Amsterdam Chase Scenes

For some reason I’m enjoying chase scenes set in Amsterdam. Perhaps I am being chased? Or am I chasing something? Or I just want to experience this city in a more speedy way? Regardless, I’ll try not to read too much into it.

The oldest clip comes from Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940). Since he was filming it at the dawn of WWII, Hitchcock was forced to ask Hollywood set-builders to build a fake Amsterdam complete with ‘a few hotels, a Dutch windmill and a bit of the Dutch countryside’. It resulted in an 80-metre windmill and a 10-acre reconstruction of an Amsterdam square (with Hotel L’Europe becoming ‘Hotel Europe’), complete with sewer for the simulated storm scenes. The cameraman sent to get background footage in the real Amsterdam lost his equipment when his ship got torpedoed. But he did eventually film the Jordaan for the chase scene. Unfortunately after a jarring left-turn, the viewer lands in a countryside with an oddly Spanish-styled windmill (sadly, this lack of research also flawed the windmill scene in the South Park movie’s ‘Kyle’s Mom is a Bitch’ segment). However Foreign Correspondent does retain a realistic sense of location thanks to all the cheese references. Continue Reading…

Posted: May 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm.


328 stories, 10 bios


328 Stories is a production house for some of the more happening film-makers in the Netherlands and beyond. They aim to produce 328 stories every year. I helped out by writing 10. Check out their website, click on a ‘storyteller’ and then scroll over their name. There’s a pop-up in which I tried to tell the storyteller’s story in less than 90 words. It was a fun gig. It  also reminded me that there are still many, many, many stories out there. So listen people: let’s go out there and nail them!

Posted: May 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm.

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Gagarin in Amsterdam



Of the hundreds worldwide, three Gagarin-related events are taking place in Amsterdam tomorrow on 12 April 2011, the 50th anniversary of Yuri’s flight around the planet.

Between 4 and 10pm: Cosmic Mania Anno 2011 is the official Yuri’s Night party and features an exhibition of press photographs from the collection of cosmonautics obsessive Jaap Terweij.

Between 5 and 7pm: Opening of small exhibition of Gagarin-related books at University of Amsterdam’s PC Hoofthuis library on Spuistraat. I’m being interviewed by librarian/rocker Marko Petrovic who has lived intimately with Yuri’s legend: he grew up on Yuri Gagarin Boulevard in Novi Belgrade, Serbia. Free vodka. While it lasts.

From 8.30pm until late: International Day of Cosmonautics at the Smart Project Space. Ambitious-sounding programme of space art, microgravity performances, video and swinging Soviet space tunes. Entrance 9 euros.

Posted: April 11, 2011 at 10:07 am.

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Talkin’ Craft

craft_night_04_largeOver at Unfold Amsterdam, they published a Q&A I did with Crafting Temptress and Country Cleave Queen Katie Holder about her Cosy Craft Corner she hostesses at Nieuwe Anita every second Thursday of the month. The evening is a fun and honest way of exchanging needles — and talking crap! Illustration is by Joshua Walters of the deeply curious shop and wunderkammer The Otherist.

Posted: April 5, 2011 at 11:43 am.

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Ed van der Elsken: Hunting in Amsterdam

Photographer/film-maker Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) used Amsterdam as his  ’hunting ground’. And what he shot on the streets of Amsterdam back in his day, is very different from what can be shot today: it was more chaotic, and less UNESCO-acclaimed world heritage site. Van der Elsken was also into jazz, bikinghippiesParis, punkstravel and filming his own decline to death from cancer. He was old school.

Posted: April 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm.

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World’s biggest kroket


My friends, the brothers Marijn en Michiel Slager of Zeeuwse monster rock band Nuff Said, just posted their above video report (in Dutch) from the ‘world’s biggest kroket’ event that took place in Amsterdam in October 2007. I was also reporting from this special day in grease history. I recall being as excited as Kermit the Frog when he reported live from the scene of Humpty Dumpty’s nasty fall. Now thanks to the Slager Brothers, I can relive those happy, but mixed, memories. I pasted my own report here:

A marketing sham. But at least it was a freebie feast.
Amsterdam Weekly, 1 November 2007
By Steve Korver

Kom op, met die grootste kroket,’ says a 10-year-old boy, pretty much summing up the anticipation felt on Rembrandtplein last Saturday, before the kroket manufacturers Van Dobben presented their much-hyped ‘world’s biggest kroket’ — a 250 kilogram, one-and-half-metre long and half-metre thick hunk of deep-fried meat-and-potato goo, which required a bubbling bath of 1,200 litres of oil to bring its shell to maximum crustiness.

A talking head from the company explains over the microphone about how they wanted — with the help of an advertising agency — to do something ludieks, and give something back to Amsterdam. ‘After all, they’ve taken away most of our amsterdammertjes.’ So, Van Dobben decided, as compensation for the loss of these iconic parking poles, to give the world its biggest kroket ever. It makes perfect sense really.

As the crowd grows restless, personnel are handing out — for ‘gratis, eh’ — regular-sized kroketten, not only of  the standard beef ragout version, but also ones stuffed with haring, beer, apple pie or pea soup (the ‘snertkroket’ as one onlooker described it). All of these versions had been submitted to public scrutiny in an online vote during the past month, to decide which of the fillings would form the stuffing of the elephantine version.

As the volkszanger Dries Roelvink takes the stage, a thick Amsterdam accent rises from the crowd to note how the overtly tanned Roelvink is the perfect poster boy for this event: ‘Hij ziet er uit als een doorgebakken kroket!

Roelvink was the ambassador for the idea that the world’s biggest kroket should have the pea-soup filling. When Petra Boots, the editor of Weekend who’s presenting on stage, makes a joke about how it would have been more fitting for him to have represented the beer kroket, he answers: ‘Well you’ve obviously never seen me in my yellow swimming trunks.’ The crowd exchanges looks of deep confusion: What the hell does that mean?’

