November 4, 2019

Police pose with pickpocket, then arrest him

Filed under: General,Photography by Branko Collin @ 10:18 am

Last Friday, while one police officer in Amsterdam was taking a photo of a pickpocket stealing a wallet, another police officer took a photo of their colleague taking a photo.

The pickpocket had entered a train waiting at Amsterdam Central Station and sat backwards in his chair to be able to reach into his mark’s pocket. After finishing their photographic hobbies, the police officers got on the train and arrested the thief.

A police officer’s testimony counts as evidence in Dutch criminal cases, so the officers were not required to take a photo of the pickpocket first. They did so nevertheless, and have not said why.

Two weeks ago, Dutch parliament asked questions about high resolution photos depicting murder victim and FC Emmen football player Kelvin Maynard as he was fighting for his life after having been shot in Amsterdam. MP Chris van Dam (Christian Democrats) thought this was disrespectful. Asked if the police aren’t stepping in the shoes of the press if they themselves start taking and distributing photos, minister Grapperhaus (Justice and Security) replied that the police have the right to inform the public.

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April 28, 2019

Rainiest King’s Day since 1955 goes by without incident

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 5:15 pm

Yesterday King’s Day was the wettest in over 60 years.

With 8.9 millimeters of precipitation, only 1955 was rainier (9.6 millimetres), Parool reports.

Perhaps as a result King’s Day was otherwise uneventful, the papers say. Last year’s ‘disaster’, when beer ran out in the country’s capital, Amsterdam, was averted this year by readying more kegs.

The royal family visited Amersfoort, which joined in the uneventful trend by giving an undistinguished presentation, NRC writes. The organiser of the city’s festivities, Yordi Grutters, told the paper: “we are an average city with an average population.”

The paper adds that this was crown-princess Amalia’s day. For the first time ever, she gave interviews without her sisters to national broadcasters RTL and SBS. “It feels sometimes unreal that this is my life,” the princess said. I wonder how she knows.

Since the king’s inauguration in 2013, we haven’t had a King’s Day that wasn’t either cold or wet.

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April 14, 2019

Most Dutch people talk to their pets

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 11:34 pm

Assocation of language lovers Onze Taal (‘our language’) has published the results of an informal poll that suggests that 95% of all Dutch pet owners talk to their pets.

The type of pet and whether or not the animal is deaf doesn’t seem to matter. People address their pets in their local dialect.

Popular ‘conversations’ are: admonishments, compliments (“Who is the cutest kitten in the world? You are!”), sharing what the owner is going to do (“Mummy is going to the pet store”) and, apparently, deliberation (“Is it OK if I move your bowl over here?”).

People don’t just talk to pets, but also inanimate objects. Furniture gets apologised to when bumped into, and encouragements are uttered towards blocked robotic vacuum cleaners and bent trees.

The poll was held in January among the visitors of the association’s website.

(Photo by Eddy Van 3000, some rights reserved)

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March 30, 2019

Dutch art detective retrieves stolen Picasso after 20 years

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 11:36 pm

A Dutch “art detective” from Amsterdam called Arthur Brand has managed to lay his hands on Buste de Femme (Dora Maar), a painting that had been lost since 1999, The Guardian reported yesterday.

On 14 March 2019, two men “with contacts in the underworld” handed Brand the stolen Picasso in his apartment in the east of Amsterdam. According to Brand, stolen art can often be a hot potato. It is difficult to sell and in the meantime the thief or fence is stuck with a stolen item that, if found in their possession, can lead to awkward questions from the authorities.

Having gotten wind of the Picasso, Brand let it be known that he was interested in the painting, worth an estimated 25 million euro.

Brand, whose motto is “if they start to threaten you, you know you are on the right trail”, recovered a pair of bronze horses by Josef Thorak in 2015. The year after he negotiated the return of five stolen painting held by a Ukranian militia.

A day after receiving the painting, he handed it over to representatives of the insurance company.

Pablo Picasso painted the work in 1938.

(Illustration: Pablo Picasso)

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February 3, 2019

Dutch street photography by Merel Schoneveld

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 11:28 pm

Merel Schoneveld is a selt-taught Dutch street photographer who considers the streets of Rotterdam and The Hague, as well as the beaches of her home town Scheveningen as her hunting grounds.

According to her biography, she has only been a street photographer since 2016. “One day, in the fall of 2016 I was walking around town trying out a new lens for an old camera I had. A camera I hadn’t touched in years. I knew nothing about street photography back then, all I knew is that I had to go back and do it again.”

“Since then capturing and collecting moments from the lives of total strangers became a serious obsession.”

Schoneveld’s work is on display this week at the Rotterdam Art Week from February 7 – 10.

(Photos: Merel Schoneveld; via VICE)

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December 29, 2018

My favourite postings of 2018

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 11:56 pm

This year got off to a good start with the heart-warming story of florist Dick Hagestein promising his local competitor Jan Roskam a new kidney.

Three months later, it turned out that unfortunately, Hagestein had his own health problems that would have made a kidney transplant unwise (, Dutch).

A single man taking on an entire army is something you only see in cheap Hollywood films, in sad Jaap Fischer songs, and… in history. Seventy-eight years ago, French Canadian soldier Léo Major chased the Nazis out of the city of Zwolle.

