About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

State of Failure: Belgians abroad

Introduction

Belgians love their vacations and holidays. Unlike most other peoples, Belgians tend to avoid each other like the plague when abroad.

Whereas Americans are always happy to meet compatriots abroad and the Dutch tend to magnetically clump together until they form a monstrous construct of noisy wheels, crying children and dirty caravans, Belgians travel in small, silent groups.

One way Belgians achieve this stealth is by speaking as little as possible so that if at all doable, they blend in with the natives. When they do have to interact with people abroad, if possible they will not state their background.

Walloons hate being thought of as French, except when in France. Flemings who have mastered English to a more or less perfect degree do the same in the UK and/or the US. Even Belgians of Moroccan or Turkish descend frequently visit the country where their roots lie, only to pretend not to be Belgian for as long as possible.

Important facts

Belgians have grown tired of explaining to ignorant foreigners where Belgium is, that it’s not a boring country and that we’re about more than food and football (though both are pretty big in Belgium, of course).

Some have taken this wariness to extreme heights of irony, like tricking gullible Americans into believing Belgium is an island in the Pacific, or that Belgium simply does not exist.

Apparently Belgians are favoured hotel guests all over the world because they are quiet and polite. Of course, little do these hotel managers know Belgians still manage a smile even if they’re simmering with rage on the inside over a misplaced fork or the unavailability of fries.

Why Belgians travel

The number one question Belgians face if they return home is: “how was the food”. No, I swear we’re not all about the food. This is not a small-talk question. The freshly-returned tourist will then describe each meal they had in great detail in front of an enraptured or disgusted audience, which is taking mental notes for future recollection. Bad food can spoil an entire holiday season.

The second most important question is: “how was the weather”. Anything but mostly sunny is unacceptable of a summer holiday destination. Third and last is: “how were the people”, though that is more of a perfunctory question, because in most cases, Belgians can already draw on a long list of national stereotypes about people they’ve never even met.

Belgians tend to reserve more sympathy for nations of somewhat similar standing, like Denmark, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sweden or Ireland.



Testament to this is the massive number of Irish pubs dotting the Belgian cityscape, mostly populated by personnel that tries its best to hide its massive Flemish accent when speaking English.

Where Belgians go

Belgians’ holiday destinations depend on social class and on political preferences.



Communicating with the locals
Walloons are rather shy and feel ill at ease when speaking a foreign language, even if, in some cases, their command of it is adequate enough. That’s why remaining within la Francophonie is an idea that appeals to them a lot.

Bruxellois fancy themselves citizens of the world and feel more comfortable abroad, often better informed about foreign countries than what’s going on in Flanders and Wallonia.

Flemings drastically overstate their knowledge of foreign languages and will often end up fumbling their way through comically embarrassing situations in a travesty of Spanish, Italian or German they picked up from comic books or pop culture.

German-speaking Belgians are the deepest-cover tourists of all. They can pass for most Western-European nationals, and avidly do so to avoid explaining for the 1000th time German is spoken in Belgium.

How to make Belgian tourists miserable




Amen


So, ladies and gents, that was it for @antonvoloshin’s week of commanding the Control Room of @belgiumers. Feel free to follow me or check out my website www.antonvoloshin.net.

I hope you enjoyed the ride and have as much fun flying along as I did captaining our spaceship! Commander Voloshin signing out!

State of Failure: Congo & co


Introduction

The countries of DR Congo, Burundi and Rwanda are Belgium’s former colonies. Apart from literally being goldmines, they are also paradises for biologists, anthropologists and doomsayers. Each year, new measurements are made of how deep humanity can sink amid chopped-off limbs, mass rape, genocide, greed and condescending Western indifference. In these lands, people still appreciate the true value of life.




Natural liches

A large part of the DR Congo is covered by rainforests. In the west and north, the Congo River forms a natural political border, though it’s not like foreigners need a lot of discouragement from visiting the country. In the east, several mass grave sites are mined for gold, silver and coltan. Rwanda and Burundi are hilly, which has given Rwanda its nickname, “the country of a thousand hills”.


From new low to new low, all the way down
The phantom limb of the opera: by playing off the UK, Germany and France against each other, Leopold II gets personal control over the Congo area in 1884. Although he never visits the enormous region himself, it soon becomes a nesting spot for psychopaths, priests of questionable spiritual merit, and racists.

White man who shits his pants: after Leopold’s death in 1908, the Belgian state takes over Congo, and adds Rwanda and Burundi to them in 1919. In both nations, Belgians perfect the Germans’ system of racial classification, mostly based on racism and bullshit. In the ‘50s, king Baudouin visits the colonies under great public interest. The locals name him “bwana kitoko”, which means “white man who shits his pants”.

From Zaire to Congo: after a volatile period, Congo becomes independent in 1960. Peace returns only after Patrice Lumumba is dead and Mobutu Sese Seko reforms the country into a kleptocracy. Mobutu will pride himself on the fact that his country will be among the 5 last in every possible world ranking and celebrates this by renaming the country Zaire. His regime falls in 1997, injuring its prostate. This is the dawn of the Kabila age. The land is called Congo again, with ‘Democratic Republic of’ added in front – each citizen now has a right to free AIDS, sexual torture and euthanasia.

