Archive for the ‘The downside of leisure industry’ Category

In het Parool van vandaag staat een stukje “Is één Jordaanfestival niet genoeg?” over de stammenstrijd der Jordanezen en hoe twee festivals  die het nooit zo bestaande verleden van deze roemrijke buurt in herinnering denken te roepen elkaar op leven en brood beconcurreren om wie het meest lawaai mag gaan maken.

De stekker eruit! Dat lost alles op…. gewoon autistisch en akoestisch blèren voor wie er lol in heeft en er  vlakbij omheen gaan staan. Vooruit een accordeon maakt genoeg geluid en “als je niet genoeg stem heb dan doe je het maar voor je eige onder de doesj” Het is de bulderboks, het is de ritmeboks en de elektriese dreunkasten die er een probleem van maken… Terug naar de wortel van de Jordaan en als je zonodig een podium nodig hebt neem dan een stijfselkissie om op te staan. Nog beter is er een werkelijk Jordaanfestival van te maken, voor de hele Jordaan, alle straatjes en grachtjes krijgen een beurt… niets is mooier als het aanzwellen en wegstervende van de klanken van een lopend orkestje in de stadsruimte. Dat is het enige werkelijke alternatief voor de door velen verafschuwde dronkenlappen aantrekkende  elektronische ‘hoenkie boenk terreur’.

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FROM LOVE PARADE TO LOVE STAMPEDE 21 deaths (*) and 500 wounded, in a traffic tunnel in Duisburg/Germany – such news does not come as a surprise – such things were bound to happen with the massified need of people to congregate physically as an answer to the paradox of a virtual and electronic interconnected world on the one hand and personal feelings of  isolation in the daily routine of  ‘urban atomisation’, at the other. Being connected electronically does not imply being connected socially.  With the new and ubiquitous media there seems to be no bounds when it comes to the exploitation of this form of loneliness. To name just three of thousands of web sites that announced the Duisburg Love Parade: www.festival.pig.com; carnaval2010.org; http://www.sex-up.net. This last site  carries the headline “The art of love to be unraveled completely at the Love Parade 2010” and an enthusiastic vision of what will happen: “… Duisburg dreams, will see millions from all over who will gather to experience the grandeur that is synonym to the Love Parade.”

HIGH WAY MASS 2008: 19 July Dortmund. Rainer Schaller Love-Parade-chief and manger for McFit the main sponsor of this event on the web-site of Love Parade Dortmund: "This is the Wonder of Dortmund: we have written history. A giant spectacle, a roaring party, a music explosion: here in Dortmund we did rejoice in a party of superlatives and aside we settled a new record (1.6 million people)."

Slogans like “Millions from all over the world” (carnaval2010.org) or “Duisburg feiert die grösste Party der Welt” (www.sex-up.net) expresses the mix of fantasy and commercialism from which such giga-events are born.  The dangerous reality of such quantities have been criticised  in the last years, but commercial and prestige interest proved to be stronger. The specific case of the ‘Love Parade’ enterprise originates in Berlin and grew from just a group of 150 friends in 1989 to it’s first 100.00 participants in 1994 and it’s first million in 1997. With some ups and downs it became 1.2 million in the year 2006 and this was more than the fortunate locals-  living next to the huge part ground – could bear. Who want to barricade his garden with barbed wire, who wants to clean up the shit and piss from his doorstep?

Growth in numbers has also meant growth of revenues with all kind of commercial interest. There must have been a direct link with the reunification of the two Germanies when one looks at the sudden jump of ravers joining the Love Parade in Berlin in 1993. The parade became a tool to put Berlin – not longer a fenced island within the DDR – on the party-tourism map of the new Europe. What started as as a cultural underground initiative in 1989  with a mini-parade with a big idea: “political demonstration for peace and international understanding through love and music”, soon became a main-stream event, and thus the initial idealism and cultural revolution ideas were erased. I did not find yet good English sources on this ‘commodification process’, but for those who read German the gibschub.de blog has some good reports on debates around this metamorphosis. This comment dates from a year or so back in time: “Die Loveparade war das Symbol für eine der größten Hoffnungen der neueren Musikgeschichte und mittlerweile weint ihr keiner mehr eine Träne nach. Verraten, missbraucht, ausgepresst…” (The Loveparade was one of the biggest symbols of  hope for a  new music history and meanwhile nobody will let a tear because of it. Betrayed, misused, squeezed out…

I made a more graphic version of data found on the Wikipedia page on 'Love Parade' with this remark: "The "Participants" figure is the estimate given by the organizers. Police estimates have been as much as 30% lower. Accurate counts are not available since entry is free and uncontrolled. The mayor of Dortmund and the police confirmed the number of participants in Dortmund." A few days after the disaster several newspapers started to cite insiders related to the organisation of 'love parades' in the past who (opportunistically) claimed that the number of participants had been systematically inflated to boost the commercialisation of the music event. The numbers in the last decade tended to be three times too high they said.

The logistic management of human bodies for crowds beyond one hundred thousand people is a science still in its infancy, which apparently lays outside the limited and eager scope of  mass event entrepreneurs and the civil authorities that blindly support their enterprise. When there is no catastrophe there is glory for the daring authorities who are willing to take the risk, as is expressed in this citation of the mayor Langemeyer of Dortmund in 2008: “That the B1 (high road cleaving through the town) in Dortmund once would electrify 1.6 million people from all over the world, I could not have foreseen that  before – even with all my imagination. The ‘Highway to Love’ has become the Dancing floor of superlatives and has found ist way into the history of the Loveparade.” Mayor Adolf Sauerland of Duisburg had another story to tell to the international press, together with Love Parade organiser Rainer Schaller at a press conference on July 25th 2010. The evading remarks of the responsible authorities at this press conference only postponed the unmasking for a few hours. As each chief and each department tries to save their skin, the whole city apparatus started leaking and now we can read how already in 2009 a police commander – Rolf Cebin – who uttered his disapproval of the planned event because of safety risks had been side-tracked and accused by major Sauerland of causing “Imageschande” (image shame) to the town of Duisburg. Who will formally be held responsible is yet an unanswered question. The usual blaming game is on. On saturday July 31, the German daily TAZ has an informative list of who blames whom, “Wer beschuldigt wen?” with five main players from organiser Rainer Schaller and  city mayor Adolf Sauerland to Ralf Jäger the interior minister of the Landesregierung and Fritz Pleitgen chief of the ‘European cultural  capital city’ organisation.

VIRTUAL MASS 2007: This still image is from a 4-D interactive model of crowd evacuation dynamics in a dense urban setting, used to explore individual and collective behavior under emergency scenarios. (Credit: Paul Torrens, Arizona State University)..click picture for link

There is a price to sheer unlimited mobility and connectivity amplified by the need and greed that make people wanting to meet in such numbers.

PLEASURE CLASS 2010: shown in a still from a video posted on Youtube wit the initial heading 15 death in Duisburg... One can see several camera's held high over the heads of the crowd... so these are people recording their own misery of being trapped in a crowd... (how come? a sense of history before the more primal sense of survival? reportage of participatory panic?) click picture for link to Youtube

I have to think back at the German playwright Ernst Toller and his world famous theatre drama from 1920: “Masse Mensch” which warns against faceless massification… Let me cite the chorus”

WORKING CLASS 1910-20: Images of the city displayed in woodcuts by the Belgian artist Frans Masereel ... the right hand picture shows his feeling of Berlin.


We, eternally wedged into

Caverns of towering houses,

We, abandoned to mechanisms of mocking systems,

We, faceless in the night of tears,

We eternally severed from our mothers,

From the depths of the factories we call!

When will we live in love?

When will we work our will?

When will we be saved?”

RETURN TICKET BECOMES A ONE WAY TICKET FOR SOME: Advertisement of today... this web site still had a link to buy a ticket for 29 Euro...

Just selected a fragment from one of my 2008 scroll projects, “Dionysia & other Pleasure Parades”, as a counter point image. One sees the ‘Siegesäule’ in Berlin towering over the masses- a few years ago – masses that by commercialism have been redirected  to their tunnel of death in Duisburg: from Parade to Stampede…

CRITICAL MASS BERLIN 2006: 1.2 million participants in last 'Love Parade' in this town.

“When will we live in love?” is the question from 1920 by Toller, posed – once again – 90 years later. I am not afraid to go against the fashionable current of the quest for ever and ever bigger,  more loud and more grandiose events… at a certain scale a party becomes a war and a parade will become a death march.

MASS CONTROL 2010: Image from Spiegel TV that had several camera crews already the day before in Duisburg to document the event, showing the Central Command room of the municipal management team for the  Love Parade 2010, the day before the catastrophe. Everything seemed under control. On the wall are the maps that – when seen in High Definition mode – show clearly the fenced area and the singular entry point. This video also shows the moment when a mass of people coming from the inner town breaks through the clumsy and rusty crowd barriers set up by the local police to prevent more people to enter the enclosed festival ground while from the other side people were leaving. Language is German… no translated version (yet?). The reportage also shows the arrival of  a high spirited crowd on the railway station and the ensuing first confrontations with the well behaving local police force.  It helps to reflect on 21st century Dionysia… Click picture to see the video…

Let’s run away  from the the crowd barriers and throw a party within the horizons of our limited means of human communication, affection and pleasure, to be lovable with our own and other faces recognisable once again.

LEISURE CLASS 1788: Goya “The Meadow of San Isidro on his Feast Day” 1788; click picture for full size viiew

Additional considerations

The Dutch crowd incidents last year during a massive beach party at Hoek van Holland and this year during a National Commemoration at Dam square Amsterdam, lead me to study a bit more the ideas and development of crowd control science and technology. Doing a check once again after the Duisburg Love Stampede made me find two videos that visualise very recent research relevant for the Duisburg case. One shows a model of  a very orderly leaving of a mass of football fans in a nearby football stadium (Esprit Arena Düsseldorf):

This visualisation is a product from the research project HERMES of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and was published on July first 2010 at the web site of in PhysicsWorld.com of the British Institute of Physics: “new project called Hermes, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, aims to protect and save lives by developing an “evacuation assistant” that could allow stadiums and other venues hosting large events to be cleared quickly and more safely than is possible now. The Hermes system is designed to use information about a current situation to predict what will happen when extrapolated to the future.”

The second video (dated June 30 2010) is from the same source and depicts the principles of a situation when through a corridor situation a mass of people is moving from two opposite sides. This is what happened in the tunnel of the Duisburg Love Stampede, though the size of the corridor and the volume of the crowd were different. What is shown – the dynamic evading of pedestrians – is a known phenomenon in the crowd control study field. There is more than just a failure of authorities to plan in the right way or being ignorant of the techniques of crowd control. When individuals become crowds and crowds are modelled in a multi dimensional calculation space, something has happened that needs attention beyond technical solutions. We are faced here with a problem of social order… Humans are not calculation particles. There must be some upper limit of size  for leisure industry events. Not just for the sake of safety, but for the sake of sanity as well. Ant heaps do have a certain size, heaping up humans does have it limits also. Why is it necessary to state the obvious that people need to be valued as human beings NOT as particles or ‘mass-milked cattle’.

