Category Archives: Uncategorized

HOW TO BEAT THE CORONA BLUES, DAY 4.

By David Mangene, 19 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands.


Yeah, how you doin’? Remember that part just four days ago when I was all zen buddhist about the corona? Back when I was overflowing rivers of acceptance and patience. Back when my life’s motto was: “we’ll just ride it out at home, together”. Quaint, don’t you think? Quaint and long since forgotten because today I’m a raging ball of pent up fury. That didn’t take long did it?

“But how could this happen, David. You were so full of hope” I hear you asking yourself. “You were gonna read and write and do the yoga and take the naps…” Yoga? Are you high?! There’s no time for yoga. There’s only time for what shall henceforth be known as Dante’s 27th ring of hell… home schooling.

For the uninitiated: home schooling is when you, the adult, attempt to teach your delightful offspring in the comfort of your own home. Sounds like a hell of an idea on paper, especially given the current outbreak. Alas, dear reader, for there is a hitch. As it turns out, professional teachers really are professionals. They learned how to do this shit. For years. No wonder it took years, because to do it effectively is bloody difficult. I may be a loving father, and a reasonably intelligent human being, but I can’t just plonk down a trigonometry book and expect the kid to learn through osmosis. Hell, I can’t even understand the trigonometry questions! It’s all Mandarin to me, baby.

If there’s one thing corona has taught me, just this morning in fact, it’s this: every single teacher who actually manages to impart wisdom onto one of my children without committing acts of grievous violence upon said child, should immediately be awarded at least one of Donald Trump’s alleged billions. We’ll call it the ‘President Trump Gives To Teachers Fund’. I’m sure he’ll love it!

I don’t know, man. Just kinda losing the marbles today. Watching too much news. Reading too much news. And I’m never gonna have a future as a high school teacher.

Stay the course, kids.

HOW TO BEAT THE CORONA BLUES, DAY 3.

By David Mangene, 18 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands

babies!

Our friends Sanne and Barry have a baby.

Our friends Rens and Lauren have a baby.

Our friends Milan and Roos have a baby and a toddler.

Our friends Rick and Jolien have a baby and a toddler too.

Babies galore. I love babies! Is there anything more hopeful than babies and the people that have them? Think about the sacrifices parents make: less sleep, dirty diapers, constant crying. It can be pretty rough. But look at all these lovely people around us, making the babies.

The first tip in my new book How To Not Kill Yourself is “find something to care for”. Why? Pretty self-explanatory: because having to nurture something beyond our own selfish selves will help to decrease our depression. Obviously a bouncing baby would be a good choice. It will need your nurturing – and then some. But the thing you choose to care for doesn’t need to be a baby. It could be a chihuahua, or a siamese cat, or a guinea pig. Hell, it could even be a ficus plant. Doesn’t matter. What matters is you choose to care for something and give it your love, unconditionally.

Me, I’m going with the babies. Mine are now 16 and 13, so it’s obviously some next level parenting. The old saying is true: bigger kids, bigger problems. Babies need a clean diaper and a bottle, teenagers need a Vespa and a whole lot of fucking space. But nothing beats a baby when it comes to hope.

Look, if you live in the Netherlands right now, you’ve got some time on your hands over the next few weeks. We all know that hope is in short supply at the moment. Perhaps you should see it as your civic duty to start the great baby boom of 2020. Or at least buy a plant.

HOW TO BEAT THE CORONA BLUES, DAY 2.

Mousse au Chocolat.

By David Mangene, 17 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands.

When I was a kid I used to sit in my Nana Mangini’s kitchen and watch her roll the Italian meatballs and sausages by hand. “David, sweethaht”, her Boston accent thick and juicy, “you’re so skinny, you need to eat more meatballs!” she’d yap at me, never taking her eye off the food. Those hours in her kitchen, watching her cook, planted a seed deep within me. She was a highly dramatic woman, bi-polar just like me, but when she’d be working her magic in that kitchen, she was as calm as the sea at dawn. Cooking mellowed her shit out, every single time. I couldn’t help but notice her calm focus in the kitchen. I never forgot it.