Rumble in the jungle: before the end of the Mobutu regime, Rwanda becomes the stage of a vicious genocide in 1992. About a million people die, mostly Tutsis, Twa and moderate Hutus. The UN promptly responds by politely asking the Rwandan militias to consider not killing people. The militias ignore the question, which results in a sternly worded letter from the UN.

Chinese democracy: today, the area is still tense and volatile. As the West’s influence in Africa wanes, that of China is rising. Akin to the racist ‘white man’s burden’ from a century ago, the ‘yellow man’s burden’ is simply to ensure profits for Chinese companies while turning a blind eye to the horrible human rights records of many African countries.


Belgian micro-colonies
Benidorm
To end on a somewhat lighter note, Belgium’s international presence was not limited to Africa. Benidorm is to Belgium what Gibraltar is to the UK. Today, it is mostly a dumping ground for old people, and it is expected the Belgian government will hand over Benidorm to Spain once the last person there has died (ca. 2030).

Comacina

In the middle of the Como Lake in Italy, there’s a small island named Comacina, which was a present to King Albert I from Italy. The King didn’t much like olives and wasn’t too thrilled about the hot weather, so he gave the island back in 1920. This would turn out to be a costly mistake: he was killed by a mafia commando in 1934 while mountaineering.

The Princess Elisabeth base

Antarctica has the Princess Elisabeth base, where scientists test the effect of long polar winters on the libido of Dixie Dansercour. The famed polar explorer would like to rename the base ‘The Penguin House’ and has requested ‘snow bunnies’ to come visit him – to no avail.

Baarle-Hertog

In the Dutch province North-Brabant, there’s the Belgian exclave of Baarle-Hertog, which in turn encompasses a Dutch exclave within its borders. This unique construction became the blueprint for Swaziland and Lesotho.

Both Baarles offer the worst of both worlds: potted fish in béchamel sauce, wilted fries from a wall machine, and liquorice that tastes like mayonnaise.

Pattaya

In his search for compensation for the size of his small country, Leopold II also explored the Far East. Eventually, he chose Pattaya, a seaside town in Thailand that, corresponding to Ostend, would later get the lovely nickname ‘the Child Whore of Seaside Towns’. Its current governor, Lou Depryck of the political party Hollywood Bananas, continues this fine tradition to this day.

State of Failure: Luxembourg

Introduction

The heavily forested, pleasantly warm province of Luxembourg seems like a utopia at first sight, with its charming villages made of natural rock, its picturesque provincial towns and its old castles. However, for over 180 years, the province has been living in a cold war with its independent eastern neighbour, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

A demilitarized zone of 10km across both borders should prevent the blood-thirsty Grand Duke from risking a surprise attack to annex the province and subjecting it to his tyrannical regime of bankers and stock exchange traders.

Important facts


While being one of the largest provinces, Luxembourg is also Belgium’s most sparsely populated. People who want to live in Luxembourg are carefully vetted and checked first for potential hidden loyalties to Germany, France or the dastardly Grand Duke.

By local law, Luxembourgians are also required to at least pass two evenings in a local bar drinking abbey beer, and attending at least three barbecues each summer to check on what the neighbours are doing.

Every October, paedophiles are set loose in the forests to be hunted by amateur hunters for sport. They display their collection of scalped moustaches and brown-tinted glasses on their belts as trophies.

Home swine home
The Ardennes forest covers most of the province in all of its leafy, rocky and riverly glory. Yet, the province has not as much trouble as its neighbours have with bored Flemish tourists. This is because Flemings have a psychotic fear of encountering large animals that aren’t catatonic and haven’t been put behind electrified fences.

The south of Luxembourg has the Belgian Lorraine and Gaume areas, the terror of every geography student in secondary school.

The ranger’s ballad

When the Belgian Revolution broke out in 1830, the revolutionaries also declared it was the will of the Luxembourgians to escape the Dutch yoke. That was a rather gratuitous statement, because there was almost no one in Luxembourg, let alone someone who could lay claim to that will or knew what was going on in Brussels.

Liègeois and Namurian forest rangers joined forces to secretly move border posts to the east every day, until the Grand Duke, a loyal vassal of the Dutch king, got wind of it and sent his own rangers on the war path.

Soon, a status quo emerged which has caused both Luxembourgs to exist in a state of cold war, despite all attempts of mediation by the UN. Some families of wild boars have been separated for generations because of this.


 
To see and visit in Luxembourg
Arlon
In any other province, Arlon would have shared the fate of provincial towns full of regressive simpletons such as Eeklo, Jambes or Hamont-Achel. But, for lack of a better alternative, Arlon was turned into the province’s capital. The city’s history purportedly dates back to the Roman era, but what use is that to its present-day inmates?

Belgian Lorraine
The Belgian Lorraine area prides itself on its micro-climate. The region has a strong showing in statistics of forest fires, skin cancers and death by over-heating, even beating the Kempen. The Red Cross regularly sets up shop during summers to distribute bags of Orval.

Bastogne

Bastogne rose to world fame during WW2 when Nazi general von Rundsted’s troops were unable to cut through the thick walls of Ardennes ham, cheese and sausage. This event is commemorated every year during the Liège-Bastogne-Liège festival with thick, oversized sandwiches.

