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Saturday, June 16, 2007

You can't win

The video below depicts Barcelona's variation of the shell game scam on the Ramblas. Although filmed on a cell phone, you can still see how the trilero* and his shills lure the tourists in:

From the video poster's own commentary:
I was tricked euro$100 [sic], and decided to video them 4 days later. I had seen some tourist even loss euro$300 per bet!
Larry Kovaks handled these guys a while back in THE AMERICAN TOURIST CON. The shills dress as tourists do, in order to lure the real tourists in. And of course you can't win. Why? Here's the explanation:

Here's a video of a professional doing another variation of this con, with cards. It's in Spanish, but even so, just watch the cards. He's good.


*trilero - Spanish for conman or thief, most often applied to three card monte and shell game con artists. The Spanish gent in the last video puts it best: "A trilero is he who confuses you in order to take your money."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rubbing the little onion

I really didn’t want to post about yet another form of deviant sexual behavior - after the motorized bed dude and the most unfortunate drive-by wank inicident I witnessed the other day - but I really think I am on to something. With the arrival of these torrid summer months, lusty, uninhibited behavior is becoming more and more a topic of relevant interest. Whether you like it or not, whether your mom or your dad think it is taboo or unworthy of “proper” conversational topic, something, yes something, is in the air. So fuck it, here’s another bit of titillating trivia from the annals of Guirilandia. We can call it rubbing the little onion, or, in Spanish argot, frotando la cebolleta. This is a real term, used by Spanish folk, for describing a common form of deviant sexual behavior.

No, rubbing the little onion is not a vanguarista cooking technique (with all due respect, maestro Adria). It is a form of frotteurism, which is a technique that viejos verdes - literally green men, in Anglo-American parlance dirty old men - use to garner fifteen or so seconds of glory with young and normally indifferent women. It happens on crowded buses or subways, and the frotador’s technique is to move close to a young woman and discreetly rub his groin area on her person. The frotador does this in a casual way, while looking distractedly in another direction. The young woman usually doesn’t say anything because a) she’s not sure if the heavily breathing man next to her is really doing what she’d rather not even think about, and b) she doesn’t want to make a scene, thereby attracting attention to the most disgraceful event of which she is unwillingly a part of. The frotador stalks, in serial fashion, the bus lines and subway labyrinths, in search of potential victims for his unwanted advances. Basically, they’re pervs who’ll do anything to get close to a young woman, even if it’s just a fleeting caress of their crotch area.

Frotar mean to rub, and cebolleta, according to the La Rousse’s Gran Diccionario del Argot, is slang for penis. Now, cebolleta – and I don’t have an expert on hand to corroborate this – most likely comes from cebolla, which means onion. By adding the suffix eta, you are basically a saying little onion. How that came to mean penis I don’t know. This could very likely be a conspiracy by frotteurism adepts in Spain to euphonize their disgraceful habit. Because, in all honesty, rubbing the little onion doesn’t sound like a very offensive thing at all. Previously, if someone had told me they were going to rub little onions, I would have thought they were a little strange, but never one of those sneaky individuals serially rubbing themselves on strangers. Thank you Miguel at work for confirming the usage of this Spanish phrase. Ah, frotando la cebolleta! What grand schemes I have for today!

I’m not making this up, and I’m sure many women can confirm similar experiences. Furthermore, El Periodico ran an article today about the arrest of a serial onion rubber.

Okay, I’m going to try to aim for “high seriousness” in my next posts. Seriously. Ciao.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Oh, these febrile summer days

8:45 AM in the Eixample, corner of Provença and Aribau. Guy driving slowly in his white VW Golf, pulling up next to a young woman who is dressed like a school teacher in a jersey dress, carrying a large handbag. They exchange a few brisk words. This is about a block away, so I can’t hear what they’re saying. Suddenly she covers her face, as if she just saw something highly repugnant, and yells, in an English accent:

“NO! I don’t know!”

VW Golf guy says something that is inaudible to me. The woman strides forward, with the bounce and conviction of a runway model.

“I said NO! Leave me ALONE!”

The guy says something else. Now the woman is really powerwalking. The guy is still cruising beside her. She screams:

“I SAID NO!!!!”

Traffic surges forward. VW Guy gives up on the woman and accelerates. He reaches my corner of the street, from where I have been watching the whole thing. He takes the curve, and as he’s doing this I make the mistake of looking into the open driver’s side window. The dude’s red willy is sticking out of his open fly.

According to my girlfriend - who has had many unfortunate wanker encounters in Barcelona - the drive-by wank technique is common. They pull up, casually ask for directions and begin wanking.

Of course it’s not just a Barcelona thing. About fifteen years ago, on a beach in San Diego, I was with some friends and we caught a guy furtively fiddling behind a rock. I wish I could say we showered him in rocks and insults, but we were too disgusted and ashamed of the situation to do anything about it. One time, when I was valet parking at a department store in San Francisco, I had to escort several of the shopgirls to their cars because a vagrant was wanking in the alleyway. I remember these days were hot, like today.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Larry Kovaks vs. the Macho Ibérico

Or at least that's what it looks like.

My friend Larry Kovaks is back. The summer months and the heat are bringing the "virulent criminal underbelly" out of the woodwork, and Kovaks is back in action.

Read part 1 of The Danger of the Perfect Brunette. A tale of violencia domestica, English teachers and blackmail. There's an awful lot to unravel here. Let's wish him luck, and hope when he's done with this case he'll get back to solving the petty theft crimes he seems to know so much about.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

No se fia

No se fia, do not trust

Friday, June 08, 2007

3 jokes about Catalans, and my reflections on very large cunts

My translations of some jokes someone* sent to me:

A poor employee goes to the office of his Catalan boss and says to him:
- Excuse me, manager sir, but it’s been six months since I’ve been paid …
- You’re excused, Garcia.

