Sunday, November 27, 2016

Vernon Mooers


Coming out of Arabia
black cloth and eye slits
or even total veils
and in the coffee shops
only men out in the night
I fly to Amsterdam
where anything goes    
the beautiful hair streaming 
from young girls on bicycles
with fresh complexions
music in the streets
sex, drugs, rock and roll
Pride Day tolerance
wicker coffee shops
and a million tourists
the house, 1687, leaning 
the trolleys zip and a thousand
bicycles slip
and people stroll
in the summer breeze  
 Image result for amsterdam monet painting
The Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam (Looking up the Groenburgwal) -- Claude Monet



  1. After severe flooding in 1170 and 1173 linhabitants of the Amstel river built a bridge over the river and a dam across it, giving the village there the name "Aemstelredamme." The Rokin and Damrak run along the original course of the Amstel and meet in Dam Square, which marks the spot a bridge was built across the river in 1270. It had doors which were used to dam the river at certain times to avoid flooding. The Damrak then became a harbor and red light district (Rosse Buurtfirst). The walled canals led to the names De Wallen and Walletjes (little walls), modern Amsterdam's largest designated area for legal prostitution. In 1345, a miracle in the Kalverstraat led to the town becoming an important pilgrimage site until the adoption of the Protestant faith in the 16th century, and Amsterdam flourished, largely because of trade with the Hanseatic League. In 1578 the city finally joined the revolt against Spanish rule, late compared to other major northern Dutch cities; as a result the Catholic hierarchy was abolished and Catholic churches were converted to Protestant worship, though Catholicism itself was not forbidden and priests were allowed to serve. The city also ended its long-standing regulation of prostitution, making the practice illegal. The Zuiderkerk ("southern church") in the Jewish Nieuwmarkt area of Amsterdam was the city's first church built specifically for Protestant services. Designed by Hendrick de Keyser, a sculptor and architect who was instrumental in establishing a late Renaissance form of Mannerism in the city, was constructed between 1603 and 1611 on the Zuiderkerkhof ("Southern Graveyard") square near Sint Antoniesbreestraat. The tower was not completed until 1614, and the carillon until 1656. The Hemony brothers, François and Pieter, who designed the carillon, had been responsible for developing the bells into a full-fledged musical instrument by casting the first tuned carillon in 1644 in Zutphen in collaboration with the musician Jacob van Eyck. Church services were held there until 1929. It was used as a temporary morgue during the hongerwinter ("hunger winter") of 1944-1945, when most of the trees in the were cut down for fuel, all the wood was taken from the apartments of deported Jews, and the population ate dogs, cats, raw sugar beets, and tulip bulbs cooked to a pulp.

  2. In 1602, the Amsterdam office of the Dutch East India Company traded its own shares, thus becoming the world's first stock exchange. The Bank of Amsterdam started operations in 1609, acting as a full service bank for Dutch merchant bankers and as a reserve bank. Amsterdam became Europe's most important point for the shipment of goods and was the world's leading financial center as well as its wealthiest city. Huguenots from France and other Protestants from Flanders and the Southern Netherlands moved to the city in large numbers due to the religious wars throughout Europe, as well as Sefardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, who called the city "Jerusalem of the West." In addition many Westphalians migrated there, mostly for economic reasons. The Huguenots accounted for nearly 20% of Amsterdam's inhabitants by 1700 and soon integrated into the Dutch Reformed Church, though often retaining their own congregations and French-language services. At the Begijnhof, Puritans established the oldest English-language church congregation in the world (outside the United Kingdom). Hendrick de Keyser worked in London for awhile with Inigo Jones, the first English architect to study classical architecture in Italy, and returned to Amsterdam with one of Jones’ assistants, Nicholas Stone, who became his son-in-law and worked with him from 1607 to 1613, during the construction of the Zuiderkerk. In the second half of the 17th century Ashkenazim, Jews fleeing from pogroms in Central and Eastern Europe also moved into Amsterdam; their Yiddish language helped shape the Amsterdam dialect (in much the same way as it would later shape the New York dialect). Though there was no official ghetto, most Jews settled in the eastern part of the old medieval city. The main street of this Jewish neighbourhood was the Jodenbreestraat. The neighbourhood comprised the Waterlooplein and the Nieuwmarkt. Before the Second World War, 10% of the city's population was Jewish, but only 20% of them survived the Nazi occupation of 1940-1945. After the war, the city began demolishing the formerly Jewish neighborhood to achieve urban development. Almost all the houses on the Jodenbreestraat in order to widen the street, and the Waterloople was almost completely dmolished to build a new city hall. In March and April 1975 protests against the demolition of more homes ended in confrontations with the municipal police; these Nieuwmarktrellen (Nieuwmarkt riots) forced the city to cancel its plans; the projected highway and further subway lines were never built, and the neighborhood was rebuilt on the basis of its original layout.

  3. Meanwhile, the first mass immigration in the 20th century was taking place: Indonesians fleeing the turmoil that followed the independence of the Dutch East Indies. In the 1960s guest workers from Turkey, Morocco, Italy and Spain joined the influx. The independence of Suriname in 1975 led to a new wave of post-colonial settlement in Amsterdam, bringing evangelical Protestantism, Lutheranism, and Hinduism with them. Numerous refugees, asylum seekers, and illegal immigrants from elsewhwere in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa moved to Amsterdam. Ghanaian and Nigerian immigrants established African churches, while Buddhists and Confucianists established congregations of their own; Islam is the largest non-Christian religion. People of non-Western origin make up 1/3 of the city's population (and more than 1/2 of its children). With 180 nationalities represented, Amsterdam is one of the world's most cosmoplitan cities. It is also one of the most tolerant. Prostitution was defined as a legal profession in 1988, and brothels became legal, licensed businesses in 2000. Since then, sex workers have joined the Dutch labor union FNV. De Wallen, home to one of the largest migrant populations, is Amsterdam's largest designated area for legal prostitution; a network of roads and alleys containing some 300 one-room cabins rented by sex workers who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights, it covers 6,500 sq m (1.6 acres), limited by the Niezel in the north, the sea dike/Nieuwmarkt in the east, the Sint Jansstraat in the south, and the Warmoesstraat in the west. The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theaters, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana. In 1976, the Netherlands began to decriminalize the use and possession of cannabis. The toleance policy ("gedoogbeleid") also gave rise to licensing coffee shops to sell marijuana.


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