HET LIEVERDJE – “THE LITTLE DARLING”
“The Little Darling”, or “The Sweetie” is a good-natured rascal, running through Amsterdam, scheming all kinds of treacheries upon his neighbors. The character makes his first literary appearance in a series of magazine installations. In one of them the little No Good reveals he has a Heart of Gold, when he saves a puppy from drowning.
“The Sweetie” becomes so popular with the public that soon there is a statue of him, unveiled in 1959 on the most bookwormish square of Amstredam, the Spui Square. All went well, until almost exactly 5 years later, strange things began happening on the Spui Square. And it seems like it was the Little Rascal‘s fault again!
THE ANTI-SMOKE MAGICIAN
After learning that the statue was presented to the city by the prosperous tobacco company, Robert Jasper Grootveld (1932 – 2009), an artist and performer, starts his world-famous Happenings. Grootveld would appear on the Spui Square at midnight, dressed as the Anti-Smoke Magician, which only Grootveld knew what he dressed like. He walked around what he called the Magical Circle, located at the Center of Magic, the circle around the Statue of the boy. Puffing out heavy clouds of smoke, he would chant: “Uche, uche, Klaas Komt!” The first two utterances stand for the cough of the smoker, the other two proclaim the Coming of Klaas. Which Klaas? But Sinter Klaas, of course – the Apocalyptic Santa, who will come to reward the good, and punish the bad!
What happened to be known as the “Anti-Smoking Campaign” had very little to do with smoking itself. It only saw the tobacco magnate as a symbol for the age of consumerism and its many addictions. Though the campaign lasted only a year, its echo is still quite strong. Quite whimsically, it predicted the tobacco ban that all restaurants and cafes in Amsterdam have now adopted. Also, to this day the iconical “Klaas Komt” tags can be seen in Amsterdam, expressing due praise to the Great Anti-Smoke Magician.