There is a report dating from 2009 and updated in 2010 from the Federal Ministry of Education and Reserach of Germany with the title “Research for Civil Security- rescue and protection of people”. It gives an introduction to the need of improvement of civil security and an overview of 17 research programs for which the government has put aside 123 million Euro. There is a special page on the phenomenon of mass concerts and even the ‘Love Parade’ is mentioned in the chapter on “Risks associated with major public events – Planning, assessment, EVAcuation and rescue concepts.” The introduction paragraph reads: “Major public events have become very popular. They attract more and more visitors who want to share occasions such as concerts or football matches. As a consequence, many people gather in close quarters during such events. Without information on the expected number of visitors and possible visitor behaviour, it is virtually impossible to develop accurate estimates of the rescue forces needed – which in turn also makes it extremely difficult to plan successfully for such events.” (page 14)

MASS SECURITY 2009: “High Tech Strategy” is the catch word of this research paper, where we better have a ‘social strategy’ first…Maybe people need to be protected from commercial mass leisure entrepreneurs, or even from themselves, like a municipality  would put a fence at the edge of a cliff .  Click picture to download PDF version of this 2010 government report

The next paragraph mentions the ‘Love Parade’ events, also its growing size, but does not go any further than asking the question about size, about critical mass. This publication does not give any scientific answer to the question it poses, but  reality in Duisburg came up with the answer. When I read the many commentaries on the Duisburg Love Stampede, many comments tend to focus too much on the failure of  either the organiser or the authorities or both, while it would be more honest and realistic to ask why it was that during all the mass events in the previous years, from Berlin to Essen and Dortmund, nothing real bad happened.

click picture for full size view

Was it because of the great precautions, the excellent planning, the different spacial circumstances? Or was it sheer luck? When one looks back at the aerial and crowd pictures of these events, many potential dangerous situations can be observed. When one checks a tentative list of other ‘stampedes‘ in history it will proof that often some odd coincidence made that what could have proceeded without too much problem, ended up in disaster. It has now been proven beyond doubt that a critical mass have been reached in mass mobilisation for leisure. There is a danger that a technocratic response to the Duisburg case would be to keep going with mass events as such and invest in high tech innovations of  crowd control. It will be better to find an answer to the fundamental question why such commercialised mass gatherings are needed at all and invent new forms of  human size pleasure parades to find again the old Dionysian spirit that has been lost in massification.


One of the researches in the government report above has the code name HERMES. The chosen name for the German Federal governmental study HERMES did get a very special unintended meaning with the Duisburg Love Stampede. Hermes comes from the Greeks (Mercurius for the Romans) and  is a god with many  associating faculties. He is not just the messenger and trade supporting god, but also protector of thieves and sailors, inventor of the lute (made of the skin of a turtle), slayer of the giant Argus the watchful giant who he lures to sleep and kills him. What strikes me most that Hermes is also one of the few gods that has access to the underworld, and his task is to deliver dead souls to the eternal realm of the underworld  managed by Hades. He is what the greek call a ψυχοπομπóς psychopomp who escorts newly deceased souls to their after-life.

visual summary of Hermes as the psychopomp delivering dead souls to the underworld; click picture for full size view

This is the fifth article in the series “The downside of the Leisure Industry” on this blog.

*) the death toll has risen from 15 at the day of the stampede to 21 on 28/7/2010

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“Het was fantastisch! Het zonnetje scheen volop en de sfeer zat er goed in. Zaterdag 5 juni vond op het strand van Scheveningen de eerste editie van het BankGiro Loterij Royal Beach Concert plaats. Niemand minder dan Bon Jovi, Kane en DI-RECT zorgten voor een muzikaal spektakel. Het Royal Beach Concert, gesponsord door de BankGiro Loterij, wordt één van de grootste, jaarlijks terugkerende openluchtconcerten van Europa. Wellicht tot volgend jaar met vast weer fantastische artiesten!”

Aldus de juichende berichtgeving op de web site van de Bank Giro Loterij: “een dag vol muziek en genieten van zon, zee en strand…the Royal Beach Concert!.” Een muisklikje ver is het maar naar de aparte web site die dit groots spektakel help realiseren en zelfs een computergebruiker moet het aangeboden geluidsniveau wat enkel maar een web-sitje is, naar beneden draaien om niet al te veel overweldigd te worden in de huiskamer.

Geheel onwetend van deze geplande aanslag op de  rustzoekende mens & milieu wandelden wij afgelopen zaterdagmiddag in de duinen bij de Wassenaarseslag (na afloop van een kort bezoek aan een privé galerie in dit villadorp). Slingerende fiets- en voetgangerspaden over ondulerende duinruggen, geen auto’s meer, met enige regelmaat bordjes met “Geen Toegang/Beschermd Natuurgebied”, hè, hè, eindelijk rust. Al gauw werd duidelijk dat die bescherming niet gold voor het geluidslandschap van dat wat behoort tot de Haagse Waterleiding duinen. Een grommend geluid kwam over de duintoppen gekropen met de vlagen van de lichte bries die vlak aan de kust pleegt te waaien. Toen wij eenmaal over de laatste ‘blanke top der duinen’ heen waren, ploeterend in het nog traditioneel mulle zand, vervluchtigde plotsklaps alle verwachte dimensies van het landschap door wat ik sinds jaar en dag de ‘boenkie boenk’ noem, nu in een speciaal gunstige acoustische omgeving van het vlakke strand.  Diepdoordringende lage basgeluiden, die met hoge regelmaat stuiterend kwamen aanstuiven over de klankast van de verhardende vloedlijn bij eb, terugkaatsend over vlakke waterspiegels van drooggevallen zandbanken, al surfend omhooggeheven op de golven. “Doenke, doenke, doenke doenk”, ‘da capo al fine’, maar ook dat laatste kwam niet, op heel onze wandeling met de rug naar de gleuidsbron, tot op de kleine strandboulevard van het dorp Katwijk, bleef ons dit geluid onafgebroken achtervolgen.

Enigszins was ik voorbereid op de oncontroleerbaarheid van de huidige generatie van geluidsversterkers die bij de minste aanleiding ingezet worden om de zozeer gevreesde stilte te verdrijven. Daarom hadden wij ook de duinweg bij Wassenaarseslag gekozen en waren expres eerst nog eens enkele kilometers door de duinen gelopen in noordelijke richting, om het genoegen te smaken van het over de laatste duintop te zwoegen en dan omarmd te worden door het vervloeiende geluid van de branding op een dag met weinig wind.

Niets van dat alles… kijk maar eens goed naar de industriële  proporties van de luidspreker-batterij die door het cultuur en natuur stimulerende ‘loterij fonds’ op het verbrede stuk strand aan de noordzijde van Scheveningen haven geplaatst was. Ik tel zo al een tiental gigantische conussen die electro-magnetisch gepulseerd de strijd met iedere dondergod aan kunnen gaan. Waren er dan geen voorschriften, zijn er dan geen maximaal toegestane aantallen decibels die geproduceerd mogen worden – al was het maar voor toekomstige bezuinigingen op gehoorstellen voor de party-generatie – want de politiek zegt toch vooruit te willen denken? (*)

Als ik de berichtgeving vooraf bekijk over deze geluidsterreur manifestatie (het geproduceerde volume moet regelmatig over de medisch vastgestelde pijngrens zijn gegaan) dan zie ik dat het merendeel van de Scheveningse Hagenezen al doof is en dus geen moeite meer heeft met zulke vormen van niet fijnzinnige geluidsvolumes. Het klein debat vooraf over de te verlenen vergunning concentreert zich op de logistiek van het aan- en afvoeren van het luistervee en een lichte vrees bij burgermeester Jozias van Aartsen (VVD) om vlak voor de verkiezingen zijn taak als liberale ‘dat moet kunnen’ burgervader niet te kunnen vervullen (immers het recente Amsterdamse straatverbodverbod op biertap en mega-voetbalschermen tijdens de WK van de PvdA werd door de plaatselijke VVD weggehoond, die hiermee nog wat stemmen uit het Oranjejelegioen hopen te winnen). Grootste vrees was dan nog de niet erg “royal” op een schietpartij uitgelopen “beach party” op het strand bij Hoek van Holland verleden jaar, waardoor burgermeester Ahmed Aboutaleb (PvdA) van Rotterdam bijna ten val kwam.

“Wij zullen er alles aan doen om de overlast voor u als bewoner zoveel mogelijk te beperken. Wij vertrouwen er op u hiermee voldoende informatie te hebben verschaft over de gang van zaken en bieden bij voorbaat excuses aan voor de mogelijke (over)last”, staat te lezen in een brief “aan de bewoners in de omgeving Scheveningen StrandHaven” die ik op het internet vind.

Is die brief dan ook voor mij bedoeld geweest, strandwandelaar op afstand beginnend op 8 kilometer tot op 14 kilometer afstand? Hoe zit het met de gevoelige oren van dieren in de natuurgebieden? Of is dat enkel wat voor wetenschappers om zich druk over te maken? Ik ga dan maar helemaal niet nadenken hoe het was voor al die bedlegerigen of erger die hun woning in de nabije omgeving van het goede-doelen-loterij-fonds niet konden ontvluchten. Nederlands is wat dat betreft een meedogenloze samenleving geworden. Of ligt het alleen maar aan mij, behoor ik tot de de laatste gehoor-ongestoorden van Nederland?

Blijf terugdenken aan wat mij nu bezielde om nog over over de “blanke top der duinen” op zoek te gaan naar een Noordzee “vriendelijk bruisend”, want bij het opzoeken van de precieze liedtekst blijkt dit ooit bij de NSB populaire lied ook gekaapt te zijn door het meer recente Stormfront en andere blanke Hollandse organisaties die ik niet welgezind ben en is het pathetisch nationale lied van weleer nu ook in een soort punkrock/skinhead versie op het web te vinden… even oorverdovend als de Scheveninger Beach Party van zaterdag 5 juni 2010.

Waar de blanke top der duinen

Schittert in den zonnegloed,

En de Noordzee, vriend’lijk bruisend

Neêrlands smalle kust begroet,

Juich ik aan het vlakke strand:

Juich ik aan het vlakke strand:

‘k Heb u lief, mijn Nederland!

‘k Heb u lief, mijn Nederland!

