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.

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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.