In 1985 I composed my first poem under the friendly light of a lamppost after crashing with my bicycle in the middle of the night. I crashed because I was drunk, the result of spending yet another night at ‘De Boemerang’. It was a bit of a strange place. Mopeds parked outside, routine fights between local gangs, why did I even go there? They played the (New Wave) music I liked, no one seemed to give fuck about the way I danced, and the beer was cheap. I rest my case. Today `De Boemerang` doesn’t exist anymore.
It was the year of my coming out, I started going out in 1985. After school we often went to Mariposa, a scarcely lit pub in the centre of Amersfoort. I drank Westmalle, and felt strange after two of those strong Belgian beers. Cycling home was always a challenge. From today’s perspective it sounds strange, but when I was 16 it was not problem at all to buy beer in a pub (or in a supermarket for that matter). We didn’t choose to go to Mariposa, we just followed the older and infinitely more popular guys who used it as their Friday night hangout. The girls followed them, we followed the girls. Today Mariposa doesn’t exist anymore.
Sometimes we went to ‘Grachtkerk’, although I never felt comfortable there. So little experience with life that a bunch of local punks squatting a former church scared the shit out of me. Again, I just followed. One of my classmates was often at Grachtkerk. I don’t remember if he actually lived there. Probably not, more than anything else we were just ‘have-all’s’ with a hobby. Grachtkerk, a.k.a.Kippehok (Henhouse), was a good place for punk concerts; no one paid attention to you, everything was allowed. Today Grachtkerk doesn’t exist anymore .
After high school I stopped going out in Amersfoort. Utrecht, and to a lesser extent Hilversum, became my natural habitat. Hilversum had ‘Tagrijn’, a local youth centre and concert venue. At Tagrijn I saw Herman Brood, our favourite (Rock ‘n Roll) junkie having a fight with his guitar player on stage and stumble off stage covered in blood. Of course he was high on heroin, wasn’t he always? Most of the time I was in Utrecht though, especially after 1990. Mainly in Tivoli, where I spent many drunk and wildly melancholic nights, looking for something without knowing what. Today Tagrijn and (the Oudegracht location of) Tivoli don’t exist anymore.
When I drive through the town of my youth, the town where I grew up, I don’t recognise a lot anymore. My personal history, all places where I spent a lot of time or where something important happened, it’s all gone, all sacrificed in the name of progress. When I drive through the town of my youth, I don’t feel progress, just loss.
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