Rambling through the old sex bazaar in Amsterdam makes me remember a doctor I knew who treated young people in those days: he it was who told me they were coming upon diseases that didn't have Greek names because they had been eradicated (we thought) before medicine had acquired a Greek vocabulary. The whole neighborhood has a bit of that same flavor these days: something out of time, or simply behind the times, or too stuck in time while the whole world has moved to a whole new sexual vocabulary, such as to make the Amsterdam scene almost a museum curiosity. Same with the coffee shops (heh!) that radiate blue smoke and blue music (not quite blues music) left over from a time when a marijuana brownie was something you whispered to your friends about.
The crowd, too, seems--well, not quite perfunctory, but does seem to lack the urgency and spirit of adventure that might have dominated in another time. One thinks of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls saying "I came to shoot crap; let's shoot crap." The real novelty to me is the great proliferation of "Argentine" (really?) beef. How many steers have died, I wonder, to keep up the morale of a city so long ruled by other forms of pink flesh?