Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Amsterdam Vs. Old Amsterdstruggle (Cagematch)

As I wandered about Amsterdam and the surronding areas for the past few days, I was struck by the strangest feeling. It wasn't deja vu, not quite, but something more worrying, not quite a sense that I'd been there before, but something close. As I surveyed the adorable streets and canals of Amsterdam, or perched on my seat on the various trains I took during my wanderings around and outside the city, I knew that something about it all resonated with me deeply. This is not to say that I've ever lived in a town that was adorable and sleezy at the same time, Struggledelphia is more straightforward then this. No, it reminded me of somewhere else I've been, somewhere else I've wandered, some other struggle I've witnessed....

Oh, that's right. It reminds me of New York. Now, before you scoff, those of you who have seen both cities and know that Amsterdam is drastically cleaner and nicer then that so delightful city de Pomme Grande, bear with me for a moment. As we all know, having suffered through at least a year of American History (though we so rarely discuss, say, South America in these classes, has anyone else noticed that?), before New York was a cheap imitation of an English City, it was a cheap imitation of a Dutch city, known as New Amsterdam. And anyone who has a taste for history or Martin Scorsese will recall that while Struggledelphia and Boston were trader's capitals and cultural meccas on this side of the pond, New York was a swirling mess of awful, characterized by uneven streets, entropy, and Cameron Diaz's terrible Irish accent. So clearly between the best land deal before the Louisiana Purchase and Leonardo Dicaprio, something dreadful happened to New Amsterdam/York, something that only Mad Men could do anything about.

Nevertheless, while New York and Old Amsterdam may have grown apart, there are still quite a few things that connect them in my eyes. New York is famous for it's cramped houses and apartments, due to rising real-estate prices and a desire for many people to live in the center of the universe (these people clearly haven't seen The Core). Old Amsterdam is also famous for it's narrow houses all connected in a row, but this was, of course, a building choice made by rich merchants and Burghers. New York is known, at least in the more god-fearing bible-belt of the USA as a place for drugs, homosexuality, and other things that killed the dinosaurs. Amsterdam, well, we've all seen Eurotrip, we know how that works. And New York is famous for it's Jewish Population, it's Jewelry District and it's dinners. Amsterdam? Famous Jewish population, most of whom were diamond cutters, and popular dishes include pancakes and waffles. I know. I just TOTALLY blew your minds.

The comparisons are certainly endless, and have started to give me a headache. So I headed off to Haarlem yesterday for a brief respite from big city life, I smiled. At least New York doesn't have one of THESE. Oh, wait....

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