Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Children's choir starts bullying in a shopping mall

As reported by, a children's choir did a jaw-dropping performance at a shopping centre here in Ghent just before Christmas. It was not the beautiful voices that made jaws drop, however, but the altered lyrics, which prompted some concerned mothers to cover the ears of their children.

Fortunately, there was a meaning to the madness. See for yourself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

There's a new Prime Minister over in Brussels tonight

I told you I wouldn't believe it until I saw it with my own eyes, and now I have. Belgium finally has a government, headed by the ever-smiling Elio Di Rupo. He has only been in office for a day (you can watch him pocket the keys to the government here), but his place in history is already secured, as he is the world's first openly gay male head of government (Iceland has had a lesbian Prime Minister since 2009).

Elio Di Rupo.

Di Rupo's first grand task will be to improve his Dutch. This has been an issue ever since he became a candidate for Prime Minister, and the newly-established opposition is now milking this "unfulfilled" promise, saying that Di Rupo cannot lead a bilingual country as long as his Dutch is in its current state.

Hm. I might put some Dutch lessons on here myself, in case he reads my blog.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Belgium gets a government... tomorrow

According to De Morgen, the 13 ministers and 6 State Secretaries are likely to be sworn in tomorrow. Only then will I take down my "days without a government" counter. I won't believe this until I see it with mine very own eyes, on TV.

I don't know about you, but I'm really excited. I'll have to think of some way to celebrate this. More to come!

The sun rises over Belgium. Source: Zeemeeuw/Wikimedia.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... a new government?

Just when I thought the political deadlock might actually go on forever, they're agreeing!

According to De Morgen, formateur Elio Di Rupo and the party leaders of PS, CD&V, MR, Open Vld, sp.a, and cdH are currently in the process of choosing ministers.

Tomorrow, 539 days after the election, Belgium will have a government.

Have we learned anything from all this? We'll see at the next election.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Amatorski - Come Home

I just cracked open (in the less-destructive-than-it-sounds sense) a mix CD my father-in-law recently gave me, and it's full of goodies. Some of the goodies turned out to be Belgian-made.

Amatorski are a post-rock group from Ghent, composed of Inne Eysermans (vocals, piano, guitar, accordion), Sebastiaan Van Den Branden (vocals, guitar), Hilke Ros (bass), and Christophe Claeys (drums, vibraphone, trumpet). They came into the spotlight in 2010 when they reached the finals in Humo's Rock Rally, which was ultimately won by School Is Cool.

Amatorski. Photo:

They're currently doing the 'Amatorski film' tour, thusly explained on their website:
Last week we started the 'Amatorski film' tour, a subtle 'mariage' [sic] of music and film in purest Amatorski style. We created a new soundtrack for the Belgian avant-garde film 'Impatience' (1928) and our earlier songs are accompanied by mesmerising visuals from young film talent Stien De Vrieze.
Here's the spooky teaser for the tour:

Amatorski actually played at the Vooruit here in Ghent two nights ago. By the time I found out about it, it was sold out. Better luck next time, I guess.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My way to school, courtesy of Google

A couple of weeks ago, Belgium was added to Google Street View. Yes, you can now view the crowded streets of cities like Brussels, Ghent, Leuven, Bruges and Antwerp in all their glory through the magic of Google. Like everyone else, I promptly fired up Google Earth to find my house. Found it!

But I'm not going to tell you which one it is. I already have enough fantasies about people armed with ski masks and golf clubs burgling us in the dead of night.

Instead, I'm going to show you my way to school, thereby giving you a snapshot of Ghent from the perspective of a full-time student like yours truly.

After mounting my bike and traversing a couple of roundabouts, I pass under one of the fine old railway bridges that span the roads that connect Ghent proper to its southern suburbs. These roads have names like Zwijnaardsesteenweg ("the paved road to Zwijnaarde"), Kortrijksesteenweg ("the paved road to Kortrijk"), Ottergemsesteenweg... you get the idea.

Beyond the bridge I find myself on Ottergemsesteenweg, possibly the most nondescript street in the whole city of Ghent. The only exciting thing that happens on this street is students on bicycles almost getting crushed to death by impatient drivers. (Speaking from experience there.) But aside from the sporadic near-accidents, this is by far the most tranquil part of my daily journey.


I soon join the multitudes of young people impatiently waiting for the "go" signal at the corner of Normaalschoolstraat and Citadellaan. As I kick off at the flash of green, I am joined by up to a hundred students on bikes. None of these bright young people need bicycle helmets, for they are magically protected by their youthful spirit and cunning devices.

On the other side lies Overpoort. Normally as dead as an overrun hedgehog, this neighbourhood springs into life on weekends as those unfortunate few among the students who aren't going home to their parents drown their sorrows in the numerous pubs lining the street. Overpoortstraat becomes an obstacle course on Monday mornings when the cleaning crews have yet to show up and sweet away all the broken bottles, beer glasses, and half-digested kebabs that have accumulated on the asphalt over the weekend.

Overpoort is also home to Resto Overpoort, one of the university's restaurants. Sadly, it does not look as awesome in real life as Google Street View will have it.

Resto Overpoort, looking unusually futuristic.

On the last leg of the trip I pass by St. Peter's Square (Dutch: Sint-Pietersplein), a large open area in front of St. Peter's Abbey. The Book Tower of the Ghent University Library can be seen rising above the other buildings in the background. The Book Tower is one of a handful of structures in Ghent currently to be found as a 3-D building in Google Earth.


On St. Peter's Square you can also find Roxy Center, perhaps the biggest movie rental place in town. Inside its bowels you can find anything from Tom Cruise to Tom Six and everything in between.

Finally, I arrive at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy at Blandijnberg 2. With half an hour to go before the start of the lecture, I have just enough time to find a spot to park my bike. Here's to another day without it getting stolen.

All images © Google.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Triggerfinger - Let It Ride

If you've been thinking that it would be a good idea to combine Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows" with Wolfmother's "Woman", this might be your song of the day.

