Sunday, January 24, 2010

I am the warrant and the sanction.

It's been nearly a year since my last update. I feel embarrassed to be posting again, after a 10-month absence, but I'm doing it anyway.
All in all, 2009 was not my best year, and I'm glad it's over. Some good things happened though, mostly related to De Optimist, the Dutch digital cultural magazine I'm running together with a delightful group of people. We established monthly updates; we gathered a growing crowd of readers and writers; we threw a great party in June and we were able to be part of the popular Crossing Border Festival in November, having our own little festival-within-a-festival with art, music, literature and poetry. It was a great opportunity to present ourselves and 'our' artists to a huge crowd. A review of the festival (in Dutch) together with some pictures can be found here.

This year will be better, I've promised myself, in every way possible. I'm not entirely sure what direction I will be taking with this blog, but I'm not done with it yet and I would like to use it to document some of the stuff I'll be working on this year, as 2010 will bring a few new projects, both Optimist-related and not.
For De Optimist 2010 will be exciting, as this will be the year in which we launch the first 'real life' issue of De Optimist: a paper issue that can be bought, held and smelled! We're more than thrilled about this.

Meanwhile, I will be starting a close reading of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged this month. I've always been intrigued by her work, but never took the time to really read her novels (mainly because...well, they're huge). My copy of The Fountainhead has been collecting dust for more than half a year, abandoned after a few dozen pages. However, when I started to watch Mad Men a few months ago (without a doubt one of the most brilliant things I've ever seen) there she was again; Ayn Rand, this time in the hands of Bert Cooper, who advises Don Draper to read Rands Atlas Shrugged since, in the end, he is "completely self-interested."
So, for the coming months, together with a friend, I will embark on a journey in Rands 1100+ page magnum opus to find out who is John Galt and why we need to know that. I might decide to blog about it if I feel like it. In the mean time, as a warming up, I will leave you with a clip from a 1959 interview with Ayn Rand on the American channel CBS, in which she explains her philosophy of Objectivism, amongst other things.

See you soon.

"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction." (from Anthem, 1946)

Friday, March 20, 2009

A blog is a blog is a blog is a blog is......

The lack of my own blogging seems to grow parallel with my interest in other people's bogs. The internet's infinity is something I only vaguely comprehend sometimes, and every few months I turn a different virtual corner to find a whole new world behind it. I started reading craft blogs a year ago (I'm a closet crafter), but they couldn't capture my interest entirely. A few months ago I discovered a whole new spectrum: fashion blogs. There are tons of people, mostly women, with an interest in fashion (sheer obsession is often a better desciption) and there's a handful of them who do a very good job blogging about it. Though I'm a voyeurist, I get bored easily by young and often not very bright girls who only master the fine art of taking pictures of themselves; I prefer the girls and women who really have something to say. Even though I personally do not dress extravagant or very fashionable (although I do try to dress more feminine lately, with the occasional skirt and high heel), I've always had a deep interest in fashion in the broadest sense of the word, as it is one of the most vivid and accessible forms of self expression. Anyway, in terms of fashion blogs, there are a few I can truly recommend. My top 3 of daily reads consists of Style Bubble, Kingdom of Style and Gnarlitude. All three very different, quite unique and of high quality. What I also really like about a lot of blogs is that they emphasize the DIY principle, which is something I can only embrace of course.
So, if you're interested, go out there and, and you shall find a new addiction!

Tomorrow I will be flying to Chicago, a city I've never been before. I'll be there for 3,5 days, covering the Home & Houseware show ('the world's largest homegoods & housewares marketplace') for my employer. Last summer I started working part-time for one of the worl's biggest consumer goods manufacturer; Business Analyst is my name, Competitor Intelligence is my game. Why? you might ask, since my 'about me' clearly mentiones me being an art historian and freelance writer. Let's just say a good opportunity came my way: an opportunity to make a living, learn some corporate skills underway and still balance it with a certain level of freelance writing aside.
Anway: Chicago. I'm excited; I'm scared (a mild fear of flying) and I'm hoping to have enough time to mix in a little 'pleasure' with all the 'business'. On the top of my wishlist are: a Buckminster Fuller-exhibition, an Edvard Munch-exhibition (you know, the 'Scream'-guy), seeing as much of the architecture as possible and, if there's still some time left, a bit of shopping. Windy city, here I come!

