In a surprise move that was totally unexpected by the Chamber of Commerce as well as most of its citizens, tiny Guerneville, CA (pop.1,003) was named last week as Amsterdam's (The Netherlands) Sister-City.
The prestigious 'appointment' elevates Guerneville to a social and cultural status that presumably parallels that of one of the Free World's most significantly innovative and progressively-inclined metropolises.
Heralded throughout the West as being in the vanguard when it comes to radical idealism and untried concepts, Amsterdam's city government chose Guerneville because they feel, said a spokesman for the Dutch, that although small in size, Guerneville, too, has made unique and widely reaching contributions to America's world of music, art and Out-of-the-Sphere thought.
"We have brothels, they have redwoods - we have canals, they eat canoli" said Stuyvesant Van Dyke, the president of Amsterdam's Chamber of Commerce. "Of course our Concertgebouw is a little plusher than Armstrong Woods' amphitheater, but the surroundings and ambience are equally majestic!" added Van Dyke.
Famous for being one of Europe's most free-spirited and laid-back meccas, Amsterdam, as has Guerneville, has traditionally been a sanctuary for society's outcasts and misfits, and both have a well-deserved reputation for accepting those who are unable to feel at home anywhere else. "We're thinking of having Bent Peterman fabricate us one of those windmills in the old prune orchard near the school," said Dan San Singh, owner of Guerneville's Grab-'n-Go, adding, "I think Peterman's part Dutchman, anyway - should do a helluva job." Peterman is the Cazadero welder who, a few years ago, single-handedly built the new Guerneville bridge.
A fringe benefit of being someplace's sister-city is, of course, a rich cultural exchange program which should please even the most cynical of critics. "
They got that Rijksmuseum over there and I think we can talk 'em into letting us borrow Rembrandt's "Nightwatch" for a couple of weeks," said Chamber veep, Darcy Derringer. "We figure on hangin' it in the Senior Center or maybe even the library if the County'll give us the space."
Of course security would need to be tight considering the painting's value, but the Russian River Yard & Garage Patrol is one of the best guardians of private possessions in the business, and they should be up to the task.
"We plan on sending 'em some of our local artwork like the fine paintings we have covering the walls of our local restaurants," said long-time restaurant owner, Ol' Mammy Graham, "and I plan on personally tossing in some iris and rununculus bulbs, seein' as how they're real big on flowers over there, too."
"I seen a painting of some sunflowers once, I think it was done by that crazy guy who cut his ear off? Kirk Douglas played 'em in the movie?" Ms. Graham, a former Jeopardy contestant, is locally famous for her razor-sharp memory and quick recall.
Mr. Van Dyke says he first learned of Guerneville after meeting visitors from this area at Amsterdam's Bulldog Tavern, No. 3. They sent him some pictures of the Stumptown Parade and people enjoying a latte at one of Guerneville's rustic-but-cheery bistros, and the "romance" between the towns apparently bloomed from there. "We're hoping it gets cold enough for us to teach you the sport of Curling and perhaps have a little skating party on your river, too," added the jubilant Van Dyke. Be patient, Stuyvesant - we hear another Ice Age is on the way!