Bouillon

The town of Bouillon became part of history thanks to its Godfried. In the 11th century, he built a castle and got so insane with boredom in the middle of nowhere that he travelled to Jerusalem and clobbered everyone to death on the way.

Today, Bouillon, just like Bastogne, is mainly the theatre of ‘reenactors’, who, dressed up in Mediaeval or Nazi gear, try to give their sex life a new dimension.

Virton

Virton is marked as the only town whose football club refused a promotion to the Belgian Premier League. Its Rangers couldn’t guarantee the men’s safety if they would travel beyond the province borders.

Durbuy

With its misleading title as “the smallest city in the world”, Durbuy annually convinces thousands of tourists and naive Flemish television presenters to heap praise on a place that has nothing on offer except a bland mini-golf course.

Few people know Durbuy owes its title to it being founded by leprechauns, who went extinct by the 18th century.

In His Majesty’s Secret Service

Every Luxembourgian is enrolled in the Belgian Secret Services to help the fight against infiltrators from the evil Grand Duke. Barring that, many Luxembourgian men, grown buff and strong through lumberjacking, swine wrestling and rock climbing, find employ in the German porn industry. Their Ardennes sausages are the stuff of legend in pornography.

Eating shit and drinking piss

With genocidal crusades going out of vogue somewhere near the 15th century, Luxembourgians have come up with elaborate folk traditions that differ from village to village. These include bizarre wedding rituals such as attempting to peek up the skirt of the bride, or drinking senior citizens’ urine for good luck.

Another typical Luxembourgian pastime is the shit lottery, where the village’s most obese person shits in a field, and the person who was allotted this square of land in a secret ballot has to eat all the shit. The neighbouring Grand Duchy has a similar game, but with cocaine.

State of Failure: the Prince-Bishopric of Liège and the East Cantons


Introduction

The Bishopric of Liège can lay claim to being the most Belgian of all provinces. In its historical area, Belgium’s three future languages had been spoken for centuries, and it is also the cradle of fries, waffles, weapons and paedo priests. In addition, the Bishopric was never part of the original Seventeen Provinces.

Like real proto-Belgians, the Liègeois preferred muddling on on themselves, under God’s gently closed eyes.

When the German Empire ceded Prussian Wallonia to Belgium in 1919, it was actually relieved to be rid of it. The East Cantons had 0 economical value, no monuments and not even any mountains. Ever since, the East Cantons are Belgium’s eccentric old uncle who lives in the garden house – as long as the married couple keeps arguing and shouting, they can’t hear how the garden house’s inhabitant cries himself to sleep every night.

Important facts

Liège is Belgium’s largest province, mostly due to its indigestion because of all the lovely, tasty food it produces. Don’t fat-shame the province, however, or you will stare down the barrel of some semi-automatic rifle made to kill some poor sods in Africa or Asia.

‘La chaise à papy’ (“Grandfather’s chair”) is an important object in any Liègeois household, to be treated with proper respect. Even if a family is without a grandfather, his putative chair must be protected from water, fire, wind or jam damage at all costs.


 
Belgium’s arse
Liège is Belgium’s shapely buttocks, which means the region never left its anal phase. Prince-bishop André Léonard has a strong Catholic anal fixation on sodomy.

The Meuse, Rhine and Ourthe rivers get their characteristically black colour from industrial erosion, while the forested Ardennes and Condroz regions rejoice in the annual coming of dozens of sweaty, lost Flemings and Dutch people in ugly shorts.

More to the south, there’s the Famenne Depression, which is slowly filling up due to the large amount of people that come there to commit suicide.

Seasoning the Mass wine

Even in the Middle Ages, people noted that the Liège area made excellent weapons. This industry balloons under Leopold II’s rule, who supplies weapon maker FN with a test area in the heart of Africa, where customers can hunt elephants, lions and human beings.

As a counterpart to all this violence, the Liège area also gained a reputation as a spa: towns like Spa and Chaudfontaine were able to convince the world it was worth the effort to pay for bottled water.

To see and visit in Liège and the East Cantons

 
Liège proper
The city of Liège proper is known as ‘the Fiery City’. Liègeois are irritated by their city’s image as ‘the Palermo of the North’ if they’re not too busy dodging grenades and bullets or being mugged by grandsons of impoverished Italian workers.

Herstal

Herstal’s weapon factories are known all over the world. Maoist rebels, Arab dictators, American elite troops and other ambitious criminals against humanity all stick to FN’s guns. For the demanding customer who wishes to murder people in very specific ways, FN also makes tailor-made guns.

Grâce-Hollogne

The house of horrors of Grâce-Hollogne is probably the province’s best-known tourist attraction. Your entire family can get the shivers by being buried alive or experiencing horrific domestic abuse. Even the little ones are taken care of: they can get locked up in one of the house’s paedo cellars and die of starvation and exposure.

Spa®

Picturesque Spa® lent its name in English to all spas, a profitable franchise that still brings in millions in royalties to the town. Spa® offers a wide range of hydrating products based on dihydrogen oxide and is a world leader in its sector.

Huy

Huy is a famed magnet for cycling tourists – the Walloon Arrow hits the heart of many senior citizens with lethal precision every year. The Tour de France also regularly passes through the town, a tradition that dates back to the 17th century, when Louis XIV first burnt down the place.

