A work by Dutch artist Jan Schoonhoven stolen from the Museum van Bommel van Dam in Venlo last March was auctioned off by London auction house Sotheby’s in what the Dutch media has called the ‘gaffe of the century’.
Sotheby’s auctioned a white relief made from papier-maché and latex paint for close to 214, 000 euro despite a warning from the Art Loss Register, a London databank of stolen artwork.
And if that isn’t sloppy enough, the Sotheby’s catalogue had the work printed under a false name and the picture of the work was rotated 90 degrees. Two art traders, one British and one Dutch, recognised the stolen work, pointed it out, and only then did Sotheby’s decide to inform the police.
Every year, municipalities hold a ceremony to hand out decorations of the Order of Orange-Nassau. However, this year municipalities won’t receive any personal information about the recipients due to privacy issues, which could lead to embarrassing situations, according to the city of Venlo, Limburg.
What if someone has died? City officials won’t know and still have to send a letter to find out the hard way. What if a person has moved? Officials won’t know either and the recipients won’t get their decoration. The mayor of Venlo, Antoin Scholten, has a point.
Frans Pollux from Venlo translated 12 Bruce Springsteen songs to the Venloish dialect.
Are the Boss’ songs uniquely tied to New Jersey or can they also be about the roads of Blerick in Limburg (just across The River, the Meuse that is, from Venlo)? The 12 track CD Pollux Duit Springsteen tries to answer the question, or at least to entertain you. The title means Pollux Does Springsteen.
Limburgs Museum in Venlo has an exhibit of Roman Empire household goods with a twist. All the items on display are replicas, and are for sale as part of an exhibit that tries to mimic IKEA down to the smallest detail, including the familiar blue floor map in Latin.
There’s the blue and yellow logo, the shop-by-room concept, and a cheap Roman meatball lunch in the café. Best of all are the exhibit’s housewares, all of them labelled with Latin names and all available for purchase. You can pick up a “Romulus” toy wooden sword, a “Secundus” wine goblet, or a bust of Emperor Hadrian. Furniture available for online ordering include lounges, tables, and storage cabinets modelled after items found in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum.
The furniture was built by Drias in Tilburg based on charred remains found in Pompeji and Herculaneum, on frescos from those same cities, and on an illustrated coffin from Simpelveld (Limburg).
The exhibit/store runs until 6 January, 2012. The web shop is in Dutch, but also delivers abroad.
Slow news day, so I thought I’d try something different. Here is a list of (short form) given names from my city of birth, Venlo, and their translations into Dutch, English, German and French, where possible.
English / German / French
John / Jan* / Jean
Bert / ? / Albert
Sjraar (sjrAr) **
? / ? / Gérard
Jack / ? / Jacques
Tony*** / ? / Tony
? / ? / ?
Mary / ? / Marie
Theo / Theo / Théo
Pronunciations between parentheses. I used the SAMPA alphabet for readability. Like IPA it’s a phonetic alphabet, but unlike IPA it only uses Latin symbols). I used the SAMPA English phonetic alphabet though, so the pronunciations listed here are the closest approximations—in my humble opinion. But note, for instance, that ‘a’ (as in Jan) and ‘aa’ (as in Sjaak) have completely different pronounciations in Dutch. (In Dutch long vowels are typically spelled with a double letter, and short vowels with a single letter. Exceptions abound.)
Other Limburgish dialects may use the same names as Venloish, or have wildly differing variants. The Dutch word for the short form of a given name is roepnaam by the way. I have no idea of its etymology, and it could mean either ‘handy version of a name for shouting’ or ‘name one is known by’.
Any additions and corrections are welcome.
*) Recent or regional.
**) If this were Dutch it woud mean “shush, crazy”.
***) From Italian Antonio.
The cartoon was made by Peter van Straaten for Vrij Nederland magazine, and netted the artist the Inkspotprijs 2010 award for best political cartoon of that year. It was part of an exhibition on cartoons, and was to be shown in Utrecht in October.
Meanwhile Toby Sterling reports that a priest of the Roman Catholic Salesian order was discovered to have been a board member of the Martijn Foundation, which tries to promote child abuse . The priest’s membership was known to his superiors, who did not think it a big deal. Predictably the Catholic Church claimed “the church utterly rejects pedophilia”. “Dutch Catholic Church spokesman Pieter Kohnen said Saturday that [...] if Superior Claes did not act quickly to reform the Dutch Salesian order’s leadership, the matter would be referred to Rome.”
 I’d link to the Association’s website, but it portrays children in a sexualized context, which might get readers in trouble.
I grew up in Blerick, a town with a town hall but without the political body to inhabit it. See, in 1940 the town was added to the neighbouring city of Venlo by the Nazi occupier, which made the possession of a town hall moot.
Interestingly the previous municipality that Blerick belonged to, Maasbree, once had three different town halls, and the council would rotate among them until in 1904 the Blerick town hall was made the permanent one.
The Frisian islands of Vlieland and Terschelling (formerly of Noord Holland)
Rent control and renter protection (including the right to live in a house forever)
Job protection (including the right to keep a job forever)
In a number of these cases the occupier made into law what was already on the books. In other cases the law was kept because it made sense. For instance, with housing shortages being rather prominent after the war, it made eminent sense to protect renters from price gouging. In such cases the Germans had unwittingly produced both the diseases and the cures.
The VVV Venlo football club in Limburg has signed a symbolic professional contract of 10 years for this wee boy of 1.5 years who has a good shot. Sure, it’s a YouTube thing, but 900,000 people if not more around the world have seen this video and now you can too. The little boy, Baerke, even tried out on the field with a VVV Venlo midfielder and apparently the toddler’s grandfather used to play with this team way back.
In elementary school I was taught about the founding legend of my city of birth, Venlo. The story went that the leader of a local tribe, the Bructeri, fled a lost battle with the rival Chamavi tribe towards the fertile ground on the Meuse river in 96 AD.
In remembrance of this chief, called Valuas, giant dolls of him and his wife had been carried around the city for ages, and all kinds of companies, schools and clubs had been named after him. Valuas was Venlo.
Recently though I learned it’s all a crock, and all it took was a visit to Wikipedia. There is no such legend. Instead, the story was made up in its entirety in the 18th century, because the bishop of Roermond wanted to outlaw the use of dolls depicting Goliath and his wife in processions.
With Goliath given a new, non-religious identity, the bishop could no longer object to what was basically idolatry. Today, the local ceremonial shooting club, Akkermansgilde, still carries giant dolls of Valuas and his wife Guntrud around in processions and during carnival.