Sunday, September 10, 2023

Meeting Van Gogh and the Next Generation in Amsterdam

Photo shot by Max (far right)
Van Gogh allegedly shot himself in the chest after he painted some tree roots. He died two days later. The doctors couldn’t save him. What I immediately notice about the root painting, which I posted for you, is that it’s a lot more abstract and different than his other works. 

The Van Gogh Museum was booked out for 10 days. I was so sad to learn this. I came all the way to Amsterdam, only to find out I couldn’t get in. But somehow I talked my way into it. (That’s what lawyers do, right? Talk. Talk. And talk some more.)

I spent 4 hours in the Museum. Any longer, and I would feel fatigue and frustration. That’s all the processing power I have in me. I felt like looking at each of his paintings, that I knew something of the man and what he was going through. 

It reminded me too about how much mental health issues are also correlated with geniuses. I read once that geniuses suffer from a disproportionate amount of mental health issues, namely depression. 

I felt so sad that Van Gogh ended his life in the same year he was starting to become well known. I believe he would’ve made it big in his lifetime, if he kept going. It was tragic to see that even though he created all these beautiful paintings, he thought of himself as a failure. Horrible. 

 * * * 

Back at the hostel, young people are smoking weed in the smoking room. I meet Danish, French, German, American, and Israeli people. I stayed at the Flying Pig Hostel in Uptown. Very great location and atmosphere.

I only kept in touch with one guy, a German named Max. He's only 18 and really tall and skinny and likes to do climbing and biking. He seems quiet but is nice and outgoing and enjoys photography. He tells me he's going to be an engineer.


Out of everyone in the group, he's the only one who wants to take a group picture. That gets my attention.

I don’t like the French guy. Well, at first, I kind of did. He was charming enough. But there’s this blonde American girl. Maybe 22. She would look prettier, but she keeps drinking vodka all the time from the bottle. Night after night. I feel so bad for her. She tells me, in her strong American accent, she has a problem but can’t stop.  

I tell her it usually has to do with trauma. She tells me that she has a lot to work on her past. She alludes to being abused.

She sits by me and tells me that she hasn’t had sex in so long. At that point, I thank her for her time and excuse myself. 

The French guy, a nerd, 22, engineer, scrawny and puny gets all excited by the opportunity. He takes her to the local park. 

When he comes back, he tells me that he’s a mighty Don Juan, because he had sex with the girl in the park. He also says he’s a knight in shiny armor, because he protected her from some black guy, who wanted to touch her. 

I was thinking, The only person she needs protection from is you. I was disgusted. Poor girl. 

A lot of the young people there just wanted to numb out. I didn’t get it. They all seemed to come from upper class families. I don’t get why they wanted to numb out. Another spoiled Western World problem and issues with the next generation.  

* * *

I ate seafood at a local Dutch, posh restaurant. I ate at the table on the sidewalk. Some Italian waiter gets me to order choice shrimp and crab and oysters. The oysters are fantastic. I really love the smaller Dutch prawns from the North Sea. They’re sweet and salty and smell fresh, like the ocean is still in them. 

The waiter is sly. He says that I need champagne to wash down my oysters and crab and shrimp . I tell him I’m on a budget. He says, “You’re on holiday. Don’t worry about it.” I ordered Italian bubbles instead. Isn’t life just one big negotiation? No champagne. But ok to bubbles.  

At some point, me sitting outside, and cracking crab legs and crab carapaces and peeling shrimp shells and sucking the brains out of the crayfish heads, while washing down my meal with bubbles, is bringing in a lot of clients. Some girl sees it. Likes it. Wants it. Sees the ritual of it all. And then convinces her man to buy it. Soon, I bring in 4 to 5 sets of clients.

The bill was a lot. I felt like I lost my arm. I ask them for a discount since I brought in a lot of clients. They laugh and smile. No discount, though.   

I tell myself it’s ok. I was eating nothing but pork and beef in Germany. So maybe, it’s ok.


 * * * 

The French guy asked what I did. I told him I ate a seafood restaurant. I asked him what he ate. He said just supermarket bread and jam. He looked angry and envious. I don’t know where he’s spending his money. But it’s not so hard to save up for a nice meal. So, I don’t feel sorry for him. I think this guy’s life runs on being angry and envious.


The next day, I eat at the seafood restaurant again. And they compliment me with 12 French oysters. They make a mistake on the bill. They accidentally gave me a free champagne they want me to pay for. I ordered bubbles, not expensive champagne. Apparently, it was from a fine French bottle. 

The shift supervisor didn’t seem too happy. And he told the waiter to not make that kind of mistake again in front of me. This is the Dutch for you. They’re super direct and sometimes it is cold and cruel, especially when all this is happening in front of me. See; there’s a dual personality about them.

I leave feeling guilty about the whole event. I didn’t want to leave it like this. They were a nice restaurant. They’re staff were wonderful. I didn’t spend much there that day. So, I made a decision. Not only did I make the decision. I made a decision not to rethink that decision. 

I walk back there during the sunset from my hostel. I give the staff all a big tip. They’re all smiling and celebrating now. 

I could have left and left it like that. I wasn't coming back soon. But that would be wrong.

I wondered if they picked up on the fact that it was a redistribution of wealth from the store to employees. Eh – who cares? Everyone is happy. I’m sure, even the house. 

* * * 


I got into a pissing match with a tall and young and know-it-all-German guy. He had this attitude he could push around some small, nice-looking Asian guy and reminded me of some Frat boy. (And in case you're wondering, I never had a problem with frat people in university. But he did have attitude.) Well, meekness is not weakness. Needless to say, he lost to me in the match. Hope he learned his lesson. He didn't know what he was getting himself into.


* * *

One shock I had was that Amsterdam was super expensive. It was twice the price of Germany. And I realize, wherever you hear a lot of Americans, the prices are going to be high. It’s because they’ll pay it. Americans create tourist traps, wherever they go;. I heard American everywhere. 

Oh, also, I met an Israeli guy. I helped him book his flight back home to Tel Aviv. He was so sad. He looked brokenhearted. I asked, “What’s wrong?” 

He answered, “I was supposed to have traveled 4 weeks. I spent all my money in Amsterdam in 4 days. I don’t know where it all went.” 

I nodded. Yes. Amsterdam was cruelly expensive, because it could be. I was happy to leave, because of the prices. I was sad to leave, because of all the kind and friendly Dutch people I met. I’ll remember all the Dutch people, who greeted me with their warm and welcoming smile.


Before I left, Aaron, an Irish guy, who works there, sits with me and chats and tells me about his life. It was very lovely and a nice way to leave Amsterdam and the hostel.

Time to decide where’s next. I found a cheaper flight from Amsterdam to Crete, Greece. I was going to Greece next. I told myself, stay on course. You made a decision. Stick to it.

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