Soy Cowboy?

30 Jul

Taxi Driver: You like show-ping?

Me: No, no. I don’t like shopping. Don’t take me to a shopping street.

Taxi Driver: I take you good show-ping.

Me (miming the trembling half moon in front of my mouth): No! I like drinking, I don’t like shopping! Take me to good bar.

Taxi Driver: He! He! I Thai, I no show-ping. You show-ping! He! He!

We pull up at the entrance of a street. Neon lights spill out across the tarmac. Women in over the knee patent leather boots and hot pants sit out on stools or dance with passers by.

A British man weaves his way unsteadily out of the street. He has the heavy lidded half-smile of the happy drunk. Around his neck hang a tangle of ropes and a gimp ball-gag. He bumps into the cop standing at the entrance before stumbling out into the night.

Me: Ohh!

Taxi driver: He! He! He!

 

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How do you solve a problem like Abeya!

26 Jul

I´d fled the seedy red light district and landed in a local young blood’s bar close to the backpacker street. I was finally making my way back to the guest house after the stools had been put up and the lights switched on.

I noticed a figure sprawled against the curb at an awkward angle. This didn’t look like a street sleeper, more like someone passed out. I went around to the other side of the body and saw a giant vomit trail.

Okay, first thing to do was check the breathing. Still breathing. She was a girl and a local by the looks of it.

I shook her gently, ‘Hey, hey, are you okay’. A wail was my answer.

‘Do you want a taxi?’

‘Waaaaa yesssss!!!’

‘Okay, do you remember where you live?’

‘waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’

‘Okay, we´ll get you a taxi’.

There were no taxis on this street.

‘Look, I think we need to walk to the end of the street, there are lots of taxis there,’

‘waaaaaaa   noooo, I’m sorryyyyyy waaaaaaaa’

What’s your name?’

‘waaaaaa  Abeya….waaaaaaaa’

‘It’s fine sweetheart, you’re just a little drunk. Not a big deal. Just sit up, drink some water and we’ll get you in a taxi.’

‘waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’

(Oh god please help me!)

‘C’mon, up you get, up up up, upsy daisy!’

‘waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’

Another tourist stops: Is she a tourist?

‘No I think she’s local.’

He makes his apologies: Sorry I can’t really help you.

I let him go. No point in two of us being caught with the weeping mess.

I try to get the neighboring bar staff to help me. They give me the bright vacant smiles I’m coming to recognise in the hospitality industry here. It’s just as bad as the camarero scowl back home.

I heave her up in to a sitting position and prop her against my legs. As I try to hand her a bottle of water she retches a fresh batch and slumps to the ground.

‘Waaaaaaa I’m so sorrryyyy!’

‘It’s fine, you’re just drunk. Just try and sit up for god’s sake!’

(Finally, I can speak to the younger generation from a position of experience.)

I pick up the Blackberry clutched in her soggy hand. There is no key pad lock. I wipe it clean and start dialing all her last dialed numbers, particularly the ones that say ‘fam’ as a prefix. God only knows what it really means in Thai.

One woman, called ‘fam:Jim’, finally answers.

‘Hello?’

‘Hi, do you know Abeya?’

‘Yes’

‘Can you come and get her?’

‘Er, no. No!’

‘Well can you contact her friends or family to get her please?’

‘Er, who is this?’

‘Look can you come and get her please?’

‘No’

‘She’s very drunk and in trouble. If you don’t come and get her, she’s going to sleep in the street  tonight.’

‘Oh my god!’

Suddenly a girl in a  red dress appears in front of me.

‘Oh my gawd, is she okay?’

‘Hey! Do you speak Thai? Speak to the lady on the phone please.’

‘I know her’, she says pointing at the prone figure of vomit soaked Abeya.

‘Great! Speak to the lady on the phone!’ I shove the phone in her hands.

‘It’s fine, I know where she lives’ she  gives me her assurance.

I turn around to find two local young men lounging against the barrier along with another young lady, looking down at Abeya in the peculiar disinterested interest only teens can summon.

One of the young men: ‘Oh my gawd, did you like, take care of her? Wow thaink you sooo much!’ (What is this? Thai hipster?)’

‘Well not really, …. (she’s still lying on the street in her own vomit), but here you can take care of her now’, I shove the packet of tissues into his hands, and the bottle of water into his companion’s. ‘I’m so f*****g glad you turned up!  Bye Abeya!’

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I’m so sorrrryyyyyy!!!!!!!

 

p.s: Fleas and Dogs is on the road again.

 

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Has this little white supremacist boy kicked a hornet’s nest?

30 Jun

On Sunday morning a nasty video of a racially motivated assault appeared on Twitter. You would think that was the most disturbing part. It’s not.

The video shows a young man standing over an Asian man seated in the metro and threatening him. The altercation quickly deteriorates into physical violence at which point the other passengers intervene and what appears to be a well meaning bystander pushes the Asian man out of the carriage to protect him.

This happened in Barcelona, supposedly this weekend. The metro stop is Fabra i Puig on L-1.

