On this day one hundred years ago, Imperial German soldiers who had peacefully arrived in the Belgian city of Leuven (Fr: Louvain), having taken hostages and accepted the parole of its mayor on behalf of its citizens, without warning set fire to the city and massacred its inhabitants forever altering the city, its university's library, and the course of the war.
Belgian Judicial Report on the Sacking of Louvain in August 1914 The destruction and rebuilding of the Louvain Library: claim and counterclaim
With the completion of the group stages, three quarters of the matches in the 2014 FIFA World Cup have been played. Now, it's a straight round-by-round elimination for the remaining 16 teams in their quest to reach the final. There's been biting, alternative commentary, mood swings, (allegedly) sulky England players, exciting matches, the USA vs Ronaldo, Europeans taking early return flights, deep analysis, a fantasy league and many goals - but who will finally lift the trophy in Rio's Estádio do Maracanã on Sunday 13th July? [more inside]
Vinkensport (finch sport), or vinkenzetting (finch sitting) is a Belgian, primarily Flemish, sport involving a box, a bird, and a counting stick. The bird that sings the most times in an hour wins. Here is a short and somewhat doubtful documentary.
BXL swings in the cracks is a "Collective who up-cycles waste (scrap wood, discarded domestic furniture, ...) into parasite interventions with the aim to vitalize public spaces." [more inside]
Would you take a mentally-ill stranger into your home to live with you like family, possibly for the rest of his life? What if your town had been doing it successfully for 700 years? Welcome to Geel, Belgium. [more inside]
65 years ago Vincent Speranza filled his helmet with beer to provide refreshment to some wounded in Belgium in WWII. Visiting in 2009 to commemerate the 65th anniversary of the battle, Vince learned that his act was immortalized on the label of Bastogne’s Airborne beer. The beer is typically served in ceremonial helmets.
This is Belgium Part Two
At the time this was the devil's music for us, but we have learned to listen through the claps and distorted kicks and discovered that if you slow these really dark and heavy techno records down all the way to about 115 bpm, it suddenly makes them sound less frantic, ballsier and a lot sexier. Belgium at its best when pitched down.[more inside]
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
Belgian designer Kristof Luyckx recently made six short videos as interstitials between lectures at the Beyonderground graphic festival. They are covers of famous songs, as sung by a cast of bizarre, colorful and very calm monsters. You can see all six at his site, or on Vimeo: [more inside]
The Cramps ripped it up, madly channeling the sordid specters of rock 'n roll's past while staying true to its psychedelic future, even when voxman Lux Interior was a lean 59 years old. The first show from their last-ever tour does nothing but prove it. [more inside]
"Yamada had already become interested in beer after going drinking with fellow students around Cambridge, and taken trips to Belgium and Munich to widen his beery knowledge. Listening to Bilimoria talk about his desire to brew a beer that would match up with Indian food, Yamada had a revelation. What about a beer specifically brewed to match up with Japanese food?"
Kathryn Bigelow's striking bin Laden manhunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty arrives in wide release tonight on the heels of a final artful trailer -- one with oddly familiar musical accompaniment. The funereal hymn, a cover of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" (lyrics), deftly recasts the 90s power ballad as a haunting dirge of quiet grief, shattered ideals, and a singleminded focus on revenge, a perfect distillation of the film's profoundly grim thesis. But while the song may be fitting, it wasn't composed for the project -- it's just the latest success story from Belgian women's choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers, whose mournful reinterpretations of classic and modern rock -- catapulted by their rendition of "Creep" in The Social Network -- have made them famous around the world, with star turns in the likes of Homeland ("Every Breath You Take") and Downton Abbey ("With or Without You"). Cover comparison site WhoSampled offers a list of YouTube comparisons between the covers and the originals; look inside for more of their work in movies and television. [more inside]
He is unknown. No name, no profession, no identifying details, but he looks out with the calm sternness of one who knows his place in the world. And because of this calmness, this sternness—the skeptical gaze and tight lips—we suspect it might be an image of the artist himself. Why Is This Man Wearing A Turban?, by Teju Cole.
