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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

canadian bowling by my brother Hans

Canadian Bowling, by Hans Kniesmeijer

Some things are the same the world over yet they are slightly different, things like food, coffee, music, public transport and so on. Bowling in Canada is a whole different cup of tea. The three of us wanted to go bowling so we went for it.
The balls you use for Canadian Bowling are very small, just slightly larger than a tennisball. Furthermore there are only five pins and you get to throw three times and the lane is shorter than a 10 pin lane.

Now there is something you need to know, something that always happens whenever Tom and me do something competitive. Grown men turn into small children. Ludo games turn into battlefields and card games turn into pop charts. Pop charts?
Yes pop charts. The highest score gets to be the number one and we don’t shut up over it. This happened with Canadian Bowling too. Tom won the first round, setting the family record at a dazzling 128. I scored 107, Chango 123.

I was bowling like a madman in the next set. Tom’s sour face pushed me to greater hights and I set an incredible family score at 152. Chango took second place with 128, Tom 126. This meant even added up my two scores were better......
The final round, i hate to say, went to Tom, with a measly 133. so it was two to one, his total score being higher than mine. But hey, my family record will be in the books for a long time, maybe even forever. I can’t see anyone go Canadian Bowling. Unless my weasley brother is going to give up swimming here and take on bowling, just to get that family record.


Nobody's playing at Playland today

It’s warm here.. 26 degrees yesterday, even warmer today. To please my nephew and brother, we went to Playland, a large activity parc just East of center. We were looking forward to a huge roller-coaster ride and more thrills. We asked tourist information yesterday, we asked the bus driver this morning, and they all made sure we safely arrived at what should have been the gates, but there was no-one there.. When we passed the open gates in wonder four workman came to us. In typical ‘regulation’ language we have gotten to know so well in Canada, they immediately told us ‘you can’t be here’. But we were! Of course, they meant regulations have it that no customers are allowed inside the premises when the parc is not open. Not open?? The leaflet said ‘opens april 21!’ Turns out they only open during weekends the first two months. You have to check everything three times, it seems. They repeated twice more that we couldn’t be here, so we quietly stepped outside the gates and went for a drink in Tom and Jerry’s place.

A very funny waitress helped us there: “oh no love, you wouldn’t want to order a cappuchino here..” Turned out she’s turning fifty next month and has been working there since her nineteenth. That would make you turn honest about what you can and cannot do well.. She did her best though in drowning the cheesecake in chocolate sauce and canned strawberry’s, serving with the smooth ease and self-deprecating style that hints at an alcohol problem. But funny she was.
Because Chango demanded action, we decided to go bowling. Canadian bowling, that is, but perhaps Hans will write something about that. It is different from European bowling (small balls, 5 pins). And what else to do on a sweaty day with a sunburn from yesterday’s visit to the swimming pool (‘is that your son Sir? It’s not allowed to leave him in the water alone.’ ‘But I’m sitting here at the pool side at two meters distance, the water is 60 cm deep here and anyway, he has his diploma..’ ‘Still, regulations are, he can’t be in the water alone, Sir.’) than go bowling..?

After some Greek dishes, we tried to get a little nap just now (Hans still jet-lagged, me suffering from jet-lag-by-proxy), but of course that does not work with a 6 year old boy around.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Selexyz, bewezen vies

Alweer een vanzelfsprekendheid onderzocht en bewezen. In een Adformatie die mijn broer voor me meenam las ik dat mensen veel nieuw ontwikkelde namen maar niet kunnen plaatsen bij een bedrijf. De naam waar ik zelf de grootste hekel aan heb (zie een eerdere log), Selexyz, blijkt vreemde dingen op te roepen (de top-3 bestond uit: een postorderbedrijf voor erotische artikelen, een zoekmachine en een afslankmiddel), maar niet de nieuwe naam voor Scheltema Holkema Vermeulen, de boekenwinkel. Logisch. Vooral dat afslankmiddel kan wel eens voorspellende waarde blijken te krijgen. Voor Scheltema zelf dan.

In het verleden moest ik al eens een rapport maken over de naam Amev. De verzekeringsmaatschappij deed het in naamsbekendheid relatief slecht. Dat leek me logisch: je kunt er best iets bij bedenken: een Oost-Europese luchtvaartmaatschappij, bijvoorbeeld, maar het zijn letters die in Nederland bij elkaar geen vertrouwd (verzekerings)gevoel oproepen en fonetisch ook niet lekker uitspreken. Als je concurrentie dan Nationale Nederlanden heet, of Zilveren Kruis, dan blijven die langer hangen. Leek me toen al logisch. Met de eis dat een nieuwe naam ook direct een internetadres kan zijn, is een idioterie aan namen bedacht. Cateraars heten sindsdien Sodexho en veel onnatuurlijker kun je volgens mij niet eten. Misschien komen ze bij zinnen. Dan kan Scheltema zijn gevulde, sexy boeken-naam terugkrijgen en zijn malle nieuwe naam overdoen aan een echt erotisch postorderbedrijf.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Larry Burger Market