In spite of this, Huy citizens remain indefatigably optimistic: the only bridge, fountain, wall and window that they’ve got left have been immediately branded as world wonders.

The grandma syndicate

Many people in the province work as used car salespeople, junk dealers or football stewards if they can’t get a job in gun testing on civilians. Pictured: “Your tartiflette or your life!”

Because of high unemployment levels, some gun testers have gone international as consultants in conflict areas in the Middle-East, where murder is plentiful and rape is considered part of the extra-legal compensation package.

Another work hotspot is the manufacture of Liègeois black jam by thousands of grandmothers, who have combined their recipes into a veritable MegaZord of sweetness. The city proper has recently opened facilities for people addicted to the jam, so they can get their daily fix in safe and sanitary environments instead of having to slurp the jam in seedy back alleys.

Oufti!

People from Liège know how to party. If not surrounded by burning car tyres at strike checkpoints, then with fireworks on the streets.

The peculiar accent of people in the province results from permanently being drunk on cheap beer and having to pass gas orally or anally, also known as the ‘Oufti’-sound. Another party hotspot is le Carré in the city centre of Liège, where students sell their bodies to the highest bidder of alcohol, and middle-aged men revive their lost sexual appetites to no avail.

Liège’s best-known football club is Standard Liège, the supporters of which are the stuff of legend. No other hooligans have destroyed as many bus stops, stadium seats, cars and human skulls.




State of Failure: Namur


Introduction
Namur is the kind of province conservative parents would approve of if their son or daughter would date it. Namur charms mum with its quiet nature, good income and cultural finesse, while dad will appreciate the province for its liberal mainstream and refined taste in regional craft beer and cheese.

But here’s the thing conservative parents would hate: Namur is gay. Namur is so gay, in fact, an entire piece of France is lodged in its arse.

Important facts

Namur’s heraldic weapon is a Flemish lion with a diagonal, red band across it. This does not mean Flemings aren’t welcome in the province. The Namurians, who were historically vassals of the County of Flanders, simply thought it looked better on the lion as an accessory.

Namurians tend to be a bit curmudgeonly. They grumble about the arrogant French, the elite from Brussels or snooty Flemings who want to dictate their way of life. The truth is that they think their laid-back, easy-going way of life is the best way of life, and they can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to live a life full of constant beer and cheese.

They are quick to scare, however. Yell “oh no, a falling boulder”, or “oh no, an invading army”, and Namurians will curl up into foetal position and yammer helplessly until someone brings them a fresh pint of beer.



Damp caves

The landscape of Namur is generally rocky and forested, but is also pretty easy-going. Now and then, a piece of rock will crash down onto a car or a roof, but that’s about it. Geologically speaking, the province is most known for its warm, damp caves. Speleologists, young people and perverts come visit the caves en masse every summer to get unforgettable experiences.

The Namurians think that’s all fine and dandy. Whatever happens in the caves, stays in the caves. Sometimes literally so. Skeletons of clumsy seniors who got stuck in the caves are not an unusual discovery.


Pacifism über alles

Cowardice and easy-goingness go hand in hand to make Namurians a very peaceful people. In both World Wars, local rulers went back to reading their newspaper or going fishing after hastily signing documents of surrender or shaking hands with some commander or the other.

Napoleon also got a dosage of the easy life between Samber and Meuse: when he threatened to annex the region, the Namurians asked him if he’d be able to tell at what time he would arrive so they could serve him cold beer. As punishment for its cowardice, Wallonia made Namur proper its capital.

To see and visit in Namur
Namur proper
Namur is Namur’s capital. Its history has always been connected with its bulky citadel. This citadel lays claim to the title of “most frequently destroyed military bulwark of Europe”. Austrian, Spanish, French, Dutch and German armies each burnt down the citadel and then rebuilt it as some sort of practical joke.

As we speak, the Chinese government is in talks with the city council to destroy the citadel, as is befitting of a rising superpower.

Profondeville
The name itself is an indicator, Profondeville (“Deep City”) is Belgium’s most depressing town. Its inhabitants live 87m below sea level in a complex of abandoned mine shafts and rarely get to see sunlight. Its number of suicides would be disturbing if the Walloon government hadn’t forgotten this city existed in the first place.

Dinant

For centuries, Dinant has been specialized in dying. During the Habsburg era, Philip the Good tossed 800 coppersmiths into the Meuse, the French burnt down the city in the 17th century Spanish-French War, and during WW1, the Germans executed some 700 people without reason.

In the court archives of the Habsburgs, field notes from French generals as well as diaries from German commanders, there is always some variant of “In Dinant. The way these people look offend me.”

Gembloux
Gembloux claims the most slowly speaking Belgians. This has saddled it with the cliché that its inhabitants are dumb. This is not true at all: 50% of its people manages to write their own name, and its elementary school serve all students between ages 6 and 66.

Han-sur-Lesse
In the caves of Han-sur-Lesse, Europe’s last Neanderthals eke out a living. As is befitting of the liberal work ethos of Namur, they fleece tourists with fake cave paintings and made-up rituals for corpulent mother goddesses. In the evening, they simply relax in front of television and have a beer in their caves that have been reconverted to spacious loft apartments.

