The last few nights there have been a series of evening clashes in the northern Utrecht area Ondiep, right on the Thorbeckelaan street where friends of mine are living in a defunct school building. The scenario is of a grimm nature that sees groups of local dutch residents oppossing kickabout youths of Northern African immigrant descent, who accordingly are said to cause troubles in the area. In a nutshell, the Ondiep area is predominantly white and working class, whereas the youths come from the neighbouring stretch of the mulitculturalised Amsterdamsestraatweg, which bustles with foreign food markets and phonebooth shops.
It started Sunday night when the Dutch residents took a collective stand against the youths by crowding the square they normally meet up. As everyone can imagine, neither group backed down and gained in size as people joined either group. A Dutch resident named Rinie Mulder, angered beyond extent, took his vigilante act too far and treathened a policeman with a butcher's knife. It is unclear in which manner this happened, but it prompted this policeman to shoot Mulder who died on the spot near his doorstep. In impromptu graffitti, the place of his death has been marked with the words "Rinie, rest peacefully", flowers and (uncanningly) beercans as a solemn ode to his unnecessary death. As expected, the fire was readily put in the hole to create 3 straight nights of riots.
Supposedly, rioteering youths did not come from the nearby area, but from allover Utrecht and surround..mobile phones used as tools of gathering for destruction indeed. The media mentions these rioteers without defining them. In this case, it simply means it are white youths since any allochtoon rioteer would have been defined as such. For instance you will hardly ever read if *white local folks* kick up a riot, whereas the tag dropping of Moroccan, Turkish or any other ethnical minority in Holland will always be given on a silver plate to the feeble reader. Disinformation does not matter when it concerns the marking of nationals, one could nearly think.
135 people were arrested yesterday, and it's even said that some were football hooligans coming in for a piece of the mayhem from allover the country, probably part of their riot tourism travel scheme chartered by oh so friendly agitators. On my way home near to the area, all the roads were blocked off by police and riot police alike, with vans driving along, squad cars parked to obstruct and cut off the 3 mile Amsterdamsestraatweg from the centre. Along came a towtruck on the road beside me, pulling a burnt out car behind him, crispy fresh I reckon. Paris is still very far though.
With sporadic tensions erupting in Holland now and then, it is autochtoon (ie, someone with dutch nationality) against allochtoon (someone holding a foreign identity). Perhaps white against non-white, thought that might prove a notion too strong since this stand off is in fact not racial but rather cultural. Images of suburbian France burning can not be compared here.
On a brighter note, I went to see Bonnie "Prince" Billy (otherwise known as Will Oldham) last night in the grand Vredenburg concert hall. Just a little man with a guitar on a too big stage and far away audience, same for the support act. Odd experience for such intimate music. Sir Richard Bishop played fingerpicking support to Oldham in a fitting warm up show on a solo guitar, tuned up to high pitched levels. Sir Richard is actually the older brother of Alan Bishop, whom I posted about recently, see here. Coincidence does not deal in time shares. Richard has a full mop of curly long hair, Alan is bald as ever. Both Sun City Girls. I like this bloodline contradiction.
Bishop plays a mix of various fingerpicking styles such as classical, flamenco and indian raga and he indeed did so during his +30 minute set. Especially his last composition was a 15 minute long raga trip to the max with self-shaped drones from his lower snares, looped in regurging patterns. Amazing stuff, though most people did not think so and were either busy chatting (say, blabbing) loudly to each other or quietly snoozing off (eh Carlos!) ;) The chatter was very annoying to say the least, with fans of Oldham not giving Sir Richard any creative credit, perhaps not acknowledging or understanding the righteous awe that Oldham himself has for Bishop, which I can dig but my fingerpick nerdist opinion wasn't to be shared as joyously, shucks. -later a Sir Richard track here, yours to decide on-
Oldham came on and did the tricks with a variety of his famous songs from over the years with trademark lyrics on how he can not have kids to grow, the topic he touches upon a lot. He's a quirky beardy-cultivated man though, who likes to make funny moves and gestures, either facial or with his rubbery legs. Hard to explain all his moves, though he seemed to have a preferance for put his leg up behind the other and standing on one leg whenever he pleased. 'Crane bird Oldham', that's how I'll always see him from now on, hah :) His performance was kinda unbalanced though, as in some songs he sung every word as perfectly lisped in tune, sweetened with sorrow, while in other songs his voice could not reach the same great heights as on his albums. Someone said; 'that's perhaps the brilliance of his singing; it's so human and incomplete.' Oldham also played 2 songs in which he used fingerpick patterns of Sir Richard, which the fans didn't spoil, rather not realizing the underlying truth I'm sure. Irony does not strike twice depending on the context that it is given in and by who it's given.
Tonight, I actually have to be in the Ondiep area to eat at a friend's place...which is in the exact street where that man was shot dead. Strange feelings will be felt. The police is again gonna seal off the area so I wonder if we'll be able to leave...or to enter.