A recent Facebook post from street artist Brave One, brought my attention to the powerful image included below, that was painted on a wall somewhere in Manchester by an artist known as Akse.
Two faces and a couple of birds, that’s it.
There’s no need to explain who the faces belong to.
What they represent also goes without saying (painfully so).
The image does not depict a conversation that ever took place in real life. But then again… it totally is. A whole history lesson could (should?) be dedicated to that one image.
If you’re already envisioning this art piece as en edgy backdrop for your pensive-look-into-the-horizon instagram pic, don’t bother. The whole area is up for demolition and that specific wall has already been torn down.
If the image doesn’t do it for you, allow the artist himself to give you some context:
The timing of the image undoubtedly has to do with POTUS’ visit to the UK, where he will be meeting up with all sorts of high ranked people, most of whom he has insulted at some point over the last couple of months.
Perhaps the image of that demolition machine working it’s way through his angry face can offer some solace…
The line that got my little brain-wheels going into overdrive is the one he casually throws in there at the beginning of the chorus:
Here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you I want you to have it
Should everyone get the chance to break someone’s heart? Does anyone have that on their bucketlist?
I know cute kids are affectionately referred to as “little heart breakers” sometimes. This is meant to be a compliment. I suppose charming girls and boys can’t always help that people fall in love with them and breaking some hearts along the way is inevitable. More even, it may happen without them ever even knowing about it.
But getting back to the song; Is breaking a heart something you want everyone to experience at least once in a lifetime? Does mr Mraz actually mean to say “I hope someone opens their heart to you and loves you intensely (making heartbreak a possible outcome)”?
When I told my boyfriend, G, about this conundrum, he said something to confuse me even further. He said he didn’t believe that heartbreak could ever be the outcome of love… I asked him to explain it to me again just now and to be honest I still don’t understand it enough to be able to put it into words of my own.
His exact words were:
You are responsible for the condition of your heart. If your heart gets broken this means you have allowed it to be in a position where it could be broken.
I mean… yeah… I guess… but… wait… whut?
So then… we had to talk about what “being broken hearted” or “having your heart broken” really means.
Acoording to G, a broken hearted person is beyond despair. Lost, adrift and beyond reason. Inconsolable.
If I understand correctly, what G was trying to tell me (but I’ll check with him later) is that it has to do with caring for yourself enough to no be reckless with your heart. You can’t truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself first… That sort of thing(?).
I’ve actually never had it happen to me. I’ve been sad, but never heartbroken. I guess I’ve also never been that deeply in love (before my current relationship) and also… well… I was never actually on the receiving end of a breakup…
Did I ever break someone’s heart? Eummm… hard to say… but quite possibly…
Am I glad I got to go through that experience? No, most definitely not.
Zombies are beings that continue to “be”, despite being dead.
You become a zombie if you get bitten by one, or if you get infected with the zombification virus in some other way or –according to some accounts-, by looking at them.
Zombies supposedly feed on brains.
… And that is all I want to say about that…
This blog is not about zombies.
This blog is about Zeef.
Zeef is my friend.
If grown-ups are still allowed to speak in these terms, I dare say she may even be my best friend.
I know she reads my blog (hai Zeefje!).
She reads it partly because she is interested in my musings, but I think a big part of why she reads it is because she knows it is important to me. That’s Z.
Anytime I find myself facing some odd conundrum, I can’t wait to throw it at her and listen to her beautiful gentle heart and shrewd mind give it a spin.
Her words are always carefully chosen without ever compromising on the message she wants to deliver.
I wish everyone could have a friend like her. As a matter of fact, I wish everybody WAS her, or at the very least had a little version of her on their shoulder to guide them through life.
I tell her this often which she tends to dismiss. She usually does this by pointing out she didn’t go through years of therapy for nothing and that the world doesn’t need more of that…
And that is true. After three decades of life, she has gone through a lot, both physically as mentally.
She is so incredibly receptive that, at times, it hurts her. It’s the fact that others are not so sensitive (and therefore unclear about their own feelings, intentions and actions both to themselves as those around them) that makes living in this world difficult for her sometimes.