Triggerfinger was founded in Antwerp in 1998 by Ruben Block (vocals and guitar), Paul Van Bruystegem (bass) and Mario Goossens (drums). Their sound includes droning guitars and distorted, echoing vocals.

The haunting "Let It Ride" is the second track on Triggerfinger's third studio album, All This Dancin' Around, which was released last November. The video was allegedly filmed by the band while waiting backstage to perform at the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels.


Never thought I'd be your back door man
I sort of thought I'd hold the front but then
The perfect balance baby
A certain twist of mind
A tempting hint at something I might find

Never thought you'd wind me up again
I sort of thought I'd sprung the clock but then
The perfect moment baby
A taste of fantasy
Will flood the gates with your mystery

Just for tonight baby
Just let it ride baby
Whatever you hide
Whatever you hide
Just for tonight baby
Just let it ride

You spill your smile and then you drag your tail
Playing hide and seek on a very different scale
The perfect balance baby
Between the touch and go
You're still my favorite mental rodeo

Friday, November 18, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Yevgueni - Veel te mooie dag

"Veel te mooie dag" ("Much too beautiful day") was written in memory of Hilde Rens, better known by her stage name Yasmine. A successful Flemish television presenter, pop artist and LGBT icon, she took her own life in 2009 after suffering from depression.

Yasmine. Source

Featured on Welkenraedt (2011), Yevgueni's fourth studio album, the song is a first-person description of the narrator's immediate reaction to the tragic news. Although it was written with a specific person and a specific day in mind, it resonates strongly with the feelings of sorrow and denial we all feel when faced with something too terrible to take in all at once. Some may be reminded of a moment of regret, a moment when they know they could have done more for someone else but will never get the chance again.

The above YouTube video was dedicated to the victims of the 2011 Pukkelpop tragedy, when a freak storm devastated the festival grounds and caused the deaths of five people.

Lyrics (original Flemish):

Het leek nochtans een hele mooie dag
Het rook naar mensen en naar gras
Er was muziek en er was tienduizend man
Toen iemand zei dat jij er niet meer was

Een lopend vuurtje trok een sprintje door ons land
Tien mensen grepen naar hun tas
Tien telefoons, hetzelfde bericht
En iemand zei dat jij er niet meer was

En de zon maar schijnen een veel te mooie dag
En de zon maar schijnen een veel te mooie dag
En een verdwaalde vlucht
Doorstreept de blauwe lucht
En ik wou dat ik daarboven was
Of dat ik nog niet op de hoogte was

Het leek nochtans een hele mooie dag
Ik sprong in mijn auto en ik las
Een oud bericht wel honderd keer opnieuw

Het was van jou "dat het niet zo dringend was"

En de zon maar schijnen een veel te mooie dag
En de zon maar schijnen een veel te mooie dag
En een verdwaalde vlucht
Doorstreept de blauwe lucht
En ik wou dat ik daarboven was
Dat alles hier nog bij het oude was

Lyrics (English translation):

Nevertheless, it seemed like a really beautiful day
It smelled of grass and of people
There was music and there were ten thousand people
Then someone said that you were no more.

A wild fire spread across the land
Ten people reaching for their bags
Ten telephones, the same message
And someone said that you were no more.

And the sun just shines on a much too beautiful day
And the sun just shines on a much too beautiful day
And a wayward flight
Streaks across the blue sky
And I wish that I was up there
Or that I was still unaware.

Nonetheless, it seemed like a really beautiful day
I got in my car and read
An old message a hundred times over

It was from you, saying that "it wasn't that urgent"...

And the sun just shines on a much too beautiful day
And the sun just shines on a much too beautiful day
And a wayward flight
Streaks across the blue sky
And I wish that I was up there
That everything was still just as before


Bonus: For those of you who play the guitar, here are the chords.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Wapenstilstandsdag (Armistice Day) is a public holiday in France and Belgium. Originally held to commemorate the victims of the First World War, it has since become an occasion to remember the victims of all wars past and present.

The holiday is on 11 November, the anniversary of the Armistice with Germany at the end of the First World War in 1918. In Commonwealth countries, this day is known as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veterans Day, or Poppy Day. The latter is a reference to the remembrance poppy, which is commonly worn in the weeks leading up to and on Remembrance Day.

Remembrance poppies at the Menin Gate memorial in Ypres. Source

The armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed after three days of negotiations on board a train parked on a railway siding in the Forest of Compiègne in northern France. Hoping that a quick peace would quelch the fires of the German Revolution of 1918-1919 - which had already resulted in the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II - the German delegation accepted all of the Allied terms. The armistice came into effect at 11 a.m. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.

The last soldier of the British Empire to be killed before the ceasefire came into effect died in Ville-sur-Haine, a village near Mons in southwestern Belgium. Private George Lawrence Price and his patrol were pursuing a machine gunner through a row of houses when he was shot in the heart by a sniper as he stepped into the street. He died at 10:58, only two minutes before the fighting officially ended.

George Lawrence Price (1892-1918). Source

The nexus of World War I remembrance in Belgium is Ypres, which I visited and wrote about earlier this year. Just as the remembrance poppy eventually came to symbolise all war victims of the past and present, so have Ypres, its memorials and museums become a testament to the basic horror and futility of war itself. A day in Ypres should be an obligatory part of any trip to Belgium.


Further reading:

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

Keywords: spectacular, fast-paced, brief, exhilarating

The background: A big-screen adaptation of Tintin by Steven Spielberg has been in the works for decades, and now it's finally here in all its CGI motion capture glory.

The plot: Tintin, a keen young Belgian reporter, buys a model ship at a flea market and gets tangled up in a centuries-old feud and a hunt for unimaginable treasure. His quest for a scoop becomes a life-and-death struggle as he accompanies his newfound friend, the loud, hard-drinking captain Haddock, on an adventure that takes them halfway round the world and back at breakneck speed.

I will say little of Spielberg's treatment of the source material other than this: if you expect to see a faithful adaptation of the Tintin comic books, don't bother buying a ticket. While the film is a beautiful, affectionate tribute to the period, the characters, and the sense of adventure that permeats Hergé's stories, it is, more than anything else, a Spielberg movie. Those who fail to remember that, will be disappointed.

