Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Don't ever eat anything that looks like this: (Some village on the way back from Sevilla, Spain)

Trust me, you WILL suffer. Although I am happy that I have stayed true to a life long devotion to the try anything once philosophy.... I sometimes question the wisdom of such a course. That sometime is right now. bad bad bad bad.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Every once in a while, I get some not so subtle reminders that I am not in Kansas anymore.

Gas station coffee to keep me awake on the road - the strongest, smallest, sweetest espresso shot in the world.


I have never been in Europe before, aside from a week in Holland with Corina and Seyhan after finishing school. I've tried to actively avoid it as there are too many places to see and I felt that it would always be there for me (its also stupidly expensive). I think that mostly that is true, but this policy probably made me miss some pretty great times before Eastern Europe got all un-eastern like.

So I'm in Amsterdam. I like Amsterdam, i want to live here. but I liked Amerstfoort 10 years ago. I wanted to live there then too.

I took the obligatory trip to the Vangough museum, which I really enjoyed. I took the obligatory walk through the red light district. Bleh.

Its less about hot girls for hire for me, hell - most of them aren't even hot. Its more about trying to wrap my head around why it matters. I don't judge people who make the choice, I just have never really understood it. I've seen some pretty insane examples of prostitution and it is certainly a sliding scale, but I really don't think that Amsterdam is at the top in any way shape or form. So why do men choose to wonder into these little basement dens of sin simply because they are on vacation?
[EDITOR'S NOTE: this entire thought is solely John facing. The discussion on the sliding scale as it applies to the prostitute side of the equation is more worthy of a book, not a 300 word rant.. and its way too depressing. Even here. I have heard anecdotal stories that some women here take GHB every day. Essentially date raping themselves to get through each night... and one might think that from the prostitute's side this might not be a bad place to ply their trade. Depressing.]
Take a walk through the area during the day. Women talk on their cell phones. Smoke. Eat sandwiches and play with their hair in the little display windows. They glare at you through the window, its kind of like a dare. And maybe that's it in a nutshell - if everyone was jumping off a bridge...

So why do the legions of British bullies choose to dive right in? I guess its less seemly. No chance of cops interrupting your 5 minutes dalliance with the warm body of your choice (you'd almost hope that something exciting would cap it off, instead of the comely lass just getting back to that sandwich). Some idea that its safe I guess. Statically it is I would say. Compared to a place like Cambodia, where 50% of prostitutes test positive for HIV (those who are _tested_), but there is no guarantee to be sure. Is that part of the thrill?

And Jeez, you would still end up with that smell. Cheap perfume, smoke, half eaten sandwiches, stale sweat and sex. Its like scratch and sniff porn mags for Christmas. Good times.

I don't see anything different here than somewhere else. I guess a critical error on my part is assuming that guys are sleeping with women here and only here. That they somehow are just checking off an item on their Amsterdam walking tour, but really - these are likely the same guys who are negotiating Boom Boom in the back alleys of Vietnam, they just don't want to spend that long on an a plane. The sex trade here is still about power, loneliness and adrenaline... and sex. just like it is everywhere else. Whatever. Its just not worth the hype in my humble opinion, but then what the fuck do I know?

Iconic pictures are prized to me. They are not necessarily good pictures, but I get to attach all kind of meta data to them for the rest of my life. They encapsulate a whole area, a time frame, a feeling.. a friendship.. or a day when I go lost for hours on the streets of Amsterdam. [As an aside, I remember a seminar I took on memory... Haha.. I can still think of 3 word pairs that he gave me to remember off the top of my head. It was along this same idea: association. It was just that it happened in 1990... which was a long time ago for my little brain]. So these iconic pictures are little Hans Brinkers of my mind, this picture is holding a flood of a 100 memories. This is lame prose, but I promise not to make any dike jokes in recompense.

So pictures of slobbering dudes running in and out of basement brothels are kind of tacky. Pictures of the canal don't really mean anything to me, pictures of pot are what everyone takes, and well.. wooden shoes are kind of funny, but disjoint from the perspective of an icon from my time here. Disaster! And then you see it. it happens. and it makes me all a flutter. What it must feel like to be a real photographer and to capture a moment of real history... my god.

I'm not even sure that this guy is a panhandler. At least he didn't ask for any money from me.

I have never really associated Holland with Amsterdam, tulips, windmills (or loose laws for that matter). I have always associated Holland with Hans and Natasha.

They just bought a fantastic flat. Hans has a fish tank. I want to live there.

We haven't seen each other for 10 years, but the time didn't mean a thing. Hans and Natasha are those friends. Those friends that you would talk to about shit. Or sit down over a drink and tell them that you are expecting a child the day that the stick turned blue. They are good people and gracious hosts. They deserve happiness and they seem to have it, which makes me happy. Hans took me to some popular Dutch band (Let me tell you folks - the bike ride was fun there, but its a LOT harder to ride back.. and Amsterdam is flat flat flat). Natasha took me to see Technotronic and some other DJs (wow that was screwed up. Talk about 1990.. pump up the jam indeed).

Good laughs beginning to end. Stellar start to the latest walk about.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I read the news today, oh boy.

Looking forward to it. (sorry about that destructive to humanity thing though)