Twee dagen door Vancouver heengetrokken, dankzij een speciale toeristenbus. Met van die speciale chauffeurs die van iedereen de nationaliteit willen weten en dan, zo blijkt als je de volgende dag dezelfde chauffeur toevallig wéér treft, iedere keer ook hetzelfde grapje maken. From Scotland! We’re cousins! Vooral Aussies moeten het hier ontgelden, vinden ze ook een raar accent. In Amsterdam zijn ze natuurlijk allemaal geweest, of hun opa, maar die was dan wel op uitnodiging (hahaha, yes, you know, Apeldoorn, 1944..??).

Zo’n baan is een uitlaatklep voor manische persoonlijkheden, Een chauffeur van vandaag, die werd aangekondigd door de kaartjesknipper als “Crazy Larry” spande inderdaad de kroon. Hij bleef niet alleen als een op hol geslagen jukebox doorkakelen tijdens het rijden, waarbij dezelfde informatie drie keer binnen vijf minuten voorbij kwam, ook bemoeide hij zich met iedereen buiten: mensen die door rood overstaken, gemeente-auto’s die verkeerd parkeerden, andere chauffeurs van bussen en willekeurige slachtoffers die hij toeriep ”look behind you, you dropped something!”

Stanley Park was weer erg mooi, van die mooie dikke bomen (Sequioahs). Het is een enorm park (veel groter dan Central Park in New York, thanks, Larry) met gematigd regenwoud klimaat, hetgeen nogal bijzonder is in de wereld. In Nieuw Zeeland hebben we dat ook gezien, trouwens. Op het strand van West End hebben we een enorme hamburger (ik een zalmburger) gegeten en daarna Granville Island Market bezocht. Lekkere hapjes... En verse bramen. Jottem. Daarna waren we alledrie zo uitgeteld dat we in een taxi naar huis zijn gesprongen en zelfs Chango zo ver hebben gekregen om een uur lang zijn mond dicht te houden. Rust..

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Family day

Another day with little brother in Vancouver. So no book-news, only family adventures.
Gisteren met Broer en Neefje naar het Aquarium. Leuk hoor, witte beluga's boven en onder water. Die ons ook steeds aan het bekijken waren. We waren dan ook redelijk vroeg, dus zoveel hadden ze er nog niet voor het raam gehad.. Dankzij de forse jetlag van Hans en Chango waren ze om drie uur 's nachts alweer aan het spoken. Later zijn ze naar het sportzaaltje gegaan hier, en hebben in de jacuzzi gezeten. Ach ja, vier is 's nachts is daarvoor een mooie tijd. Het leukste waren de zeeotters. Die zijn nogal verliefd, schijnt, en drijven hand in hand door het water. Er is ook internationaal veel ontroering. Op YouTube staat ook al een romantisch filmpje (zoeken op seaotters vancouver aquarium levert vast wel wat op!).
Vandaag een nieuw toeristisch hoogtepunt. Chango wil zowel in de toeristendubbeldekker die door de stad rijdt als in de trolleybus. Auto's zijn sowieso erg interessant. Nou, daar gaan we...

Friday, May 25, 2007

A quiet night in

Was planning to write a piece on Anita Roddick from the Body Shop, who decribes herself as a positively spirited anarchist, and is a good example of a business person who started during an autumn period, 1976-1977. Was never a loyal client of her shops (don't like all the apple and pear scents), but the book gave a nice insight into her fights, even within her own company. Made me appreciate her more than before.
Unfortunately, writing about it will have to wait till tomorrow, because my notes are in the other room. The room where my brother and nephew are already sleeping now. Chango was wide awake, up to the last minute he was jumping around the bed, but within a minute in the bed, he was gone. Hope Hans can sleep too.. We had a small diner in my favorite café, where the most friendly Japanese guy is guessing where everybody is originating from. But he didn't even see Hans is my brother. Look at the nose, man..! If there is one thing all 4 Kniesmeijer sons know for sure, then it would have to be we stem from the same father, judging from the nose alone.
So now I'm sitting on my bed typing this, thinking I might not do any work at all tomorrow, maybe we'll go swimming, because not only me, but Chango too loves swimming. Do we see a real champion in the future..?
Goodnight, then.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Queen hates gays..

Tomorrow my brother Hans (39) is arriving with his son Chango (6), for a week. See if we can keep them occupied, so they don't dose off because of jetlag.. Have bought an inflatable bed, so all's ready here.