Practicing home skills at work
Namurians can be found all over Wallonia and Brussels in quiet, unassuming offices, whiling away their time while reading up on fishing, grass-mowing techniques or papercuts. That Namur proper was chosen as Wallonia’s capital city hasn’t impressed them: it was always meant to be this way, wasn’t it?

Their greatest enemy is exhaustion. That’s why Namur’s citadel walls contain the remains of hundreds of labourers “simply having a beer” for six days, until the bricks encapsulated them.

Let’s talk about sax
Adolphe Sax, native of Dinant, invented the saxophone, a very complex instrument that also allows very lazy people to claim some degree of artistry. Pictured: “Nice.” This is indicative of the province’s sense of reclusion and indifference: blow some notes, fine. Make a masterpiece, alright. Just don’t do anything violent.

Every year in October, Wallonia celebrates itself in the city of Namur. This includes a lot of drinking, desperate sex and crying.

State of Failure: Hainaut


Introduction

In Hainaut, all seems faded glory – even its faded glory has faded. In 1997, UNESCO put the region on the list as ‘world heritage site of squalidness’, which has been strictly observed since by a network of welfare centres and socialist czars.

In opposition to the rest of Wallonia, Hainaut is the province that was originally French- instead of Walloon-speaking. Unfortunately, the French consider them ‘Ch’ti’ for this reason, or part of le Nord, the most economically underdeveloped and deplorably wasted region of France.

Important facts

A prevalent sub-ethnicity of Hainaut is the Baraki, a forward-thinking post-apocalyptic people whose resilience and resourcefulness are unmatched by any other Western people. Relying on their wits, reflexes and good contacts with local PS officials, Barakis get by on the most slender of means.

Uselessness is an art form in this province. From a ship lift nobody uses to a metro system nobody wanted, the region is littered with existentialist odes to the pointlessness of human life.


 

One does not simply walk into Hainaut

Hainaut’s impressive, blackened landscape was the background of Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy scenes set in the dark lands of Mordor. Locals were hired to play Orcs.

Dark, abandoned mineshafts and macabre rust towers are surrounded by ominous music and distant howls, day and night. In cities, people are unemployed from 9am to 3pm, and after that, all shops close.

Straw man made of coal

When coal deposits were discovered in the region in the 19th century, things seemed to look up for a while. Luckily, local industry moguls and violent union members worked together to stop this. They built a merciless network based on predatory capitalism on the one hand, and chafing worker privileges on the other hand, which preserved the province’s squalid nature. Today, Hainaut mainly acts as straw man of angry Flemish nationalists.

To see and visit in Hainaut




Tournai

The city of Tournai briefly acted as capital of the Merovingian Empire under Clovis. However, Clovis quickly moved to Aix-la-Chapelle when it turned out his serfs kept demanding higher wages, set up checkpoints against cane beatings and he was expected to listen to the complaints of his bureaucrats.

Charleroi

Charleroi was founded and named after Charles V, Habsburg Emperor, as a proto-industrial metropole. It has never left this phase. Even today, Charleroi is a bizarre maze of conflicts between guilds of car thieves, burglars, muggers and drug lords, and choking fumes arise from all of the city’s smithing workshops.

Mons and the Borinage

Mons is the home of mayor, PS party president, secretary and Carnival Prince Elio Di Rupo. Annually, people push up a horse-drawn carriage up a hill to symbolize the futility of Walloon Sisyphean labour.

The surrounding area, the Borinage, is popular with international aid organizations. They often practice there for interventions under extreme conditions in countries like Somalia, Nepal and Afghanistan.

Comines-Warneton

Geographically situated in West-Flanders, Comines-Warneton is Hainaut’s success story. Contrary to the dutchification of the similar Voeren in the east, Comines’ frenchification was seamless. This was mainly due to the fact that the locals were illiterate.

Barissart

In 1878, 30 dinosaur skeletons were discovered in the mines of Barissart. These were large herbivores from the Cretaceous area. The skeletons showed signs of a sedentary lifestyle with little exertion. They were immediately named honorary labour union members.

Binche

Each year, the small city of Binche honours director Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Men dress up in pale-masked gimp suits and throw oranges at people. To be assaulted by the ‘Gilles’, as they are called, is seen as a positive sign for the year to come.

Economic masturbation

While stereotypes dictate Hainautois are mostly unemployed, this isn’t really true. For instance, many people slave away at a minimum wage at the Charleroi airport, the only place in the province even Flemish people dare visit without fear of getting mugged.

There is also a thriving tourist industry, where rich people are bussed around in armoured vans to masturbate as they watch the province’s poor wallow in a pool of filth and cheap beer.

In addition, the track suit industry recognizes Hainaut as one of its best markets. They even sell wedding tracksuits emblazoned with birds and bells.


 
Tenderized hearts

Carolos, as the inhabitants of Charleroi are called, take pride in their city’s football team, which never fails to not meet expectations. This is true to the spirit of Hainaut.

Other Walloons regard Hainautois as somewhat goofy and rude, but kind-hearted. Of course, it’s easy to be kind-hearted if your heart has already been tendered by soot, liberal volumes of alcohol and frying grease. Still, a strong carnival tradition keeps many people afloat here, hoping that building papier maché replicas of daft politicians will somehow free them from their existential pain.

