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April 23, 2016

Dutch Eurovision entry is nice, but will it do?

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 9:58 pm

This year’s Eurovision Song Festival entry is from 23-year-old Douwe Bob from Amsterdam who will perform his song ‘Slow Down’, which is in English and sounds a lot like country music with a touch of the 1970s. He’s popular, has won a lot of prizes, seems really positive about his chances, but his song is not an earworm. I do like his pronunciation, although his lyrics are too simplistic for my taste. Then again, that’s probably good considering the level of people’s English at Eurovision.

The comments on YouTube are very positive and we’ve been wrong before. I can’t seem to remember the song after a few listens. Problem is, ‘J’ai cherché’, the French entry by Amir is an earworm for me even though it has a television commercial quality to it, and the chorus is in English. A few others have more sticking potential like ‘You Are the Only One’ by Sergey Lazarev of Russia, a typical dramatic Eurovision techno song, with a break, a bridge, and the almost obligatory modulation near the end.

Will it blend or not? Give Douwe Bob a spin:

(Links: www.eurovision.tv, Photo of Microphone by visual dichotomy, some rights reserved)

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April 22, 2016

Chanel in Amsterdam boasts unique glass façade

Filed under: Architecture by Orangemaster @ 3:26 pm

Chanel.PCHooft

A few days ago, the fanciest shopping street of Amsterdam, the PC Hooftstraat, inaugurated a glass façade at the Chanel shop, attracting a lot of attention from passers-by. The creators, Rotterdam studio MVRDV, apparently used pioneering glass technology to replace the brick front of a former townhouse with a transparent replica.

MVRDV explains that the glass bricks are held in place with a transparent high-strength glue, and the construction is in many ways, stronger than concrete. Higher up the building, the glass elements merge with the original brickwork to create the illusion of a dissolving wall. Every change in daylight can now be seen, and the sun changes the aspect of the façade.

“Until the 1950s, the PC Hooftstraat was a residential street, and slowly turned into a shopping street with big brand names and foreign tourists. Eventually it plans to become as famous as the Champs-Élysées in Paris or the Ginza in Tokyo, but for now it is still busy transforming itself from provincial shopping street to international shopping street.

(Link: www.dezeen.com, Photo: www.architectenweb.nl)

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April 21, 2016

Shop experiment serving wine turns to sour grapes

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 10:06 am

Having a glass of wine at the hair salon and at some clothing shops in Amsterdam started as an experiment in January 2016. Rotterdam started in February and called it ‘Project Blending 010’ (why in English, don’t know – 010 is the area code for Rotterdam) and other places in the country called it ‘blurring’ (why in English, still don’t know) because the law says serving alcohol without a liquor license is illegal. So yes, the whole thing was illegal but tolerated – sound familiar?

The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) kicked off the experiment, but the Union of Liquor Store Owners (Slijtersunie) recently decided they were done being tolerant and decided to officially report the VNG to the authorities for breaking the law. The VNG is ‘surprised’ because talking it out is usually the Dutch way, but you can imagine there’s a lot more selling of alcohol at salons and shops than there is selling non-alcohol related products at the wine store. The experiment let shops serve and sell alcohol, while establishments that usually sell alcohol could sell shop products.

A lot of us were already having a drink with the lovely people who patiently cut our hair before any of this became a thing. And yes, it would probably help to make any kind of shopping more enjoyable. Maybe it’s time to change the law instead of forcing one group of Dutch businesses to have their turf invaded by another.

Or they could have a drink and talk it out till the cows come home Dutch style, who knows.

(Links: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, www.z24.nl, www.telegraaf.nl, Photo of Hair salon by Travel Salem, some rights reserved)

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April 18, 2016

Watch the dearly departed being cremated

Filed under: Architecture,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 3:20 pm

2016-04-14-Zorgvlied-Crematorion-opening-0351-Kopie-586x391

Already operational last month but recently opened by city officials, the Zorgvlied crematorium in Amsterdam features a unique teepee shaped building that has room for cremations and an audience watching the cremation – a Dutch first.

In fact, the design of the place was all about giving bereaved families and friends a chance to be with the dearly departed right until the end. The upwards swirling style of the crematorium gives the impression of going towards the heavens.

Cremation is more popular than burials in Amsterdam, for reasons of space and functionality, and its popularity continues to increase. Budget surely plays a role in this as well.

You can actually visit the crematorium on Sunday 29 May and Sunday 5 June between 12:30 and 17:00, follow the link below for more details. Last Sunday attracted 400 people curious to see what it looks like.

(Links and photo: www.uitvaartmedia.com-1, www.uitvaartmedia.com-2)

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April 2, 2016

Amsterdam celebrates 15 years of same-sex marriages

Filed under: Dutch first,History by Branko Collin @ 9:56 pm

amsterdam-same-sex-marriageThe city of Amsterdam released a video yesterday titled 15 Years of Equal Marriage.

The video shows the city celebrating and looking back on the four same-sex weddings that were held at city hall on 1 April 2001. The weddings were officiated by Job Cohen, the former mayor of Amsterdam, at midnight.

(Video: Vimeo / Amsterdam; image: crop of a still from the video)

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March 29, 2016

Live grenade found in old folks’ home

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:27 am
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World War II grenades pop up on the beach, at flea markets and even in potatoes here in the Netherlands, but this time a grenade was in fact sitting in an old man’s cupboard with its pin out.

A resident of an old folks’ home in Amsterdam East has had a live grenade for years that everybody thought was a fake. Sadly, the man recently passed and when his belongings were collected, the people that found the grenade among his model boats and books had it checked out by the police.

