London > Amsterdam

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Sep 05, 2007

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

(Amsterdam, Wednesday, July 18, 2007)-My flight back to Amsterdam today doesn't leave until late afternoon, so I've taken advantage of the extra working day by setting up a luncheon meeting with Domenic Thackray and Jesse Vile of the Raindance Film Festival to talk about their plans to screen TWENTY TO LIFE at the end of September.

I assure them that this will be the premiere British screening of the film and suggest that the one date we could do it so that Steve Gebhardt and I could both be on hand would be Saturday 29 September. We'd be premiering the film in Rome the night before and leaving for Detroit the day after, and if we could change our tickets to come from Rome to London (instead of Amsterdam) on the 29th and leave for Detroit from London (instead of Amsterdam) on the 30th, everything would work out.

Domenic had screened the movie for himself, enjoyed it tremendously and wanted to give it a big play in his festival, with the viewing to be staged at the Rex Theatre, a four-page spread in the Raindance catalog, a story in Mojo magazine and the presence of Steve and myself at the showing. We will have to hit, git and split for Detroit in the morning after the show, but the extra stress and strain on these two old men will probably be worth the trouble.

Then it was the tube to the train, the train to Stansted Airport, and easyJet back to Amsterdam Schipol in the late evening-just time enough to make a quick stop on the way from Centraal Station to check in at the 420 Café and enjoy a genuine Dutch smoke or two before heading back to my pad in the Jordaan. I had been right in the middle of trying to complete a film project in Amsterdam when I'd left for London; now there was only one week remaining before I had to go back to America, and I'd have a lot of catching up to do starting the next afternoon.

This film was a project of my producer, Henk Botwinik, originally intended to be a DVD Guide to Alternative Amsterdam, or Alternative Guide to Amsterdam. Three or four years ago Henk and two other characters collected some hefty sponsorship fees from three of the coffeeshops to be featured in the DVD. Then one of the principals returned to England, the money disappeared, the other partner withdrew and Henk was left holding the empty bag.

Henk and I have been partners with Larry Hayden in our Radio Free Amsterdam venture since the fall of 2004, and Larry and I are both so crazy about Henk that we'd do damn near anything to assist him in whatever endeavor he might be trying to accomplish. Larry and I also happen to be friends with the people at all three coffeeshops under question, and after several complicated discussions of the issues and problems involved with Henk's project, the three of us decided that the best thing to do would be to try to complete the DVD, take Henk off the hook and make everybody happy in the end.

When I got involved with the project Henk's concept began to change from a general exposition of Amsterdam's coffeeshop culture to a personalized tour of some of the alternative aspects of the city conducted and narrated by myself. He'd call it something like John Sinclair's Alternative Amsterdam and have it include scenes at several coffeeshops as well as at Hempshopper, the Cannabis College, Eat at Jo's and other favorite locations. We'd start from my arrival at Centraal Station, stroll down the Damrak, stop in at the 420 Café and the Canna, catch a tram to the Leidseplein, visit The Dolphins and Eat at Jo's, hop the #10 tram to the Pijp to check in with Harry at the Katsu, and wander our way around the Centruum to see other places and people we like to be with.

Henk and I had shot some footage for a short trailer for the film, and a nice interview with Sidney Daniels at Hempshopper, just before I'd left Amsterdam in the spring for my book tour, and then we'd started the major filming on July 10 with a great conversation with Radouane at The Dolphins, followed by a careful grilling of coffeeshop proprietor and local political agitator Michael Veling in his lair at the 420 Café two days later. 

Between the 19th and the 24th of July we completed our segments at the Canna, Katsu and the Cannabis College and shot some connecting footage that Henk would use to stitch the action together. I'll finish up my parts with Henk when I touch down in Amsterdam for one day-September 5th-on my way from Detroit to Italy, and he intends to have the film completed and pressed up by the Cannabis Cup in November.

In the middle of all this madness we all got together on Sunday at Eat at Jo's for a sumptuous meal and the final Amsterdam episode of the John Sinclair Radio Show for the summer.

August 27, 2007
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