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Archive for November, 2011

SowieZO, every Sunday at Jimmy Woo

By Anneclaire Michele

AMSTERDAM – An overview of the weekly SowieZO at Jimmy Woo (a famous Dutch club) in Amsterdam on Nov. 20th.

SowieZO is a new party in the Jimmy Woo starring famous deejays as FS Green, Tjoller Inc, Joshua Walter, Lars Vegas, Flava, Wurtz, Irwan, Filthy Jerks, 2MuchLipstick, Dim Browski, Lee Millah, MC Lentini, and many more.

The party takes place every Sunday night from 20:00 and ends around 01:00.

Entrance: 10 euros/pp

Line up for December:

Dec. 4 – SowieZO / Woomanizer with Tjoller Inc & WURTZ
Dec. 11 – SowieZO / Frans with FS Green & MC Lentini
Dec. 18 – SowieZO / Run Big with Flava, 2MuchLipstick & MC Lentini

Categories: Entertainment, Home

Amsterdam Cannabis Cup shut down by police

By Marlene Werner

AMSTERDAM – Dutch police raided the 24th edition of the annual Cannabis festival Sep. 23, shutting down the expo, searching visitors at the exits and confiscating cannabis and hash, an affiliated magazine reported.

“You need to leave the building through the exits. When leaving the property, you will be subjected to a search by police [inaudible] of the opium act,” an announcement over loud speakers informed, as shown in a video posted on LiveLeaks by an attendee.

Uniformed officers entered the premises of Borchland, accompanied by several tax agents, and separated visitors from exhibitors, who were required to remain at their stands.

Police searched visitors before allowing them to leave, while revenue agents investigated illegal activities of present exhibitors.

Undercover investigations had uncovered violations of the Opium Act, with people giving away free samples of cannabis and hash to promote their products Sep. 22; facts that triggered the subsequent raid, a police officer was reported saying.

High Times, the festival’s host, reported that a misunderstanding about a permit application filed by the venue to host the event implicated the law enforcement.

The premises were emptied after two hours of police action; no attendees were arrested, while one vendor identified as surpassing Dutch legal cannabis possession limits.

“Wow. The Dutch Police have entered the cannabis cup and they are shutting us down. Sad day…,” High Times Magazine twittered as a response to the news.

Never before has the expo been raided in its 24-year long existence.

Restriction of the national cannabis market figures highly on the Dutch government’s agenda in recent times, with the introduction of a ‘wietpas’, which restricts cannabis’ sales to residents, waiting for implementation on a national level.

Categories: Courts and Crime, Politics

Sympathy for the Devil

By Meike Mol

The arrival of Sinterklaas was celebrated on Sunday November 12 in Dordrecht. A perfect opportunity to draw the attention toward the racist roots of Zwarte Piet or Black Piet, or so judged. Armed with printed shirts and banners Jerry Afriyie(30) and Quinsy Gario (27) made their way to the festivities.

They never got a warm welcome. Instead, their peaceful protest was met with a violent police arrest.

Afriyie and Gario seemed to have touched upon a sensitive topic in Dutch society. For many, their views pose yet another threat to an old Dutch tradition. And indeed, it cannot be denied that Zwarte Piet is in fact part of a tradition. This tradition is however not characterized by pepernoten, chocoladeletters and miters; instead it is colored by the colonial past of the Dutch.

To find the origins of Zwarte Piet, we have to go back to pre-Christian times in Holland. Parallels can be made between the legend of Sinterklaas and the figure Odin, a Germanic god worshipped in Northern- and Western Europe.

Many customs present in the Sinterklaas festivity can be related to this pagan figure. The depiction of Sint riding the rooftops on his white horse are very similar to how Odin rode the sky on his grey stallion. More importantly, we can conclude that Sinterklaas stole the idea of his black comrades from Odin; already back in the days, Odin carried around two black ravens as his companions.

But there is more to the history of Zwarte Piet. The legend of Sinterklaas survived the centuries, and so did his black friends.

In the early middle ages they undertook a drastic change in role; under Christianization, Sint remained a good holy man, but the Church promoted Zwarte Piet to being the direct representation of the devil. The relationship between good and evil was not one characterized by equality: With all his goodness, Sint had triumphed over evil and was thus free to make the devil into his servant. These mischievous servants performed whatever action was required from them following the white man’s instructions.

The image of zwarte piet as a slave grew only stronger during the colonial period of the Netherlands.