Anne Thompson knows what it's all about over at
...Spielberg has not only pulled out his Indiana Jones toolbox but has decided to pack anything and everything into Tintin that the logistical, budgetary realities of shooting live action won’t let him do. Let off his leash, he’s clearly having a blast, and so do we.
Any complaints? Nope. You simply don't get time to dislike this rollercoaster of a film. And if you think you won't like it because you need more depth, just feast your eyes on the wonderful visuals, or look for the many references to Tintin's other adventures. There's something in there for everyone.

The Adventures of Tintin opens on December 21 in the U.S.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

In the clutches of life

I have decided to take a break from blogging to focus on other problems. I hope to be back soon, as I enjoy this a lot more than what I'm currently struggling with.

Until I write again: take care of yourselves, and of each other.

Photo: xiebu_2009.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What is my life going to be?

Sorry for the lack of Jukebox Friday this week. I've been a little more preoccupied than usual, as my education started today.

On Monday, I'll be attempting to ease my way into a firm schedule at the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy at Ghent University. Eventually, I will obtain a B.A. in English and Italian language and literature.

Here's a picture of the beautiful faculty building at Blandijnberg:

...and here's the song that inspired my choice of education. No, not really. I just like the song.

Wish me luck! Or should I say... Spaghetti?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jukebox Friday: School is Cool - In Want Of Something

School is Cool is a baroque pop quintet formed in Antwerp in 2009. The members are Johannes Genard (vocals, guitar, bass drum), Andrew Van Ostade (floor tom, glockenspiel), Matthias Dillen (drums), Toon Van Baelen (bass guitar) and Nele Paelinck (keyboard, violin, glockenspiel).

School is cool. (Source:

The band shot to fame by winning Humo's Rock Rally, the country's biggest contest for unsigned artists, in 2010. Held bi-annually since 1978, the competition has provided a breakthrough platform for a multitude of bands such as dEUS, The Black Box Revelation, Milow, Arid, Das Pop, and Admiral Freebee.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A glint of government

The unthinkable has happened: after a record-breaking period of government negotiations, fries revolutions and general despair, Belgian politicians have actually agreed on something.

Since May 16th, Elio Di Rupo, leader of the francophone Socialist Party, has had the role of formateur, the person who leads the formation of a coalition government. With election results the way they were, it has not been an easy job.

Now, however, a meeting between the eight largest parties (excluding Bart De Wever's N-VA) has led to an agreement on a major issue.

BBC has the story:
The mediator trying to form a government in Belgium has announced a breakthrough after tense negotiations. 
Politician Elio Di Rupo said the eight parties in the talks had agreed on moves to resolve key sticking points.
They included the division of power between French- and Dutch-speaking communities, he said. 
The country has been without an elected government for 15 months. Disagreement centres on electoral boundaries in the linguistically divided Brussels region. 
"The eight parties have together succeeded in overcoming the obstacles which have created difficulties these last few days," Mr Di Rupo said in a statement.

The "electoral boundaries" mentioned refer specifically to the BHV issue, which I have mentioned before. It is now certain that the electoral district Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde will be divided, ending its unconstitutional existence.

Notably, Bart De Wever's Flemish nationalist party, N-VA, is excluded from the current negotiations and did not take part in last night's triumph.

What does all this mean to the future of the government negotiations? It's certainly a step in the right direction when the parties can actually agree on something, especially on such a difficult issue as BHV. Hope, however faint, lingers on.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spiders in Belgium

WARNING: This post contains pictures of spiders. If you have a spider fetish, consider it Not Safe For Work.

Belgium is home to about 700 different species of spider, and hatching season is just around the corner. To help me get used to the idea of eight-legged monsters crawling up my bed, I've done some research, effectively exposing myself to more facts and photos than I would normally have thought wise.

The result is a short, tasty selection of arachnids you might encounter in Belgium. Not every single species is covered here, but it should be sufficient to keep you awake at night.

This post was written with equal parts disgust, fear, and fascination.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jukebox Friday: R.E.M. - Fall On Me (live at Rock Werchter 2008)

This one goes out to the one I love.

My first-ever conversation with my wife was about the American alternative rock band R.E.M. She was curious about some strange new song titles in my recently played list, and I was happy to tell her that R.E.M. - our favourite band - had just released a new album (Accelerate). It kind of snowballed from there.

By the time R.E.M. went on tour to promote the album, we had both decided to get tickets. Sadly not to the same concert, though. She went to see them at Rock Werchter (at the same stage where we would see Editors two years later), and I went to Koengen in Bergen, the capital of western Norway.

During one of our online chats, we had asked each other what our favourite R.E.M. songs were. We both replied "Fall On Me", from the 1986 album Lifes Rich Pageant.

A few months later, when we were fighting our way down a mountain on our very first day together, I would repeat those three words. I told her to "fall on me", because the last thing I wanted was for her misery to increase by getting a soaked bum from slipping and falling in the wet grass. R.E.M. nerds as we are, it lightened the mood a bit.

Three days later, she went back to Belgium, now much more than a friend.

Twelve days ago, I put a ring on her finger and made her my wife. I know this is a cliché, but I'll say it anyway:


There's a problem, feathers iron
Bargain buildings, weights and pullies
Feathers hit the ground before the weight can leave the air
Buy the sky and sell the sky and tell the sky and tell the sky

Don't fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it's there for long) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (it's over it's over me) (it's gonna fall)

There's the progress we have found (when the rain)
A way to talk around the problem (when the children reign)
Building towered foresight (keep your conscience in the dark)
Isn't anything at all (melt the statues in the park)
Buy the sky and sell the sky and bleed the sky and tell the sky

Don't fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it's there for long) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (it's over it's over me) (it's gonna fall)

Well I could keep it above
But then it wouldn't be sky anymore
So if I send it to you you've got to promise to keep it whole

Buy the sky and sell the sky and lift your arms up to the sky
And ask the sky and ask the sky

Don't fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it's there for long) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (it's over it's over me) (it's gonna fall)

Don't fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it's there for long) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (it's over it's over me) (it's gonna fall)

(Lyrics and music: Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Norwegian and a Belgian in Norway

My account of the past weeks begins with the beginning, among the deep fjords and bleating sheep of Balsfjord, the bread basket of Northern Norway and my childhood home.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)

I'm still trying to get back on track after an intensive wedding week. Until then, here's another Jukebox Friday.