State of Failure: Walloon Brabant

Introduction 

 
Nobody likes Walloon Brabant. Other Walloons envy its wealth, its pompous SUVs and its solid economy. Flemish nationalists, on the other hand, find that Walloon Brabant’s economic success is a sign the province should belong to Flanders instead. Its Waterloo Lion is the surest sign that this province is merely muddled Flemish territory.

Indeed Walloon Brabant is a stronghold of French liberalism, whereas the rest of the region is mired in the socialist soup kitchens of the PS, but have no fear: liberal politicians are as reliably corrupt as their socialist counterparts.






Important facts

Young Walloon Brabantians train in hockey, a sport that has more respectability than vulgar sports such as football, or peasants’ pastimes like cycling. When they get older and fatter, they resort to playing golf, often employing a mentally challenged neighbour who lives in an outhouse of their surgeon or lawyer villa.

When Walloon Brabantian girls turn 18, the family convenes and mediates a suitably well-off suitor for them, and gifts her a Fiat 500 or Mini Cooper for her trouble. Contrary to national stereotypes, Walloon Brabantians don’t care if the spouse of their child is Walloon or Flemish or even Polish or Brazilian: money is a universal language that all understand and speak.

A rich man’s no man’s land

Walloon Brabant is a transitional zone between Flanders and Wallonia. From Roman legions to Austrian regiments to casual wanderers – at some point everyone gets lost in this no man’s land. Countless rivers, similar-looking forests, deserted golf courses, endless Mercedes garages and fenced villas make this area a bizarre rich man’s labyrinth.

The many small side-rivers of the Money River to Wallonia often disappear in Walloon Brabant forests, only reappearing as small little brooks once they exit the province and flow on to the rest of Wallonia.

A people steeped in myth

According to history, Napoleon suffered his definitive defeat in Waterloo. Historians openly doubted whether this place was real until the Swedish scholarly group Abba re-ignited interest in history in 1974.

Since then, it has been proven beyond a doubt that the region was inhabited by very shy, reclusive tax evaders for generations. However, the locals were far from pleased with the ensuing tourism.  There is still a trial going on at the European Court of Justice, with a demand to extradite Benny, Björn, Anni-Frid and Agnetha, but without conclusive success.

To see and visit in Walloon Brabant

 

Walibi

Walloon Brabant capital Walibi will certainly please the casual tourist. A guided boat tour on the River Radja (named so in honour of the legendary half-Indonesian ninja) or a train travel through the Calamity Mine are mostly preferred by senior citizens.

Louvain-la-Neuve

Louvain-la-Neuve is the counterpart of Louvain-Central. Youth offenders are re-educated here so they still might attain their degree. This way, many adolescents can still become an engineer or economist, or, worst case, a PS politician. Even if the latter is also possible without any qualifications.

Nivelles and Beauvechain

Nivelles is famous for its group supermarket visits, which made the town rise to fame in the middle ‘80s, when groups succeeded in leaving supermarkets without paying. Beauvechain is a theme park for military officers and hawks. They glow with pride as they send and receive rusty old cargo airplanes full of useless peacekeeping troops who hate their jobs.

Ittre

Ittre’s hospitality industry is famous for its customer orientation. Regulars get exquisite meals and enjoy gastronomical luxury. There are also facilities such as prison wall climbing. In addition, the industry’s wards are pretty mellow. They go on strike so often that the hotels pretty much run themselves, resulting in the typically breezy Walloon atmosphere.

Wallonia’s Flemings

As Walloon Brabant is the Flanders of Wallonia, so too have Walloon Brabantians adopted the Flemish work ethic. Pictured: Flemish mores penetrating into Wallonia. They work as hard as West-Flemings, are as falsely modest as East-Flemings, often work in Brussels like the Flemish Brabantians and have Antwerpian sense of disdain for poor people. The only Flemish province they don’t take after is Limburg, because Limburg is Flanders’ Wallonia.

Dining on the company dime

It is said that Walloon Brabantians are all work and no play. That is manifestly untrue. Walloon Brabantians love social outings with investors, or inviting over families of similar financial standing for dinner, where they quietly boast about their latest speed boat or all-in holiday to the Dominican Republic.

No seven-course meal in the province is complete without each participant’s insistence that they will pay. As folklore dictates, though, it is always the company that pays. This may or may not include hookers and cocaine.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

State of Failure: Brussels Capital District


Introduction

The Brussels Capital District offers 19 unique forms of misery to its visitors. Brussels proper is but one of the communes of the District, which looks like a puzzle made up by an autistic child with ADHD.

The District comprises 19 communes, 6 police zones, 28 crime hotbeds, 11 erogenous zones and 24 zones where everyone feels better than the next guy, each with their own frietkot, waffle stand and tourist trap where you can buy phosphorescent little Atomiums.

Important facts
While French is the lingua franca in Brussels, expect to hear a true Babylonian variety of languages. Pretending to be German to get out of a pickle is always a good idea, because even the lowliest rascal speaks some amount of English or Dutch.

