October 10, 2013

How To Be Orange, a book about going Dutch all the way

Filed under: Bicycles,Literature by Orangemaster @ 10:02 am

Greg Shapiro, an American-Dutch comedian and actor, has just published his new book How To Be Orange, which I had the chance of perusing one morning before we both went on the air on Amsterdam’s English Breakfast radio. I laughed everywhere I opened it as an immigrant with 14 years on my Dutch clock because I could relate to it and it is well written. Some of you locals may recognise the book’s illustrations by Floor de Goede.

Many of the better known guide-like books written about the Dutch are just a collection of superficial observations written by English-speaking expats who don’t speak Dutch and think the entire expat community thinks like they do (colonialism, anyone?). These books were written 10-15 years ago, use Amsterdam as a metonym for the Netherlands, and are quite offensive at times, giving me the impression that the Dutch are an obstacle to living and working here because actually adapting and learning Dutch is unfortunately seen as a downgrade for many expats.

But Greg has come up with something that the Dutch and the rest of us can really laugh about probably because Greg has seen both sides, the immigrant having to take Dutch lessons with illiterate adults (not an insult, but a fact) and goes Dutch, bike, cheese and all like a boss. In my books he lives up to his nickname, the American Netherlander.

Here’s an older video shot downtown Amsterdam with Greg sporting his best British accent:

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April 30, 2012

Queen’s Day 2012

Filed under: General,Literature,Music by Branko Collin @ 9:00 pm

Orangemaster and I celebrated Queen’s Day together today, as we so often do, and we even brought friend and blogger Jeroen Mirck along to share in the fun of hunting for literature and music on what surely must be the greatest garage sale in the world.

Just walking around our neighbourhood took us hours, but it paid off in books and singles and CDs.

Until yesterday every day of the year had been either cold or overcast, today Amsterdam was bathed in sunlight and warmth, which made up for the entire dreary month of April in my view.

Here’s a very short photo impression, more should show up on our Flickr account in a few hours.

Update: I have uploaded the Queen’s Day set to Flickr.

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April 30, 2011

Queen’s Day 2011, a short photo impression

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 5:45 pm

Sure, Queen’s Day is also the day thousands of Dutch men and women are decorated for services to their country and their fellow men. It is the day when the Queen visits a few lucky villages where they bore her to bits with traditional clog dances. It is the day when you can take in dozens of live concerts in Arnhem and Amsterdam and the likes.

But few things in life have—to me at least—the allure of going through other people’s garbage at the country wide flea market, and then buying said garbage. Here are some pictures from around my neighbourhood, Amsterdam Zuid, taken by Orangemaster and me.

More photos will be posted at Flickr, and hopefully I’ll have a video impression ready by tomorrow.

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June 14, 2010

Poking more fun at the Germans

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 11:01 pm

Dutch World Cup ads continue to rib the Germans. Paint manufacturer Histor came up with a ‘paint whisperer’ who can tell how happy a room is:

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April 26, 2008

Country shuts down for the first half of May

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:00 am

Due to the unusually early first moon of spring, all the major Christian holidays are early this year, almost colliding with the traditional Dutch holidays. Starting next week: April 30, Queen’s Day—May 1, Ascension Day—May 5, Liberation Day—May 12, Pentacost. This year, the schools close down for the first two weeks of May, and families seem to take the opportunity to go on holidays. According to De Telegraaf (Dutch), 3.5 million Dutch people will go away for the next two weeks, up 1.5 million from last year. AD quotes (Dutch) Bas Hoogland, CEO of Landal Greenparks, as saying: “It’s as if the entire country closes down for the first two weeks of May. There is a huge sense of ‘holiday urgency.’ Many parents don’t feel like spending two weeks at home with the kids.”

The clash of holidays has also brought forward the Lintjesregen (rain of ribbons), the mass-awarding of royal decorations which takes place every year on Queen’s Day, the Dutch national holiday. Queen’s Day was traditionally held on the Queen’s birthday, but that tradition changed when Queen Beatrix ascended the throne in the 1980s. Beatrix’s birthday is in January, whereas her mother was born on the much warmer April 30, so it was decided that the latter day would be maintained.

Radio DJ Coen Swijnenberg life-long’s wish was to cross-dress as Queen Beatrix, and Veronica Magazine helped him make that wish come true this week (photo). Cross-dressing is not the norm for Queen’s Day, but people will don orange for the occasion.

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May 10, 2007

Dutch national anthem’s 75th birthday

Filed under: General,History,Music by Branko Collin @ 11:25 pm

dutch_flag.jpgMay 10 was the 75th birthday of “The William” (het Wilhelmus in Dutch) as the Dutch national anthem. Queen Wilhelmina ordained on May 10, 1932 that from that day on, the more popular song should replace the slightly xenophobic “Wien Neerlands Bloed” (“If Dutch blood flows through your veins / Free from foreign stains”), which had served as the first national anthem since 1815. Ironically, the latter song was expressly created to counter The William, which was considered a pro-protestant song, and therefore offensive to Roman Catholics.

That Queen Wilhelmina would pick a song with almost the same name as hers is no coincidence; she is a direct descendant of the William in the song. The William is the oldest national anthem in existence, as it was written in the 16th century. The lyrics of the Japanese national anthem are much older, but as a song it has ‘only’ existed since the 19th century.

Wikipedia has a very good article about The William.

(Via Geen Commentaar (Dutch). Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0.)

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