Fast forward to today, day 2 of the Great Corona Apocalypse Social Isolation Hand Washing Olympics, and I’m anything but calm. Today I’m more jittery than a jitterbug. Sure, we took a lovely long walk through the city (keeping our distance from the other humans, oh yes.) Of course, we’ve done the work we need to do for today and all that’s really left to do is enjoy each other’s company. Which we will do, no doubt. And still, I’m shaking like a leaf, my mind wandering.

What would my Nana Mangini do at a time like this? She’d get her hands on some meatballs, certamente! What’s my point? Use your hands – it’s even tip number 9 in my new book How To Not Kill Yourself. When you’re feeling weary, use your hands because it’ll calm you right down and make you feel better. I like to use mine to cook stuff (yes to cook stuff, among other things but you’ll have to read my book for the reveal).

“Dominique, let’s make chocolate mousse!” I yelp, knowing I’m Mr. Sweet Tooth and she makes the best mousse this side of Lille. (actually it’s hemelse modder but who’s counting?). Truth be told, when it comes to desserts, I can’t really make them so I excitedly yell to Doacha “let’s make a dessert”. Translation: “liefje, will you make a dessert and let me eat all of it?”. Credit where credit is due.

She made the hemelse modder. I ate it. All of it, because she’s not much of a dessert person. Molto deliciozo. Nana Mangini would be proud. It was so good that it made me hopeful that we can get through this fucking Corona thing. Food can do that to a person. Naive maybe, but still. Now is not the time to overthink. If food gives you hope, eat the meatballs. Buon apetito!

HOW TO BEAT THE CORONA BLUES, PART 1.

By David Mangene

Carolien and I right after her show, ‘t wordt nu laat.

Lemme start by asking you this: when was the last time you planned your evening around the Prime Minister / President giving a press conference to bring you up to date on the pandemic? Unless you personally experienced the Spanish flu of 1918, I’m guessing the last time was fucking never.

We’ve done it three times in the past week! You too? How ’bout it, kids? Is this shit a whole lotta dystopia or is it just me? I swear to Christ I feel like I’m living in an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale (If you haven’t seen it go do yourself a favor during the upcoming lockdown).

I’ll tell you this: I’m a proud member of the ‘gig economy’ and I’m quite possibly up shit’s creek without a paddle, economically speaking, given the present Corona situation. Which, of course, leaves me a couple of options:

  • promptly shove my head in the sand and start drinking heavily.
  • wake up early, meditate, do yoga, and chill the fuck out.

Nope. It’s not gonna be one of those. It could be a little bit of both, but I’ve got a better idea. I’m gonna try to pick one little thing every day that gives me hope in these dark days and share it with you. And it ain’t gonna be easy, on account of me being a pretty negative dude. If my life had a motto it would be this: the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

So there’s that.

But this apocalyptic, end-days scenario we find ourselves entrenched into calls for some deep digging. No matter my inclinations, I can find something to be hopeful about. Today I found something to be hopeful about from last week.

Last Thursday night I got to be a guest on Carolien Borgers’s amazing radio show ‘t wordt nu laat’ (It’s getting late, in English). OMFG – what a joy! We talked about my new book. We talked about life. But most of all, we talked about the music, the songs that have been significant in my life. It’s a simple concept and it really works. I was moved to my very core. Dominique was there too and she even took the mic for a few. We had a blast and I’m still enjoying the buzz it gave me. My eternal gratitude to Carolien, Marloes, and Mirjam for making it possible. If they stay in the radio business there will be plenty of hope to go around.

Now it’s your turn. What’s that one thing that makes you hopeful, despite the impending doom? As long as we’re not six feet under there’s gotta be something.

If you’re looking for something to pass the time you could always pick up a copy of my book How To Not Kill Yourself (in Dutch. English coming soon). If anything, it’ll take your mind off the germs for a few short hours.

much love,

David

WHY WE NEED THE UTRECHT INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL.