After a visit to a privat gallery in a Wasenaar villa this saturday ... we decided to walk through the dunes to the beach and to the next village in northern direction: Katwijk. One of the few places in the over urbanized West of the Netherlands where there are no cars, a long strip of protected nature, with its special soundscape with squeaking seagulls and the calming undertow sound of the waves breaking on the beach. WRONG! this is something from the past... as a growling sound could be perceived already in the dunes... and once we arrived on the beach there was the full spectre of subsonic base sounds of some rock concert down in the south at the beach next to the harbour of Scheveningen. We were at 8 kilometers or so from the noise source and still after an hour more walking away from it, the pestering base sounds were still there. When I checked the internet today it proved to be the 'Royal Beach Party' thrown by the National Ducth Lotery... The map shows the spacial dimension of the the disruption. The city of The Hague (with a VVD party member as burgomaster) gave permission. There are no limits in the Netherlands when it comes to partying. Yet I do not think that the fear of silence is inborn. Click map for full size view.

Ik heb niet kunnen achterhalen of de koninklijke prijzen van de kaartjes van deze ‘Royal Beach Party’ nu uiteindelijk ten goede zullen komen aan een goed doel  via de ‘De BankGiro Loterij’ of dat dit concert van deze instelling omgekeerd juist een subsidie heeft gekregen. Voor alle duidelijkheid heb ik maar even een historisch screenshot van de feestgangers webpagina gemaakt… In deze visie hadden wij op tien kilometer en meer afstand een gratis kaartje in vak X of Y voor de ‘Boenkie Boenk’.

Prices for the Royal Beach Party... so later in the afternoon I had a 'free ticket' in Section x or Y on a distance of 10 and more kilometers from the main stage...

De spottende toon van dit artikel ten spijt, mag het duidelijk zijn dat in een dichtbevolkt en van lawaai bezwangerd landje als Nederland het ontoelaatbaar is dat de schaarse stiltegebieden die ons resten ons ontnomen worden door  geluidsterreur. Verenigingen van natuurliefhebbers, dierenvrienden, dierenpartijen, groene partijen fluister het de bestuurders en politici in, dat de relatieve stilte van dat beetje natuur dat wij nog hebben er niet is om te verstoren, maar om er van te genieten.

(*)  Wie een beleidsnota van een grote gemeente als Den Haag met veelvuldige buitenfestival, met name pop- en rock-muziek zoekt vindt ook na een half uur proberen niets (ik houd mij natuurlijk aan bevolen voor suggesties van het tegendeel). Wel is er een Algemene Plaatselijk Verordening die nogal potsierlijk aandoet in dit tijdperk van gigantische volumes onder handbereik van iedere idioot die een lekker stoer wil doen:
“Artikel 2:9
Straatartiest en muziek
1. Het is verboden, op door de Burgemeester aangewezen wegen en tijden* op of aan de weg als
straatartiest op te treden of muziek ten gehore te brengen.
* Zie uitvoeringsbesluit
2. Op andere dan de in het eerste lid vermelde plaatsen, is het verboden, zonder vergunning van de
burgemeester als straatartiest op te treden of muziek ten gehore te brengen.
3. Het bepaalde in het tweede lid is niet van toepassing mits degene die voornemens is deze
activiteiten te verrichten voor aanvang daarvan naam en adres heeft opgegeven bij het
politiebureau waar de plaats van uitvoering onder ressorteert, indien:
a. met ten hoogste drie personen wordt opgetreden;
b. er geen draaiorgels, geluidversterkende apparatuur of slaginstrumenten, zoals
trommels, bongo’s en dergelijke, worden gebruikt;
c. de activiteiten niet langer duren dan een half uur;
d. de activiteiten slechts worden verricht tussen 08.00 en 21.00 uur en op zondag
tussen 13.00 en 21.00 uur.
4. Indien op grond van dit artikel een vergunning is vereist, kan de burgemeester te dien
aanzien de belangen in aanmerking nemen die zijn bedoeld in artikel 2:25, zesde lid.
Afdeling 5: Bruikbaarheid en aanzien van de weg

Artikel 4:6
Overige geluidhinder
1. Het is verboden toestellen of geluidsapparaten in werking te hebben of handelingen te
verrichten op een zodanige wijze dat voor een omwonende of overigens voor de omgeving
geluidhinder wordt veroorzaakt.
2. Het college kan van het verbod ontheffing verlenen.
3. Het verbod geldt niet, voor zover artikel 2:56, de op de Wet milieubeheer gebaseerde
voorschriften, de Wet geluidhinder, de Wegenverkeerswet 1994, de Zondagswet, het Wetboek
van Strafrecht, de Luchtvaartwet, het Reglement verkeerstekens en verkeersregels 1990, de
Bouwverordening of het Vuurwerkbesluit van toepassing zijn.

De popfestival industrie lijkt ook gevangen in de zucht naar oorverdovende concertbelevenissen. In een recente nota van de ‘Vereniging Nederlandse Pop-podia en festivals” vind ik wel een statistiek waar gewag wordt gemaakt van het mogelijke gevaar van gehoorbeschadiging van arbeiders in deze industrietak, maar de aangegeven geluidsniveaus bij grote concerten zijn op zich al ver boven het gangbare niveau van omstreeks de 90 dBA (waarbij de door mij genoemde effecten van verdragende lage basgeluiden niet in beschouwing zijn genomen en bedacht moet worden dat geluid volgens een logaritmische schaal gemeten wordt en enkele ‘graden’ meer op de geluidsthermometer een verdubbeling of verdriedubbeling in kunnen houden.

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Two KLM posters from the fifties combined (*) with a Google Earth view of Amsterdam and 7 examples of cut-out, non montaged real street photographs of oversized Dutch wooden shoes (klompen) that can be found in all tourists areas of the town outside the shops that sell tourist gadgets; tourist like to pose for their family  or friends in these disproportioned footwear; an uncountable number of such photographs can be found in personal collection all over the world as a reminder of a visit to the city of Amsterdam

Two KLM airway posters from the fifties combined (*) with a Google Earth view of Amsterdam and seven examples of cut-out, non montaged real street photographs of oversized Dutch wooden shoes (klompen) that can be found in all tourists areas of the town, outside the shops that sell tourist gadgets. Tourist like to pose standing in them for a picture – by their family or friends. An uncountable number of such photographs of people in disproportioned Dutch footwear must be around in personal collection all over the world as a reminder of a visit to the city of Amsterdam. It keeps me wondering, was it really fun? Did they have any association wearing these big clogs, like the word ‘sabot’ for wooden feetwear of workers in French, from which comes the word ‘sabotage’? The Dutch wooden shoes, ‘klompen’, have mostly disappeared from daily  life in the Low Countries, though some farmers and workers in the fields may still use them. The footwear was meant only for outside and would be left at the porch, so one was walking inside on ‘socks-feet’ (op kousenvoeten). ‘Klompen’ for the Dutch themselves associates strongly with no-fuss, sometimes even rough behavior, something fragile being trodden by a sabot. The most frequently used Dutch expression referring to ‘klompen’ is “dat kun je op je klompen aanvoelen” (you can sense that with your wooden-shoes on). Click picture for full size view of the collage.

Splendid weather yesterday,  a late September saturday afternoon, it made my friend and me decide to walk to the Lindengracht market at the other side of the town center. So, the Red Light district, the major shopping streets and one of  the soft-drug tourism arteries, the Haarlemmerstraat had to be crossed. These are areas which I always try to avoid when going by bicycle, but now we were on a social-geographic survey of these parts of town, which I had not seen for quite a while.The streets were bustling with tourists and their non-directional pace of walking: halting to study their maps without concern for the other pedestrians and cyclists – often in the middle of the road; whimsically crossing as if the streets were empty; framing their camera pictures while forgetting about the world outside their viewer – causing frequent near accidents; being absorbed in consuming their walk-about-lunch; trying to keep group cohesion despite the fragmented Amsterdam public sidewalks with their thresholds and anti-car parking poles. A mixed aroma of exhausting fumes, hashish and the smell of cheap pizza touches our nostrils as we manage to proceed slowly in the direction of our evening meal shopping market in the Jordaan neighborhood.

I montaged two modernistic tourist photographs in this illustration, found on Flickr made by what seems to be amn under the alias 'Urbandiscount' who has a talent for catching the scenery beyond the regular flat tourist pictures (*). Click Picture for full size view.

I montaged two modernistic tourist photographs in this illustration, photographs I found on Flickr, made by a man posting under the alias ‘Urbandiscount’; a photographer with a talent for catching the atmosphere, better than most regular flat tourist photographs (**). Click picture for full size view.

Two views in one of the yourist crowds in the Warmoesstraat

Amsterdam, Warmoesstraat, at two different moments montaged in one view, showing the regular tourist crowds. Click picture to study the text and images on the sign posts.

As this walk was meant a survey as well, I scan the street fronts of the houses and shops for apparent changes, and there were many. The main trend is not typical for the inner town of Amsterdam, but maybe more outspoken and dramatic than elsewhere. Most of the surviving shops that had some direct function for the life of the locals are gone: grocery and green grocers, the traditional coffee-burning and grinding shops, tobacconists, hardware shops, dry cleaning and the like, with one exception, the bakery shops, the last ones seem to survive all modern massification and monopolization and are thriving with new tourist customers. Venues like the open front walk in ‘coffeeshops’ are examples of replacements. Coffeeshops (the Dutch way of spelling it) whose business is in fact selling hashish and offering smoking facilities for those who claim to smoke it pure… (so the anti-smoke law for public spaces does not apply). Waves of  loud music pour from these establishments and there seem to be no more local residents left at the floors above who could rightfully protest against the reproduced sound levels. Shops specializing in ‘recreational drugs’ paraphernalia pop up with regular intervals along our trajectory, also tattoo and piercing studios, male and female lingerie boutiques  and sex cinemas. The condom shop is still there (called ‘Condomerie’) it exists already for twenty years in the Warmoesstraat, once started as a fun idea in  one of the groundfloor shops of the then squatted housing block ‘Blauwlakenblok’, developing into a regular business enterprise soon after. A bit further on, in the direction of the train station, many gay bars, hotels and ‘darkrooms’ (mainly male) have settled in the last two decades. A historical function one may say, as the Warmoeststraat has done the sexual catering for both the sailors and local inhabitants for centuries. What is different though – compared to the past – is the density of such facilities now, and the fact that homosexual services are openly promoted. House after house in the Warmoesstraat and surroundings have been taken over by a ‘troika’ of the recreational sex and drug industry combined with what we Dutch call ‘horeca’ (snackbars, restaurants, cafés). The ‘horeca’ is there mainly to supply the armies of ‘lurkers’ – those who are just watching – with an alibi to have a drink and snack, wander around and stare. Step by step this troika has pushed out services providing for the daily needs of local residents. I still remember the area as a mixture of cafés, restaurants, sex business, small workshops and family living. I have not seen statistics yet on the dwindling number of normal resident houses or apartments in the Red Light district and adjacent areas, but that it is strongly diminishing is something anyone “can feel with their wooden-shoes on.”

"The pink margin of dark Amsterdam,  rise of the homosexual bar-culture in Amsterdam 1930-1970" a publication from 1992 by Gert Hekma and his wide circle of informants. With a map showing the location of bars over 60 years.