De Optimist has been up and running for 3+ months now. As happy as we are with it, it must be said that things are going a lot slower than we had hoped for. When you start a new project like this, there's 50 people saying what a good idea it is and how much they'd like to contribute; when you go online there's 30 of them left and by the time you need them to give you the goods, there's only 5 answering their e-mail :-). But fortunately, there's still more and more people applauding and supporting our initiative and giving us valuable feedback as well as some good contributions, which is great. Within a few weeks, we will link a blog to the site, so we can keep the heart beating as much as we want in between our not-so-weekly updates, and we will make a few adjustments to the format. So stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

De Optimist!

Finally! De Optimist is on-line! After months of hard work, our 'digital cultural magazine' (Dutch only) has come to life. Henk and I are extremely proud, and we couldn't have done it without our wonderful graphic designers Maartje van Nimwegen and Artur Schmal, and our websitewarrior Coen Warmer.

Click on the logo, enjoy De Optimist and become one of us!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Soon is now, I guess.

Right. It's becoming kind of embarrasing to post a message titled 'Coming Soon', followed by a summary of things you'll write about, and then not post anything for four months. Things came in between me and this blog: work, love, writing jobs and life in general. But let me kick off with one of the major events of the past month: the release of my travel guide about Prague!

The guide was released in the second week of September and is in bookstores right now. It's 179 pages in which I've written every single word, and all but a few pictures are by me as well.
It's almost unreal to hold a book you've created by yourself. I've worked on it for months and months, and came to a point I didn't even enjoy it anymore; I just wanted to 'get it over with'. And now it's here, and in stores, and for sale online....all the hard work has payed off. Last weekend I went to a big bookstore in the centre of Amsterdam ad there it was: a small pile of travelguides with my name on it. That was the first time I actually felt a sense of pride I hadn't felt before.

Anyone reading this and interested in buying a copy can do that through me (yes, please!). The guide is 179 pages in Dutch (!), full colour, and contains an extensive history chapter, 7 chapters about the various parts of Prague and one chapter about trips outside of the city. The guide tells about the culture and rich history of the city, and besides the obvious must-see's it also tells about interesting sites and stuff off the beaten track.
Costs are 15,90 excluding postage.
If interested, mail me at and make me happy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Coming soon: on my new upcoming magazine called 'De Optimist', the new Union Town record, and hopefully some smart blogs on, well, just about everything. I'm incredibly busy with work and putting my life back together, but don't want to leave you entirely empty handed. So here's a little sketch of the late and great Bill Hicks (1961-1994), one of the greatest comedians to have ever walked this earth, on smokers vs. non-smokers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Off duty.

This blog will not be updated for the forthcoming weeks. My life is pretty shook up right now, and I've decided to 'lay low' for a while.
I hope to be back soon, with good news and fresh input. Until then: take care, everyone.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Year's resolution: keeping it up!

Happy New Year, folks. To all 7 of you readers: have a good one! I'm completely ignoring any etiquette by still wishing people a happy new year mid-January, but who cares.
January has started off pretty hectic, which has become the norm I guess. After returning from my lazy, lethargic and gluttonous Christmas break chez papa et maman I haven't been sitting still. My band Union Town has recorded an EP the past two weeks, and if it wasn't totally against the rules to say that your own record will be the best thing ever, than I would say just that. Furthermore, I have done a big chunk of work on my travel guide on Prague, which needed some alterations. The job's done, so the whole process of making the book will be set in motion now. The guide will be out around May/June, and I'm EXCITED! And if that wasn't enough, I also had an interesting freelance assignement for a Dutch magazine on Europe and 'European identities' called Perron E. Hopefully more of that will follow in the very near future.

The forthcoming weeks will be spent working on a new project I'm doing with Dutch writer Henk van Straten. We're trying to set up a new magazine in the vein of The Believer, the eclectic American magazine from McSweeney's. It's been almost three years since I resigned as an editor-in-chief of my former (university) arts magazine. I miss the whole process of making a magazine very, very much, so I really hope we'll be able to find some funds and pull this off. Fingers crossed!
Blogwise, I'm planning on writing a few pieces on some of my favourite jazz artists. I wanted to do this for a long time. Nothing fancy, just some words that may be of interest to people who like good music. In mean time I will leave you with one of my favourite tracks of the late genius Jaco Pastorius (1951-1987), one of the best and most influential bassplayers ever. Hearing (and seeing) this guy play makes me want to sell my Fender Jazz bass and cry myself to sleep. This track is called 'Portrait of Tracy'.

