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JAN 13-26 2012 ISSUE 9 €4.95


Peter Goossens, the man behind Belgium’s top restaurant CULTURE

How to navigate The life and times Brussels’ schools maze of swing maestro Django Reinhardt


Our guide to the best short ski holidays


Marrying in Belgium

UP MY STREET 9 771373 178016





Contents p56 Django Reinhardt

p14 Peter Goossens


p36 Wedding bells



Politics & Business

Lifestyle & Community

Culture & Events

9 News In Brief

29 Lifestyle In Brief

52 Focus – Debussy 150 years after the death of composer Claude Debussy, we look at his musical legacy and upcoming concerts in his honour

Cover story

14 The Brand – Hof van Cleve Chef Peter Goossens shares his recipe on how to turn a small Flemish farmhouse into a resounding gastronomic success 18 Focus – Schools To help you choose the perfect school for your child in Brussels, we provide a guide to the three main educational options on offer 22 Focus – Petitions We find out how to get a protest campaign heard at EU level 24 Know-how Our guide to the second-hand car market in Belgium 28 Your Money

34 Food – Love at First Bite The founders of local food website www., Thibault Van Weyenberg and Amélie Guerrand, give us the inside scoop on their foodie favourites 36 Focus – Weddings Planning to tie the knot in Belgium? Read our step-by-step guide on how to create the perfect Big Day 41 Digital Our top technology tips 42 Up My Street 44 Travel Where to head for a short ski trip 47 Behind the Scenes 48 Community

56 Focus – Django Reinhardt How the unforgettable music of a gypsy jazz legend came to be 60 14 Days The Bulletin’s cultural highlights for the fortnight ahead – in Brussels and beyond 68 Film Reviews and recommendations on not-tomiss cinema 71 Property 76 Classifieds 80 Jobs 82 Capital Life A member of the international community opens up her diary for the Bulletin

Editeur Responsable /Verantwoordelijke uitgever: John Stuyck, A. Gossetlaan 30, 1702 Groot-Bijgaarden. Opinions expressed in The Bulletin are those of the authors alone. For reasons of space, street names in Brussels are given only in their French version.

weight training

The Bulletin at 45 JANUARY 13 - 26 2012

The Bulletin has been far more successful than anyone could have expected when the first inky issue emerged from an Uccle basement 45 years ago. Celebrating years Derek Blyth50 asks what’s the secret of its success?


ome people will probably tell than 50 kilometres from Brussels is likely you about the politics, the newest us not to get carried away. to have heard of it. It’s not the Financial unmissable dance performances at The Bulletin is a modest Times or the Wall Street Journal, for deSingel, the latest gigs at the Ancienne weekly magazine that gets heaven’s sake, so why all the fuss? Belgique, and the sunniest café terraces You may have to be newly arrived in read in Brussels and the surwhere youTo could sit and drink a beer if 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of The Bulletin. celebrate, rounding suburbs before ending up in this country to really appreciate The Bulonly it didn’t rain every day. are running a year-long column looksthe back memorableAevents overwho themove years. letin. that It is virtually onlyat independent awe doctor’s waiting room or sold in tied lot of people to Brussels In this of issue, we remember the magazine’s sit-in on Brussels’ source of reliable information in English Grand’Place bundles 50 damp copies at the find their first apartment through The Marolles flea market. No one living more for anyone moving to Belgium. It tells Bulletin, eat in restaurants recomJEAN GUYAUX

The Bulletin turns 50



The law was slow to catch up They called it the most beautiful car park with the public mood. It was in the world. Hard as it may be to imagine not until February 22, 1985 The 1971 sit-in: The Bulletin organised the picnic that was to lead to the banning of cars from Brussels’ Grand’Place that the city authorities fitoday, the Grand’Place of Brussels was nally decided to ban all trafonce cluttered with cars from one end fic from the famous square. to the other. People grumbled and said Today, the Grand’Place is strictly for pedestrians and | 5 “something should be done about it,” visitors can safely stroll but nothing was. Not until The Bulletin about, admire the architecture and pose for pictures in launched a protest campaign and, on front of those one-of-a-kind June 25, 1972, organised a mass sit-in buildings without fear of being bumped into or honked in the square attended by more than at by cars and tour buses. 100 sympathisers. Publisher Monique It was a cause well worth Ackroyd and editor Aislin Dulanty championing. were both taken to the nearest police By Cleveland Moffet station and reprimanded for staging an unauthorised demonstration.



