Yeah man it's the Viva Den Haag edition of AustinSurreal!
So get hype for real cuz seriously it really went down over there. For real.
Last week I had the good fortune of being able to attend the Crossing Border Festival in Den Haag, The Netherlands. A city most people know as the place where they try the big war criminals. The BIG ones. But man it's so much more.
I lived in Amsterdam for most of 1996, and I really fell in love with Holland. I never got to spend too much time in Den Haag, but the two times I went were pretty incredible. First was to the North Sea Jazz Festival which was just over the top, and second was to Crossing Border with Charles Gayle and Rashied Ali, who were backing a reading by Henry Rollins. All I really remembered, besides how much I loved the shows, was how much I loved the Surinamese food.
But this time I really got to walk the streets, meet some people, see some bands, and yeah man, Den Haag is live. Forgive me for tripping on the city I love, but Den Haag is like a cleaner, even more laid back, Amsterdam. It's got a bunch of incredible museums, architechture ranges from old as can be to futuristic. It really goes down around there for real. Here's some photos. And a bit of a story.
Well actually first, lemme back up. I boarded the plane in Austin at 4 p.m. last Tuesday with Audra Schroeder, music editor of the Austin Chronicle, headed for Memphis. En Route to the Hague.
We stopped in Memphis, both were fortunate enough to have empty seats next to us for the 9.5 hour flight, and landed in Amsterdam at 10:40 Wednesday morning. We had to check out a bit of Amsterdam, so we took a train to the Central Station and walked out that mug to seriously 35 mile per hour wind. It was pretty insane. But we hit the streets, hit a coffee shop, got a broodje, and visited one of my best friends in the world, Flavia Roncelli, and well did the Amsterdam thing.
As it stormed like hell outside.
MC Melodee and I.N.T. came through. I was on a panel with Melodee at CMJ and we all got up in their town at Flavias. Check out their group La Melodia. Dope music and they do great work in the community.
With Flavia. Mi Amiga from Italia.
So we spent a quick afternoon in Amsterdam, then fought sleep on the train to Den Haag, as the sun went down like 4:30 and shit, and for us I don't know, it was like our 24th hour.
Cuz I simply can't sleep on planes.
Anyway, on our first night, Crossing Border and Walk the Line presented the six bands who will represent Den Haag at SXSW 2010. All real cool young talent.
John Dear Mowing Club
Which I was really quite into
And will have to procure some music from.
And The Deaf
A raucous explosion of raw energy rhythm & blues rock.
Rebelle, also quite the rock explosion!
Anyway all six of these bands will be in Austin in March and it's really goin' down.
This is the square by the hotel that we hath dubbed the "smoking room." It is my opinion that all hotels in Holland should at the very least have a smoking floor. If not, they should have a beautiful open square with a fountain, just outside the door.
Not even tripping off the whipping winds.
Not even if we are down to the beach, in November, in Holland.
Straight up though we had lunch at the West Wind, on the beach, in November in Holland.
And passed this strange partial head sculpture.
Michel and Louis Behre. A father and son team behind the Crossing Border Festival. Now in it's 18th Year. Celebrating Music, Art, Literature and the good life in the City of Den Haag.
Then we went outside to smoke weed.
Then that night we attended a cocktail party, and a conversation with authors Nicolai Lilin and Sandro Veronesi in a discussion about the power of literature and the value of free speech, that started out with a news clip of an execution style murder in Italy outside a convenience store, and ended with someone saying "O.k., o.k., it's going too long wrap it up." Or something.
Which isn't to say it was boring, just maybe a little long. Both authors have delivered tales of Italy's seedy underbelly, and I am all for discussing the topic of free speech and how it relates to these stories of crime that for some are everyday life.
So here's Audra at the first thing that night.
And here we all are walking through the Dutch Parliament yard I guess, a courtyard of sorts.
Thinking to myself, "Man this is where them fools decided we can't smoke inside coffee shops any more. What shite."
But I mean, that's really my only complaint. Well I mean that and Zwarte Piet, but I dunno.
Anyway said walk lead us to the Crossing Border opening party at Galerie Lumen Travo.
Where they had a camp fire, music, readings and an art show.
Reads from his book, Apples.
A very round house.
Also got to hang with Kevin Cummins a bit. His book Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain is a stark document of a revolutionary moment in music in a monumental town. I "nicked" the promo poster with his photo of Morrissey.
Of course I did.
The official poster and magazine art by Kathe Burkhart / Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lumen Travo. Hysteria: from the Liz Taylor Series (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) -- from www.crossingborder.nl
You can download the official program/magazine here in pdf form.
Jim White performing by the fire at the Crossing Border opening party at Galerie Quartair with his wife Robin.
There's ol' Kevin Cummins!
Kathe Burkhart reading haikus...
Jim White and his wife Robin.
Michel, Richard, James Kelman and Louis
Same as above with Audra and I
Lots of cool art around Den Haag.
This is the oldest Indonesian Restaurant in Den Haag, Garoeda.
And well here I had...
The best meal I have had in a year at least.
Louis and Ernst, preparing their hand signs for Austin.
Audra, Mirko, Louis
Den Haag Crossing Border Posse (not to be confused with the Crips, who I am told, also exist in Den Haag)
Richard Milward later interviewed Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3
One of the greatest bands of all time of course. Live on stage.
And then we saw Stephen Malkimus in a room of like 100 maybe 150 people, and it was magical.
Dude was hilarious too.
Hats off to an incredible festival.
Felt so at home.
Eva Longoria hawking ice cream in front of my favorite automatieek food stand. FEBO!
Oh yeah also all of Holland was all Christmassed out. I mean Sinter Klaussed out. But yeah man, I was shocked.
Austin seems to be waiting till this weekend for the most part.
But yeah Sinter Klauss is in full effect.
And Zwarte Piet, I mean, I don't know... It's a long standing thing in Holland, but it's white people running around in Black face. Hello? Wikipedia says "Zwarte Piet is black because he has to climb down the chimeys with the presents for the children."
But I mean, it's white people in Black face.
And we avoided the Politie. The End.
I mean, we flew out of Schipol, and it was all Christmassed out too.
But we weren't trippinG. Happy Holidaze.