Volume 19 | Issue 30 | December 8 - 14, 2006
Cr. Photo illustration courtesy of Give Us Back New York
Photo illustration of a canal flowing from Wall St., one of many unusual ideas on a new Dutch Web site.
Dutch treat, trick or takeover threat?
By Lori Haught
Are the Dutch none to happy with the way our fair city is being governed? A small group of enterprising Dutchmen have started a Web site demanding New York return to its Dutch roots and change its name back to New Amsterdam, a.k.a. the Big Orange.
Nico Akkerman started Give Us Back New York after he heard Bill O‘Rielly say his worst fear was that America would become like Holland. Akkerman, a 34-year-old advertising executive, decided New York needed to get closely reacquainted with its history.
“After remaining silent for centuries of injustice, that was just a bit too much to take, even for tolerant people like the Dutch,” Akkerman wrote in an e-mail to Downtown Express. “We felt we had to take a stand and demanding back The Big Orange, which is rightfully ours to begin with, seemed like the logical thing to do.”
He works with fellow Amsterdam residents Bart Kooij, Scott Smith, Niels Bredemeijer and Steef Nijhof. All of them also work for JWT Amsterdam, an international advertising company with an office in New York City as well.
Give Us Back New York wants a canal through the Dutch-laid streets of Lower Manhattan, orange cabs and marijuana in coffeehouses. The Empire State Building would be converted into a house of ill repute.
If their demands to return the city to Dutch control are not met, they have threatened to put a Dutch organ, the draaiorgel (pronounced dry-or-gel -- with the “g” pronounced as in “get”), on every street corner.
In a recent e-mail interview with the Downtown Express, Akkerman spoke like a smooth politician while explaining his strange plan.
What is the motivation behind Give Us Back New York?
Getting it back. As we say in Holland: “In 1664 New Amsterdam became a bore.” We feel that our once proud city has been governed the wrong way for too long. You guys even banned drinking alcohol for a while. You have accepted a French statue, turned korfbal (a beautiful mixed gender sport where men have to guard women and vice versa) into basketball and you have renamed our city after the Duke of York who can be seen in a London museum wearing a dress, to name just a few things. This all just hurts us and we will set things straight.
It will take a lot of time and persistence but in the end we will prevail.
People are calling it a ploy to sell more “I love NA” merchandise on your Web site.
We don’t see it as merchandise. We rather like to think of it as revolutionary uniforms and memorabilia. People who wear our shirts make a proud and noble statement: “We will wear these cheap and unflattering shirts until DKNY becomes DKNA.” Besides that we consider all money we make from the Web site [www.giveusbacknewyork.com] reparations. Calling our fine products merchandise is part of a vicious campaign of lies spread by our opponents, like the rumor that we will make everybody wear wooden shoes after we take over. This is simply not the case. Only the Naked Cowboy [in Times Square] will be required to wear wooden shoes by law. Ordinary citizens will also have the option to walk barefoot if they choose. It’s all about freedom
Even if it’s not true, have sales spiked?
Answering that question in detail would give our enemies insight in the exact number of Soldiers of Orange, but yes, we can tell you that sales are going well. Our sweatshops are working round the clock and have even volunteered to give up one of their 53 vacation days.
Do you really plan on putting organs on street corners and do you have the means to carry out the “threat”?
We do have the means. Our 21st mobile mechanized organ division is both willing and ready. But we really feel that we do not have to go to such extremes. New Yorkers are Dutch even if they don’t know it. An estimated one million New Yorkers are descendents from just one Dutch couple named Catalina Trico and Joris Rapalje, so you must imagine the sizable fifth column that already exists in New Amsterdam. If we keep communicating with them, sooner or later they will feel the urge to plant tulips in Central Park, dig canals all over town and marry the same sex.
I am sure that some of the points have garnered support among certain groups (i.e. some college students will probably stand behind Starbucks being a real coffee house) -- if New York were willing to negotiate what points would you most want to stick to and what would you give up?
First of all let me make it clear that we shouldn’t have to negotiate at all since we are the only legal owners of New Amsterdam (or New York as you persist in calling it). If you abbreviate New Amsterdammer or Native American, you get N.A. Coincidence? We think not.
But we are not unreasonable people. Of course we do have to insist on Wall St. becoming a canal and Starbucks a real coffee shop, but the prostitutes can also be located in the Chrysler Building instead of the Empire State Building and only cabs licensed after accession will have to be painted orange. We are also willing to cede claims on Staten Island in exchange for being allowed to widen the Hudson River to further separate New Amsterdam from New Jersey (or as we will call it, New New York).
How would it be better if we went back to our Dutch roots?
Our message to the people of New York City is that theirs does not have to be a dark, chilly island. It can once again be a shining stone on the crown of the House of Orange.
The list of advantages to the citizens is endless. The Hudson River will return to it’s much finer name, river Mauritius. We will not only keep you safe from drowning when waters rise as a result of global warning by building dikes, we will also take land from the sea enabling every citizen to finally have a decent size apartment. With a trillion tulips in Central Park the whole city will smell better, and you can all have cool Dutch names like Constans Vierkant (Stanley Kubrick in Dutch).
But the number one reason to return to your Dutch roots is that you will all be a little more relaxed. We deeply admire your “everything is possible” mentality and we would not want the city that never sleeps to doze off. But once in a while you just need to put your wooden shoes up on the rail of a canal boat and light up a big old home made cigarette, and just chill.
It’s almost too hard to take Akkerman seriously, and it’s certainly hard to imagine a 34-year-old businessman sitting in an office in Amsterdam pondering draaiorgels and korfbal and the way New York should be run.
When pressed, Akkerman did finally acknowledge that he and his partners are studying experimental and unconventional advertising techniques for JWT. He said they make virtually no money on the tee shirts, bags or books of stamps because there is little markup.
Ultimately, it may just be a fun assignment involving a certain amount of role-playing and a whole lot of Photoshopping!