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: Strolling around the Jordaan

Art and Culture of the Jordaan
Once a working class area, Amsterdam’s Jordaan has become greatly sought after. The converted warehouses are especially popular, and the Jordaan is now inhabited by a colorful mixture of students, well-to-do businessmen and creative professionals. The Jordaan oozes atmosphere with its narrow streets, picturesque canals, old monuments, many courtyards, markets and art studios.
The Jordaan was build at the large expansion of Amsterdam in early 17th century, as a district for the working class and emigrants. The population increase during the next centuries was enormously, caused by the stream political refugees like protestant Fleming, Spanish and Portuguese Jews and French Huguenots who mainly settled in the Jordaan. It was a poor district with small houses and slums, every little room stuffed with families and lots of children. The entire area was one ghetto with open sewers, canals served for both transport and sewer, and no running water. Around 1900 there lived about 80 thousand people, nowadays about 20 thousand.
The famous 17th century Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel and photographer Breitner lived in the Jordaan. Artists, like the painter Rembrandt van Rijn in his lesser successful period, also came living in the Jordaan because of the low rents.
The house of Rembrandt was on the Rozengracht (Rose canal, still a real canal these days). His studio was on the Bloemgracht (Flower canal). The famous painter was buried in a poor mans grave in the Westerkerk (West church).
Monument Care
During the seventieth of the 20th century the city council had serious plans to mainly demolish big parts of the district and replace them for large ugly blocks of modern buildings. There where many protests against this idea. City protectors, such as Monument Care, where against the loss of the historical town and the people of the Jordaan feared for large rent increases. Thanks to this resistance the plan was modified, there came smallscale projects which would repair the neighborhood, without damaging its original character.
A large renovation was started. By then the district was discovered by a new generation occupants: artists, students, and young entrepreneurs. The old inhabitants moved to other neighborhoods and cities like Almere. Partly by these new inhabitants the Jordaan has changed from a slum area to a district for artist, still living on low rent, and the rich who bought the very expensive renovated houses. Nowadays the Jordaan is compared to the rest of the town an oasis of peace with a labyrinth of narrow streets and little canals, nice for strolling around courtyards, art studios, and monumental buildings with stone tablets, old-fashioned ‘brown’ pubs, boutiques or galleries.
There are also some markets in this area. Saturdays you will find the Lindenmarkt (Lime market), a general market, on the Lindengracht (Lime canal) and a biological food market on the Noordermarkt (North market). Mondays you have a flea market at the Noordermarkt and a market on the Westerstraat (West street) with nice fabrics. On the Noordermarkt you can visit the Noorderkerk (North church), designed by Hendrick de Keyser in the 17th century.
Many people think that the Westerkerk (West church) on the Westermarkt is the main church of the Jordaan. It’s true that you can hear its carillon and see the beautiful Westertoren (West tower) everywhere in the neighborhood and that the Jordaanfestival is located on his square, but the church is actually located just outside the Jordaan. So the main church of the Jordaan is the Noorderkerk.
The Noorderkerk was built in the northern part in 1620-1623 by Hendrick de Keyser and his son Pieter. The church is still in use as a Protestant church, and like the Westerkerk open to everyone, especially during concerts.
Art studios
Hundreds of artist discovered the Jordaan in the 70th because of the low rent of houses in these little streets. The lucky ones are renting a studio in one of these beautiful inner courtyards of the neighborhood. Every two years the artist organize a so called ‘open studio event’. During these days visitors can have a look in the ‘kitchens’ of the artist. There is also a permanent ornamental route called ‘Jewels in the Jordaan’. Past charming alleyways and picturesque canals it leads to gold- and silversmiths.
The Jordaan has a high concentration of hofjes (inner courtyards), beautiful yards with little houses, many of them with restored houses and peaceful gardens. These courtyards were build by rich people for older women; a kind of charity and protection. Beginning of the 70th most of these courtyards was in a very bad shape, like the rest of the neighborhood. After there restoration they were discovered by artist, students and still some older people with special privileges because of a church membership. Some of the courtyards are closed to the public, and only opened on special days called 'open monuments days'. But if you do come across one of the entrances, and it is unlocked, most residents won't mind if you sneak a quiet peek. During the summer some of these yards are opened on Sundays during free concerts called ‘hofjesconcerts’.
Stone tablets
Many houses in the Jordaan have a stone tablet, a stone sign that shows the profession or family sign of the inhabitants. For instance a butcher showed a pig and a tailor a pair of scissors, carved in a stone above the entry. During a walk it’s a pleasure to observe those beautiful, when renovated colorful, antique signs. The first stone tablets are made in the 16th century, when citizens were ordered to use these tablets instead of big wooden gables that obstructed the traffic in these narrow streets.
Most of the musea in the Jordaan are small. You have the Pianola museum with old mechanical pianos, a literate museum Theo Thijssen, a houseboat museum, and a fluorescent museum called Electric Lady Land. Just on the boarder of the Jordaan you can find the Anne Frank House on the Prinsengracht (Prince canal).

