In our effort to know something about the local culture, our agents go regularly to the streets to capture and interrogate some Amsterdammers. Here is the fruit of our highly illegal enquiries. A not very remarkable window in the Boomstraat shows the name given to this particular house: “Water en Vuur”, Local German for “Water and Fire”. According to the bloody heap of bones and tissue who used to be our interrogated native, the house was once a shop where the neighbours could buy hot water and firewood. It housed a massive boiler and a sizeable reserve of wood, and the customers could drop by and ask for “één kilo vuur” (one kilo of fire) to order the amount of phlogiston necessary to heat up their homes.
There is a lot you can only do if you wear a top hat. Liberating the slaves, riding proletarians and getting rabbits from another dimension are pleasures for which a top hat is a requisite. These six gentlemen, however, have chosen to devote their high hats to a high purpose: reminding us of our duty to make things easier for those staying this side of the Styx. Apparently, daisy-stompers are too busy examining the radishes from above.
For those interested in the local German dialect, the poster says “Ready to go? Draft your testament for free in our particular insurance company”.
Let a yellow river flow free. Anyone walking the streets of Amsterdam can empty their bladder in any of the public toilets scattered all over the city. No matter if they are poor or really drunk rich people. No matter if they are men or really, really desperate women. No matter if they are natives without sense of personal worth or visitors without sense of personal worth, everybody can use these facilities.
Build in the 20s and 30s, the public pissoirs were a successful effort to recreate a medieval smellscape in the center of Amsterdam. Are you a tourist trying to picture the city in the heyday of the Bubonic Plague? Just close your eyes while standing next to one of these booths and you will start hearing the bell of the infected and the mating call of the rats in heat.
Man Visibly Relieved, by Hildo Krop
Do you consider Amsterdam Centraaal to be the best source of information for your cultural needs? Of course you do. Tired of the mainstream media, with its publishing regularity and fact fetishism, you come to us to discover the real Amsterdam. We will not disappoint you. All right, maybe about the “real” part. But we talk a lot about Amsterdam.
So here is our cultural tip for the season: “Representation of the Westermoskee” by anonymous local artist. Gypsum on herringbone-patterned bricks. The piece can be seen at any time of the day, fittingly laid on the pavement surrounding the Mosque itself. The exposition was open at some time after the last rains and will close at the next rainfall.
(Full disclosure: this photo was taken three months ago. Visiting “Representation of the Westermoskee” in its present state may make you crushingly aware of the how transient human achievements are. Amsterdam Centraaal can not be held responsible for this or any other existential crisis. So get over it, Jean-Paul, you whiny frog.)
Westermoskee. The crane, which looks neat, is to be removed after completion for some stupid reason.
Adam and Eve get expelled from Amsterdam to Haarlem. Brick mosaic in Johan Jongkindstraat.
Tired of those pampered methadone addicts practicing their hobby for free? Why doesn’t the government provide for the unfortunate caffeine junkies with such largesse? Well, the City Council of Bos en Lommer does. These robotized dispensaries ooze a wide range of non-toxic-on-the-short-term fluids in different shades of brown, poured into minimalistic plastic cups to be cooled down for ingestion. Mouthwatering enough? Not as much as its price. These quick fixes are provided for the amazing price of zero euros. Enjoy your liquid in convenient proximity to fairly clean toilets! Which are free, too!
Let’s start assuming you have made the Architest. It is fun, it turns you automatically into a more interesting person and it helps you understand this blog, so why, why wouldn’t you have done it. Once this fact is established, we can take for granted that you know what a trefoil is, and how prominent they are in Christian buildings. This abundance of the trefoil in Christian architecture has to do with its symbolic value, as it pictures one single Nature in three Persons, or viceversa, or partially/simultaneously both/neither. Please consult with your family theologian if you start to feel dizzy. Point is, trefoils can be used as visual representations of the Trinity. Other “foils” (quatrefoils -four lobs-, cinquefoils -five lobs…) have their presence in churches, but they lack the clear symbolism of the trefoil and are chosen more for their beauty than for their significance.
This church in the Vondelpark area, however, features something we rarely if ever find: a two-lobed tracery motif. Although symmetrical, it lacks the pleasant balance of the classical trefoil. Actually, its axis of symmetry is tilted into an unbalanced shape. What is the reason behind this unconventional aesthetic choice, both in number of lobes and orientation? Is it an attempt to substitute the trinitarian cosmogony for a dualistic one, Ahura Mazda forbid? Is it trying to restore the long-forgotten Peanutarian Church? Partially/simultaneously both/neither?