Ryan Alexander-Tanner

HELLO, DEAR READER. Dear sweet, sensual reader. Beloved, strong, even-keeled reader. READER TALLER THAN A TALL HORSE AND TWICE AS MIGHTY, CONSTANTLY BIRTHING AND CONSUMING CHILDREN LIKE A GOD OF OLD, A CHIMERA OF OWL, LION, DRAGON, AND CARP. READER WHOSE YAWN CREATED THE UNIVERSE AND WHO WILL END ALL OF CREATION WITH A BLINK.

My travels across Europe continue, fruitfully, and I correspond to you this week from the happy little city of Amsterdam. Now, before we continue, I need to say something: I don't know where I am. I know I'm in Amsterdam, but am I in Holland? Or the Netherlands? Or all three? Also, if I'm in Holland or the Netherlands, then why is everyone Dutch and not Hollandaise or Nethermore? What the fuck is this shit? It's honestly kind of making my trip worse. I wish I were a stronger man, and a more capable man, but I'm not. Also, if the country IS called "the Netherlands"—it needs to get over itself. I've had it with places calling themselves "the" something. You too, the Dalles. Just be Dalles. Just be Netherlands. Just be Ohio State University. We can see right through your fucking façade and it's sad, okay?

Amsterdam is as lovely as I am stoned right now. I love it here. It's like if San Francisco were flat or Portland had history it didn't have to be ashamed of. It is truly a gift of a city, and while I'm stoned right now, I can also say, I'm incredibly stoned right now (even though I'm stoned right now). Wait, no, I actually wanted to say something about that—Amsterdam is wonderful because of its reputation, sure, but it's also wonderful despite its reputation. When I speak of reputation, I'm referring to the weed (I'm stoned right now) and also to the prostitution.

First, the weed. It's great. It's nice to be able to purchase and consume it without restriction, but that feels more like sanity than novelty anymore. The "coffee shops" are great, but they all kind of feel like places that sell weed, which I didn't expect. I thought the normalization of the drug would kind of counteract the covered-in-stickers/shitty-chairs torch that has been passed from drug dealer to marijuana shop. Apparently that shit has more to do with weed than it does with legality.

Second, the prostitution. I don't know what the correct "woke" opinion is to have on this shit, so instead, I'll be fully real and say I have no opinion on it. I walked by, it was novel, it seems kind of gross, but also completely honest. That's my entire take on it.

The city is bursting with history, though. And architecture. And beautiful blonde people. I've never felt more fat or more Jewish. Everyone rides bikes, EVERYONE, and the canals are romantic. Amsterdam, like many European cities, is an argument for letting things get old. We should probably do a little more of that back home.

Okay, real talk, I'm stoned. I have to go eat something.