Virtual visit
Because of its special character it’s a pleasure to visit the Jordaan. If you would like to virtually visit the art studios and courtyards or stroll around other cultural aspects of the Jordaan, I recommend the virtual website: Jordaan WEB, art & culture of the Jordaan.

Ad Bakkenes

Posted by on Friday, September 02 @ 02:29:05 UTC (5672 reads)
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Reiki Master Jessica Cooper

Reiki Master Jessice Cooper is a powerhouse of energy, and uses Reiki to heal others, tune them into a higher conciousness, or otherwise help them achieve their goals.Available for healings and workshops, Jess is to be found here in Amsterdam by calling 06 1046 2330.

Posted by on Monday, September 01 @ 09:09:19 UTC (8072 reads)
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IDFA 2002 - International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
November, 2002
Review by Skip Stone What do you believe in? That theme was one of the deeper questions answered by dozens of documentaries competing at the 15th Annual IDFA. It's an interesting query for these turbulent times, when whole belief systems are being politicized and many people around the world are sacrificing their lives for what they believe in. The domination of commercial film by American corporations has created a situation where audiences expect movies to entertain, rather than inform, inspire or critique. Documentaries on the other hand, seek to fill in these huge media gaps by presenting more stories that effect us on a deeper level, challenging our existing beliefs and stimulating intellectual debate. A good documentary will go beyond just updating your data, but will involve you in the life of the participants, and leave you asking more questions about the subject. What is it about human nature that turns our quest for meaning into a cultural phenomenon? The answers I viewed ranged from the timelessly moving Prayer to an exploration of contemporary artistic rituals in Modern Tribalism to the post-modern EVO. It seems everyone needs to believe in something. Social alienation and anomie has led many to seek their personal identity in novel ways. I've reviewed several of the films that follow this theme below. The IDFA screens entries for various awards, and the participants get to vote for their favorites. The Joris Ivens award is the most prominent, and this year's winner, Stevie, was an excellent choice. It was up against some other great entries including Michael Moore's hit, Bowling for Columbine. In addition to the awards given out at the IDFA, the event also hosts Docs for Sale, a marketplace for documentaries, where distribution deals are struck. Workshops and seminars enable the more experienced in the field to share their knowledge and techniques with newcomers. Another feature of the festival is the Top 10, where selected filmmakers get to screen their favorite films that influenced them. This year Brazilian Walter Salles and João Moreira Salles got their turn, screening such gems as Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back. Every year the IDFA features the work of one director, and this year they selected Michael Moore. Indeed, 2002 should go down as the Year of Michael Moore. He has attained heights no documentarian has ever achieved. With a best-selling book, a hit movie, and a London stage show, all at the same time, what more can he do? Let's hope his success inspires more young filmmakers to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, Moore's absence at this year's IDFA, has left me with a list of unanswered interview questions. There were so many films to see, I regret I couldn't get to all on my list. But those I did see represent a good cross section of the documentary scene today. Innovative, insightful, political, and sometimes risky, these films represent that non-commercial, independent style of journalism so important to ensuring the free flow of information and ideas, and helping keep the free world, free. My Reviews and Ratings: ***** Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore. Michael strikes again, with another biting critique of American society's preoccupation with guns and violence. Seeking answers, Moore explores the reasons why Americans feel they need to own guns and even gets to confront the head of the NRA, Charlton Heston, in his own house. The film reviews the history of private gun ownership and crime in the US and compares it with other countries. Moore examines the political pressures that continue to make guns easily available, the way children are taught from an early age that guns are their "friends", and the underlying fear that motivates gun ownership. The closest Moore gets to a solid answer is that it's these irrational fears that Americans have learned from their peers, the media and organizations like the NRA that continues to fuel gun ownership. Using the Columbine High School tragedy as a reference point, Moore shows how violence is so prevalent in American society, that children killing children has become a common occurrence. And gun ownership is so politicized that even this event couldn't keep the NRA from visiting the Columbine area to provide spin control and turn such a horrible tragedy into a rally for gun owners. It seems everyone underestimates Moore's ability to get what he wants from his subjects. Like a hunter he sneaks up on his prey, ever alert for signs of weakness, then he boldly shoots to kill. His mildly abrasive yet highly intrusive style of journalism is tempered