Thursday, March 31, 2011


Maybe all relationships are fake, because thy only exist in our imagination. Don't we all have our own concepts of friendship, love and hate? What is the value of friendship if both parties have different perspectives on the issue? And - even worse - what is the value of love for that matter? Two people, pretending to share something, but in the end, only trying to fit the other person in their own concept of love?

These all seem like cynical thoughts, but they only arose after seeing two special films that touch on these issues. A dilemma that can be overwhelming. Because the whole concept of perspective is so personal. We all agree on what is 'green', but do I define the same colour as 'green' as you do? Or is your concept of 'green' similar to my concept of 'red'? I can get lost in thoughts like these. So it's nice to watch a film that deals with them for you.

In Les amours imaginaires , two friends, Marie and Francis, are looking for true love. Both think the young and pretty Niko, who slowly grows to be their Adonis can give it to them but Niko is an undecisiive and slightly arrogant boy who chooses no one and lives in his own imaginary world. He claims to love both, but chooses neither and leaves them broken. Both Marie and Francis think they have a chance with him, both have hope and imagine themselves with him, and forgetting about their own friendship while becoming rivals. It would have been a sad and tearful story if it wasn't filmed as beautiful as it is. Francis looking like a new James Dean, who nervously combs his hair. Marie wearing enviously beautiful vintage dresses and lace gloves, smoking cigarettes to a pastel background. Close up of body parts, details, looks, that show so many feelings at the same time.

In Certified Copy, a man and a woman meet at his lecture about real and fake art. Their conversation about when someone or something is real, first seems to built up to a beautiful romance, but slowly develops at a meta level about the reality of the film. instead of talking about real and fake, their relationship changes and uses the audience in a game about the same concepts. All expectations an audience can have about their relationship, but also about the relationship between the film and the audience are being tested. First, you think you go along in the game that they start playing, but at a certain point, you wonder if what first seemed reality might have been a game to start with.

So, what is real? I try to trust my own feelings. I can only trust the value I give them myself. Although, even that sometimes changes, looking back at things…

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I only need three things to be happy. A stage. A man. An instrument. The intensity of the happiness depends on the intimacy of the stage, the attractiveness of the man and the kind of instrument. I get more exited from a piano or a guitar than from a triangle, but that doesn't mean there won't ever be a really good, hopefully attractive triangle player who can touch me in the core of my heart.
For now, it's mainly piano's and guitars that do the work. I don't think I'm asking for much. Because even in the worse case - a big stage far away with an ugly guy who cannot sing and has an off tone instrument - I can still be moved by the setting.

This night had all the good variables, in terms of the stage, the man and the instrument. And it also was at a special location, namely the RMH, that organizes monthly NS evenings. Evenings on which the stage doesn't hold more but a singer and his (or hers) instrument, and maybe a mic. In this case, the mic wasn't on. It was only there for the musician to stand behind.

Teddy Thompson, the man I'm talking about, was acting incredibly nonchalant. Jeans, a vest, long sleeve t-shirt and a guitar. It seemd like he was jogging through Chelsea, ran pass the museum and decided he could just as well play some tunes there. He started of without saying anything. He appeared a bit unease, standing alone on that stage. But slowly he loosened up and talked about not having a playlist. He repeatedly had to get his iPod out of his pocket to find out the chords of his songs. He explained his relaxedness from just returning from California.

I realized that, even though I know and have listened to his music for years now, I don't know any of his lyrics, but only the melodies. Neither did I know any of the titles of his songs, like other people in the audience that tried to help him pick another song for his playlist. "No, can't do that one without band". "That one is too difficult to sing alone." "I haven't song that in a long time, don't remember the lyrics."

Because it was just him and his guitar, without all the other instruments that normally are in his songs, there was not much left but the lyrics. So for the first time, I heard about his longing, his deceptions. He wants her to leave, misses her, feels rejected, wonders why they're still together. Teddies songs are all about love! And of course, that makes him even more attractive.

