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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rebellion in the zoo 3

So I did a vanity search, not in the mirror, mind you, but on the best of all nets, the internet, by looking for Guirilandia*.

From Frikipedia’s entry on Guirilandia (my translation follows):

Guirilandia

Country with absolute monarchy, formerly known as the United Kingdom, governed by queen Isabelita II. Since the former German country is inhabited in its majority by guiris, this country has been incorporated into the lands of Guirilandia. In the year 1950, the hegemony of this empire began, creating the all-powerful Guiri Army of Tourists. These invaded and conquered large areas, converting them into Colonies of Guirilandia. Among the conquered territories are:

The entire Costa del Sol, including Marbella, Malaga and the regional economic superpower, Ronda.

Canary islands and Balearic islands

The entire Costa Blanca

They are beginning to send sectors of their elite army to Galicia and the north of Spain, but they have encountered strong resistance in this region of the peninsula. Madrid will soon fall into the hands of the invading army, but thanks to the inexistence of beaches in Madrid, the tourist army of Guirilandia is not that interested in this central part of the peninsula. The situation in Portugal is unknown.

Guirilandia has begun exporting products from its colonies back to its queen, for example la Paella Valenciana and cheap Spanish beer.

Guirilandia has grand ambitions. In the first place, it wants to extend its moreno centollo** across the whole world, beginning with Spain, but without having achieved definitive victory.

(see the video documentation I have encountered in my research here and here - real footage shot by guerilla forces of the Fauna Ibérica)

§

The definition of guiri lists certain “peculiarities”. Quite illuminating:

They usually buy sombreros in the souvenir shops, typical Spanish product, por excelencia.

Because their skin is extremely sensible and is prone to reddening (a product, without a doubt, of the sun which revolves around their own world [this must refer to one genus of guiri, the guiri solipsisus), they frequently wear sandals with socks as if it was totally normal, for the pleasure of the natives.

They have bodily appendages commonly called photo cameras, which are in the habit of photographing the most monumental nonsense or the most nonsensical monuments like broken streetlights, local clothing, crap in the middle of the sidewalk, etc.

They are naive and tend to fall in the clutches of juvenile delinquents.

They are accustomed to going to the beach to sunbathe without sunscreen (something that any mortal with a well-ordered head does, which supports the theory that guiris are from another, parallel universe), something that the experts call “shrimp effect” or even “lobster effect”

They accompany paella with Coca-cola, which they curiously denominate Coke.

They are known for their capacity to avoid learning the languages of the countries they visit, although they are capable of obligating any human being (imbecile and/or half-imbecile) to speak English even if they haven’t any knowledge of this language.

They create communities of like minded folk in large regions of the world, standing out among them are Cancún, Polynesia, Italy, the Costa Brava and the Greek islands. In some cases (especially on the Costa Brava), a rich guiri magnate buys a town or an urbanization and populates it with guiris from his or her own world. These towns are only inhabited in the summer, and there they go on binges and throw house parties that are attended by famous personalities of the country, like Pocholo, Yola Berrocal or Nacho Vidal.

[…]

Due to their ignorance of the normal economic system and their insistence on using foreign currency, the wise sellers and shopkeepers of the countries being visited, above all in the Costa Brava and Barcelona, sell them crappy things and useless objects at the price of gold. They think that in this country we are all bullfighters, that we subsist on wine and paellas, that we dance sevillanas and sing flamenco, and that we are incredibly funny [I have know idea, really, what llevamos curras hasta la rodilla means].

§

Not enough? The Efecto Guiri:

Said of the gravitational attraction between the English (or any other super rich blonde of Anglo-Saxon origin) and the Spanish (or any other smart ass in need of money).

Origins

This phenomenon originated back in the 17th century, when the English, on board ferries, arrived on the Iberian peninsula and invaded the beaches like madmen, greasing themselves with necessary creams and sweeteners[?] to maintain their artificial color. The English dedicated themselves to walking the streets with their shopping carts [I think that’s what they meant by carratillas], while the Spanish observed them thinking about a way to make it to the end of the month.

While the English laughed their asses off doing the Corte Ingles [English Court, a department store], the ibéricos constructed little houses of wood and put sea water in barrels where they put fizzy soda. This is how the renowned business of the Chiringuitero*** started.