Finally the big moment arrives, as the monster kroket — supposedly filled with the vote-winning standard beef ragout — gets rolled up the red carpet, accompanied by a meatball shaped security guard with a handlebar moustache. The crowd presses in with cameras over their heads, so they can have a good look. Another chunky Amsterdam accent enquires: ‘What’s going on? Do they think a naked lady is going to pop out of there?’

It’s a mob. Kids start breaking out in tears. A mother starts to panic and call out for her ‘Luukje!’ The woman behind the microphone tries to keep the mood light: ‘There’s a kid under the kroket!’ The mother is not amused. More children start crying. And is that a fight breaking out in the corner?

Finally, the crowd thins enough for less aggressive folk to come in close for a gander. It’s big alright. The size of a human hotdog. But it’s also a big disappointment. Only a few people actually taste it and for good reason, it seems: the crust/ragout ratio is obviously out of whack — it’s pretty much the same thickness as a normal kroket, and the filling is obviously more potato than ragout.

When asked what’s going to happen with the kroket now the display is over, a man in a Van Dobben uniform answers: ‘I guess it’ll go in the recycling bin.’

But the crowd seems satisfied. Only one small group, out to give grease yet more of a chance, decides to head up the road to eat shrimp kroketten at Holtkamp on Vijzelstraat. Sometimes it’s just worth it paying the extra.

Posted: April 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm.

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Geoff Berner in Amsterdam

Arise spirits! You will be able to reel and writhe as singer/accordionist/raconteur Geoff Berner and his Klezmer Trio play this Wednesday 30 March at Cafe Pakhuis Wilhelmina in Amsterdam. Don’t miss it. He’s a bit of a Whisky Rabbi and his latest album, Victory Party produced by Socalled, is really quite excellent. I particularly appreciate the more spiritual direction he’s taken with such tunes as ‘Rabbi Berner Finally Reveals His True Religious Agenda’. You can read an interview I did with him last year HERE where he also reveals much about the Odessa underbelly, an ex-Rastafarian mentor and how curling is making a comeback in Canada.

Posted: March 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm.

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A friend pointed out this report featuring a pissed off Johan Cruijff and complained about how the subtitles don’t do justice to the man’s gift for freestyly language. And that’s truly a shame…

Most of the work of Dutch philosophy’s major figures can be handily summed up with one of their catchphrases – Erasmus with his ‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’, Descartes with his ‘I think therefore I am’, and Spinoza with his ‘We are a part of nature as a whole, whose order we follow’.

But Johan Cruijff is a case apart. First off: he’s a football player. But he was perhaps the best footballer of the 20th century and remains the most famous Dutch person alive. As a member of Ajax and the Dutch national team in the 1960s and 70s, he developed and became the personification of ‘Total Football’ which he later fine-tuned as the coach of Barcelona FC and applied at his own Johan Cruijff University where pro-footballers learn how to deal with life after they’ve hung up their shoes. He remains a favourite commentator at major football matches. His catchphrases – equally applicable to football as to life – keep filling books and invoking wonder in the way they make perfect sense in a strangely nonsensical way. After meditating deeply on the following Zen Slaps of insight, you will understand why it’s not only his initials JC that earned him the name of ‘The Redeemer’.

‘Football should always be played beautifully.’

‘If you don’t score, you don’t win.’

‘You should put the point on the ‘i’ where it belongs.’

‘Every disadvantage has its advantage.’

‘Coincidence is logical.’

‘You should never cheer before the bear is shot.’

‘The game always begins afterwards.’

‘He heard the clock strike but didn’t know what time it was.’

‘A balloon keeps going deeper into the water until it bursts.’

‘Whenever things do not work, you realise the importance of details (details that have gone wrong in the detail).’

‘A mistake begins where it’s supposed to begin.’

‘Either you are on time or late; therefore if you are late you must make sure you leave on time.’

‘When my career ends, I cannot go to the baker and say “I’m Johan Cruijff, give me some bread.”‘

‘If I wanted you to understand it, I would have explained it better.’

Posted: March 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm.

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Patatje Kapsalon

For Unfold Amsterdam, I wrote a new installment about food  or rather: grease. You can also read it below:

Are You Finished with That?
Episode 2: Will the ‘hairdresser’ enter the Global Grease Canon?

by Steve Korver

On my first encounter with the patatje kapsalon – ‘hairdresser fries’ – I did not actually taste, or even see, the product. I was merely a witness to its after-effects. I had dropped by the practice space of some friends who usually play a rather rigorous rock n roll. But this time when I walked in, they were all lying around lost in some sort of space jam. Occasionally one of them would fart. And then apologise (they may be rock n roll but they are also polite and well brought-up boys). After the seventh apology they admitted to indulging in a kapsalonnetje from a nearby Turkish snackbar. Continue Reading…

Posted: February 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm.

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Feeling Amsterpeckish…















Over at Unfold Amsterdam I just started a new column Are You Finished With That? about food and Amsterdam. At first I wanted to write a column about ‘chairs’ but I think ’food’ gives me more freedom. After all, while we often sit down to eat, we rarely eat chairs. The column’s first episode begins with the following paragraph:

Episode 1: Cafe Plop
A large orange mushroom has popped up on Mercatorplein. It’s the newly-opened Cafe Zurich and it’s meant to bring more glam to the gentrifying De Baarsjes neighbourhood. Many locals already call it ‘Cafe Plop’, a reference to a deeply odd children’s TV show starring the singing gnome Plop, who deals milk from his cosy little ’shroom shack…. [READ THE REST HERE]

Posted: December 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm.

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