Guide - Schooling choices

Schools for thought If for personal or professional reasons, sending your child to a Belgian school is not for you, what are the alternatives? We provide an overview of the three main options you have by kristof dams


hoosing a school for your children is an important business, and if you’re living away from home, the path can seem less than clear. Belgium has plenty of schooling options besides the traditional local school, and here is what you need to know about each one. If you are a hardcore expat (or let’s say a ‘highly mobile international professional’), you will probably be best served by an international school, such as St John’s International School of Brussels in Waterloo (1,500 pupils) or the similarly sized International School of Brussels in Watermael-Boitsfort. Both enjoy an excellent reputation and prepare their students for the International Baccalaureate (IB). The IB curriculum and qualification were established by the International Baccalaureate organisation that was founded in Geneva in 1968. Originally set up as an instrument for peace education through international understanding, today the IB programme mostly serves the needs of the most mobile layer of the globalised business world. As a result, corporations are usually

willing to pay for the service: 93 percent of the International School of Brussels’ invoices (which can be steep – between €11,000 and €24,000 per year, depending on the grade and number of siblings in the school) go straight to the multinationals where the parents work. A network of 2,000 IB schools around the world allows parents both to enrol and withdraw their offspring from a school at any time during the academic year. The International School of Brussels estimates that each year 25 to 30 percent of its pupils (from 70 countries, aged between two-and-a-half and 19) change schools and countries.


ext you have schools following a national curriculum. These can also be part of an international network, allowing relative ease of movement. The Lycée Jean Monnet in Uccle, for instance, is part of a worldwide network of French schools called Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’Etranger, comprising 250,000 pupils in 130 countries. National curriculum schools are usually accredited and, to a varying extent, funded by the relevant


JANUARY 13 - 26 2012

Parents have plenty of options when it comes to schooling their children in Belgium

A network of 2,000 International Baccalaureate schools around the world allows pupils to enrol and withdraw at any time in the academic year

national education authorities. Typically, it is only the ‘strong economies’ that have their own primary and secondary education available in Brussels. The city’s Spanish (33,000) and Portuguese (23,000) communities, many of whom are blue-collar migrants, have no school of their own. The Portuguese, for instance, only fund and organise extra language lessons on Saturday in Brussels via the Council for Portuguese Communities. However, some national groups here,

even though they may be relatively small in terms of numbers, are able to send their children to schools offering a home-style education. The schools usually receive the necessary financial backing from national authorities. For the 15,000 Germans of Brussels, there is the Deutsche Schule Brüssel in Wezembeek-Oppem, which has 700 pupils. The Finns, Swedes and Norwegians (numbering together some 5,000) have joined forces to found the Scandinavian 


School of Brussels, which provides what it calls a ‘dynamic Nordic education’ to about 400 pupils. (The almost 2,000 Danes of Brussels are not part of the organisation, but are nonetheless welcome as pupils – and are taught in Danish.) The largest, and oldest, school of this type is the aforementioned Lycée Jean Monnet. It has been a Brussels institution since 1907. Today, the French are, with more than 84,000, the largest foreign nationality group in Brussels. The school has 2,400 pupils, aged two to 18. ‘National’ schools can charge high enrolment fees – though they are generally less than those of IB schools – thanks to the help from home authorities. The Lycée Jean Monnet, for instance, costs, depending on the grade, between €4,000 and €6,000 per year. The British School of Brussels in Tervuren (which opened in 1970) is considerably more expensive: from €6,800 per year (for kindergarten) to €26,400 (for the higher grades). The British School is not a British-only establishment. Some 50 percent of the pupils are British, the remainder comprise 70 nationalities. In the final years, pupils are presented with the choice of following the IB curriculum, or the UK A-level curriculum.


russels also has four European schools in Uccle, Ixelles, Woluwe and Laeken (temporarily situtated in Forest) with a combined population of 9,000-plus, and rising. This number represents 42 percent of the total population of European schools across the continent. European schools are a complex attempt to reconcile two ambitions: to promote a ‘European’ citizenship, and to pass on the culture of the pupil’s country of origin. Education starts in the mother tongue and gradually opens up to more languages, and more nationalities to interact with. In all, Brussels today has 15 language sections, which means that eight of the 23 official languages of the EU are not represented (see box, above). European schools have existed, in Brussels and elsewhere, since 1958, but, as a result of the ever-changing and broadening nature of the EU, they always have to overcome new challenges. According to leading Belgian philosopher Philippe van Parijs, this can cause parental worries. Parijs takes a keen interest in European schools at both a professional and personal level, having sent three of his four children there. “I heard a lot of complaints about the language sections, especially about





