So after my honeymoon in Barcelona with FiFi La Rue, I took an aeroplane to the great city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It’s pretty much the bomb diggity, even though it rains alot there. It actually rained for most of my time there. I would say there were definitely a plethora of rainy days while I was in Amsterdam. But damn, is it beautiful there when the sun comes out. Hence the glitter on the water you get when Mariah Carey parks her little bitty boat by the sidewalk.
Almost as good as the movie, eh? She should have won a Grammy for “Fantasy.” Did she win a Grammy for “Fantasy?”
It’s a pretty great place and all; they have good street art and they’re way into directions.
Moreover, if you’re a dude/girlyman like me, it’s kind of the best place ever, for instance because you can go skate all day and then have a refreshing beverage (Grote or Klein) RIGHT AFTERWARDS IN THE SKATEPARK SERVED BY THE SKATEPARK STAFF BECAUSE THE SKATEPARK SERVES PRISTINE ICE-COLD BEER!!!!!!!!
But the main reason why it’s the best place ever is because I met the coolest group of dudes on the ferry there, and they let me be part of the crew every day until the end of my Dutch szechuan. We bro’d down hard. They are the homies, if you need further explanation. This is what a typical day with them started out like, after numerous hours of pre-up chilling. We rode bikes everywhere, and I always made them miss the ferries they planned on taking, because I was overeating Stroopwaffels and Sate Schnitzels and it really weighed a man down.
Three is chaos! SOLID! The crew from left to right is Michiel, (pronounced by combining the sound of switch heelflip with the racial epithet for lowly potato-eaters like me), Dick, and Mike.
This was the spot every night. And I mean every night. Supposedly they went to this one popular nightclub called Bittersweet sometime when I went home early, but for my fifteen days in Amsterdam, I don’t think I saw the inside of any other establishment besides this gem. It’s an old punk rock bar called “Cafe The Minds,” located near some well-known squats and anarchist hang-outs. We all took turns buying rounds of beer, and watching grown women fight over Mike.
Besides being such a looker and na-na-na-na gettin’ techie with it skater, Dick is a champion chef and a newly-engaged dude. He’s going to marry a rad girl named Marge. I didn’t get to sit down to high tea with her and find out about her entire life and psychological condition, but she was really nice when I ran into her, and I will tell you this my friend, she is quite a schatje lekker–Dick’s girl is a cutie for real.
And now you see why she wants to marry the guy.
But aesthetics aside, his personality is the best. More often than not, he is a very serious dude, so you get that much more mileage out of getting him to laugh, because you feel like you’ve overcome a challenge by making that dude crack a smile.
If it was any hour before 5, we were usually “shilling” hard at Mike’s house, because it was oh-so-chill, and his apartment was located very close to the center of the city. It had really good afternoon light; so good that it was actually counter-productive if you want to get out of the house and do something during the daylight hours, because it was so nice and tranquil to max and relax with the windows open and the breeze blowing in, and the nightshop right around the corner with veggie burgers and croquets calling your name.
I found this in Mike’s bathroom. It’s the lyrics from that cream song, “White Room.” He said him and his friends became obsessed with it and they couldn’t stop listening to it or talking about it for three days, so he decided it needed to be placed somewhere prominent, and over the years the condensation from innumerable showers has made it look a bit like a deep sea scroll.
Mick-heel is from the small town of Kampen in the Dutch countryside. He felt claustrophobic in Kampen, and couldn’t wait to move to Amsterdam. Once he moved to the big city, he made a bunch of skater friends and started going to carpentry school to learn how to build traditional custom-made sail boats. He’s lived in some oddball places, anti-squats they are called, large empty office spaces that business park landlords can’t rent. They draw up these pseudo-rental agreements with anti-squatters to protect against real squatters setting up shop on their property, because squatters in some ways have more tenancy rights than your regular joe-blow tenant who pays his rent in the Netherlands, and once they start a squat, it’s very hard for landlords to kick them out.