“The pink margin of dark Amsterdam, rise of the homosexual bar-culture in Amsterdam 1930-1970” a 1992 publication by Gert Hekma (University of Amsterdam) and his wide circle of informants, with a map showing the location of bars over 60 years. Each dark triangle in the rosettes on the map represents a decade. At the left a facade drawing I found in the municipal archive of Warmoesstraat 20, where from 1955 to 1971 Hotel Tiemersma with its pre-darkroom facilities had its abode. I have slightly colored the facade drawing because it would otherwise hardly be visible. To be able to see the details you have to click the picture..

What was – only forty years ago – a very much needed sexual emancipation of suppressed gay people, has grown into an industry concentrating to such a level in certain areas of town, that other social and economical functions are marginalized by it, or cease to exist. In a very instructive little book “De roze rand van donker Amsterdam” (the pink margin of dark Amsterdam) delivered by Gert Hekma of the University of Amsterdam in 1992, one can read about the very slow rise of “a homosexual bar-culture” in the period 1930-1970 and the inventive ways of gay people  to congregate in times that homosexuality was a thing not even mentioned. It is only in the fifties that the worse forms of police prosecution are over and several membership clubs start to offer some sort of safe heaven for (mostly male) homosexuals to meet, like the drab DOK cellar at the Singel (in ‘gebouw Odeon’) seen – once forty years ago – as the biggest gay dancing in Europe. The Warmoesstraat and its surroundings do have over half a century of history  in supplying gay entertainment. A pioneering place was Hotel Tiemersma, once a tobacco shop at number 20 of the Warmoestraat, started by a sailor man Sako Jan Tiemersma. From the early fifties the hotel also had a tiny bar (without a permit at first) with a permissive barkeeper that allowed some forms of intimacy. The hotel rooms had no lock and the clientèle also behaved with little restrictions and a kind of ‘darkrooms’ avant-la-lettre existed there. The hotel was a meeting point for the early leather scene (‘leerwereld’ in Dutch, which is a funny word as it also means ‘world of learning’), a scene that heralded the shift from the feminine tot the macho-type of homosexual behavior. The Amsterdam homo community before WWII had its  division in active penetrating males (called ‘tules’) and passive receiving feminine males (called ‘nichten’). It was a community in which sexual partners from the twilight zone of heterosexuality also participated as ‘tules’. With the advent of the leather scene this attitude changed, as  Hekma puts it “The ‘homos’ now could fornicate each other and horniness, to be satisfied, needed the outside world much less.” [my free rendering of his sentence on page 73; tj.] Any nowadays sex tourist can find the new gay-meeting points by a quick search on the internet, zooming in at leisure to specialized areas like the Warmoesstraat and reads about: – Argos at number 95 “The oldest and possibly most famous leather bar in Amsterdam. Sexy, cruisey and heavy. S.O.S. (Sex on Sundays)”; – Dirty Dicks at number 86 “A late night leather bar. This place really lives up to it’s name”; – Stable Master at number 23 “Bar and Hotel famous for it’s jack off / wanking / masturbation parties in the downstairs bar held regularly.”

Indirect depiction of the dark room phenomenon a sling and smeared walls exposed by  a flash light from a camera.

Indirect depiction of the dark room phenomenon without real action: a sling and smeared walls exposed by a flash light from a camera. In the middle a reflection in a puddle of a Warmoestraat gay bar by a talented photographer I found on Flickr using the long alias name “AmsterS@m – The Wicked Reflectah’s photostream” (***)

When emancipation of homosexuals ends up in a commercialized segregation of leisure and pleasure with expanding specialized zones clustering around Amstel-Rembrandtplein-Utrechtsestraat-Reguliersdwarsstraat, Warmoestraat-Zeedijk, and Kerkstraat-Leidesplein,  I am tempted to ask what about “equality” as one of the important substances of my own idea of what emancipation is about? Why not have fun all together, beyond the tender and gender divide? Why this self-imposed social Apartheid? Also, what about the level of, say ‘homosexual’ emancipation and ‘tolerance’ of drugs in all the countries of origin of the hordes of sex and drugs tourists filling the Amsterdam inner town? Did they vote Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Merkel, Putin and thus can’t they smoke a joint at home or in a pub in peace? Is it the Pope, an imman, a rural evangelic fundamentalist that keeps them from doing or at least inquiring about unknown sensual territories at home? And … most important for us locals, is the blunt commercial exploitation through which the tourists are paraded in Amsterdam, – with some side-tripping to Anne Frank and Vincent van Gogh – something we should be proud of? Is that what we want to present to the world? Or is it this, what is most typical Dutch after all, only about making a good buck… on anybody using any opportunity?

Recent Indonesian history depiction of the arrival of Cornelis Houtman at Bantam in 1596

Recent Indonesian history depiction of the arrival of the brothers Cornelis and Frederik de Houtman at the Bantam (west coast of Java) in 1596, the picture does not show the firing of ship canons at the native settlements  as a result of animosity between the locals, the Portugese and the Dutch. The middle picture is a drawing of the pepper plant from the VOC archives, at the right Robert Jasper Grootveld (1977) while talking about the origin of Dutch drug-trade and the importance to keep everything ‘droog’ (dry),  the origin of the word ‘drugs’.

“DROOG, here in the Netherlands, is the most important word.” All the coffeeshop signs with cannabis leaves, in the streets we passed through – this saturday afternoon  September 2009-  made me think back at that sentence which starts a brilliant and humorous discourse by Amsterdam’s city shaman Robert Jasper Grootveld back in 1977.  Grootveld (1932 – 2009) spoke about Amsterdam’s historical role as a market for spices, dried plants and herbs – from far away places like the East Indies – in a documentary movie by filmmaker Louis van Gasteren: “Allemaal Rebellen” (all of them rebels) about Amsterdam radicals of the fifties and sixties. Droog in Dutch is ‘dry’ in English and most lexicographers point to the possible origin of the the word ‘drugs’ in English, ‘drogue’ in French, ‘droga’ in Italian, ‘Drogen’ in German and so on, from the Dutch word ‘droog’.  “Dry,  here in the Netherlands, is the most important word, a land that had to be drained from a swamp (…) that did send its sailors to the other part of the world – whereby half the crew did not make it back- which was a human offering! … why all that? What you could find there, was something extra, to give some spicy jolt to life: pepper, mace, nutmeg and other plantlike products … and there was only one way to get that from there to here, namely by keeping it: dry (droog).” In this lively interview Grootveld reminds us of the staple-market economy of Amsterdam in the 17th century and the importance within that constellation of – what he properly calls – the “drug-trade” (drugshandel). Grootveld is not an academic, his associations and actions do have a strong persistency nevertheless. The Dutch involvement in opium trade from 1613 up to 1942, during the 19th century even a monopoly of the state from the beginning of the 19th century onward, is something Grootveld certainly knew, but does not mention during this interview. In 1928 the law curtailing the use of  opium and other narcotic drugs is proclaimed in the Netherlands, though at the same time keeping the opium trade in the colonies of the Dutch East Indies outside of these regulations. Ewald Vanvugt has written an extensive book on this matter “Wettig Opium” (Lawful opium) in 1985, no translations exists in English, but there is a short interesting online English reference by Dirk Teeuwen (2007), about Dutch state opium trade.

Natives smoking opium in Batavia (Djakarta) 1925 and a view of the Jl. Salemba opium factory in Batavia, 1925 with machines for mechanical filling of tubes with opium.

Natives smoking opium in Batavia (Djakarta) 1925 and a view of the Dutch Jl. Salemba opium factory in Batavia, 1925 with machines for mechanical filling of tubes with opium. The opium production and trade was a Dutch state monopoly starting in 1827 in the East Indies and lasting till 1942.

Back from sidestepping and continuing our trip.. As we walked the streets and struggled through the tourist crowd, I had a short fantasy of my own, being a telepathic guide, able to impress my views of the town and its history on each of the leisurely wandering tourists that catched my eye:

“What you see is the product of Double Dutch standards, moral sermons at home, covering up far away exploitive practices. Like our prime-minister Jan Peter Balkenende who does not get tired to preach about the Golden Age and the ‘spirit of enterprise’ of the Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) which we should try to regain today, forgetting to mention the black pages of history of the trading and maltreatment of black slaves, let alone the life of the 17th century poor in the Low Countrries. The historical ‘freedom of trade’, which found once in the city of Amsterdam one of its important bases,  was nothing more than the freedoms one can allow oneself when making bad deals – for the natives – backed up by warships with canons. Half the number of poor souls that were crimped into VOC service as sailors died on their voyage to the east. Recruitment officers would round up bums in taverns and on the street, even imprison them, till the moment their ship sailed away. The Dutch that nowadays like to praise themselves for their development aid to poor countries, still fail to recognize that they were fighting colonial wars up to 1961, officially called – to this very day – pacifying ‘police actions’ (“politionele acties” in Indonesia 1945 – 1949 against the Indonesian War of Independence)… “

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende opening the exhibition "Power and Glory" shipping in the Golden Age, in March 2008 in the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam

At the left a (not montaged) photograph of  Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende opening the exhibition “Power and Glory: shipping in the Golden Age”,  March 2008 in the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam; overlayed at the right with an allegoric painting commemorating a century (1602 – 1702) of VOC (United East Indies Company) business in Amsterdam  by the painter Nicolaas Verkolje (who made  in the same period a painting depicting Ovidius’s “The theft of Europe”, the ‘theft of Asia’ was a theme far beyond the imagination of any European artist of that time). The painting is part of the Rijksmuseum collection. Click picture for a full size view. Note at the right hand side of the painting two cherubs with a cornucopia from which spices pour: cinnamon and nutmeg, the last is even a tiny bit hallucinatory when used in big quantities.

As it is just a fantasy, I do not get out of breath and my audience does not walk away from the historical hootch their guide is offering,  I even manage – for myself – to make a desperate link between things of the past and the present, between the historical void in the brains of the oversized tourist crowds and my own agitated feelings of having lost something, the town I knew, the town I liked… and I explain to my imaginary audience once more, before taking a side street out of the Red Light district:

“The 17th century Dutch trade mentality still lingers on in the veins of the city,  sips through the pavement,  leaks into the cellars, pollutes the drinking water, but its object has changed. It is is not any more wealth gathered in faraway countries brought back to the Netherlands, instead, there is a progressively developing reversal: tourists flying en masse to Amsterdam and trading the city  away. The wooden shoes, once the trademark of this country, its firmness, its endurance in the fight  against wind, rain and sea, have grown to an absurd size and – as in a fairy tale – they fit only the tourists, who have great fun banging around in them, not on purpose, just unconscious of the fragility of the city’s civil structures they encounter.”

