Friday, November 20, 2009

Okupa Nightmare

Can someone please tell me how this is possible? Do Spanish authorities live in some parallel universe where normal logic doesn't apply?

These people live in an apartment for 21 years, they go on vacation and have to rush back because Okupas have taken over their place. How long does it take to get the lowlifes out? 16 months! My favorite quote is when the judge on the case wouldn't evict the criminals because, "The squatters don't have funds to find another place"!

"Human rights" have run amok. No wonder no one will rent out an apartment in Spain. You can't even get people you didn't rent to - out of your piso.

If this happens to me I might be going to jail because I'm going in my place swinging a baseball bat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Burying your Lead

On the front page of El Pais' English language Herald we have this story headline. Sounds like another boring budget article:
Continue to page 3 and now the story says "One in Five Spaniards Lives in Poverty"

Sounds like that whole "living in poverty" thing should be the lead of the story - but then El Pais would be reporting bad news about the current situation and government handling of it - can't have that can we?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No More Free Porn - Big Daddy Says

Spain's Big Daddy, the European Union, says no more free porn on open air broadcast TV. The fun ends in 2010. The children (Spain) must behave and start acting like adults.

I wrote about this before here.
The truth is I really could not believe that complete hard-core porno was on the air after around 11:00 pm. Obviously there are children awake at 11:00 PM in Spain that could watch it.

What's becoming obvious about the European Union is - they really are in control. All the bans and rules and regulations are coming, and will come from them and Spain really just has to say, "Yes sir"! Even if there is a so-called vote on EU rules, if the EU does not like the outcome they will just have another election until it turns out like they want.

So be prepared Spain for a whole bunch of changes coming from Big Daddy EU. Porno, booze laws, smoking, bullfighting of course, environmental laws, what else?

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Black Dove? El Pais?

Ok. I'm as surprised as anyone that Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize after only a few months on the job. Man, Europe really, really, hated George Bush. Just having a new guy in there is getting them way excited - even if he hasn't done anything yet. Excited enough to give him the Nobel Peace Prize for ... not being Bush.

But what is going on with this Black Dove cartoon in El Pais by Forges? Or maybe it's a crow? Is it absolutely necessary to continue to obsess on this president's "Blackness"?

They really do not have a clue on how to deal with - or start ignoring - race do they?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

C'mon El Roto, Is It Really the Same Thing?

Well, El Roto, if there ever are Christian fundamentalists in the hills of Albacete who are chopping the heads off of non-Christians, blowing up girls' schools or killing girls who go to school, burying women accused of adultery up to their necks then stoning them to death, and just generally imposing their will on anyone and everyone - or you are dead .... and the Spanish authorities would not, or could not, do anything about it ... Then I would be OK with some Afghan troops coming to Spain to help us out.

I Absolutely would.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prostitution Slaves from Abroad

Some brilliant logic from "Equality Minister" Bibiana Aido here. She says that since 90 percent of Spain's prostitutes are from abroad and a lot of them are even slaves - the problem is not that prostitution is essentially legal in Spain (thereby creating a market) no, the problem is that there are evil people who come to take advantage of this market (the pimps).

Hmm let's see, if the market didn't exist would the pimps be enslaving woman? Forcing them to have sex for money? Can you believe they are even discussing the fact that there are slaves in modern day Spain without batting an eye?

I really don't understand this misplaced "freedom" Spain gives women in regards to prostitution. I guess it has something to do with a woman being able to do what she wants with her body - if she wants to hook, fine. The problem is.... men then turn them into slaves - nice freedom!

How does Spain combat this problem? By outlawing prostitution? No, they try to tell low-life scumbags (the male customers) to ... "Please don't exploit women, it's not nice, please don't bang hookers in the street..."

How's that working out? Not very well. Check out this article and photos in El Pais...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Poor Bastard ...

Of course there are always two sides to every story but ... poor bastard. Maybe he is a wife beating son of a bitch, and I know there are children involved, but since I'm a man I'm thinking he is a poor bastard.

California used to be the center of the "woman takes your stuff" universe. But I have heard many stories like this one in Spain. I think Spain now tops California. In Spain it seems if there are children involved, the house and the kids go to the woman no matter what - and the man pays.

There must be some middle ground where both sides are able to have a life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Simpler Metro Time

Take a look at that map. It's a beautiful and simple thing. This is the Madrid Metro as it existed in 1982. Looking at this map, it seems like maybe you could actually visit a good number of the stops - it's just not that complicated. This is how I saw the Madrid Metro when I first came to Spain.

Is it me or does the current Metro Map give you a headache?
Sure, you can go to a lot of places but it's a mess graphically. It also has nothing to do with the actual location of the stops in relation to each other. They need to make a simple "Centro only" metro map - something that can fit on a T-shirt.

