Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Made in Belgium: The Wolfbanes

Time for an oldie, some Belgian rock from the 80ies   although they are making a come-back

As the bottle runs dry - 1988

things too much - 2010

Man Hunt

Some like it hot

Edinburgh in a golden autumn sun

A few months ago I learned I'd have to go for a few days of meetings to Edinburgh previous week. It didn't take Jan and I much tought to combine that with a free weekend there, since we always love to go back to the place where Jan used to work and live. Always good fun to reconnect with our friends there!

The weeks before had been quite busy for me (you might have noticed I was a bit more quiet here) and therefore the anticipation of a prolonged stay in the Scottisch capital was a good one. I'd stay after my meetings were done and Jan would fly in for the weekend too.   

During our meetings the weather was rather crappy with lots of rain and a harsh cold wind, yet by the weekend a nice late summer sun came out and stayed giving the city a glorious gold shine. Absolutely lovely. And the advantage of being on a weekend city trip in a city you know already soooo well is that you do not feel obliged anymore to get up at a decent time to visit all the "must visit" places from your tourist guide. It's just  relaxed walking around, enjoying the sun and meeting up with friends  or sleeping in in the beautiful appartment we had rented for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Made in Belgium: Hadise

Several years ago a young Belgian girl with Turkish roots participated in the Belgian Idols in 2003. Without reaching the finals, she received a record contract anyway.  She brought us Turkish influenced pop and R and B music.
 Her fame also grew both in Belgium as in Turkey where she presented some TV programs while finishing her studies in Belgium.  She has also presented X-factor in Belgium but due to her , in the mean time, super star status in Turkey, she participated for that country in 2009 in the Eurovision Song contest with Dum Tek Tek.

Dum Tek Tek - 2009


Mesajımı Almıştır O

A good kiss

Bad boy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Maes Customs in Mechelen

Last year Maes & Studio Brussel launched the container "music box" concerts:  in several Belgian cities in September & October they announce that the Music Box is arriving. They also have a list of Belgian top acts that will perform. ....but you never know who is in the container until it opens. So in fact they are all surprise concerts.  Free surprise concerts , live on the radio, from top bands.

Last year there was never a date or location that worked out for us, but last Friday the Music box was in a nearby city , in Mechelen.  After a very too budy work week, and still more left to catch up & prepare for the start of the next week, it felt great to escape for a moment.

We hit some traffic jam and just barely made it to the square to see the container cool & exciting to stand and wait and guess.   Triggerfinger was last week in the music box so they dropped from the list of candicates. Jan was already in Mechelen that afternoon and had seen they were setting up & soundchecking for we ruled out Ozark Henry already from our guesses. I was hoping a bit for Hooverphonic.
At exactly 8 PM, the container side slowly opened up and 3 men with guitars walked to the front ()....It was Customs in the box. yeaaay, never seen them yet before and since my post on them, they've scored some more fun hits.

And so we enjoyed the free concert on the square with some good beer of course ;). Thank you Maes & Studio Brussel!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Last Thursday, the Belgian newspaper headlines were euphoric
Last Thursday, most Belgian politicians seemd euphoric
That night and that morning there were extra news editions
I got feliciations from my colleagues in the Amsterdam office

After 15 months of failing negotiations since last elections (because that government fell because they couldn't find an agreement to (amongst other) split the Brussels electoral district),  8 years after the court houses ruled the current electoral district unconstitutional, more than 40 years since its existence....8 Belgian political parties had found a compromis to restructure Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde, define the electoral rules in the 6 "facilities" municipalities in Flanders just around Brussels with a Frenchspeaking majority, and  how to deal with the 3 mayors that do not get appointed by the Flemish government.