The English, attracted to the smell of something new, arrived en masse to the chiringuitos where they ordered huge amounts of fizzy soda to refresh their heads.

Then Super López appeared with his super cape […] and he set about going from table to table asking for a 2€ guiri tax. The English, fascinated by the enormous fluency of this chap and because his cape had the logo of Corte Ingles, accepted. From this moment they had earned the honorable title of guiri.

[…]

Important drinks for guiris:

Whiskey, vodka (black if it is available), beer, and the other varieties.

_

* I think I might have been one of the first to start using the term guirilandia, though admittedly I did not invent it. I stumbled across it while perusing LaRousse’s Gran Diccionario del Argot. I used the term on people and many claimed to have never heard of it, but admitted that it sounded like a plausible Spanish word. Now guirilandia is used more and more in newspapers, on the net, in everyday conversations. I really don’t have huge amounts of traffic, nothing that would merit me the title of “influencer”, but there is a curious and seemingly causal connection. It started with my short movie, and continued with this blog. The whole intention was twofold: to have a medium in which to tell stories, and also to expropriate the derogatory term guiri and make it my own.

I would like to add that should anybody want to buy the rights to guirilandia.net for 300,000 euros, or the average price of a 50 square meter apartment in Barcelona, you can contact me here: helpguirilandia@gmail.com . As a bonus, I will personally write a 5,000 word essay or short story on any subject you like. Thank you.

For more info, check out my article on the etymology of the word guiri on barcelonareporter.com

On a further note, I was also privy to the Guirilandia Statute of Autonomy, purportedly drafted by radical guiris romanticizing an unrealizable ideal form of perfect guiridom. This is a reactionary movement instigated by a few disgruntled tourists with decidedly undemocratic and populistic tendencies. Albeit, I think they have "good" intentions. But that can be said about anything before the proverbial last words “it seemed like a good idea … at first”.

** moreno centollo – somewhat of a misnomer, it literally means “lobster brown” or “lobster tan”. There is an English equivalent, “red like a lobster”, as in being embarrassed or, more appropriately in this case, badly sunburnt. The moreno centollo is the bane and stigma of guiridom.

*** chiringuito – open air bar. In Barcelona they’re found on the beaches. They serve overpriced drinks and sometimes feature dj so-and-so playing a variety of house music. They are a last resort, infested by fresh-off-the-boat guiris.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Es vicio, es alquiler

It's vice, it's renting. I'm not sure but at the top I think it says "gay". You figure it out.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A story of verguenza

Looks like Larry Kovaks has finally wrapped up the case of La Isla de los Melocotones - the bordello in the Raval that went down a couple months ago in the big hooker round up.

I'm glad too. It's about time he started solving those dastardly guiri crimes again.

Check it out: Shame, shame, shame (part VI)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Homage to Guirilandia

Where else can you walk in a bar called Braseria la Tasqueta, speak to a Chinese waiter in Spanish, get a beer served in a wine glass, and eat a kebab?

That's right friends. Remember this. Globalization kicks ass.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Interesados

More sketch art from Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi


From the dictionary of the Real Academia Española:

interesado, da.

2. adj. Que se deja llevar demasiado por el interés, o solo se mueve por él.

From the Oxford Spanish-English Dictionary:

interesado, -a nm-nf

1. Person concerned

From Merriam-Webster:

opportunist

Function: noun

One who does things only for his own benefit and with little regard for right and wrong


Interesado,in its noun form, is a great word in Spanish. But it has always confused me that it’s defined in English as “interested person”. When you call someone an interesado, like “Este tio es un interesado”, you are saying they’re not the kind of person you want to hang out with. The word means someone who is superficial and calculating. Slimy. Slick. All rolled in one. That’s why I think the word opportunist, which in English has negative connotations and basically means the same thing, is the best one word translation we have for interesado.

