[TWINS] Parks, Pipes, Anarchy and Lovelessness

The Week In New Stuff. I'm already a few weeks behind with this but this is my new thing — something new every day, told in weekly chunks...

Friday 25 August
This afternoon I went to the Stedelijk and took in a couple of exhibitions. Jean Dubuffet and Seth Price. So here's the thing: I consider myself an art lover and I honestly think that life would be pretty much unliveable without the existence of artists, in their myriad guises. But I have a breaking point.

This pair of chancers, for example, produced some fetching, enthralling, thought-provoking stuff. But they also produced — in my opinion — some absolute honk. I mean, art for which you'd gleefully slap a child. Look...

parks - paintings - chancers

Which is fair enough. All artists are chancers. Not everything has obvious value. Price and Dubuffet were no different. You run short of ideas. You have an existential crisis. You eat a bag of mescalin. Who knows what they get up to? They're artists.

The same was true of Seth Price. I find his shrink-wrapped breasts and bomber jackets (fleetingly) captivating and provocative...


But I thought his "bits of cloth on a wire" and "coats in a box" were rotten. Art, eh? 

Seth Price is no longer at the Stedelijk. 
Jean Dubuffet is at the Stedelijk till  7 January, 2018.

Saturday 26 August
Today I thought I'd try one of the vegan squats I've been reading about recently. I imagine I'd go there, fall into a conversation with someone and end up protesting at the chicken festival in Rembrandtpark. I was ready too. Damn those shameless chick-slaughtering scumbags. But the vegan restaurant was closed. Some people who were sat outside pointed at it for me. It was totally closed.

So I rode across town to find another vegan squat place I'd read about in the east. I didn't have my phone with me but I remembered it was on Pretoriusstraat. So I set off.

And I got lost. Proper lost. It was a disaster.

Today was a disappointment. Chalk it up.

Sunday 27 August
This morning I went to sun-bathe in Erasmuspark. The summer was back, in a fleeting, half-arsed, rather contrived kind of way and I was determined to make the most of it.

I also took in some seemingly impromptu local folk art while I was there. At least I think it was local folk art. It could just as easily have been some obscure crafts-based vandalism. You decide.


Monday 28 August
On Monday I had another crack at Joe's Garage on Pretoriusstraat, because I'd checked online and they were definitely open and making food today. I got slightly lost on the way there again, but this time I found it and … oh.

It was closed.

What is it with these goddamn anarchists that they can't be open when they say they'll be open?

From the outside, Joe's Garage looks like a really cool place. As well as serving vegan food, they show Billy Wilder films and host benefit concerts for Turkish political prisoners. These are my kind of people. One day they will let me in.

When I got home I found this on the Amsterdam squat portal site, regarding Joe's Garage...


On the way home, I filmed a drunken man dancing to some busking drummers in Leidseplein.

Tuesday 29 August
Today I went to
Foam and saw an awesome retrospective of the American photographer and filmmaker (and musician and writer) Gordon Parks. It really is a remarkable exhibition, full of breathtaking, heartbreaking images.


Parks was a brilliant man with a fascinating life and he took some extraordinarily powerful photographs, documenting race relations in the America throughout most of the twentieth century. It was a particularly poignant time to see this exhibition, what with the current rise of government-sanctioned white supremacy in America and all. Actually, not poignant. Depressing.

What a time to be alive. 

Gordon Parks is not longer at Foam.

Wednesday 30 August
This evening I arrived at Roest, soaking wet, at around 19:20, late for a date. To be honest, I didn't really see much of Roest, but what I did see of it was very impressive. It's a very cool place with a lot of stuff happening.

I didn't really get the most out of it if I'm honest. I just spent a couple of damp hours speaking to a stranger, telling all the old stories and intermittently wondering if I will ever love again.

Thursday 31 August
I turned up at The Pipe Museum at around 15:30. The pipe museum is also a pipe shop. As you walk in, there are glass display cabinets all around, packed with row after row of perfectly presented, meticulously mounted pipes. So many pipes.

So many pipes.

Beyond the display area, two comfy chairs were occupied by two comfy middle-aged men, sitting, curating, shopkeeping, waiting, passing the time of day. The shop is so visually arresting and alluringly systematic that I wondered if maybe I was already in the museum. I was not. The museum is upstairs.

The Pipe Museum is one of these low-key Amsterdam museums that is staffed by knowledgeable volunteers who deliver one-on-one guides to visitors when it isn't particularly busy, which I'm guessing is most of the time. My guide was Benedict, who spent a good 45 minutes walking me round the beautiful display cases and talking me through the history of pipe smoking.

parks - pipes

And it is a pretty astonishing collection of stuff. There are clay pipes, briar pipes, steel pipes, meerschaum pipes and collectible porcelain pipes. There are ivory pipes, bone pipes, stag antler pipes and buffalo horn pipes. There are novelty pipes, political pipes, animal pipes, bawdy pipes, racially questionable pipes, 2,000-year-old pipes and pipes as long as your arm. There's even a selection of beautiful and exotic opium pipes.

There are, in total, around 3,000 pipes, some so tiny as to seem utterly pointless, some too large to be displayed in one piece, but all of them made with undeniable skill and admirable artistry.

All in all, a wonderful, quirky and thoroughly fascinating museum that's well worth the entrance fee, especially if you have a Museumkaart and therefore pay nothing.

parks - pipes - stereotypes

So there we are. I did some things. Am I any happier? 

Yes. I'm going to say yes. 


About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you'll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven't already.

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