Image by Ella Pavlides
Lewsberg are a Rotterdam based band fronted by Arie Van Vliet, and named after their fellow countryman Robert Loesberg. In Arie's own words they "like to keep things simple and straight-forward. No frills or decoration, but focus on the rhythm, the melody, and the lyrics of a song." This uncomplicated approach has won them fans far beyond the Netherlands, and comparisons to The Velvet Underground, The Modern Lovers and Parquet Courts. From his home in Rotterdam, where he is currently isolating, Arie has written us a letter in defence of the everyday, at a time when finding beauty in it is more important than ever.
IN DEFENCE OF THE EVERYDAY
Never has a headline on the front page of a newspaper been about something unremarkable. Never has the tv news started with an item about an everyday event. Never has a car accident where the only damage was a dented side door been worthy of writing. Never have sports editors talked about a draw between two average teams in the 5th class. Never has somebody who was offered a job as an administrative assistant after a short application procedure been invited by a talk show to discuss it. Never has an ordinary house in an ordinary street in an ordinary neighbourhood in an ordinary city been highlighted in a travel guide. Never has a humble opinion been the talk of the day.
A few years ago I was hospitalised for a couple of days. I shared the room with an old man. Before he was admitted to the hospital, he spent his days at a bridge in the village where he lived. The bench next to the bridge was where the old men from the village used to meet. They didn’t have much to say to each other, nothing much happened.
The sun shines on the city. Colours show themselves as intended, shadows have sharp edges. There is no wind. You watch the buildings, how they stand out against the blue sky. As you walk, towers slide past each other. The changing perspective creates a new composition.
It seems to be easier to value extraordinary phenomena, than to value everyday things. We don’t seem to be able to designate things that don’t stand out, we cannot seem to write about them. Do we find the everyday too trivial to waste energy on? Why is there so much attention for the exceptional, and so little eye for the normal? Even the normal can only be normal if it’s exceptionally normal, these days. Mundane matters await the choice: whether to be given a striking, polished look or to disappear.
I can no longer bear this tyranny of the special. I avoid everything that screams for attention, and wallow in the careless naturalness of the inconspicuous. And I hope it will never get on TV, never get in the paper, never end up in a travel guide, and never become the talk of the day. A little more appreciation wouldn't hurt, though.
I come back from grocery shopping. I posted some letters on my way. As I arrive, I put my key in the lock, turn the key to the left (two turns) and push the door open. Inside, I take off my coat and shoes. I close the door. I'm going to make tea.
- Arie Van Vliet