American spies dead ringer on Haarlem
By Hein Flach
HAARLEM - American Eric Wexler, who lives in Delft, visited downtown Haarlem
last week. He was walking past Verwulft
when his eye was caught by the clock that crowns the glass and steel
of Haarlem's ill-fated "monument for the 21st century."
His jaw dropped with amazement. "When I saw the drawing on the
clock's face I thought I was looking at myself. The likeness was
He didn't have a clue, however, as to whom the
man depicted above him was. Noticing the maker's signature on the
picture, Wexler wasted no time and the next day wrote a letter
to the artist, Eric J. Coolen. "Who was your model? I know it wasn't
me and I don't have a twin. My only brother doesn't resemble me that
closely! Did you even have a model? Perhaps you drew it just from
your imagination. In that case, you may want to know that I'm not
only of your imagination; I really exist!"
To illustrate the remarkable resemblance Eric enclosed a picture of himself.
The clock was installed in July 2006 as a tribute
to departing mayor Jaap Pop. At the time, Pop was clearly pleased
with the initiative, fully knowing that it was a present with a
hidden meaning. After all, for quite some time the mayor had been
annoyed by the untimely frozen hands and the broken glass, unable to
do anything about the endless quarrelling between the city council,
property developer-cum-owner Cobraspen and the power company about
whose duty it was to repair the broken clock. As an April Fool's Day
prank, the clock was subsequently "stolen" by a bunch of Haarlemmers.
They had the clock repaired, put in a face plate with Pop's
countenance and put it back on the occasion of his stepping down as
Ever since Pop has been looking out over Verwulft,
guardian over what to him is still his town. That is why last week,
from his elevated position, he saw a surprised Eric Wexler and his
wife stroll by. Since then, Eric has been in touch with draughtsman
Eric Coolen, who enlightened him as to the real identity of the
person peering down from inside the clock. "So he turns out to be
the previous mayor of Haarlem. Really funny. I've seen pictures of
how he really looks. If you take a closer look at them, you'll
notice a few differences. The lines around the mouth, for example.
And my son tells me I have more hair than the man in the clock. I
guess I better take that as compliment."
Jaap Pop was not available for comment yesterday.