Saturday, October 30, 2010

JDM on the Hippies of Amsterdam

"Back to the ship for lunch, and then into town on the shuttle bus to do some shopping. The bus went right to Dam Square, where hippies congregate on the shallow steps that surround the war memorial in the middle of the traffic circle.

"Even in 1977 they had begin to look like the relics of times past. Little burned-out girls with their dumb doleful faces, sticky spill of hair, buttocks humble under the pale caked denim. Hairy desperado types, khaki and sweat, knapsacks and Aussie hats, their planned air of savage freedom compromised by an uncertainty around the eyes, a vague look, a listless way of moving. There was a constant motion, a shifting around, a perpetual slow investigation of one another, and among the hundreds were the old predators, trying to look young enough for credibility, and the very youngest victims, trying to look old enough to be with it, because this was one of the places of the world where it was all supposed to be: all the grass, all the badly played guitars, all the crotch crabs and stubborn clap and raggedy philosophies anybody could ever dream of. Each evening these drifters of the western world would slowly gather up their gear and obediently vacate their central refuge long enough for the local civil servants to hose the area clean with lots of high-pressure water. And then they would amble back to damp concrete, spread out once more and continue their endless investigations of one another."

-- from Nothing Can Go Wrong (1981)

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