Read an article about The Eurythmics which stated a lot of people in America thought Annie Lennox, the singer, was a lesbian, because she wore a suit with short hair, when they first started performing. And of course, the image of a strong woman might help that stereotype too. But it turned into something rather idiotic when they invited Aretha Franklin for a duet: Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves. Says the book: "after insisting certain lyrics be amended, Franklin believed Lennox was gay and such was her dislike of gays she refused to converse with her."
Strange too: though I've never been a real fan of Aretha Franklin, I like a lot of her tracks. They seem rather spiritual and open minded. But this information does change the way I look at her, too. The Queen of Soul, they say. Ha! One could make nice jokes about that. Anyway, no sale for that greatest hits album here. I don't specifically need that feeling a singer is singing each song especially to me, as some people seem to like, but as Aretha wouldn't even 'talk' to gays, I personally think I wouldn't let her 'sing' to them either..

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blonde ambition

Been roaming through books on the period between 1977 and 1983 again, autumn, in my book. Polarizing discussions, nihilism and opportunism. Again, interesting parallels with the end of the nineties, when we had the next autum period. Blondie, for instance. They stormed to the number one spot in Holland in 1978 with Denis. Though they were a band, every poster featured Deborah Harry in a striking pose, working her role as a blonde sex kitten. In another timeframe she would openly criticize the ‘cheesecake’ image; in this opportunistic timeframe she shrugged her shoulders and said: ‘sex sells and I do exploit my sexuality’. That’s the spirit, girl!

Nothing changes, really.. When Blondie introduces their comeback album ‘No Exit’ in 1999 and ‘Maria’ is a hit, a journalist asks Harry why she is returning to the music business. Again, she shrugs her shoulders: ‘music is a business, We’ve been successful and we have this legacy that we can cash in on. We’d be stupid if we didn’t.” That’s the spirit again, girl. Once an opportunist, always an opportunist. You have to wait for 20 years though, to get another chance at blunt opportunism.

Oh, they have, after milking the evening announced that the humungous teenage girl, has won American Idol. Best choice, if not Melinda. They even had Smokey Robinson (reasonable), Gladys Knight (would still win American Idol, what a voice..) and Bette Midler (went of the rails a few times) doing songs. And Green Day. Hate that group. Puberty Punk. Don’t know whether any of the winners will ever reach Holland. Anyone heard of Carrie Underwood over there? Sold 7 million records in America. And they had lots more winners. The only one I know from the Dutch hitparade was Kelly Clarkson..

Kelly Clarkson

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Idol's Gone

Watching the American Idol finale. Last week, very surprisingly, the best singer by far was voted out. When the presenter outed the words "Melinda is going home, Blake is in the finals", you could actually hear the air going out of the audience. Simon Cow, the American variant of the harsh judge, looked rather pissed off. Simon, by the way, makes a heck of a lot more sense than the Dutch guy whose name I can never remember, only his ‘look Mom, I’m on TV, isn’t that greaaaat...!!’ smile (Henk something?). The level of the candidates is ten times better than in Holland (well, America IS ten times bigger..), but Melinda was a class apart.

Only she suffered from reversed discrimination, I guess. She was too nice. Kept looking surprised when she got another raving review. And talked about her Mom and her religion just once too often. Funny to notice that: you can be religious and nice, but please don’t keep flaunting it in public. It is a bit like complaining about a gay parade. But that’s just what is happening in these shows: overexposure of some traits because they are on prime time television each week and they’re not professional enough yet to be able to change image during that time. And of course, always being best in class will cost you the vote of the large group of underdog lovers. And they voted for the cute boy and the teenage girl last week.

The cute guy with the two-tone colored spiky hair didn’t sing that well tonight (and his little mouth-movements start to irritate), so probably Jordin, the huge (she towered next to the presenter) but always smiling girl of 17, will win. Ah well, Melinda will have a career, I’m sure, perhaps in musicals and gospel based music. Even I would consider buying an album. If she doesn’t flaunt her niceties too much, that is.
That completes the vote of the Canadian jury.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Advertising in winter..

There seems to be a discussion going on in Holland about all the recycling being done in Dutch advertising.. Cora van Mora is back, Martine Bijl is back for Hak and one of the most succesful campaigns ever (for Campina) is being plainly copied by a competitor. Leon Bouwman of Adformatie wrote about it in de Telegraaf. Well, no suprise for the steady visitor of my log. (S)He'll have read that we're in the closed, reinforcement timeframe, looking back and repeating cultural icons, to gain new steady ground after a period of upheaval. And, very interesting, all those advertising campaigns returning now, stem from the last timeframe of reinforcement, between 1983 and 1989. Leon and Suzanne, who complained about all the recycling in Adformatie, will just have to have some patience. A new timeframe will come, eventually..