Interesados are everywhere. People masquerade as do-gooders or fighters for social justice, when in reality they are pushing a very different agenda, often times ridiculously individualistic, often times completely contrary to the general concept of “good” they are supposedly espousing. Paz, or peace, is a noble word that nobody can disagree with. Most people want to live in peace. Granted, through the ages their have been people who genuinely wanted the contrary, but on the whole, you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who wanted war for war’s sake, as much as that irritates anybody who finds themselves in disagreement with the aims of a certain war. Because, going to war, for most people, is a last resort (or at least it should be). It is supposed to, according to those who find themselves aligned with its cause, bring about a greater good in the world. The frustration arises because those who oppose the war can’t see why anyone could support a war, because war is almost unanimously considered a bad thing. How could anyone be in favor of say, cancer? Or senile dementia? Or flies and mosquitoes? Long lines in the super market? People shouldn’t get their concepts mixed up. There are universal evils and irritants for mankind, those that harm us all. War on the other hand is often the result of one side’s idealism. The vanquished aren’t expected to reap the rewards of the war. They may take part, but they have to submit. But an idea of good comes out of it for the conquerors. Good being a better way of life for los interesados. Can there be exceptions? I really don’t think so. Even Nazis were fighting for an ideal, for a national socialist utopia. They weren’t monsters, they certainly didn’t see themselves as monsters, and they were fighting for what they perceived as a common good.

And these peace marches against ETA. They are marching for peace. If you don’t march, according to confused logic, therefore you must be against peace. Perhaps people have different ideas on how to arrive at that peace? But that aside you have to look at the Popular Party’s stance on this as political posturing. For me, they’re acting like petulant schoolchildren who simply quieren llevar lo contrario, or do the opposite. They obviously have valid points when talking about ETA, but for one moment of solidarity they could have worked with the socialists, because, really it was nothing other than symbolism, and they are supposed to govern together. They’ve demonstrated exactly the kind of partisanship, selfishness, and immaturity that they like to criticize the left with (take ERC for example, which openly states its refusal to ever negotiate with a “conservative” party). For some more on this, check out my favorite paranoid commie, the bad rash, who’s generally insightful, but occasionally a little too righteous for my taste.

Mariano Rajoy – a contemptible man who proclaimed that his newspaper of choice is La Marca, a sports rag, who said he has no books on his nightstand – is an interesado, and one stupid and boring politician. Rajoy is the same interesado who, oddly enough, said it was “understandable” that the Spanish government sent a doctor to treat Fidel Castro. Very odd indeed, coming from a right wing politician. Despite some initial criticism from other members of his party, and what could easily have been blown up by the PP, mysteriously fizzled into nothing. Well, not so mysterious, when you realize that the doctor who went to Cuba is also Rajoy’s personal doctor. His lofty ideals of justice obviously have a barrier. Himself.

An interesado is Madrid’s mayor, Ruiz-Gallardon, who instead of joining a march which should have been about solidarity, went for a photo op with a bewildered and visibly irritated Tim Robbins. He of course had every right to meet him, being the mayor, but his timing couldn’t have been less tactful. Not to mention doing it with someone who is a vociferous critic of anything “right wing” (which, by the way, I think is a stupid stance to take). Robbins said he felt “used”, and went into a diatribe on Bush’s politics. And you know what, he has a legitimate right to be angry with Bush’s mangled politics. Many Americans, including myself, are disillusioned. For another view on this, check out my favorite right wing whack job, Iberian Notes, who’s generally insightful but occasionally gets carried away with bloodlust.

Curiously enough, while most of last Tuesday’s papers were suffused with news relating to the PP-PSOE standoff, this small item in la Vanguardia went by relatively unnoticed. Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, the Popular Party’s representative in the European parliament, had this to say about the alarming re-emergence of extreme right wing parties in Europe:

A la extrema derecha hay que vencerla con ideas y debates, y no intentando crear cordones sanitarios.

Es un error político que le permitirá presentarse como víctima del sistema".

[…]

Intentar taparlos, como pretende la izquierda, es un error político de una ceguera monumental. Aislándolos, al final lo único que haces es crear víctimas.

You have to beat the extreme right with ideas and debates, and not try to quarantine them.

It’s a political error that allows them to act like victims of the system.

[…]

Trying to cover them up, like the left wants to do, is a political error of monumental blindness. By isolating them, ultimately you will only create victims.