Hey, notice how on the 1982 Metro map the stop for "Gran Via" on Line 1 was named "Jose Antonio" (an infamous Fascist). They changed it sometime in the late 80's? Perhaps the very first move for the future Historical Memory Law.

Alright, I will not cling to the past. Change is good, right? But it was a good looking map.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Unbelievable Horror

I have a friend in Madrid who was telling me a story about her mother who went into the hospital for a routine foot ailment - I don't know an ingrown toenail or something - she said that her mother got Hepatitis B in the hospital but it was no big deal this happened all the time. Naturally, being from the land of the lawyers, I was kind of shocked by this news and that no one was being sued.

Now this. This is really too much. This guy's wife had swine flu and went to the emergency room at least three times before they finally told her that Oh yeah, you have swine flu. By then it was too late - she died. What else? She was pregnant too. The good news? The baby was born healthy - no swine flu, the bad news? The nurse gave the premature baby milk formula intravenously instead of into the stomach through the nose - Result? Baby dead too.

I can't even begin to understand how this guy feels - but that picture gives me a clue.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Cops Should Look Like

I once wrote about how Spain seems to have better looking women working in government or doing non-traditional jobs such as security guards, mail carriers, etc. - and was roundly criticized for my trouble in the comment section as being "desperate". Well - no comment on the desperate part - but take a look at that friendly officer and I rest my case.

I'm just saying that L.A. lady cops do not look like that, but maybe they are just hiding their attributes behind bullet proof vests.

Monday, May 25, 2009

End of the Bullfight?

Here is one part of globalization that I don't think the Americans can be blamed for. There are real live Spanish people who want the Bullfight to end and I'm sure the powers that be in the European Union would like to see it gone too.

I personally would still like Spain to be "different" - as the old tourism ad campaign once said. But I recognize that the Bullfight's days are numbered.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I See a Movie Coming Out of This One

Two sixty year old woman partying on a luxury cruise, throwing money around and picking up old guys (or young) - all the while packing 27 kilos of cocaine.

There have to be millions of great plot lines to follow in this scenario for some talented (or hack) writer from Hollywood or Madrid.

I'm telling you there's a bad movie in there somewhere.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Personal Story

Okay, so I was asked by my lawyer if I would let his son have a vacation in Piso Madrid for a coupla weeks. The son was living somewhere in France and was ending his stay there. My lawyer wanted to give the son and his fiancĂ© a vacation in Madrid. What am I going to do? I don’t really like to let people stay in Piso Madrid but gotta keep the lawyer happy, I may need him.

I don't really like having anyone over who I don't know - well. But I have to get over it, so I said, "Sure". I know this does not sound like a big deal, but I stressed out about it. There are several things that could go wrong (in my mind at least). I imagined the worse case scenarios, like the calefaccion breaking down and everyone dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. I realize this is ridiculous and paranoid, but there it is.

So, they came and went - and I guess they liked it (although not much was said about if they enjoyed it, etc.) The fact is they can't really appreciate 20 years of planning and work - culminating in the stupid Piso in the center of Madrid. They hung out and went to Semana Santa processions and then they returned back to the states – or France or where ever. But what pissed me off is the keys. Namely, they were mailed back to me in a flimsy “airmail” envelope. The really thin kind to save weight. Now let me explain Piso Madrid keys to the uninitiated. I have a “puerta blindada” and the key to this kind of door is a major-league, big-ass key, along with the key to the door to the street. You can’t put those keys in flimsy "airmail" envelope and expect them to arrive in one piece. Well, they did not arrive. I got a very nice envelope - empty - ripped open - and no keys.

Sorry, but that pisses me off. I’ll get over it. End of personal story. Now I have to send my friend Fernando over there to make sure the water in the tub was not left running.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Earthquakes in the News

As I wrote before, earthquakes and the way they build in Italy and Spain don't mix too well.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spain Picking a Fight with 800 Pound Gorilla

Baltasar Garzon, the most famous Spanish judge (which I think is more like a special prosecutor in the U.S.) has decided to go after the Yanquis for crimes allegedly committed at Guantanamo. He says there are six Americans from the attorney general on down who put together the whole legal basis for Guantanamo / possible torture. Why he isn't going after Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld - I don't know. Perhaps those fish are too big for him.

I wonder how Baltasar chooses which crimes to prosecute? Haven't heard anything about genocide in Darfur for example, or an arrest warrant for Osama Bin Laden.

I can imagine what would happen if we started looking into a few issues in Spain, there would be some very loud yelling going on if we did. Let’s see, we could investigate atrocities committed on both sides in the Spanish civil war, or perhaps Felipe Gonzalez’s alleged involvement in some nasty assassinations of Basques in the GAL incident. Actually, I personally would like to look into the wonton destruction of the Spanish coastline by real estate speculators with help from corrupt government officials – I think that is a crime against the international community.