In the mean time, I have been studying on the exact changing moment of the spring and summer timeframes, sometime 1971, when the revolution of the 60s went up in smoke, all the heroes disbanded (Beatles) or just died (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison). The doors to freedom had opened, and in the seventies everyone would jump out and claim some space for himself, leading to the paradox of extreme hedonism (glamrock! Disco!) and total seriousness (conscious raising groups, feminism, gay liberation, the social academy even given curriculum points for men who knitted, and everyone desperately looking for the nuances in communication: "can I say that, or will it be offensive to anyone.."). Lots of long, long long democracy meetings..

Enough to work on, to get the book rolling..

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sweet rainy seventies nostalgia

Idling away most of the day. Library closed and raining.. Downloaded music, watched a great DVD about WattStax 1973, the black Woodstock. Great Music and a look into the style of the day. A lot of Black power (100.000 people shouting "I am somebody, I am beautiful, I want to be respected!"), and rightly so, in those days. Chilling anyway, that people still had to learn to be 'somebody' in the early 70s. Funny interludes by Richard Pryor. And of course the hair styles, the clothes. Don't think any black funk artist today would try and get on stage in a stunning pink suit with shorts and white high boots..
Read some about the Seventies and Bubblegum music, the lightweight tunes that blocked the top10 for most 'deep' artist. Then found, where they have every Dutch Top40 in history and spend the next few hours in nostalgia, looking at the hitparades I knew by heart then. Grew up in the glamrock-light version of The Sweet, Slade and Mud (I was a big Sweet fan for what I then thought was an eternity, but in reality turns out to be 3 years or so, with songs like Poppa Joe (my first ever single, together with, dare I say it?, Un Canto A Galicia from Julio Iglesias), Wig Wam Bam, Blockbuster, Ballroom Blitz and Fox On The Run, among many others. Strange I still can't find a book on them and The Middle Of The Road, for instance. But then again, they were nowhere as succesful as in Holland. Even my dad loved The Middle (or, to be more precise, the singer of the band, Sally, with her long blond hair and hot pants, singing number 1 hits like Sacramento, Talk Of All The USA, Soley Soley). So we watched Top Pop with the whole family, while my father remarked about The Sweet: "Well, their hair may be far too long, at least they've combed it..". Strange, I still remember that remark. Perhaps because my own hair fell to my shoulders then, too..

Friday, May 18, 2007

Autumn angels are not always what they appear

Charlie’s Angels premiered september 1976 and was an instant hit (only the Superbowl attracted more viewers). The Angels Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith en Farrah Fawcett were on the cover of Time Magazine within a month. Whitney Womack wrote a sociological piece on the show. Yes, that’s right. You can do that, about this show.
It’s a typical show for the controversial last bit of the seventies. Autumn timeframe, in my book. The curious mix of sexual tension, beauty, suspense and feminism attracted not only women, but also college graduates and teenage boys. While critics denounced the show as pure schlock, feminist were competing for airtime to open fire: “a backlash against feminism. Charlie dispatches his streetwise girls to use their sexual wiles on the world while he reaps the profits. The Angels are being shoved back into the kind of subordinate and sexualized roles from which feminists had worked to break free.” Others objected to the virtually unattainable ideal of thinness and beauty that the Angels represented. Then again, Whitney, a young female fan at the time of the show, primary saw “images of female intelligence, strength, solidarity and community. Importantly, the Angels led independent lives. Kelly and Jill were unmarried and Sabrina was divorced, yet none of them seemed particularly obsessed with finding a husband or “settling down”. With their own money, they bought hip clothes and fast cars, including Jill’s white Cobra with black racing stripes.” While we look at it now as 70s stupidity, it worked it’s magic in that timeframe!
Exactly the delicate balance between feminism and anti-feminism made the success of the show. Controversy abound, but still something for everyone, and therefore an icon for success in an autumn timeframe. There’s so much to learn from popular culture..

And, interesting enough, the movie remake stems from another autumn period: 2000. Only: sooner than a remake, the 2000 film version is an over the top parody, according to Whitney: “While claiming to pay homage to the original series, the film instead exaggerates and mocks the series’ excesses and retains virtually none of its feminist sensibilities. Feminism is replaced with a sort of watered down, Spice Girls brand of substanceless “girl power” that in many ways promotes rather than undermines traditional gender codes. While the original series is predicated on a hard-fought challenge to the patriarchal power structure of the police department, the new Angels aren’t even trained police officers. Further, the film focuses far more than the series on the Angels’ private lives, especially their romantic relationships, and emphasizes their feminine attributes and even their domestic skills - returning us in many ways to the Angel in the House model of womanhood.” Drew Barrymore, who brought the 2000 version to the screen: “I became interested because the Angels “weren’t feminist, male-bashing ladies. And that’s refreshing”. In another interview she says she’s “not a torch-carrying feminist”, because she wants to be “sexy and fun”. So much for feminism at the start of a new century: feminism is definitely non-sexy. It could be in the 70s, though! In the original series, men never got away with sexist remarks. In the new version, the Angels do not dare tell their boyfriends that they’re Angels and instead try to bake muffins..