One of my favorites:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



Scene 1. Outside in line.
Mini girl with a huge mouth comes by with papers, pen and a blocnote. On her belt hangs a walky-talky that beeps regularly. In a high voice:

HEY guys! So great to see you! How are we doing today? Good? That's Grreat! Thanks for coming! Are you a party of two? Here are you're seating tickets. Have a GRREAT time ya'll!

The girl walks on to the people next in line and repeats with the same exhausting enhousiasme exactly the same words.

Scene 2. Reception room
Mini girl is lifted on a table by a touch bodyguard.

HI EVERYBODY! Welcome at The Colbert Report! Are you all exited to be here? -a hundered and ten people cheer - That is GRREAT! In a minute, you're all going into the studio's for the taping, and of course we need you to be exited! Are You EXITED? - a hundered and ten people cheer again - Grreat! Inside the studio you canNOT eat, drink or use any recording equipment. If you do, one of the security guys can confiscate your equipment and that would be, well, A BUMMER! - a hundered and ten people laugh - So first, you're getting a warm-up by a real STAND-UP Comedian (names a totally unknown name). Isn't that GRREAT? - cheering again - You're going to have So Much Fun! And then, Stephen will come out and TALK to you Guys! OUT OF CHARACTER! How Cool is that! - a hundered and ten people go wild - You'll be able to ask him some questions. BUT you cannot give him something or ask him to sign something for you. And you cannot ask him certain question. Questins concerning everything underneath the waist and above the knees, you better keep to yourself - a hundered and ten people laugh - So, just a Few More Minutes Guys. LET'S HAVE SOME FUN!

Scene 3: entrance of the studio
Guy with earplugs stands on a box and talks to the audience:

HI EVERYBODY! Welcome at The Colbert Report! Are you all exited to be here? -a hundered and ten people cheer - That is GREAT! In a minute, you're all going into the studio's for the taping, and of course we need you to be exited! Are You EXITED? - a hundered and ten people cheer again- So we all need you to be VERY EXITED - more cheering-. That's Great! Stephen is a stand-up comedian, but he needs YOU as an audience to help him. The more you support him and cheer, the BETTER the show will be. And that is what we ALL want, right? A GREAT SHOW! - more cheering - I'm going to let you in in just a minute, and we're going to do that in numerological order. First, people with number one to thirteen please, ONE to THIRTHEEN. - people wait for their numbers and calmly walk into the studio - HAVE A GREAT TIME GUYS!

Scene 4: in de studio
Stand-up comedian during the warm-up
Hey GUYS, we need you to be very EXITED of course, and I KNOW you ARE, but sometimes, we need you to go Apeshit. For example, when I introduce Stephen to you, you really have to go apeshit and stand up and clap and yell for him. That will give him the energy to make it a GREAT SHOW, and that is what YOU came for, RIGHT? - a hundered and ten people laugh and clap - And then, sometimes we just need you to enjoy yourself without going apeshit, but we need you to enjoy yourself LOUD - people laugh and clap - Because Stephen needs to hear you, and the people that whatch the show on tv need to hear you too. So if you're having a GREAT time, show it! And if you are not enjoying yourself, if you like don't have any sence of humour, you can always follow your neighbour - people laugh - you know, when your neighbour laughs, YOU laugh too!
So, since we cannot be sure that you go apeshit when we need you to, here's Tom the floormanager - audience claps - who will show you when you need to go apeshit. Let's practise one time, Tom can you make the gesture? -Tom counts down, makes a waiving gesture with the script in his hands and a hundered and ten people get up to cheer, clap and yell - THAT is GREAT guys, keep doing that later! So, you're about to meet Stephen OUT OF CHARACHTER! Please tell me you all know it's a CHARACTER! - audience laughs and claps - We are ready to start, are YOU ready? - a hundered and eleven people cheer - Well, than, GIVE IT UP FOOOORRRRR.......STEPHEN COLBERT!!!!!!! -a hundered and ten people go apeshit while The Man walks into the studio.