Friday, December 21, 2007


It took a 9,5 hour train ride to go from urban hectics to this...the great big nothing. This week I travalled from Amsterdam, through Paris, to Brittany; La Bretagne; Breizh. Every year I try to visit my parents at least twice, but this year -due to my stay in Prague- I missed the summer crazyness, when thousands of tourists visit France's most beautiful region and the small roads and little villages are crammed with cars, and people.
But in December, right before Christmas, there is nothing here. Nothing but complete and utter silence; empty beaches wherever you look, silent roads, deserted towns. Every day we walk the dogs on these endless stretches of sand, with no other company than the birds, the waves and the cold wind chastising our faces. Even now, after 29 years, I'm still amazed by it...everything here looks, feels and smells different than what I'm used to. It's like being on a different planet; a beautiful, savage, deserted planet.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Life on the road.

It has ended again.....for now. Our short tour with Tenement Kids was great; lots and lots of fun, and a few cool shows. A few cancelled ones as well, and some freezing cold nights, but who cares? You get to drive around in a van, play your music in front of total strangers, and in the end they tell you it was great and they buy your t-shirt and maybe even a 7". What more do you want? To be continued in the summer of 2008. Next up for Union Town is the wedding party of my friend Jos 'Seein' Red' on Friday, and the already legendary Powered Records/Dead & Gone-showcase in the UK the day after.

I got home this morning at 9:30, without even half an hour of sleep, but I'm still not tired. I'm lying in my bed right now, contemplating things and feeling as free as a bird: I quit my job before I left on tour, which means that I'm now officially unemployed. What lies before me is the immense freedom -and financial insecurity- of a life as a free-lance writer. I have a shrinking bank account in sight and no real plan B yet, and still I haven't felt this sure about myself in ages. My guide will be finished soon; a very exciting project is coming up......I'm excited as a little kid about the shape of things to come. 2008 will be my year of mirificare.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's the most wonderful time...

...of the year. Fall is here: my favourite season.
I just got back from a great tour with Liars, and I leave again in two weeks for Union Town's very first European tour with Tenement Kids. In the mean time I hope to do some essential blogging, since I officially have my life back now: the guide is finished, and there is after all life after The Deadline. So stay posted for some blogs, a. o. on jazz fusion heroes Weather Report.

By the way; American hero Norman Mailer died this weekend, at the age of 84. Tragic, if you ask me...all the good American writers seem to be dying the past few years; Saul Bellow, David Halberstam, and now Mailer. If you've never read anything by Mailer, take your pick from his extensive bibliography. I can recommend Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery (1996); a detailed biography about Lee Harvey Oswald.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Time is on my side.

Another month has passed..... For those of you who wondered what the hell I've been doing lately, the answer is: writing. Again. Just fresh out of my graduation, and I'm chained to my MacBook again, to finish The Guide. The Deadline is October 18th, so I have little over a week to finish my first real book. Exciting! I must honestly say that this is much more fun than my thesis ever was. I just wish I was the type of person who could actually 'work ahead', in stead of spending months starting up, and making schemes, but waiting 'til I can feel pressure breathing its steam down my neck to finish it.
The publishers design departement is now making the bookcover, 'cause they will already start to advertise by the end of this year, even though the guide won't be issued until May 2008. I asked my friend, the talented miss Isabella Rozendaal to do the portrait, and I'm actually quite happy with the picture! I think I look very adult, like a real writer. A friend of mine said it reminded him of a Hillary Clinton-portrait.....thanks dude. Anyway, visit Isabella's website, which has some really good stuff. I particularly like her pictures of dogs.

Besides the writing, I quit my job as of December, and I'm looking for something with a little more satisfaction than my current job, which is selling books. In the beginning of November I will go on tour for 10 days with Liars, around Holland, UK and Scandinavia, to sell their merch, and a few weeks later Union Town will do its first tour, together with Tenement Kids.
I'll try to be a good girl and add some new blogs in the mean time. The tragic death of jazz heroe Joe Zawinul on September 10th has inspired me to write something about Weather Report, one of my favourite bands of all time, of which Zawinul was one of the founders. Look out for that! For now, I can only add one thing:
This Thursday, the Bad Brains are playing Paradiso! And we are playing the afterparty! I haven't been this nervous in ages.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Back with a 'bang'.

