The beauty of decay

United Artists Theather (c) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

United Artists Theather (c) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Most people think ruins are ugly, but somehow I have always been intrigued and attracted to the beauty of decay. As a child I always looked up the empty places, the old abandoned school across the street, a little cabin in the woods next to our house etc. More recently I went to Doel, a little almost abandoned village next to Antwerpen. Yesterday I came across some awesome pictures showing ruins in Detroit. The photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre explain how they see their photograph series:

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the city of Detroit developed rapidly thanks to the automobile industry. Until the 50’s, its population rose to almost 2 million people.
Detroit was the 4th most important city in the United States. It was the dazzling symbol of the American Dream City with its monumental skyscrapers and fancy neighborhoods.
Increasing segregation and deindustrialization caused violent riots in 1967. The white middle-class exodus from the city accelerated and the suburbs grew.Firms and factories began to close or move to lower-wage states. Slowly, but inexorably downtown high-rise buildings emptied. Since the 50’s, “Motor City” lost more than half of its population. Nowadays, its splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great civilization.

Bank Vault (c) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Bank Vault (c) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel (c) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel (c) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel (c) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Ballroom, Fort Wayne Hotel (c) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

These and more amazing pictures will be published in the book  The Ruins of Detroit, get your copy here.
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Things I have learned in ’09

As I was sick for a few days I had enough time to think about everything I wanted (and did not want) to think about. Maybe it’s because my first wisdom tooth is coming up, but I also thought about the past year and all that I’ve learned. Of course I have developed myself and learned many life lessons the past year, but I won’t bore you with that. At the end of the year lists seem to appear everywhere, so why not join the herd for once? Below you’ll find a list of – what might appear to be random – things that I learned in 2009. As I said before, there is no such thing as useless knowledge!

–  A DSLR takes much nicer pictures than my old DSC (both Canon)
–  Only Irish whiskey has the extra e (instead of Scottish whisky), which they like to say it stands for enjoyment
Rutger Hauer is a very nice man who likes two sugars in his coffee
– I can’t seem to celebrate carnival without getting sick afterwards
Festivals are still as fun as two years ago
Cats can be pretty damn cute
– I really can call some of  my friends in the middle of the night, and they will pick up
– Dutch people will dress up like anything for free fuel
– Riding around in a shopping card means guaranteed bruises
– Drinking vodka from a detox cup is not good
– Actually, anything coming from a detox cup has made me sick

2009 Graffiti

(c) Peter Koenig

– I still can’t control myself when going into a bookstore
Doel isn’t entirely empty yet
Ze Frank is as funny live as he was on The Show
– Amsterdam is even prettier by night
– Foreign guys somehow still attract me more than Dutch for no apparent reason
–  Work isn’t always as fun and as important as you might think
–  Talking to strangers can be a good thing
–  TEDxAmsterdam was as cool as anticipated
– My little finger size is more an 11 than a 12 (ergo I lost my ring)
– Stop dying my hair actually makes it look better
Twitter is more addictive than one might think
– Stewardess flatmates suck
Sequins weren’t only cool when I was born (in the ’80s)
n8 is really cool, afterparties not so much
– Being the only Dutch in a German/American bachelorette party is fun
– I can do the electric slide like a true middle-aged American
– Gay saunas in Amsterdam are also used for art exhibitions/launch parties
– A trip to Copenhagen showed me that it is still my favourite city in the world (after Amsterdam)
– It’s lonely without friends and family
Paris is not too bad
– Going into crazy rides after drinking a few Maß at Oktoberfest doesn’t make you sick
– You can’t trust millionaire men, even if they have a daughter your own age
–  Things might look bad, but it could always be worse.

Do with this information what you want :-)

Doel – the saddest place in Belgium

Silent protest on the Doel streets

Silent protest on the Doel streets

Earlier this year I went to the free film festival Pluk de Nacht. One night I was there they showed a short documentary about Doel (“Doel leeft” by Tom Fassaert). It’s a little village in Belgium waiting to be demolished completely for the expansion of the Antwerp port. The documentary showed the last inhabitants that were unable or unwilling to move. Pretty depressing and surreal situation which the documentary showed perfectly.

Last weekend I went to Antwerp and via Twitter I was reminded about Doel. Took the car and in the middle of nowhere we found the town. Even more empty than in the documentary, it was a true ghost town. The one nice thing about it was the abundance of (street) art. Luckily I had my DSLR with me so in the short time I was there I quickly shot some pictures. Via a friend I found a great Flickr set of someone who has been there the same day I was. It’s still unclear when the town will be wiped off the map, but if you want to see it for yourself you’ll have to hurry up.