Amsterdam - Peace and Cheese


I plan to update this one entry as regularly as I can - apart from (hopefully) doing regular posts - about my trip to Amsterdam, so in case you’re interested in what I’m doing here, there’s this post (and if you really don’t care about it, there’s just this one post to ignore). This all depends on whether they have internet at my conference, since at my hotel, they’re charging a pound of flesh for internet access.

My first day in Amsterdam. Fun facts about Amsterdam: There is a Torture Museum (hear that, Donald R.? Right up your alley!). You can buy breast enhancement treatment at the drug store. They sell sexy/sleazy pig figurines here, just like those angel ones that you can find in US dollar stores, except they’re pigs in sexy lingerie (or in S/M gear). Also, there are penis shaped (and size) salt and pepper shakers. On a Sunday, everybody is shopping like crazy. At a local Indian, restaurant, they offer “peace and cheese in curry”.

I’m seriously impressed by FOAM (Amsterdam Photo Museum) and especially Huis Marseille, another photo museum here. Updates on some of the photography seen there later - in actual photo posts. If you ever come to Amsterdam, make sure to check out those two places.

I’m 6ft3, and here in Amsterdam that makes me slightly above average height.

A Dutch coworker of mine told me not to bother with the Rijksmuseum, because it is under reconstruction, even though it is open. (So I guess the idea is that if you don’t get the see the whole thing it’s not worth it?) I’m the kind of person who’s quite content with seeing just one good painting at a museum, so - of course - I went. Needless to say, it was quite nice. Afterwards, I added the Van Gogh Museum - so I got my cultural bases quite covered there. I have now reached Van-Gogh-painting saturation, though, and don’t have to see another one until early 2008.

The one thing that I want to pursue a bit later - once I find more time to breathe - is the influence of Dutch painting on Dutch photography, especially portraiture.

The first day at the conference. If I was to stay in the jargon of my trade, I’d say that the influx of art into my life has been quite seriously truncated today. If that sounds a bit weird, just imagine what it must feel like for me, who will been subjected to that kind of jargon all day until (and including) Friday. I’ll have my big talk tomorrow morning, so I’l be all set as far as that is concerned. But there’ll be no more art until Saturday - I guess I have to make up for it by sampling Amsterdam’s beer where possible.

Word has it that my blog is being mentioned in American Photo now - something that I had been told about a while ago - and since I’m abroad, I will have no way to see what they actually say. Oh well…

Here’s a little thing I realized last night: Doing a canal boat tour at night is not a good idea because, you know, when it’s dark out, lots of things are kind of hard to see. And here’s something I learned on that tour: Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable for the boat driver to tell racist jokes on such a tour. Let me just say that I’m glad there were no Chinese scientists at the conference (even though I find racism quite offensive even when the actual subjects of racist jokes are not around).

The conference is almost at its end now, and since the 21st Century in the form of wireless internet hasn’t arrived yet at the Dutch Academy for the Sciences, I am again at a coffee shop to update the blog. So this week, this blog was updated from a coffee shop.

Being in Amsterdam has been quite enjoyable, when I come back to Europe I always notice how infinitely more relaxed life is here. It’s quite amazing. Needless to say, life here has its drawbacks, too - can’t there be a country that’s somewhere in the middle and combines the best of both worlds? (Oh, those sweet pipe dreams!)