I'm back in Prague! There is a smile on my face ever since I walked out of the airport. Yesterday morning I flew over here, and it felt like I had only been gone for a few days instead of six weeks. At the airport I met a guy from Amsterdam who was also going to Prague for a week, and he invited me to an ice hockey match, which is something I always wanted to see, but never got a chance to since there were no matches in the summer.
So, last night we saw a slightly boring game between Slavia Praha and České Budějovice, who eventually got their ass not-so-kicked during penalty's. The stadium was only half full, but the true supporters were really going for it, despite the lame atmosphere.
Ice hockey is a great game to watch, because of the elegance of the skating and the brutalness of the fight...I enjoyed it very much.

I haven't totally figured out my love affair with this city; I never expected to become so attached to this place, and so sad when forced to go back home. And now that I'm back, I feel so happy again. I don't know if it's Prague, or if it's me; so eager to explore, to discover new places, and things different from my life in Amsterdam. Living in Prague for 10 weeks, all alone, and discovering that I am perfectly capable of creating a new life somewhere else and enjoy it too, has sparked something inside me that's still there.
Anyway, I will be here 'til Wednesday; writing, shooting some extra slides for the guide, visiting some places again and of course hanging out with my friends here. Nashledanou!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Time flies when you're too busy to have fun.

No posts for over a month, and so much has happened. The most important news of the past month is that I graduated! I turned in my thesis, entitled From the bare lake to the dreary street, on August 21st and a week later it was approved. My graduation is on September 25th, and my parents are coming to Holland to witness it.
I'm an Art Historian now (yes, I like the capitals), 'though this realization hasn't fully reached me yet. I've decided to take a short year 'off' to focus on finishing the guide and trying to get some more freelance writing jobs, but I will probably want to apply for a Master in Journalism and Media next year, at the University of Amsterdam. I think it's time for me to say goodbye to Art History and concentrate on that which truly makes me happy: writing and editing. And maybe even, in the future, I will try to get into the School of Journalism of Columbia University (NYC)....
But this is all in the future. If there's one thing I've learned the past decade, it is that my life does not let itself be contrived.

I'm flying back to Prague on Wednesday, to do some final work for my guide (and, of course, enjoy the city again). I'm looking forward to it, as I have missed it more than I imagined.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Blast from the Past.

One of the best things about being home after a 3 month absence is being able to play your records again. Although I love my iPod, there are times when I crave for a piece of vinyl.

On top of this weeks playlist is the 'A Light in the Darkness' EP by NYC's Citizens Arrest. This band had a short life in the late 80's/early 90's and released aforementioned 7" EP, a full length entitled 'Colossus' and a few tracks that were on the 'Look at All the Children Now' compilation (also featuring Rorschach).
I knew this band, but didn't own any of their records. A few months ago, my good friend Jeroen was selling someone's record collection and I dropped by his house one night to see if there was anything to my hearts content. I was holding the EP, hesitating if I would add it to my purchases, until Jeroen played it for me and said "If you don't buy this, you're an idiot." And he was right. I was hooked; it has been one of my favourite 7"s since. Citizens Arrest has the 'fast and furious' sound of bands like Infest, but it's mostly the vocals of singer Daryl Kahan that do the trick for me. He sounds like a maniac, basically, but one who really knows how to sing. As Eric from the excellent Something I Learned Today-site wrote about Citizens Arrest: "Hard to believe this shit ain't Japanese."

Citizens Arrest - 'Serve and Protect'

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Home, away from home.

I'm back in Amsterdam. Monday morning I left Prague with tears in my eyes. It was weird to be back in Holland: the houses seemed small, the roads narrow, and all of a sudden I was able to overhear every conversation people were having...I still have to get used to hearing, and speaking, Dutch all the time.
The last week in Prague was nice and a bit awkward. My friend Bianka visited me, and we took it easy besides some sight seeing. I went into the St. Vitus kathedral at the castle again, and again I was taken away by the beauty of it. The last days I tried to suck in as much of the glory of Prague as possible, knowing I would have to get used to missing the beautiful sights, the parks, the architecture. Sunday I had a 'goodbye lunch' with my friends and my roommate Zuzana, and I wandered around in the streets, feeling sad. It's nice to be home; to sleep in my own bed, have my records and books and friends around me again. But I've fallen in love with Prague, and it's hard to let go.
I've decided to keep this blog, so I will have to think of a new title. As soon as I have my good mood back, I will start writing again.