Friday, February 1, 2013

My Chat with Amsterdam Wethouder Cultuur

Last week I was chatting with former Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers. This week I crossed the aisle.

Every year, Dutch newspaper Het Parool hosts the Amsterdammer van het Jaar Award in Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam. They have different areas for the Arts section, the Sports section, and the Politics section, where I join in to do some ‘Year-in-Review’ standup.

One of the bigger events in Amsterdam politics last year was the departure of city Finance Alderman Lodewijk Asscher and his replacement by Pieter Hilhorst. Not known for his financial background, Hilhorst is in fact a columnist for De Volkskrant and a relative newcomer to politics. And now there’s talk of the Dutch Finance Minister (Dijsselbloem) being promoted to a top EU post, even though he’s only been on the job for 2 months – and not very good ones. ‘If the Dutch Finance Minister can be promoted for no reason, then who’ll be the new Dutch Finance Minister - Pieter Hilhorst?’ That’s the joke I made in front of Pieter Hilhorst, and I stand by it. See, Christian Democrats? I also make fun of the Labor party.

The other interesting chat I had was with Carolien Gehrels, the Amsterdam Alderwoman for Commerce and Culture (also Labor party). Until recently, she’s been the target for all the criticism surrounding the delayed opening of the Stedelijk modern art museum. Now that the Stedelijk is open, she’s the target of all the compliments about the new museum. But now there’s the New York Times, trashing her all over again. And trashing Dutch restaurants. BUT then turning around and putting Amsterdam in the Top 10 Places You Must Visit in 2013. Amsterdam is Nr. 6 (between Bhutan & Houston, Texas) (not a joke).

We’re not sure why the NYT is suddenly showing such an interest in Amsterdam. But we are sure that whoever is writing for them is blowing so hot & cold, it must feel like menopause.

I finished my chat with Carolien Gehrels by again asking her for a subsidy. She said no. 

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