by his Midwestern manners, easily charming/disarming his intended victim. Moore comments, "I never know why these people talk to me. I would not talk to me." Yet they do, and this film adds another big notch on Moore's cinematic rifle. ***** Don't Look Back - This gem of a documentary follows Bob Dylan on tour through Europe in 1965. It captures the essence of young Dylan just as his career catapulted into superstardom. It reveals that streetwise, incredibly creative and thoughtful, yet confrontative personality just as we all would like to remember him. This portrait of Dylan is as revealing as any, especially since Dylan was soon to become more of a recluse. The highlight of the movie is the excellent concert footage of Dylan at his most passionate, which moved me to tears. It includes some of the best singing ever from Bob, Joan Baez & even a lightweight (but beautiful) tune from Donovan, which Dylan promptly wiped from everyone's memory, with the most moving version of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue". He had a hotel room full of stars (like Allen Ginsberg & Donovan) dropping their jaws, speechless. Dylan's guitar playing & singing was perfect & the look of supreme confidence in his eyes as he realized he had everyone on the edge of their seats was priceless. And to think how influential this one man was at that moment in history. In fact he was very confrontative with the media and reduced two journalists to tears with his biting attacks (one of them was a senior writer for Time Magazine!). Boy did Dylan EVER have Time magazine and pop media pegged back in '65! No wonder he got a bad reputation with the media. He fought them every time, challenging their motives and constant labeling. This was the same year that the media coined the word "hippie". In fact the last scene of the movie shows Dylan pondering his newly bestowed label "anarchist". He seemed to try it on for size, then rejected it, as he's rejected every label since. If you ever get a chance to see this, don't miss it! ***½ McLuan's Wake - Just around the same period, another pundit took aim at the media's marketing of culture. McLuan's Wake, an in-depth study of the mind and life of Marshall McLuan, a man who sought to find meaning in the new media phenomena. During his time, McLuan was greatly admired, yet always misunderstood. He saw what few others would even acknowledge today. That what we think and value is so intimately tied to our social programming thru various media. McLuan felt the now all pervasive corporate media was trampling our once sacred value system, perverting it to it's own ends and thus sacrificing our most cherished beliefs in the process. As media blurs the distinction between entertainment and news, we lose our moral reference points, and become lost in a quagmire somewhere between truth and fiction, unable to sort out reality. In a way Marshall McLuan is similar to Michael Moore, with his broad, scathing critique of media and society. In his view a new program was being introduced into American society which veered far away from traditional social values, in an exploitative and manipulative fashion. Indeed! His life was a cautionary tale, warning that we must be more objective and concerned about what kind of programming we allow in our culture. McLuan's Wake is a satisfying study of the man and his ideas who was way ahead of his time. **** Modern Tribalism - What do tattooing, body piercing, and the Burning Man festival have in common? Answer: The need for ritualized activities that bring meaning, identity and community to people's lives. This documentary provided good insights into the psychological and spiritual needs being satisfied by such rituals. I'd always wondered what people got out of tattooing and piercing, given the pain and permanence of the process. Modern Tribalism followed various artists and their clients showing the procedures endured and the social rituals involved in the various methods used. I was unaware that for many it's an important rite of passage, often signaling a significant change of status for the person. Usually it's a symbol of the individual adopting a new identity as part of a subculture. This follows traditional rituals long studied by anthropologists, and understood to be essential to human culture. What also fascinates me are the shamanistic roles taken on by those who perform these rituals. Like their counterparts in "primitive" societies, these people have a certain status and power within the subculture. They reinforce and sometimes develop the rituals and share their knowledge with their apprentices. They also provide an appropriate psychological context for the rituals to be performed, one that enhances the meaning for all participants. The Burning Man segment illustrated the way subcultures help unite their members through symbolic communal rituals. Social events like Burning Man reinforce group identity while giving free reign to individual expression and creativity within the group. It focuses community energy towards common goals; goals that the larger society might deem suspect or reject out of hand. "Primitive" society may be long gone for most humans, but we are still subject to the same desires and needs, many of which modern society fails to meet. Modern Tribalism succeeds in illustrating exactly which ones we've been missing in our lives. ****½ Cyberman - I really enjoyed this excellent story about a man, his love for technology and his creative vision for joining man and technology. For 20 years, Cyberman has