End of audience warm-up.

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Monday, March 21, 2011


Je are who you want to be.
At least, in New York.

In an ideal world, you can be who you want to be and get accepted by others. But in an ideal world, there's world peace, no global warming and chocolate's growing on bushes, so you can reach it easily.

There is no ideal world. But New York comes close to it. Depending on the subject.
On the matter of global warming, I messed up my ten years of turning-of-lights-when-i'm-not-in-the-room and recycle-paper-and-plastic and don't-shower-too-long and getting-chargers-out-of-the-outlet-when-you're-not-charging-anything in about three weeks. Everything here is served in plastic trays, with plastic forks and plastic knives, preferably packed in plastic bags and put together in a bigger plastic bag. Sorry, earth.
I wouldn't pick chocolate from bushes here, but the sweets that can be found - organic chocolate cakes, freshly baked muffins, home made cookies as my personal favorites - are delicious.
And then there's peace on earth. Which ain't here either. Like the kid on the packed train in the morning, who attacked someone who accidentally touched him while walking out, and gave that person an extra push and said: 'don't touch me'. Honey, if you don't want to be touched, don't take a train at this part of the day. Ride your bike. I have admired people who were standing in inhumane positions, trying to hold on to one of the poles or even the ceiling, while peacefully reading their book. And I myself have experienced some interesting situations in which I didn't know where my limbs were in between that pile of bags, legs and bodies, hoping I would retrieve them undamaged.

New York does offer a part of an ideal world. Everyone can be who he or she wants to be. I met a girl who told me: "I'm a singer, and that's why I came to New York, but I really need to start doing that." After which she admitted she'd been working at a hair dresser for the past five years. In this city, everyone who serves you your coffee, takes your order or checks out your groceries is an artist. It doesn't matter if they actually do something in the arts or just think about being an artist. You are who you want to be.

Depending on the location though, you also are what you do. At an event of the Netherlands-America-Foundation, I couldn't get away with: I'm just enjoying myself. People were working at banks, were graduating at well known universities or were working at important businesses. Luckily, I just found an activity to keep myself busy, which meant I was a somebody. The only problem was I didn't have a card.

You can be who you want to be, you can do what you want to do and still want to be something different and become that person, you can not think about who or what you are, as long as you have a card. Everyone who calls themselves something, has a card that can prove it. Every day, I walk home with at least two new cards, of people who put the to prove their existence in my hands.

In other words: I need to go to Kinko's..

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


We got on the train together, but I didn't see him.
It was eleven pm and I just left the theatre where I had been working in the dark all day, to get into the warm subway. We were sitting opposite from each other. Only when I sat down, my bag on my lap, arms folded around it to rest a little, and looked around, I saw him.
He was wearing jeans, worn down sneakers. A tight jacket and a ladylike leather bag that could fit a phone, keys and more things girls stuff their bags with. And he was wearing a mask. No balaclava, but a golden burlesque mask.
His whole face was covered by it, there was only a little whole for his mouth. On the edges, it was decorated with golden knobs and the rest was covered in shiny coloured sequins. On the left side, at the level of his eyebrow, there was a little horn, golden of course, that curled upwards. The other horn, that I expected on the right side, appeared right under his nose.
His eyes were also hidden, behind little holes that reminded me of C3PO from Star Wars. His hands were knuckled, old. One held a lighter, the other aggressively ticked on his phone, on which he was playing a game as if his life was depending on it.
Once in a while he looked up, looked around and then focussed on his phone again. People around us couldn't stop looking at him. They did it though in the normal way of looking at people in the train: they would glance a little, but then turn away and stare in front of them like nothing strange was going on.
I just looked ahead, and therefor at him. His hair was short and bleached and was styled in some sort of David Bowie coupe. Sometimes he would couch a little, and put the hand with the lighter in front of his mouth.

