Three days in Amsterdam

Jarred and Amanda Bike through Amsterdam

two wheels, yeah.

Getting a feel for biking the city—we stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs on the yellow tourists rentals, but they got the job done 🤓

observations…

We moved around the city with ease on foot and by bike and were told we were very lucky to have a weekend of sunny, warm weather. There was an exhibition with a collection of Banksy pieces at the Moco Museum, but I will note on what I think is Banksy’s website it lists the show as un-authorized. Who knows, but I suspect it’s true looking at how cohesive the “Inside” work is on the Artist site. This show did not feel like that at all (curation was odd/piecemeal), but it was neat to see, none-the-less.

in celebration of creative tools…

Aside from books, I bought one item that makes me happy—a new camera strap for my “journal cam” (the LUMIX). I have an old guitar strap on my twin lens and I wanted to give it a companion. I found this loud-ass strap in a sweater store. I’m sure it’s meant for a purse or something, but I dig it for this camera. Just looking at the camera now makes me want to take more photographs—I think there’s really something to this strap thing as it relates to creative production 🤷‍♂️.

Books from Amsterdam

💵 💵 💵 📚:

A-hem, speaking of books—we bought a few, but could have literally spent thousands of dollars buying more. We both only had carry-on luggage, thankfully.

bike pollution you say?

We heard the term “bike pollution” more than once while we walked the city. I’d say yeah, it’s a real thing. While it’s great not to have to deal with car traffic (and all that goes along with that), we did notice many of the bikes seemed neglected. The straight up “Granny Bike” riding style was also new for us—they make it work, though. Just make sure to get the hell out of the way. I didn’t expect the real need to have my head on a swivel so much as a walking pedestrian, but it was a must. I actually found riding the bike easier and safer than walking overall. You’ll notice some great metal typography on the bridge in the photo above. I photographed a ton of type with my phone and have been posting in over on @relentless_transient.

built & natural environment vibes—people in all the spaces:

The public park and architecture / museum culture was easy to fall into without any worry about fitting in as tourists. We avoided the red light district so I can’t speak much on that, but I can say we certainly noticed remnants of night activities I’m thankful we were not a part of. Bring on the book stores, please.

Mendo Books

like trying to sip from a firehose of knowledge for three days:

As I said before, we spent most of our time walking, eating, biking, and visiting book stores. There were honestly just too many options. I only photographed my favorite two we actually spent time in, but there were more small shops we just didn’t have time to see. Mendo and Athenaeum (photographed above) were lovely and run by people that were equally as lovely.

lasting impressions / ruminations

I’m working (and struggling) with an academic writing project right now. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it on deadline, but I’ve become ok with that. A really neat thing happened that helped, though. While in MENDO, I picked up a handbook called “The Impossibility of Silence: Writing for Designers, Artists, & Photographers” by Ian Lynam. I finished the book in just two sittings and found it very helpful for a guy (me) that really just sucks at doing academia. Another part of the book that resonated with me is that the author moved to Japan and went through the uncomfortable, but amazing experience of moving to another country to live, hustle to find work, and learn the language in real-time. He’s still there, he makes stuff, he teaches at institutions in multiple countries , he writes, he’s just doing his thing and I really admire that. I love to make, write, and teach, but there is a block when it comes to academic writing I have never been able to fully overcome. I’m aware it’s rooted in some really old imposter syndrome…stuff that goes deep about where I’m from (physically and metaphorically). Anyway, I read the book and am banging away on this project one little piece at a time (all the while using tools and techniques from the book). I looked up Ian online and saw that he has an Instagram account—so I followed him and sent a quick thank you message for putting out the book. He messaged me back a few hours later with a very kind note—I have to say it felt great to make that human connection after reading the text. The neat thing about it was the tone of the massage matched the tone of the book. I find that very comforting and something I strive to do in my writing. I suspect he is a very good teacher.

Honestly, having access to so many hubs of creativity was hard for me to digest at first. I’ve been spending most of my days pretty isolated (happily) in a small town in Italy. We have one small book store, which only sells books in Italian—hey, I’m learning, but not ready for novels yet! I have been reading/collecting Motorcross Magazine, though. It’s an excellent publication that is designed really well. It smells like offset litho ink, too, which makes me happy. The magazine, along with a cocktail of more lessons, duolingo, and making a fool of myself in public have yielded sizeable gains in comprehension and reading / writing, and mediocre (at best) gains in conversational Italian—I digress… Back to Amsterdam…honestly I felt threatened creatively when we started going into the bookstores and museums. I’ve been out of the in-person game for a while now (haven’t we all, though). Being plucked from the countryside and thrown into an environment dripping with creativity (for lack of a better term) made me feel more anxiety than inspiration / curiosity at first. Then I started using my camera and photographing type in the environment with my phone—making. I think the photo-documentation was my own form of acceptance of my place in that large, new space. It sounds stupid, but when I bought that strap for my camera (photographed above) I think it was a real turning point from feeling like a phony to just accepting and thus, being able to enjoy the city. I can’t speak for any of the gratuitous weed smoking or red light stuff. In fact, we made it a point to avoid those specific areas at all costs in the evening. I will say the smell of weed permeates the city—most of it smells really good.

I was put off by the amount of garbage we saw on the ground and in the canals (despite dedicated + methodical efforts by city employees we observed every day). I’d think the locals would hate seeing garbage in their canals like that 🤔. We read some about the city’s approach to legalizing prostitution and weed. This is not the space for that convo, but like many other things, it’s not all good and it’s certainly not all bad, either. Somewhere in the middle—seems like a novel concept these days in terms of politics. I hope we get to go back soon for another visit. Hope you enjoy the photos ✌️.
—jarred

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