Please join our ROAD TO GAGARIN Facebook group.

On 12 April 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934-68) yelled ‘Let’s Go!’ as he was launched for a 108-minute circuit around the earth to become the first human in space. For the last decade, photographer René Nuijens and I have been re-visiting Russia to document the major settings of Gagarin’s bizarre and dramatic life, and talking to people who were close to him. In the process, we are capturing the essence of both the man who is dead and his myth that is still very much alive. He remains the most popular 20th-century figure in Russia, where he has the legend status of a JFK or a Bruce Lee – inspiring love, art and conspiracy theories. We believe, like many others, Yuri should become more of a global icon again.

To be published in 2011, the book Road to Gagarin – In Search of the First Man in Space combines photography, travel writing, archival material and a tasty selection of cosmonautic kitsch. Yuri was our rocket into Russia. We recommend the ride to anyone.


Posted: February 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm.

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Bad Buzz/Lost in the Space Age


My old friends the Anacondas have just released their third album of post-surf tunes: Bad Buzz/Lost in the Space Age. It comes with a story. After they recorded it a year or so ago, they asked me to help turn it into a ‘concept’ album. Since making a ‘concept’ album out of something that’s already recorded seemed pretty high-‘concept’ in itself, I naturally said yes. And anyway, I always do like a nice ‘concept’. And it’s really quite amazing what some liner notes, visuals and overdubs can do when it comes to fleshing out the ‘conceptual’.

The album’s ‘concept’ is really quite simple — like any good ‘concept’. It begins with the anger we all share: that the shiny space age we were promised never actually showed up (Where are our jetpacks? Where are our slow food pill packs? Who can we lynch?). Now try to imagine how pissed off and bitter a jaded and washed up astronaut would be. Of course: he would be really, really pissed off and bitter. And so Bad Buzz as a ‘concept’ was born. And from there we only told the absolute truth. And as Bad Buzz, I was given the opportunity to rant anti-hippie poetry while wandering the deserts high on Tang crystals, and sound like a psychobilly singer from Pluto (the non-planet) while grunting out the tale of a hotrod rocket race between Major Tom and Barbarella. And for these experiences I would like to say: Thanks fellas! But yes, it’s now best for all parties if they return to their instrumental ways.

The release party is at Amsterdam’s Paradiso on November 6. Oh, and the coolest thing: this album is also available in vinyl. Now there’s a ‘concept’! And a big thanks to Unfold for indulging the above advertorial. Maybe next time they’ll actually get paid — yet another ‘concept’.

Posted: October 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm.

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Cosmonautics Day

On 12 April 2010, it’s the 49th anniversary of the first human space flight. Join the Yuri party. Around 4 or 5 years ago, Amsterdam was dotted with cosmonaut graffitti. Here are photos of some of them. Enjoy.

Posted: April 11, 2010 at 8:59 am.

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Rocket to Russia

homewithvictorandvalentinaWe just returned from a profound week in Moscow reinvigorating our Yuri Gagarin project. We met some profound cosmonauts, space psychs, arctic survivalists  and regular good ol’   folk — all of whom knew how to toast us into submission. A big story is coming out of this and we shall return soon! So stay tuned… Space is indeed the place!

Posted: February 28, 2010 at 8:56 am.

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Under Construction

But meanwhile…


After years of travel subsidised by carpentry and B-movie acting, writer Steve Korver came to Amsterdam in 1991 to reverse the journey his parents made as immigrants to Canada. Soon he was a columnist, copywriter, editor/writer of guide books, and contributor to the likes of New York Times, Guardian, Time Out, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Condé Nast Traveller and The Globe & Mail on such subjects as food/drink, design/architecture, Yuri Gagarin, Serbian gangster kitsch and all-things-Amsterdam. He finally got his first real job in 2005 as editor-in-chief of the cultural paper Amsterdam Weekly. But after 175 issues and 14 European Newspaper Awards, it was time to return to his freewheeling and freelancing writing roots. OK, but  first maybe a vacation is a good idea…

Recent samples:

The New York Times magazine feature ‘Holland Days’.
The Guardian article ‘Streets Ahead’.

Posted: January 12, 2009 at 7:45 pm.

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