Brussels used to be an intellectual free haven for radical thinkers that were too radical even for France. Now it’s a haven for terrorists even too terroristic for France. However, Brussels’ bleak reputation is a little undeserved. Because it’s a true world capital, this also means it has all of the world’s problems dumped onto a territory the size of a hanky.


So close, yet so dystopic

Brussels always surprises. Each corner can hide an imposing palace, and the corner of said palace can reveal a bit of left-behind Congo or Maghreb. European technocrats and fat cat lobbyists go hand in hand with fraudulent Senegalese marabouts, and every metro station has its own diverse cast of youth gangs and ugly ‘70s artwork.

While the District is majority French-speaking, its Flemish inhabitants are kept quarantined and pampered like well-cared for pets, for their own good.

Paris’s retarded cousin

Brussels has an inferiority complex vis à vis Paris. Brussels may have nine steel balls that measure 102m, Paris has a dick that stands 324m tall. During the French Revolution, they beheaded the king, but the Dutch king’s bust merely got a wheel of cheese placed on his head for a crown by the Belgians. In Paris, the streets can boil and burn for days, but in Brussels you can get stabbed for a dumb mp3 player.

The name ‘Brussels’ derives from Dutch ‘Broekzele’, called thus because the inhabitants of this area were the first ones to start wearing pants (“broeken” in Dutch). From there on, this habit spread to the rest of the until then naked-legged Belgians.

The Bruxellois love dressing up anyway. Every day, Manneken Pis gets a new outfit from its hare krishnas, and the juicy Bruxellois dialect is a linguistic drag queen between French and Dutch.

To see and visit in the Brussels Capital District

Brussels proper

Brussels proper is the seat of the Global Panhandler Union. Brussels’ picturesquely uncomfortable and overheated station of Brussels “Central” (these quotation marks probably denote some joke lost to time) causes 75% of all of Belgium’s train delays. This is because of its byzantine architecture, announcements in language varieties understood by no one, and only two available tracks (the other 4 are reserved for EU servants).

Sint-Jans-Molenbeek-Saint-Jean

Sint-Jans-Molenbeek-Saint-Jean was one of the last bastions of Ba’athism to fall as a consequence of the Arab Spring, when mullah Philippe Moureaux was ousted after 20 years of mismanagement. While there is hope for Molenbeek, the rise of IS-affiliated terrorism has affected the commune like it also has in Iraq and Syria.

Salah Abdeslam, an IS member co-responsible for atrocious terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, hails from Molenbeek and was arrested in a typically Belgian fashion: given away by his preference for tasty food.

Etterbeek

As the name lets on, Etterbeek is the dirtiest town of Belgium (‘etter’ means “pus” in Dutch).  Brussels’ students from three universities and 11 colleges make sure pedestrians regularly slip in puddles of vomit or urine, and many streets have a penetrating odour of stale beer. Language conflicts are few and in between here: everyone speaks the language of love.

Watermaal-Bosvoorde/Watermael-Boitfort

Watermaal-Bosvoorde/Watermael-Boitfort is the perfect place to experience Brussels the way its rich, French-speaking elite imagines it should be. A nostalgic atmosphere of la Belgique à papa with fancy cars, exclusive dinners and radio news that pretends immigrants, Flemings and socialists are nothing more than a bad dream from another universe.

Ukkel/Uccle

The enclosed military domain of Ukkel/Uccle has been the subject of a heated debate for years. Some think it houses a NATO base where scientists experiment with nuclear technology, while others believe the Belgian Air Force is experimenting with extra-terrestrial technology. The domain’s spokespeople simply claim the place is being used for meteorological research.

Anderlecht

Anderlecht is home to Belgium’s most successful football club, although that’s a bit like saying you can defeat 10 year olds at wrestling. Still, it’s a force to be reckoned with, and even the superstar Prince was fan of the team – hence its Purple Army.

To this day, Anderlecht hooligans wear high heels and make-up to every brawl, intimidating the Liège, Bruges or Ghent sides, to honour the deceased superstar. I mean, imagine a 100kg ball of rage barrelling at you in a screeching falsetto, wearing Louboutins and decked out in full face make-up? Yeah, I’d get the hell out of dodge, too.

Gaming the system

Thousands of Flemings and Walloons come to Brussels every day to work, and take the lion’s share of the wealth created there back home with them. As a consequence, there is a lot of poverty in some quarters of Brussels, and high unemployment.

And it’s not like the royal family or our politicians are giving a good example by leeching off the system instead of doing actual work. Luckily, politics in Belgium is accommodating. They are basically beauty pageants for ugly people and those who can either brown nose the best or appeal best to angry white people.

The regular route is then to decry all state welfare while enjoying some of its best parts, and imploring the unemployed to better themselves while steadily sinking away in a bog of corruption and nepotism themselves.

This ‘affairism’ is a typically Belgian trait, and those who condemn it tend to be the first ones to take advantage of it, making everyone more or less complicit in an informal system that sometimes astounds our Dutch or German neighbours.

“Love you, Paris!”


Brussels swings, sings and jives. From the Flemish Zoo in the Dansaert Street to the vibrant Matongé quarter, you don’t need to tell a Bruxellois how to have fun. Pictured: entry plaque to the Flemish Zoo.