International school


Very high (usually paid for by parent’s company)

National school

Language of the country of origin

High to very high

European school

15 language sections

Free for EU civil servants; otherwise high

the English and French sections, where there are many non-native speakers, with no section of their own. “There was a demand by parents to organise separate sections for native and non-native speakers, but school authorities refused to comply. Quite rightly, in my opinion. The level of non-native speakers quickly improves through contact with the native speakers. As I see it, European schools are an excellent instrument to produce multilingual speakers.” EU founding father Jean Monnet set the goal for European schools: “They [pupils] will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.” These words, on parchment, are encapsulated in the founding stone of every European school. But critics say that in the schools, as in the EU as a whole, the ideal has had its ups and downs. Van Parijs thinks otherwise. “I think the schools have a dynamic of their own. Inevitably, and that has certainly been the experience of my children, pupils have more contact with children who are citizens of other member states than would have been the case had they gone to a national school. And that stays for the rest of their lives. Call that idealism if you like, but it’s simply a matter of fact, and it hasn’t changed since the early days. “And what I also find fantastic in European schools is that history and geography lessons are always taught in a language other than one’s own. My children were taught history alongside Germans, Italians, Spanish, French... resulting in all kinds of interesting discussions, which they also brought home with them. That’s certainly a great plus – the development of the continent is not seen through the lens of any one particular nation.”

“What I find fantastic in the European schools is that history and geography are taught in a language other than one’s own”


JANUARY 13 - 26 2012

Philosopher Philippe van Parijs takes a keen interest in the workings of the European schools

Another common parental worry at the European schools is the general academic level. Van Parijs: “Parents often make the comparison between the European schools and the best schools in their own country. This is most clear with French parents, who complain that the European schools can’t live up to Lycée Louis-Le-Grand or Lycée Henri IV in Paris. But that’s of course the wrong comparison to make. “A European school is there for all children, the academically strongest as well as the weakest, because there are no technical or vocational schools running in parallel. My experience is that European schools have a better level than the average in the countries of the European Union. But in countries with large internal differences in educational levels, they do not rise to the levels of the best schools, no.” EUROPEAN SCHOOLS SCHOOL








French - English - Spanish

Danish - Hungarian - Polish




French - English - Finnish

Finnish - Portuguese - Swedish - Latvian




French - English - Greek

Czech - Greek


Laeken *


French - English - German



n principle, European schools are open to all, but for children of non-EU personnel, the enrolment fee is high: between €4,700 and €9,000 per year. Not only that: the scarcity of places means that in practice Brussels’ European schools are almost exclusively limited to the sons and daughters of European civil servants. Between the four schools, such children make up between 88 and 96 percent of the intake, whereas in the European school attached to the EU nuclear research centre SCK-CEN in Mol, Antwerp, only 20 percent of pupils are from this category. Also striking is the academic background of the Brussels pupils’ parents: 83 percent have a higher education degree, and 21 percent a PhD – which is four to five times higher than the EU19 average (that is, of the 15 EU countries before the 2004 enlargement plus the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). Van Parijs is a true believer in European schools, but he has had crises of faith, most controversially when he asserted two years ago that European schools effectively installed an “apartheid regime” in Brussels education. But surely, it’s more the international schools that could be accused of that? “Yes and no. You get access to the European schools as somebody’s son or daughter, so in fact you belong to a specific caste. In the international schools, you can get in as long as you pay enough. International schools are, in a sense, more socially mixed [children of civil servants do not predominate] but at the same time less so: among the EU civil servant parents, you also have drivers, caretakers or doormen, which means there’s a greater mix in terms of professions.” In an attempt to try and unify the fractured Brussels educational system, Van Parijs would like to see “a network of European primary and secondary schools, which are also open to the local population, and which can be easily reached – so you don’t need special buses to get there. The European schools of type II, which can be co-financed by national and European authorities, could be turned into this. But that won’t be easy. You’d need to move gently in that direction, and use careful diplomacy.” Naturally. 