Although Sint originally was only accompanied by two Zwarte pieten, their numbers rose along with the colonial expansion. Also, the dominant Eurocentric view placed the white rulers far above the colonials in levels of power, but also in civilization and intelligence. The colonials had no idea of reality, were lost and stupid and had to be saved by the Western űbermensch; and so did zwarte piet. As a finishing touch, their dress was changed to that of a 17th century Moore page.

Finally, the still persistent image of Zwarte Piet was complete: one of an evil, dumb, black slave, meant to entertain his master.

We cannot ignore the history of this legend; it perpetuates the approval of the Netherlands’ racial past.

People who explain the colour of Zwarte Piet’s skin as a result of climbing through a chimney, or argue for the positive contemporary associations made with him, use nothing but a simplistic and weak excuse for continuing a tradition rooted in discrimination.

We should rethink the role and representation of Zwarte Piet to prevent the spread of its vividly discriminating messages among youngest members of Dutch society.

Categories: Opinion

Almost an Animal Dimension. Rem Koolhaas on China, Fame, and Space.

By Linda Meijvis

“One of the nicest things of being an architect is to have an extra dimension, almost an animal dimension”

Entering the room full of people, Rem Koolhaas positions himself on the baroque sofa. His tall and stately posture does not show any sign of nervosity, sipping modestly from the glass of water in front of him.

Dressed in an army green jacket and blue pants combined with black shoes would leave the fashion police stunned, but this is what Koolhaas is renowned for: swimming against the current. Or, as he likes to see it, swimming with an early current, a current that does not know yet it is not against the current.

Koolhaas (67), world’s leading Dutch architect, born in Indonesia, started off as a script writer. Growing up in the sixties gave him the opportunity to freely move between interests due to the transparency of the society.

“I’m really a child of the sixties,” Koolhaas says, “You didn’t need to study, you didn’t need to have a diploma, every initiative was embraced.”

Nowadays, he still considers himself to be a journalist by pointing out the similarities within architecture and writing. “I think architecture is very close to script writing, you think of a script, a space, and then you create a sequence which hopefully makes sense”, he says, “Through writing I created a space that I then occupied.”

According to scholars, Koolhaas’s work is difficult to classify. His projects are namely a contrast in themselves. Koolhaas likes to use beautiful, expensive materials in combination with bizarre, inexpensive materials.

By setting up the Office for Modern Architecture (OMA) in 1975 with Vriesendorp, and two friends, Elia and Zoe Zenghelis, Koolhaas engaged in an organization that would emerge into the leading international partnership practicing architecture, urbanism, and cultural analysis.

“Rem Koolhaas has expanded the possibilities of architecture. He has focused on the exchanges between people in space,” says Director of the Architecture Sector for the Venice Biennale Kazuyo Sejima, “He creates buildings that bring people together and in this way forms ambitious goals for architecture. His influence on the world has come well beyond architecture. People from very diverse fields feel a great freedom from his work.”

Also his appearance on Time’s list of The World’s Most Influential People in 2008 makes him a man with status, but “actually, I hate those lists,” Koolhaas says smiling, “Once you’re in it, you’re in it. It is just a circulation of the same names. It doesn’t say much.”

He gains international exposure by designing for the Grand Palais in Lille (1994), the Prada Epicenter in New York (2001), the Guggenheim Museum in Las Vegas (2001), the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin (2003), the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul (2004) and the headquarters of the CCTV in Beijing (2008). Logically, there are few ‘normal’ days in Koolhaas’s daily life, he admits. “Half of my time I spend on traveling, going to construction sites.”

However, Koolhaas’s work is not only subject to praise but equally subject to criticism. Particularly his work in China causes some revolt. In 2008 he designed the headquarters of China Central Television, a building that “modernizes the way China looks at structure,” Koolhaas explains.

On a question from a Chinese student about the contrast between his buildings in China and the authentic Chinese architecture, he answers quietly: “This contrast has always been characterizing China. It is precisely this contrast that shows the beauty of China.”

He acknowledges that working in China remains contradictive. “But if you want to participate, it is better to do it with a significant thing than with harmless things,” Koolhaas says.

Actually, the controversial architect himself is rather inspired by the Asian way of life. “What I notice best in the street is, in a way, the Asian body language. We [Europeans] are typically very forceful and we behave like we own the territory, we can be quite crude physically,” he says, “They’ve got something much more elegant, smoother, with less resistance, and discretion in expression of claiming space for themselves.”