Wouter De Backer was born in Bruges in 1980 and moved to Australia as a child. He cut his teeth as a musician playing in bands such as Downstares, where he was the drummer and creative force, and The Basics.

After unexpectedly receiving a large LP collection from an elderly neighbour whose wife had passed away, De Backer began experimenting with sampling. This resulted in a solo project he eventually named Gotye (pronounced "gore-ti-yeah"). The name is an alternative spelling of Gaultier, the French form of Wouter.

De Backer's first solo album, Boardface, was released in 2003. It was followed in 2006 by his breakthrough album Like Drawing Blood. That album scored two hits on the Australian Triple J Hottest 100, in addition to receiving the number 11 spot on the 2011 Triple J Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Noordkaap - Ik Hou Van U

This wonderful waltz from 1995 is a hit at weddings. So much so that I won't be surprised to hear it played at my own wedding party this Sunday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Alive and well


This is just to tell you that I have not, in fact, gone and gotten myself murdered in Oslo. I've simply been making visits in the hospital, planning my wedding, going on vacation to Norway, making long, arduous trips to IKEA, and moving to Ghent.

I apologize if anyone's been worried. Just know that everything will soon be back to normal.

For now, here's a photo from our pre-wedding party in Norway (more to come!):

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Billy Joel - We Didn't Start The Fire

William Martin Joel (b. 1949 in New York City) AKA Billy Joel is an American musician and pianist, singer-songwriter, and classical composer. He is the third best-selling solo artist in the United States and a six-time Grammy Award winner. You know him.

"We Didn't Start The Fire" was released on the album Storm Front in 1989. The lyrics are a string of cultural and political references, starting with the inauguration of American president Harry S. Truman in 1949 (Billy Joel's year of birth) and ending with the cola wars between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which began in the late 1980s.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jukebox Friday: dEUS - The Architect

Deus (styled as dEUS) is an alternative rock band formed in 1991 in Antwerp. Their musical influences include folk, punk rock, jazz and progressive rock. The band's current line-up features two of the original members, Tom Barman (vocals, guitar) and Klaas Janszoons (keyboards, violin).

When dEUS got a contract with Island Records in 1992, they became the very first Belgian group to sign with a major international label. They have since become one of the most internationally successful Belgian groups, and their 2005 album Pocket Revolution was supported by a 130-date world tour.

"The Architect", one of the bossiest tracks I've ever heard, was the lead single from dEUS' 2008 album Vantage Point. The song was inspired by and contains samples of the voice of the American architect, engineer and futurist Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). One of the samples used can be heard here. The song mentions the geodesic dome, Fuller's most famous design.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Feestdag van Vlaanderen

The Day of the Flemish Community of Belgium (Dutch: Feestdag van Vlaanderen) is celebrated every year on 11 July in remembrance of the Battle of the Golden Spurs (more on that in this post) and is observed only by the Flemish Community in Belgium.

Approximately €1,5 million was spent by the Flemish government on this year's celebration. All I saw was a few flags, but I suspect that there was much merriment and gaiety.

Following the establishment of the three cultural and linguistic communities of Belgium in 1970, a law was enacted prescribing the flag, the anthem and the national holiday day of the Dutch Cultural Community, as it was known then. Here's the flag...

...and here's the anthem, a battle hymn written in 1847 by Hippoliet Van Peene to music by Karel Miry. Happy (belated) Flemish Community Day!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Battle of the Golden Spurs (1302)

A short week after the Americans celebrate Independence Day, the Flemish community have their own official holiday. Let's find out what happened before, during and after the 11th of July, 1302.

Illustration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs
in the Grandes Chroniques de France.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Vader Abraham - 't Smurfenlied (The Smurf Song)

Pierre Kartner performing as
Vader Abraham in 2007.
Photo: Remco Klein/Wikimedia
Pierre Kartner was born in Elst in the Netherlands in 1935. He has produced and recorded music since the late 1960s. As a producer, he was instrumental in the success of the levenslied ("life song") genre, a sub-genre of pop music distinguished by sentimental songs about familiar topics such as love and exotic holidays.

Kartner's alter ego Vader Abraham ("Father Abraham") came to life in the song "Vader Abraham had zeven zonen". The song is a cheerful march telling the story of Father Abraham's seven sons, all of whom are alcoholics. ( Listen to it on YouTube if you dare.)

In 1990, Kartner was tasked with writing the music for the opening and closing credits to the animated series Moomin, based on Tove Jansson's books. Ironically, it was never shown on Dutch or Belgian television.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Swords, guns and planes: a tour of the Royal Military Museum in Brussels

Here's another post revolving around Belgian history. All photos are by me unless otherwise stated.

The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History was founded in 1910 at the Abbey of La Cambre in Ixelles. In 1923, the museum was moved to the northern wing of the majestic historic complex in Cinquantenaire Park (Dutch: Jubelpark) in Brussels.

(Click images to embiggen.)

The north wing of the historic complex in Cinquantenaire Park.
(Photo: Wikimedia)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Wallace Collection - Daydream

I renamed the "song of the week" column and wrote a post with nearly as many YouTube videos as words. That's okay, I promise.

Wallace Collection was a Britain-based Belgian pop rock sextet active between 1968 and 1971. They got their name from a museum adjacent to the headquarters of their record label, EMI. In 2005, the group was revived as a quintet with four of the original members.

The group's most famous song is "Daydream", recorded at Abbey Road Studios in 1968 and released in 1969. Its famous melody was borrowed from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet. The track became a hit, but has since become even more well-known through numerous covers and samplings by other artists (see below).