Crossing the main streets to the Central Station, The Damrak and Nieuwe Zijds Voorburgwal, brings us out of the Red Light district and the number of sex facilities decreases, though the occurrence of coffeeshops only diminishes when we reach the more classy areas of what is called ‘de grachtengordel’ (the girdle of canals). This has a historical reason as the old city ordinances prohibited the construction of alleys and houses of the poor in this area. Also here something has fundamentally changed lately: terraces have sprang up at the most odd and unhandy places, leaving even less space to walk as in the traditional sidewalk layout of this part of town. Where from the fifties onward cars had invaded the inner city and lined all the canals to supply the needed parking space, a new and more profitable development can be noticed: tiny terraces scattered on the sidewalks, along the waterfront and at the sides of bridges. As it was a very warm and sunny September afternoon, all terraces were filled to the brink and so the glasses of the customers, making what was once a quiet zone into yet another bustling boulevard, a scenery even further enlivened by a parade of private pleasure boats in the canals with their ostensibly wealthy and joyful drinking passengers and the traditional big tourist boats maneuvering in between them…

Canal side frenzy with neo-colonial rickshaw services, rentable canalbikes and terraces filling each empty corner.

It can not be helped, describing the scenery of  the overcrowded inner town of Amsterdam, ends up in a discouraging and irritating litany  …  we did arrive in the end at the Lindengracht market and that was not a happy ending. I could have known it, the gentrification of the Jordaan neighborhood have downgraded the variety of foodstuff and upgraded the prices. It did not compete in any way with our regular trip to the Albert Cuyp Market in the 19th century neighborhood of  De Pijp. “It looks like a market, but it is only a visual suggestion of it” was my friend’s comment.

On our way back – this time evading the Red Light district – I pondered over the question whether there is any limit to which extend a town can be consumed? What it is that needs to be done to alert people about the negative effects of oversized tourism. A comparative study of mass tourism might be an idea. Paris, Rome and London certainly are not a model because they are much bigger in size and city layout than Amsterdam.  Venezia, Firenze  are smaller but have a much more cultural oriented clientèle. The Amsterdam city authorities are far from even envisaging such a studious exercise, they may try and shift away the focus from sex and drugs to culture (there are many reports about that), but whatever their fancy, growth of the number of tourists is their uncontested prime policy. Debating tourist policy is anyhow a very unpopular subject with many of my fellow citizens. There are those who do not care because they do not live in the city center or are fortunate enough to find themselves in some of the non-tourists corners. Next comes the economic argument, that it brings a lot of necessary income for the town.  As I do not sell beer or drugs and do not own a hotel or restaurant I can see very little direct profit coming my way and indirectly I only notice the rising of municipal taxes over the years as I am supposed to live on what is called a  A-locations and taxes are determined by real-estate market value. Nobody has seen it fit yet to study the nuisance of the tourist and party-industry in the inner town and translated that in a tax reduction equal to the level of suffering inflicted on the inhabitants. Is it unacceptable egoism that makes me wish to exclude all those suburbia prisoners that are craving for a real city experience and buy a temporal escape ticket to Amsterdam?

"Hands of my town" (blijf van mijn stad af) somewhere near the Jordaan on our walk I saw a poster with this text

“Hands of my town” (blijf van mijn stad af) somewhere near the Jordaan during our walk I saw a poster with this slogan and I thought at first “Ah! these are people which are fed up also with the down side of the leisure industry.” WRONG! At home I searched for their web site and soon discovered that this is a local pressure group that wants less limitations on terraces, red light district, and other rules regulating inner city life. They are the organizers of a recent ‘drink inn’ to protest against a new local rule that forbids people on terraces to gather and drink while standing (an odd rule that has some rationale in exceptional cases where a whole street will be filled with a drinking crowd). They plan to hold a city referendum turning back all kind of regulations they see as limiting their freedom. Little can be read in their manifesto about neighbors who need some sort of rest, some sort of subdued city silence and one wonders where all the signatories of their petition are living. Certainly not straight above a popular terrace frequented by a “freedom loving” crowd, is my guess. When you read Dutch you may enjoy their argumentation that sounds similar to the good old VOC time rethoric of our prime-minister: “Amsterdam, once the center of the world. Where Rembrandt harvested his fame, Michiel de Ruyter (a Dutch admiral) began his voyages, the great philosophers Descartes and Spinoza wrote their most important works…” Well let me stop here, enough nonsense as De Ruyter was mainly fighting wars and was not a discoverer, which is suggested, Descartes was traveling a lot and only spent two years in Amsterdam, and Spinoza had to flee Amsterdam after conflict with religious and city authorities, doing his writing in Rijnsburg, Voorburg and The Hague. What to think about the concluding paragraph on the city of Amsterdam: “A fantastic place where especially freedom of the way of life and enterprise is signed on its banner for centuries” (Een fantastische plek waar juist vrijheid in leven en ondernemen al eeuwen lang hoog in het vaandel staat). The relativity of the notion of freedom must have escaped this bunch of happy hour drinkers, who direct most of their person oriented anger at the head of the inner city council. Click the picture to have a look at their web site.

Is there some hope in recent developments of  Dutch cities next to the Belgian border, that have closed all coffeeshops and organized even a kind of razzias against cross-border drug tourism? No, in spite of all my observations and negative appreciation of the Amsterdam drug tourist scene, I dislike this abrupt and oppressive option. Like the homosexual emancipation there has also been an emancipation of the drug user, from a persecuted criminal to a tolerated recreational consumer. The liberating mind expanding aspects of soft drugs as formulated by idealists of the sixties may have long faded away and turned into hard core business, but the basic assumptions remains valid: to be master of one’s own mind and body and decide by one’s own reasoning instead of external coercion.

There are many options and levels of steering, controlling, and arguing which could bring the transborder soft drug users and the international leisure industry back to acceptable proportions and some sort of balance with the social environment they share with others. When only those who are profiting have a say, when authorities are deaf for the complaints of their citizens and turn a blind eye on the degrading effects of mass tourism, one has to wait for the occurence of some sort of tragic incident before the extravaganza of oversized tourism, of Klompenmania, will be countered.


Maybe we should replicate Amsterdam a few times and post it on each continent in the appropriate theme park. A pioneering exercise has already be done in Japan, Nagasaki with the Dutch Theme Park Huis ten Bosch, which has its canals, cosy European alleys and a detailed replica of the Central Station in Amsterdam (this by the way is the second time that this building has been replicated in Japan, Tokyo Central Station

Maybe we should replicate Amsterdam a few times and post it on each continent in an appropriate theme park. A pioneering exercise has already be done in Japan, Nagasaki with the Dutch Theme Park Huis ten Bosch, which has its canals, cosy European alleys and a detailed replica of the Central Station in Amsterdam (*****)

Maybe it is time for the ’emancipation’ of  city dwellers, recognizing their  “equal rights” on the use of the city, not treating them anymore as Disney actors in their own town, appreciating them for their living knowledge of their house, their street, their neighborhood, their city. The first step toward a city dwellers emancipation is the recognition that injustice has been done, that it is time for measuring tourism, to fit it to the existing scale of a city and not the other way around.


The association in the article with Robert Jasper Grootveld and his discourse on ‘droog’ and ‘drugs’ may seem somehow beside the point  for those who have not witnessed the rise of  the recreational drug tourism in Amsterdam from the early sixties onward. So I feel a need to explain why it is essential for me. Grootveld has played an important dual role in the history of Amsterdam as a soft drug tourist center, both as one of the first street campaigner against the smoking of tobacco and the dangers of cancer, and as a propagator of the smoking of marihuana, instead. Tobacco was for him not only a health danger, but also an example of of consumer manipulation. He aimed his playful actions at first against the big tobacco industries and their psychological tricks – their “hidden persuaders” – that lured people into satisfying needs constructed by the advertisement industry. His utmost primitive duplicated magazine “De Hippe Zweter” was pointing to the book “Hidden persuaders” By Vance Packard (1957). His actions – an odd mix of dadaism and ‘urban shamanism’ – were aimed at “the liberation of the addicted consumer of tomorrow.”  Grootveld’s actions fell in fertile ground. The Amsterdam scene of the sixties was a constant turmoil in which dissidents from the artistic, political and esoteric realms mixed. The people involved came from different backgrounds but still had something strongly in common: egalitarian and communal principles. This  has laid the basis for all kinds of social movements that – over the years – freed Dutch society from its authoritarian straightjacket.  It is unfortunate  that by now this heritage  has been spoiled and the  former liberating principles only remain as an “imago”. Grootveld’s vision of  1962, a “Magic Amsterdam” as a center of the “Western asphalt jungle”, was already taken over by KLM and the Dutch Tourist Agency (VVV) in the mid sixties and started the influx of beatniks and hippies and  other ‘sleeping-bag-tourists’. Only an echo of it rings in the 21st century advertisement agency slogan “I Am Amsterdam” commissioned by the municipality, a faked tourist industry imago that is eagerly consumed by a new generation of  ‘addicted city hopping  consumers’.


This photograph by Cor Jaring (****) is from 1971 and shows the boat ‘De Witte Raaf’ (the White Raven) moored straight opposite the local Amsterdam police station of Kattenburg, selling marihuana plants, for one guilder each. We see Kees Hoekert at the left and on the right (with a spade and ‘klompen’) Robert Jasper Grootveld. It is a playful subversive enterprise under the name “Lowland Weed Company.” At that time someone had studied the Dutch anti-opium law and had discovered that it banned only explicitly the dried leaves of this plant. Growing plants were not subject to this law and it is through this loophole in the jurisdiction that the wide  use of  this soft-drug and the soft drug tolerance policy of Dutch authorities came into existence. Grootveld who had been active as an anti-smoke-magician fighting the big Tobacco industry in his own unique ways (because of cancer danger of regular cigarets) had been using and propagating marihuana (instead) from early on. It is at the end of the sixties and the very beginning of the seventies, with the influx of hippies and other young people traveling around cheaply by hitchhiking, that a new form of tourism started to develop in Amsterdam. At first the young people often slept outdoors on the steps of the National Monument at the Dam Square and in the Vondelpark. Outdoor sleeping was soon regulated by limiting the permitted areas and providing cheap accommodation called ‘sleep-inns’, a kind of hip youth hostels, that often provide some cultural program at the side. Youth clubs came into existence, some of them squatted at first but soon legalized, others initiated by the city government who tried to get the youngsters of the street by offering them music and dancing halls. Local cannabis production (nederwiet) was sold in small quantities in these venues. The whole multi-million  recreational drug industry originates in this chain of sub-cultural events.

