Saturday, October 18, 2008

busking and the pitfalls of dutch rap

first european busking attempt today! after riding across town on "gypsy," (the rickety yellow casa robino bike) in an on-off-and-on drizzle with the chain falling off every 5 minutes, standing up b/c the seat is too high, i found a spot near one of the entrances to the central train station. i felt pretty pessimistic as people flowed by in both directions paying no attention in their rush. but by the third song, a few people began throwing small coins into my case, and soon i had a string of eager listners, a few 2 euro coins, 2 ten euro notes (!) and even 5 pounds. i played for about an hour before heading back to meet up with pax and sky, and raked in a grand total of just over 40 euros! very gratifying.

one guy asked where i'm from, and then "which state?" "virginia" "ah, a swing state!"

tonight, sky and i went to a squat for a hip hop and reggae show, a pretty friendly scene with plates of falafal and hoummous for 4 euro, lots of dreddy, punky, and just plain old dorky folks and some very very silly dutch rappers. just a bit too bouncy, and the language really is unavoidably inherently silly sounding. some awesome graffiti there, photos to come....

Friday, October 17, 2008


today started with marginally fruitful attempts to fix some of the casa robino bikes, followed by a trip to buy a new bike tire, fix the camera, and try and get local cell phones.

in the afternoon, sky and i met up with a couple of women associated with casa robino at a nearby market. lily (from australia) is working on a documentary about dumpster diving, and she brought along her (dutch)friend mindy. we arrived at the tail end of the market as folks were cleaning up their stalls. strolling up and down the long street, we poked in the garbage bins and chased abandoned sidewalk scores, loading up 3 giant bags with avocados, tomatoes, radishes, eggplants, carrots, starfruit, melon, pineapple, plums, and papaya. the Moroccan venders were very friendly, one even pointed us to a palletful of vegetables. some of the dutch folk were a little less generous, one even pulled the trash can away and slammed down the lid! we loaded up lily's bike paniers and walked back to casa robino. paxus and aisha, a friend of robins came over and we cooked up a giant feast.

its so great being in this culture again--the easy flow and comfort with international anarcho-hippy culture. its been awhile since i've been in this environment and i feel that dormant part of me waking up again. i love hosting people, and robin's attitude about this house is essentially communal: whoever is here is creating it together. so it felt totally comfortable and easy to take over the kitchen, rummage for spices, cook up a bunch of food, make tea...making me realize that my longing to root is not a desire to own my own house necessarily--the need is totally satisfied in being able to cook for people and host in this fluid way.

days 2&3

My second day in amsterdam got off to a late start, still dragged down by the and i took the tram to the star-pad on the other side of town. the plan was for me to hang out with willow for a few hours while they had some precious, star family adult time. willow is such a sweet and fun kid, and it was great to get a chunk of time with him. we headed over to nearby osterpark (east park), where he chased pigeons around for awhile with glee and abandon...then we went to the giant and luxurious playground there. it has an amazging suspended swinging teetor toter, a giant rope climbing structure, bike powered merry-go-round, huge sand-box, swings, slides...and a tennis court. the dutch really know how to make playgrounds. we hung out there for awhile, til it started raining and then headed back to the pad for a snack and some homeschooling.

later that evening, we all ventured out to a nearby anarchist squat for a showing of "The Battle in Seattle", a holywood-esque version of the WTO protest there in 1999. there was a big pot of soup and some bread there, and the room filled up with mostly black-clad and chain-smoking internationals. The film was certainly dramatic and had some live footage, though folks who were actually there have some criticism of this fictionalized account.

Heading home after some post-movie decompression with pax and hawina, we ended up staying up for a couple more hours with robin and anu back at casa robino. robin is the house papa/host and anu is a long-term guest there. The house is part of a hospitality network called bewelcome, "a culture crossing network that lets you share a place to sleep, meet up and help others on their way." There's a whole subculture of these hospitality networks, including couch-surfing....they had a spirited conversation about couchsurfing's increasingly corporate bend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

catch-up and amsterdam!

another whirlwind of a week...

the few post-landmark days in cville were great; i had the chance to connect with dream, brian and cassandra, and flame and that felt really good, to see myself in a new way and continue re-creating myself. i'm getting ever more excited to plunge into this c'ville community with both feet!

then it was back to TO for one night of frantic packing and off on saturday morning with ezra, driving up to Philadelphia to play a sunday wedding. we were staying with some really awesome folk, (friends of the bride/groom). they are 2 families sharing a huge awesome house in west philly, part of a 7 property land-trust. they pool their mortgage payments, taxes, and maintenance expenses. our host is a midwife, and her husband teaches business (focusing on progressive small businesses) at temple university. i picked their respective brains about doulas and about starting a co-op.

saturday night we collected madog and then hit south street for some busking. we were camped out in front of a kitchy-skeleton store which was a totally awesome back-drop, right next to the all night philly cheese steak place with a line around the corner.

we rocked out for about 20 minutes, with people eating up, dancing the jig and generally gettin' happy when the inevitable cop came by to shut us down. we moved on to the UPenn area where there was a college-freshman party in the streets goin' on... the wedding on sunday was just beautiful. it was at a botanical garden, small and fairly DIY. it was nice to see the philly jews again, that scene is so sweet and comfy. i teared up throughout the ceremony. dinner was delicious--sweet potato lasagna, kale, and kambucha at the bar! and we played a ROCKIN' hora, with multiple people up in the chairs and lots of hijinks.

and now, i'm in amsterdam! yesterday sky and i walked across the city. its so pretty and nice with big bike lanes, tons of little shops and dark, cozy cafes. the absence of chain stores and ads is very noticeable and the whole city has a peaceful, relaxed feel to it. i'm still struggling with jet-lag and general disorientation but its getting better. more to come...