Ghost town in Belgium will lose its street art when it ceases to exist. "For 700 years, Doel stood near Antwerp along the Scheldt River in Belgium. As Antwerp expanded in the 20th century, its port needed more space, and Doel quickly became a target for demolition. Trying to force residents out, the government scheduled demolitions multiple times, but were beaten by popular protests from the 1970s through the 1990s. But despite the will of the people, Doel could not be saved and in 1999, the town was officially scheduled for complete demolition. Since that time, residents have trickled out, but artists have made their way in. As more of the town became abandoned, street artists from across Europe came and began to debut their works around Doel." [more inside]
"It's not a race where you need good luck. It's a race where you've got to make sure you don't have any bad luck."
With Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (results), the Belgian professional bicycle racing season has begun. Races are contested in the capricious spring weather, on devastatingly steep hills called hellingen, winding roads, and the cobbles known as pavé. Only cycling's true hardmen win these Spring Classics. [more inside]
Closer to Van Eyck is an ultra-high-resolution look at one of the greatest masterpieces of Flemish painting, the Ghent Altarpiece (previously) an astounding 100 billion pixels in size. Stolen, with permission, from peacay's Twitter stream.
If you don’t use the right potatoes, the right oil, and the right fryers, well, you get french fries. And that’s the reason you don’t find Belgian fries anywhere. [more inside]
After a record-breaking year-and-a-half of negotiations to form a Belgian government following the June 2010 general elections [previously], a six-party coalition has finally reached an agreement. While this is noteworthy enough, the character who has finally achieved the seemingly impossible and is set to become Belgium's first Francophone Prime Minister since 1974 is possibly even more interesting: meet Elio di Rupo. [more inside]
Malpertuis (Belgium, 1971, aka ‘The Legend of Doom House’) is a movie that has been described as ‘bizarre, lurid and baffling;’ ‘a mysterious curiosity;’ and ‘exquisitely bonkers.’ An international cast led by Mathieu Carrière and Susan Hampshire (playing five rôles) also included Orson Welles. Its director, Harry Kümel, is otherwise best known for his stylish lesbian vampire flick Les Lèvres Rouges (aka ‘Daughters of Darkness’). The movie was adapted from an unusual gothic novel, first published in wartime Brussels—the work of Jean Ray (aka Raymond Jean-Marie de Kremer): a convicted embezzler & prolific hack, who was, nevertheless, one of the foremost exponents of the fantastique in French-language fiction. Please note that some of the links above are NSFW (some nudity) & several contain SPOILERS. [more inside]
I Feel Love, Kids in America, Pinball Wizard, Let me Go, Maid of Orleans, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, I Need you Tonight, Big In Japan... The Benelux based Night of the Proms concerts have spend the last couple of decades or so pairing pop singers - often the ones we might remember best from dance floors - with large choirs and orchestras. This is now one of Europe's largest music events. [more inside]
The Dutch Heartbreak Hotel offers separating couples throughout the Netherlands and Belgium a unique service: a complete, finalized divorce in just 48 hours. [more inside]
Cowboy Henk is an extremely stupid, surreal, and funny comic strip from Belgium. Mostly SFW but occasionally very NSFW. [more inside]
What is this ad announcing? (note: scroll down slowly!)
Worse than Iraq: 253 days without a working goverment - a new world record, and no solution in sight. [more inside]
Belgium's telecoms companies have a reputation for customer care that is only slightly better than the Gestapo's. Because of divisions among the linguistic areas, monopolies and a disinterest in oversight, the phone and internet companies are notorious for outstandingly poor customer service. Everyone has a tale to tell. In my case, I had a deal with one company and when my neighbour got connected with a rival firm, instead of putting in a new cable, they literally cut through mine and attached him. They then refused to reconnect me, on the grounds that I was not a customer of theirs. After five weeks of getting nowhere, I had to pay another company to install a new cable. Recently a Flemish TV show fought back for all of us. SLYT. A fine and elaborate prank that needs to be watched to the end. Yes it is a SLYT but for anyone who has ever had to deal with Belgian telecoms or internet companies, this is entirely justified payback.
Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
Belgium : delicious fries, chocolate and beer, beautiful and quirky art, a deranged king, a great singer, terrible weather and utterly infuriating politics.
'No Belgian church escaped sex abuse', finds investigation. It reveals that abuse was so extensive that it was going on in almost every diocese and at every Church-run boarding school: "We can say that no congregation escapes sexual abuse of minors by one or several of its members," the commission concluded." 'Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, an independent Belgian commission said Friday.' 'Friday's report lists 507 witnesses who came forward with stories of molestation at the hands of clergy over the past decades. It says those abused included children who were two, four, five and six years old.' [more inside]
Belgian proto-punk Plastic Bertrand fires back over allegations that he did not actually sing on his 1977 hit single Ça plane pour moi.