I guess Garzon has nothing left to do in Spain. All is well and in order. It also seems he is not interested in anything else that could be going on over on that particular island. Fidel Castro’s jails must be real nice with everyone drinking rum and dancing salsa.

Update: It doesn't look like they are going to pick that fight. Garzon's Boss says no.

Update#2: Now Obama says he's open to the idea of prosecuting - Ouch!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

U.S. - Spanish Relations Already Strained

Nice unilateral decision! I wonder where I've heard that complaint many, many times before?

Carme Chacon, Spain's current defense minister and former housing minister, made a quick phone call to NATO to say she is bailing on Kosovo (leaving) - then announced it publicly right afterward. Apparently this is not the way these things are done in NATO so everyone else is annoyed - even Barack Obama, and he doesn't annoy easily. This move could threaten Zapatero's invitations to the White House - or at least make them "uncomfortable".

Spain is not crazy about Kosovo's indepence goals, since they really are not crazy about some of their own region's independence goals. This seems to be the main reason they want out. However I am unclear on why Spain can not disagree with Kosovo becoming an independent state but still fulfill their obligations to NATO?

I also read in another account that Carme uttered that infamous phrase "Mission Accomplished" to her troops. Others seem to disagree with her since everyone else's troops have to stay. I guess Spain has a different interpretation of the "In Together - Out Together" philosophy that started the mission.

One side note, for some reason it annoys me that newspaper articles like this one (and not only El Pais) never remind the readers that the "ethnic Albanians" in Kosovo are Muslims, and it was the U.S. who intervened on their behalf. It was the U.S. and NATO who forced the Christian Serbians to stop the ethnic cleansing of Muslims (by bombing the crap out of them), and all this without a U.N. security council resolution. I don't know why that annoys me...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Is He Still a Canadian?

I know it's an old gambit, "Don't say you're an American, just say you're Canadian and avoid the hassle while you are in Europe", etc., But do the Spanish do it to us also? Not wanting to mention if we are Americans?

In this El Pais article they describe Architect Frank Gehry, designer of Bilbao's Guggenheim, as the "Canadian Architect". I guess that is technically correct since he was born in Canada, but he has lived and practiced in Los Angeles since 1947.

You would think that 62 years in the United States would at least get a mention.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Torn American

The first time I had to start thinking about which of two countries to live in was at the end of my “student year abroad” in Madrid. That year was a mind-blower for a twenty year old guy from the suburbs of Los Angeles. I communicated in a different language, made new life-long Spanish friends, explored and enjoyed an exotic city, suffered a lot with homesickness for family and L.A., experienced the frustrations of living in Spain, and as cliched as it sounds, was forever changed.

Then of course there was the Spanish girlfriend. Spain was a different place then, emerging from the Franco era (1983). My girlfriend came from the modest neighborhood of Carabanchel and was an exotic gypsy-looking Madrilena. She thought I was pretty exotic too and she wouldn't have minded taking off to the U.S. with me. But at the end of the year I had to go back to California and continue with three more years of school. So the long-distance relationship began ... and we all know how those end up.

But before the end, we went through countless, "How could this possibly work?" scenarios - or at least I did.

Scenario #1:
"Spanish girl comes to Los Angeles to live. She has to learn to speak English, drive a car, try to go to a university, and be away from everything, and everyone, she knows. American guy has to completely take care of her."

Scenario #2:
"American guy goes to Spain to live. He has to find a job (yeah right! In 1980's Spain?). He has to get a lot better at speaking Spanish, get professional licenses in a foreign country in his chosen profession, and be away from everything, and everyone, he knows. Spanish girl probably will have to completely take care of him."

I decided long ago that living in Spain permanently would not work for me. I could not make a living there, and along with being in poverty, I would never really fit in. And even when I did try to live in Spain for six months at a time or so, I felt like life was passing me by in the states. So I had to go to "Plan B", which was live in Los Angeles and make a living like a regular American, then visit Madrid as much as possible and just get over it already.

It seems to me that to be a proper immigrant you must have no other choice or be absolutely convinced that you love it. You've got to want to stay.... forever.... in your new country, and be happy about it. And if you're involved in a cross-continent relationship, one person has to give up his/her home country - and like it. Otherwise you're just a visitor - like me.

All that preamble just brings me to Bluestreak Blog, an American living in Spain with her Spanish husband. She struggles a lot with these kinds of issues. She also writes about "living in Spain topics" in general and is pretty funny, and cusses a lot too, so that's a plus.

Some good posts:

Nostalgia for Brilliance Realized

Don't Expect a Thematic Post ....

The Whole World

Piecing Together My Habitus

Dude, Do You Not Realize You're all up in Ma Face?

Cosmetological Entropy

Expat Purgatory

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

They're Not Feeling it

This doesn't sound good. More than 70% of second generation immigrants to Spain don't feel Spanish and would rather leave to another country - probably the U.S. - according to this El Pais article.