* temporarily situated in Forest

For further listings of schools in Brussels, see the Bulletin’s Newcomer, Expat Directory or Education Guide



LOVE AT FIRST BITE The inside scoop on foodie favourites Thibault & Amélie


hen Thibault Van Weyenbergh and his girlfriend, Amélie Guerrand, decided to eat and drink only 100 percent Belgian produce for 2011, they were thinking about what they would feed their future children. What began as a winter of only potatoes and cabbage quickly turned into a mouth-watering discovery of the richness of Belgian food culture. Their blog has won fans throughout the local and organic food world. Now, with their first child on the way and their year of local living over, they are now focused on continuing the discussion.

“We’ve discovered lots of great Belgian products that we never knew existed”


We usually prefer to relax in our living room rather than go out to bars and cafés, but when we do go out, it is usually to Le Fair-Play in Woluwe-SaintPierre. I have been going there since I was a student and I always have a good time there. Drinking 100 percent Belgian was one of the easier parts of our challenge – as long as we stayed clear of the big, factorymade beers like Stella Artois and Duvel. LE FAIR-PLAY

30 Rue Maurice Liétart, Brussels 02.772.36.58 We say: A cosy café and restaurant with an unassuming façade by the Pétillon metro stop, Le Fair-Play is a local haunt with plenty of charm and a neighbourhood feel


JANUARY 13 - 26 2012





We only go out to restaurants when we’re invited by friends or family. It’s just easier to eat naturally and locally at home. But just because we choose to eat 100 percent Belgian doesn’t mean our friends have to, too. Normally, when you order a simple, traditional dish in season, it will be made with Belgian ingredients. Luckily, they are also cheaper. In’t Spinnekopke does a good job of this. It’s not 100 percent Belgian, but in general they source Belgian products.

One of the best things about this project was that we got to discover Belgian beers we never knew we liked. Top of the list is gueuze; we always have it in the refrigerator. It’s very tasty but it is also an acquired taste – you either like it or you don’t. Cantillon or Oud Beersel gueuzes are hand-crafted and made in Brussels, so you know they aren’t coming from far away. Another great discovery was RoomeR, a delicious Belgian aperitif made from elderflowers. It is beautifully packaged and has a light, sweet taste. It’s perfect to serve guests.

We’ve discovered lots of great Belgian products that we never knew existed: saffron, caviar, even whisky. But our favourite was Alvenat colza [canola] oil. Because we couldn’t cook with olive oil, colza oil was our saviour. It’s as good as olive oil and it’s even better for Omega3s and -6s. It’s not cheap, but you pay for quality.

We like to eat simple food that we can just put in the stove and then go and do something else. That’s why we love pain de viande (meatloaf). It’s hearty, tasty and inexpensive to make.


1 Place Jardin aux Fleurs Brussels, 02.511.86.95 We say: A Brussels mainstay, In’t Spinnekopke is still one of the best places to go for classic Brussels food. Tucked away in an 18th-century house in the city centre, it’s dark, often crowded and steeped in old-time Brussels atmosphere

ROOMER We say: RoomeR is brewed by two guys from Ghent, Jeroen and Maarten, who are committed to using healthy, local and environmentally sustainable products. It comes in a chic, bulb-shaped bottle with pretty white elderflowers at the bottom


One of eight Brussels stockists of Alvenat, SHOP

There is a very good butcher, Pieter & Sabine, near Montgomery. Not everything they have is Belgian, but it is all high quality and responsibly sourced. PIETER & SABINE

101 Avenue Fr Legrain, Brussels 02.660.31.71, www.peter-sabine. be We say: Pieter & Sabine sells everything from joints to charcuterie to fresh sandwiches and cheeses. The service is first-class – as are the products

PAIN DE VIANDE Serves four • 600g Belgian-raised ground pork and veal • 1 egg • 2 slices of white bread • Semi-skimmed milk • 1 carrot • 1 onion • 1 cloves of garlic • Belgian colza oil • Parsley • Salt and pepper

Peel and dice the onion and garlic and then sauté in the heated oil. Wash, peel and cut carrots into small cubes of about 1cm. Beat the egg and dip the bread in the milk. Wash the parsley and chop. In a large bowl, place the onion, garlic, carrots, bread, beaten egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Knead mixture until thoroughly mixed. Put mixture into a baking pan (preferably earthenware). Cook for 45 minutes at 190°C. Cut loaf into slices and serve with cooked red cabbage with apple and mashed potato.