Almost four decades lay between the “Lowland Weed Comapny” of Kees Hoekert, Robert Jasper Grootveld and others, run from a crummy houseboat, a little bit offside the town center,  and new cannabis businessmen like Arjan Roskam and Olaf van Tulder. The businessmen own  a chain of  enterprises with different outlets: coffeeshops, a clothing and accessory line and luxurious rental apartments in the town center (several coffeeshop owners have started to diversify their businesses, in case the tolerance policy will change). There is a Youtube movie of the opening ceremony of their sumptuous coffeeshop at the Haarlemmerstraat (opposite the historical building of the Dutch West Indian Company). First speaker is August  de Loor, a former street-corner worker helping hard-drug-addicts for decades, now presented in the movie as a “Drugsexpert”, his speech is about the legal front door for the customers, the half legal shady back door where the drugs come in and the threat of a possible change in the liberal soft drug policy of the government. The proud owners explain the decorations in the different rooms of their new establishment, including their own depiction in Delft Blue tiles, dressed up  as “King of Cannabis” and “Lieutenant Admiral of  Greenhouse.”

In january this year a new coffeeshop (from the Greenhouse chain) has opened in the Haarlemmerstraat, where the owners have chosen to display themselves on the walls in colonial settings in newly made ’Delft Blue’ tile tableaus. The shop owners and managers can be seen on deck of a 17th century sailing ships. A banner text is partly visible and seems to read: “…those who have the history … will shape … the future.” In a Youtube video owner Arjan Gorter speaks about “the inspirational history of Amsterdam in the Golden Age” which has been brought back in the interior. It is as if I hear Prime Minister Balkenende speak similar words, about a national past that never existed.


(*) The two KLM posters that have been fused in the left hand part of the Klompenmania collage can be found on the web site of  the “Urban Nebula” study group. The site has some flash animation installed which does not allow me to make a precise link, you have to search the checkerboard of poster details to find your way.
(**) Warmoesstraat pictures by “urbandiscount” posted on
(***) “Some guys and a Sexshop on the Warmoesstraat, reflected in a puddle in Amsterdam”, artistic photographs of Amsterdam reflexions in rain puddles  by “AmsterS@m – The Wicked Reflectah’s photostream” posted on
Web site of photographer of Cor Jaring, a must for anyone interested in Amsterdam history  as seen form the margin.
(*****) The
website of Huis ten Bosch Nagasaki can be found here.
This by the way is the second time that this building (Amsterdam central Station) has been replicated in Japan, Tokyo Central Station, dating from 1914 is somewhat freely modeled by the Japanese architect Tatsuno Kingo after the creation of P.J.H. Cuypers from 1889, though ther are archiecture historians who deny it; I personally know both station well and must say that I was struck by their ananlogies from the first moment I entered the Tokyo version.

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De ondertitel van deze post is een letterlijk citaat (0:40 – 0:50 min.) van een door “Karim1001” op op Youtube geplaatst telefoon-video-filmpje van het  Veronica strandfeest bij Hoek van Holland op 23 augustus 2009. Het werd gezegd tijdens het schietincident waarbij meerdere gewonden en een dodelijk slachtoffer viel. Er is weinig te zien maar destemeer te horen op deze video, de herhaalde schoten en de telefoonfilmer die zijn vriend sommeert om te gaan liggen en de reactie van zijn vriend “het kan geen echte zijn dat is onmogelijk …” en het antwoord van de filmer “geloof mij op mijn moeder dat is echt….”  (2:20 – 2:30 min).

Two screenshots from mobile phone videos uploaded to the Internet that document a mass beech party in Hoek van Holland, The Netherlands on August 23. 2009, during a riot whereby the police at that spot felt so threatened that they fired their arms which left a few wounded and one man dead. If the alleged Rotterdam hooligans

Two screenshots merged into one picture from mobile phone videos uploaded to the Internet that document a mass free beech party with DJs in Hoek van Holland, The Netherlands on August 23. 2009. Video taken during a riot at the end of the party, whereby the police felt so threatened by a crowd that they fired their arms which left a few wounded and one man dead. If the alleged 'Rotterdam Hooligans' have also used firearms has not been established, though it was suggested at first. See footnote (*) for the video sources. Click image for a full size view.

“Bezoekers van strandfeest onder invloed van drank en drugs” lees ik in de meeste berichtgeving over wat nu een verdwaalde kogel van de politie heet te zijn, die een omstander dodelijk trof tijdens het door omroeporganisatie Veronica georganiseerde vrije toegankelijke Sunset Groove festival  in Hoek van Holland (vlakbij Rotterdam). In sommige berichten lijkt het wel of enkel de daar gesignaleerde ‘Rotterdam Hooligans’ onder invloed van drank en drugs verkeerden. Ook lees je in veel berichten over deze affaire iets over het ontstaan van een “grimmige sfeer.” Deze laatse combinatie van de woorden ‘grimmig’ en ‘sfeer’ gekoppeld met de woorden dance en party levert 56 Google hits en als ik dit resultaat van een internet-zoektochtje vernauw met de naam van de plek Hoek van Holland blijft er een twintigtal hits over. Er moet iets structueels aan de hand zijn met zulke feesten en het woord “grimmig”.
Enlarged screenshot at 2 minutes and 12 seconds of the Youtube mobile telephone movie on Youtube posted by Karim1001. I have lightened up the picture information in Photoshop with the 'curve tool'  because otherwise one sees only a dark screen with some moving lights. The conversation just before, during, and just after this moment goes as follows: "kanker, kanker hee... [pif paf poef paf ik hoorde gewoon die kogel daar afketsen [poef paf poef pif hee ga liggen Matti ga liggen  vriend..." (cancer, cancer hey [bang bang] I just heard that bullet rebounding [beng bang] hey go dug down Matti, go and lay down). When one more listens than looks at this 2 minute movie and counts the rounds of shooting the level of police panic can be well understood. The fact that one of the boys in this movie shouts after just hearing a bullet rebounding indicates that the gun shots were not just warning shots into the air. Click picture for a full size view.

Enlarged screenshot at 2 minutes and 12 seconds of the Youtube mobile telephone movie  posted by Karim1001. I have lightened up the picture information in Photoshop with the ‘curve tool’  because otherwise one sees only a dark screen with some moving lights. The conversation just before, during, and just after this moment goes as follows: “kanker, kanker hee… [pif paf poef]  ik hoorde gewoon die kogel daar afketsen [poef paf poef pif] hee ga liggen Matti ga liggen  vriend…” (cancer, cancer hey [bang bang] I just heard that bullet rebounding [beng bang] hey go and dodge Matti, go and lay down). When one listens more, than looks at this 2 minute movie, and counts the rounds of shots, the level of police panic can be well understood. The fact that one of the boys in this movie shouts after just hearing a bullet rebounding, indicates that the gun shots were not just warning shots into the air. Click picture for a full size view.

Ik beken direct niet alle berichten in alle kranten over het doodschieten door de plaatselijke politie van een danser op een strandfeest  te hebben gelezen, maar in de berichten die ik wel heb kunnen bestuderen vind ik vrijwel nergens – buiten de beschuldigende vingers wijzend naar niet bij name genoemde hooligans – iets over hoe het nu kwam dat de sfeer van dit feestje grimmig werd. Ik neem dan aan dat het gratis strandpartijtje niet grimmig begonnen is, maar dat het naar verloop van tijd pas dat karakter kreeg. Kan de opzet, schaal, inrichting, vormgeving en het geluidsniveau mede van invloed geweest zijn op de veranderende sfeer op dat strand?  Is er iemand die een geluidsmeting gemaakt heeft van het festijn? Zijn er – op zijn minst aan de landkant van het strand – omwonenden die iets kunnen zeggen over het geluidsniveau geproduceerd vanaf de podia van dit feest, zoals waar te nemen op zo en zoveel afstand (ik neem aan meerdere kilometers), of blijft het een onbeantwoorde vraag aan de meeuwen?

Is het mogelijk dat er enig verband bestaat tussen het geproduceerde, waarschijnlijk continue, geluidsniveau van dit massafeest, de invallende duisternis en daarbij op te tellen gebruik van ‘zinnenbeinvloedende middelen’ die allen tezamen de grondvesten hebben gelegd voor wat dan later een “grimmige sfeer” genoemd gaat worden? Luide muziek – hoezeer ik die zelf ook mag haten – hoeft op zich niet aggressief te zijn. Als ik als vader van een dochter van 16 naar de televisiebeelden van Lowlands 2009 popfestival kijk zie ik enkel blijde gezichten (alhoewel ik natuurlijk het geluidsniveau van het festival door middel van mijn afstandsbediening ver beneden het originele volume van Lowlands gebracht heb). Het volume van de huidige versterkers-installaties en bijbehorende vibrerende kunststoffen conussen is hoger dan ooit tevoren en kan met gemak de pijngrens overschrijden en zelfs schade aan ons gehoor toebrengen. Wie deelneemt aan, of foto’s bekijkt van, massale dance parties in Rotterdam of Berlijn ,ziet in toenemende mate mensen met oorbeschermers, of ouders met peuters op de schouders met grote geluidsdempers over kleine gezichtjes. Zo ook DJs die hun eigen oren beschermen, terwijl zij hun publiek aan de fysieke gevaren van overmatig luide muziek blootstellen. Voor het publiek is het een vrijwillige keuze, voor omwonenden niet, vandaar dat het Veronica festival wellicht op een min of meer afgelegen stuk strand gehouden werd.

Three images of the Dance Parade Rotterdam  2009 where publicity drives the show and just young ears are protected.

Three images of the Dance Parade Rotterdam 2009 where publicity drives the show and just young ears are protected. Click image for full size view.

Hard geluid kan in extreme omstandigheden als martelwerktuig gebruikt worden, even verschrikkelijk als het herhaald onderdompelen van iemands hoofd in een watervat. Tromgeroffel en snerpende doedelzakken begeleiden de infanterist die zich in het krijgsgewoel gaat storten. Opgefokte discogangers, die uit hun lawaaihallen de stad in stromen, zijn sinds jaar en dag een gevreesd fenomeen. In de tijden dat bij mij over de  brug nog de IT gevestigd was in de Amsterdamse Amstelstraat, in kennerskringen geroemd om het aldaar geproduceerde geluidsvolume – doordringend tot in buik en darmen – werd de vroege-ochtend-stilte op de weekeinden steeds rauw verstoord door de opgeladen agressie van de pleziergangers die, de in hun binnenste opgewonden energie, op de één of andere wijze een uitweg moesten geven. Verkeersborden, lantarenpalen, reclamezuilen en tram-abris boden daartoe een goede uitweg. Ik zegen nog de dag dat een gemeentelijke maatregel voor de Amsterdamse binnenstad bedacht werd die bepaalde dat voorafgaande aan het sluitingsuur de muziek stapsgewijs tot een lager niveau teruggebracht moest worden, waarbij ook nog de aanbeveling gedaan werd om de alcoholverzadigde magen van de nachtbrakers met een gratis broodje wat meer tot rust te brengen. Dat leverde een waarneembare verbetering van het leefklimaat voor de omwonenden op. Het is niet dat ik hier tegen duivelse opzwepende muziekpraktijken ten strijde wil trekken, maar een zeker psychologisch effect van constant aanwezige en zeer zeer luide muziek kan niet ontkend worden en dient bij de nu komende analyze van wat er op het strand van Hoek van Holland gebeurd is, meegenomen te worden.