The 2000 Angels resort to the opportunistic, superficial side of autumn: just plain hedonism and no message to be found anywhere, all links with reality are deliberately eliminated: “It’s fantasy and just a bit of escape....It’s a fun, just ode-to-joy, kinda pop-a-wheelie kind of movie”, says director Joseph McGinty Nichol. The bonding consists of lots of hugging, giggling, playing with one another’s hair, and giving boyfriend advice, whereas in the 70s series there were hardly any boyfriends, much more focus on work and, believe it or not, almost never sexy underwear: the girls walked around in the typical female career suits of the time.

No, if I were Whitney, I would not be satisfied with Charlie’s Angels 2000. But we can console her a little bit. In other TV series of the last few years, women do pick up the line the 70s Angels planted. In police shows like CSI en NYPD Blue, for instance, but one could also see teenage shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Xena as examples of feminism and anti-feminism balanced out to mass appeal. And in the audience will be a new Whitney Womack, getting the right clues.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

70's teen idol power!

Read a humorous piece on teenage girls and their idols. Ilana Nash wrote about her youth and the how the media would ridicule female teen idols like Shaun Cassidy, The Osmonds or Leif Garrett, while always writing in neutral or positive terms about male teen idols, however stupid roles those female actors or singers might play: A pin-up idol for girls is reviled more than a pin-up idol for boys.
Researchers also have a denigrating opinion about male teen-idols: “for girls of this age real boys remain a threatening and unknown quantity. Sexual experience most girls of all social classes want to hold off for some future time. They know, however, that going out with boys invariably carries the possibility of being expected to kiss, or ‘pet’. The fantasy boys of pop make no such demands. They ‘love’ their fans without asking anything in return.”
Ilana is really pissed off about that opinion ("I DID want to have sex with Shaun!"), but reviewers in papers held the same view, as one angry fan wrote after a bad review of her idols: “When their fans are old enough to start looking for real boyfriends,” sneered a review of a 1975 Bay City Rollers concert, “the Rollers will soon be forgotten.” But it’s not that simple; some of us were lesbians, some of us did have boyfriends. In any case, girls mature earlier than boys, so it was more a question of waiting for them to grow up than the other way around!”

Ilana: “Boys rotten teen-behavior did not raise eyebrows; it was assumed that their natural ‘immaturity’ must be borne with patience. To be told that our love for Shaun Cassidy was ‘immature’, and that ‘real’ (i.e. aggressive) masculinity was something we should ‘grow into’ liking, was disturbing. Idol-fandom augmented my sex life, not replaced it, much as grown men will entertain fantasies about women celebrities while happily married to ‘real life’ women. We listened to Shaun and just waited for a viable opportunity!
How cruel, then, and how very stupid, to ridicule girls for liking ‘non-threatening’ or ‘feminine’ teen idols. When we consider how masculinity presents itself to girls and the power of the threats it poses, teenybopper fan-dom looks less like immaturity and more like sound common sense. Shaun Cassidy did not punch our breasts or try to unharness our bras in public, as our classmates did, nor did he shriek about ‘poontang’ (or ‘give it to me, bitch’), as did the performers whose rock was considered more cool. He sang of walking girls home or asking them to ‘come out tonight’ to look at the stars. Even when he celebrated sex, which he did, the veiled lyrics suggested mutual participating instead of subject/object tension (“this will be our night/and I know that we can do it/do it till we get it right”). Call me crazy, but that sounded more girl-friendly to me than the hunger for power demonstrated by the males around me and represented in hard rock. Teen idol fan-dom offered me the sole venue in which I could live the feminist promise to control my sexuality, free from the hostile aggression that made female initiative impossible or dangerous in the real world.

Must say I agree with Ilana. And some of those teenybopper singers where actually not bad at all, in retroperspective.. I sometimes still secretly enjoy David Cassidy, or the Osmonds. Ilana’s right: they at least could sing and the songs are innocent and happy. Good for a smile. Like Ilans’s piece of sensible writing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

coffeebreak break out

Before you know it, your life is a series of daily rituals again..: the girls at the Blenz counter automatically charge me for a medium cappuchino and the guy making it, who left Serbia in his early thirties (yes, that would figure) is making short conversation (his brother in law is from Arnhem and believe it or not, writing a book here, about rituals). The security guard at the library is greeting me as a regular customer. Even at the swimming pool, they say: "you go in front, you're better at breaststroke". I don't mind, there is something friendly and familiar in people recognizing and anticipating for you. Makes you feel right at home. But today I couldn't resist and ordered another type of coffee. Hey, I mean, I've got more sides to me than a medium cappuchino! They were actually shocked and we got into a discussion about change and age. They thought people shouldn't change after a certain age which they guessed at 38, thank you, I will remain a loyal customer. I argued that a little surprise keeps you alive. Philosophy over the coffeecounter. Would you like to drink the same coffee the rest of your life..? The thought depresses me. I am a seventies child remember? Always something new to discover about myself. Once, when somebody asked me why I was trying out every new thing (we were talking about music), I answered that I am such a rooted person, I need some roll to not turn into a rock. Keep rolling, is what I say. Even if it's only a once-a-week change in coffee..