Working on projects in China requires some dedication: Koolhaas visited China every six weeks in the past 24 months.

At the age of 67, Rem Koolhaas has no intention to stop working and creating. “Creativity is engaging in the world”, Koolhaas says, “Once you are interested in how things evolve, you have a kind of never-ending perspective, because it means you are interested in articulating the evolution, and therefore the potential change, the potential redefinition.”

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Great Talent Gets Lost in the Masses of Idols and X-Factor

By Meike Mol

AMSTERDAM – Although he is an all-rounder in the Dutch world of acting, it is not hard to identify the morale underlying the work of Raymi Sambo (40).

His multiple performances on both stage and screen all seem to carry a common message: appreciate talent, and value uniqueness. A message that, in his eyes, should be made particularly clear to today’s youth.

His current project in association with the “Kunstbende” is only one example of the articulation of these ideas.

The Kunstbende is a youth organization which seeks to find and develop young creative talent through a national competition, approaching youngsters between 13 and 18 years of age.

Sambo’s role as a director is to take these talents into the theatre with the Kunstbende Theatre Tour.

“I have great affinity with youngsters. I understand their thinking”, he says pointing to this as his motivation.

“It feels great that I, as a director, can now provide them with the same good guidance as I felt when I started.” Still as a youngster himself Sambo started his acting career with the musical ‘Basta!’ in 1990

However, this is not his only reason for participating in the Tour.

A more critical remark reveals some cynicism about today’s cultural landscape.

“Shows such as Idols, X-Factor and The Voice create a massive supply [of celebrities], that makes it seem as if everyone wants to be famous. I find it to be a shame that the great talent sometimes gets lost in these masses. These shows place a shadow on the Kunstbende, where real art is made by very talented young people.”

The Kunstbende theatre tour is not the fist expression of this critical view.

It was also the main message of his 2008 solo performance ‘Zwarte Helden’ (black  heroes). In this play the young shoe salesman Charlie tries to reach fame, but turns out to be much more happy and talented in what he already did: selling shoes.

“The message that I want to get across is that you can be a hero in whatever you are good at, and this does not have to be on television or anything alike,” he says.  

So how did Sambo end up in the world of celebrities himself?

says it was never his starting point to become famous. Instead, he felt inspired after seeing the musical ‘Hair’ and auditioned for a role in ‘Basta!’.“I went for it all the way, and all else followed automatically.”

 So it happened that in 1993 he entered the Utrecht Theatre School. The main advantage of Utrecht was that there he was educated as an actor, but also as a director; both skills he still uses today.

His name was set by acting in musical ‘Basta!’ and television show and film ‘AllStars’.  Only later, with the start of his own theatre group V.I.G. (Very Important Group) in 2003 he  returned to directing.

With V.I.G. it was again a social problem that gave Sambo the incentive to start. In Dutch society, he witnessed intolerance grow.

It was this social unrest that needed reflection in the theatre in Sambo’s opinion. Thus, he decided to start a company with as a focal point the coloured actor: “I want them to play beyond their colour.”

Already five plays have been performed with V.I.G. “I make performances based on my own background, but I make sure they have a universal theme, so that everyone – white, black or yellow – is reached.”

Raymi Sambo was born on the island of Curacao, but moved to the Netherlands in 1983 when his parents got divorced. His Antillean background was the inspiration for many plays.

Sambo finds that for many coloured actors, it is still hard to find a job. “Something changed over the years, but it is impossible to say that big steps have been taken. At most 2, on a scale of 10”.

He himself however remains a well occupied man.

Next to the Kunstbende Theatre Tour, he is currently part of a ZEP ‘MacBeth’ production, continues his part in television show ‘SpangaS’, and played in the recently launched film ‘AllStars 2: Old Stars’.

Most likely, we will not lose sight of Raymi Sambo soon, and find his message repeated time after time in the future.  

 

Categories: Home

Deejay Abstract on the One’s and Two’s

By Anneclaire Michele

AMSTERDAM – Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the man who turned Latin Village upside down.

The man who has his own night in the Jimmy Woo and in the Bitterzoet. The man who can rap along with Busta Rhymes’ verse in ‘Look at Me Now’.

And most importantly, meet the man whose deejay skills are so well-developed that he is once again nominated for the State Awards 2011 in the category ‘Best DJ’.

Meet Gestow Power, also known as Deejay Abstract.