been linked one way or another to a computer. In this documentary, he records his experiences using his latest rig: an undetectable live video linkup to the Internet, which he wears everyday. Cyberman takes his setup into some challenging situations to test not only his equipment but also the reactions of people to both obvious and surreptitious recording. He sees the day when everyone will have the means to record their life's experiences in a way that can be shared with others. You can tell that Cyberman has had a lot of time to explore every possible ramification of this union of man and machine. The implications he discovers are both frightening yet liberating. Cyberman is a truly unique, inspiring, mind-blowing look at our new "Big Brother" society and where it's heading. **** Stevie - Winner of the Joris Ivens Award! This is the story of the consequences of three generations of abuse and the difficulties of ending the cycle. It's an extremely honest, involving documentary that follows a period in the life of a young man on his way to prison. It's an all too realistic human tragedy. This film asks: Who creates the criminal? Society, family, friends, do-gooders? How effective is social intervention in repairing the damage? Director Steve James not only revisits his subject (part of his involvement in the Big Brother program), but once again attempts to intervene and aid Stevie. This time to keep him out of jail on a child abuse charge. James' frustrations with Stevie's lack of cooperation with his efforts to help are somehow symptomatic of society's awkward attempts to assist and reform those who lives have gone wrong. This film is very affecting on many levels. Stevie is a difficult character to like, yet James can't help but identify with him and take us along for the ride. Putting yourself in the shoes of a child molester is hard to do, but essential if one is to try to understand their motivations. At times it seems Stevie wants to be punished as if that is a way to hurt those around him trying to help, including James. You can see the frustration etched in James' face as he fails to convince Stevie to cooperate. Indeed, the director's part in this film is highly unusual and his subjectivity succeeds in getting himself and his audience even more involved in Stevie's plight. The issues raised by this film remain unresolved and thus a necessary subject for more debate. *** ½ Sacred Sex - This intriguing documentary explores sex as a path to enlightenment and self-knowledge. Sacred Sex contrasts the sacred & profane approaches to sexual activity. A group sex encounter on Maui where participants get to relive their sexual fantasies and work out their sexual agonies illustrates a new age approach to sexual therapy. A look at a popular show where former porn star Annie Sprinkle does such lovely things as masturbating to full body orgasm on stage, and lets the audience peer into her cervix is meant to demystify sex. Her fetish workshop helps women experiment with sexual roles thus liberating them from their hang-ups. Other segments of the documentary review the Tantric and Taoist sexual teachings, where we see that the art of sex is something held sacred in various cultural traditions. These exotic religious approaches to sexual activity lend ritual and meaning for those seeking more out of sex and life too. The film pandered a bit but it also discussed some positive ways to approach sex and even to heal oneself through sex. Human sexual response is subject to so much conditioning that we need to first get back in touch with our primal sexual identity to rediscover ourselves as sexual beings. Only then can we transform our sexual energy into a transcendent experience for our partners and ourselves. Other Documentaries Reviewed at the IDFA *** Prayer - This three minute sequence features Sheherazade played against a backdrop of thousands of Muslims praying, mosques and minarets. A bizarre twist at the end adds a modern context. Evocative & beautiful. *** EVO - Moving words, geisha, techie, full of ideas and profundities. It's a bit over the top with the effects and gimmicks. I found this interesting, but difficult to watch. ** A2 - Documentary about trying to get into film the Aum cult in Japan. Bizarre, but rather boring for the topic. *** The Reporting From the Rabbit Hutch - Flawed, but important look at a new tyrant, Alexander Lukashenko, who rivals Stalin as a ruthless dictator in the former Russian province of Belarus. Interviews with those who survived his intimidation. Brave portraits of some who stood up to this dictator and paid with their lives. **** TV Nation - This was a TV series produced by Michael Moore in the late 90s that parodied American society. Timely and hilarious, mostly spontaneous spoofing, Moore should be deified. *** Only The Strong Survive - This documentary follows the lives of former Motown legends: Wilson Pickett, Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave), Mary Wilson (from The Supremes) and Isaac Hayes. They learned the hard way that black entertainers are often the victims of unscrupulous managers and record companies. Despite many setbacks, their talent still shines and their live performances are the highlights of this film. While they never got their due, they seem to still be surviving well into their older years. An interesting subject, yet I found it hard to feel sorry for these artists as they've all had their time in the spotlight, and ultimately they must (and do) accept some responsibility for their personal failures.

