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Tag: Spain

Catalonia, 1 October

Monday, 1 October, 2018

Even if the referendum on Catalan independence was ruled illegal and therefore non-binding, 2.3 million people out of 5.5 million eligible voters cast their ballots on this day last year, despite intimidation and violence. When the counting was done, 90 percent had voted to break from Spain. The regional government in Barcelona promised to declare independence within 48 hours of the vote if the “Yes” side won, but when it finally did issue the declaration on 27 October, tellingly, no country recognized Catalonia, and Madrid promptly sacked the entire Catalan administration, causing several key figures to flee abroad, including deposed president, Carles Puigdemont. Others were jailed, accused of rebellion.

Today, separatist groups will mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters to protest in Barcelona to mark the anniversary of the referendum and to ask that “the wishes of the majority of Catalan people be put into effect.” The reality, however, is that disagreements over independence have deepened since the plebiscite and arguments about implementing “the wishes of the majority of Catalan people” have led to accusations of betrayal. As well, the separatist movement is now divided into three parties and there are also divisions between its leaders who are outside Spain, those who are in prison and those who remain at liberty. Meanwhile, the relationship between Barcelona and Madrid is as fractious as ever, and Catalonia, with all its beauty and wealth, is damaged and disunited, tragically.

“Beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact, and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events.” — George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

Homage to Catalonia


Madonna at 60: Take A Bow

Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Take a Bow is a track from Madonna’s sixth studio album, Bedtime Stories (1994), and the story of the song’s video says so much about Madonna (Happy 60th Birthday today!) and her impact on the worlds of music, fashion and culture.

The clip was directed by Michael Haussman and filmed in Ronda in southern Spain. Madonna arrived in the city in November 1994 with a team of 60 people and wanted to shoot at its most famous bullring, the Plaza de Toros de Ronda. Her request was rejected by the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda, however, who considered it a desecration of the arena, since her name was associated with provocative sexual imagery. The refusal was unpopular because many in the city believed the video would be of great PR value.

Eventually, money changed hands and a permit was obtained to shoot inside the palace of the Marquis of Salvatierra and at the Plaza de Toros de Ronda, where matador Emilio Muñoz performed alongside three fighting bulls. Madonna wore a fitted suit by John Galliano, and other designers who provided accessories included Donatella Versace and then then-unknown shoemaker Christian Louboutin.


Flocking to Spain

Wednesday, 1 August, 2018

Holidaymakers in Spain are getting more than they bargained for these days. Typical seaside scenes now involve African migrants jumping off dinghies onto packed beaches before asking stunned tourists for food and then heading over the dunes.

But it’s not just the victims of Africa’s dysfunction that are flocking to Spain. Venezuelans of means, fleeing the ruinous chavecismo of their homeland, are pitching up on Madrid’s property market. According to the New York Times, On Spain’s Smartest Streets, a Property Boom Made in Venezuela:

“During a walk around Salamanca, an upmarket district of the Spanish capital, Luis Valls-Taberner, a real-estate investment adviser, pointed out on almost every street a building that he said a wealthy Venezuelan had recently acquired.

Mr. Valls-Taberner would not identify the buyers. Some properties, he said, were purchased through investment companies based in Miami or elsewhere — but the money always came from Venezuela.”

By dinghy or by jet, many of those wishing to escape the most corrupt and decrepit places on Earth, especially the failed states north and south of the Sahara, are streaming into Spain, and the country’s new socialist government, like most of its EU counterparts, seems unwilling to discuss the fact that Africa’s population, now about 1.26 billion, is expected to double by 2050. Expect bigger dinghies.


Rosalía: Pienso en tu mirá

Saturday, 28 July, 2018

A recurring motif in the video of Pienso en Tu Mirá, the latest single by Rosalía, is that of a man in a chequered suit dancing el baile flamenco at night on a pile of embers. It’s a vivid representation of her fusion of old and new Spanish influences because Rosalía was born in Baix Llobregat, a comarca on the coast of Catalonia, some 30km from Barcelona and some 1,000km from Seville, where the heart of flamenco beats.

Talking of beats, Rosalía’s music uses lots of traditional handclapping and those hoods worn by the dancers are a nod to the outfits worn by the Nazarenos and Fariseos brotherhoods during the Semana Santa (Holy Week) observances in Spain. All of this is combined with Latin Pop to create something new, something different.


The look: When you score a hat trick against Spain

Saturday, 16 June, 2018

“Vamos família!” is what @Cristiano tweeted following his extraordinary hat-trick performance against Spain in last night’s World Cup thriller in Sochi.