Monday, June 27, 2011

These are desperate trains

The Belgian train system can be a nuisance sometimes, but today was pure hell.

I normally go to Ghent via Brussels at 8 o'clock in the morning for my Dutch classes. Most days, I go home around 12.30. Sometimes, however, I stay in Ghent a little while longer, cuddling up at the library, looking in book shops or enjoying the sun in one of the city's beautiful parks.

Today I should have gone straight home and saved myself a mountain of trouble.

My train from Ghent to Brussels left at the usual time with no unusual events. Then, five minutes into the trip, we had to make an unscheduled stop thanks to a technical problem. I baked in the sun on the platform while waiting for the problem to be solved.

Thankfully, we were able to ride further only 30 minutes later, and we managed to regain 20 of those minutes. I linked up with my fiancé along the way, and we arrived in Brussels dreaming of cold drinks and the electric fan in our bedroom.

Then we saw the departure screens.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Song of the week: Kommil Foo - Ruimtevaarder

Yet another song of the week that was discovered in my textbook for Dutch. (The lessons are going great, by the way.)

This week I give you a tender moment from brothers Raf Walschaerts and Mich Walschaerts. Born and raised in Essen in the province of Antwerp, the two brothers formed the cabaret duo Kommil Foo in 1987. The name is a twist on the French comme il faut ("as it should be").

Kommil Foo playing live in Ghent, 2006. Photo: Michel Vuijlsteke/Wikimedia

This song is music as it should be. "Ruimtevaarder" (literally: "space traveler") is the Dutch word for astronaut. The lyrics are in the form of a letter to a schoolmaster from a young pupil who has found his real purpose in life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordle and word clouds

I just stumbled across Wordle in a recent post from the official blog. Worlde is a site which lets you create stylish word clouds from any body of text or web page.

I'm not quite sure how to put this discovery to proper use, but it is a great tool for giving new visitors an idea of what a web site is all about. Here's a cloud representing the most common words on my blog (click to embiggen):

I've no idea why 'pump' should be in there, though.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Song of the week: Red Zebra - Spit On The City

This one is dedicated to Gerrit, who has recently helped me to expand my musical horizon.

Here's a quick and dirty track from Red Zebra, a band formed in Bruges in 1978. Their biggest hit is "I Can't Live In A Living Room" from 1980, now considered a true punk classic.

Red Zebra.

"Spit On The City" features on Kookaburra, which was released last January. The song is a straightforward rejection of modern society, with a decisively rougher edge to the lyrics than your average Green Day track. In other words, don't play this if you can't stand the mental image of a gigantic man dropping his pants and relieving himself onto an urban area.


I don't need an elevator
'Cause I'm running up the stairs
'Till I reach the top of a building
The only place where my thoughts are clear

I'm gonna spit on the city
Spit on the walls
Spit on all the blocks
and the shopping malls
Spit on the traffic
Spit on the cars
Spit on all the restaurants and bars

I don't need to watch television
To find out what's wrong with this world
I just take a look around me
The more I see, the more it hurts

I'm gonna spit on the city
Spit on the walls
Spit on all the blocks
and the shopping malls
Spit on the traffic
Spit on the cars
Spit on all the restaurants and bars

We don't need
another McDonalds
We don't need
another Starbucks
We don't need, we don't need, we don't need
another McDonalds
We don't need, we don't need, we don't need
another Starbucks

I'm gonna spit on the city
I' m gonna shit on the city
Spit, shit, spit, shit, spit, shit, spit, shit

I'm gonna spit on the city
Spit on the walls
Spit on all the blocks
And the shopping malls
Spit on the traffic
Spit on the cars
Spit on all the restaurants and bars

Let's have a ball on the ruins of the city
Let's have a ball on the ruins of the city
Let's have a ball on the ruins of the city
Let's have a ball on the ruins of the city

Let's have a ball
Let's have a ball
Let's have a ball
Let's have a ball

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adecco Brussels' apartheid policy

The hottest document in Belgium right now (aside from the prime minister's latest Twitter accident) is a list which a Brussels branch of the Adecco employment agency used as a guide for screening candidates.

The story is elegantly summed up on the website of the left-wing PVDA party, who leaked the controversial list two days ago:

(Translated by me - original here)
Following a complaint to the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, the Public Prosecutor in Brussels opened an investigation of Adecco in 2001. The company was said to discriminate in the recruitment of temporary employees. Eight years later, the company was let off the hook due to the fact that there never was any serious investigation. But the General Federation of Belgian Labour and SOS Racism got involved, and on May 31 of this year, Adecco was convicted. But the names of the companies that did not want to employ temporary workers of foreign origin were never made public. Solidarity (the newspaper of the PVDA) now makes up for this 'oversight'.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Elections +366 (or Plan 9 From Brussels)

Lacking any original insight to comment on the perpetual government negotiations, I wrote this.

Yesterday was exactly one year after the general election here in Belgium. There is no indication that this country will have a new government in the foreseeable future. You can almost hear the chirping of crickets in the night.

One thing is certain: Belgian politicians have patience. A lot of it. And they're not very afraid of having to hold new elections.

They should keep in mind, though, that the future is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. They better remember that future events will affect all of us. In the future.

Will the Belgian people show the same patience as their politicians, or will they rise up, this time taking more drastic measures than growing their beards?

I doubt it. Have a lovely evening.

Political pressure poll: results

The results from my poll are in. It turns out that not very many people think it's a good idea to take off your clothes in public or grow a beard to get a new government. On the other hand, giving out free fries and forcing politicians into a sex strike are both popular options.

Let's hope someone finally decides to take up that last piece of advice. I'm sure it will work like a charm. We might have some very grumpy-looking politicians for a while, though.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Belgian of the week: Erik Van Looy

Erik Van Looy. Photo:
Erik Ludovicus Maria Van Looy (b. 1962 in Deurne near Antwerp) is a Flemish film director and television presenter. He is now in Hollywood, directing a remake of his 2008 hit thriller Loft.