JANUARY 13 - 26 2012

DIGITAL Top technology









SpaceMouse Pro

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

The Nest

HP Envy 110

3D Connexion, which specialises in hardware for 3D designers and architects, recently introduced its latest 3D mouse – the SpaceMouse Pro. With easy-to-use, ergonomic design, its patented six-degrees-offreedom sensor provides intuitive 3D navigation while 15 programmable hot keys on either side allow the user quick command response. It is compatible with Macs and PCs and costs $ 299.

Samsung’s long-awaited Galaxy Nexus (approx $700) is now out. It is the first smartphone to run on Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) – a 4G Android operating system for smartphones and tablets. Not only does ICS make devices easier to use but it also looks all the better for it. The phone has an HD screen with AMOLED lights and features a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat.

Having revolutionised the music world with the iPod, former Apple designer Tony Fadell has turned his attention to the humble thermostat. He recently launched the Nest ($249), a touch-screen device that ‘learns’ the behaviour of users, and then adjusts the temperature accordingly. It’s easy on the eye, good for the environment and it has the potential to reduce heating costs significantly.

When printers were still confined to the home office, it was fine for them to be clunky and less than beautiful. But now with the advent of mobile computing through tablets, smartphones, laptops and other devices, printers have had to adapt. Like HP’s Envy 110 (€269), a sleek printer with a touchscreen interface that offers a variety of mobile printing options while fitting neatly into your TV cabinet stand.

Bookmarks the best of the web Fun blog from former model Ouni, who travels the world meeting and capturing her heroes on Polaroid A thorough and expansive news aggregation site offering a ‘best of’ the European press in 10 languages Find out what’s happening in and around the city



14 DAYS The best of Brussels Music BOZAR

Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich The internationally renowned and Grammy award-winning chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica has concocted an original programme centered on contemporary transcripts of works by Bach along with 20thcentury Shostakovich. The ensemble, created by violinist Gidon Kremer, is joined by his longtime musical partner, pianist Martha Argerich. The pair’s musical collaboration, which has been honoured by several prestigious awards, is a highlight of Bozar’s winter season. Expect an electrifying live performance. Jan 25 listing

Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich








Isabelle Pousseur’s variation on Shakespeare’s comedy with African actors (in Fr). Théâtre National 111-115 Blvd Emile Jacqmain DU GOUDRON ET DES PLUMES JAN 13 & 14, 20.30

Contemporary circus by French Cie MPTA in a burlesque and poetic odyssey. Wolubilis, 1 Cours Paul Henri Spaak, ANGLE JAN 13 & 14, 20.30

Dance choreographed and performed by Salva Sanchis with live music by pianist Yutaka Oya performing Ligeti, Cage, Berio, Kondo and Harada. Kaaistudio’s, 81 Rue Notre-Dame du Sommeil,


One-man show by young French comedian (in Fr). The Egg, 173 Rue Bara PIOLA LIBRI REOPENING PARTY 18.00

Live set by DJ A, playing funky tracks from new CD. Piola Libri, 66-68 Rue Franklin SATURDAY JAN 14



Photos of insects from competition organised by Natagora Bruxelles. Halles Saint-Géry, Place SaintGéry,

Family drama touching on death, grief and memory, written and staged by Brigitte Baillieux for the Rideau de Bruxelles company. Music (Purcell and the Sex Pistols) and dance also illustrate the play which relates the experience of American novelist Jim Sheridan (in Fr). Petit Varia, 154 Rue Gray


Brussels Rhythm & Blues club monthly concert. Sounds Jazz Club, 28 Rue de la Tulipe, WUNDERKAMMER UNTIL JAN 29


The Algerian orchestra play chaabi, a musical fusion from North Africa, Andalucia and the Middle East. Description on page 61 Bozar, 23 Rue Ravenstein

Exhibition conceived as a contemporary curiosity cabinet with works by 20 Belgian artists, among them Wim Delvoye, Jean-Luc Moerman, Michel Mouffe, Charley Case and Jan Fabre. Le Botanique, 236 Rue Royale


Explore and test your five senses in this interactive exhibition. Musée des Sciences Naturelles, 29 Rue Vautier