The video was posted by a twitter user Payo_cura whose twitter profile reads: Siempre Patriota,Europa Blanca, Good Night Left Side. Residente en Barcelona. Clearly a little inbred douche.

All official bodies have done the official things. The transport department has referred the video to the Mossos d’Esquadra for further investigation. The Ajuntament has condemned the attack etc.

But this is the age of internet memory when our digital breadcrumbs will live forever and will forever lead a trail back to our doorsteps…..at lightning speed.

While news websites have only just posted their articles, anti-fascist Twitter users  have already tracked down and identified the friend of the person taking the video. Their real names have been posted online. A photograph of the attacker, (his friends had taken the trouble to blur out his face in the video), and the home address of Payo_Cura have all been posted and shared across Twitter. The tables have been turned and how!

One ominous tweet reads:

No saldrá de casa hoy @Payo_Cura. Y si sale, que vaya protegido.

Don’t leave your house today Payo_Cura. And if you do, go with protection.

Much as I like the idea of these violent little shits doing a bit of trembling behind their doors, this is potentially volatile information floating out in cyberspace uncontrolled. Anyone with half a brain knows that retribution and counter retribution is a fool’s game. This city has made me proud with its anti-fascist emotions.  Will it make us proud with its equally wise actions and decisions when it comes to revenge and retribution? How quickly will the police catch up and shut this thing down? They monitor Twitter right?

 

 

antifascist

Reasons to love Barcelona: Bar loo surprises

25 Jun

Oh hello! Sorry about the wee!

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Sex, Drugs and Dodgy Accounting: Spain’s New Growth Strategy

23 Jun

Prithika:

I was going to write a piece about Spain’s new GDP accounting, but this guy says it better than I could.

At first I thought it was a great idea, but it turns out that although Spain is going to use the boost in figures from reporting prostitution and drugs in the GDP, they aren’t actually going to legalise any of it or give sex-workers any rights or protection.

This smacks of big boys playing little boy’s magic tricks again. “Where’s the coin? Is it in my hand, or behind your ear? Surprise! There were never two coins to begin with, I just moved one coin around so quickly it dazzled you!”

Woah! Bravo!

Didn’t we ban these magic tricks after they created the crisis?

 

prost bcn David Palacios

Originally posted on Raging Bull-shit:

Spain’s miraculous economic recovery is a mirage, a collective delusion concocted in the fevered but highly imaginative minds of government ministers, economists and accountants, and then projected on to the mass consciousness as official reality.

When it comes to creative accounting, few can hold a candle to the country’s finance minister Cristobal Montoro, who this week unveiled his latest scam scheme to “grow” the economy: namely to include prostitution and illegal drugs as part of its gross domestic product. This new accounting gimmick will add 20 billion fresh new euros to the country’s GDP — equivalent to a two percent boost. It will also automatically lower the ratio of public debt to GDP as well as the budget deficit, thus making it possible for Spain to “meet” the Troika’s deficit target of 6.5 percent.

The reason why this is necessary is that, despite brutal cost cutting, tax hikes and other forms of…

View original 1,167 more words

Zombies needed

5 May

Is your inner undead flesh-eating monster not getting out enough? When was the last time you terrorized runners in the woods? It’s been too long right?

A group of hikers from the Barcelona Hiking and Outdoors group are holding a fundraising event to raise money to participate in the 2014 Madrid Oxfam Trailwalker.

Runners have to take a 6 km trail through the woods where zombies are waiting at various spots to ambush them. Runners wear three flags (lives) around their waist which zombies have to try and snatch.

You can choose to either run from the zombies or be a zombie. It costs eight euros to register as a runner and six euros to register as a zombie.

Symbolic Awards (not sure what they mean by this) will be given to:

1. The first runner to complete the course without dying: You have at least one flag left when you finish.

2. The hungriest zombie: You have the most flags.

3. The best zombie costume: You have a knack with mushy peas and tomato ketchup.

 

Date: Sunday, 11/05/2014

Time: 9:30 a.m

Location: Baixador de Vallvidrera. Meet outside the FGC train station.

 

For more details and to register click here.

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Elizabeth, Jesus Christ, and the 10,000 francs in Budapest

7 Apr

On the intersection of Calle de Vilamari and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, I passed a little old lady sitting on the pavement against an electricity box and sewing.

I walked past her and wondered. Then wondered some more. I turned around and went back.

She greeted me with a friendly smile. Her name was Elizabeth and she was from Switzerland.  Talking to Elizabeth was a process of sifting through several layers of sanity, three different languages and several layers of trust.

Layer 1

She claimed she didn’t speak much Spanish or English, but after a few more questions she spoke to me in a mixture of English and French. At first she told me she was a tourist visiting Barcelona and she was in the middle of a tour of Europe. She had the usual assortment of plastic bags and granny trolley stacked with the stuff of a rough sleeper. I didn’t want to offer her money if she didn’t want to admit she was homeless, so I asked her if she had eaten. She said she had had some bread and she had plenty of water. I offered to get her some food, but she turned it down with an embarrassed laugh. I decided to get her something anyway.

I returned from the shop.