Ben Heine is a Belgian painter, illustrator, portraitist, caricaturist and photographer. His recent project, Pencil vs. Camera, is an amalgam of illustration and photography, creating something similar in a single image showing two different actions. His Flickr Photostream.
In 1948, in the aftermath of the Second World War, with Europe still in ruins, three young Belgian comic strip artists, Joseph Gillain (aka Jijé), Maurice de Bevere (aka Morris) and André Franquin, crossed the Atlantic with the intention of settling in the US. All three would eventually return to Belgium, their hopes of working for Disney ultimately dashed by the turmoil of the McCarthy years. However, in the meantime they made the acquaintance of their colleagues of the Charles William Harvey Studio in New York, including a cosmopolitan young wit named René Goscinny. [more inside]
Every evening since July 2nd 1928*, at precisely eight o'clock, the Last Post has been played under the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres, "Wipers" as it was known to British tommies), Belgium. The ritual - performed by buglers from the local fire brigade - honours British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the five battles at Ypres in the First World War. Today is the 27,888th day of the Last Post ceremony. [more inside]
They follow you on the escalator and bother you at the bus stop. They spook your horses and frighten your children. But deep down, they just want to be loved. Belgian animators Thijs de Cloedt and Wouter Sel from Volstok Telefunken have imagined monsters for all occasions. [Website in Flemish]
Would you care to relax in the bosom of my family this christmas? Freed from the formality of working life? Christmas Tidings from Mr. Cholmondley-Warner and Grayson (SLHEYT) [more inside]
Marc Moulin, Belgian pop culture polymath and electropop pioneer, has died. Moulin was probably best known outside of Belgium for the electronic group Telex, founded in 1978 with Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers. Telex scored an international hit with Moskow Diskow, made a great video for their version of Twist a Saint-Tropez, did anything but Rock Around the Clock and, most famously, entered the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest with a cheerfully mocking song titled Euro-Vision. [more inside]
German newspaper Der Spiegel decided to take a look at Europe's oddest folk traditions and festivals. Perhaps you can have a metaphorical hard-on for the phallus festival of Tyrnavos, Greece. Maybe you're hungry for how a small Belgian town celebrates the practice of swallowing live fish. Or, alternately, you can look down on those bizarre practices... while chasing a giant wheel of cheese down a hill. [more inside]
But is it art? Apparently so - A page of original Tintin artwork by Belgian artist Hergé becomes part of the Pompidou Centre's permanent collection of Modern Art, the first comics artwork to do so despite Frances vibrant comics culture.
Baarle-Hertog/Baarle-Nassau has been previously mentioned in MeFi. A historical quirk and geographical jigsaw, these days the complicated border criscrossing this Belgo-Dutch town had become little more than a tourist attraction. What happens, however, when a dead body is found, and nobody knows in which country it lies?
Subtropical sea-louse! It's the Tintinologist, an encyclopedia of Tintin, including such treats as all 195 of Captain Haddock's curses and an interview with Tintin's longtime translators.
Interesting goings-on in Belgium (really). "Plucky little" Belgium, HQ of the very post-national European Union, is in the throes of a deep political crisis, driven by strong nationalistic feelings. The winner of the recent general election, Yves Leterme, has proved [FL] unable [FR] to form a government across the Flemish-French divide, and talk of the country splitting two (or even three) is more serious than ever before. [more inside]
Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News.
Belgium is no more. Flanders has unilaterally declared independence, and the king has left the country in protest, RTBF reports.
One-Nil to Google against old media. As Inside Google says, the search engine "responding to Belgian newspaper’s complaints about being included in Google News and the Google cache, as well as a court ruling that they remove those newspapers from their services, decided to show them who’s boss and banned the newspapers outright from Google Belgium’s search results." Or, news organisation misunderstands the benefits of new media and pays dearly.
Kattenstoet, a triennial cat parade is this weekend in Ypres, Belguim. The festival culminates with Kattenworp, the hurling of kittens from the Cloth Hall Belfry, a continuation of Europe's long ambiguous history of fascination with the feline. [more inside]
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