Note: This yearly event showcases documentaries from around the world, bringing together experienced filmakers and novices with special events and seminars.

Posted by on Saturday, December 14 @ 10:09:30 UTC (62121 reads)
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The 15th Annual High Times Cannabis Cup

The 15th Annual High Times Cannabis Cup
Amsterdam, November, 2002.
Review by Skip Stone Last year's Cannabis Cup was held under the shadow of 9/11. Numbed by the events of the prior 2 months, the 2001 Cup seemed muted. It felt odd to be so concerned about Cannabis when the future appeared so uncertain and fraught with danger. Yet it was an important affirmation of free speech during a time when our liberties were being sacrificed out of irrational fear.
The Peace Cup The vibe for this year's Cup was far more upbeat. Carrying on the tradition of the counter-culture, High Times & 420 Tours designated this year's event the Peace Cup. In a time when our government is insistent upon dragging the world into yet another senseless war, it takes courage and conviction to speak out for peace. One of the great benefits of Cannabis is that it presents users with an alternative perspective, a more peaceful, serene outlook, that many could use these days.
Michka The contingent of activists present at the Cup this year included: French author and activist, Michka, Seattle activist Vivian McPeak and Shawn Heller, a prominent student activist and organizer. Nicole Devaney, a model and certainly one of the eye catching "attractions" at the cup, was one of many celebrities who got to give out free pot samples.
Cover Girl, Nicole We were reminded by many speakers that the struggle for freedom to use marijuana is still ongoing, despite signs that more governments are considering decriminalizing Cannabis, especially for medical use. Medical marijuana users are still harassed and imprisoned in many countries. There's much work to be done to raise awareness and organize the political process so that our favorite weed can be free of legal restrictions. Inducted into the High Times Hall of Fame this year were Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Neither could make it (imagine if they both had!). But Joan's cousin, Peter, was on hand to accept the honor. Peter Baez is also a medical marijuana activist.
Yummy Treats! During the cup, most of the Pax Party house is devoted to a trade show for Cannabis related products. Cannabis takes many forms, and eating it can be especially pleasurable when it's mixed with chocolate. Enter Tainted Treats and their scrumptious "candy" bars with names like Mr. Goodbud and Reefer Cups. Many people got to try these and all reported a fine, "uplifting" experience. The other hot product this year was vaporizers, with two vaporizer companies winning cups for best product. As usual, hundreds of judges got to sample and vote on the best marijuana and hashish available in Amsterdam. In recent years all the pot candidates have come from the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe. Thanks to the ongoing proliferation of seed companies and genetic crossbreeding, there are more than enough local varieties to make the judging interesting.
Cannabis leaf stockings. Great to hang on your fireplace for Xmas. Hopefully Santa will get the right idea! Developments within the past year have seen more potent strains of Cannabis come to market. This ass-kicking super dope is very impressive. As of yet, I'm unable to determine just what it is that's enabled breeders and growers to produce such fine smoke, but I'm convinced it's a variety of factors including more attention to curing. Rushing wet pot to market has always been the bane of those Americans who like to smoke their pot straight (without tobacco), and it seems more Dutch connoisseurs are smoking pure joints now. Yet the award that seemed to garner the most attention this year was the hard fought battle for the Hash Cup. Ice-O-later, Pollinator and Jelly are some of the new styles of hashish on the market that pack an incredible wallop with every toke. The Dutch are to be commended for pioneering better ways to extract and purify Cannabis resin. Being such a major fan I couldn't resist trying a variety of hash at the Cup. I definitely admire the super potent shit, and love the fact that it's so pure with THC levels around 50%. This year there was a big reaction to the award for hash from some of those who lost. It seems the winner, The Old Church's Moroccan Cream, which I too felt was the best, is not considered by some people to be in the same class as these new breeds of hashish coming out of Holland. But how does one judge these hashes? How do you compare a fine, tasty Moroccan with killer Jelly? Is it even fair to make such comparisons? One of the problems of this Cup (and all Cups) was having to try so many potent hashes together in a relatively short period. It made it difficult to discern the qualitative differences, especially when after a couple of tokes you don't want or need to smoke anymore! It passes a point where the hash is so pure, and the flavor so clean that only a minor degree of potency remains to set them apart. In that scenario, where tastewise, there is little difference, a hash with lots of flavor and a memorable taste, could easily win, and did. Otherwise by what standard (other than potency) can you judge? In my opinion, there's no way potency should