Amsterdam in the Golden Age: the 17th century was a time when the city rapidly became an economic and cultural force to be reckoned with, and now apparently also the setting of British author Jessie Burton’s first novel entitled ‘The Miniaturist’. I haven’t read it and if anyone has, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
Set in 1686 Petronella ‘Nella’ Oortman, a Dutchwoman from the countryside marries rich Amsterdam merchant Johannes Brandt. Nella lives with her stern sister-in-law Marin and an intriguing dark-skinned manservant Otto. Nella almost never sees her busy husband who is either away or locked in his office at home and passes the time with a doll house gift from her husband that looks just like the house they live in. The doll house is slowly being filled with miniatures sent to Nella by an anonymous person who seems to know a lot about the people living in her house.
The doll house in question is on display at the Rijksmuseum, a small, nine-room house of porcelain, oak, marble and glass, which was the inspiration for Burton’s novel.
There’s more to tell, but then I think we’ll just have to read the novel to find out. I’m wondering how plausible the setting of 17th century Amsterdam is, I wonder about the female name ‘Marin’ and I know that if a Dutch person were to write a novel set in, oh, 18th century London, that it would also be culturally scrutinised by the media with good reason.
(Links: blog.chron.com, www.theguardian.com, Photo of the VOC HQ (East India Company) by Josh, distributed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)
Tags: Amsterdam, Jessie Burton
We might as well be able to fly through the North-South line in 2014 because we can’t use the metro yet, although it was originally scheduled to be ready in 2011, then again in the summer of 2014, which also didn’t happen. Construction started in 2002 and the new current completion date is 2017.
Studio MAD made a promotional film for Thales Group Netherlands, which supplies access ports and ICT for public transport. It features a drone going the entire length of the North-South tunnel that runs under Amsterdam Central Station, which was one of the major hiccups of the project.
“The images were partially filmed with a camera under the drone, while the other part was filmed with a camera mounted on our ‘Skyglide’ rig. Our cameraman sat at the front of a bicycle to shoot, but the drone was controlled by a company with the license to fly one.”
(Link: www.dutchnews.nl, Image: Benthem Crouwel Archtitects)
Tags: Amsterdam, drone, North-South metro
Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent Dutch films out there, some of which even helped me learn the language before I immigrated here many moons ago. However, if Dutch distribution companies and cinemas think a film is so bad they call it ‘a low point in Dutch film history’, then it must be some 50 shades of shitty. Surprise, it’s a total ’50 shades of grey’ rip-off if we believe the media because I already planned to ignore the original for as long as I live.
The film is called ‘De Overgave’ (roughly ‘The Surrender’) and here’s the trailer if you must). Major cinemas in Amsterdam have snubbed it, arthouse cinemas who are known to appreciate an underappreciated film have turned it down and the film’s Amsterdam distribution company only made 5 or 6 copies instead of the planned 50 or 60 because it’s, well, shite.
The directeur Paul Ruven is apparently well known for writing books about how to copy Hollywood film successes. Gosh.
(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo of film cans by tallfoot, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, cinema
An 85-year-old apartment in Amsterdam was recently redesigned by MAMM Design of Japan to provide maximum sunlight for an apparently non-Dutch family of four, which explains the very bright white walls.
The sunken kitchen is quite nifty, creating more space vertically, and by taking away stairs, walls and a part of the upper floor, the designers managed to get sunlight to spread all over the house. Although it looks a lot like an office space in the pictures (see link), I’m still impressed by what this Japanese firm did to a Dutch flat, considering how well they deal with small spaces themselves.
(Link and Photo: www.dezeen.com)
Tags: Amsterdam, renovations
Back in early 2012 we told you about lab produced meat being made, and in late 2013 about the meat finally hitting the grill. Now it’s time to level up with a test-tube cookbook called ‘The In Vitro Meat Cookbook” written by Dutch-based scientists, chefs and artists and recently presented in Amsterdam.
“While some dishes are innovative and delicious, others are uncanny and macabre,” such as roast raptor, dodo nuggets and oysters grown from meat stem cells.
The idea was not to get people cooking so much as letting people imagine future possibilities.
Tags: Amsterdam, cookbook, lab meat
As of today selected Amsterdam clients using taxi app uberPOP can organise taxi-like rides with private persons and pay for them using their smartphone. The company also offers two other services that feature properly licensed drivers and vehicles, but it is uberPOP that remains a thorn in the side of cabbies, as it offer rides up to 50% cheaper than normal cabs.
Besides having much more overhead (insurance, permits to drive over tram rails and bus lanes, etc.), cab drivers in Amsterdam have to write down every trip they take, which I find ridiculous and dangerous as many do it while driving, something an uber driver probably doesn’t have to do.