This 25 year-old good-looking whiz kid from Amsterdam is a true phenomenon in the Dutch nightlife.

If you have never heard of him, you probably spend your night at home, because deejay Abstract is everywhere, not only as a deejay, but also as a producer; if you’re lucky, he might even rap for you.

Stating he is the best deejay of Amsterdam might be a bold assumption, especially when bearing in mind that his first experience with deejaying occurred by coincidence: he joined a friend in a deejay workshop and never expected to like it that much.

He also never expected that afterwards he would be, as he calls it, “practicing his skills like a junkie”; and did not foresaw that he nowadays has his own party in the Jimmy Woo, one of Amsterdam’s most famous clubs.

He is obviously very grateful to that friend for introducing him, but also owes many thanks to DJ Wheelz who taught him all the basics of deejaying and to Genairo Nvilla who took him to several deejay events.

DJ Wheelz inspired Abstract to also teach youngsters the art of deejaying: “I think deejaying is more than just mixing some records, there are many difficult techniques a deejay needs to master, and I want to help upcoming deejays with the basis of these techniques, just like I was taught all the basics when I begun”.

His career took a flight in 2002; in the Winston Kingdom, a club in Amsterdam, during a show of his former rap group Dirty Poets.

Being the deejay, it was up to him to be the first one to enter the stage to warm up the crowd.

During this night, Abstract decided to “show off” one of his newly acquired skills, the flare scratch, over Jay-Z’s “Dirt of Your Shoulder” and the crowd went wild.

Abstract says this was a defining moment. “I just wanted to show off my newly acquired skill, the flare scratch, I never expected the crowd to go crazy like that”.

At that time, Abstract also worked as a deejay for a television show called “Storing”.

During one of the tapings for this show, he met Mr. Wix, a well-known figure in the Dutch deejay scene, whom he gave a demo cd with some of his scratches and mixes.

When the two ran into each other again, this time at a local record store, they exchanged numbers and from that moment on, they got the ball rolling.

“Wix really took good care of me and I am very grateful for that. He set me up with a lot of gigs and gave me a chance to show my skills to a larger public, for example in the Bitterzoet and in Paradiso”, says Abstract.

At this last venue, Wix added Abstract to the line up of Bassline, one of Amsterdam’s best-known hip-hop parties, and with success: Abstract is now one of the resident deejays of Bassline, a hip-hop party in Paradiso, together with FS Green and Vic Crezee.

Abstract does not only show his deejay skills at parties, he also performs at shows of various Dutch hip-hop stars.

Dirty Poets, The Opposites, and Blaxtar are some of the big names Abstract has worked with.

Nowadays, he is the deejay of Dio, known of his hits like “Dom, Lomp en Famous” and “Tijdmachine”.

Although he is currently only deejaying for Dio, besides the occasional show with Dutch hip-hop artists like JayH and Gers, he does not work for other artists.

This doesn’t mean there are no other artists that want to work with him. It is more like the opposite: “Many artists ask me to work with them on a regular basis, but I turned them all down”, Abstract said with a little smile on his face, “I think it is important to be focused on one thing and work closely together to create an amazing show”.

Working with Dio really requires Abstract to be focused, since he is not only deejaying at Dio’s shows, but also doing some backing vocals and hosting.

“These performances may not draw upon my technical skills as much as for example performing with Blaxtar did, but I really enjoy being so involved in his show. It is an indescribable feeling when you can do a solo in front of a large audience and all eyes are pointed at you only. Sometimes I stand next to him with a mic in my hand and we rap for or talk to the audience together”.

Rap for the audience? Does this mean Abstract has ambitions to become a rapper?

The release of the track “Jonko” featuring Abstract and Dio sparked rumors Abstract was going to pursue a career in rap.

“But,” said Abstract: “We only made this track, because we were bored, I have no intentions in becoming a rapper”.

Too bad, because the track, a remix of “Trouble on My Mind” by Pusha T, is enjoyable to listen to and his verse does sound pretty good; but there’s no harm in hoping he will change his mind, hope springs eternal, right?

But enough about the rapping, back to the deejaying… A great deejay would not be a great deejay without having his own night in a well-known club, now would he?

Well, besides being the main initiator behind the “Zoete Inval” parties in club Bitterzoet, Abstract also throws a notorious party in the Jimmy Woo.

Every second Thursday of the Month, the Jimmy Woo turns into United States of the Records (Verenigde Platen), where deejay Abstract runs for president during his own night called Abstract for President (AFP).