Van Looy studied film at the Erasmushogeschool in Brussels. He made several short films before directing his first feature, Ad Fundum, in 1993.

His major breakthrough as a director came in 2003 with the thriller The Memory of a Killer (Dutch: De Zaak Alzheimer)The film was based on a novel by Jef Geeraerts. It stars the indomitable Jan Decleir as a hitman who begins to grow a conscience just as his memory starts to fade. International trailer below.

Van Looy has also hosted the popular Flemish quiz show De Slimste Mens Ter Wereld between 2004 and 2011. I've always thought that you can learn a lot about someone from the way they laugh, so here's a compilation of Van Looy laughing on the show.

As previously mentioned in the blog, there is a Hollywood remake of Loft in the works. It will not be the first remake of the film, since the Dutch already did one in 2010. However, this time Van Looy himself is directing. This time it will be done right.

Loft is the story of five married men who share ownership of a loft which they use to discreetly meet with their respective mistresses. When the mutilated corpse of a young woman shows up in the loft, the men begin to suspect each other.

The following people will star in the film: Patrick Wilson (Watchmen), James Marsden (X-Men), Rachael Taylor (Transformers), Wentworth Miller (Prison Break), Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings), Isabel Lucas (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), and Matthias Schoenaerts, who played the same character in the original Loft. The film is planned for a 2013 release.

I'll wrap this up with the (Dutch-language only) trailer for the original Loft from 2008.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Song of the week: Editors - No Sound But The Wind (Live at Rock Werchter 2010)

This song is not Belgian. However, it represents a fond musical memory which took place last summer in a field north of Leuven.

Cormac McCarthy's The Road,
first published in 2006.
Birmingham band Editors first performed the song "No Sound But The Wind" at Glastonbury in 2008. According to Tom Smith, the band's front-man, he was inspired to write the song after reading Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road. If you've read the book or seen the film starring Viggo Mortensen, you may see a connection to the story in the song's chorus:
Help me to carry the fire
To keep it alight together
Help me to carry the fire
This road won't go on forever.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How to steal a bicycle in Antwerp

Pieterdeflieter, the uploader of this video, describes it thus:
After my 3th bike got stolen I discovered how easy it is to steal a bike in Antwerp...
BTW: in this video I steal my own bike as an example
Watch and enjoy.

[via De Morgen]

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Anveld - Wals Pour Marie-Claude

Anveld is an Old Dutch word meaning 'anvil'. It is also the name of a Belgian folk band formed in 2002 by Eddy Vanacker. They have played at the Dranouter Folk Festival, the Festival van het Zeemanslied, the Deerlycke Folkfestival, the Gentse Feesten (here's a great clip from 2006), and the Fers Folkfestival in the Netherlands.

Although this band hasn't been heard from in years, the power of YouTube allows us to enjoy this amazing instrumental track.

If you happen to have any information about the fate of this devilishly interesting group, please tell me in the comments!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Belgian of the week: Jan Fabre

Jan Fabre (born 1958 in Antwerp) is a multidisciplinary artist, playwright, stage director, choreographer and designer.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Technotronic - Pump Up The Jam

Technotronic is a studio-based music project formed by Thomas DeQuincey AKA Jo Bogaert (b. 1954 in Aalst) in 1988. Together with vocalist Ya Kid K (born Manuela Barbara Kamosi Moaso Djogi in Zaire in 1973), he produced the hit single "Pump Up the Jam" in 1989. An image for the act was later put together, utilizing Congolese-born fashion model Felly Kilingi as its album/single cover art, and supposed singer in the music video.

The song has been covered many times, for instance by Werner Wichtig, who changed the lyrics to Pump ab das bier ("pump away the beer"), and "Weird Al" Yankovic, who included a part of the song in his 1992 polka medley "Polka Your Eyes Out".

It was also used in several films, TV series and ad campaigns, including Saturday Night Live, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Space Jam. More recently it was used in a 2008 cellphone commercial in Argentina, which explained "why translated songs aren't as good". The song was translated as "Infla la mermelada" (roughly translates as "inflate the marmelade").

The single sold over one million copies in the U.S., and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. (In Norway, it made it all the way up to number 5). According to Wikipedia, Technotronic has sold approximately 14 million albums and singles worldwide.


Pump up the jam
pump it up
while your feet are stomping
And the jam is pumping
look ahead the crowd is jumpin'

pump it up a little more
get the party goin' on the dance floor
see 'cause that's where the party's at
and you'll find out if you do that

I want a place to say:
"get your booty on the floor tonight"
make my day
I want a place to say:
"get your booty on the floor tonight"
make my day

make my day (x5)

Yo! Pump up the jam
pump it up
while your feet are stomping
And the jam is pumping
look ahead the crowd is jumpin'

pump it up a little more
get the party goin' on the dance floor
see 'cause that's where the party's at
and you'll find out if you do that


make my day (x4)

Yo! Pump up the jam
pump it up
pump it up
Yo! Pump it!
pump up the jam
pump it up
pump it up
Yo! Pump it
pump up the jam
pump it up
pump it up
Yo! Pump it
pump up the jam
pump it (echo)

Pump up the jam,
Pump up the jam,
Pump up the jam
pump it up
pump it,
pump it,
pump it,

Pump up the jam,
Pump up the jam,
Pump up the jam,
pump it (echo)

Pump up the jam
pump it up
while your feet are stomping
And the jam is pumping
look ahead the crowd is jumpin'

pump it up a little more
get the party goin' on the dance floor
see 'cause that's where the party's at
and you'll find out if you do that


Pump up the jam
pump it up
pump it up
Yo! Pump it!
pump up the jam
pump it up
pump it up
Yo! Pump up the jam
pump it up
pump it up
Yo! Pump it!
pump up the jam
pump it (echo)

BONUS: The Argentinians weren't the only ones who had trouble with understanding the lyrics, as you can see in this short clip.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Song of the week: Arsenal - Estupendo

Photo © Rob Walbers
Arsenal is one of those bands you can't believe you haven't heard about before.

