2017 in Review
Politically, this year has been difficult, knowing that many dear friends, associates and colleagues will be deeply harmed by many of the vicious and downright racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic policies of this current administration. And yet, this year personally has been a life-alltering one for me. In January, I spent 6 days — 3 in Dordrecht for business, 3 in Amsterdam — and while it was the second time I had been in Europe, it was arguably one of the more profound experiences I’ve ever known. (Of course, Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express and Kraftwerk’s Minimum Maximum were major parts of the trip’s overall soundtrack.)
My flight was delayed by weather — it had started to snow as I was on the tarmac — and I had landed at Amsterdam Schiphol International at 7am, initially confused as to how dark it was at that time, before remembering that I was much further North that I had thought. But there are several things I’ll always remember from that trip: a waitress at the Kaffe Haus De Hoek with a kind and warm smile, who let a cold and tired traveler into her establishment a few minutes early and offered some hot (and extremely necessary) Dutch coffee, before a traditional Dutch breakfast of fried eggs with ham, toast and salad. The train rides through the Dutch countryside, passing towns like Abcoude, Haarlem, The Hague, Rotterdam, etc. On my first day, the train between Rotterdam and Dordrecht wasn’t running because of repairs. Unfortunately, I spent 40 minutes that I didn’t need to spend in Rotterdam, waiting for a train that wasn’t going to come because I didn’t understand Dutch; however, Google Translate came to my rescue. I later found out that I needed to take a train back in the direction of The Hague and Amsterdam, get on a bus for about half an hour and then get on another train just to get to Dordrecht. But I mention this because at the last train station, the public transit service offered cold and weary commuters hot soup. Sadly, I never got any because I was lugging a suitcase I had borrowed from Catherine Horath and just didn’t have free hand for it; but i would have enjoyed it.
One night, I walked down a section of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, and there were scantily clad prostitutes in the windows, summoning lonely and uncertain men like sirens. “Come, come, come here,” they’d say in wildly accented English, and the men would shyly follow.
And there was the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House; long walks down the gorgeous canals, lost in the smells, sights and feelings of being a man from very far away.
I never got a chance to truly craft a post around those experiences but I did take pictures — and if you’d like, check those out below.
I also spent some time on the road with lengthy stints in Washington DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia, and I managed to see my cousin Lisa Smith for the first time in over 15 years, and that was a wonderful bonus.
Musically, this year was amazing as I saw Erykah Badu, Mavis Staples, Bob Dylan, LL Cool J, Gorillaz, Roy Ayers, PJ Harvey, Elvis Costello, KRS One, Digable Planets, Screaming Females, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Gary Numan, U2, Nick Hakim, Tinariwen and Lee Fields among a very busy year of live music. And with that in mind, I wanted to show you some of my favorite photos of the year to officially close out 2017.