In London, where the app has been available for some time 12,000 taxi drivers protested last month, although many Londoners are gladly using the app. Earlier this year in Paris riots broke out, with people being hit and cars being smashed. The city of Brussels demanded uber make changes to its app in order to keep it legal, including making drivers obtain certificates of good behaviour.
The main objection to the app is that it takes work away from real taxi drivers, but then the app is legal and the drivers and cars currently meet local rules and regulations. Anyone is free to take a properly licensed taxi if they want, but with the mess that is Amsterdam’s taxi services, switching to uber will probably be a major relief for a lot of people.
In Amsterdam drivers continue to refuse small trips, preferring tourists going from Amsterdam Central Station to Schiphol Airport. They also often refuse animals, sometimes speak poor Dutch and/or poor English, and have one of the highest fares in the world. I personally get good taxi service when I need it because I don’t take taxis from Amsterdam Central Station, which is physically regulated at night by security staff like some Banana republic. Even tourist website ‘I Amsterdam’ says “Amsterdam recently launched a campaign to improve taxi services”, while happily listing uber under ‘special taxi services’. Fancy that.
(Link: www.elsevier.nl, Photo of taxi sign by Ben Fredericson, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, app, taxi, uber
The Jacksons are performing at Paradiso in Amsterdam on Wednesday 30 July and were scheduled to lay flowers this afternoon at a memorial billboard featuring a famous photograph of the late
Michael Jackson taken by Dutch photographer Claude Vanheye in 1977. Located on the Gustav Mahlerplein in the Zuidas business district, the billboard was installed on June 25 and will stay there until mid August.
However, word is that Jackie, Tito, Marlon and Jermaine were stuck in France due to bad weather and now hope to honour their late brother Michael on Wednesday, but it’s not confirmed yet as I write this, so we’ll keep you posted.
The above-mentioned picture (click to see) features a young Michael Jackson with a camera walking through the Jordaan district of Amsterdam.
UPDATE: The Jacksons should be at the memorial billboard around noon on 30 July, as per Nu.nl.
(Links: www.at5, www.legendarymichaeljackson.nl, Photo of Michael Jackson illustration by kasiQ, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, Claude Vanheye, Michael Jacksons, Paradiso, The Jacksons, Zuidas
Café Goos in the South of Amsterdam decided to party on with some music after the Netherlands won 5-1 against Spain in the World Cup on 12 June. However, the music was too loud for the neighbours who complained and the café owner was given a warning: pipe down or else it will cost you 5,000 euro next time.
Dutch cafés are required to have limiters on their music installations, often dedicated mp3 players or computers, in order not to exceed legally allowed sound levels. However, the authorities claim that Café Goos’ setup using an iPad was just not working properly. The owner blames the limiter for not working properly, as if he had no control over it, which is lame and will still cost him 5,000 euro if he can’t sort it out.
A football win is not an excuse to make more noise than usual although I am sure many people in Amsterdam would tolerate it if it were a semi-final or a final. Cafés are very often at odds with neighbours over noise in major Dutch cities and is a top complaint around the country. Amusingly enough, the Amsterdam district with the least noise problems as of March 2014 is the South.
Tags: Amsterdam, football, noise
The Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief Amsterdam) has recently uploaded a five-minute YouTube film to its channel with nice animation showing the expansion of Amsterdam’s canal ring in the 17th century.
The animated film shows the growth and expansion of the ‘grachtengordel’ (the canal ring, a Dutch word that is a rite of passage in itself when you can finally pronounce it properly) that took shape during the Golden Age. It shows the Royal Palace on Dam Square, the Westerkerk (‘Western church’) and the houses on Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.
The now famous posh Jordaan district starts off the expansion phase, with animation that makes you feel like a bird flying over the city.
(www.amsterdamherald.com, Image: Gerrit Adriaensz Berckheyde, public domain)
Tags: Amsterdam, canals
Last January garbage collectors found 46,000 guilders in old office furniture that most likely came from the offices of Amsterdam’s district Zuid (‘South’).
The money was found by an HVC employee in Hoorn who was busy compressing a container full of wood when money boxes started popping out, revealing the banknotes they had inside. The district told Parool that they never missed the money. The district ordered the money to be returned. The paper doesn’t say what legal grounds they have to do so.
Amsterdam Zuid is home to the richest residents of Amsterdam, so it’s quite ironic that they could lose tens of thousands of guilders without noticing it. Residents of some Amsterdam Zuid neighbourhoods are so wealthy that when they get fined for double parking, they prefer to call their expensive lawyers rather than paying a small fine.
The Netherlands replaced the guilder by the euro as its legal tender in 2002.
(Photo by Sarah Joy, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, Amsterdam Zuid, money, parking, wealth