First and foremost, in this day and age, holy shit we need as much laughter as we can get. Everything, everywhere, every day, is so fucking tense. Comedians, in my humble opinion, are the remedy. And lots of really funny ones are coming to our lovely city: Utrecht, the Netherlands!

We need this comedy festival to be in Utrecht for a couple of hugely important reasons. Number one – Because Utrecht is not Amsterdam. Amsterdam already gets everything. This time, give the big event to the little brother. Second – the organisers are working so incredibly hard to make this event the premier comedy festival on the continent. New York Magazine even rated it one of the top ten comedy festivals in the world.

Sure the British have the Fringe Festival in Scotland – and good for them. But this one is ours. UICF is right here in our own backyard, baby. Thank you so much to the men and women of comedyhuis who do all the behind the scenes work to make the festival happen. The festival itself takes place on Friday and Saturday March 6th and March 7th at TivoliVredenburg.

Click here for tickets and info for 6 and 7 March

But guess what kids, there is more good news. One weekend is just not enough. How about a whole week! Starting on Friday 28 February, there will be an entire week of comedy related activities all over the city. Here’s a list of my highlights:

  • The official launch of my new book How To Not Kill Yourself. My presentation will be part of the official launch of the entire festival, together with Utrecht Stadscomedian Patrick Meijer and Utrecht cartoonists Rob van Barneveld, Willem Bentvelzen, and Daniel Henschel. Friday 28 February, 5:00pm, at Kargadoor (Oude Gracht 36, Utrecht). Drop me a line if you’re interested in coming.
  • Comedy Walks. Comedyhuis member Soula Notos will lead a walk through the heart of Utrecht telling personal stories about all that makes the city so great.
  • Vrouwen met humor. Who says chicks aren’t hilarious?! Come get schooled.
  • Winners of the Comedy Talent Award. Every year, Comedyhuis hosts the most prestigious stand-up comedy competition in the Netherlands. In addition to winning a spot on the bill of the festival itself, the winners of the competition will perform a few days beforehand too.
  • Vakdag Stand-up comedy with Jeroen Pater. Comedians, club bookers, agents, theatre directors – anybody and everybody interested in the business of stand-up comedy in the Netherlands can come and learn the ins and outs. Presented by stand-up comedian and artistic director of the Utrecht International Comedy Festival Jeroen Pater, he’ll guide you through conversations with various comedians in the hopes of shedding more light as to how the business works. (This session will be in Dutch.)

Click here for more information about all the events during Comedy Week.

WHY WE NEED DAVE CHAPPELLE AND OTHER SHIT WORTH SHARING.

Hi there. It’s a new year, kids. Hell, it’s a new decade. You ready? On your mark, get set, go!

Comedian Dave Chappelle just won the Mark Twain Prize – a prize given to people who “have had an impact on American society in ways similar to Twain…” I’m not exactly sure how Twain impacted American society but I do know how Chappelle makes me laugh and gets me thinking at the same time. Why do I think we need him so badly? Check out his acceptance speech and you’ll hear it. He’s a guy who really will reach across the aisle, and he’ll do it with grace and humour.

There’s some other shit down below I thought you might like to check out:

Happy New Year, my friends!

If you liked this post, come find me on the socials!



WHY TIGER WILL SHATTER JACK’S RECORD.

Have you ever hit rock bottom?

You know, panic attacks? Hyperventilation? Hooked on booze, pills, sex, or food? Maybe you had some major credit card debt or ruined your marriage? Lost your job, got sick, maybe even had a run-in with the cops?

I bet you have. I sure have. It hurts. At times like those, it’s pretty easy to feel so worthless that you can’t see a way out. That’s a dark place and if you live long enough you’ll probably spend some time there.

Back in the spring of 2017, champion golfer Tiger Woods hit rock bottom. He got busted for DUI in Florida, having passed out at the wheel of his Cadillac, with 5 different prescription drugs in his bloodstream. He’d already blown his marriage by being a serial cheater, as the whole world read about in all its gory details. For a brief spell, Tiger Woods – golf’s first billionaire – was nothing more than a comedian’s punch line. On top of all that, he’d hurt his back so badly that merely walking was a chore. During a depressing press conference at his tournament in the Bahamas a few years ago, he admitted he wasn’t sure he’d ever play golf again.

