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A Face Like a Clock


Some of you will have heard some of this before so please bear with me.

A few weeks ago, Lynn and I spent an afternoon in Haarlem, a city just a few miles west of Amsterdam on the coast. As we were walking back to the train station, we saw a clock over a bus stop. We had seen the same clock on the way in but the first time, all we saw were the hands on the clock. What else matters about a clock, right? The second time, though, Lynn looked at the clock again and pointed it out to me. There was a rendering of a face in profile. The face was mine.

I took a picture of the clock and when I got home and looked at it more closely, I saw that the artist's signature was also on the face of the clock so I wrote him asking who the model was or if there even was a model. It turns out that the sketch is actually of Jaap Pop, former mayor of Haarlem. The artist, Eric J. Coolen, wrote me back with a link to a website for Ampzing. Apparently the clock was made in conjunction with the group on this website. The group's purpose is to poke fun at the Dutch penchant for speaking English and complains, in a light-hearted way, that they shouldn't do it. Two things about that. 1) Eric Coolen told me that since he joined the group he's writing more English than ever and 2) the website has a place to get an English translation which, upon clicking on it, shows a screen that says, in Dutch, something to the effect of, "What?? Are you kidding? We don't do that here!" These guys are a yuck a minute.

Next thing I know is that I get a phone call from a man named Hein Flach. He wanted to know if he could use the letter that I sent to Eric Coolen for an article which I thought was to appear in the group's newsletter. Well, it did, but it was also on their website and also in the Haarlem daily newspaper. So now I'm almost famous yet somehow when I walk down the street people still tend to ignore me. Imagine that.

But it doesn't end there. Eric Coolen wrote again and said that they do a weekly "radioprogram (sic) [which] contains live music and interviews with local politicians, writers, sportsmen and businessmen." They wanted to interview me and he said the interview would be between five and eight minutes. They did and here's the interview. The first few seconds are in Dutch but they moved to English because otherwise it wouldn't have been much of an interview. When it was over, Eric presented me with a clock with what was actually my own image on it. I thought that was great and it's now hanging in our kitchen.

My son Aaron laughs hysterically at all this. "You got an interview on the radio because you look like a clock?" When I assured him that that was the sole reason, he said, "Well, I think you have more hair than the clock and I think that's the first time in human history anyone has ever said that phrase."

Here's the newspaper article with a picture of the clock and me along with my original letter and some more pictures below. Here's the translation of the article. In the interview, you may have heard reference to a video I took of all the girls. Here's the video.

This was during the interview with Joost Mulder on the right.


after the interview. That's Eric J. Coolen on the right, the artist who started this whole thing


the clock I was given as a gift


the caricature in the center of the clock


Jaap Pop, for real and in his own clock    



2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008