Many world-class bands often visit Brussels, and with it their attending clumsiness in how to address Belgian crowds. We have been known to having been called Dutch, “love you Paris”, addressed exclusively in French or in super-broken Dutch, or simply be met by a weird English snarl.

After Lemmy Kilmister died in 2017, Brussels now also boasts the n°1 spot in the most permanently drunken singer still alive, and that’s Arno, who is a living, staggering landmark of the District.

State of Failure: Flemish Brabant


Introduction

Flemish Brabant owes its existence to the ever-changing language conflict, a quarrel that escalated after some cockfighting. But the province has so much more on offer. Discerning visitors will find undisturbed areas of silence right next to mega festival grounds. Some fields are still manually harvested, right next to toxic industry zones and cancer factories. And, there are woods with magnificent palaces next to villages where everyone still gets their water from the village pump.

Important facts

The name ‘Flemish Brabant’ has caused some confusion, because there is also a ‘Walloon Brabant’, and, in the Netherlands, ‘North Brabant.’ The story is a pretty simple one: everything from Waterloo to Eindhoven (NL) used to be the Duchy of Brabant.

However, Antwerp insisted on naming its province after itself, and North Brabant simply couldn’t let go, like a spurned ex-husband who keeps his wife’s photographs and still has an old key. Belgian Brabant got split in 1995 into its Dutch-speaking and its French-speaking halves. Like in that JCVD flick where he has an evil twin, both Belgian Brabants now eye one another suspiciously.




A crippled child

No province summarizes Belgium better than Flemish Brabant. When it started out in 1995, the Walloons took the best agricultural grounds with them, and Europe claimed Brussels as its own, literally driving a hole into what remained of Flemish Brabant. Ever since that tri-partition, there has been an unending gyre between three peoples.

Rich French-speakers from Brussels move to Flemish Brabant, who in turn leave for Walloon Brabant, where the houses are somewhat more affordable, driving the Walloons to Brussels. It’s basically like the plastic soup in the Pacific, only it’s made of disgruntled people.

The cordon sanitaire

To avoid crime and immigration problems from Brussels spreading out to the rest of the country, the province has created a cordon sanitaire around it. The ‘Green Belt’ around Brussels is maintained by both language communities. To the south, a demarcation line is observed by rich, French-speaking racists, and everywhere else, Flemish racists guard the front.

Each year, Flemings drive up the ante by intimidating Bruxellois only the way middle-aged men with too much time can: they cycle around the Green Belt aggressively, in fluorescent spandex and with lots of beer.

To see and visit in Flemish Brabant
 

Louvain

Louvain is a city of records. It boasts the world’s longest bar, the most enlightened despot, the largest number of civil action committees and the greatest amount of student unions per square meter. Louvain is also home to the beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, who discovered the secret of how to turn river water from the Dyle into quality beer and pay €0 in taxes while doing so.

Last but not least, here is also Europe’s only university that manages to lose knowledge rather than gain it: visionary rectors have let its library perish in flames, or chased out half their staff to the other part of the country. In a more recent past, rectors gave away interesting knowledge for a few quarters to so-called spin-off companies. For instance, rector Torfs himself began a retail chain of shoe stores.

The ‘Rand’
Travelers are advised to avoid most of the so-called ‘Rand’ around Brussels. Its western part, the Pajottenland, has been terrorized for decades by the elusive bandit Urbanus van Anus. The eastern portion is more developed, with the national airport of Zaventem. But, despite the Oslo Accords and resolution 446 of the UN Security Council, French-speakers keep building new colonies.

Werchter

The area around Werchter is world-famous for its summer music festivals. Its reputation as a free haven for young people for wild, aberrant behaviour, unique music experiences and seedy sex is greatly exaggerated.

In the past few years, the area mainly attracts thirty-something middle class people, and the number of incidents because of urine odours is greater than the number of people who actually hook up.

Tienen and the Hageland

The Tienen area is Belgium’s most well-known wine region. The vineyards from the Hageland have such sour produce that kilograms of sugar have to be added to make its wines suitable for consumption. Tienen’s flourishing sugar industry has spawned many imitators, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Haïti.

Risking lives in Brussels

Every day, many Flemish Brabantians risk their lives to go into Brussels, spend 8 hours at a desk and then go home, without ever checking their prejudices. Pictured: frightened civil servant. Civil servants then regale their scared children with tales of great courage, like how they once saw a beggar look at them strangely, or how they were sure those crafty Moroccan boys were discussing their next gang rape in unintelligible Arabic.

Other Brabantians work in academia, either until they die, drop out out of exhaustion, or die from exhaustion. Flemish Brabant is also home to smug self-made men who are literally experts at everything from cars to building houses to politics and to gratifying oral sex.

Entertainment for idiots and grannies

Vilvoorde is the locus of Flanders’ more commercial television entertainment. Television station VTM has done more to make old people frightened of statistically very unlikely crimes than anyone ever could. Pictured: terrifying the shit out of your granny.

Another great pastime is the rivalry of the Catholic University of Louvain with its liberal counterpart in Ghent to see who can produce the greatest intellectual lightweights. Former Louvain rector Rik Torfs currently holds the candle, but up and coming fedora slinger Maarten Boudry from Ghent is sure to be a tough challenger.