be the final criteria on hashish, anyway. I propose a solution. Why not have another Cup? I think there should be a separate cup for imported hashish. Domestic hashish is a completely different vegetable. Imported hashish is usually organic, although it's likely it'll have contaminants (dust, camel shit, hand sweat) or adulterants (honey, oils, opium, coloring). So why judge something made using a long-standing traditional process against the high tech growing and processing now being done? I hope the organizers will consider this suggestion. I have more suggestions. I'd like to see growers pay a lot more attention to ALL the qualities of the Cannabis plant during the process of growing, curing and THC extraction. I'm sorry but it's NOT just about yield and potency. Sure those are important from a commercial standpoint. But I'd wish you'd guys would stop thinking only in terms of profits. Quality means a lot of things. Enough with the egos! Pay more attention to what consumers want.
Eagle Bill's still giving away free tokes at the Sensi Seed booth. I think there should also be a cup for the best organic product. The second most common complaint I hear is that people can't find organic pot in Holland. In my opinion there's no excuse to grow any other way. That's just one issue that needs more attention. The BIGGEST complaint I'm hearing now is that the grass being sold in Amsterdam is too weak! That hard-earned Dutch reputation of selling the best pot in the world, is suddenly at risk. Why? Because growers and coffeeshop personnel are shaking buds and then selling them. To me, this all too common process is contemptible. They are PURPOSELY selling an inferior product just to increase their profits. Where do you think all these super potent hashes come from? From what is now, IMPOTENT grass. It used to be only the trimmings were processed into hash, but now most buds seem to get the shake treatment. You want to win the award? Then grow and sell ONLY the best. Please read my three-part expose about Coffeeshop Rip-offs for more on this subject!
De La Soul, just one of the bands that performed at the Melkweg during the Cup. This year I'm gonna give out my OWN virtual awards! The "We Got This Right" award goes to: Mike Esterson and 420 Tours for all they've done to keep the Cup alive and smoothly managing a very successful turnout! This seemed to be the most mellow Cup I can remember, and I think the organizers set the tone. I didn't hear or consider any complaints this year. Everyone who mentioned it had positive things to say. In fact the 420 Team even found my lost mobile phone!
Sign at the Pax Party House And I also want to thank them for posting signs with the new cigarette policy and everyone for NOT SMOKING cigarettes in the Pax Party House. I was able to breathe easy for the first time this year! I've always had to curtail my attendance (only 2 days last year, 4 this year) due to excessive noxious tobacco smoke. I despise the fact that after I've been to the Cup or any coffeeshop for that matter, everything I wear reeks of cigarette smoke. No doubt they finally took into consideration all those people with medical conditions and non-cig smokers who also had to breathe several packs worth of cigarette smoke at the show in years past. The "Dedication to Creativity Award" goes to Steve Hagar for creating some great videos about the Cup. Steve was also awarded the Founder's Cup this year. After all he did create the Cannabis Cup in the first place. Guess he's got another talent too, his new book "Adventures in the Counter Culture," about his life and his work with High Times, was released at the Cup. I'm glad to see HT doing more book publishing. I think they should support more freethinking writers and help publish their works. Don't forget to send me a review copy Steve! You too, Nol. Nol Van Schaik released his new book, "The Dutch Experience" about the history of Dutch Coffeeshops at the Cup. I'd love to review that, too!
Clever Packaging! The "Clever Packaging" award goes to the Greenhouse for all those cool Super Kalimist samples they gave out in the circular, reclosable storage containers. A smart way to sell and store pot and a nice collectors item. I hope to see them in my local Albert Hein soon.
Soma's dilemma. Answer the phone or take a hit... As if he didn't win enough awards, The "Extra Care Award" goes to Soma for growing only organic pot and seeds. Too bad, he doesn't get the "Good Sport Award!" That goes to Michka for not getting mad at me for spilling Tomato Soup on her shoe. The "Special Service Award" goes to the Celebrity Judge who shared his samples with me! ;)
Winners take to the stage at the conclusion of the Cup. There's so much to do and see at the Cup each year, it's a challenge to keep up the pace (especially the smoking pace!). So the "Sorry I Missed It" Award goes to The Party at Boom Chicago. I heard that one was great, with an excellent Janis Joplin impersonator, but I was in no state to attend...heh heh... How often do you get to smoke your brains out for a week with two thousand other stoners? And listen and dance to great (and not so great!) music and comedy. Yeah, I confess: I thought I was done with these events, but it truly is a special scene, unlike any other. May there be many more, perhaps someday in the USA! To see the list of winners of this year's Cannabis Cup and more info about it, visit the High Times Website.