His mom comes into the city from time to time to take him shopping and make sure he’s eating, typical mom stuff. He’s a really good guy, I instantly admired him, because his energy is genuine and welcoming; let’s say he’s got a nice aura. He was refreshing to talk with and observe in conversation with others because he’s a very steady, rational thinker, he has quite progressive politics, and he’s never afraid to voice his opinion, despite the peer pressure of those around him or facing the repercussions of thinking differently from the group. The easiest example that comes to mind was when we discussed the gay parade that had taken place on the canals in the center city one day. There had been some negative backlash against the parade by Amsterdam’s immigrant Arab, Turkish, and Magrebhi communities, and then a counter-counter backlash against them by the city’s ethnically Dutch and gay citizens, with a xenophobic bent to it: something to the effect of “who the fuck are you to deride them for being gay and telling them to get out of Amsterdam when you’re not even from here?” and stressing that Dutch society holds tolerance as an important central value, so a requisite for living in the Netherlands is having a tolerant attitude for the other members of the populace. Skaters in group situations can be a bit brutish and bro-ish sometimes, a bit “O’Doyle Rules!” if you will, and some of the other dudes at the bar with us were bad-mouthing all the city’s gays and lesbians for prancing around showing everyone how cool it was that they were gay, standard hetero-posturing, and then Mick-heel spoke up without any hesitation, and eloquently said that it was their thing and they should be able to be themselves in Dutch society, and that everyone should be able to hold onto their identity in the country without interference, including the immigrant Muslim communities, and that the only thing he didn’t advocate was different groups pushing their beliefs or agendas onto everyone else, for example if the city’s Turks think there’s something wrong with homosexuality, it’s fine for them to feel that way, but don’t push it in everyone elses’ face, and vice-versa for the other segments of Dutch society; but as far as he was concerned, a parade down the canal wasn’t an imposing or threatening gesture.
Mike had this devilish grin on his face that he just couldn’t shake the first couple of times I met him. I asked Dick and Mick-heel about the look, and Mitch (Mick-heel) told me that he had had that look glued onto his mug for the last two or three weeks ever since he had his first threesome. When I asked Mike about the sexual rendevous later on, the first thing he told me about it was: “it was awesome!” I should have expected that response. Besides being really pretty, he’s probably the most chill dude out of the three, if not the most chill dude ever. His uncle paints a new portrait of Mike on an old skateboard every year for Mike’s birthday, and the one from two years ago says “Michael Bontekoe: lazy sunday afternoon.” That says it all about Mike as far as I’m concerned.
But it’s kind of crazy how handsome the guy is. He’s definitely not the kind of guy that you would want to leave your girlfriend alone with, not because he would actively try to swoop on her, but because the whole shebang is out of his control; It’s not his fault! Women find him so attractive, your girl would be overcome and attack him right there on the spot. I was serious when I said grown women would get in fights over him at the bar; it verged on physical altercations, catfights, you know, and it was kind of creepy how into him girls would be. Kind of Golem-ish from Lord of the Rings, “ah, my precioussssssss….”
I stayed in the Casa de Krienen, and if I was pressed to describe it with one singular adjective: I would have to call it palatial.
If it was dry, this is what the view from the backyard looked like when the sun went down. It was very peaceful, with these big guys swaying back and forth all night long.
The Casa de Krienen has some of the prettiest flowers. I may be color-blind, but I can still recognize BOO-DOW! when I see BOO-DOW! right in front of me.
However, the most memorable part of staying at the Casa de Krienen wasn’t my plush surroundings; rather, it was the next door neighbor, “Nail,” I don’t know how you spell it in Dutch, because she insisted on greeting me everyday by saying, “yoo-hooooooo?!?!?” in the highest attainable octave. Never a “hi” or “goedmorgen!” always with the “yoo-hooooooo?!?!?”, that one. Don’t get me wrong, though, she was very nice, and she believed me when I told her that I was not responsible for destroying the twine supporting one of her cherished flower boxes, despite my bad attitude, uncouth American ways and odd sleeping schedule.
This is a fancy-schmancy waterfront development that looks like a gigantic lego building. Mick-heel and I decided with supreme finality that if we ever end up on the cover of Fortune Five Double O, we will purchase this building and have “pool parties” where you can jump into the river from one of the top stories. I know what you’re thinking, and my response is as follows: “Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!”
