I’m in Amsterdam sans hubby and mutts, watching South Park at 2 AM in my hotel room overlooking one of the many canals. Canals have become a motif over the course of our European jaunt. I don’t want to lose a very important point before I go off on my Amsterdam spiel, South Park is so bloody brilliant. True genius.
What can you say about a city where more people (men) drown in canals because they were trollied, falling over drunk, literally while pissing, than are shot or murdered???? Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Hey, while in Amsterdam.
In the 24 hours I’ve been here thus far, I’ve walked all over the city and have not heard a horn, a siren or a loud noise of any kind. Haven’t seen a cop. My hotel room is on the first floor, above a canal with people streaming under my window. Not a word have I heard.
I haven’t been here in years. The only change I’m aware of is that they now have BBC and CNN. South Park was on a Dutch channel in English with Dutch subtitles.
80 percent housing paid by government. They have privatized healthcare recently. It now costs 100 per month. How about this. Your doctor CANNOT be more than 2 km or some such thing from where you live. They don’t want you to have to TRAVEL if you’re sick!!!
Free education. No crime. Legal weed. Diverse. Suffered minor bomb damage during war so it retains its original beauty. No poverty. Paid leave for men and women following birth of child AND, sit down, full pay if you become unemployed until you find another job. Shall I give you time to find a gun?
Thus far what I’ve learned after being abroad for 7 weeks (and counting) is that we have the wrong end of the stick. The consumer psychosis that drives our society has blinded us to the things that really matter. We’ve been sold a bill of goods and don’t want to return the merchandise even though it’s a crap. Nobody is guiltier of consumer psychosis than moi. It’s a constant struggle to not judge myself by how much I earn. It’s a constant struggle to not want to buy more than I actually need. As soon as I come back to LA and have to find a place to rent, it’ll begin again. When I’m away I think, shit move into a hovel and use the $$ to TRAVEL. Our flat here is HALF the size our small house in Laurel Canyon…our ex-house. We STILL don’t use the entire flat! But 500 sq feet in LA and I’d have to take antidepressants because I’d feel like a failure!! It’s utterly insane. And don’t get me started on travel. Americans take LESS vacation time than any other country (less impoverished ones because they remain in hell). I’m constantly asked two questions: What’s with the guns? And why don’t Americans take holidays?
Back to Amsterdam. I had dinner with a friend and former private writing student who lived in the canyon. He’s amazingly courageous, having left LA five years ago in his 40s without any money or prospects to change. He settled in Amsterdam a few years ago. He looked so content. He’s doing all the things he ever wanted to do and flourishing emotionally and creatively. One of the other things about Amsterdam is there isn’t a wealth gap. Everybody is more or less the same. There are no mansions, people aren’t driving around in Bentleys. Bob said the best thing that ever happened to him was leaving capitalism behind. Bob invited his friend Alberto to join us for dinner. Alberto, obviously was, ITALIAN!!! Right off the bat I was in love. Alberto turns out to be charming, incredibly bright and, most importantly, a lefty. Alberto now lives in Amsterdam. He has the arduous task of promoting Italian tourism. It’s Italy for fuck’s sake! What’s to promote?? Who in their right mind doesn’t want to go to Italy???!!!! All I have to do is see a picture of Italy and I literally begin to choke up with emotion. Nothing affects me like Italy.
Back to Alberto and Bob. We talked politics all night, which is essentially daylight, at an Italian outdoor café on the most charming residential type street. I’d never been out of the center of the center of Amsterdam. The city is laid out in concentric circles. I’d never seen or been to the outmost circle. It had a different vibe than the center, more chill, no tourists. We talked about Greece and how they’ve been fucked over by Germany. Discussed WW2 and its impact on Greece, which led to a amazing conversation about Israel, which led to a fascinating conversation about what matters in life, which led to the Italians and a new left party which has 25% support and growing. Alberto hopes the Italians pull out of the EU. He said if the Italians were confronted with the Greece situation they would tell Merkel at all to drop dead.
To paraphrase Alberto, money isn’t a priority to Italians. The ONLY thing they care about is preserving their way of life. He said capitalist countries can’t understand people who aren’t driven by money. They’re called lazy, ignorant, backwards. It’s INCOMPREHENSIBLE to capitalists that people would rather spend an evening in the piazza eating gelato with their little kids playing ball, running around and squealing with delight at midnight. Why aren’t they on their mobile phones doing business?? Or creating an app? Or watching the Kardashians. Surely these people must be punished with austerity. We’ll show them what it means to not worship the bloody EURO!!!!
The following day I had tea with one of the loveliest people I ever met in the film business or in any business. Very smart, very centered and “authentic” but real authentic vs. Hollywood authentic. We made a German movie together some years ago. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a better experience. The last time I was in Amsterdam I was there to see him for a script meeting. He went on to run a major film studio in Germany and then later a film department at a major university and walked away from it all. He moved back to Amsterdam (he’s Dutch) and is making small, personal films about the Netherlands. He only wants to do stories he’s passionate about, stories about the Dutch. He and his wife have downsized their lives and, when their daughter starts college, will downsize. He believes home ownership is banking conspiracy, which I love. (Let’s face it, the banks are the BIG beneficiaries of so called home ownership). He said, and this is SO smart, the only thing you own is time…it’s all you actually have and you have no idea how much you have left!
There’s so much more to say or rant about, but even I’m getting sick of myself. There are some cool pics below check them out. I’ll save my “I LOVE THE EUROSTAR” for another time.