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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

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.

600_358622362

 

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

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.

Soap, toothbrushes and art school: surprises from the homeless of Barcelona

16 Feb

Last weekend, I met a homeless Indian man in Barcelona. He was bedded down with several other street companions in an ATM cubicle on Parallel. He thanked us for the food and jumpers in heavily accented but perfect English. He was from Delhi.

Another night we came across an attractive lady with a very cultured English accent who had attended art school in London. The streets are also full of middle aged working and middle class people, who have lost their homes to repossession. They’re desperately trying to maintain their dignity, and are often shy and slow to ask for things, only coming forward when it’s offered.

We were out as part of the efforts of Esperanca, a group started by some like-minded women who make sandwiches and soup for the homeless, and distribute it to them once or twice a week.

The group started in October, and has grown to 176 members with two groups who cover the Raval and the area around Estacio del Nord. Volunteers cook soup, make sandwiches and buy or donate warm clothing. Along these walks, we’ve discovered a few things:

  1. Having nothing doesn’t make people greedy: People frequently decline our offers of food or clothes. They’ve got a jumper and just eaten a sandwich. It’s enough for them.
  2. They share: Volunteers once watched a man take his cup of soup over to sleeping friend and hand it to  him. He didn’t come back and ask for another for himself, but was thrilled when they offered him another.
  3. Soap and other toiletries are in high demand: Faces light up when you ask them if they’d like a bar of soap or a tooth brush and some toothpaste.
  4. There are other groups of friends doing this in the city. Food for smile is one such group (mostly Spanish speaking) who go out distributing food five days a week.
  5. Walking around the city for a couple of hours is a surprisingly social activity and a great way to catch up with old friends or meet new friends. A little recovery vino at the end of the walk also helps.

The beauty of Esperanca is its emphasis on action. There were no meetings held, no committees formed, no over-thinking of the situation. A few women made some sandwiches, loaded up the granny trolleys and went out on to the streets.

If you’d like to get involved, there are many things you can do:

  1. Donate clothes: Any old warm clothes, socks, gloves, hats and jackets (all for men). Any unwanted blankets or sleeping bags.
  2. The next time you’re buying something at a clothing store or Decathlon, add in a pair of man size gloves or socks (1.50 – 2 Euros) to your shopping lot. It’s a donation with a small price and a big impact.
  3. Donate or better still make the food for one night. It costs around 10 Euros to make almost 27-30 little sandwiches, and around 5 Euros to make the soup.
  4. If you can’t afford to donate money how about helping with your time? The walks all last about 2 hours starting at 20:00 and are currently on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Newcomers are most welcome.
Esperanca

Two Esperanca groups enjoying an after walk drink together

the homeless of barcelona

Cycling: An inner dialogue

8 Feb

Hmm, doesn’t feel that heavy coming down the stairs. I must be growing stronger.

Hold it away from the tights. Maybe blue suede shoes weren’t such a good idea. Damn it’s heavy now. Last landing, hold on….and down.

(Wheezing)

Tights: undamaged. Tyres: still fat. Adjust clothes. Awkward wrestle through the heavy swing door onto the street. Right, you’re in the outside world now. Try to look like it’s easy.

Ha, it is easy! Not scary at all.

Please! Who do they think they are. Stupid racing bikes. I can catch up.

Jeeze where did they go?

Oh my thighs hurt. Slow. Slow. No need to cycle so fast. We’ve got a long way to go.

Which way should I go? Shit, I never know which is a one way street.

Oh no! Oh no! It’s a freaking one-way street.

Now I’m one of those jerks who cycle on the pavement. I’m so sorry!

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

Aghh slow people. Get out of the way! Where is my bell?!!

No bell. Shout a warning. Shout what? TO LATE!!!!!!!!!

Sorry!

Oh no, kids. DO NOT KNOCK OVER A KID. YOU WILL GET LYNCHED.

Oh god my thighs hurt! I can’t do this. I have to get off. I can walk the rest of the way.

Other people walk with bikes right? When they’re walking with pedestrian friends…..

No! Stay on the bike. Just across the road. Slow and steady.

Slowly, slowly. Stay on the bike!

