September 2, 2020

Zaandam street reverts back to ‘gay sounding name’

Filed under: Architecture,Music,Weird by Orangemaster @ 2:47 pm

In 2018 the city of Zaandam, North Holland was dealing with a tempest in a teacup: a street called ‘Hobo’ (‘Oboe’) was turned into ‘Piccolo’ because folks said it sounded too much like ‘homo’, which is a homophobic slur, the equivalent of ‘faggot’. ‘Folks said’ is not very clear, but city hall picked up on the discontent of some and decided to change instruments.

However, in 2019 the city went back on its decision, saying that it was hard to claim to be a ‘rainbow city’ (LGBTQIA-friendly) if they cater to the whims of a few people who didn’t like a street named after a musical instrument. Other Dutch cities have Hobo streets and that was never a problem. And just having a rainbow crosswalk is not enough these days to be truly LGBTQIA-friendly.

I went to Zaandam recently to see what the fuss had been all about. One very nice typical blue Zaandam-style house had a sign on the door that said “Hobo 14, former Piccolo 14”, which seemed to be for any kind of deliveries. Hobo street is barely a few hundred metres long. And why would I use another slur, ‘faggot’, to make my point? That’s because parallel to Hobo, there’s ‘Fagot’ street, which means ‘Bassoon’ in Dutch and nobody had a problem with that.


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October 14, 2018

Musical street in Zaandam sounds ‘too gay’ for some

Filed under: General,Music by Orangemaster @ 3:07 pm

The city of Zaandam, North Holland has a street that is getting a name change, from Piccolo to Hobo (Oboe), both of which are musical instruments. The Zaandam neighbourhood in question already has a street called Hobo and is now going to extend it. It also has streets called Cello, and then gets into musical-related terms such as Aubade, Prelude and Mazurka, to name a few.

The people who live on Piccolo street don’t want their street to become Hobo street. In Dutch, Hobo rhymes with ‘homo’, which is used as a derogatory word for homosexual, an issue brought up back in 2016 when the area was created. And I know what some of you are thinking, ‘Hobo’ doesn’t sounds great for anybody whose first language is North American English, as that refers to a vagrant, but that’s besides the point.

There are other Hobo streets throughout the country and apparently, that’s not a problem. I’d like to think that going from Piccolo to Oboe musically is a bit of an upgrade, because – and I held back on this – in that tooty-fluity neighbourhood, there’s also a street called Fagot, the Dutch name for a bassoon, which nobody seems to complain about.

In the Netherlands, you can always live on Fart Street, but then you could also live in on a street named after Lord of The Rings characters.


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December 21, 2016

‘Bully vlogger’, Dutch word of the year 2016

Filed under: Gaming,General by Orangemaster @ 2:27 pm

‘Treitervlogger’ (‘bully vlogger’) was coined in September 2016 by the Dutch press and is defined as ‘a vlogger who films their friends bullying locals, sometimes even egging them on’. It sounds very specific and it is, as it is based on a series of bullying incidents in Zaandam involving a young Dutch-Turkish man, his friends and their ‘hoodvlogs’, a Dunglish term for ‘neighbourhood vlogs’. Although the instigator apologised for his behaviour after cooling off in a jail cell fora few days at some point, he plans to keep vlogging – lucky us.

More than 100,000 votes were tallied, with ‘treitervlogger’ getting 35% of them. Second place goes to ‘pokémonterreur’ ‘Pokémon terror’ with 23% and third place to ‘Trump the Liarisme’ (‘Trump the Liarism’) at 11%.

On the lighter side, the Flemish went with ‘Samsonseks’ (‘Samson sex’), which refers to parents having sex while their kids are watching ‘Samson en Gert’, a children’s show about a man and his dog.

This entire annual process is done for the Van Dale dictionary, which has the Netherlands and Flanders working together and celebrating their cultural differences.


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September 2, 2016

Mexican fashion goes with Dutch windmills

Filed under: Fashion by Orangemaster @ 2:11 pm


The windmills of the Zaanse Schans near Zaandam are the backdrop to a fashion collection presentation made by Mexican brand Liverpool. If that sentence didn’t have enough cultural references in it for you, the model featured is Portuguese, the first shot of the video is of Amsterdam, not Zaandam, and there are Frisian flag clogs as well, try to spot them.

We’ve had enough stories about Mexico, mostly embarrassing ones with ukuleles and insults and even our King using dirty words by mistake at a speech.

(Link:, photo: Photo of Mexican sombreros by José María Aguirre, some rights reserved)

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June 2, 2015

Museum in Zaandam pays record amount for a Monet

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 1:58 pm


The Zaans Museum in Zaandam near Amsterdam has acquired a painting from French painter Claude Monet, entitled ‘The Voorzaan and the Westerhem’ for a record amount of 1,160,000 euro. The Zaans Museum is the third Dutch museum to own a Monet from the Zaandam period, the other two are in more well-known museums, the Van Gogh in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo. Fans will be able to admire the painting as of this fall.

In May 1871 Monet left London to live in Zaandam where he made 25 paintings. His main attraction was the landscape, windmills, the river Zaan, and the typical wooden houses of the area. “Zaandam is quite remarkable and there is enough to paint for a lifetime,” Monet wrote to his friend and colleague Camille Pissarro. “Houses in all colours, hundreds of mills and delightful boats.”


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March 27, 2014

Government buys into harnessing electricity from plants

Filed under: Nature,Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:58 am


Plant-e , founded by David Strik and Marjolein Helder in 2009, is a spin-off company of the Environmental Technology of Wageningen University. After obtaining her PhD in November 2012 Helder became the CEO of Plant-e, while Strik works as an assistant professor at the university, supporting Plant-e’s research and development one day a week.