Dat psychologisch effect hoeft niet altijd het opwekken van agressie te zijn, maar laten wij eerlijk zijn, het is het dikwijls wel. Zo zijn de rijdende disco’s, die een ieder zich in dit land straffeloos kan aanmeten, vaak medebepalend voor een agressief verlopend verkeersincident. De gemeeente Rotterdam op zich heeft dan nog een bestuurspraktijk waar amusement en lawaai onverbrekelijk met elkaar verbonden lijken te zijn. Formule 1 raceauto’s die door de stad scheuren, stuntvliegtuigen over de Maas en verschillende urenlange optochten met vrachtauto’s en bussen beladen met uitzinnige versterker-apparatuur elkaar in geluidssterkte overtreffend. Een oorverdovend cultuurbeleid daar in de Maasstad als een historische hunkering wellicht naar het gehamer op stalen scheepswanden pal naast arbeiderswijken, scheepsfluiten, stoommachines en bolderwagens die deze stad ooit kenmerkten (en – by the way – niet doordrongen tot de rustige villawijken van fabrieksdirecteuren, havenbaronnen en aanverwanten).

Bavaria beer sponsored City Race with Formule I cars and Red Bull Air Race in Loud & proud Rotterdam. Click picture for full size view.

Bavaria beer sponsored City Race with Formule I racing cars and Red Bull Air Race commercial mass culture in the loud & proud city of Rotterdam. Click picture for full size view.

Hoe ging het met dat opstootje op het strand dat pas op het eind van de avond ontstaan lijkt te zijn? Verzocht de politie de organisatoren, of deden ze het uit zichzelf, om het geluid uit te zetten, toen het uit de hand dreigde te lopen? (Vaak een probaat middel in een café als de speakerknop aan de bar resoluut omgedraaid wordt: “laatste ronde!” .. werkt altijd uiterst kalmerende op de door harde muziek opgezweepte stamgasten). Nadat ik verschillende met de mobiele telefoon gemaakte filmpjes van het Veronica strandfeest die op Youtube en andere populaire video-sites door bezoekers geplaatst zijn, herhaaldelijk bekeken heb, merk ik dat op bepaalde delen van het strandterrein de muziek (en de daarbij behorende lichtshow) gewoon doorgingen. De standaard stroboscopische lichteffecten hebben wellicht ook gemaakt dat delen van het terrein in het duister werden gehouden om het effect van deze lichtflitsen en de projecties of feloplichtende schermen met LCD lampen beter tot hun recht te laten komen. Op zich een gebruikelijk tafreel bij zulke festivals, maar de publiekssamenstelling op het strand van Hoek van Holland is waarschijnlijk door de gratis toegang hetrogener geweest dan bij gelijkogende manifestaties waarbij juist door de gezamenlijkheid van de interesse voor een bepaalde muziek of dansstijl een positieve onderlinge band van het publiek kan ontstaan. Bij zo’n gratis feest en een bezoekersaantal van meerdere tienduizenden die waarschijnlijk niet allen gericht voor  het geboden programma gekomen zijn, komt zo’n saamhorigheidsgevoel minder makkelijk of misschien helemaal niet tot stand. Het lijkt mij belangrijk om ook het programma van die avond – dat als ik de aankonding lees en de fimpjes bekijk merendeels uit DJpresentaties bestaat, in het aangekondigde onderzoek te betrekken. Het persoonlijke karakter van afzonderlijke bands die vlak naar elkaar optreden lijkt mij een andere sfeer onder het publiek te geven dan de eenzame figuur van een door lichtflitsen omgeven DJ achter zijn regietafel. Een kort onderzoek naar on-line geplaatste telefoonvideo filmpjes van die avond leert al dat er vele tientallen registraties van om en nabij hetzelfde moment te vinden zijn die allemaal door de duisternis, lichtflitsen en het geringe aantal pixels dat die cameras kunnen vangen behoorlijk vaag zijn. Wel valt op dat er  niet echt sprake is van een focus op een enkel optreden op een podium, maar meer van losse rondlopende groepjes mensen waarvan velen niet geboeid lijken te zijn door het geboden programma. Hoe te omschrijven wat er  op die video’s te zien is? Het lijkt mij een mengsel van lol en weggeduwde verveling. In elk geval  heb ik moeite dat wat in een van de vele enthousiaste vooraankondigingen op het internet te lezen staat over het “Sunset Groove Veronica Strandfeest” in die videobeelden te herkennen.

Aan het einde van een zinderde zomerdag maakt het geruis van de branding plaats voor groovy sounds en de lekkerste beats. Vanaf een indrukwekkend podium torenen vele nummer 1 club DJ’s hoog boven het strand uit. Zij laten iedereen, met hun beste sets, ook dit jaar weer compleet uit hun dak gaan! En vanzelfsprekend zijn alle sets weer gegoten in een zeer spectaculaire show!

Toch is het domweg verbieden van massale dance parties  teveel een schrikreactie, gespeend van enige behoefte om het karakter van zulk soort feesten  te leren begrijpen. Zoiets kan enkel door alle aspecten te onderzoeken. Symptoombestrijding door eenzijdig zondebokken aanwijzen is al te gemakkelijk. Oorlogsverklaringen en banvloeken vanaf de gemeentekansel, zoals door de Rotterdamse burgermeeester, zijn niet meer dan bezweringen van een volgende mogelijke verkiezingsnederlaag van zijn partij.

The new mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb and his challenge to go beyond scapegoating as he declared war on a group labeled as 'hooligans' which makes one think back half a century when the Ducth 'nozems' (teddy boys) were branded as enemies of city authorities.

The new mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb and his challenge to go beyond scapegoating as he - declared war on a group he labeled 'hooligans', after the shooting incident of Hoek van Holland. An official inquiry is under way but as usual public authorities know already where to put the blame. This makes one think back half a century when the Ducth 'nozems' (teddy boys) were group branded as well and were declared enemies of the state by all city authorities. Blaming individuals as a group tends to strengthen their collective identity. Abusive words against group identities are often taken as honoures titles, from the Dutch 'provo' movement of the sixties to the international 'punk' movement of the late seventies and beyond; or back in Dutch history with the abusive French name used for the Dutch insurrectionists at the court of the ruler of the low countries "gueuses" (beggars) that was taken as a name of honnor and survives till today in the Dutch language as Geuzen. This does not imply that the alleged today Rotterdam Hooligans can be equalled in any way with the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, my intention is only to point to the dangers of hasty and over-simplified scapegoating. For an impression of what the Rotterdam Hooligan football supporters group stands for see footnote (**). Click the picture to see a full size view.

Een latere cultuurhistorische terugblik zal verbanden weten te leggen tussen het de schuldgeven aan de nozem van de 20e en de hooligan van de 21e eeuw en zal ook de positie en gezichtpunten van stadsbetuurder, politieman, feestuitbater en feestganger  in het geding en in onderling verband weten te brengen. In het prille begin van de popfestivals in Nederland liep het op kleinere schaal ook wel eens uit de hand van de boerenveilinghal in Blokker, de veehallen in den Bosch tot de Jaarbeurshallen in Utrecht. In die laatse stad verordoneerde nu veertig jaar geleden de burgermeester dat bossen politiemannen verdekt achter de podia opgesteld moesten worden om op elk moment te kunnen ingrijpen (iets wat naderhand volstrek onnodig bleek te zijn). Elders in het land was het gebruikelijk dat een zaalbeheerder op het nog vroege avonduur die ene stekker van die ene geluidsinstallatie uit het stopcontact trok waarna enkel de drummer nog in staat was om zijn spel voort te zetten en het publiek binnen de kortst mogelijke keren mokkend afdroop. De stelselmatige schaalvergroting van pop-evenementen in de afgelopen decennia en de commercieële belangen die daarmee gemoeid zijn en de invloed die dat heeft op wat er aan programma geboden wordt, dienen ter sprake gebracht te worden als het gaat om hoe het anders zou kunnen. Verbieden is een slecht idee. Bezinning op doel en middelen van zulke feesten is onoverkomenlijk. Niet de beheersing van oncontroleerbare massa’s als een politievraagstuk moet op de agenda van bestuurders, organisatoren, publiek en wie er maar meer zich mee wil bemoeien, geplaatst worden, maar een nieuw vormgeven van een ander mengsel van cultuur en vermaak, dat de nu alles overheersende geluidsbarrière van de vermaaksindustrie met haar consumptiedwang en massificatie zal weten te doorbreken.

Hooligans zijn een product van de vermaaksindustrie en in het veranderen van de culturele waarden van die industrietak zal de oplossing van het hooligan probleem gezocht moeten worden, om het even of  het nu om een voetbalstadion of een strandfeest bij Hoek van Holland gaat.

Hooligans are a product of the the entertainment industry and to solve the hooligan problem the cultural value system of this branch of our economy needs to be changed, irrespective whether it is about a football stadium or a beach party at Hoek van Holland.
Video posted by Karim1001 op Youtube met het volgende bijschrift: “Politie schiet tijdens een strandfeest op hoek van holland in het wilde weg op omstanders je hoord de kogels om je oren vliegen.” (police shoots at random at bystanders during beach party at Hoek van Holland, je heard the bullets flying by).

(*) Video posted by Dinnemeester op DINN/Dit is Nou Nederland.nl onder de titel: Op Sunset Groove Veronica. Filmpje begin schietpartij met 4 agenten.”

(**) Video posted on Dailymotion.com “Welcome to Rotterdam Hooligans” which give some insight in their activities; one sees mainly confrontations between rival football supporters groups and intervening riot police and the last ones becoming a target as well. The candid camera (videophone) shots are montaged on a continuous music track which may be compared to the DJ type music performed at the Veronica beach party. A fast pulsing beat with a transformed voice-over with the text “the dynamo of the universe is war”. This seems to be an early hard core cult song (other sources name it hard style gabber music) by a group/artist under the name Knightvision… That sentence in relation to the Rotterdam Hooligans puzzles me a bit, so I did yet another search on some discreet parts of that sentence and what may be a connection is an American evangelist Wilbert L. McLeod (1918-) of a Baptist church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who is said to have had a vision in 1971 whereby he was connected to the “dynamo of the universe” (see Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism page 439); the term “dynamo of the universe” is apparently also used in astronomy as a metaphor for the sun. I see this motto also appear in some forums of game players. I will not further dwell here on the aesthetics and possible inter-textuality of the Rotterdam Hooligans (but one may not exclude such groups of having their own set of historical references), it could simply be just the favorite song of the maker of this video. Someone with a claim to know it better, is invited to denounce or correct my academic bullshit, right here, on the spot.

Epilogue  ————————–

Almost half a million people have watched this video posted by Karim1001 on Youtube and almost 2000 reactions have been written by the people who have seen it.

