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)
Tags: Amsterdam, North Korean
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)
Tags: amusement park, efteling, French music, Sacha Distel
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)
Tags: beaches, borders, highest point, homosexuals, islands, Limburg, Maastricht, peninsulas, volcanoes
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.
Tags: Amsterdam, Bols, cheese, Philips, Tiësto, tourism, Zuidas
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)
Tags: Amsterdam, streets, women
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.
Tags: Amsterdam, books, censorship, Hitler
Apart from the Arctics, the interior of Africa was one of the last places left for Europeans to ‘discover’ and finding the source of the Nile was a major goal for 19th century explorers.
One of these explorers was a woman from The Hague, Alexine Tinne (b. 1835 – d. 1869). Growing up as one of the richest heiresses of the Netherlands in a time when European women were expected to ‘know their place’, nobody would have batted an eyelid if Tinne had stayed at home and prepared for marriage. But even at a young age Alexine Tinne shared with her mother Henriëtte (a former lady-in-waiting and daughter of an admiral) a thirst for travel.
In 1855 mother and daughter sailed up the Nile for the first time in order to reach Karthoum, but it would take them several expeditions to succeed. In 1861 they not only reached Karthoum but decided to push through to Gondokoro in Sudan (near present-day Juba) and beyond. Gondokoro was known as the last place where the Nile was navigable but Tinne fell ill there.
During an attempt in 1863 Tinne lost her mother, her aunt and two servants; it would be her last voyage up the Nile. Writer Redmond O’Hanlon told Historiek.net that he believes Tinne and her mother wanted to discover the source of the Nile: “that was their goal, I am sure of it.” But contemporaries did not approve of women explorers and O’Hanlon fears this is why the Tinne expedition kept schtum about its real motives. Samuel Baker, another Nile explorer of the time, wrote of the competition: “There are Dutch ladies travelling without any gentlemen… They must be demented. A young lady alone with the Dinka tribe… they really must be mad. All the natives are naked as the day they were born.”
Tinne, who felt responsible for the death of her mother and aunt, stayed in Africa. In 1869 Alexine Tinne, while living in Tunesia, decided to cross the Sahara. On 2 August of that year her caravan was ambushed by Tuaregs at the wadi of Chergui in what is now Algeria. Tinne was killed with two sword blows and a gun shot.
Although she only reached the age of 33, she accomplished quite a lot during her life. She designed clothes that she wore herself, wrote and drew the source materials for a botanical guide about the plant life in Sudan (the Plantae Tinneanae), started a half-way house for freed slaves and, in between two of her Nile expeditions, experimented with photography.
Tags: 19th century, Alexine Tinne, explorers, Nile, slavery, slaves, Sudan, The Hague, Tuareg
Last October Mark Zegeling published a book called Sterke Verhalen voor bij de Borrel (tall tales to drink to) in which he explores the houses that KLM’s famous Delftware replicas are based on.
Dutch airline KLM gives away small Delftware bottles (produced in Hong Kong) to its business class passengers on long-haul flights. These bottles are shaped like classic Dutch houses and filled with jenever. So far 94 of them have been produced and now someone has written an extensive book on the history of the real houses that form the basis of KLM’s gifts.
Bol.com describes the book as follows: “[it] combines the best anecdotes and tallest tales about the life behind those gables. [...] It discusses William of Orange’s closest friends, Rembrandt’s sales techniques, Mata Hari’s bed, a golden treasure in a garden and human fat as a miracle cure. [...] Illustrated using more than 1,700 photos and paintings from various museums.”
The book appears to be self-published and is available, amongst others, from the author’s website.
Earlier we wrote about a KLM website which also tells the story of the airliner’s Delftware houses, although the site does so (from what I can tell) in less detail than the book.
Tags: Delftware, gables, jenever, KLM, Mata Hari, Rembrandt, William of Orange
It’s quite true that tourists don’t come to the Netherlands for the food like they would in France or Italy. The Netherlands has wonderful things to offer tourists and inhabitants, but culinary delights, unfortunately, remains a major point of contention.
The Dutch Centre for Folk Culture and Intangible Heritage is apparently compiling a list of suggestions of what the Dutch would like to see on the World Heritage List and Foodlog.nl says none of it is food. Ouch.
Many events such as celebrations of holidays and traditions have been suggested, many of which can be found in other countries, but nothing to eat or drink. Suggestions made by Foodlog.nl to get the ball rolling include:
- Pepernoot from Van den Brenk (1752), not to be confused with ‘kruidnoten’
- Dutch-style appetizers (‘bittergarnituur’) made up of liver sausage, beef sausage, mature cheese and ‘bitterballen’.
- Vlaggetjesdag (Flag day, as in cocktail flags day), the Dutch haring eating tradition by dropping the whole fish in one’s mouth.
- I’d like to add jenever (aka gin), but it already has protected status.
Anything else? Go for it in the comments.
(Link: www.foodlog.nl, Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)
Registered as having fallen on 27 October 1873 in Diepeveen, Overijssel, a piece of a meteorite popped up at a hobby exhibition and may actually be made up of substances older than our solar system. The one shown here is the biggest known meteorite in the world, the Hoba meteorite in Namibia.
The ‘Diepenveen’ (meteorites are named after where they were found) weighs only 68 g and it just 5 x 3 x 3,5 cm in size. However, it is the fifth meteorite ever found in the Netherlands, making it very rare, according to Dutch expert Marco Langbroek. The rock is currently undergoing detailed analysis by Langbroek and his colleague Wim van Westrenen of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, which cannot be rushed as the rock is very fragile and needs to be handled with the utmost care.
The other four known meteorites have fallen in Uden, Noord-Brabant; Blauwkapel, Utrecht; Ellemeet, Zeeland and Glanerbrug, Overijssel.
For many years when I was small I lived in an area called Manicouagan (in Québec, Canada), which is apparently “one of the oldest known impact craters and is the largest ‘visible’ impact crater on Earth” of which Dutch astronaut André Kuipers took a breathtaking picture from space.
(Link: www.kennislink.nl, Photo of Hoba meteorite by coda, some rights reserved)
Tags: meteorites, Overijssel