second World War, with the second feminist wave and a rapidly growing list of important women, this situation did improve slightly. Leiden and Alphen aan de Rijn for example decided to use only women to name the streets in their new quarters.

I’ve seen street names in Amsterdam named after women like doctors, the wives of famous men, artists and even fictional characters. And if Leiden and Alphen aan de Rijn can do it, so can Amsterdam.

(Link: www.welingelichtekringen.nl, Photo of Warmoesstraat by Olivier Bruchez, some rights reserved)

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January 15, 2014

Bookshop owner to go to court for selling Hitler’s memoirs

Filed under: History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 8:42 pm

book_stack

Michiel van Eyck, owner of the Totalitarian Art Gallery in Amsterdam was questioned by police for an hour recently on the sale of Adolf Hitler’s memoirs Mein Kampf.

You see, the sale of Mein Kampf is banned in the Netherlands under anti-discrimination laws. Sure, you can just score it online instead, which is legal and makes the ban absurd and not very useful.

Van Eyck feels that selling the famous memoirs is not inciting hatred, as he also sells books written by Stalin, Mao and the likes. He hopes to go to court to have what he feels is an outdated ban overturned.

(Link: www.amsterdamherald.com)

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