Thursday, February 25, 2010

Riot on the Centraal front

Football fans can get a little intense in Europe. In the Netherlands there are actually long standing ties of hate between leagues dating back to the 1900s, particularly between Amsterdam's Ajax and ADO Den Haag.
These groups basically use matches as an opportunity to get hammered on Heinekens then whoop each other's asses. Anything that gets between them and these two objectives ends up a casualty.
The mess has gotten so out of hand that ADO Den Haag fans were actually banned from attending the latest Ajax game against Italian team Juventus.
Unfortunately, that didn't solve the problem. In the early evening - before the game even started! - nearly 600 fans broke out in riots at Centraal Station, and I got to witness the entire spectacle.
Turns out these aren't your typical Dutch hooligans - they're actually fans from a Polish club, in town to start some trouble. And as they are literally beating everything in sight (each other, buses, trams, trash cans!) massive numbers of riot police flooded the scene.
Imagine waiting for the train after work, only to be greeted by the Dutch forces on horseback and with shields fighting drunk teenagers.
Apparently, I wasn't the only one fascinated with the display. I was quickly joined by a group of tourists wearing typical 'Amsterdam' hats and taking pictures.
Suddenly I realised I didn't look like a local anymore. Most of the Dutchies had only taken a cursory glance at the scene and continued on their way (chalk that up to their famous 'tolerance'). I decided to do the same, and walked home.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Celebrating black history month - Dutch style

Black History Month is really something only American's speak of - despite the fact the Netherlands supplied the world with thousands more slaves than North America.

In fact, the first slaves to grace the USA came thanks to the Dutch themselves. In 1626, the Dutch West Indies Company unloaded the first 11 Africans in their colony New Amsterdam, or present day NYC.

The West Indies Company went on to be known as "unquestionably the dominant European slave trader in Africa" throughout the mid-1600s, according to Herbert Klein's The Atlantic Slave Trade.

It's no surprise then that Stephen Colbert found the irony (and the humour!) in America's biggest Black History Month faux paux.

"Come and celebrate Black History Month with Heineken!"

Apparently, the folks at Heineken aren't so familiar with thier producing country's history.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Celebrate Black History Month With Heineken
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