Sounds like a sensible idea. Now why doesn’t his party apply the same strategy to the extreme left? Even if they are repellent communists? If they really backed up their words, meant what they said, wouldn’t that apply to everyone else, granted we are working within the margins of the law? It’s so easy to talk about dialogue without actually doing it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Crosstown traffic

An angry blogger – and, I suspect, the author of some incomprehensible emails which have been sent my way - has linked to my last blog entry in a post entitled Racisme, alcohol i l'anglosaxó anticatalanista”, or “Racism, alcohol, and the anti-catalanist anglosaxon”.

Hi ha un anglosaxó a Barcelona que no entén que els gossos no entenguin el català. Aquest anglosaxó odia els catalanistes i no ho acabo d'entendre, perquè, segons ell, està casat amb una catalana.

There is an anglosaxon in Barcelona that doesn’t understand why dogs don’t understand Catalan. This anglosaxon hates catalanistas [catalan nationalists] and I don’t understand, because, according to him, he is married to a Catalan woman.

I never said “I don’t understand why dogs don’t understand Catalan”. That’s completely beside the point. In fact, I know a very friendly Golden Labrador who is fluent in Catalan and goes nuts when you play the first part of Jane’s Addiction’s “Been caught stealing”. I know of a bilingual cat who survived a four-story fall onto the mean streets of L’avinguda Verge de Montserrat (The Avenue of the virgin of Serrated Mountain). He usually keeps to himself but has been known to speak both Catalan and the invader language of Castellano depending on who will give him food. I even know of an iguana who speaks Catalan and some English (some say Catal-english). And finally there’s the sad story of the monolingual Catalan ferret who was struck by lightning and now, for some inexplicable reason, can only speak Chinese.

§

Another strange fact …

My girlfriend’s grandmother, or la iaia, as they say around these parts, told me of how she used to sing for Catalan folkloric choirs after the civil war (in Catalan, by the way). But she also sang in Falangist choirs because they were handing out much-needed clothes.

And it’s another fact that she was married to an ex republican soldier.

§

And please man, stop being so solipsistic. Catalan does not equal Catalanista. And Catalanista doesn’t mean “good” or “savior of the Catalan people”, unless you’re defining it according to your own ill-begotten axioms. It’s an ideology like any other, and it shamefully excludes the interests of Chinese speaking ferrets.

§

Don’t miss the first part of Trajecte’s post:

L'altre dia hi pensava: si a mi no m'agrada anar amb gitanos ni moros, però tampoc els vull cap mal, sóc racista? Jo no els vull pas cap mal, però no m'agradaria pas de barrejar-m'hi. Clar, dir això, o tan sols insinuar-ho públicament, em pot comportar molts problemes, i seriosos. Però en el fons, no sóc racista. A més, no vol dir que acabi casant-me amb una musulmana, tot podria ser. Però el fet és aquest: ara per ara, a Catalunya, són una classe marginal i, com totes les classes marginals d'arreu, de totes les èpoques, són potencialment més perilloses que les altres classes de la societat. Afirmar això és racisme?

The other day I thought: if I don’t like hanging out with gypsies or moros [somewhat derogatory term that refers to people from Morocco … which would never be used in their presence unless you wanted a beatdown], but neither do I wish them any harm, am I a racist? I don’t wish them any harm, but I wouldn’t like to mix with them at all. Sure, saying this, or simply insinuating it publicly, could bring me lots of problems, and serious ones. But deep down, I am not racist. Furthermore, I don’t want to say I will end up marrying a muslim woman, everything is possible. But the fact is this: nowadays, in Catalunya, they are a marginal class and, like all marginal classes everywhere, from every epoch, they are potentially more dangerous than the other classes of society. To state this is racism?

As you can see, that really wasn’t even worth the time it took to translate it, except for the choice part about marginal classes being potentially more dangerous than other classes of society (that is, within this mindset, moros, gypsies, the invading Spanish hordes, guiris, and Chinese speaking ferrets). The awe-inspiring power of trajecte’s illogic is making my brain reel.

Flipo, tio.

§

This is a great new entry from Urban Dictionary:

blogorrhea

To write a blog entry just for the sake of posting an entry, not because you have done anything interesting today.