Almost half a million people have watched this video posted by Karim1001 on Youtube and almost 2000 reactions have been written by the people who have seen it. We are entering a new area of public scrutiny, police inquiry and instant sociology, with this available for all document and several other comparable recordings from different points of view, both in the sense of space and mentality and life comments of their makers. What will be the effect of this transparency whereby mass-media potential lays in the hands of any one with an up-to-date mobile phone and access to the internet. Almost two decades ago there was the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles, where police brutality had been captured by a personal video camcorder and became evidence in the court case. As this footage had been distributed publicly on local television networks, many people had been able to see with their own eyes what bad things had happened to Rodney King. When later an implicated police officer was acquited by the court a mass revolt broke out. This event became an inspirational source for an international media activist conference held in 1993 in Amsterdam with the name Next 5 Minutes International Festival of Tactical Media. I did get involved in the archiving of the mass of conference materials of this first and later conferences on tactical media (in total 5 conferences have been held over the years). A few hundred video-tapes of the Next 5 Minutes conferences have been catalogued and can now be found in the archives of the International Institute of Social History. The Youtube footage of the beach riot in Hoek van Holland made me associate - at a certain level - these crude videophone images with the crude camcorder materials of the 90s in the Los Angeles incident. I can not yet say who are the goodies and baddies of the Hoek van Holland incident, but media-distribution-wise interesting comparisons can be made. In some way the intermediate function of established television channel media in distributing camcorder footage, has become obsolete. The statistics of the Karim1001 video on Youtube proves that. Almost half a million viewers and mostly in the Netherlands is some kind of audience comparable to a print run of a national newspaper or a non prime-time television coverage. The Youtube video-footage as such - on the other hand - has not been contextualized at all. It has been thrown just as raw footage on-line and did generate the forementioned 2000 reactions ,which are most of them as wild as the imagery taken at those confusing moments on the beach. Whoever reads Dutch and can handle strong language in a cool way, may like to access the links to the video and read through some of the many comments. In between scolding, hefty speech, macho talk and sporadic racist remarks, one finds what may be useful witness accounts, sane observations and frequent rebuttals of of nonsense entries and sloppy ways of arguing. The video itself does proves little, but still conveys strongly the atmosphere of the moment and - more importantly - the apparent loss of control of the police officers (or whoever else used firearms at that moment) who seem to fire in an uncontrolled way above and also into, the dark beach environment lighted up by random flashes of the party projection system, with the lcd-screens of mobile phones swirling like fire flies through all this. The fact that there were several casualties, one dead and six or seven wounded, attests to this. To conclude... all the tools are there for anyone to make their own inquiry and publish it... to challenge whatever the official reports will tell. Will that happen at all? Time will learn. tj.

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How to do a poll on the level of appreciation of animals of human loud music festivals in public parks and if needed to take appropriate measures? As policy change can be slow, I just designed a set of earmuffs for the rabbits of the Amsterdam Oosterpark (as they have an extreme sensitive hearing apparatus)

When human city culture gets in the red level the park rabbits will be handed out specially adapted earmuffs.

When human city culture gets in the red decibel-zone the park rabbits will be handed out specially adapted earmuffs.

The ‘partying nation’ Holland will not fail to use any occasion to throw a public manifestation of leisurely fun which, since  ubiquitous cheap electronic sound amplifying devices have become available, means lots of noise enhanced by  lots of drinks. One of the favorite venues for these undertakings is the Amsterdam Oosterpark which recently hosted a festival called ‘Appelsap‘ (apple juice) organized by a bunch of  friends, all hip hop aficionados, which was certainly not non-alcoholic, with Heineken as one of the main sponsors. “THE best) Dutch hiphop-events. In the beautiful Oosterpark we take hiphop back to its roots”, reads their web site. Lots of fun for sure: out, proud & loud … but what about  … the roots of the park and what makes up its  innate beauty?

This a one of the many Youtube renderings of the recent Appelsap hiphop event in the Oosterpark, the sound must have been so loud and/or the recording equipment may have had no special dimming switch, because the sound track  is totally overmodulated, so rejoice the noise….

A triptiche of chance in original intend and actual usage of the musique kiosk/dome at the Amsterdam Oosterpark.

Change of original design intend and actual usage of the musique kiosk/dome at the Amsterdam Oosterpark; both options could coexist but when one takes in account the frequency of such loud events the question can be raised if animals and vegetation of our city parks can cope with the crowd and its noise. I also found some web-traces of a Christian evangelic organization that used the same music temple for their 2009 Pentecost praise-the-lord meeting... so who knows what paradisal scenes could have been observed at that other instant of park life.

This spring a local city councilman Martin Verbeet (of the social-democrat party/PvdA) made an attempt at restoring the park to its “historic function” by banning all alcohol usage within the park confines. This measure was aimed primary at full-time  alcoholics, a species that traditionally congregrates in public parks (can be seen all over the world). In fact the alcohol-habit people disturb not too much and even give a certain security by their daylong presence on the park benches  withholding  more badly inclined park visitors from trespassing upon non-assertive park dwellers. Side effect of this zealous municipal policy was that local inhabitants who like to have a nice drink with their picnic  would also fall under the new alcohol ban. Apart from the feared diaspora of debased alcoholics onto the doorsteps of the neighboring streets, the new regulation had a surprising exception paragraph for major events like Queens-day (the 30th of April, a Dionysian national bacchanal in the Netherlands). Who knows if  beer-multinational Heineken has been lobbying, or it could have been the feared loss of votes from the partying minded masses,  within a few weeks the zero-alcohol-in-the-park campaign was withdrawn by the local council. Some park visitors regret this sudden retreat and signal that the group of drinkers can get so big that certain people feel menaced and do not dare to pass the drinkers benches….

The official Amsterdam city sign that makes many people, not just tourists, wonder what this could mean and next to it a make shift bar during the Appelsap (apple juice) festival which had more than just soft drinks.

The official Amsterdam city sign that makes many people, not just tourists, wonder what this could mean and next to it a make shift bar during the Appelsap (apple juice) festival which had more than just soft drinks.

Fellow councillors of other parties have been mocking the zero-alcohol measures of their colleague Verbeet (chairman of the local council), some (D66 party members) even have held an illegal demonstrative drinking party, the local daily newspaper Het Parool wrote negatively about the alcohol ban, and members of  Verbeet his own party choose  not to support him on this topic. A personal démasqué for Martin Verbeet, but maybe some of the good intentions of the councillor may have been overlooked.  In november last year the local party fraction of the social democrats made a research on the functioning of the Oosterpark (102 respondents, 81 on-line inquiry, 21 written reactions/ street interviews) and it must have been upon the outcome of this small research that the zero-alcohol measures have been decided.

-Alcoholics -Drug addicts -Children -Adolescents -Sporters -Picnicers -Other
-Alcoholics -Drug addicts -Children -Adolescents -Sporters -Picnickers -Other issues

There is a lot of moaning in the bare 13 pages of this report from gays that frequent the bushes for back to nature outdoor sex, to the obligatory complaints about dog shit, befouling humans, public toilets, unleashed dogs and dog fights, mopeds and bicycles on pedestrian ways … Surprising is that – apart from dogs – animals are hardly mentioned in the report, or it must be the escaped or freed green parakeets that some  people hold to be a nuisance and of course the arch enemies of any human: the rats who criss cross the park at will. Geese, moor-hens, swans and herons are taken for granted, rabbits remain unnoticed and I am sure that a tiny corner of the arch of Noah should be reserved for other more discrete park inhabitants that have managed to escape our attention.

Noise nuisance, sound pollution if you want, is mentioned by several interviewees, especially late night drumming, screaming and  other forms of  rambunctious behavior. There is also a positive approach to the park, an attempt to formulate what it can or should be, as shown in the following statistic.

-Green lung for the town -Play=area for children -Sporting area - Oasis of tranquility -Hang-out spot for youngsters -Art stage -Other

-Green lung for the town -Play area for children -Sporting area - Oasis of tranquility -Hang-out spot for youngsters -Art stage -Other functions: tai chi spot; picnic and party; garden architecture; café, terrace environment (...)

Again animals are only implicitly represented in the report as part of the “green lung of the town” or the “oasis of tranquility”, though tranquility may for some people exclude even the communication of birds. There are known instances of deportations – organized by a team of city-biologists – of whole troops of geese whose claxoning was found to be unbearable by human city dwellers. Which tempts me to deviate to the somewhat reversed subject of birds dialoguing with the city sounds of ambulances and car alarms (I do have at times whistling conversations with birds that reside in the tree across my kitchen window). This to emphasis that an insight in the animal experience of human sound production and its cornucopia of amplifying devices is very much needed. What are they doing when there is an influx of a rock, hiphop or jembee drums? Are they fleeing? Hiding? Creeping deep in a hole safely below the roots of a tree? Do they leave the park forever after yet another blast-out?  Just play the Appelsap Youtube video once again and let your imagination work. When the hiphoppers speak about roots, let me do so so as well:

What then,was the idea of having a city park? Bringing nature -in an organized human format – into the city? Giving the experience of a garden to those who did not have one? Breathing fresh air? A practicing ground for civic behavior? A place to show yourself and  your family if you were wealthy enough? A way to get some understanding of nature – for alienated city dwellers? Or is all that totally out of fashion and should we better think about  a dropping-ground for children, a jogging parcours,  a skaters circuit, a music esplanade, a juvenile hang-out, a cruising area,  a chill-out spot? Is there any possibility to fuse modern city culture with its apparent need for loud sounds and mass audiences with an ecological attitude that can be branded ‘modern’ as well?  Can these two practices  be reconciled at all? Might it be an idea to get as aware of people’s “noise habits” as we are of  people’s “drinking habits?”


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click the picture to see the 2009 holliday 'tableau vivant' Caribbean Paradise Tragedy

A week ago there was yet another news item on a disaster with Haitian boat migrants of the Caicos Islands in the midst of what is for many people the period of their summer holidays. Over one hundred people drowned in the water of what is elsewhere often described as a Caribbean Paradise. Recently I have started to study (again) the migration question and so I had discovered some video footage at the web site of the American Coast Guard – dating back to 2007 – showing a primitive overloaded sailing boat full of migrants in full sea. The video footage is just after first contact between the migrant-boat and the coast guard and as a standard precaution procedure swimming vests are given to all boat people first. So what you see in the work below is already a tiny bit more safe as the actual situation with a boat full of people without any safety equipment and many who can not swim.

What gripped me the most was that the people on the boat – in spite of having been discovered and under threat to be send back – were all singing to a rhythm beaten on a djembe drum. And in my mind’s eye I combined this scene with the promising imagery of tourist flyers. What can be seen on the simple documented web page made for this purpose is but a primitive rendering of such a vision… You can click the image above to see the first of a series of holidays 2009 ‘tableaux vivants’: “caribbean Paradise Tragedy”.

NB You can stop the looping video on the tableau vivant web site by clicking the moving image.

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