Then he had surgery. Went to rehab. Did the painful and humbling work of rediscovering the concepts of integrity and trust. Spent lots of time with his kids. Slowly but surely, he starting hitting golf balls again. We all watched him come back to tournament golf, but his progress was tedious. One step forward, two steps back. Just when it looked like he might be getting some of his swagger back, he’d take a mighty swipe at the ball, wince in pain, and limp his ass back to the hospital. It was wretched to watch. It’s never pleasant watching a hero fail, but Tiger’s fall from grace was the stuff of legends and we all wanted him to come back. Golf was just not the same without him.

Over the past 18 months he’s been playing well. Little by little. Last summer he almost won a couple of big ones. Then he won a big one at the end of last year. And now, good God almighty, he has just won The Masters, golf’s greatest event. Tiger is back and my lord has he done it in style! If you were watching today, you know you’ll never forget what you just saw.

If you weren’t watching today, or if you hate golf and Tiger Woods, or if you read about him and just thought, “fuck that dude” – I understand that you might find all this talk of Herculean comebacks a little nauseating. You’re right – he might not deserve your forgiveness. But still, I urge you to see the human story in all of this. There’s something in this for you too.

I’m a grown man of 49 years old and I cried today when he won. Now before you write me off as a hopeless drama queen (which I am), hear me out. Why did I shed a tear today? Not because he’s the greatest golfer in history. Not because he has come back from unthinkable depths. Not because he has overcome physical injury and psychological devastation. I cried today because we all need people, real flesh and blood humans, who can show us that we too can come back from rock bottom. We need that, you and me. Sure, I’m never gonna win The Masters, but I am gonna climb out of my own personal rock bottom, and so are you. If we watch closely enough, Tiger Woods is showing us how.

So now that he is back, now that he has won golf’s greatest prize, now that the chains of his self-made prison have been removed forever, Tiger Woods will go on to shatter Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships. In fact, I predict he’ll win 5 more over the course of the next ten years. Nothing to stop him now. It won’t be easy, because he’s inspired an entire generation of young golfers to be as ruthless in pursuit of victory as he is. But he’ll do it and I, for one, will cry every time.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

 

My father played college football at Purdue University. He was a defensive back on the Boilermaker team that beat U.S.C. to win the Rose Bowl in 1967. Bob Griese, the legendary Hall of Famer, was the quarterback on that team.

After graduation, my dad joined the United States Navy and became an officer. He volunteered to serve our country and did two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying helicopters with the Navy Seals.

Do you think my dad is an American patriot?

I was the shooting guard on my varsity basketball team at Oyster River High School in Durham, New Hampshire. We won the state championship in 1988. I finished the season as an All-State Honorable Mention.

After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in 1992, I moved to the Netherlands where I’ve lived ever since. I speak Dutch and I’m raising my two sons bilingually. I have never served in the American Armed Forces.

Do you think I am an American patriot?

Yes? No? Tough call?

I’m asking the question because I fear we may be losing the plot. Do you feel that way too? All our “Red State, Blue State” tribal obsessions. I fear we’re losing our ability to find common ground. We’re getting nasty and somebody’s gonna get hurt. Hell, people have already gotten hurt. Killed, even.

It seems like we’re so distracted and insecure. So worried about our jobs and our pensions and our belief systems, so terrified that somebody is gonna swoop in and take it all away. We’re definitely looking for someone to blame. Somebody has to be the cause of all this bullshit. It’s human nature to find a scapegoat, we don’t have a choice. It doesn’t necessarily make us bad people.

But it’s a risky strategy.

All this hate we feel towards the other team. I don’t know about you, but it’s killing me. My blood pressure is through the roof. I’m drinking like a Russian sailor on shore leave. Every morning I grab my phone and whip out some article that proves the other team is a bunch of humiliating morons but I’m on the right side of history, motherfucker!