Layer 2

“You’re back!” She clapped her hands in glee. This time she was more willing to talk. She pulled out a sheaf of papers on which she had written a mixture of her life story and the crazy stories which lived in her head. Each page is carefully cello-taped inside plastic sleeves. She was born in Switzerland in 1943. There was some reference to Catholics. There were the detailed instructions to find the man in the house in Budapest. Knock on his door and tell him you have come for the money, and he will give you 10,000 francs. She looks at me eagerly. “It’s for you. Go to him and ask.” The man in Budapest, his name is Jesus Christ.

I try to ask her where she normally sleeps. “Oh yes I have a place where I usually sleep. It’s not sure I always sleep there, but I try. Do you want to come and sleep too?” I try to explain about the soup runs done by Esperanca, but she doesn’t understand. She can’t or won’t tell me her usual spot. Part of me is relieved; she’s a crazy little old lady alone on the street, who giggles like a little girl, but she’s still got her guard up. Part of me is scared I’ll never find her again.

Layer 3

Then she brings out another paper. This one she’s written in Spanish, detailing money the bank took. She’s trying to claim this money back. I ask her if she has any family living in Switzerland. She doesn’t. I ask her if she has any family here, any children. Her smiling face crumbles. I backtrack hastily and distract her with a bit of Bank bashing.

Layer 4

The last paper she brings out has a drawing of three houses in a row. The one in the middle is the house she grew up in in Switzerland. Under the flanking houses she has written the names of the neighbours and their families and their occupations. She had three sisters and she was the oldest. She dissolves into cheeky laughter when I ask if she bossed them around.

Eventually I have to go. She has short cropped hair. Someone must have cut it for her right? Someone must be keeping an eye on her. Although she did nothing but laugh and giggle throughout our little encounter, Elizabeth has left a shadow. There’s a sick feeling in my belly and it’s not from the questionable bowl of free tapas my local chino bar provides.

Somewhere in the city there is a little seventy-one-year old lady with a sewing box and paper records of what’s left of her memories, sleeping on the street.

Today we’re young, our minds are intact and we stand tall and walk the earth like giants. What happens forty years from now, when the world is unrecognizable and so are we?

 

swiss hotel

Overheard on the street

29 Mar

It’s 2:30 a.m and I’m on my way home. In any other city this would mean the end of a big night. In Barcelona it means, I’m still mostly sober and I left the party early.

Three young American men are walking ahead of me and talking. Loudly.

Boy A: Look! Let’s just go to a club. And if we find some drugs near the club we DO THEM. Okay?

Boy B: Why don’t we go with my journalist friend?

Boy C: Where?

Boy B: She was going to meet some friends in Placa Reial and do drugs.

Boy C: What? Why didn’t we go with her?

Boy B: I don’t know.

Boy A: Dude she didn’t want us to come.

Boy B: No, no, she invited us. She did.

Boy A: She never sat with us in the bar.

Boy B: She was smoking outside okay.

Boy A: Like all the time dude! She did not want to be with you.

Boy B (in a subdued voice): I don’t think she was avoiding us….

Boy A: She was NOT IN TO YOU. You have to learn to read the signs, I’m telling you. Let’s just go to the club and FIND SOME DRUGS OKAY?

 


 

Ah youth! So what are the likely outcomes of their night? In ascending order of cost and danger, I think they are:

  1. If extremely lucky: They don’t find anyone selling drugs outside the club. Go inside, and are ripped-off buying 8 Euro glasses of nasty beer.
  2. If slightly lucky: They try to buy drugs from an undercover cop who busts them and takes them down to the police station.
  3. If slightly unlucky: They get robbed by one of the dealers or pickpockets outside the club.
  4. If extremely unlucky: They don’t find anyone selling drugs outside the club, go inside and under minimal encouragement from some pretty young thing, start buying 160 Euro bottles of crap cava.

 

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Return of the body snatchers

27 Mar

This isn’t about Barcelona, but it’s one of the most fascinating talks I’ve heard this year.

Watch it if you like zombie body guards and mind control. I particularly like the brain surgeon wasp who unchecks the ‘run away’ button. Horrific beauty and ghastly tales!

 

 

 

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Howling at the wind

4 Mar

Step out on to the street tonight and the world has gone crazy.

Wooden shutters are smacking against balcony railings while plastic bags fly circles overhead. Pollen dunes are chasing my feet down the street and a hundred wind chimes are shouting silvery-tuned excitement.

A strange creature of a wind is rattling the city tonight, pushing over bins and breaking granny’s flowerpots. A low moan follows as it hurls itself down narrow stone pathways. The old buildings complaining at the manhandling.

Yet even as I’m staring open mouthed at this otherworldly spectacle, zipped into an arctic defying jacket with a scarf wrapped around my face, a man in T-shirt and shorts jogs past me. Oblivious to the madness raging around him, or simply determined not to interrupt his routine. The night seems populated with the normal side of humanity, and I seem to be alone in my wonder.
Where are all the feral people tonight? Tonight isn’t for sitting in and drinking tea. It’s a night for howling at the wind!

windy_night_by_hochuliya
Painting by Hochuliya.

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