All though I think she is one of the best things that ever happened to this planet, her feeling of self-worth is not always on the same level.
So, when a couple of weeks ago she boldly said she was expecting the Z-blog to be about her, my heart made a little leap for joy.
It means she is ready to be put in a tiny (anonymous) spotlight.
It also implies she trusts me enough to bring an ode to her.
Better even, she is ok with the image I have of her and maybe… only maybe… she is starting to believe she is as much of a rockstar as I give her credit for.
With Zeef by my side, I wouldn’t be afraid of the zombie apocalypse. She’d reason a heartbeat back into each and every one of those brain-eaters.
So dearest Z, I’m sorry for not being able to resist the urge to tease you by not naming the blog after you and giving you the impression I had ignored (or forgotten) your request.
I also realize the sudden switch from Zombies to Zeefjes may have caught you off guard. So, take a breath and let your racing heart take it in. You are awesome and I am so grateful that I can call you my friend!
Social media have become something to love to hate and hate to love. If YouTube is a social medium, I think it’s my favorite one.
It’s so easy to lose half a day just clicking from one silly animal video to the next.
One of my favorite YouTube channels is Simon’s Cat. I started watching these cute animated videos 11 years ago, when they first came out. If you have a cat (or wish you did) then I’m sure many of the scenes will look familiar in some way. The video below is the very first video Simon ever made and it’s still one of the best ones:
When it comes to news and satire I love them all; starting with the Daily Show and the Late Show all the way to Seth Meyers and Bill Maher. I also love Graham Norton from time to time.
When it comes to music I’m always excited to see a new video of the Pentatonix appear or of Walk of the Earth. When I’m looking for a good live version of a song I always go for KEXP, Mahogany Sessions or NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.
A musical flashmob video, that for some reason brought a tear to my eye when I saw it for the first time, was this one:
Actually, now that I’m re-watching it now, I know why it gives me all the feels. It’s the fact that it’s such an ancient art form, such an ancient song and such a universal message, along the lines of “let’s just have a drink and be friends”.
I also just love it when I run into little faith-in-humanity-restoring vids like this one, that was made 3 days after the Paris attacks in 2015:
Let’s use social media for wholesome shit only, what do you say!?
The town that I live in in the Netherlands is called Leiden. The city’s coat of arms looks like this:
The emblem features on buildings and structures all over the city, including streetlights and bollards, as is customary in the Netherlands.
As Leiden has many of the same urban features as Amsterdam does, scenes for TV series and films that are meant to take place in Amsterdam, are often re-enacted in Leiden.
You can imagine that elements such as the ones featured in the pictures above, need to be temporarily replaced with their Amsterdam counterparts before filming begins. For Leideners, this is always kind of painful to watch, as any Dutch city’s fear is to “become Amsterdam”.
Now, to get to the point of this blog…. Amsterdam’s coat of arms looks like this:
In the current composition, it is believed to date back to the 13th century.
When we see the three X’s positioned vertically like that, we all understand we are referencing Amsterdam. It turns out though, that the meaning and origins of these X’s are a bit of a mystery.
Online historians and Amsterdamologists tell me that the three X’s are actually three silver Saint Andrew’s Crosses (which also features quite prominently on the flag of Scotland). And that’s pretty much where the story ends.
Nobody has been able to think up a good explanation as to why the city thought St Andrew, or the cross he was crucified on, were so important that they should pay tribute to him thrice on the city’s emblem.
According to Amsterdam’s own website, there are two other cities in the area that also feature the cross in the same fashion on their coat of arms, which is an interesting fact but still doesn’t really offer any clarity.
The only theory I could find, led back to the coat of arms of a powerful family from the region, van Persijn, that looks like this:
It is possible that this family owned so much real estate in the area (which they apparently did, including in the area around Leiden) that Amsterdam honored them by referencing them in the coat of arms. It’s still hard to believe that somehow we managed to forget all about this fact in the centuries that followed, don’t you think?