I couldn't really think of anthing good to blog about, so my last post was real blogorrhea.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Posts aleatorios

A strange fact post

I mentioned before that my neighbor is one of those 80 year old Catalan burguesas, rubia de pote. Big hair, heavy on the make up, always looking like she’s in her Sunday best. I can imagine her having thousands of euros, or even pesetas, hidden under her mattress.

She has this collie that must be inbred. It’s a seriously stupid beast. It still doesn’t recognize me after more than six months of daily encounters. It goes nuts every time it sees me, then hides behind her. Just passing in front of her door is enough to set the dog off barking for hours on end.

I often encounter my neighbor and her bemuzzled collie in the street. Oddly enough, her dog walks her. She follows the dog’s whim, whatever that is. One smell after the other, zig zagging through the Eixample, pulling her on its leash. This is true. I followed them once.

That’s not the strange fact, however.

Sometimes I overhear her speaking in Catalan to the portero*, something like “Surto a passejar el gos! Surto a passejar el gos!” (which means, “I’m going out to walk the dog! I’m going out to walk the dog!”). The portero thinks she’s a bit whacky as well, because he usually rolls his eyes at me at this point, and says something ingratiating to her as she walks away.

When she gets to the door her dog is already skittish, afraid of all the people outside. “Vamos! Vamos!”, "Let's go! Let's go!" she says, in Spanish, not Catalan.

I mentioned this strange fact to people - that she speaks Catalan to humans but Spanish to her dog. Apparently, and I kid you not, for I’ve heard this from authentic Barceloneses, speaking Spanish to dogs while speaking Catalan to people is quite common among the older generation.


Check this site out post

Roadside Jesus is now taking questions. He’s also selling some mighty fine looking T shirts with his Jesusness depicted on them. Roadside Jesus’s sagacity is unparalleled. Read this sample, or check out his site.

Do you trust commas? Some people mostly foreigners use them to tabulate money. I could blame the person. I blame the comma.

-Paranoid - Indiana 1/06/07

[...]

I fear from your tone that you may have had an unfortunate experience with a comma in the past. Did a comma hurt you as a child? Perhaps it touched you somewhere inappropriate? Just so you know, it may have been an apostrophe masquerading as a comma to fufill its perverted desire. Apostrophes consider themselves better than lowly commas, when in reality, the only difference between the two is their height. Damn the apostrophes. They are possessive bastards.

And please my friend, may the only foreigner you malign be the band.

Wise words from Roadside Jesus. I wonder, however, if he’s related to “de Jesus”, the pedophile bowler in the Big Lebowski, or if he’s one and the same person. I ought to ask him.

"You don't fool Jesus."


Plugging my friend's blog post

Warning, gypmeisters, private detective up ahead.

Larry Kovaks vs. the bad guys in the penultimate chapter of Shame, Shame, Shame. Check out part five here.

They didn’t count on coming up against someone like me. A chump who’s been around the world five times and seen it all. From mujerones in Rio to flower blossoms in Klang that fit in the palm of your hand. The stories I could tell you.


Interesting videos post

Fascinating short documentary about the effects of drugs on spiders.

Hilarious remix of Mary Poppins.

Fast Film. This could be one of the coolest, most ingenious short movies ever.


Open letter to a jackass who apparently stabbed my tire post

Some creep sent me an email stating the following:

Your bicycle was not stabbed. It was slashed, I know. I did it. Maybe if they sidewalks wider than a tire people would not complain.

No man. It was stabbed. Using the word "stab" effectively anthropomorphizes my bike, therefore giving more impact to my sentence. English is nice like that.

And if you are the evil person who stabbed my tire, I hope you slip on a steamy turd and get laughed at next time you stroll about town. Sidewalk fascist.


I should’ve been posting but … post

What can I say? I could think of innumerable excuses for not updating my blog this week. I could have been trying to prove a priori the existence of god according to Kant’s theory of Sufficient Reason. Telefonica could have accidentally cut my phone lines. I could have been at the dog races. Soy un vago, a veces.