Posted by on Friday, December 13 @ 06:13:16 UTC (34762 reads)
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Writer's Workshops

Writers Workshops (in English) are being held with great success at the ABC Treehouse here in Amsterdam. Currently there are three critique groups for writing works-in-progress (novels, stories, essays, articles, etc.). These groups meet every two weeks on Wednesdays or Thursdays. The fee for attending is only 7 euros per session. The Treehouse asks all interested writers to register in advance for membership in this exclusive writer's club, and regular attendance is expected. The poetry critique group meets every three weeks on Tuesdays. The fee is also just 7 per session. The writing exercise class meets every other Wednesday and is open to everone. Meeting times are from 7 pm until 10 pm and the participation fee is 10 euros per session. Please bring your own pens and paper to these meetings. We post the schedule for writer's workshops and other Treehouse events here on the Hip Guide to Amsterdam's event calendar, and for more specific information you can visit the American Book Center on the Kalverstraat for lots more, and tons of books. Alternatively, call Jonette Stabbert at (020) 683 8862.

Posted by on Monday, November 18 @ 10:52:05 UTC (3768 reads)
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The Zeedijk has been renovated and is now a wonderful pedestrian mall that wanders through the oldest part of Amsterdam. Once the shipping center of Amsterdam, it's now home to Amsterdam's Chinatown with restaurants, pubs, small shops, and many residences hidden away on upper floors. Most of the buildings in this area have recently been restored as well, and the facades are as beautiful as ever. This is one of the best areas in town for Asian food, check out our restaurant guide for more info. TIP!: A good tour would be to start at the Nieuwmarkt, proceed down the Zeedijk, return back via the Warmeosstraat, see the Oude Kerk, and cut across the Red Light District. Metro: Centraal Station or Nieuwmarkt

Note: The Zeedijk wanders through the Red Light District of Amsterdam. It's the heart of Chinatown and home to many Asian restaurants and shops.

Posted by on Thursday, October 24 @ 19:11:42 UTC (14464 reads)
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Located at the edge of Amsterdam's Red Light District, and part of the ever expanding Chinatown, the Nieuwmarkt, is a picturesque open space with lots of bars, restaurants and coffeeshops in the area. Dominating the Nieuwmarkt is the Waag, once part of the ancient wall (circa 1488) around Amsterdam, it now houses a trendy organic restaurant. Everyday there's a produce and flea market in the Nieuwmarkt, and on Saturdays from 9-5 it's an organic food market. On Sundays, an antiques market goes on from 9 to 5 (May-Sept.). Recommended in this area are the Cafe Cuba, the Cotton Club (next door) which offers live jazz (free!) on Saturdays. There are several asian markets, and specialty shops in the vicinity, as well as good Chinese and Thai restaurants. A couple of seafood markets in the area are great for picking up fresh fish. Weekends and sunny days bring out the Dutch in droves to enjoy the outdoor cafe scene. So whether you're looking to do some shopping, or you just want to hangout, the Nieuwmarkt is a great place for both! The Metro is the easiest way to get there, stopping right at the Nieuwmarkt. Or it's an easy walk from any centrally located hotel.

Note: The Nieuwmarkt is ideal for a pleasant drink or meal outdoors in a picturesque square, especially on a nice sunny day.

Posted by on Friday, October 11 @ 07:50:04 UTC (18054 reads)
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Amsterdam's Museumplein has been completely renovated, and is now one of the most popular parks in the city. A huge expanse of green grass extends from the Rijksmuseum on one end to the Concertgebouw on the other. Also surrounding the Museumplein are the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, an underground Albert Hein supermarket, as well as embassies including the American Consulate cattycorner from the Concertgebouw. The Museumplein has some new, noteworthy features including a huge wading pool by the Rijksmuseum, that doubles as an ice skating rink in the winter. A skateboard park, kiosks selling refreshments, and an underground carpark round out the facilities. A visit to the park is recommended on sunny days or if you happen to be in the area for the museums. You could pick up a snack and watch the people playing football, frisbee, or just grab some sun while it lasts. The Museumplein is also host for the biggest events of the year in Amsterdam including Queen's Day and the Uitmarkt. Evening pop or classical concerts have become very popular, and the venue has proved to be excellent, with many of the performances being aired on national TV. Access to the park is easy. Just take any tram heading towards the Museumplein. These include the 2, 3, 12 & 20.

