5 years ago
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Yesterday marked the beginning of the ten days that I will be spending in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, and Ouederkerk aan de Amstel, a small village just south of Amsterdam. My first flight went well, landing in Philly just in time for me to get to the next terminal. I got an aisle seat, and there was a lady sitting at the window seat, and no one in the middle. (Score for more elbow room.) For the 8 hour plane ride, the extra space was much appreciated. They served dinner almost right after take off, and I was pleasantly surprised by the vegetarian option that I had selected. The regular meal was pasta or chicken, but the veg heads got a small spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, melon and pineapple with coconut flakes, a wheat roll, and a rice dish with artichoke and asparagus. Combined with the bag of Chex Mix that lasted me the whole flight, I was surprisingly satisfied for the duration of my aviation. I proceeded to draw, read, play Spore, Scrabble, and Super DX Ball, work on some lyrics, work on my portfolio a little, and sleep for about two hours. The inflight movie was some "true story" starring Greg Kinnear and I think Liv Tyler about an inventor who gets screwed by the big auto companies. Oh, the irony of in-flight cinema.
The town of Ouederkerk is, for the most part, untouched by corporate greed or capitalism. It's akin to a breath of (very) fresh air to not be bombarded by logos and advertisments asking you to buy something. I know it'll be different once I venture into the city, but c'est la vie.
For lunch, we walked to a nearby outdoor cafe where I drank a nice, cold glass of beer outdoors and had delicious goat cheese with honey and spinach sandwiched between two crispy pieces of foccacia. Today, my quest is to have frites (french fries) with delicious Dutch fritesauce (mayonnaise, essentially)!
After walking around town for a bit, I took a nap to catch up with my body, and now I'm all set to go. We orded Chinees (Chinese) for dinner, and it was completely unlike anything I've had in America. Delicious, fresh, vegetables, and super thin noodles. The egg rolls were default vegetarian (score!), unlike at home, where you have to ask for them. Kroepoke (shrimp crackers) were not quite what I'm used to, a la Grandma's home cookin', but sufficient none the less.
We sat outside and drank beer for the rest of the night. The cheaper beer here, Jaeger, is 4.8. That's the good beer at home. It's so tasty and, I hope you're sitting, it's 7 euros for a crate (that's 24 of them for you folks back home). To recap, 24 tasty bottled brews that are 4.8 % for approximately $8.50. Yeah, I know you're jealous.
This leads me to my next wide-eyed envy of the Dutch way of living: recycling. In the town Ouederkerk, you pay for the recycling bags you buy, as well as the trash bags you buy, and for the bags you use at the grocery store, etc. It's an incredibly effect way to get people to think about what they're consuming. The fees accrued from selling the bags the town uses to provide its trash service to the people. Also, the bottles and crates techincally belong to the brewery. You pay a deposit for the crate and bottles, and they get recycled thusly.
Oh yeah, did I mention it's super cheap?
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty
The cold war isn’t over yet for these kids, and thankfully so. Loyalty to Loyalty, the Cold War Kids’ sophomore album, is dripping with their original flavor. The album displays the same minimalist, bare-bones jams their 2006 debut CD Robbers & Cowards was famous for, while simultaneously carrying the band into a new era. However, fans can sleep well knowing the Kids haven’t given anything up. Loyalty prominently displays one of the Cold War Kids’ many fortes: manipulating dynamics. Tracks such as “Against Privacy” and “Avalanche in B” improve upon the best moments from Robbers. Lead singer Nathan Willett’s fragile vocals soar over riffs and beats branded with that signature flow-of-consciousness feel. Jonnie Russell’s guitar is as random and rhythmic at the same time as possible, and Matt Aveiro’s drums have a tribal tinge that reinforce Willett’s raw emotion. Then, when least expected, a track like “I’ve Seen Enough” sneaks into your eardrums. It begins with a luring, hypnotic piano beat and soon explodes into a full-force rock song big enough for Kings of Leon, but still captures the raw originality of the Kids. On “Welcome To The Occupation”, Willett closes the album singing about the growing burden felt by those who speak out against social injustices, crying “Whistle blowers gotta get outta school/They don’t want poets, they want pigeons on a stool.” Loyalty has proved the Cold War is here to stay. Ronald Reagan must be rolling in his grave.