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

meatheads and dingbats in summertime

Found a book on All In The Family, the show that started just as the ‘summer’timeframe (1971-1977) took off. And rightly so! All In The Family helped people through the mounting insecurities of all changes in society. Haven’t yet read all about this incredibly funny TV show that ran all the way through the seventies.The characters were carefully matched with the times. Archie Bunker, the bigot, simply refusing any change around him, king in his lounge chair, his ‘stupid’ wife Edith ('dingbat'), who stood for anything Good and Caring and ‘Meathead’ Mike, his son in law and liberal, always attacking his views. Like on violence.
Mike: "Violence won’t help!" Archie: "What’s wrong with revenge? That’s a perfect way to get even."
Never one for real arguments, Archie just kept to his own world view. Gloria, his daughter was the one mostly resembling the feeling of the seventies: looking for her own identity, wanting to be independent, but not always able to pull it off. What she did know, however, was that her mother had to change: “Submitting to him, That’s what she’s doing. Submitting to her king...her ruler...her lord and master.” Archie: “Ain’t that a nice way of putting it?”

There were many doubts before putting the show on TV. In the beginning, they started each show with a warning: “The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous light on our frailties, prejudices and concerns. By making them a source of laughter, we hope to show - in a mature fashion - just how absurd we are.”
And that was what the show did: it brought a little humor in the heavy topics the society in this ‘out-of-control’ summer period had to deal with. People were on the move, they just needed a little encouragement. All In The Family delivered. When asked why the show was so succesful, ‘Archie’ said: “the answer, I think, is that Everyman, when he looks at Archie, knows he is not looking at himself; he is happily looking back at what he was.”

Even so, Archie Bunker’s fear of change reflected the daily anxiety of the white heterosexual man in the seventies: everybody was emancipating, and where does that leave him? In the series, when his daughter Gloria is once again making a speech on human rights, Archie belts out: What about my rights? I know I got a lot going against me. I’m white, I’m protestant and I’m hardworking - but can’t you find some lousy amendment that protects me?

All that, and funny too.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Vancouver observations part III

Every morning when I look out, there are two homeless men sitting in the bus stop. You can immediately see they are homeless. Beards, dirty clothing, plastic bags around them. But they are sipping coffee there. Coffee they get at McDonalds. I wonder. Does McDonalds have a social responsibility program, giving away free coffee to the homeless? Or is their coffee particularly cheap or adjusted to the average homeless taste bud? Often, when I look out, there is a third man sitting with them. Thought he was homeless too, at first, but he doesn’t fit the typical style, with his short hair and black polo. He is always talking fast, using a lot of hand movement. And then this morning, I saw him on the phone at the library. Again, talking fast and making a lot of movement, reading something from a little notebook, obviously agitated. That’s not a homeless man.. Social worker, working the streets all day, trying to help them? Religious man, giving them kind words from the bible? Or just a drug dealer?

The only thing I hate is that I can’t quietly eat my ice cream at the steps of the library. There is always a homeless man starting to shout or babble. Nothing helps if they pick on you, they all have graduated from the ‘get contact’ class in the school of the homeless. If you don’t react, they will just start shouting ‘you’re an asshole and I am human too, only asking a question, you speak English don’t you’, etc etc. If you react, they want money or keep on talking, mostly not understandable bits of language, accompanied by very clear bits of saliva. And sit next to you (the smell doesn’t really go with ice cream). Once I tried an effective method, in Amsterdam (my, does Holland have few homeless people, in comparison): “out-crazy them”. Start waving your arms like mad, uttering nonsense syllables with lots of saliva. Screaming helps too: “YaaaaHH! KLM! Bad sky! BE-atles! You ARE! YaaaaHH!” But I admit, you have to be in the mood. Wasn’t today, so took the abuse, stoic looking forward and eating my ice cream and feeling just a little bit of social guilt. Gave a homeless girl on the next street some money. Another day in Vancouver.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Unknown pleasures at the Waterfront

Yesterday the weather was fine and after lunch I noticed the snow capped mountain at the end of the street again, always making me feel very content just looking at it.
Decided to take a book and walk towards it. That is, until arriving at the waterfront. The mountain itself, of course, is on the other side of the water.Saw myself sitting on a sun drenched outdoor patio, with a drink, looking out over the water, at the mountain, reading a little, enjoying myself. Picture it? Well, that worked out in the end, after I had settled for a Iced Chai Latte from Starbucks (no Blenz in sight) and found some stairs to settle unto, that is.

