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Benedict ברוך Spinoza unexpectedly visited me today -- a friend and I were chatting, the topic bounced from this to that and finally ended in the Netherlands, which both of us had visited and been delighted and impressed by. I confessed to being a closet Spinoza Fanboy, haunting all his known haunts throughout the Netherlands on numerous visits (with brief visits to the neighborhood Kafeshop and het Melkweg and the Concertgebouw), with time to fling unused bread to the ducks and ducklings swimming in the Herrengracht.
The only Bad Thing I know about Amsterdam during my long repeated relationship with Amsterdam is not a Bad Thing about Amsterdam, but is all Utrecht's fault. Amsterdam's Mayor Job Cohen suspended civil law for the day (a lovely summer Sunday), had the riot police lock all the Utrecht footie fans in a sealed train outside Ajax stadium and send them back to Utrecht under police guard. I don't know how you say "And stay out." in Dutch/nederlands.
Everything else about Amsterdam and all NL is wonderful, and there is an infinite volume of wonderful unexpected delightful spectacularly beautiful and interesting things in the Netherlands. Turn a corner and Wonderful Happy smacks you in the face again by total surprise. The food ... oh, Indonesian, Brown Cafes, the sidewalk Herring!
(At the county fair, a little 4H girl showed off her award-winning lamb, and said its name was Total Surprise -- no one had realized its mom was about to give birth.)
I know lots of places that proudly claim themselves progressive and tolerant regarding homosexuals.
But I know only 1 place on Earth that built a big fancy public monument to homosexuals: Amsterdam. Look for the signs all over town that say "TO THE HOMO MONUMENT -->" (Provincetown, Massachusetts USA has a Burger Queen.)
Above, a re-working of some Crummy Old Wine from Vleeptron. Now it's three faux postage stamps, instead of being the original Not A Stamp. (I'm really pissed off at expensive restaurants that keep bringing me crummy old wine, and I insist they bring me some good fresh New Wine.)
The issuing authority is TdS●Posta / Tierra de los Sueños. Postal material -- stamps, letters, postcards, postal money orders, postage due notices -- are very rare because it is difficult to communicate with Dreamland. A huge amount of Dreamland mail is forever lost just because we woke up and forgot the wonderful dream we were just having. The cast and crew of the NYU theater department party are gone, if that's what you might have been dreaming about. 45 minutes later you stumble into the office for 8 or 10 hours of sour nasty crap and unhealthy stuff. So we here in RL have found and preserved very little of TdS●Posta's postal ephemeridae and selvedge.
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One time a guy (everybody's forgotten his name, I hope) stabbed Spinoza. But didn't hurt him badly. For the rest of Spinoza's life, he wore the cape with the stab hole.
(These were Harsh Times in NL. Spinoza's close pal, the polical leader of the Netherlands, Jan de Witt (and Jan's brother) were torn apart by a mob. Do I have to add "angry mob"?)
Until age 24, Spinoza was a dues-paying member and student-scholar in good standing of Amsterdam's Portuguese Synagogue in Waterlooplein.
That ceased when the synagogue read The Anathema over him, forbidding all Jews from speaking, feeding, sheltering or having any contact with him. A sympathetic Anabaptist surgeon rented him the top floor of his cottage in Rijnsburg, today restored as a museum called Spinozahuis. (Take Rijnsburg bus from Leiden train station, ask driver to let you off at Spinozalaan, walk to Camphuysenstraat.) You can see Spinoza's lens-polishing workbench with all his tools. There's a wonderful statue in the small backyard garden; he doesn't look at all like a geek or a nerd, he looks quite dashing, even a little piratical.
Anyway, I am a pathetic Spinoza Fanboy, so I was not entirely surprised when these rare TdS●Posta stamps appeared in my faux mailbox. I have been dreaming of Spinoza and his tolerant, beautiful Netherlands for decades. Many nights I have dreamt of Spinoza's beautiful, tolerant Netherlands while I was sleeping in Spinoza's beautiful, tolerant Netherlands. Those are the best Spinoza dreams. (When not dreaming, check out the White Smurf in SoftLand, or the super fresh juice bar in The Bulldog.)