"Congratulations, you have finally almost a government, I heard", said a Dutch colleague.
Well not quite yet, they still need to negotiate on a restructure & refinancing of our federal state and if that succeeds, they need to negotiate on the topics each government needs to deal with " the financial crisis, budget, economics, justice system reform, ....".   So euphoria is probably a bit misplaced still, yet they've cleared a huge hurdle that blocked any governing of Belgium since 2007 really.  So yeah, I was happy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Made in Belgium: Leki

Almost a 100 posts of Made in Belgium ago, I started this series with Technotronic.  The singer of Technotronic, Ya Kid K, has a younger sister and she introduced her to the record company at the age of 12.  That was a little too young for a career, but Leki recorded her debut album at the age of 16 but it never got released.  However since 2004 she brings succesfully  Belgian hiphop  while she is also known as a presenter of multiple music tv channels.

Latin lover - 2004

Over the rainbow - 2008

Love me another day - 2009

Breaking out - 2004

Crazy - 2004

Monday, September 12, 2011


The last couple of weeks, there's government negotiations going on.  Big deal, you might think, that's been ongoing in Belgium for over a year now.

Well not fact the many political parties haven't been in a room gathered around one table since August 2010. That is over a year, so it is a big deal. For an entire year, the king has been appointing negotiators who made their tour of all political parties, getting their point of view, checking where there could be margin, then after many weeks, writing a long report  which in all cases have been shot down as a base for negotiation & compromise by one of the major political parties.  And then there was a round of blaming for those not accepting the document as a starter to negotiate.  And then the king could assign someone from another party to try to do it all over.

Just before our national holiday, just when our king had delivered an unusual , very emotional & upset speech on tv, there was all of a sudden a majority of political parties that could find themselves in a document that would serve as the base of true discussions. The most radical Flemish party in the group threw in a big veto but the others have a sufficient majority to continue.  And all of a sudden our national holiday got a breeze of hope.....and the negotiators claimed they had deserved some vacation after all that hard work...Qué? WTF?

Anyway, since the end of August, they are truly  negotiating.  And the polarisation of all media continues.
I am so sick of political statements, speeches, online forum comments etc that talk about "They" and "We"  as in "We should not give in" "It's about time they understand they must obey the law" "We should not let us overrule by their demands" ...
Who are these "they" and "us" anyway?  Can these speakers please explain me how "they" wrongly effect their day-to-day life and how "they" giving in would help them forward?  In most of these messages I miss and objective analysis of the problem and a matching solution.

Sure the BHV voting district is unconstitutional by the highest courts, but the courts don't command how it should be fixed.  So if "they" suggest a national voting district, it is untrue to state that "they" do not obey the law or "they" don't want to negotiate, but that "they" simply give a compromise that "we" do not wish to consider. And if "they" demand more money for Brussels,  "we" should not forget that some of "us" live there too and not only "them".

If some regio's would show more corruption or more inefficiency in government spending or ..., we should fight corruption or inefficiency in government spending or ... but I don't always understand how transferring powers to regions and splitting is always an automatic solution. sometimes yes, sometimes no. Not a single party has succeeded in explaining me this?

Anyway, I really miss nuances in all messages and I hate this polarisation. Hopefully the negotiating parties can lift themselves over this all and come to a conclusion so we can finally move forward.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Random old thoughts