CR7


The Black and White Quest winner

Thursday, 15 February, 2018 0 Comments

For its Black and White Quest, 500px asked for submissions that were stronger without colour. The winner is Michail Christodoulopoulos with this evocative Semana Santa image. Why did the judges pick it? “This is a perfect use of black and white — it emphasizes its mood and tone. The shallow depth of field and composition makes the viewer’s eye go back and forth through this line of men and their expressions.”

Semana Santa

And the story behind the winning entry: “This photo was taken in Malaga last year during the Semana Santa / Holy Week,” says Christodoulopoulos. “I’ve been living in Spain for almost 14 years, but I never miss the processions from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, where the confraternities of Malaga carry their floats, representing the Passion of Christ from His entry into Jerusalem to His Resurrection.”


Master and Commander Boccherini: 5

Friday, 15 December, 2017 0 Comments

And so we come to the end of our week of interpretations of Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid, which became famous through its use in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World starring Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany. So far, we’ve had the original from the film, a family performance, a violin/viola duet and an orchestral version.

Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid was written around 1780 by Luigi Boccherini and he scored it for two violins, a viola and two cellos. It’s exuberant music and depicts the night life of Madrid near an 18th-century military outpost. Drums can be heard and various nocturnal sounds, including cats calling and church bells ringing, are woven into the piece. Boccherini was quoted as having said: “The piece is absolutely useless, even ridiculous, outside Spain, because the audience cannot hope to understand its significance, nor the performers to play it as it should be played.” Given that, it’s only appropriate we end with the Master and Commander segment being played by el dúo Bagatela, featuring Javier Abraldes on guitar and Plamen Velev on cello. ¡Olé!

“The newly-minted captain admits the irony between the gold on his shoulders and the lack of gold in his pockets. The newly-minted captain is told to let nothing stop him but to do nothing that would risk his ship or his crew.” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander


Master and Commander Boccherini: 4

Thursday, 14 December, 2017 0 Comments

Jaesik Lim studied music at Hanyang University, one of the leading private research institutions in South Korea, and then moved to Madrid to continue his studies, saying: “I didn’t want to fly to Italy like everyone else does. I wanted something different.” Furthermore: “Both Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras are from Spain, so I thought this country must be special,” he told the Korea JoongAng Daily. There was a phase of culture shock, however, when he discovered that most Spaniards spoke Spanish instead of English. Still, he didn’t shirk the challenge of survival so he set up a stall at a flea market “for earrings and women’s underwear.”

Perseverance pays. Here, the maestro conducts the Master and Commander segment of Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid performed by the Orquesta de Cámara y Grupo Vocal Millennium in Madrid’s Teatro Monumental.

“‘Are you very much attached to money?’ asked Stephen. ‘I love it passionately,’ said Jack, with truth ringing clear in his voice. ‘I have always been poor, and I long to be rich.'” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander

Tomorrow, we end our series on the Master and Commander Boccherini with an interpretation by el dúo Bagatela from Galicia.


Javier Marías for the Nobel Prize in Literature

Thursday, 5 October, 2017 0 Comments

“He’ll be a minister in Spain some day, or, at the very least, ambassador to Washington, he’s exactly the kind of pretentious fool with just a thin veneer of cordiality that the Right produces by the dozen and which the Left reproduces and imitates whenever they’re in power, as if they were the victims of some form of contagion.” — Javier Marías, Tu Rostro Mañana: 1 Fiebre Y Lanza

They’re awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature today up in Scandinavia. The betting is that it’ll go to a writer, but that’s not a sure thing anymore. “For having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 was awarded to Bob Dylan. Very few saw that coming.

Today, we’ll see a return to the norm, such as it is in the world of letters. Haruki Murakami? Margaret Atwood? Ngugi wa Thiong’o? Amos Oz? Worthy candidates all, but our money is on Javier Marías, the Spanish novelist, short story writer and translator. He’s a superb writer and because the Spanish establishment could do with some good news at the moment, the Nobel committee might be inclined to lend a hand.


In the year of his first cigarette

Saturday, 24 June, 2017 0 Comments

In the year that the great Galty smoked his first cigarette, The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, premiered in Hollywood; Francisco Franco assumed power in Spain; Flann O’Brien’s metafiction At Swim-Two-Birds was published in London; Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt married Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran; Billie Holiday recorded Strange Fruit; Italy seized Albania and King Zog fled; an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded in the centre of Coventry, killing five people; John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath was published; Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics No. 27; nylon stockings went on sale in Wilmington, Delaware, and LaGuardia Airport opened in New York City.

Oh, and the opening shots of World War II were fired when Germany invaded Poland.

Galty


Pilgrims

Thursday, 28 July, 2016 0 Comments

Justin Gomez says: “This is a video of a couple friends and I walking the Camino de Santiago during the month of August… We started in France and walked about 800 km to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.” Talking of pilgrims, more than one million are now in Kraków to join Pope Francis at the 2016 World Youth Day.