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12 augustus 2050

Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Amsterdam-Noord is a place where people have at least one addiction and I am no exception.

Don’t get me wrong, addictions are welcome here, people understand one another. In the end, that is what comes with idleness.

It all happened after Amsterdam Noord became part of the Global Neighbourhoods Network of energy industry. I am going to tell you that I sort of knew it was going to happen, but you probably won’t believe me. But I did. I mean, if you were working for an energy company in the 30s, you would know it, because everyone was talking about it.

Only, no one knew how hilarious it was going to get after that.

You know, each time there was an environmental disaster anywhere around the world, energy companies made a big fuss. Well, they sort of were big deals, all these people losing their homes and everything. But our companies made the fuss in their own very particular way. Their idea was: if only energy companies could create a global energy grid, then we could a build a renewable energy system that would function continuously. So that when you don’t have wind at a certain place, you would have sun, when you don’t have sun you would have waves and that kind of thing. So, all these energy companies pushed for a special global status to make this happen. They wanted a global taxation scheme for themselves. And they got it. They wanted a global, independent employment policy. And they got it. They wanted a global residence permit for their people and got it. Well, when you have it all, and if you also do have your own properties in cities, then you sort of have your semi-independent neighborhoods. You didn’t have to ask for that.
Back then, Amsterdam Noord had a lot of offices and houses that were built not so long ago, but they fell empty when the area lost its initial charm and freshness, and the city had a hard time filling them. So energy companies made a good deal on big areas of Noord. You know our CEO right? The guy is charming as hell and he is a terrific speaker. Except, he is a bit phony. Anyways, he told this globalization story and all, and they made these areas part of the global neighborhoods network. So the deal is, if you are working for one of the energy corporations, they assign you one of their housing developments here. If you are made redundant for any reason, you can still stay in the city, keep chilling and they will pay for a basic income as part of the universal basic income policy of energy companies. I mean, it is kind of cool I would say. I have been relying on it for the past 4 years. Well, not only me but also plenty of others and that’s the funny part. If you are in Amsterdam for a superficial experience as a tourist or expat, you stay in the center. You satisfy your appetite for cuteness and a globalized, cheesy atmosphere there. In Noord you find musicians, virtual reality gamers, porn addicts, underground clubs.

In center you speak Dutch and English, in Noord you speak everything.

Seriously. That’s hard-core globalization. All these employees who were made redundant had came here at some point in their career, and now just stuck here for the benefits. You can’t imagine how many traditional Indian dance clubs there are here for instance. It’s funny but it’s trending like hell. You have all these guys who are there all the damn time, with their costumes and all, completely addicted to this lifestyle of doing the dance and improving themselves and getting better. I mean, when you all don’t have much to do, you just kill time and find others to do that with. When you have everyone just killing time, that’s when it gets really funny. I am part of a basketball club for example. We don’t only play basketball but also get drunk as bastards after the games. It’s great fun, way better than getting drunk after working in the office. It’s not even the same drunkenness. Look, I don’t want you to think that I am a lazy person, nor I want you to think that I have moral issues with working. It is more, the loss of belief in what you are doing, and when you lose it, it is very difficult to get back on track, believe me. I mean, I had really invested a lot in my career thinking that it all is gonna be awesome. I guess. Well, I hardly can remember what I was thinking back then. Anyways, it didn’t happen as I imagined. I mean, I had a good career and all but it wasn’t mind-blowing. Then you go like “what the hell?”. So you discover all kinds of ways of just chilling. I forgot to tell you though; there are plenty of cool people around the neighborhood who do interesting stuff. I mean, there are music bands who squat some empty spaces --which there are plenty of-- and they just do music there. They’re great, really, and sometimes they just make small gigs at those places and all. I really appreciate those guys. So the other day I damn near called this old friend of mine to tell him to get a job in an energy company, make his way to their Amsterdam offices, find a way to get kicked out, then we could make music here for the rest of our lives like we used to at our high school in Colorado.
It’s crazy all the things people do when they have all this time and have lost their belief in the system.

Now you are going to ask which system I’m talking about and I won’t be able to give you an eloquent story of what it is, but there is one. Really.

Anyways, down the main street you can find many Virtual Reality cafes where people of all ages role-play creatures of different kinds in a virtual environment with their VR glasses on. They are there all day, completely addicted to it. By the way, I don’t like playing. I like watching, that’s my thing. Next to it there are day-discos. Look, you have to understand that when you are in this idleness mode, you kind of go for whatever. I was in one of those discos the other day, I saw people dancing and squirting water out of their mouths to each other. They were probably in the virtual reality mode, I couldn’t see what they had but for God’s sake... You should have seen them. They were in hysterics the whole time, like it was the funniest thing that ever happened. There isn't any other disco in the world you can sit in for a long time without buying some liquor and getting drunk. We sometimes do it with Phil. He is a friend. Probably the craziest Swiss guy ever, but he doesn’t know it. He talks about his dreams all the time. I mean, not like his aspirations and wishes. He talks about different kind of dreams he sees every night and just tells everyone about them. Meet him in a bar, he’ll tell you what dream he dreamt the other night. Knowing that he wouldn’t ever shut up about them, one day, I gave him the idea of writing them down. Now, he is writing a book about them… And watching porn. Yeah, the guy is kind of addicted to porn, all day writing his dreams and in between watching porn. He says, he is trying to break free though. Last time I saw him, he told me the story of how he got into an argument with this neighborhood initiative below his apartment because he puked to the flowerpot outside. Well these guys are building stuff for the neighborhood. They do benches and shelves and flowerpots and all that kind of thing. They have all kinds of crazy tools you can imagine and they do these stuff all day. Only, if you touch them, they will eat you alive. You know they are a bit touchy these guys. They are nice and all, but touchy like hell. Anyways, poor Phil, apparently, was going home drunk and just puked in one of those pots and the guys went crazy. He kept on telling me that they are building stuff 24 hours a day and that the sounds drive him crazy. I tried to convince him that this doesn’t mean he should puke into their flowerpot, but it was practically impossible. I gotta tell you, though, people building furniture all the damn day would drive me mad too, but anyways that is how they are filling their time.

I am probably the only normal guy in the whole place and that isn’t saying much. In fact, I don’t know what to think about all this stuff I just told you about.

I guess it is a limbo situation that the system has created here and I wouldn’t be surprised if they just sweep all of us away at some point. Now you’re gonna ask again what system I’m talking about and I’ll tell you that it is the energy companies, municipalities, regulations, politicians and all doing things together, but not really “together” together. I guess. I told you, I don’t have a good story to tell you what it is.

In the end, I think it is what keeps you busy, basically, and when we don’t have anyone telling us how we just occupy ourselves.

Jim Steele


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