The band consists of DJs Hendrik Willemyns and John Roan plus a mysterious group of musicians who accompany them on record and on tour. Their sound is electronica-tinged pop rock with equal parts latin music and hip hop thrown into the mix. The result is sexy, smooth, rough and perfectly listenable.

"Estupendo" is the opening track from Arsenal's second-to-last album, 2008's Lotuk. The amazing video was made by Javier Longobardo.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trip-hop in Belgium

I can't say whether or not trip-hop is particularly popular in Belgium, but it sure is visible here. If you're into trip-hop, I'll give you some Belgian input.

Belgian of the week: Michèle Martin

Michèle Martin, the ex-wife of Belgium's infamous child killer Marc Dutroux, is about to be released from prison.

From BBC:
A court ruled in favour of freeing Michelle Martin, who is halfway through a 30-year jail sentence she received for complicity in the Dutroux case.
Prosecutors said there were no grounds to appeal against the decision.
Dutroux was detained along with Martin in 1996. He was given a life sentence in 2004.
In a case that shocked Belgium, Dutroux was convicted of the kidnap and rape of six girls, teenage or younger. He also killed two of the girls and caused the deaths of two others.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Terug naar Oosterdonk (1997)

Terug naar Oosterdonk ("Back to Oosterdonk") is a Flemish mini-series in six parts directed by Frank Van Passel and written by Guido Van Meir. It is set mostly in Oosterdonk, a fictional Flemish village that is levelled to the ground by the Belgian government during the late 1950s.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Belgian Malinois

On May 2, Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid by United States special operations forces. The team consisted of 79 US Navy SEAL operators and one Belgian Malinois named Cairo. Let's find out more about this type of dog. What follows is an amazing display of cut-and-paste prowess, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Song of the week: Eva De Roovere - Tijger

Eva De Roovere. (Source)
Eva De Roovere (b. 1978) is a singer-songwriter from Lier, a city near Antwerp. She was the vocalist for the successful folk group Kadril between 1996 and 2004, and their 1999 album Eva is named after her. She has since released three albums, the most recent of which, Mijn huis, was released this April.

"Tijger" is a track from her solo debut album, De Jager (2006). For personal reasons (and because it's a mighty track), this is my favourite Eva De Roovere song.

I dedicate this song to my amazing wife-to-be, Bika.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Belgium in the news #4

Song of the week: Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Creep (Radiohead cover)

Scala & Kolacny Brothers is a Belgian girls' choir, conducted by Stijn Kolacny and arranged and accompanied by Steven Kolacny on the piano. Formed in Aarschot in Flanders in 1996, they have released five studio albums, mostly composed of covers of songs by artists such as Björk, Radiohead, U2, Nirvana, Depeche Mode, Muse, and Rammstein.

In July 2010, a trailer for the film The Social Network was released featuring an edited version Scala's cover of Radiohead's "Creep". This trailer had been seen over 260 million times in cinemas, on TV and online.

Here's the trailer (you can hear the full song further down).

The full song:

Lyrics link

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hallerbos bluebell blossom 2011

I've already showed you what Hallerbos looks like in late autumn, but it is the blossoming bluebells of spring that make the forest famous. Here are several photos.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Belgian of the week: Roger Vangheluwe

If you think being "Belgian of the week" necessarily means that I like you, this should help you to think otherwise.

Roger Vangheluwe. (Wikipedia)
Roger Vangheluwe (b. 1936 in Roeselare) was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1963. In December 1984, he was made Bishop of Bruges by Pope John Paul II. He held this position for twenty-five years.

In April 2010, he became the first Roman Catholic bishop in history to resign after being revealed to be a criminal paedophile. He admitted to having abused his nephew repeatedly for 13 years, starting when the boy was 5 years old. The abuse began when he was a priest and continued after Vangheluwe was made a bishop.

Since he could not be formally persecuted (child abuse crimes expire after 10 years in Belgium), Vangheluwe could safely retreat to Westvleteren Abbey, famous for its monk-brewed Trappist beer. Although he had resigned as Bishop of Bruges, he was reported to be receiving a state pension of about €2,500 a month.

On 19 November 2010, seven months after the abuse had been made public, the Vatican announced that they had started a formal investigation of Roger Vangheluwe.

The family and attorneys of Vangheluwe's nephew, several prominent Belgian politicians, and the people of Belgium have called out to the Vatican, the only authority that now has any power in the matter, to bring about some justice and punish the the old bastard. Were their prayers heard? On 9 April 2011 came this statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
Roger Vangheluwe has to leave Belgium and accept a period of spiritual and psychological treatment.
After receiving this sentence, Vangheluwe relocated to the Loire Valley in France. On April 14 he was approached by a Flemish TV network, to which he gave his most controversial interview yet.

The ex-bishop admitted to having abused a second nephew. He called the sexual relationship with his first nephew "a game" and said that it "never went much beyond that". He emphasized that rape or physical violence never occurred. He clarified that he had never been naked in the presence of his nephew.

In short, he chose to trivialize his crimes rather than repent.

So far, ex-bishop Vangheluwe has had the protection and support of the Roman Catholic Church. Taking the last couple of days into consideration, I would say it's only a question of time before even the high hats at the Vatican realize that they need to cut their losses and wash their hands of this man, lest he pull them down with him.

Actually, that would be great.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Song of the week: Milow - You and Me (In My Pocket)

Jonathan Vandenbroeck AKA Milow is a singer-songwriter from Leuven. His newest album has been out for a couple of weeks now, and the lead single "You and me (In my pocket)" is currently at #7. It's a great song and, considering the competition, it definitely deserves an even higher place on the charts.


wish you smelled a little funny
Not just funny really bad
We could roam the streets forever
Just like cats but we'd never stray
I sometimes wish you were a mermaid
I could raise you in the tub at home
We could take a swim together
On weekly day trips to the bay

Oh you and me
It would be only you and me
Oh you and me
It would be only you and me

I wish you were a little bigger
Not just big but really fat
Doors you would no longer fit through
In my bed you would have to stay
I often wish that you had feathers
I'd keep you in a giant cage
All day long I'd sit and watch you
I'd sing for you and that would be okay

People say there are plenty of fish
In the sea, baby, all I do is wish

I wish you were a little slower
Not just slow but paralyzed
Then I could plug you into a socket
So you could never run away
I really wish that you were smaller
Not just small but really really short
So I could put you in my pocket
And carry you around all day

BONUS: Here's Milow's cover of 50 Cent's "Ayo Technology".