The party started in January 2011 and nobody really knew what to expect.

Abstract remembers how he felt right before the first party started: “I was nervous, since it was the first edition of my own party, but it was amazing. I never expected it to be so busy the first time”.

Nowadays, the Jimmy Woo is packed every AFP and the theme gets worked out more thoroughly every edition.

Starting off with a flyer and some balloons, there are now stickers, a special logo and even t-shirts of AFP.

Together with several other big names in the line up, such as DJ Flava and Godenzonen, Abstract gives his visitors a night to never forget.

It is safe to say, Abstract for President has become an understanding in the Dutch party scene and so has deejay Abstract.

But it does not stop there, deejay Abstract is not just a deejay, he also works as a producer, producing several beats for artists like El-Rod and Kraantje Pappie.

When asked whether he was a deejay or producer, he replies: “I’m not just one, I’m a musician, I love music and I try to be involved in all aspects of music”.

Still, the fact that Abstract is becoming one of the best deejays out there has not remained unnoticed outside Amsterdam.

He got invited to deejay in Spain and South America, and has now for several years been nominated for the Dutch State award “DJ of the year”.

About his nomination Abstract says with a smile: “I have been nominated a couple of times now, but I haven’t won yet. I think it is time for me to win this, so everybody should vote for me!”

But what distinguishes Abstract so much from others that we should vote for him?

It is not his only his excellent taste in music, but also the way he plays his songs.

“I have a distinct way of playing and choosing songs. I think people notice my technical skills as well as the songs I play. I always try to combine popular music with the B side of a record.”

The B side of the record is the reason why it is always crowded at the DJ booth when Abstract is mixing, everybody wants to know what the title of the last-played song is.

At least, until he mixes in a hit like “Hard in the paint” by the Wacka Flocka Flame and everyone runs to the middle of the floor to dance the night away.

That it is difficult to keep surprising the audience with new songs, Abstract recognizes: “It is important to stay yourself and to look for variation. Especially for my own night I am always looking for new songs, I don’t like having the same playlist over and over again”.

Where does he get his music from then? “I check a lot online, listen to old songs again, and have a lot of fellow deejays and bloggers I share music with”.

Yesterday, the moment had finally arrived: the State awards were handed out to the winners in Rotterdam.

Veronica van Hoogdalem, a well-known Dutch presenter, and MC Biggah, one of the participants of the reality show ‘Holland In Da Hood’, handed out the award for ‘Best DJ’ to … FS Green, who won the award for the second year in a row.

Abstract about not taking home the award this year on twitter: “Oh well. At least I took a picture with MC Biggah!!! Stunniinnnn!“.

Even though he did not win the award, deejay Abstract has taken over Amsterdam and is ready to take over the rest of the Netherlands.

Click here to check out deejay Abstract’s soundcloud and here to download some of his mixtapes.

Categories: Entertainment

Newly appointed Italy Prime Minister Mario Monti unveils technocrat cabinet

By Christiaan Frankin

AMSTERDAM – New Italy Prime Minister Mario Monti has appointed a technocratic cabinet consisting of academics and high-level civil servants to save Italy from its debt crisis.

Mr. Monti, who will undertake a dual role as Economy minister as well as premier, was ceremonially sworn in as Prime Minister in Rome on Wednesday.

“The future of the euro also depends on what Italy will do in the next few weeks,” he told senators in Rome.

Besides gaining the support of the parliament and domestic parties, he will be faced with the difficult tasks of restoring the confidence of markets, as well as reducing the 1.9tn Euro debt and restoring economic growth

The former EU commissioner has been racing to implement radical reforms to initiate austerity measures demanded by the European Union.

He denied claims by Italians fearful of losing their sovereignty that these measures were imposed by external forces, stating that ‘We are Europe.’

Besides reducing the budget deficit, Mr. Monti has also stated that ‘We need measures to make the economy less fossilised, help new industries grow, improve public services and favour youth and female employment.”

Markets have responded positively to the new government, with the rate on Italian bonds dropping from around the critical 7 percent level to 6.84 percent.

Minister of Finances Jan Kees de Jager has expressed that he is pleased that “under Monti there is a cabinet with a wide support from parliament and the confidence of financial markets.

Despite this, he also expressed concerns about the high national debt, saying that “it will be very risky if things go wrong there.”

Mr. Monti was sworn in as prime minister during a ceremony in Rome on Wednesdays.

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