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Thursday, May 27, 2010



We recently returned from Amsterdam, which I feel compelled to tell you, is a wonderful city. You might guess from looking at commercials for Amstel and Heineken, that everyone in the city is always drunk. This is absolutely false. The truth is that they are always stoned. If you look around, you can see entire families bicycling into Dam Plaza together. Then they get that look on their face that says, “Shit- I forgot what we came in here for.” They are completely stoned. Even the little children are stoned from secondhand smoke, which I think is a great thing for those who can’t afford to buy it new. Here they call it “Certified Pre-Owned.” Unfortunately, an hour after the cafes open there is a run on Fritos in all supermarkets, and many people are trampled each day. If I was a brilliant entrepreneur I would market a package deal of a gram of hash and a pint of Häagen-Dazs Heavenly Hash together for 20 euros.

Dam Plaza is kind of a congregating point in the middle of town, where tourists can go if they want to look lost and not feel so out of place. The problem is that you are steering your rented bike with one hand, holding the map with the other, and you finally find your destination, which is on Luijkeliedseprinsensplaat. You look up at the sign, and by some miracle, you are on that road! Then a huge trolley car slams into you and knocks you to kingdom come. And when you recover, the street sign now says Luijkeliedseprinsenstrasse. So you are back to square one. If you eventually do get onto the right road, in two blocks it changes to Kaiserspleidenrijkelgracht and you’re lost again. If you are stupid enough to ask for directions, they will tell you, “it is over by the canal.” Every street has a canal next to it in Amsterdam. There are displaced people over here, but I don’t think they are homeless. They just have no idea exactly where they are.

Whenever I am at Dam Plaza I always stick my finger in a dyke, and yes, I have been slapped for it plenty hard.

While we were here, we visited plenty of museums. One we did not get a chance to visit was the Anne Frank house. Which has to piss off the owners, because it wasn’t her house, they were just nice enough to let her stay there. The whole story is a little depressing, since she dies, but I guess if you wait around long enough every story has that same ending. The room is supposedly exactly as it was when she was living there, which made me wonder what would happen if I was Anne Frank, and MY room had to be preserved for many generations exactly as it was when I was living there. That is a LOT of pressure on a teenager to clean up your frigging room. Millions of visitors a year filing past my room behind a velvet rope going, “Gross! Is that a ginormous pile of underwear over there? When was he planning to launder it? I doubt the Nazis will occupy THAT! And what is that tacky blacklight poster of Farrah Fawcett doing there? Her nipples are practically poking my eye out.”

I never even read Anne Frank’s diary, because it seems nosy. What if there is stuff about her and her boyfriend getting to third base or something? She should have locked it with that little key if she didn’t want idiots like us reading it.

On a lighter note, there is plenty to do here. If you go to Max Euweplein square you can play chess on a giant board. The good news is that I was able to castle using an actual castle. The bad news is that on my opening move I think I killed a squirrel.

The van Gogh museum was great. Van Gogh is what I like to call a lasting impressionist. He himself was very impressionable, and soaked up techniques from other painters, such as Renoir, Gauguin and Japanese influences. The onset of mental illness caused him to do strange things, and eventually committed himself to an asylum. Whereupon hearing a voice in his head, he started removing his buttocks with a razor blade. The voice quickly corrected him: “I said cut off your EAR, not your REAR! Are you NUTS?” His fame grew even after his death, which is when he did some of his best work.

We went to the Concertgebouw and saw a kick-ass symphony concert. We were seated actually behind the instruments, facing the conductor. It was interesting to watch him work. With one hand, he was alternately keeping the time and cueing different sections of the orchestra. With the other hand he was texting somebody. Every once in awhile he made a motion towards the woodwind section, gave the finger, and mouthed the words, “F the bassoon player,” so I don’t know what that was about. At the end of the concert a page came out and gave a bouquet of flowers to the first violinist, and he yanked them out of her hand and gave them to the flute player, so I think he is banging her. One thing noticed is that the tympani player is grossly overpaid. He sat reading the paper for most of the program, clicking his tongue at the financial section, and every once in awhile he would turn the page of the music just for show.

Incidentally, Rembrandt van Rijn, who was in his painting heyday at about the time that New Amsterdam was discovering its New World identity, is purported to have painted over 300 works. Included among them are about 40 self-portraits, although in some of them he portrayed himself as looking remarkably like Brad Pitt.

Provided by website-hit-counters.com site.

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