Note: Home to Amsterdam's famous museums, the Museumplein is a popular place for public events or just hanging out!

Posted by on Friday, October 11 @ 06:13:57 UTC (15418 reads)
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Amsterdam Movie Theaters

In Amsterdam going to a movie theater can be an interesting experience. I remember one of my first visits to the Tuschinski theater, I was stuck in a small, hard seat in the balcony with my knees stuck up against the chair in front. I needed a shoe horn to get in it, and a crowbar to get out. In addition the cigarette smoke was choking me, and the interminable "pauze" or break in the middle of every movie was enough to make you wait for the video release. At the time I thought something was seriously wrong with movie going in Amsterdam. Other theaters suffered similar problems, too, especially the smoke. Well things have been changing, and many movies are now shown without the "pauze", and some theaters have banned smoking too. One of note, is the Pathè Theaters in the Arena complex of shops. It offers 14 screens with state-of-the-art surround sound and very comfortable seating. The complex is air conditioned and there is no smoking allowed in the theaters. The venerable Tuschinski Theater has been completely restored and is decked out in Art Deco splendor once again. It's worth the price of admission just to see the truly awesome interior. The major commercial theaters show the major commercial releases from Hollywood of course. And these days that leaves a lot to be desired since most movies coming from the big media industry are either poor copies of older movies or violent, obscenity packed action yarns with no plots. But that's another story. If you want to find good "foreign" films outside the mainstream, you'll be delighted because Amsterdam has lots of theaters specializing in alternative films. The Vondelpark is the place to check out the Film Museum's incredible collection of movies. Every month there's another theme, and they dip down into a whole century of film to find some choice selections to show. The great majority of the movies are foreign, with Dutch subtitles, unless it was originally made in English, the dialogue will be in the country of origin. The Cinecenter and the Cinerama theaters near the Leidseplein specialize in foreign films too. Oh, one more tip! The best time to see a movie is weekday afternoons, when you get a discount and the theaters are almost empty! There are also film festivals during the year that are worth checking out including the International Documentary Film Festival in November, the Amnesty International Film Festival in March, The Amsterdam Pink Film Festival in December (gay). For those who understand Dutch, the Netherlands Film Festival highlights the small, but critically acclaimed, Dutch film Industry's new entries and takes place at the end of September in Utrecht. Amsterdam Movie Theaters CineCenter - Lijnbaansgracht 236 - right across from the Milkweg, near the Leidseplein
Phone: 623-6615 Cinerama - Marnixstraat 400
Phone 0900-1458 (25 cents per minute)
Site: http://www.filmmuseum.nl/cinerama De Uitkijk - Prinsengracht 452 - Small theater with NO pauses in the main feature.
Phone 623-7460
Site: http://www.uitkijk.nl Kriterion - Roetersstraat 170
Phone: 623-1708
Site: http://www.kriterion.nl Rialto - Ceintuurbaan 338
Phone: 676-8700
Site: http://www.rialtofilm.nl The Movies - Haarlemmerdijk 161
Phone: 638-6016
Site: http://www.themovies.nl Smart Cinema - 1e Const. Huygenstraat 20
Phone: 427-5951
Site: www.smartprojectspace.net Film Museum - Vondelpark 3
Phone: 589-1400
Site: www.filmmuseum.nl Het Ketel Huis -Westergasfabriek - Haarlemmerweg 8-10
Phone: 684-0090
Site: www.hetketelhuis.nl Pathé Theaters - Visit their website for more info.
Arena - Arena Boulevard 600 - Metro:Bijlmerstation
De Munt - Vijzelstraat 15
The City - Leidseplein
Tuschinski - Reguliersbreestraat 26-34
Site: http://www.pathe.nl/

Note: Wanna catch a good movie? Amsterdam has lots of theaters, but beware the smoke!

Posted by on Friday, September 06 @ 08:25:40 UTC (21468 reads)
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A popular place on sunny days and every night of the year, the Rembrandtplein is always alive with people and action. The park is a tribute to the famous Amsterdam artist, Rembrandt van Rijn, and there's a statue of him in the center. On one side is nice grassy area, which hosts a beautiful tulip display in the spring. Shade trees provide some relief from summer heat. The center park is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, a bank, a four-star hotel and a coffeeshop. Sit in a sidewalk cafe, order a beer, and watch the show!

Note: The Rembrandtplein is a fun place to visit, eat, hangout, or party - day or night!

Posted by on Sunday, May 26 @ 13:42:22 UTC (19630 reads)
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