14 DAYS The best of Brussels Music Danish jazz singer Sinne Eeg






Winter Jazz Festival

Echo & the Bunnymen

Beat off the winter blues with this jewel of a jazz festival in two popular city venues. Anglo-Belgian jazz guitarist Philip Catherine kicks off the fifth edition at Marni in a rare performance with accomplished Italian pianist Nicola Andrioli. The 12-day event at Marni and Flagey hosts a range of Belgian and international talents. Belgian jazz singer Barbara Wiernik pursues her quest for new sounds by teaming up with Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles for a new contemporary music project, Les 100 Ciels. In a nod to the Danish EU Presidency, Danish Radio Big Band invites singer Sinne Eeg to present her new album, Don’t Be So Blue. Brussels singer Loumèn provides sensual jazz with pop, soul and electro accents. And JazzPlaysEurope Anniversary closes the festival at Flagey on January 28 with 20 young musicians from seven European countries. The musical programme is also festooned with children’s events, a Duke Ellington film cycle and exhibition by Herb Cells. A festival PASS provides access to three concerts. Jan 17 listing

Post-punk veterans Echo & the Bunnymen have, in this 21st century, been reintroduced to the public by pale imitators Coldplay, proving that even the most banal cloud has a silver lining. Although the core of the group has been pared down by death (drummer Pete de Freitas, in 1989) and desertion (bassist Les Pattinson, in the late 1990s), its two remaining founding members – guitarist Will Sergeant and singer Ian McCulloch – soldier on. The current tour finds them playing their first two albums, Crocodiles (1980) and Heaven Up Here (1981), from start to finish. The first is good; the second is an essential artefact of the period. Jan 20 listing







Discussion on the future of Europe with Luuk Van Middelaar, Philippe Ricard (Le Monde), Philippe Van Parijs (KU Leuven and Harvard), Paul Magnette (PS) and Herman Van Rompuy (European Council President) following French translation of Van Middelaar’s book Le Passage à l’Europe (in Fr). Bozar, 23 Rue Ravenstein BEN HOWARD 20.00

British singer, songwriter and surfer promotes new album Every Kingdom. Ancienne Belgique, 110 Blvd Anspach,

The second edition of this Brussels music festival focuses on the voice with appearances by patron bass-baritone José van Dam and honoured guest director Gérard Corbiau. It raises the profile of musicians and sound professionals while highlighting the importance of sound in the environment. Several venues CONFIDENCES TROP INTIMES 20.15

Sentimental comedy by Jérôme Tonnerre with Alain Leempoel and Catherine Conet (in Fr). Uccle Cultural Centre 47 Rue Rouge,

PLEASE KILL ME JAN 24-27, 20.30


Punk saga based on the book by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, performed by French company Sentimental Bourreau and staged by Mathieu Bauer (in Fr and Eng with live music). Théâtre 140, 140 Ave Eugène Plasky,

After more than three decades of worldwide success, the group conducted by Vladimir Spivakov performs a wide repertoire from Bach to Schnittke. Bozar, 23 Rue Ravenstein,

DANSE ‘DELHI’ JAN 24-28, 20.30


Seven works on the same theme, death, in this tragicomedy set in in a hospital. Written by Ivan Viripaev and staged by Galin Stoev. Théâtre les Tanneurs 75-77 Rue des Tanneurs

Fourth annual Belgian rap and hip-hop promotional event featuring La Canaille, Anfalsh and 1995. Le Botanique, 236 Rue Royale,


JANUARY 13 - 26 2012

Culture beat

Hate crime A pleasant Brussels café turned into a crime scene last month, on the whim of intolerant intruders. By Harlan Levey


Echo & the Bunnymen play Ancienne Belgique


Musical by and with Claude Semal proposing new songs and comedy texts. Théâtre Les Riches-Claires 24 Rue des Riches-Claires GIDON KREMER & MARTHA ARGERICH 20.00

Musical partners and legends Kremer (violin) and Argerich (piano) together with trumpet player Sergei Nakariakov form Kremerata Baltica in an original programme including contemporary transcripts of Bach. Description on page 60 Bozar, 23 Rue Ravenstein


Irish-American punk band from South Boston fuse Celtic folk with influences by the Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Pogues. Seventh album Going Out in Style, released in February 2011, features guest vocals by Bruce Springsteen. Forest National, 208 Ave Victor Rousseau, DINNER WITH FRIENDS JAN 26-FEB 4, 20.00