I found back 2 very old unfinished posts with random notes that never got published
  • We sometimes get a local German newspaper in the Ardennes and I notice I can only understand the articles about topics I already know....which makes it rather useless to read no?
  • A few weeks ago there was a newspaper article that there are too many fries shops in Belgium. Huh? how can that ever be?  I can assure you that in Leuven there's always too long waiting times and we do have 4 fries stores within a few 100 meter in each direction of our house! 
  • We've been the victim of a break and entry in our little garden house in the Ardennes last winter. Jan made the discovery that we have had uninvited guests!  The surprise however was that they had filled each bucket or box that was standing on the floor with a layer of hazel nuts and pinecones, which Jan promptly threw out.  Poor squirrel or whatever it was that was using our storage room as his....must be hungry when he returns to the empty buckets.   We will need to check the floor and roof for holes however.
  • The mystery of our whimsical plug in the bathroom is finally solved.  Our electrician explained to us that some sort of old-fashioned safety was active ensuring the plug only functions if the light is on.  .....right.....sure.
  • You can tell you are at an IT event if there's a queue for the men's toilet and not for the women's. 
  • If you organise a quiz for a group of IT aware that they search all answers on the internet using their smartphone and that the quiz turns into a speed test for the different models and systems.
  • On a long tired drive home, the song "Ik sta op wacht" (I'm the guard) is hilarious. And when you're already giggling and goofing along and then happen to drive along the nearby army base upon which Jan opens his window and salutes and signals that this song is for them while can't stop crying anymore :D
  • All hotels/motels in Canada offer complementary shampoo and a small soap bar (and body lotion and ...).  But none of them offers shower gel which is standard in Europe (but then you often do not get a small soap bar in Europe).  So are you supposed to shower with the soap bar? Or do you use the shampoo as a body wash? It confused me. 
  • A little kitchen unit or at least a microwave seems to become standard in Canadian hotel rooms as well. I love it.  Europe lags on that point; Since I am spending weekly time in hotels, I'd appreciate being to prep a simple meal in my room sometimes.
  • It seems very fashionable for NHL hockey players to wear a beard. Gosh, it seems to become fashionable to wear a beard for all men. 

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Made in Belgium: Rocco Granata

    Just a few weeks after Adamo, I present you another Italian immigrant. Rocco's parents came from Italy shorty after WWII to work in the Belgian coal mines, just like Adamo's family did...but Rocco's family ended up in Flanders. As a young boy already he played in a little band and he composed Manuela when he was 18. No record company was interested and so he produced the song himself...and quickly added a b-side "Marina".   Marina became a world hit, was covered by over 100 artists including Louis Armstrong  and Rocco Granata could go perform at Carnegie Hall.

    Personally I find his music rather outdated, even though I got to know him as a kid when Marina was remastered to a new beat hit with the help of The Confetti's
    But this summer all of a sudden he got a hit together with Buscemi "Sarracino". .  And much to my own surprise I find it catchy and happy and funny.  A fun summer hit.

    Rocco con Buscemi : Sarracino

    Marina - 1959


    Monday, September 5, 2011

    GP 'Poeske' Scherens

    Leuven kermis started again last weekend with all its attractions and flower carpet, etc... And a good traditional kermis also has a cycling race "around the church tower" as we tend to say. Well the GP Jef Scherens is more than an ordinary local kermis race but is a UCI 1.1 one-day classic where the cyclers from several international teams turn 13 times around the circuit making a total 183 kms. The winner was Jérôme Pineau (FRA, Quickstep Cycling Team).

    The race traditionally passes by our door but when the rain stopped we decided to start walking along a big part of the circuit....with the racers coming by all the time :) as well as the famous "Rodania" cars at the start of any cycling race, yet they had replaced their famous jingle with Flemisch schager music. Ugh.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    Summer as it should have been 3 months

    Working from home
    Lunch in the garden in the sun at 26C
    Doing routine work in the garden
    Big salad dinner in the garden while texting some friends
    Going for drinks with friends downtown in the city

    Visiting family & friends over the weekend, sitting outside in the garden in the shade because it's so hot

    Aaaah I could spend an entire summer like that. Unfortunately we had a very crappy summer, but those first 3 days in September were very very enjoyable!! Too bad it's over again already.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Gosh what happened to Dorre the Baker

    This sight was quite a shockto me last, where is Dorre The Baker?  What horrible tragedy was revealed here?

    For the non-Leuven readers:  in the main pedestrian shopping street is in the middle a statue of a pre-war baker, picking up dough from customers to bake it for them in his oven. But clearly Dorre was no longer there with only his amputated foot remaining :(. The poor man had already regularly and mysteriously lost an arm in the past, victim of some baker hating vandals.

    Some googling learned me that last Thursday a truck backed up stupidely and basically ran Dorre over and amputated his leg. Ouch , poor Dorre. I hope there's some good baker surgeons around  and maybe someone should pick-up the left-behind foot so Dorre can cure and return in the future.