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: East-Flanders


Introduction

Apart from its cities, East-Flanders is Belgium’s blandest province. East-Flanders has the ugliest flag, the most grating dialects, the ugliest houses and the greyest concrete in all of Flanders. These achievements are all the more noteworthy because they were made without the Christian democrats.

East-Flemings don’t have a sense of togetherness. Primarily, an East-Fleming is most at ease with their own absolute mediocrity.
Important facts



East-Flemings can be made to turn against each other very easily because they are constantly at each other’s throats. You can make yourself friends anywhere by complaining about how rude, low-class or arrogant people from the neighbouring town are. Don’t try to tell them you love their town or area, because this will make you suspect. After all, East-Flemings are very acutely aware of the fact their region amounts to little and less.

The original Manneken Pis is actually located in East-Flanders, in the town of Grammont. The Brussels’ version is more famous, allegedly because it is “more shapely, more alluring” (source: Priests Weekly). At the end of July, the Ghentish Feasts take place. This ten day religious festival culminates in the high priest (the so-called ‘Pierke Pierlala’) sacrificing a baby to Jacob Van Artevelde. During the Feasts, normal and sober behaviour is punished severely.

The ‘Just Judges’ were a pair of reform-minded magistrates that disappeared in Ghent in 1934 after the Evening Mass. Their disappearance and probable death has never been explained.


A second Ganges River

As a very urbanized province, only little nature remains in East-Flanders. This is why rich environmentalists have built huge villas in the middle of nature areas to wall off what little greenery remains to discourage people from polluting it.

As it is, the province is a sprawling jungle of bric-a-brac buildings, driveways, turnkey houses, fixer-uppers and industrial zones that harbour a diverse culture of embezzling landlords, architects and bankers. The two principal rivers of the province are the Lys and the Scheldt, both of which are so polluted that Hindus have expressed their interest in buying them, should the Ganges ever dry up.

Trolling the emperor

In the Middle Ages, East-Flanders was part of the County of Flanders, and Ghent was its capital. Because they kept being embarrassed by their underdeveloped, genocidal and maniacal cousins from West-Flanders, the East-Flemings decided to strike out on their own.

In 1500, later Emperor Charles V was born in Ghent, which he left as soon as he could. The province honoured him by later rebelling against him and failing at it in highly traditional fashion.

For centuries, the textile industry was the most important employer in the province, which helps explain why East-Flemings are still a bunch of damp rags today.
To see and visit in East-Flanders


Ghent

For centuries, Ghent has been mired in delusions about its own coolness. The famed Ghentish stubbornness is nothing more than a cry for attention from richer, bigger and hipper cities like Antwerp or London. Also of note is the Ghentish city dialect – because Ghentians found the local patois ugly and boorish, they invented a city dialect that was even more ugly and boorish.

One of Ghent’s most famous monuments is the Jacob Van Artevelde statue, which has been bringing the Hitler Salute for centuries.

Aalst and Dendermonde

What once started as a camp for lepers and imbeciles in the Middle Ages eventually grew into two rival cities, Aalst and Dendermonde. Both cities are always fiercely competing with each other who can be the best at being low-class. Aalst has the slight edge: movies like ‘Daens’ and ‘The alasness of life’ brought typical Dender child abuse to the attention of a broader Flemish audience.

The Flemish Ardennes

In the Flemish Ardennes, you can get a foretaste of the unique atmosphere of Hainaut across the language border. Just like its Hainautois counterparts, the city of Ronse has a unique mix of decay, immigration issues and dilapidated industry, while the surrounding Crooland features nepotism as its most important political ideology.

The Meetjesland

Central to the Meetjesland is the Cremlin, the fortified castle whose occupants, the de Crem family, have ruled the area with a harsh but just hand for generations. The Meetjesland was included in the Guinness Book of World Records for featuring no event of any significance in the past 400 years.

The Waasland

The Waasland is an old bone of contention between Antwerp and East-Flanders. East-Flanders says it’s an illegal expansion of Antwerp’s Left Bank and Antwerp has to demolish it, while Antwerp claims it’s a parking lot squatted by homeless East-Flemings.
Deskjockeying into oblivion



An abnormal amount of East-Flemings does some vague “desk job”. Other popular jobs are “something with computers” and “working for the media.” It’s better not to ask further questions, or there’s a chance you’re in for an endless monologue on terrible bosses, extra-legal compensation packages and work procedures. In addition, the East-Fleming always knows better than you, even if they claim they don’t – this is a trap to later accuse you of arrogance. Among the working class, especially in the Sea Canal area, the usual means of communication is the famed old dirty joke.

Vomit and regret

A few times a year, East-Flemings can let their hair down. Whether on Aalst Carnival, the Ghentish Feasts, the Lokeren Feasts or baron de Croo’s court day, everyone gets filled up with beer. Pictured: ‘De Zes Heemskinderen’ on the traditional RuBeiaard’s Drag Race. The day after, the gutters traditionally fill up with vomit and regret. Sometimes, they will also result in weddings or divorces.

List of best costumes at Aalst Carnival:

2008 Benny Debletere as self-immolating Tibetan monk
2009 Vicky Verpletst as a kebab with massive amounts of garlic sauce
2010 Jolien Ackermans as the entire cast of ‘Crime and Punishment’
2011 Hamdi Yanik as a Flemish nationalist
2012 Marijke Slempers as a benign tumor
2013 Pierre Deroover as a pack of fries with vomit on it
2014 Annelien Quaghebuer as a landmine (posthumously)
2015 ‘Fat’ Jo Verbist as a supermodel on a catwalk
2016 Pierre Deroover as a highly mutated, irradiated pack of fries with vomit on it
2017 Sven Van Den Bulcke as an allegory for Dendermonde
2018 Aleksandra Kuznetsova as father and daughter Skripal