The American Theatre Company’s middle-age marital drama by Donald Margulies, staged by Chris Flores. Warehouse Studio Theatre 73 Rue Waelhem More guides to Brussels on

here are a few things a customer notices immediately about Café Le Fontainas. The interior design and the cocktails are exceptionally tasteful. The staff and clientele are good-looking and well groomed. The place welcomes all types of people and a lot of them are gay. I wouldn’t call it a gay bar or even gay friendly. It’s just friendly. Whether you are a boy who likes boys or a boy who fancies girls, whether you are fat or thin, black or white, a local or a tourist, you’re going to get the same decent treatment. It’s a good model of the way pleasant surroundings and respectful exchanges (along with moderate boozing) can successfully link different kinds of people together. These are the type I was saddened to hear that one evening a few weeks ago, the café reof humans you’d flected the worst the world has to offer: like to give 1,000 three morons chose it as the setting for small cuts to and a hate crime. These are the type of huthen dump into mans you’d like to give 1,000 small cuts shark-infested to and then dump into shark-infested waters. waters. I can only hope that the police response wasn’t as tragically apathetic as it usually is here. Belgium often provides a small look at the way the rest of Europe, if not the world at large, is functioning. In Brussels, the north and south of the country meet, offering a good analogy of cultural and economic differences across the continent. This mix is one of the city’s not-so-secret treasures: difference abounds here. This leads to a less attractive truth: where you find difference you also encounter fear, ignorance and violently unfulfilled envy. Along these lines, Brussels news was recently on point with global issues once again. Hillary Clinton spoke about it in Geneva last week, President Obama put a ban on aid to countries that don’t deal with it, and in Brussels, Le Fontainas made it headline news. I’m not talking about recession or what we don’t have. I’m talking about something we have too much of, namely hate and stupidity. Homophobia is not different from racism, anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry, and with all the problems the world has, it’s sad that the issue has to make headlines for this to be recognised and for the healing process to start.

Harlan Levey is the editor of Modart Magazine and founder of HLP art space in Brussels



CAPITAL LIFE Your city, your agenda Kate Macdonald, 47, teaches English at Ghent University. She has lived in Brussels since 2001. Why did you move to Belgium? My husband’s job brought us here and we stayed when it became permanent. Were you a lecturer before you came here? No, I had a mid-life career change, mainly because living in Belgium made it possible. In Britain, I worked as a freelance writer and editor.



And why did you make the move into literature? Literature is my passion, plus I already had a PhD, which I took straight after my first degree. You have been teaching at Ghent for seven years but you also run a website, www.reallylikethisbook. com. Tell us about it. I have been doing the weekly podcasts since May and it is going really well. I focus on forgotten classics – these are the books I cannot teach at Ghent because English is taught as a foreign language and there are limits to what I can cover.

Wednesday market at Place du Châtelain


What can people expect? There are two courses. The first is on British political fiction, the other is about US female writers writing about work. The first starts on January 17; people can contact me at for details.




I might start off looking for late sale bargains on Rue Neuve, but I’ll spend all my money at the most charming antiquarian bookshop Het Ivoren Aapje. 4 Place du Béguinage


You also run a private class called the “more than a book group” book group... Well, it’s like a book group in that anyone can join, everyone reads the same book and we meet to discuss it, but because I know how to structure discussion and how to bring elements of literary criticism, we tend to go a bit deeper.

It’s the exam marking season for me, so I need a treat to keep me going: a Moroccan lunch with my neighbour at our lovely local traiteur. 85 Rue des Aduatiques






We have a lot of family birthdays to take care of in January and my favourite shopping area is around Rue du Bailli and Place du Châtelain.



Must catch the John Constable exhibition in Ghent before it ends on January 29. MSK, 1 Fernand Scribedreef Ghent,








Buying Seville oranges for my annual marmalade-making marathon from Chez Galip, a greengrocer’s in WoluweSaint-Lambert with an extensive range of produce. 28 Place Verheyleweghen

The first session of my new course in English literature. The Swedish Church, 35 Avenue des Gaulois

Extraordinary paintings by the early 20th-century Flemish farmer-artist Felix De Boeck. 6 Rue Kuiken, Drogenbos




Looking forward to this concert of early 17th-century English and Danish music and dance. A rare treat! Bozar, 23 Rue Ravenstein