Queens Day HAs Not Left Yet

I promise this is the last post about celebrations here in Amsterdam. But considering the scale and unavoidable appeal, here’s my official post about Queen’s Day ’07. (cross posted from my sister blog, Trippist.com)
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One thing you may not hear about on Queen’s Day is the underlying spirit on the canals. Sure there are lots of drunken people, lots of loud music, tons of crap for sale, and plenty of men peeing in to canals. But what you may not hear about, and what Ive grown to love, is the spirit of sharing amongst boat people.

At some point all my passengers want off, so I pull over and off they go. Suddenly Im boating alone, trapped in the thickest boat traffic possible.. elbow to elbow with all kinds of people partying. And one after another, they all react the same way when they see me and my empty boat. “You’re alone? Why are you alone? You need to pick up people!” And then comes the second phase, “Here, have a beer. Here have this fruit. Here have cheese and cake.” Suddenly I’ve let go of the stick and people around me are pulling the boat along, from all sides, while I eat all this food people hand me.

And that is how it goes all afternoon long. At some point I want to give some love back, and just then – a boat pulls alongside me on the Amstel and asks “Do you have any beer?” I say nothing and hold up a wine bottle, handing it over to them. “Wait” they shout, grabbing my boat to keep me from floating away, “Have some wine with us”, I put the engine in neutral and drink a toast to the Amstel river. We chat for a bit about what canal is good to ride on at this hour, and then I speed away.

Count the boats

You’ll hear plenty of stories about Queen’s Day, and mostly they’ll paint it as one big mess. They’re not wrong. But on the canals, I know a different tradition, and its the real reason I like Queens Day.

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Drag Queens Day

Normally I try to provide yee good readers with the occasional story/first hand account of what is happenning in this city of Amsterdam which I so love.

But today, on the eve of the biggest national mess of the year, I was so overbooked that I could not perform my duty as public internet servant. I did not make it to the drag queen olympics ’07. Dammit.

Fortunately we have the internet and Amsterdamers have all sorts of mobile blogging gadgets, even in their skimpy dresses. So full credit to the flickr members who took excellent photos which you can see here.

Myself I hereby vow to be there next year, standing at the finish line of the Stilleto Sprint, or watching them measure distances for the Handbag Throw.

Drag Queen Tandem Race

For all the the terrible people who keep trying to change this country and this city, to make it into a bland, conformist, tourist trap. I’m proud and relieved that the Drag Queens are still here and the Olympic Flame burns on. Thank you ladies.

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Dishwasher Wisdom

Dishwasher Pete is a friend of mine. Like me, he’s an American who moved to Amsterdam. Like me, he’s also a European of another country living here in Amsterdam. And that is only the beginning of what he and I have in common.

Pete had gotten in touch a few days ago about getting help posting a video from when he was on Letterman. See Pete’s book has just come out, and the buzz coming from both sides of the atlantic is that DISHWASHER is a smash-hit. I’m two chapters in and honestly, I already knew the thing would be good because only inspiring things can come from the mind of such an excellent person.

As I was sorting out the video issues with him, he asked that classic question, “So hows it going.. are you able to live off your website?”…. I’m sure I’m misquoting him, but I know the question well.. as Im lucky enough to have concerned friends everywhere.

But the great part was his answer to my answer. I told him, “At this point, no… no I can’t. But I don’t care, this is what I want to do.” (something to that effect) Pete responds very quickly and calmly with his great brand of wisdom — “Just keep going. Keep doing what you’re doing. Corporations and media groups can’t make the type of connections with an audience that you’re making. Keep going… you’re building something very special…” (again I’m misquoting, but I remember the good parts)

Then I remembered, just as he reminded me… before the whole book thing.. Dishwasher Pete had a zine and a dream. He published a zine and traveled from state to state, washing dishes. He had amazing experiences, and saw the entire US is ways that the average person will never get to. And throughout that experience… plenty of people cast doubt on him… but he kept doing what he was doing.

Fire escapes.

I digress, Pete is not my idol (though maybe he should be!). But it was his way of reminding me and assessing my goals… one of those moments that reminds me of how far Ive come, and where I’m going.

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