I have noticed how the Spanish word "inmigrante" sometimes seems to have a nasty connotation or feeling attached to it when it is such a normal word. Whenever anyone is talking about the immigrants it usually is in a sentence like, "Be careful down in Lavapies, there are a lot of inmigrantes there." etc.

The problem with Spain is everyone has just looked alike for too damn long. You can immediately tell if someone is "not Spanish". If you are Asian, then you are "un Chino", and it doesn't matter which country you are from.... and you definitely are not Spanish.

I guess it will just take time for them to get used to the idea that being Spanish has nothing to do with how you look. I wonder, can they get used to that idea?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Long till the Spanish get Pissed?

I'm not sure I totally understand Spain's position on crime and punishment. I guess they feel that anyone can be rehabilitated. For this reason there is no such thing as life imprisonment. The maximum time anyone can get is something like 12 years, even if you kill 20 or 30 people, rape and kill a child, or get together with your buddies to murder your ex-girlfriend and dump her body in the Guadalquivir.

I know people in Spain have been told for many years that in the U.S. we are a bunch of barbarians for having such a thing as life imprisonment without the possibility of parole - let alone, in some states, the death penalty. But from this news story and others that have come up lately, it's looking like some changes are brewing in Spain. People are getting pissed that scumbags like this get such light sentences.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Love L.A. (But Penelope Doesn't)

Penelope says L.A. is obsessed with the film industry and it is not "healthy" for her to stay here. Hey Penelope, maybe you should try hanging around with a few people NOT in the business. I mean every boyfriend since you were very young (I'm pretty sure) was an actor - current super-famous Spanish dude too. This is a pretty big town with an S-load of people not part of the "industry". I'm sure you could find a few non-actors.

Actually, probably not. The bottom line is that like any super famous person, the only true friends she has are the ones who knew her before she became a big star. And logically those people are in Madrid - and maybe in New York now. And dating a "civilian" probably would not work either. Who could put up with that kind of stress but another famous person? But don't blame L.A. for this.

And one more thing. LEARN TO DRIVE! Not knowing how to drive in L.A. is like not being able to walk in Madrid.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Darwin Dissed in his Own Hometown

Everytime I read the results of another survey taken by impartial persons (yeah right!) showing what a bunch of moronic yahoos Americans are because of their gun ownership, their illiteracy, and the fact that the "typical" American does not know where France is etc., I wonder, "Does anybody ever give these same impartial surveys to Europeans to find out what they (don't) know?"

I'm pretty sure the answer is "not usually". It's much more fun to think Americans are the only stupid ones.

Well, maybe that's changing. El Mundo published this article on the run up to Darwin's 200'th birthday showing that more than 50% of Brits don't accept Darwin's evolutionary theories - and he is their guy! Is intelligent design and "guided evolution" on the move in Europe?

The religion and creationist thing has been a favorite club for superior minded "Americans-are-idiots" types to hit us over the head with for years. Everyone knows no one in Europe could possibly think the same way as those American dolts - so let's not bother asking them.

I'm just saying that if we are idiots then I know that many people all over Europe are just as stupid on a whole range of subjects - if anybody asked them in the same "impartial and honest way" that they ask the Americans. That's right. I'm setting a real low bar for myself, I just want to be as stupid as the next guy!

I wonder what the results would be in Spain?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bush was the Problem - Right?

I’m not sure how I feel about this opinion piece in El Pais. On the one hand I think that many Europeans have a natural antipathy toward the U.S. (like the article says) and no matter what the Americans do - they won't like it. Having Bush in there just let all those feelings come rushing to the surface. A perfect poster boy for the evil empire. So it is logical that even with Obama as President many Europeans will try to hang the same "Bush-like" label on him. Hence the "Bushification" of Obama.

On the other hand if they don't "Bushify" Obama and they love what he is doing then they are a bunch of hypocrites. After all, Obama will continue many of the same policies as President Bush. He kept Bush's defense minister, he will increase troops in Afghanistan, he will continue CIA renditions in foreign countries, his support for Israel won't waiver, he is a Christian and will continue with Bush's "faith-based" community support programs, and he is against gay marriage, etc. Sure he is going to close Guantanamo (eventually) just like McCain was going to do, but seeing that Obama really will act like Bush in many ways (i.e., like an American president) isn’t it hypocritical of Europe NOT to treat him the same way, with the same hate and derision? Or was it all bullshit? I guess they only hated Bush for his silly grin.

I think the bottom line is they are pretty confused - Obama was a curve ball they just didn't see coming.

Update: Obama's position on the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by 3 men who say they were kidnapped by the CIA and tortured is "exactly the same" as the Bush white house's position. Obama says the suit should be dismissed because the act of trying it would threaten national security - just like Bush said. Will there be an outcry?