So many open squares, but all without restaurants, let alone patios..
Wonder why. No terrace life? They do have heated patios everywhere else in town, but none of those at the waterfront. Another regulated Canadian thing? Don’t know. But did see The Volendam, the outrageously big cruise ship at the docks. And they’re building like crazy to accommodate the Olympic Games in 2010.
Never mind, I had a book on Unknown Pleasures, the classic Joy Division album from June 1979. The title of course, should have been a sign, thinking of waterfront patios in Vancouver.Missed out on the album at first, when it was released, so busy celebrating the end of high school and the beginning of independence. Boogying on the dance floor and preparing for the Interrail holiday with friends. Let's say my mood did not really reflect the themes of the music on Unknown Pleasures. But more on Joy Division another time..

Friday, May 11, 2007

the Kniesmeijer timeframe cycle

On popular demand a simple version of my cycle of recurrent timeframes. Perhaps it helps in understanding the text.. Every 5 or six years we move within the cycle to the next stage. Go figure it out.. If you click on it, it will grow on you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Popping the question

Rewriting some stuff, and diving into Dutch politics a little more. The chaos and opportunism in the beginning of the eighties, during an ‘autumn’ period, with governments falling like leaves of a tree, and comparing that with the next ‘autumn’ period between 2000 and 2003, with all the Pim Fortuyn drama (and of course, the chaos in Dutch society at that time). Timeframes, they do strange things to people...
Popping question. If you eat popcorn, is that counting as vegetables? It’s pure corn, isn’t it? They never tell you about those important things in healthy eating magazines. Weather here is getting better by the day. Took a long walk to the swimming pool, along the harbor front. Very sunny. They closed one shower room, the one I always use. Until further notice. Must have found a little legionella or other bacteria.. If this blog suddenly isn’t refreshed anymore, you know the reason now.
Almost don’t dare to admit: found a DVD of Golden Girls left behind on a table of the library and decided to loan it. Typical eighties material, but still fun.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


In the mean time, somewhere in Vancouver.. a few hospitals are experimenting with replacing contrast liquids by blueberry juice when making scans. Seems to work just as well and much more tasty. I would go for that!
Vandaag maar eens in de Nederlandse politiek gedoken. Helemaal niet saai, wanneer je let op tijdgeest en minder op partijpolitiek. Shocking, hoe premiers door de jaren heen bewoordingen gebruiken die zo uit mijn theoriehoofdstuk kunnen komen.
Soms proberen premiers de tijdgeest tegen te werken, zoals Biesheuvel in 1971: hij maakt zich zorgen over de ‘behoefte aan polarisatie, een verscherping van de politieke en maatschappelijke tegenstellingen’. Hij en zijn kabinet voelen er niets voor. Sterker zelfs, ze zijn er zeer op tegen en zullen juist alles doen om de nadruk te leggen op alles wat bindt, meldt Biesheuvel in zijn regeringsverklaring. Binnen twee jaar valt die regering.
We zitten dan in de zomerse tijdgeest van 1972 tot 1978: onrust, vrijheid die ontspoort en oplopende tegenstellingen. De regering doet lekker mee: er zijn nogal wat punten waarop de partijen tegenover elkaar staan. Als er met moeite eindelijk een links getinte regering ontstaat, proberen die, in een typische zomeroplossing, langs elkaar heen te regeren. Bijvoorbeeld in de Bloemenhove affaire. Dries van Agt (justitie, KVP) wil de abortuskliniek sluiten. Terwijl Irene Vorrink (Volksgezondheid, PvdA) vanuit de ministerraad contact onderhoudt met de mensen in de abortuskliniek, wil van Agt aan de politie opdracht geven naar binnen te trekken. Toch houdt die regering het bijna de volle vier jaar vol.
Tijdens de herfst tijdgeest, tussen 1977 en 1982, hebben we last van gekonkel en struikelende en vallende kabinetten. Het kabinet van Agt-2 begon al met hommeles, nog voor de regeringsverklaring viel het kabinet uit elkaar. Gelijmd en wel hielden ze het niet eens een jaar vol: ze rolden vechtend over de straat. en maakten elkaar precies 260 dagen het leven zuur. Helemaal herfst.
En dan komt Lubbers aan de macht, in 1982. Het is bijna eng: hij zegt zelf precies welk tijdgeestseizoen is aangebroken, in zijn verklaring: “Onze samenleving is in de winter terechtgekomen. Het gaat er nu om wat wij daarvan maken. Ieder op haar of zijn plaats; ieder naar vermogen, niet tegen elkaar maar met elkaar.” Juist ja. niet meer tegen, maar met elkaar. Dat hoort in een winter. Lubbers houdt het zowel de winter- als ook het beste deel van de daaropvolgende lentetijdgeest vol (vooral omdat zijn laatste regering aan het begin van die lente verkozen wordt). De premier meldt in 1989 wél dat de sociale vernieuwing ineens “vleugels gekregen” heeft en hij vraagt zich af hoe dat nu komt. Tsja, tijdgeest, Ruud!
De kiezers halen hun gram in 1994: de vernieuwing is dan op zijn hoogtepunt. En jahoor: Paars wordt geboren. Het CDA maakt de grootste duikeling in de geschiedenis van de politiek, maar liefst 20 zetels moeten ze inleveren, vooral ten gunste van de partij die bij iedere verandering van tijdgeest weer even opkomt om vervolgens als een plumpudding weer in te storten: D’66.
Politiek, het is net als het weer. Zoals al een keer gemeld, we zitten ondertussen weer in een winterperiode. We moeten weer samen, met elkaar. Restaureren. Protesteren tegen bloot-abri’s. En dergelijke behoudende dingen. En D’66 is weer weggevaagd. Ben benieuwd, over een paar jaar. De volgende verkiezingen zijn weer in een lenteperiode. Vernieuwing!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