I get so worked up. Sitting there in my boxer shorts, screaming at my phone. In my better, less crazy, moments I ask myself, “does all this hating really help?” I mean really, is this what God intended us to do, hate the other team so much that we wanna punch ’em in the kidneys? Is this the evolution of homo sapiens that mother nature had in mind?

Who the hell knows?

But I’ve got a hunch. I don’t think it is. I think all this hating the other team goes against the unavoidable, infallible, and unstoppable evolution of our species.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an example from my own family: I have an uncle who roots for the other team. And he does it rather loudly. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why he roots for the other team. How could he?

I’m picturing him in my head, right now. He’s a big dude. He played college football, just like my dad. Hockey too. He was so smooth on the ice that they called him “Cruiser”. Great skater. He started out in the Navy, but for the rest of his professional career he was an air traffic controller in New York City. That’s a stressful job. He was fucking great at it. He’s also one of the most generous guys you’ll ever meet and he’d give you the shirt right off his back. Big Brutus that he is, even he gets choked up at the sound of our niece playing a sweet song on her guitar, around the campfire, at our family reunion. “Play it again” he’d shout, all night long.

I still don’t understand why he roots for the other team. Our last family reunion was great, but we had some awkward moments, everybody trying not to talk about the other team. It makes me want to give up and run. To not go to family reunions anymore.

But, wait.

Hold on a sec.

I might root for my team and he might root for the other team, but me and my uncle, we share the same name. When I was 7 years old, he took me to my first game. This was in 1976 and back then we both still rooted for the same team. We were just kids. We took the train into the city, just the two of us. It was a beautiful summer day, I can still taste the bright sunshine and the popcorn and the cotton candy. Our team won. We got back on the train and went home. What a day!

He’s my Uncle. My family. These days we root for different teams, but we both love the game, know wadda mean?

I don’t know, man. It’s hard. I have no idea how to make things better. I don’t wanna be naive and I don’t wanna be cynical, but I’m stuck. I’m not sure what to do. In my gut it feels like we gotta do something, because things are gettin’ tight.

I guess we could just keep it simple. I could reach out to my Uncle. Talk about the game last night. It’s a start.

You could do that too. With your Uncle Bill or your sister Janine or your neighbor Youssef. Just make eye contact. Say “hi”. Take it from there.

Saying “hi” doesn’t mean you agree with him. He gets to cheer for his team, you get to cheer for yours. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, he’s “red” and you’re “blue”, but you’re both going out to the old ballgame.

Obviously we should continue to call out lies and protest injustice. We should hold our leaders and our media accountable and attempt to keep them honest. Obviously we should be wary and vigilant in the face of ignorance and extremism. We have to be.

But accusing strangers of being dumb? Hating people for wearing the wrong hat? All that energy expended, and for what?  Are we really sure we’re choosing the right battles?