Passchendaele and the Ypres Salient

EDIT: Joski has some great pictures of trench warfare in Belgium on his blog. Click here to read the post.

Ieper (French: Ypres) is a West Flemish town 12 km from the border to France. Its name has become synonymous with the terrors on the West Front of the First World War (1914-1918). Thousands of war graves and memorials bear witness to the five major battles that took place near Ieper.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Tour of Flanders 2011

I can't do a blog about Belgium without mentioning the Tour of Flanders (De Ronde Van Vlaanderen), the 94-year-old road cycling race that has become Belgium's biggest sporting event. It took place yesterday, with 1.1 million Belgians watching it from the safety of their couches and tens of thousands of spectators lining up along the route to watch the wielrenners zoom by.

I can't really do justice to this annual epic of cyclistship, so I will pass the mic to The Sydney Morning Herald and their very informative article titled "'It's bloody mad' - Belgium's cobblestone classic a monument to chaos, carnage and a road warrior's courage". I also have a clip of the final moments of this year's race. The winner, as you will soon see, was Belgium's own Nick Nuyens. Enjoy!

BONUS: In case you need to be reminded of how much Belgians love cycling, check out this video.

Carnaval Halle 2011: day 2 (continued)

As it turns out, Saturday's spectacle was only an appetizer to Sunday's main parade. Having put the rowdiness of the previous night firmly behind them, people lined up in the thousands to see dozens of colourful floats float by through the confetti- and candy-covered streets of Halle.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Carnaval Halle 2011: day 2 (morning)

I didn't spend the evening with the revellers down-town, but thankfully De Morgen provides a full run-down of the night. Apparently, the beautiful weather caused people to start their drinking earlier than usual (see for yourself in my previous post). This led to a hitherto unmatched number of hospitalizations and arrests.
Last night, 30 people were taken to hospital, compared to last year's 19. Forty-one people received assistance at an aid station; in 2010 this number was 30% lower.
De Morgen is surprisingly vague about whether they think this is a good or a bad thing.
There were fewer fights than last year. Around 9 PM, thirty or so teenagers had a brawl in the Handbooghof, and there was also fighting on the Stationsplein. There, a wounded person was taken to a hospital. In the course of the night, six people were arrested for drinking and driving.
If this is an improvement, I'm glad I wasn't here last year!

Carnaval Halle 2011.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Carnaval Halle 2011: day 1

From Wikipedia:
Every year, in the middle of Lent, Carnival is celebrated during three days. This is a colourful event, where various groups make floats and costumes or perform dances. The Halle carnival has been organized since 1905 and has grown to be one of the biggest carnivals in Belgium.
No kidding.

We went to see today's celebration, which turned out to be a storm of confetti, crowds, candy, free beer, flashy costumes, drag queens, and a barrage of loud and lousy dance music. (Well, to be honest, I didn't hate the polka version of Duck Sauce's "Barbra Streisand".)

Song of the week: Yevgueni - Welkenraedt

Yevgueni (formed 2001 in Leuven) is one of the most beloved Belgian bands in the kleinkunst genre - a term used in Flanders about artists in the pop, rock and indie genres who perform songs in Dutch. (Further reading: An introduction to Belgian music)

Their first two albums, Kannibaal (2005) and Aan De Arbeid (2007), were not major hits but helped the band build a faithful Flemish fanbase. When the third album, We Zijn Hier Nu Toch, hit the shelves in 2009, it went all the way to number one. Expectations were sky-high for their 2011 release, Welkenraedt. The expectations were fulfilled: Most reviewers have given the album 4 out of 5 stars or more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


News sources of a more or less dubious calibre around the world are announcing that Belgium has beaten Iraq's record for the longest period without a working government. This article in De Tijd, however, tells a different story.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Belgium in the news #2

Brno Air Show september 2008
F-16 from the Belgian Air Component at an air show
in Brno, Czech Republic in 2008. (Source)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I don't exactly hate the trains in Belgium...

...but I do find pictures like this one, which I took at the Brussels South station today, highly amusing. Note that each red number represents a delayed departure.

(Click to embiggen.)

The only way of catching a train I have ever discovered is to miss the train before.
- Gilbert K. Chesterton

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Belgium goes to war

I was hoping it wouldn't happen, but isn't hope one of the many casualties of war? provides an overview of the Belgian forces that will assist in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. About 230 Belgian men and women in total will be involved.
'Our forces will be ready for deployment as of Monday,' says Claude Van de Voorde, commander of the Air Force. 'At this moment, the C-130s are being loaded with weapons for our F-16s.'
He explains that the six single-seat F-16s that have been assigned to the Libya mission are part of a larger group that was already on a training mission to Greece when the no-fly zone was established. 12 or 13 pilots will accompany the planes, making it possible to keep them in the air for twenty-four hours a day.

The Belgian Navy will also be involved:
In addition to the jet fighters, our country offers the services of the minesweeper Narcis, which is already in operation in the Mediterranean. The ship is manned by 32 officers, petty officers and sailors from the naval base at Zeebrugge.
M923 Narcis. (Source)

The article ends with another quote from Major-General Van de Voorde:
'We are not war heroes, only people who do their jobs. It is our task to carry out a political decision,' says the leader of the Air Force. 'There are already casualties on the ground. Our people understand that they will be in dangerous situations. We do not want unnecessary casualties. In Afghanistan we have six F-16's. So far we have had no cases of collateral damage (civilians slain in bombings, ed.).'
Here's to the Belgian Armed Forces maintaining their good track record.

You can read the full Nieuwsblad article (in Dutch) here.