The staff of the home just assumed it was a fake, but once the police checked it out, they realised it was in a fact a live grenade. The bomb squad came and picked it up and had it detonated. All we know is that it was an English grenade that finally came out of the closet, although thankfully not with a bang.

(Link: www.waarmaarraar.nl, Photo of grenade by macspite, some rights reserved)

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March 16, 2016

Women in Amsterdam council told what to wear

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:52 am

An e-mail written by the team leader of the district council of Nieuw-West in Amsterdam has told women they cannot wear ‘skirts/dresses above the knee’ and ‘knee-high boots’ if they work at the council office counter, where citizens come and get municipal permits and documents. By extension, if this were to be applied, they might have to fear for their jobs. And a happy belated International Women’s Day to you, too.

Assuming the team leader is a man, although their identity is currently being investigated, he has no power to tell women or anyone else what to wear, which clearly goes against the regulations of the city of Amsterdam as a whole. Questions are being asked by local politicians we know personally about these ‘absurd’ rules that target women. The assumption being made is that Nieuw-West, a district with a large Muslim population, is trying to spare them the view of decadent Western women as spring approaches, but nobody asked their opinion. Assumption number three is that the team leader saw a short skirt with knee-high boots that ‘bothered’ him, to use 1920s parlance, and so he decided to attack all women and offend a lot of men in the process.

Why fill in an entire group’s opinion without asking them? Not a single letter of complaint can be found at the offices, either. Sadly, Nieuw-West is the butt of many jokes, despite having a vibrantly diverse community. If it had more bars and wasn’t so far from the city centre, it could be my kind of ‘hood. It’s cheaper that most places, has big green parks, world-class street art, and food markets that makes you feel like you’re not in Amsterdam. But it takes one absurd e-mail to give the Dutch Internet a reason to trash Nieuw-West and attack its Muslim community.

Maybe this team leader needs to take a course on how to deal with his 1950s view on women in the workplace and not try and change the world around him to suit his backwards views.

UPDATE: The team leader was actually a woman who saw a colleague wearing a skirt she found too short, but instead of communicating with her one on one like a normal person, she felt an email that would cause an unnecessary stir was the way to go.

(Link: www.nu.nl, Photo of wilted tulip by Graham Keen, some rights reserved)

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March 15, 2016

Dutch cities do well as drug capitals

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 8:55 pm

Testing waste water for drugs has again put Amsterdam at the top of the list of European drug capitals: it scored top marks for MDMA, the main ingredient of XTC, and cannabis. While London nabbed first place for cocaine with 737,3 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, Amsterdam is not far behind with 716,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. Amsterdam usually makes this list no matter what’s in the water, and that also seems to go for Utrecht and Eindhoven.

Number two for cannabis is Barcelona with 165,7 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, but apparently it doesn’t even come close to Amsterdam that has 469,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. The top 5 in cannabis also includes Utrecht and Eindhoven respectively fourth and fifth, with Antwerp in third place.

Scandinavian cities are still more into speed, but the top city in Europe for speed is Antwerp. In the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the speed capital, while Eindhoven is second in Europe after Antwerp.

(Link: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, nos.nl, Photo: DEA)

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February 29, 2016

Amsterdam Central Station’s shared space is successful

Filed under: Bicycles,General by Orangemaster @ 1:06 pm

First the media complained about how dangerous it looked, with opinions ranging from ‘completely bonkers’ and ‘sign this petition’, which have now turned into ‘yeah, but don’t be in a rush’ (video) and ‘hey, it actually works for 39,000 commuters a day’.

After a major redesign of the space behind Amsterdam Central Station, where the many ferries take commuters across the IJ river to Amsterdam-Noord, cyclists and pedestrians need to navigate a sea of each other in a no-traffic-rules-figure-it-out-among-yourselves zone. The idea is that a shared space avoids using traffic lights, and if it had been a total disaster full of accidents, the city would have changed it, but now the shared space is deemed successful.

People coming off ferries on bikes and scooters are definitely to be avoided as a pedestrian, then again, if I’m in their way, it’s up to them to go around me. I’ve actually been there on roller skates at night and that went well. According to Het Parool newspaper, in three months, there has been one ‘incident’ where a cyclist hit a scooter and got back on their bike and buzzed off. They say that cyclists are a bit less aggressive and more polite to pedestrians there as well, and all the naysayers, including us, although we kept it down the pub, have been proven wrong.

Have a look at this time-lapse video and see for yourselves:

Timelapse van de shared space bij Centraal Station from Gemeente Amsterdam on Vimeo.

(Links: www.parool.nl, citinerary.net)

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February 24, 2016

Gourmet popcorn shop hits Amsterdam high street

Filed under: Dutch first,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 7:48 pm

Popcorn-machine

I’ve recently noticed an increase in popcorn flavours besides salty and sweet at my local supermarket, such as fancy popcorn with cheese and chives and what not from the UK as well as Dutch attempts at making popcorn that reminds me of American Cracker Jack.

This time Italians are bringing the popcorn to downtown Amsterdam, with the opening of FOL Gourmet Popcorn, the first ever popcorn shop of the country. Flavours will include bacon, chili pepper and white chocolate with pretzel. You can also sit down and have a beverage with your popcorn.

I love popcorn and every time I reach for some I say ‘popcorn!’ and picture of James Brown getting down.

(Links: nieuws.nl, www.vastgoedmarkt.nl, Photo: Popcorn Monsoon by Dutch designer Jolene Carlier)

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