After all, we are the United States, remember? The most beautiful thing about America is we all get to be patriots.

~~~~~

I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Anthony Bourdain Was My Hero.

 

For me, it wasn’t about the “bad-boy rock star chef” image, although as a one-time, wannabe rock star myself, I can’t deny his genuine swag had its appeal.

It wasn’t about the TV shows even though I shouted with glee when he plopped down at a little plastic table in Vietnam and slurped up a bowl of noodles with President Obama.

It wasn’t the brutally honest way he told the tale of kicking dope, a plight of which I am all too familiar.

It wasn’t his wit and razor sharp humour although any man who can rip to shreds the all-American obsession with “non-food” food items by writing lines such as, “…’I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter??? I can!!!…'”, should immediately proceed to the comedy hall-of-fame.

It wasn’t his outspoken advocacy for undocumented workers, LGBT people, the Palestinians, or the #MeToo movement, even though thank God somebody in this day and age had the balls, and the global reach, to effectively say what he said.

It wasn’t his 1 zillion Instagram followers or his millions of dollars or his badass tattoos. Hell, it wasn’t even the food, even though his cookbook did teach me how to make proper scrambled eggs (tip – read his cookbook because you’re still doing it wrong)

For me, it was always the writing.

Anthony Bourdain was my hero because he made me pick up a pen and write. It may sound cheesy to you, even trite, but it’s true. Bourdain’s writing empowered me to face, and conquer, my monstrous demons of resistance and simply write. Now, I’m no global celebrity or cult of personality politician, but I, too, have a story to tell and with Bourdain’s words as my guide, I finished my memoir this year. On my blog I posted one chapter a week, for 40 weeks in a row, and then submitted it to a publisher a short time ago. We’ll see what happens. The odds are ridiculously slim that my little tale will grow to the heady heights of Bourdain’s memoir, but that is irrelevant. What matters is that I wrote it, and Bourdain is the main reason why.

Having said all that, I’m aware that there’s a tendency to eulogise a revered artist and turn him into some kind of saint, especially when he took his own life. But that’s what I love about Anthony Bourdain, he was not, and never claimed to be, a saint. He was a pesky, flesh and blood human, warts and all. He admitted to contributing to the toxic culture in kitchens. He admitted that he may have unknowingly glamourised heroin and cocaine use. He also admitted that he was wrong to do those things. That is heroic and it’s pretty rare these days too.

So now, the questions. Why? How could he? After all, he had everything. What fucking happened? Hopefully we will never really find out because that kind of intimacy is for his family. But we all have our theories. Could it have been temporary depression brought on by some kind of personal tragedy? Could it have been a slip with dope? Could it be he was sick of the constant pressure? Who knows? Dominique, my girlfriend, said something that makes as much sense as anything I’ve heard so far. She said, “his flame went out”. In other words, he lost his hunger, his reason to get out of bed. He’d written the books, done the TV, won the awards, met the President, made the cash, got the girl, had the child, traveled the globe. Anything he desired, he could have. I don’t know how that feels, but it’s conceivable that a 61 year-old man could arrive at that elusive destination, find himself in another lonely hotel room, slip on the dope – knowing all too well where that will end up, and think to himself, “fuck it. I’m done”. I can see how that could possibly take him out to the precipice. Just a theory, obviously, as I’m just trying to make sense of it all.

For now though, all I’ve got is the writing. Kitchen Confidential is the only book I’ve ever owned both in paperback and on Kindle. I’ve re-read the paperback so many times that the pages are all dog-eared. I guess going back to its pages, and Bourdain’s words, are as comforting as any refuge we could hope to find.

Rest in peace, chef.

Americano! Foreword.

AMERICANO!

TALES OF A PROFESSIONAL FOREIGNER

BY DAVE MANGENE

FOREWORD 

…I am an excitable man. I can get carried away, prone to a new dream every damn day. This book is one of those dreams. When the muse came calling and I got the itch, I’d constructed this project fully in my head. My plan? I would write the story of my life as a professional foreigner in the Netherlands and blog it into a book. Practically speaking I would post one chapter every Sunday, roughly 1000 words a week, until the book was finished. Flush with excitement, I shared my idea with the woman I love, Dominique. As always, she was supportive. But there was a catch.

“Dave,” she said, sweet but firm, “if you start this thing, you have to finish it. You can’t stop writing in the middle and leave people hanging.”

A few years ago, she’d gotten hooked on a certain writer’s story of his tumultuous adventures at love. The writer was an acquaintance of hers. Like mine, his plan had also been to post one chapter a week. For a while, he followed through and did just that. She loved his writing and looked forward to his posts every week. One sad day though, from out of nowhere, he stopped writing. There were no more posts. His story never got resolved.

Dominique was furious.

So, after sharing my idea with her, she put the fear of God in me. She made me promise that, once I got the ball rolling, I would keep writing and make it to the finish line. To do otherwise would be too disrespectful to my readers.

To Dominique I owe a mountain of gratitude. It was her gentle warning, her special dose of tough love that allowed me to fight through the never-ending resistance and keep writing.

Dank je wel, liefje.

PS – all the stuff I write about in this book really happened, but I have changed some names to protect the guilty…