“I was born on an air force base between Los Angeles and Las Vegas: Edwards Air Force base. When it was time for me to start school we moved to Los Angeles and spent my youth there. After studying French and Spanish I wanted to go to France and Spain to put these languages to practice. I looked for a cheap ticket to Europe, and found one going to Amsterdam.
When I arrived in Amsterdam I thought, “This will do”. I’d never seen anywhere like it. Los Angeles is dominated by cars: you do everything with a car. Because of this, there’s hardly any street life. In Amsterdam everyone’s on a bicycle, or on a tram.
And then there are the old buildings, “Beautiful”. Los Angeles has a building that’s fifty years old. In Amsterdam, you can touch history. You can feel that life has been going on long before the modern age.
Because I wasn’t born in the Netherlands, I still look at it with a stranger’s eyes. I’m always surprised. I’ve taken the initiative to start up a monthly live talk show called Stadsleven (City life). We talk about different themes connected to the city, Amsterdam in particular. One example is our show about cycling in the city. The bicycle is an Amsterdam icon, and a really democratic form of transport. A lady in a suit and high heels will just get on her bike. Another show was about the Dutch countryside. I’m always struck by that. For people from the United States nature is everything people HAVEN’T made. In the Netherlands, everything is man-made. So the countryside is called the wilderness.
Holland has a strong, collective culture because people are so crammed together and have to solve any problems as a group. In America, you just start again if something goes wrong; there’s enough room. This simply isn’t possible here.”
6.876 people in Amsterdam have the American nationality