On March 12, coinciding with Dutch Arbour Day (‘Nationale Boomfeestdag’), Plant-e signed a deal with the Dutch government to build a plant-driven power plant. The plants will be grown on the Hembrug military terrain in Zaandam, North Holland and will be used for outdoor lighting and charging mobile phones.

Thanks to photosynthesis, a bioenergetic process used by plants to convert light into energy, plants create organic material. The roots of these plants contain bacteria that breaks down organic material, giving off electrons. Plant-e has created technology that captures these electrons as carbon electrons, which can be used directly as electricity.

Just this month we told you about a table that uses plant energy to charge mobile phones.

Watch the promo video (in English):

(Link:, Photo of Charging station by Katja Linders, some rights reserved)

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May 9, 2013

Amsterdam, the city that knows no boundaries

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:46 am

There’s a new trend that has been brewing in Amsterdam when it comes to branding the city to tourists, and that’s making tourist attractions that are not actually in Amsterdam part of the city when it is convenient to do so (*cash register sounds*).

The cities of IJmuiden, Bloemendaal and Zandvoort on the coast are now just ‘Amsterdam Beach’, although they are closer to the bigger city of Haarlem, which is sometimes casually annexed to what is now being referred to as ‘The Greater Amsterdam Area’ by city marketing people. Schiphol Airport has been called Amsterdam Airport for ages although it is not in Amsterdam and the ‘Bulb Region’ again closer to Haarlem is the ‘Amsterdam Flower Strip’. Oddly enough, the most ‘bulbous’ region of the country is actually north of there, but that’s just inconvenient.

The lovely castle of Muiderslot 15 kilometres from Amsterdam is being sold to tourists as ‘Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot’. The number of foreign visitors doubled in 2012 from 10,000 to 20,000 (*cash register sounds*).

Although Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, it’s never really marketed as such, probably because the Dutch refer to Amsterdam as that big city over there and not as ‘the nation’s capital’. However, this absorbing of non Amsterdam attractions makes many an Amsterdam resident uncomfortable. What gives Amsterdam the right to poach tourist attractions? Money? I mean Schiphol, OK, it’s tough to pronounce, but the beaches 20 kilometres away? That’s overstretching boundaries.

According to Amsterdam FM radio, Amsterdam presents itself abroad as being a city that is much bigger than its actual municipal boundaries. If the locals of other cities don’t mind the poaching and enjoy the money like Muiderslot does, then fine, Amsterdam just got that much bigger (*cash register sounds*).

While us mortals in Amsterdam still have to use normal city limits, we are all the dupe of some city marketing we can’t believe in ourselves because we know it’s not Amsterdam. Why are the 1.5 million tourists that come to Amsterdam every year being treated like morons? It almost looks to me as if we are ashamed of quaint villages like Zaandam with its famous windmills and its having housed Russian Tsar Peter the Great for a week. And will this branding go so far as to make the city of Utrecht 30 min away by train a suburb of Amsterdam? Don’t laugh, that’s where this megalomaniac trend is headed.

To quote any good Dutch person talking to tourists and expats: Amsterdam isn’t the Netherlands. Hell, Amsterdam is not even itself anymore.

(Link:, Photo of Muiderslot Castle by Coanri/Rita, some rights reserved)

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September 19, 2010

Zaandam turning green

Filed under: Architecture,Art by Branko Collin @ 6:34 pm

No, the headline is not about environmental technology but about paint. We wrote earlier about the hotel in Zaandam that is made to look like it’s constructed of dozens of the green wooden houses that are typical for the area. It turns out that this was just part of a plan to give a much larger part of the inner city that look, including city hall.

Trendbeheer has more photos of the work in progress.

Alderman Hans Luiten told De Volkskrant in March: “There have been times where I wondered if I could deal with this much identity.” The new city centre is a response to the neglect of the old one. Luiten: “In the past you would not have wanted to be found dead there.”

The man behind the reshaping of the centre of Zaandam into a green Disneyland/nightmare/whatever is architect Sjoerd Soeters who was also responsible for Java Island in Amsterdam. “All his works have been discussed vehemently among architects, but are also appreciated much by their users”, Volkskrant adds. It appears that behind Soeters’ façades lurks a strong vision of livable streets. Which may be why the main street on the aforementioned Java Island is a foot and bike path.

(Photo of the new city hall in Zaandam by Wikimedia user Arch who released it in the public domain)

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March 19, 2010

Inntel Hotel in Zaandam opens its doors

Filed under: Architecture,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 5:01 pm
Inntel Hotel Zaandam

Inntel Hotel in Zaandam was officially opened on 18 March and also has a ‘remarkable interior’ with old images of the Zaanstreek (Zaandam area). Each hotel room has a theme, such as Verkade (chocolate) or Albert Heyn (supermarket founder), both major brands that come from Zaandam. Other Zaanstreek traits include the use of famous local mustard and dessert with Duyvekater bread, which are local specialities. The stack of houses has four shades of green and one of blue, which can be found traditionally in the area. You really can’t miss it.

Four of us from ironically four different countries representing three continents drove by this hotel on the way to Paris at Christmas and collectively freaked out. Just looking at this hotel driving by was enough to have an accident. It could be architectural humour, but we didn’t get the joke. We’re too poor to stay there anyways, after all we were carpooling.

(Link:, Photo: WAM Architecten)

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