On what I thought was my last day in Amsterdam, my homies took me to this summer music festival called Applesap, or “Apple-juice.” It fulfilled all of the requisites for a festival. It was quite festive. The highlight of the event was this little Dutch pikey child. I don’t know what his name is, but Mitch and Dick told me he is a somewhat well-known eleven year old prodigy in the Netherlands. If you can’t tell what he is doing to that microphone, he is in fact rapping into it. I asked Mitch and Dick what an eleven year old raps about? I think that is actually a rhetorical question, kind of like, “what is the sound of one hand clapping,” or “if a tree falls in the middle of the forest, does anyone hear it?” or the time-honored classic, “who cuts the barber’s hair?”
If the Pikeydingobaby rapping about second grade wasn’t enough to get you going, take a look at this sweet pond in the middle of the park where the festival took place. Dutch people have it going on. They know how to do things right, you know?
This was a bit creepy, but at the same time quite beautiful. I think we can call it a tie and title it mysterious, to be sure. It was a nude portrait of Bo Derek from the Seventies wheat-pasted to a wall in the warehouse surrounding the skatepark.
Dick has the buttery KCK hardflip late back 180.
I thought this was the coolest diamond in the urban rough, but Dick, Mike, and Mitch thought I was a kook because I took so many pictures of it. It’s a community of smurfs, thumpers and garden gnomes nestled in a rock garden in front of one of the apartment buildings by the nightshop closest to Mike’s apartment. Speaking of nightshops, let me impart to you, the humorous nature of the concepts of proximity and effort in the psyche of a resident of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is condensed, and almost every corner of the city can be reached by bike, tram, or ferry easily within less than an hour. The city is also very comfortable, pretty cozy and hedonistic, resulting in a circumstance where my three amigos would argue for 10-15 minutes about which nightshop was closer and would be the right pick for a late night snack (before finally venturing out), when all of the nightshops under discussion were within 5-10 minutes walking distance. But to them, it mattered; it was serious business, because one wrong move could result in an extra 2-3 minutes of unnecessary walking, causing a serious diminution of chilling time.
I took this photo on a short day trip to the suburb of Zandam. Alot of the families living outside of the city are lucky enough to have their backyards face onto quaint little canals like this. Not bad, for the burbs, huh?
The big canals aren’t too shabby out there, either.
This dude was rad. He was a local professional partier and skatepark barnie who frequented The Minds long before Mike, Dick, and Mitch ever stepped inside the joint, but they still didn’t know his name. After regaling us with stories about a summer festival that takes place in the north of Holland at a 70’s skatepark with a killer snakerun, he proudly declared: “Ja, fuck all this stupid street and park skating, I’m gonna be a snakerunner!” so we called him snakerunner from there on out.
I took these pictures from one of the red tinted windows of the Stedelijk modern art museum in the city’s old post office building. Their exhibits are pretty out there, very engrossing; I highly recommend going there if you ever visit Amsterdam.
Mike from The Streets says “No one’s really there fighting for you in the last garison. No one except yourself that is; no-one except you. You are the one who’s got your back ’til the last deed is done. Scott can’t have my back til the absolute end, cuz hes got to look out for what’s over his horizon. He’s gotta to make sure he’s not lonely, not broke. It’s enough to worry about keeping his own head above” and he may be right. Friendship may be ephemeral and fair-weather, we might only have ourselves, atomized and all alone at sea when the curtain falls and the fat lady tumbles out of the cieling as the small cookie in her hand is crumbling and someone has shit on the coats and incidentally started to throw pieces of it at the cieling fan freshly removed from by the ballena’s exit, but man isn’t it nice when you have friends? You can’t be completely sure where they will be in one year, ten years, or if they will be there for you until the end, or if they will stab you in the back with a sharp knife and then take it out and present it to you and say, “I believe this is yours,” but here and now, HERE AND NOW, wherever you are, isn’t it nice to have friends? Isn’t it nice to be a friend? Friendship is like ice cream. It’s just good, on all counts. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like ice cream?