Walking on cobbles, all the time, like on the reg, daily-driver style, is tough. I’m not going to sugar coat it: you will twist & roll your ankle. And the soles of your shoes will wear out in curious ways. I’m talking pronation, supination, all the nations. Also, heels: don’t do it. And don’t even get me started on commuting no-handsies to the Starbucks next to the Hema in the main square on Ryder Hesjedal’s old bike, a Cannondale with a 300mm stem, past the frites stand and the Carfour Express, across like seven different varieties of cobbles, because A) you’re going to spill/splash your coffee, B) you might crash yourself out, and C) there are also train tracks to contend with.“And the canals. THEY ARE SO PRETTY. BUT THEY SMELL. SO. BAD.”MFS
At night, during the day, when it’s windy, when it’s not, on sunny days and cloudy days too, the canals are marvelous. They kind of wind their way around town in a meandering fashion, reflecting the whole time no obvious design or purpose. But how did they get there? Is it like how many of the oldest roads in the world, were, when you trace them all the way back, like ALL THE WAY, game trails and hunting traces? Were the canals once creeks and streams, dug out since then? Also, now that we’re really getting down to the business of unpacking what amounts to a vast network of vestigial water roads, what kind of water is in there? Brackish? Freshwater? I can tell you from personal experience based on observation and a pretty serious campaign of canal-based running that the water is:SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTHaven’t checked out the MFS Surprise Me! Kit? Click here!
- Stagnant as fuck.
- The deepest of blacks. Like, black hole-black. We’re talking Medusa’s eyes-black.
- Full of human waste, like, literal turds. Yeah, you can see it night and day: raw sewage emptying into the canals from various tunnels/pipes/lines/viaducts/etc. Right there in the center of town. Next to all the restaurants with outdoor seating and patios. The oil slicks are a dead giveaway.
- Full of trash. Some of it big stuff too, I’m talking sofas, major appliances, automobiles.
- Full of dead bodies. One day in the canal, right down the street from our house, there was a four-hour real live CSI event with scuba divers, coast guard boats, crime scene tape, the whole deal.
- A duck habitat. They love it down there.
- Slowly eating Gent from the bottom up. You see it when you look at the waterline on many of the apartment buildings and churches built into the edge of the canals. The original basement is underwater. Along with the second basement and the third too. I reckon if you’re kayaking down a canal—seriously though, why in the fuck do people kayak in these things?—and staring into various windows from the surface of the water, you’re looking into what was originally the fourth floor.
Point is, I don’t think there is a lot of water, as in pure H2O, in that water. People kayak and boat in them but nobody swims in them because swimming in them would kill you instantaneously, like a Black Mamba bite. Similar symptoms too. I mean, those things are basically liquid Hepatitis C & B. The canals are like having molten lava flowing through the center of your town. They’re eternally mesmerizing and wondrous to casually observe but don’t, under any circumstances, get any of it on you. Keep your distance.
Anyway it sounds like I’m complaining (a lot!) and we haven’t even started talking about the gangs and gangs and gangs and gangs and gangs of mostly-student but not-entirely-student Tour Groups marauding around town, brandishing clipboards and selfie sticks, eagerly issuing surveys, sponging-up the city’s marvelous architecture like it was a paint-by-numbers event.
Or the Nacht Winkles.
I mean seriously people, Gent is not without its challenges and drawbacks.“And but still it's my favorite city in the world. If I could, I would live in Gent. I don't care that it's flat and smells bad. I don't care that I get lost every time I set foot outside the apartment, even if I'm just taking the recycling out.”MFS
And that it’s kind of expensive and a little too self-aware. I love it here/there. I miss it. It was our home for a month. It was our Spring Classics aka Cobble Goblin Campaign Headquarters. Marvelous hummus is available anywhere in the city. The frites are unparalleled. Running along the canals is a life affirming experience. The fashion is tight. It’s young, and hopeful, and quintessentially Northern Euro-lite. I’m feeling kind-of emotional right now, I’m not fucking around. Guys, I hate everywhere. I’m that guy.
Portland sucks. Maryland, where I grew-up, is just rednecks, above-ground pools and rusted-out mid-’80s Monte Carlos as far as I’m concerned. Have you ever even been to Landsdowne to skate that pile of shit blue hip? And Los Angeles has Versailles on Pico, Strawberry Peak, Venice and that curb-and-sidewalk number under the Beverly Center that Jason Lee backside 180ed, but… it also has Brentwood and Chatsworth.
Listen, I think we’re getting off track here. Point is, Gent. Maybe you have to see it to believe it. So it here is, kinda.
- Ghent University Botanical Gardens
- Museum of Industry and Textile
- Hubrecht and Jan van Eyck’s altar piece “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”
- Gravensteen Castle
- Dutilleul Patrick & Jacques Bakery
- Schleiper Art Supply
- A Puur A
We found Topo Copy by using Google, searching for something like “poster printing gent belgium”. Google is great, we all know that, but many of us probably don’t know that Topo Copy is also great. By now you’ve seen the Cobble Goblin poster—if you haven’t, welcome out from under that rock!—which is truly a sight to behold. And we know that you want to behold it, we know you want to behold it on one of your walls, be it in the living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc. Well, you can thank Topo Copy for creating such a beautiful physical manifestation of our Cobble Goblin art. Thank you, Topo Copy. If you ever have the need to print anything in Ghent, print with Topo Copy or don’t print at all.
Available in two editions and printed on the world-famous Topo Copy Risograph, our Cobble Goblins posters are the perfect item to remember the incredible 2016 Spring Classics campaign on Manual for Speed.
For the next three weeks Manual For Speed is your Spring Classics Virtual Reality. Creating a three-week-long virtual reality requires a lot of support both emotionally, psychologically and financially. Our underwriters provide us with all of three and more. We cherish them because of it; won’t you cherish them too?