_

*portero – doorman. Most buildings here have them; it’s not as fancy as it sounds. They listen to badly-tuned radios, and many take two hour breaks in nearby bars. Mine is super portero. Don’t mess with him. He showed me this metal rod he’s got, for defense purposes. He slammed it down on his desk to demonstrate its effectiveness. It was loud. It scared me all right.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Marseille


Marseille reminded me of Barcelona six years ago when they started to clean up the Raval. It's a mixture of sleaze and old world charm, and it's obvious a lot is going to change in the next few years.


The whole center of the town was under construction, with every street lined with sleepy bulldozers, chain link fences, and sacks of debris. No street cars were running, and unless you took one of the two subways, you had to walk everywhere.


Where we stayed - off the Canebière, in what seemed like a medina - we witnessed a bag snatching from our balcony five minutes after checking into our hotel. Not only was it reminiscent of Barcelona's Chino, it was probably the most exciting thing we witnessed during our stay.


I have a feeling everybody left Marseille and went to the rave in Barcelona for the New Year's celebrations. Everything was closed and muy tranquilo; except for a little bit of excitement after midnight, things were a far cry from the revelry that usually accompanies the changing of the year in Barcelona.

Unfortunately, about half of the bars and restaurants were closed, even in the livelier looking neighborhoods. Looking for some life, about 12:30 on new year's eve we wandered into this bar in the Cours Julien area, thinking we'd hear some rock n roll.

Rawkin' shortly before midnight

None of that, unless you call Phil Collins and Fine Young Cannibals rock n roll.

While contemplating the depressingly empty dance floor, a Houellebecquian phrase came to me: "Il est évident. L'humanité est condamnée à la dépression total." (OK, it was funny at the time ... and excuse my bad French)

Before we were subjected to more 80s soft rock we got out of there.

Thankfully we found something, right before the strike of midnight: an Irish pub where the music was equally bizarre: a schizophrenic mixture of nineties euro-techno, U2, and the White Stripes. Being guiris we acted like guiris and had an oblivious good time. The champagne helped. We left a couple hours later and walked towards the center. Like Barcelona, just go downhill and eventually you'll get to the center. In Marseille this happens to be the port - pretty much the Ramblas of Marseille, as far as the kinds of people are concerned.


On the way we met these drunken buskers. They played us a song, which I know from the Kusterica movies, though I have no idea what it's called. They said they were Yugoslavian.

As expected, the port was filled with leather-backed lotharios trying to faire l'amour with tipsy tourists. In the freakiest bar we could find we met a French version of Torrente who told us he was working as an undercover cop. While he desperately tried to pick up my girlfriend I witnessed a very obvious drug deal ... a furtive handshake, and a guy looking into a cellophane wrapper, then making a beeline to the bathroom. I guess, if French Torrente was an undercover cop, he had other priorities. He seemed like he was wired on coke anyway.


Since the nightlife seemed to have moved to Barcelona, we didn't really get to experience the city, which was a shame. I'd been there before, six years ago, for carnival, and left the city dazed and very confused after four days of beer, pastis and poulet frites.

The city is one of contrast, with old Spanish-speaking locas that look like ex prostitutes amidst the bustle of the medina-like center; then there's the cleaner, tourist-friendly port area just a stones throw away, with its sweater-scarved yuppies. That, and the hipper neighborhoods further up the hill, and the obvious face-lift the city is receiving, and you have a feeling Marseille is going to be something distinctly different, very soon. It certainly is a far cry from the days of the French Connection.

On new year's day we walked up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, from where you can see the entire city. Everything looks a lot cleaner from there, and the sprawl of the city with its tiled rooftops stretching from the Vieux Port to the rolling hills is impressive. Marseille is definitely a place to get to know. I'll go back again in the summer when the construction will be over in time for the tourist season. When everything comes back to life.


coda

On the train ride back their was heavy security at the borders. They delayed the train by about 40 minutes. My guess is they were looking for etarras.

At one point I wanted to open a bottle of Bordeaux and went to the bar at the back of the train for a corkscrew. In the wagon adjacent to the dining car, if you could call it that, there were two guys with two half empty bottles in front of them on their trays. Just behind them was a group of drunken Italians laughing and passing around their open bottles. I asked the two guys for their corkscrew and they lent it to me. From their accents I could tell they were American.

The wine was good. Almost as good as Spanish wine.