There’s the cafe, OH THANK YOU SWEET JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cycling-propaganda-posters-L-W6ssox
Poster by Melody Stone.

Flowery decadence #100happydays

25 Jan

Getting crowded off my tiny desk by a bunch of unruly flowers.

Yes all my paperwork is now stacked on the floor, but it has been a long time since I had flowers in my house. It’s a first in Barcelona and I love them. A lot.

Flower indulgence sm

That crazy sunny day we had this week #100happydays

24 Jan

That mad sun which came blazing out on Wednesday this week. It transformed the Face of Barcelona.
 
Whoever said blue skies are overrated is wrong, wrong, wrong. Blue skies are the business.

 

Barcelona Face by Roy Lichtenstein

 

Love thy neighbour, Barcelona style

11 Jun

Dear Neighbours,

I don’t mind, I swear I don’t.

I don’t mind stepping around the abandoned beer cans in the stairway on my way to work in the morning.

I don’t mind that weird lingering smell in the vestibule.

I don’t mind the drunk girl who runs about her flat in high heels at 5 a.m, bleating like a spring lamb. I think her childlike joy is sweet. I really do.

I don’t mind that you think siesta hour is the ideal time for a flamenco party. Sleep is overrated anyway.

I don’t mind that most of you stare at me silently with vacant saucer eyes when we pass in the stairway. Unable to crack a smile or muster up the customary two syllable ‘hola’ or even ‘hello’ in reply to my greeting. You were obviously raised by wolves back home.

No, I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.

Wolves actually have excellent social skills.

I don’t mind that the father of the family squatting upstairs is most probably a pickpocket. At least when he heads out to work wearing a different British football T-shirt every evening, we smile and ask each other how the day went.

The one thing I do mind. The one thing I can’t stand anymore, are her cries. I’ve lived with her howls of rage and frustration for three days now. I’ve never heard such plaintive pain in a voice and it haunts me day and night.

So please, dear neighbour, for the love of god, if there is any decency in you.

When this cycle is over, neuter your horny little cat.

Georgia and I

15 Apr

Georgia, bent almost horizontal at the waist, one hand clutching plastic bags, and the other held behind her back for balance, makes her shaky arthritic way to my table at the Chippy entrance and plonks herself down.

She flashes me a toothy smile.

I’m thinking to myself, I’m losing my job in two weeks so there is no way in hell I’m buying you anything.

I first got her a drink over a year ago, and since then she checks in with the regularity and persistence of a dog.

An old dog.

A dog which doesn’t reckon it’s about to start wagging it’s tail for food now. Not after a lifetime of not giving a crap. She rejects free food if she doesn’t like it, asks for better chips if her chips are over done, gives money back if it isn’t enough, and never learned ‘por favor’ in her many years here. A thoroughly unlikable and annoying old lady.

After scolding me in Russian for about five minutes and getting scolded back in English for a few minutes, she simmers down. She smiles.

She lets out a few coughs and touches her parched throat.

Someone has left a bottle of water on the table. I move it closer to her. She screws her face up, sticks her yellow tongue out and makes dramatic choking sounds.

What was I thinking, offering her life threatening water. Idiota!

I shrug.

She sits silent for a couple of minutes, and then she coughs again.

I point at the water. She does the choking routine and then points at my beer. I burst out laughing and so does she.

I don’t imagine I’ll be too impressed with water when I’m her age either. Destitute or not.

I pour a splash of my beer into a glass for her. Her shaky hand darts out, grabs the glass and downs it in two. She puts the glass down and smacks her faintly moustachioed lips happily.

She pulls out a pair of fake All Star converse shoes. Since this is the first time she has offered me anything other than used bras which look like they’ve been stolen from the laundry line of a brothel, I accept.

She’s overjoyed.

I give her another splash of beer. She knocks this one back just as quickly, impervious to my feeble cries of ‘slow, slow!’

We beam at each other in a happy beer haze.

On the pavement outside, a sexy dark skinned skater boy comes clattering along. His board catches on the pavement and he goes flying.

Georgia and I burst into simultaneous drunken cackles.

She gets up, thanks me for the drink and totters off. Another Barcelona evening well spent.

2013-01-24 18.07.30

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