Sometime around 2013, Amsterdam’s city marketing people decided to rebrand ‘Muiderslot’ (‘Muiden Castle’) to ‘Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot’ to attract more tourists because they believe that if you put the word ‘Amsterdam’ in front of something, cash register sounds start ringing in your head, like a pleasant form of tinnitus. Maybe the name sounds close by or more fun, who knows. Muiderslot is in the town of Muiden now under the same municipality as Naarden (their beautiful fortress doesn’t need rebranding) and Bussum, also known as ‘not Amsterdam’.
Pseudo annexation of interesting tourist venues that are not Amsterdam remains awkward. Nobody calls the coastal cities of IJmuiden, Bloemendaal and Zandvoort ‘Amsterdam Beach’ but the city marketing people who thought that nonsense up. However, bus company Connexxion’s line 80 that goes to Zandvoort is being rebranded as the ‘Amsterdam Beach Line’ possibly because Amsterdam only has fake beaches and Connexxion hooked them up with a real one.
Also having jumped on the bandwagon apparently is the lake area between Amsterdam and Utrecht called ‘Loosdrechtse Plassen’, which is now the ‘Leisure Lakes’ (nope, not a direct translation), which sounds like a floating red light district. And there’s always the ‘Bulb Region’ closer to Haarlem that magically became the ‘Amsterdam Flower Strip’ also not used by anyone except the voices in someone’s head in charge of city marketing.
Picture a map of Amsterdam with everything around called ‘not Amsterdam’. In fact, many people would agree that’s how a lot of Amsterdam residents and unfortunately millions of tourists view the rest of the country.
In the spirit of ridiculous name changes, here are some other suggestions:
Cities close to Amsterdam like Amstelveen, Badhoeverdorp and Diemen that house a lot of expats (read: rich immigrants and migrants) should be called ‘Almost Amsterdam’, Amsterdam Airport Suites’ or just ‘Amsterdam’s suburbs’ and have their official names removed to cause less confusion.
The huge-ass flats in Amsterdam Zuidoost, which is its own district, could be rebranded as ‘Amsterdam Heights’ to have an excuse to hike up the rent of lesser wanted immigrants and migrants by sounding fancier.
Any other interesting towns like Zaandam, Haarlem and Abcoude better watch out before they get ‘Amsterdamized’ as well.
A few years ago, wheeled suitcases (‘rolkoffers’) became synonymous with ‘tourists’ or ‘damn, there’s an Airbnb next to my house’ for a lot of residents. The problem is the sound the wheels make on Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets and sidewalks, which apparently bothers folks in one fancy part of town.
Amsterdam’s current population is about 820,000, in a city that gets – wait for it – 15 million visitors a year. Quiz your friends about how many tourists they think Amsterdam gets every year and they’ll say a few million. By the way, the number keeps going up every year.
Residents in and around the Bickersgracht, a canal very close to Amsterdam Central Station where tourists stay have made two makeshifts signs ‘forbidding’ wheeled suitcases. We get it, you don’t like the sound of all those suitcases early in the morning heading out, but that’s not going to do shit about it.
One local man feels music should come out of the wheels to mask the sound of what actually is the fault of the cobblestone street area of town they live in rather than the suitcases. A rational suggestion from a local woman would be to indicate which hours in the day the locals don’t want to hear the rolling wheels and put that on the sign, but then this would mean you would need to enforce and then it all sounds futile again.
You’ll notice the picture taken here of what is probably a Dutch person going somewhere is on a smooth bike path that sounds way better than on cobblestone. How do other parts of the world tackle this problem? A quick Google search says that in 2014 Venice, a city that gets 22 million tourists a year, tried to ban wheeled suitcase with a fine of 500 euro (mamma mia!) but ended up not going through with it.
Getting divorced? Now you can split your house in half instead of inconveniencing all your friends and family with the gamble you took on a major life decision in the first place. Amsterdam’s Studio OBA’s ‘Prenuptial Housing’ offers a solution for marriages that end up in divorce.
The design consists of two prefabricated units that look like one – a bit like your marriage at some point. The building is made from lightweight carbon fibre elements and a semi-transparent wooden layer that enhances the unity – a bit like your marriage at some point. When couples feel they are drifting apart, the house initiates a ‘break up’ by detaching the two units which then go solo on the water – a bit like your divorce.
Amsterdam resident Maurice Beljaars had first petitioned Twitter and then Unicode for a rainbow emoji flag, which would add a nice touch to any LGBTI-related news, instead of just using an ordinary rainbow.
Beljaars explains that the rainbow flag has been the international symbol of the gay community since the late 1970s. Unicode has already felt it was important to add recent emojis such as the croissant, cowboy and selfie, so why not the rainbow flag? Google employees have also recently made requests for emojis that better represent women in actual jobs rather than in superficial beauty situations and not too long ago many emojis with people in them became available in different skin tones.
Amsterdam is the first Dutch city to finally put an end to the discriminatory practice of paying employees between the ages of 18 and 23 only 45% of the adult minimum wage.
The Netherlands is one of the few European countries where this practice was commonplace, something that is illegal in many Western countries. The city will start by adjusting the salaries of younger people who work for the city. Although the city of Zwolle, Overijssel started doing this before Amsterdam, Amsterdam is making more serious adjustments according to the youth workers’ union who has been pushing hard for change.
In April of this year the Dutch government decided to lower the youth minimum wage from 23 to 21, but yeah, that’s still discrimination. I have yet to hear a good argument besides exploiting young people for this wage discrepancy.
Thanks to the magic of photochromy, the art of reproducing colours by photography, the company Photoglob from Zurich, Switzerland lets us enjoy colour pictures of Amsterdam taken between 1890 and 1900, which were originally black and white.
Thanks to RTVNH having a slow news moment, you can enjoy more pictures of Amsterdam including the Amstel river, Central Station, the Rijksmuseum, and a few more by following the link below.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has been working in Amsterdam this week, and he also decided to soak up some culture by visiting the Rijksmuseum with former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
Cook’s eye fell on a painting from 1670 entitled ‘Man handing a letter to a woman in the entrance hall of a house’ by Pieter de Hooch, where the letter looks a bit like a mobile phone. Cook did think it was a Rembrandt because well, why not, and he also thought the letter looked like an iPhone, when it fact it looks more like a smaller type of mobile phone if you ask me.
In 2009 Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Swolfs set out to visit and photograph street life in every country of the world. The idea was to portray 200 countries through 200 street photos, displayed next to each other, to show a positive image of the world in which we live, very different than the harsh images we’re used to.
The exhibition Streets of the World is the result of his journey, a photography project that not only distinguishes itself in scale, but also by the positive vision of the photographer and his eye for people.
If you’re anywhere near Amsterdam, catch Swolfs’ exhibition until mid July at the Nieuwe Kerk, which coincides with the World Press Photo exhibition, at the same location.
Here’s a video of his trip through Asia with explanations: