A New Amsterdam?
An Open Letter to Amsterdam,
I was recently informed that your City Council has decided to attempt a shift in the image of Amsterdam. The idea would be to change the current perception of the city, which is that of a mythical paradise to … well, to something else, which is already a bad idea no matter what that something else is.
First of all, I would like to express my surprise at the fact that Amsterdam has a city council, and that it is an actual city. I have long been under the impression that it was some sort of ongoing festival, a festival of indulgence and exploration much like Woodstock, but permanent. Sure, I’ve been there a few times and seen the stressed business men hurrying off to meetings and the construction workers digging in inconspicuous trenches, but I always assumed they were actors meant to give off the impression of a real governed city … should any significant authorities come asking questions. “Of course officer, we’re just a regular ol’ city where a few quirky things happen to be legal. See how there are mailmen driving around … and people anxiously checking their watches … and schools. We’re just like every other place. We’re definitely not just a collection of individuals enjoying an endless party.”
I have since accepted that your are an actual, organised township with a mayor and such, so we can move along from there to my important advice. Apparently, someone there thought it would be a better idea to try to minimize, or at least take the focus off of the legalized drugs and prostitution present in Amsterdam. This is idiotic for 4,137 reasons, but I will only recount a few of them here.
Trying to portray the image of Amsterdam as just a city of high-culture and art that has been suggested is as futile as trying to talk a butterfly into being a caterpillar again. Amsterdam is synonymous with legalized soft drugs, the red-light district, freedom, hazy memories, bicycles, and fun. The term “high-culture” is synonymous with pretension, boredom, expensive, being uptight, and whatever the opposite of badasserific is. I love the museums in your city and find myself very appreciative of art in general, but there are plenty of places to go for just that – places that aren’t as idyllic and romanticized in the ways that Amsterdam is.
There are of course people who do travel to your city with the intent of not partaking in any of the vices, solely appreciating the art and high societal aspects. I think there were 7 of them last year. Trying to change the way people think of you would be changing the exact thing that drives in so much tourism to your fair city. That’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face … or to be more exact, it’s like cutting off your face to scare away bad people. Sure the bad people will leave, but that’s because everyone will run away in horror. The allure of the open sexual attitude and relaxed coffee shop atmosphere is legendary and always spoken about with sighs of fondness. Just the mere question: “Have you been to Amsterdam?” is enough to bring a smile to a chronic depressive who just lost his puppy. Even if you were able to shift the perception of Amsterdam in people’s minds to whatever it is that you’re trying (which I doubt), why would you want to? Instead of a smile, or a “not yet” the reply to, “Have you been to Amsterdam?” will be: “Amsterdam? ... Oh, you mean that place in Holland that used to be awesome. Nah, I haven’t heard great things.”
I also have an issue with the idea of shutting down much of the red-light district, making it harder for willing girls to get legitimate jobs. My sister will soon be finishing her degree from the University of Prostitution (with a minor in Astrophysics) and will be hitting the streets, looking for jobs. With the economy the way it is in our country it’s hard for honest hookers to get work, not to mention the legalities involved. It has always been our family’s hope the she would one day be able to fly off to Amsterdam and work her way up the windows, just like she’s always dreamed. With your new attitude towards the sex sector, her lifelong wishes are in jeopardy and that I can’t agree with.
It’s a little late in the game for you to be having an identity crisis. You’ve been around for centuries, functioned quite well, and made an enormous amount of people happy being just the way you are. You don’t have to try to be Paris or Milan. Don’t even compare yourself to them - that’s apples and oranges. There are plenty of places in the world where we can find high-society, uptight rules, and art, but there’s only one Amsterdam. Just be yourself. We love you just the way you are.
- Matt Smith
Best coffeeshop in Amsterdam
This E-zine’s Top Album Suggestions
Hey pigs! It’s Jimmy here and I have a question. Have you ever wondered what we rock out to in the Flying Pigs? Well I’m here to give you a bit of insight! Coming up I have three albums that in my opinion - you have to have on your iPod! Let’s crack on with a bit of light-hearted, good old-fashioned Ska.
Band: Jaya The Cat
Album: First Beer Of A New Day
Album Tracks: 13
Jaya The Cat are a fun and energetic band with a lot to say about partying hard! This album has a very nice blend of Reggae, Ska and punk, so there really is a track for everyone! I guarantee that you will be bouncing your head along to this band with a stupid smile stretched across your face! Originally hailing from Boston, Massachusetts - Jaya were struggling to make a name for themselves on the American market and to add insult to injury, two of the members decided to leave the band. Was there no hope left? Well not until Geoff (guitar and vocals) and David (drums) decided to pack up and move right here - to Amsterdam. Today Jaya The Cat is bigger, stronger and better than ever!
Band: OK GO
Album: Oh No
Genre: Alternative Punk Pop
Album Tracks: 13
You may have already heard of these guys. They have been rocking the world since 1998 and their debut album came out in 2002, entitled Get Over It. The band is known for their creative and exciting music videos for which they have claimed many awards. The album I want to tell you about was released in 2005. Oh No is a diverse album coving subjects from relationships to revolution. The powerful pumping drum beats really accent the punchy guitar riffs, making for a very enjoyable listening experience. If you’ve never heard Ok Go before I would recommend that you get yourself a copy of this album ASAP! Also be sure to go and check out some of their amazing videos on youtube!
Band: Tokyo Police Club
Album Tracks: 11
A friend recently told me about this four piece band. They are young with an average age of only 23 and they’ve already started making a big name for themselves. Playing at festivals such as Glastonbury and Roskilde, they show no signs of slowing down! The sound they produce could be easily described as Indie, although I like to think it’s a little more original than what you hear from the Killers or the Strokes. Champ is the band’s second album release, it’s crammed with some top class tunes and each track is as good as the last! The mood set by these young lads is serious with a pinch of sarcasm. Stick this on your stereo and crank it up. This album deserves to be played loud! My top four tracks from this collection are Favourite Colour (2) , Bambi(5) , Gone (8) and Not Sick (10) .http://tokyopoliceclub.com/home/
News From the Beach
In the hazy aftermath of Piggypop we take a moment to sit down with International surfabilly rock 'n' roll band Faster Pussycat Kill Kill (from New Zealand) to share with you the joys of touring on a shoe string and waking up with sand in your underwear...
Chloe (drums and pin-up vocals) and Reuben (guitar slinging and howls) are a rock 'n rolly 2 piece from the whiskey swilling, windy streets of Wellington, New Zealand.
So, coming all the way from New Zealand, how did you end up in Noordwijk?
Chloe: On a wing and a prayer really, we both grew up on the beach so the idea of a party hostel on the beach with a music scene was appealing, we're obviously excited to be invited to play at the first ever Piggypop festival so arriving on friday for the first night we ended up getting ever so slightly inebriated and playing right there and then. We had the next night to do also so after a slow start, we played Saturday as well.
Being a 2 piece band with a girl on drums, I'm sure you have heard the white stripes comparison before, how do you feel about this?
Rueben: We honestly feel we fit in quite a different part of the rock 'n' roll spectrum. Having Chloe as such a strong singer means we have good boy/girl dynamics and we can balance the huge guitars and drums with a really smooth pop vocal.
What have you guys been up to since you left New Zealand?
Chloe: We spent 3 weeks in Berlin checking out the music scene and for ever marveling at how cheap beer is and how you can drink it anywhere. We met a Brittish horse whisperer on a train, saw a trance party under the train tracks, and went to a party in the Eastern suburbs and had a hilarious time using all the German we knew to try to communicate. Its amazing how much you can convey with shouting, enthusiasm, gud ja and the only German swear word you know.
What are your first impressions of Amsterdam and how long have you been here?
Rueben: We spent a week in Amsterdam before coming out to the Flying Pig beach hostel. It's really surprising to us how nobody wears helmets here and just how many bikes are around.
How did you come up with the name Faster Pussycat Kill Kill?
Chloe: Text warfare and I am quite a fan of Russ Meyers films - they are the tackiest B graders you could ever hope to come accross. Terrible films great band names.
What can we expect to see from Faster Pussycat Kill Kill over the next year?
Rueben: We are planning to base ourselves in Amsterdam for the year and tour from here, We have our first tour into Germany in November. Apart from that our Album 'Kissy Pow' has just been released and the first single 'Ur Vanity' with its accompaning video (shot in New Zealands ex-fever hospital in Wellington) is being released later this month.
What inspired you to start Faster Pussycat Kill Kill?
Both: A love of rockabilly, 60's Rock 'n' Roll, great guitarists and vintage cars. Discovering side projects and the fun of not taking things to seriously... until you start taking it seriously because its so fun.
What can people expect from your live shows?
Chloe: Fast and loud live show filled with songs about high school drop-outs, reckless delinquents, fast cars and love gone wrong. Also Reuben generally gets topless or falls over at some point.
Finally, any words of wisdom you would like to impart on fellow travelers?
After thinking long and hard they came up with these valuable lessons we learnt from touring.
Here are 5 things you should do.. followed by our version of them. Cheers!
1. Replace junk food with a healthier option. Most establishments will be able to tell you what their low-calorie options are. Avoid high-fat extras such as cheese and mayonnaise.
FPKK – every day choose a colour and eat only foods of that shade. Add cheese!
2. Take a good multivitamin supplement each day. This will help replace some of the vitamins you are missing out on from eating an unbalanced diet.
FPKK – supplement with beer. Repeat.
3. Eat plenty of fruit.
FPKK – Fruit flavours count too... espically candy.
4. Exercise at least three to fours times a week. You could bring a fold-up bike, some small weights or some training shoes to go for a jog. You could even just go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes. This will help you to feel fitter and more healthy.
FPKK – Carry amp into venue. Walk around stage. Walk to bar. Hold self up on bar, continue last exercise throughout night. Try and not fall over on stage. If fail in not falling over stand up. Stand up again. Lift beer to face. Repeat. Carry amp out of music venue. Put self to bed. Job well done.
5. Drink less alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you and will, more often than not, leave you feeling bad in the morning. Having fun on tour is important, as touring is a big part of being in a rock-n-roll band, but try to enjoy alcohol in moderation.
FPKK – make sure you keep drinking into the morning. If dehydrated, keep trying and harden up.
Thanks for that, we'll keep them in mind!
When is your next show, how can people find out more and get in contact?
Chloe: We are planning another show at the Flying Pig as it was so much fun last time. As for other shows, check out our Facebook for dates.
Rueben: MySpace and Facebook are goodies for communicating and getting in touch, also we enjoy banter and heckles at the live shows. You can also find us online @:
Europe’s Famous Hostels - Halloween Special
Looking for a spooky spot to visit this Halloween? These European capitals have enough haunted history to ensure some sleepless nights and chills up the spine. Take a look – if you dare.
There’s a lot to pick from in Prague - its tiny streets and gothic architecture are home to many myths, legends and horror stories giving its beauty a very dark underbelly.
The Old Jewish Cemetery is often regarded as one of the most spectacular, if spooky cemeteries in Europe. It’s also one of the largest.
But top of the pile is the Sedlec Ossuary, a small chapel decorated entirely with human bones. It’s estimated that between 40,000 – 70,000 skeletons have been used for this ghoulishly artistic type of interior design!
Having been the home to gruesome, gladiatorial battles and bloodshed - the Colosseum’s reputation as one of Italy’s most haunted locations is well-deserved. Spectral soldier sightings and the sound of swords clashing have all been reported.
After that Rome has over 40 catacombs, many of which are open to the public and much like Prague, a batch of skeleton covered chapels in the form of the Cuppician Crypt.
The towering dominance of the Scott Monument over the city gives it a slight Mordor feel, but to really give yourself the heebie-jeebies, try climbing to the top of it. The stairwells and doors become incredibly small and tight, making your ascent increasingly claustrophobic. It’s not one for the faint-hearted.
If a spot of ghost-busting is more your thing then a visit to Edinburgh Castle could bring you face-to-face with a headless drummer – if it’s possible to get face-to-face with something that doesn’t have a head!
Like the Colosseum the bloody history of the Tower of London is well known. Those who got on the wrong side of the law would be guaranteed a pretty awful trip to the Tower.
If you like a little more mystery you can always get involved with a Jack the Ripper tour. They’ve become big tourist business because after all, what could be more fun then stalking the same streets as a notorious Victorian serial-killer?
While it may be one of Europe’s most popular romantic getaways, Paris certainly has a sinister side. Paranormal goings-on in the Paris Catacombs are not uncommon and renowned for its huge, labyrinth like tunnels, it’s one of the best places to hear things go bump in the night.
Paris also possesses one of the most infamous ‘celebrity’ cemeteries in the world. Pere Lachaise is the final resting places for the likes of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.
Find a hostel to match your travel plans on www.famoushostels.com