Tuesday, October 28, 2008


1.People zip out of nowhere on bicycles, often texting on their phones while pedaling at manic speeds. Jump out of the way, or die.
2. Rembrandt. Vermeer. Jan Steen. Hals.
3. It's a young town. About half the people look under forty and 90 percent of the street population looks twenty-ish. The other 10 percent is pregnant.
4. Sausage plus croissant makes a brodje, the national food. Unless you are into raw herring.
5. Staircases are carpeted spirals that go straight up - or down, if you are unwary.
6. You can cross without warning into the red light district. A clue – street level picture windows that feature a metal kitchen chair with a handy stack of towels and bored looking women wearing lingerie. The red neon light overhead was another tip off.
7. The tram conductor that piloted the tram to Central station called out the various stops along the route using different voices and sound effects. At the end he sang a little Frank Sinatra ('My Way'). He was either a man happy in his work, or one who took his break in the local "coffeeshop." Fortunately he didn't have to steer, just stop and start.
8 At a local street market I bought a set of cards, drawings done of the canal row houses. The artist who made and sold them, a big, burly guy with a full beard, wore a lumberjack LL Bean type shirt, tights and a denim skirt.
9. Vermeer's maid pouring milk painting absolutely glows. It is in a room with nothing but masterpieces, including other works by Vermeer, and it is radiant. It shines. You can't take your eyes off it because you don't want to.
10. The Dutch have their own style. Nothing like the sleek, slightly sinister Italian bella figura. More Oilily than Armani. Colorful, cheerful, practical. Good for pedaling bikes and painting. I like it.

Seeing Rembrandt's studio has changed my life. And I'm in love with Breughel.

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