Fast-forward to the 21st century where somehow, the term “triple X” has also became intertwined with sexual imagery, prostitution and pornography, which has also just happened to become part of Amsterdam’s identity.
Wunsiedel is a small German town not far from the border with Czechia, which carries with it the burden of being a place for neo-nazi pilgrimage.
Why present day nazis are interested in this particular East German town is irrelevant for this story.
What is awesome is how locals have reacted to these unwelcome guests that insist on visiting their town each year. Instead of confronting them in anger or repulsion (which would be understandable) they chose the path of pacifism and fun (and reverse psychology).
Upon arrival, the neonazis started being met with joyful faces and streets adorned with glitter, confetti and silly string. The counter protests started in 2004, making sure that anywhere the neonazis went, a colorful party of diversity and happiness erupted.
In 2005, the neonazi march was banned. Small groups of baldhead-and-army-booted youths continued to show up every year though, inspiring Wunsiedelonians (?) to take their counteractions to the next level
In 2014 they reached level “truly epic” when they turned something that initially was being referred to as the yearly Nazi Memorial March into the Most involuntary walkathon.
At the beginning of the route paint was applied on the road, signalling this was “the START”, in the same way this would be present at a marathon.
Colorful banners unfolded as the neo-nazis passed by, thanking them for their contributions to the good cause… I’m sorry, what?
Yes, Wunsiedel had turned the march into a sponosored walkathon, donating money for every meter the participants walked. The organization being funded with the money raised was an organisation called EXIT Deutschland.
EXIT Deutschland is there for people who have been part of a neonazi group but have decided to leave the hateful lifestyle behind them. Besides mental and financial help, Exiters often need protection from the people they used to call their friends. Also, you can imagine there might be tattoos that need removing (or covering up).
In short, EXIT was an awesome organization to sponsor with this most involuntary walkathon as it meant that with every step they took, they were essentially walking for the support of their defectors.
Check out the video below to see the whole thing unfold:
Supporters cheered as they reached “the finish line”. A large banner displayed the exact amount they had raised. They even received a cute little certificate, to remember their accomplishment of that day.
Have you heard about the crazy revolt / coup episode that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is going through?
As a first year Latin American Studies student, back in 2004, I admit being excited about the leftist wind that was blowing through the South American continent, with Hugo Chavez leading the way.
Chavez’ speech to the United Nations in 2006 was different from anything we had ever seen. It was bold and dramatic. It was actually quite refreshing to hear a Latin American leader choose his own path and turn down the American “helping hand” and all the strings that came with it.
He was a political clown and a populist big spender. Chavez’ untimely death is probably the best thing that happened to him and his legacy. His passing marked the end of an era and inserted a page break in the book of Venezuelan history.
The country was already in a pretty brittle state when he handed it over to his buddy, Nicolas Maduro. That the cracks only burst under Maduro’s watch may have you believe it was the current president’s incompetence that caused the vase that was the Venezuelan economy to shatter.
Most experts are not letting Chavez off the hook though. They continue to stress that it was Hugo Chavez that laid the foundations for the current crisis and that his death should not blurry that fact.
Loyalists say international sanctions and US sabotage is what actually brought his socialist initiatives to their knees. Some conspiracy theorists even suggest the colon cancer that ultimately killed him, was no coincidence either…
To be honest, I don’t know much about how economics work and if one single person can be held accountable for the sad state the country is in. There is no doubt that the country is hurting greatly though. People are leaving the country, choosing a life of uncertainty abroad over starvation at home.
That Nicolas Maduro continues to deny the true state his country is in and seems completely unwilling to let go of power, is criminal. As much as I dislike Nicolas Maduro though and would love to see him go, I also struggle to see this path Juan Guaidó is going down as the right one…
He may very well be a good man, maybe even an honest one. Whoever he is and whatever his intentions may be, I don’t believe he is actually in charge of the course he is currently on. He is definitely being pushed by foreign forces that, imho, should not be getting involved (again).
I wonder what Simon Bolivar (the guy they reference in the country’s official name) would have to say about all of this ?