In Rotterdam, two teenage girls used their keen fashion sense to help capture 70 pickpockets. The clothes of thieves are three years out of style, apparently.

Speaking of Dutch children doing the job of grown-ups, a secondary school class in Tilburg spotted a maths error in the government’s tax plans for 2019. It netted them a cake and a thank you note from a Secretary of State.

A stolen Willem de Kooning painting was retrieved after 32 years through no particular fault of the thieving couple who had kept the painting in their living room until their death. An art dealer recognised the painting in the estate.

The National Archives have created a website where the descendants of eighty-thousand 18th century Surinamese slaves can track down their ancestors in a digitised register. Seven hundred volunteers worked on the digitisation process.

Our story of an overturned piano at Amsterdam Central Station is perhaps not the most riveting tale of last year, but having popular author J.K. Rowling talk about it on Twitter will skew our visitor statistics for months. In a single day, she brought in as many visitors as we normally get in a month.

And finally, unlikely police deputies played a major part in this year’s stories. As in Rome 2400 years ago, when geese alerted the guards of the temple of Juno to Gallic invaders, this year honking geese alerted the citizens of Sint Willebrord to a nearby XTC lab, and a toddler ratted out her father when she told the other kids at day care, while talking about hobbies, that her dad had a lot of green plants in the attic. Paul N. was convicted to 80 hours of community service and had to let go of his other hobby, shooting guns.

Happy 2019 from us at 24 Oranges HQ!


December 9, 2018

A Frans Hals family portrait re-united

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 12:58 pm

The Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio, USA is currently displaying three Frans Hals paintings portraying various members of the Van Campen family from 17th century Haarlem.

What is remarkable about this set is that the three works used to be part of a single painting.

Nobody knows why the original painting was cut up, but it could have been something simple like trying to make it fit the place where it was hung—Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, secretly considered by many Dutch as the greatest painting ever, was famously cut up once because it did not fit through a door.

The two larger pieces had long been considered related, but it was only recently that the connection between the middle and the smallest piece became clear. The Art Newspaper reports that during a restoration of the middle part, Children of the Van Campen Family with a Goat-Cart, a painted-over girl appeared that allowed the restorers to link the painting to Head of a Boy.

The exhibition will last until 19 January 2019, after which the paintings will be displayed in either Brussels and Paris or Brussels and Madrid.

Last week, two other portraits by Hals were sold at Christie’s in London for 11 million euro.

(Illustration: collage of two of the three Frans Hals paintings with white space indicating the presumed size of the original painting)

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November 24, 2018

Instagram cat gets own student ID in Groningen

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 5:47 pm

Professor doctor Doerak (pronounced ‘Durak’, from Russian Дурак) is his name and he is well-known character at the University of Groningen, where he frequents law school classes.

That is why this cat of Instagram received his own student ID card a few weeks ago. His owners, who live next to one of the university buildings in the city centre, requested their cat got a student card. The administration replied: “We are working on it. An invitation to pick it up will follow.”

Jorien Bakker, spokesperson of the university, told local university magazine UKrant: “We liked the idea. Doerak is a sweet cat. He is a good student and we appreciate how much he means to students and staff.”

(Illustration: screenshot of Durak’s Instagram account)

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October 3, 2018

The Right Side Won was What Fun’s one hit in the 1980s

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 8:51 pm

This catchy reggae tune ponders how history is written by the winners, which is ironic considering that this would be Haarlem-based What Fun’s only hit, condemning them to relative obscurity.

The song was released in 1983 and reached the number 3 spot of the Dutch Top 40 in the spring of 1984. The single was also released in other countries, but did not do much there. The band did not seem to have much time for promotion since the members all had day jobs.

Singer Martin Richardson told social-democratic newspaper Het Vrije Volk (‘The Free People’) in January 1984: “At least South Africa understood what the song is about because they banned the record. In the Netherlands, 90 percent of the listeners do not get that the lyrics are based on the Falklands war between England and Argentina and the pumped up atmosphere surrounding the conflict. In other words, there are two parties, a pacifist and a war mongering one, and everybody gets to decide for themselves which is which, and history is written by the winner. That is what we mean by ‘the right side won’.”

What Fun tried to break the charts with another highly topical song, this time about the micro computer revolution, Let’s Get Digital, but without much success. The record sleeve for that song was created using a computer program that itself was included on the single. Computers of the day could translate the assorted beeps included at the end of the song into working program code.

(Video: YouTube / What Fun!; illustration: crop of a still from the video)

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June 17, 2018

This slab H sprouts serifs until it no longer can

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 10:23 am

Typographer Just van Rossum used his brother Guido’s programming language Python to create a capital letter H in which each serif (the dangly bits at the ends of the stems) sprouts its own serifs, creating a recursive H in the process.

Typotheque in The Hague made a limited edition poster of this design:

Slab serif typefaces are characterised by angular terminations at the end of strokes. Just van Rossum designed this ultimate Slab Serif capital H, with an ever-expanding number of serifs. Each H has four serifs, each of which becomes an H by sprouting additional serifs.The serifs on those serifs sprout their own serifs, on and on and on up to the thinnest line that offset press technology can handle.

See also: Geeked out coin wins design comp for another example of Python-based algorithmic art.

(Photo: Typotheque)

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