When our Bill was still a Billy, writing bills..

There's a great, heavy Rolling Stone Book on the Seventies. Loved it. A lot of icons from those years. It refreshed my knowledge on the daft beginnings of our computer world, in 1975. Here's two anecdotes on seventies sillyness appointed to computers and some foresight on the role of that Micro-Soft boy..

...many computerists of the Seventies shared a profound mistrust of big business and a nearly religious belief that the computer was a tool of personal liberation ( Seventies..). Even when they went into business, they chose names that mocked largeness or were simply silly. The Itty Bitty Machine Company lasted long enough for IBM’s lawyers to draft a cease-and-desist letter; Kentucky Fried Computers had only a slightly longer life. Apple Computer is the last reminder of the days when whimsy was more powerful than a marketing department.
Consider Bill Gates. He saw the MITS Altair 8800 on the cover of a Popular Electronics Magazine in 1975. The $397 Altair was a boring box with blinking lights - a primitive fossil. In fact, once you’d built the box, you still had to be exceedingly clever at programming in order to make the lights blink. Gates dropped out of school to develop, along with his buddy Paul Allen, the form of BASIC language needed to make its lights blink. Since no other language existed at the time, the first Micro-Soft (as it was then spelled) product was an instant hit. But Bill was soon unhappy, for he ran into a prevailing notion of the liberation idealism: “Information wants to be free.” People were sharing Bill’s software with one another, rather than purchasing new copies for themselves. He promptly wrote a testy “open letter” about how people should pay for his work rather than give copies to friends, and if they didn’t, there wasn’t going to be any more useful software coming from him, thank you very much.
Computer hobbyists immediately attacked Gates as a mercenary snake who wanted to own the garden - they were right. He ownes it.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Power closed to twodimensional women

Was watching a programme which showed scenes of the debate between Royale and Sarkozy.
Poor Royale.. It's hard to be a female politician and still score in the closed timeframe we are living in right now. Most people search for authenticity, one-dimensionality and reinforcement of things known. So the fragment showed Sarkozy in a pose as the übermale, sceptical and superior, while Royale was upset. And when she fired at him. all he needed to do is make condescending remarks. His non verbal behavior was like 'tut-tut', the little lady is getting angry. And she went on deying she was angry, which made her look even less stable. Too many emotions.. No Angela Merkel (or even more one-dimensional: Margareth Thatcher..!), for sure, people will think and turn to Sarkozy. While men can claim history has proven that they can be good leaders, women always have to proof that. And in uncertain times, that might just tip the scale to the 'safe' side. Just like Wouter Bos in Holland was put away like a wiggler or a turn-stile (draaikont), uncertainty leads to loss of votes..
There will be a change in the spirit of the times, but whether it will be in time for Hillary Clinton to have a chance to become the first female president of the USA, will remain to be seen.

For music lovers: closed timeframes bring along good music too: Mavis Staples is back, on an album she made with Ry Cooder. Old protest songs from the times she was still in the Staple Singers, but in a modern style. I loved it. You can listen to both her album and others (the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club! Like Rolling Stones on speed..) on the VPRO site:

Saturday, May 5, 2007

living by the rules to the extreme?

Written the next bit in seventies, see part II below. Part I is deeper down.
They may be big on 'green' over here, I'm beginning to have some doubts about the 'law-abiding-follow-the-rules' attitude. It's beginning to get on my nerves. Yesterday I wasn't able to cash the check my former rental agency issued as a rebate, because the signing didn't look exactly like on their computer. And today I was refused entry to the library. Not because of the coffee, you're allowed to take that with you, but because I did not have it capped with a plastic lid.. And here I was thinking I did my bit for the environment by leaving it off..