Not sure what to make of the name. My guess would be that the whole global warming/climate change/energy conservation hype of the last couple of month is finally showing some effects in real life and this is a sign of the the times to come. However the turkish contractor who was applying the lettering to the windows of the shop today (apparently the shop is going to open next week) attributed the ‘crazy name’ to a combination of the facts that the shopkeeper is Surinamese (implying that dictators are positive role models over there) and that the shop would sell energy drinks.
Came across this installation in front of a small internet cafe/phone shop in Psiri in the center of Athens yesterday:
When i took pictures of it a guy the indian shopkeeper of a mini market across the street came out of his shop and asked me why i was taking pictures of this ‘ugly piece of crap’. Before i could even answer him the owner of the internet cafe came out and responded to him that this was ‘creativity’ not crap, to which i agreed. During the resulting conversation with Rana (the owner) which for some reason centered on the fact that he liked Amsterdam a lot (no not because of the legal dope or any of the usual reasons people have for liking Amsterdam, but because he had perceived Amsterdam as a place without the racism he encounters in Athens, which given the xenophobic tendencies in Holland in the last couple of years i found quite remarkable) he mentioned that he was a Bengali from Kolkatta. This sparked another round of insults from the mini market shop keeper, who insisted that Rana was in fact not a Bengali but from Bangladesh adding extra flavor to the earlier complaint about racism in Greece.
Yesterday night (while standing on my balcony listening to the radio) I realized that my neighbours must have a rather strange idea about my identity:
Dutschlandfunk (the german national news/culture radio station) has the annoying habit of playing the german national anthem at the end of every single day (and now during the german EU presidency they also feel compelled to play the European anthem, right after it). Now i tend to listen to Deutschlandfunk a lot (particularly the 23h to midnight wrap up of the days news) and this means i end up playing the national anthem every other day or so. To my neighbors this must look (sound) as if i am some Über-patriotic weirdo who keeps misses his home country so much that he has to listen to the national anthem before being able to fall asleep. Guess i have to explain this to my neighbors (or better someone should tell the Deutschlandfunk to stop this silliness).
[DDR is the abbreviation for Deutsche Demokratische Republik (‘German Democratic Republic’ – GDR) a.k.a east Germany]. Kind of implies that not all former East Germans live in misery. also reminds me of this picture from pre-war Beirut.
Looks like as if that giant milk bottle sculpture on my way to work did not really refer to africa at all. the whole thing got cleaned recently and that cleaning operation did not only remove the ‘milk free youth’ graffiti but also the ‘in africa’ typography, which i had assumed to have been part of the original sculpture.
This of course makes the original act of putting a giant milk-bottle sculpture on a playground even more lame! no references to far away continents anymore, just a plain disgusting milk bottle! how utterly disappointing:
On the bright side however, lame milk bottle sculptures do constitute fairly decent surfaces for posters to be glued on.
After yesterday’s extremely depressing and upsetting morning news i went running (which is always a sensible thing when you don’t know what to do and/or are angry). During that run i was thinking what to do about the whole situation and finally came up with something that seemed like a sensible idea:
In the last two weeks mazen kerbaj’s drawings have been one of the strongest most vivid expressions of the whole mess that is unfolding in lebanon that i came across (to the extend that i am dissapointed every time i wake up and there are no new ones). Now what are drawings if not posters-in-waiting that can easily been printed out and stuck against the walls of the city? Clearly one only has to print them out, copy them a couple of times, get wallpaper-glue and head out into the night (ok, first wait some 10 hours for night). So i spend some of Sunday night sticking a4 sized mini-posters all over the walls of my neighborhood (the Pijp) in Amsterdam.
More pictures taken on Monday morning before going to work on my flickr account.
Yesterday evening i did a second round (around Leidseplein in the center), and i am planning to continue for the next couple of nights. Hopefully these relatively small posters will catch some eyeballs and make more people think and start expressing their outrage.
Apart from the obvious advantage of making me feel like i am doing something about the situation, i also like this little action on a symbolic level. It feels like translating a blog (something normally contained to the internets) into something that is part of the urban fabric. I like the idea of images leaking from my screen into the streets of amsterdam and would probably be even more beautiful if people in other cities started doing the same… (in case you feel like it here are a4-sized printable versions of some of Mazen’s drawings)
Went back to the indian DVD and CD sellers at the end of the amsterdamse poort shopping complex in Amsterdam southeast today. Looks like as if they have scaled back their DVD selling operations a bit (their Bollywood DVD’s still sell for unbeatable €2.50 each though). The stall also sells CDs with hindi film songs and all kinds of Caribbean, Urban and African styles even though the CD selling business ‘is not what it used to be before everybody started downloading the tunes’ (according to the owner). Despite the rampant downloading of our times you can still get your CD’s the old fashioned way and some of them have really interesting copyright notices:
in english this translates as: ‘The sale of illegal CD’s of Shifa Asgarali in Suriname is strongly prohibited. All rights of Asiactics Music & Movieworld also belong to Shifa Asgarali. Please don‘t download…. Our culture will be lost… ‘
Sounds to me as if the good Shifa Asgarali does not really care if his CD’s are pirated and sold outside of his native Suriname but the shopkeeper tells me that this is probably more an expression of naiveté . He thinks that Shifa Asgarali (who lives in NL) believes that people outside of Suriname still buy physical CDs which is obviously a bit of a outdated perception. According to the shopkeeper all CDs in suriname are unauthorized copies and as a result this note is a waste of cover space….