Un pobre empleado se acerca a la oficina de su jefe catalán y le dice:
- Disculpe, señor gerente, pero hace seis meses que no cobro ...
- Está disculpado, García.

A Catalan who is tearing off the wallpaper of house is paid a visit by a friend:
- What, are you redecorating the house?
- No, I’m moving.

Un catalán que esta arrancando el papel pintado de su casa es visitado por un amigo:
- ¿Qué, redecorando la casa?
- No, de mudanza.

A Catalan on his deathbed whispers:
- Montse, Montserrat … Where are you, dear wife?
- Here I am, my husband … next to you.
- And my son Josep … where is he?
- Here I am, father … next to you.
- And my daughter Mercè ... where is she?
- Here I am, father … next to you.
- And my son Jaume … where is he?
- Here I am, father … next to you.
- Well then … why the fuck** is the light in the kitchen on?

Un catalán en su lecho de muerte susurra:
- Montse, Montserrat... ¿Dónde estás, esposa querida?
- Aquí estoy, esposo mío..., a tu lado.
- Y mi hijo Josep..., ¿dónde está?
- Aquí estoy, padre..., a su lado.
- Y mi hija Mercè..., ¿dónde está?
- Aquí estoy, padre..., a su lado.
- Y mi hijo Jaume..., ¿dónde está?
- Aquí estoy, padre..., a su lado.
- Y entonces... ¿Qué coño hace la luz de la cocina encendida?


* Before the angry emails start, it should be noted this was a Catalan someone

** I translated “qué coño” as “why the fuck”, but coño literally means cunt, and it’s used in everyday conversations, like “¡Que coñazo de dia!” which would translate to “What a fucking day!”. By adding the “zo” to the end of the word you are literally saying “very large cunt”, or “very big cunt”. “A very big cunt of a day” just sounds silly in English, so that’s probably why we would say “What a fucking day”, simply because it is more practical.

Palabrotas, or cuss words, are used on the radio and television in Spain all the time. Initially I was surprised, coming from the land of The Seven Dirty Words. I would translate everything literally, but soon I realized words like coño are merely expressions used to spice mundane sentences, like we do with fuck, only the Spanish don’t get hung up on the literal meaning of the word, like we do in the States sometimes.

This is something else I overheard recently: “¡¡¡El coño de tu madre!!! !Vete a chuparla al monte!” This actually means “Leave me alone and go do something else”, and not something about so ans so's mother's cunt and the sucking off of a mountain villager.

Basically, if you are a literal-minded person you will go mad if you live in Spain.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cerveseria DNI

DNI means Identification Card

“Hey, what the fuck should I call the bar?”

“Coño, I don’t know. Lo que le sale de los putos cojones.

“I know. Why don’t I call it Bar Identification Card?”

“Yeah! That’s a great idea. I’d go there!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Schopenhauer was right

The most fundamental impulse is the sexual impulse, and if anyone doubts this I direct them to the case of Antonio Navarro*, arrested for driving his motorized bed “at a considerable velocity” on a highway in Galicia. This 42 year-old man, who is tetraplegic, told police after being arrested that he was on his way to a brothel. With his body 95% paralyzed, the only way he can operate the bed is by moving a joystick with his mouth. You can only imagine the bizarre spectacle of this guy cruising down a highway on a motorized bed, and, furthermore, what he planned on doing once he got to the brothel.

Anyway, I remembered this story when I re-read this passage from the great Arthur Schopenhauer:

The sexual impulse is proved to be the decided and strongest affirmation of life by the fact that for man in the natural state, as for the animal, it is his life’s final end and the highest goal. Self preservation and maintenance are his first aim, and as soon as he has provided for that, he aims only at the propagation of the race; as a merely natural being, he cannot aspire to anything more. Nature too, the inner being of which is the will-to-live itself, with all her force impels both man and the animal to propagate. After this she has attained her end with the individual, and is quite indifferent to its destruction; for, as the will-to-live, she is concerned only with the preservation of the species; the individual is nothing to her.

From the World as will and Representation, book I

In all seriousness I think Antonio Navarro is the apotheosis of mankind’s most fundamental impulse – the will to propagate. Antonio doesn’t dress up his intentions in pretty euphemisms or claims to a “higher calling”. In the end, you have to admire his tenacity and sincerity. Respect.


* For some reason the author of the article cites that Antonio was a gypsy (“This resident of the CAMF [a residency for handicapped people], originally from Valencia and of the gypsy ethnicity”). This is about as relevant to the article as saying that his blanket was made of 100% cotton. Of course, the article is implying that only someone of the dastardly “gypsy ethnicity” would drive a motorized bed to a brothel. I should direct the author of this article to the three block radius around my apartment in the Eixample, in which she will find at least three popular brothels. The Eixample is a middle class Catalan neighborhood and I can tell you the clientele drifting in and out of the brothels look more like "white", upper-middle class lawyer types than people of the “gypsy ethnicity”. You certainly don’t see dudes driving motorized beds to brothels around here, and, even if you did, those motorized beds wouldn't necessarily be owned and operated by someone of the “gypsy ethnicity”. I mean, who are we kidding? I’m amazed, sometimes, at the total lack of rigor in reporting.

(the picture is really Antonio, by the way. It was taken from this article in L'Absurd Diari. More information can be found here.)