I wondered if he might be going to a party, or if he just wanted to wear his mask today. Or maybe someone told him to do so. I would like to take his picture, but you shouldn't state the obvious. I hoped he would get out at my stop, which he did, but he headed in the other direction. He might live in the neighbourhood, so I might run into him again.
I can't wait.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I love films that are set in New York. A lot of films are. Even better is to see films that are set in New York, in New York. Sometimes, with Dutch films, I have trouble to loose myself in the story, because I get derived by little mistakes that are not factually true. (One cannot park at the Munt, not at night and never, dear Reinout Oerlemans. And the bathrooms of Tuschinski are in Tuschinski and not at some fancy nightclub, dear Antoinette Beumer). But in New York, I don't know the city that well so I don't see most inconsistencies, and second, I'm still so exited to be here that I don't even care. Best of all is to watch a movie about New York in New York, while you can hear the subway rattle under the venue. Though the Not For Tourist guide points this out as a disadvantage of this locatie, I think it adds that extra touch.

There are so many films about New York. There are scary film, like, Aftershock, Earthquake in New York or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. There is action, like Spiderman or The Day after Tomorrow. There are blockbusters, like Sex and the City (the film) and Confessions of a Shopaholic, and there are good films, with about all Woody Allen films, The Godfather and Smoke - that happens to be taped in my neigbourhood.

But the films I like best, I must confess, are the the socalled Indie movies, about modern day New Yorkers, which are great to identify with. They are often about wannabe artists (check), who are struggling with difficult times in their lives (check), who do cool things with friends (check) while hoping that everything will end well (check). Often, there's a lot of drinking coffee in parks, drinks in dark bars and a lot of personal conversations (check, check, check). To give the film at least one consistent story line, at least one strange thing happens in the beginning that will evolve during the rest of the film.

Three years ago, they made Nick and Nora's Infinte playlist, about teenage New Yorkers, two years ago I saw New York I Love You, with eleven short stories about love in the city and this year, there's Happythankyoumoreplease. Written, directed and played by Josh Radnor, known from the television show How I Met You Mother, that is about the same principal. That actually leads me to a critical note about this film: half way through, I sometimes didn't know if I was looking at Ted from television or Sam from the film. Even more critical would be to say it didn't matter in the end.

But I didn't care. I just had a great time. Nice film, nice city, nice actors (additional plus is that Josh appears to be allergic to dogs) nice film locations, and very nice music. And afterwards a nice ride home by train.

Happy. Thank you. More please.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Yesterday, I walked in the pooring rain at ten thirty with two people through Chinatown. We were hungry and we figured it should be possible to get something in this exiting part of New York at this time of the day. However, while walking through the narrow streets, the only thing we saw was the closing of one rolling shutter after the other and Chinese men cleaning their steps. The rain made it all even more desolate. Then, we saw a light and seven waiters who just cleaned the place, sitting together after a hard days work. When we asked them if it would be possible to get some food, they quickly talked in Chinese and then gave us a short nod. Enter. While seven waiters, and the five cooks that were also free now, sat on the table next to us, we ate our Foe jong hai. Back in the rain we talked about the Chinese work ethics: if there's a chance to make money, you have to take it.

Today, I saw a documentary about the The Chinese bubble, in which a cab driver concludes that he has to work for two hundred years to be able to buy a house and a real estate magnate decides to buy a piece of land in, of course, New York to built an Asian city. "I will call it Asian Star or New Asia." They are all so positive, those Chinese. Or at least, the wealthy ones. they have big dreams, want to reach the skies. The cab driver just hopes the economy won't collapse, because less people will take a cab when it does. The builder longs for the past in which everything was better than it is now. He works way up high and "even in my dreams I'm in the air".

The documentary reminded me of the Go West Project, by journalist Michiel Hulshof and architect Daan Roggeveen. They are researching the development of the new Chinese cities, which, due to the stagnant growth of the metropolises in the East, increasingly extends westward. In a presentation of their project, which ultimately results in a book, they showed how China is slowly filling up with empty cities, with empty apartments, empty roads and huge empty shopping malls, where no one walks yet, but that are waiting for millions of people who are about to leave the countryside.

According to the economist in The Chinese Bubble, real estate is the only way of investing in a country where you can't invest abroad and where the stock market is too weak. On the website of the GWP, the deserted cities are on every photo you see.

lastly, this reminded me of Highrise, out of my window, in which Tainan (once founded by the Dutch) is the only 'Chinese' city in this project. You'd think there are plenty of other cities that can show you a beautiful view out of their windows.

Check those sites! They are great!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Duke and Battersby

This evening, Union Docs, a small non profit in Brooklyn that wants to show special projects to a bigger audience but also brings people together to develop new film projects, hosted a film night. Three films, all around fifteen minutes, made by the Canadian artists Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby.

In the talk after the screening, they told about their relationship "Only work with people that you fuck, or have fucked for a ong time," as Duke put it. Once, they met, not in person but on paper. They both were putting up provocative posters in a small Canadian town, and recognized themselves in the other persons art. When they finally really met, collaboration was the only option. After seeing their films, I understand that when this is your art and you meet someone that understands it, you cannot let them go. I actually was surprised that there are actually two people who make films like these, and it's extremely special that they actually met.

What I liked about their films is that they combine different art forms: drawings, film, music, collages, weird stories. They don't make documentaries, they don't make films in it's pure form (a story that is being told by images that follow eachother). They are little art pieces, collages of thoughts, images, fragments and sounds, that are being put together. And, like with other art, you shouldn't think of it too much. Instead, just enjoy what you see.

The Beauty is Relentless from cooper battersby on Vimeo.

See more films.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I'm always hungry. Or I always long for something. For a grand and glorious life, let that be clear.

The last few days, that hunger is really present. That's partly because of the airplane food, which is actually not that bad, but which is rarely the vegetarian option that I chose when I booked my flight. So often, I have to give back half of the microwaved food in little plastic containers to the steward that just gave it to me. Or I share it with the person sitting next to me, if I need to be friends of them because of a lack of space.
It's also partly because the trip from the airport to my new home was slightly difficult because of the huge suitcase I brought with me. I normally always try to travel as light as possible, which means a small backpack that can easily be lifted. This time, I thought I needed to bring more shoes, so it seems appropriate to bring a suitcase. Shoes. Because of shoes, I had to drag this heavy thing off the stairs at home, through the cobbled streets of Amsterdam. through train stations and airports and the New York subway, where it was impossible to go through the gates. Then, I had to walk several blocks more than expected, and at that time, my hands couldn't pull or push anything, let alone this heavy monster. So when I finally arrived in my new home, I collapsed and couldn't get my body up to eat something before falling in a deep sleep.

So in the morning, I was hungry. Unbelievable hungry.To the city, the people, food, coffee, stuff, experience, and a lot of grand and gloriousness. Luckily, this city is perfect if you're on a quest for all of this, and it will be the last one to tell you to stop. Contrary, it encourages you to consume. The Not For Tourist guidebook that I bought - to satisfy my hunger - is filled with restaurants, cafes, shops, theatres and film venues where one can spend ones money. I noticed quickly that after buying - in chronological order - bagels and tea for breakfast, a very sexy laptop, coffee and soup and beautiful books to write in, my hunger was still not satisfied. I hadn't had enough.

In a capitalistic world, it's normal to buy stuff to satisfy the hunger. And of course, I participate in that too. After spending money for a day, I want to use all the stuff that I just bought to satisfy that other hunger: for people, experiences. But I Know the hunger will last. Whatever happens.

Buddah sais that longing is the cause of suffering and can only be solved by accepting the reality for what it is. I will try to surrender to reality, hoping that the hunger will disappear over time. But I will also try to discover as many restaurants as possible in New York. A (wo)man gotta eat.